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Title: The Captain's Bunk - A Story for Boys
Author: Manwell, M. B.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Cover art]



THE CAPTAIN'S BUNK


A STORY FOR BOYS


BY

M. B. MANWELL



AUTHOR OF 'THE BENTS OF BATTERSBY,' ETC.



WITH COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS



LONDON

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY

4 BOUVERIE STREET AND 65 ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD

1898



CONTENTS


CHAP.

     I. A PLAGUEY PAIR
    II. A NOVEL TRADE
   III. 'MISS THEEDORY'
    IV. BINKS'S BIT O' TEACHIN'
     V. BREAKERS AHEAD
    VI. THE LITTLE MOTHER
   VII. MUTINY AT THE BUNK
  VIII. THEO'S HAVEN
    IX. COMING EVENTS
     X. UNDER ARREST
    XI. A TANGLED WEB
   XII. IN THE FAR NORTH
  XIII. IN PERIL ON THE SEA
   XIV. A DOOR OF ESCAPE
    XV. THE BIRD-SCHOOL
   XVI. THE SEAMY SIDE OF LIFE
  XVII. IN THE MIRE
 XVIII. IN MULLINER'S RENTS
   XIX. NO PLACE LIKE HOME



THE CAPTAIN'S BUNK


CHAPTER I

A PLAGUEY PAIR

  'Do the thing that's nearest,
  Though it's dull at whiles.'


If anybody wanted to go down and have a look round Northbourne for
himself, it would be necessary to take a railway journey as far as
Brattlesby town, and then tramp the rest of the road, unless a friendly
chance befell the traveller of a lift in some passing vehicle.

There had never been so much as a talk of extending the railway line to
Northbourne, which was a quaint little fishing village tucked away
under the shelter of a long stretch of downs.  It consisted of a few
small thatched cottages that had seated themselves, as it were, in a
semicircle round the tiny bay, to peep out from its shelter at the far,
open ocean, the highway of waters on which the outward-bound liners
loomed like grey ghostly shadows as they passed.

There were but two of what is known as gentry's houses in Northbourne.
Oddly enough, each of them finished off the half-circle of cottages,
and in that way they stared across the bay at one another, face to face.

One of the two, the Bunk, had been for some years inhabited by an
elderly half-pay naval officer, Captain Carnegy, and his motherless
boys and girls.  The other house was the Vicarage, the habitation of
Mr. Vesey, the good old vicar, his invalid wife, and a pair of
excitable Yorkshire terriers, Splutters and Shutters, thus curiously
named for the sake of rhyme, it is to be presumed.  They were brothers,
and as tricky a pair as one could meet, ever up to their eyes in
mischief from morning until night.  Indeed, Splutters and Shutters kept
what would have been a still, staid household in nearly as great a
ferment as did the captain's crew the Bunk across the bay.

'They two dogs, they be summat like a couple o' wild b'ys; they keeps
the passon and the mistress in, not for to say hot water, but bilin'
water, for the livelong day!' constantly declared Binks, who was the
handy-man at the Vicarage, and, in fact, handy-man at the little church
as well, he being both factotum and sexton.  Binks was a worthy old
soul whom the terriers led a troubled life by their destructive capers
in the garden and lawn, which he vainly tried to keep trim.  Still, on
the whole, Binks, harassed as he was by the dogs, was apt to thank his
stars that Splutters and Shutters were not actually boys; such boys,
for instance, as those of the captain at the Bunk across the bay, who
were a sore handful, as any one could see for themselves, without the
prompt testimony of all Northbourne to that effect.

'You be a plaguey pair, you b'ys!' was the unfailing greeting of Binks,
when he encountered Geoff and Alick Carnegy.

'Come, you shut up, Binks!  You surely would not have us a couple of
mincing girls peacocking round in this fashion, would you now?'  And
the captain's boys affectedly pirouetted up and down on the shingle
below the low wall of the Vicarage garden, laughing boisterously the
while.

'I dunno, young musters!' rejoined Binks, contemplating the ridiculous
spectacle with much the same gravity as he would have regarded a
funeral.  'P'raps it'd be a sight better if so be as you _was_ gells.
That is, gells after the pattern of your sister, Miss Theedory!'

'Oh, Theo!  Well, she's different!' and Geoff sobered down his antics,
and stood still to retort.  'That just reminds me I've brought a note
for Mrs. Vesey from Theo.  I'll run up to the house with it.  I don't
remember if it wants an answer; but don't you go away, Alick.  Wait for
me!'

'All right!'  Alick nodded, and swinging himself up on the wall, he
watched Binks, who was patiently pottering over the carrot-beds.  The
ceaseless tussel he had to induce these refractory vegetables to make a
fair show was one of the minor crosses of the old man's life.

Of the two Carnegys, Alick was the least reasonable, if the word
reasonable could be applied to either of 'them young limbs,' as
Northbourne privately called the captain's boys.  He, however, managed
to sit still for the space of five minutes or so on the wall, whistling
vigorously.

'I 'opes as you be a-gittin' on brisk with your book-larnin', Muster
Alick?'  Binks lifted his head, after the prolonged silence, to regard,
with a critical air, the boy who sat dangling his feet above.  Binks
had a fashion peculiar to himself of staring at most people in a
reproving manner, as though he had just found them out in some dark
transgression.  It was possibly a habit due to a lifelong experience of
the faults and the failings of human nature, and it was one which stood
Binks in good stead, giving him an austere and awe-inspiring
appearance.  Especially on Sundays did this detective air prove
helpful, when he did duty as parish clerk in the quaint, old-time
church on the shore, where it served to keep the small fisher-folk in
proper order.

'Oh, bother!' said Alick shortly.  'We have enough of that sort of talk
from old Price.  He pegs away at us to get on, get on, until I'm sick
of the sight of books, and pen and ink!'

'Ay?'  Binks leaned on his spade, and, resting, stared fixedly up into
the face of the boy-speaker.  'Sick of it, be you?  And what be you
supposin' as Muster Price feels?  A deal sicker, I make no doubt,
toiling and moiling every week-day as the sun rises on, a-tryin' to
till sich unprofitable ground as your b'y-brains!  I dunnot 'spose as
you ever looked at it from his pint of view, did ye?'

Certainly Alick never had.  It was a new idea to him to wonder how poor
Philip Price, the tutor, liked walking every day, rain or shine, over
from Brattlesby, the little inland town some three miles off, in order
to teach Geoff and himself just so much and no more as either of the
unruly brothers chose to learn; for the Carnegy boys were 'kittle
cattle,' as the North-country folk say, to deal with.  Their father,
though he had been, in the old days, skilled at commanding men, knew
little or nothing of managing children.  When his wife died and he
retired from the service, he found his hands full, with the most unruly
crew that he had ever encountered in his long naval career.  Not gifted
with much patience, he soon gave up trying to guide the helm of that
unmanageable ship, his own home.  Betaking himself to his special
hobby, which was the compiling an epitome of all the naval engagements
that have taken place within the memory of man, he left his boys and
girls to grow up anyhow or, to put it more exactly, just as they
pleased.  His conscience was satisfied when he had placed his young
folk in the hands of one whom he knew to be a genuinely upright
Christian gentleman, Philip Price, the tutor from Brattlesby town.

The boys themselves were no fools.  They knew in their hearts that it
was but a slack rein that guided them.  There was a good deal of
forcibly put justice in the suggestive question of Binks, and for a few
seconds Alick, nonplussed, kept silence, swinging his feet a little
faster under the fire of the sharp, light eyes that glinted from
beneath the old man's bushy eyebrows.

'But--but, I say, it's Price's business to teach.  That's what he has
got to do, you know!' he stammered out at last, rather uneasily.

'P'raps you was a-goin' to say as it was what he was made for,
purpose-like!' observed Binks ironically.  'Well, maybe so!  And, maybe
also, who can tell, it's what the Lord has made you for likewise,
Muster Alick.  Time may come as you'll be tramping every day, wet or
dry, to teach ongrateful, onruly b'ys according to their station.'

What d'ye mean?'  A furious red flush rose on Alick's cheeks, and he
glared back into the face of the bent old man, who stood still so
fixedly regarding himself.

'Mean?  Why, just what I'm a-sayin' of!' was the calm rejoinder.  'I've
heard tell,' went on Binks, undisturbed by Alick's wrathful looks, 'as
Muster Price is the son of a reverend genelman as was pretty high up in
the Church.  When the poor soul was took off, suddent, his fam'ly had
to help theirselves in the world, and this one, bein' the youngest, and
enjying terrible poor health, ain't fit for nothin' but teachin' b'ys.
That's how he keeps the old lady and hisself in bread I've heard say.
And if so be'--Binks straightened himself, and drew out his spade from
the earth--'as I was him, I'd a deal rather break stones, or else try
to grow them plaguey carrits in damp clay!  But,' he added
sardonically, as his outburst calmed down, 'in course if, as you think,
it's what he was made a-purpose for----  Well, I say no more.  I never
was one to hinterfere with, or so much as even to question, the will of
the Almighty in aught.  I'm not like some in that.'

'How you do run on, Binks!' sulkily put in Alick.  He felt rather
cornered by the old man's plain speaking.  'And it's all very fine for
you to talk; you and Theo say the same things.  But if you'd to grind
away, when the sun's shining and the sea dancing before your eyes, at
rubbishy old Latin grammars and arithmetic, and all the rest of it,
you'd be the first to grumble.  Oh, I wish a hundred times in the day
that I was only Ned Dempster, who's out all hours, free as any lark!'
ended Alick, with a sudden burst of energy that nearly sent him
toppling off the sea-wall.

'Ned Dempster!' echoed Binks in amaze.  Then, after turning over a few
spadefuls of earth, he looked up to say epigrammatically, 'Well, young
muster, what Ned is, I was.  And what I am, Ned will be!  There!  D'ye
take my meaning?  'Cos I, when a b'y, was like Ned, free as any lark in
the air, so when I came to be a man without no book-larnin' in the
pockets o' my brain, I had to grope my way about in the world.  Many's
the time it's bin all dark, round and round, 'cept in the faces of
other folk where I seed the light o' understanding shinin' about them
things as I couldn't make out.  'Tain't so to say comforable for a
grown man to feel that; but it's what you'll come to, young muster, if
you gits your will to go free as free!' and Binks set to work on his
refractory carrots with renewed energy.



CHAPTER II

A NOVEL TRADE

There was something so quaint about Binks, the old handy-man, that
nobody resented his preachings at them.  Not the Carnegy boys, at
least, not even Alick, who was no fool.  He knew, if he had allowed
himself to say so fairly and squarely, that a man without education
must of necessity make but a poor show in the world among his
fellow-men.  But Alick was incorrigibly lazy, and he had grown up so
far without attempting to get the reins of his idle, pleasure-loving
self between his own fingers.  Geoff, on the other hand, though a
regular pickle of a boy, did manage to scramble through his lessons,
and to present a more decent appearance therein, doubtful as it was if
he thoroughly digested what learning he took in.

He was a greater favourite in the neighbourhood than Alick; and as he
came rushing, helter-skelter, along the garden-path, cramming Mrs.
Vesey's answer into one of his crowded pockets, one could not be
surprised at his popularity, for a merrier-faced boy than Geoff did not
exist.  And his looks did not belie his laughter-loving nature.  The
boy overflowed with mischief and good-humour.  His was one of those
natures that never fail to take their colour from their surroundings.
Geoff was influenced this way and that by every wind that blew.  Had it
not been for Alick's bad example, the boy would have been as orderly
and obedient a pupil as even his tutor could desire.  As matters stood,
however, Geoff trod on the heels of his mutinous elder brother in every
mischief hatched at the Bunk.  There was this distinct difference
between the rebels, however: Alick's tricks and practical jokes, as
well as his rebellion against authority, had in them the strain of
_malice prepense_ which made of them blacker faults, while Geoff's
misdemeanours were committed in the name of, and for the sake of, pure
mischief.  Splutters and Shutters instinctively recognised this kindred
spirit in the boy, as they tore madly after him through the garden,
barking vociferously their affectionate admiration.

'Binks, I say!' Geoff almost yelled in his endeavour to drown the
terriers' voices.  'Who do you think has come back to the village?
Why, Jerry Blunt, with one arm, poor chap, from that North Pole
expedition.  He has given up the sea; and you'll never guess the land
trade he means to take up, not if you sat down for six weeks to think
it out.  You couldn't, so I may as well tell you.  Training young
bullfinches to sing tunes.  Ho! ho!  He! ho!'  Geoff Carnegy had a most
extraordinary laugh of his own, and it rang out on the crisp salt air.

'Who told you?  How did you hear?' shouted Alick from above.

'Why, Jerry himself has just been up to the Vicarage to tell Mr. Vesey
all about it, and----  But, wait a bit, I'll come up beside you and
finish the story!' and Geoff clambered up alongside of his brother.

'Whatever's that you're a-sayin' of, Muster Geoff?'  Binks, with spade
in mid air, was open-mouthed.

'Jerry Blunt--you remember old Jerry, Binks, don't you?  He has come
back from the North Pole.'

'Oh, comed back, has he?  Jes' so!  Well, I ain't surprised.'

'No, you never are, Binks!' Alick drily observed.  'Take an earthquake
to wake you up!' he added under his breath.

'And do'ee say as the lad's left an arm behind?' inquired Binks.

'Yes, I did,' rejoined Geoff.  'He's up at the house yonder, in the
study, telling the vicar how it was done.  Mrs. Vesey didn't know; she
told me about the bullfinches, but she couldn't say how the arm was
lost.  I should say it must have been nipped off by a Polar bear,
shouldn't you, Binks?'  Geoff's eyes protruded excitedly as he mentally
pictured the suggested nip.

'Polar bear?  Hum!  Well, it might ha' bin.  I never fancied bears.
There's a deal o' low cunning about a bear; no slapdash courage, so to
say, same's there's in a lion or a leopard, but jes' a cruel, slow,
deliberate intention to kill, like a nor'-east wind as blights and
nips, sure as sure.  Once, I remember, there was a travellin' bear came
Northbourne way.  'Twas when I was a b'y, same's your two selves.  This
yere bear had a man with it, a mounseer, to judge from his tongue.  He
wasn't a bad chap, and couldn't well help bein' a Frenchy.  He wasn't
never unkind to the bear; he fed him, and saw to his straw bed o'
nights, same's the creature was his own child.  But as I've said, there
ain't no nice feelin' about a bear; you can't win 'em, nohow.'

'Well, but what happened?' impatiently broke in Alick.  'Did the bear
do anything?'

'I'm a-comin' to that, muster, if you'll give me time; but you're the
hurryin' sart, you are.  I should think as the teacher-genelman must
have his work laid out to keep up with you, you be so mortal anxious to
learn.'

Alick reddened, and glared down at Binks's unruffled countenance; but
he forbore to retort, recognising that the old man's powers of repartee
were superior to his own.

'Oh, come on, please do!' persuasively said Geoff, thrilling to hear
the sequel of Binks's story.

'Well, as I was sayin',' Binks relented and went on, ''twas when I was
a b'y, and a rare fuss it did make.  I was one as saw the thing with my
own eyes.  That mounseer chap had divided his dinner with the bear one
day; the greedy baste had swallowed his own share, and was watching his
master out of them cunning eyes bears has.  Of a suddent he clawed away
the victuals and bolted them; then there was a shriek from poor
Frenchy, and we all saw as the bear had him in a grim death-hug.  I
tell you it took a few Northbourne men to separate them two, and when
'twas done, I don't forget the sorry sight the unfortunit' man was.
There warn't no hospitals nor nothin' in them days, and the doctor he
had a tough job to bring the poor furriner to, and patch him up, I tell
you!'

'And the bear?' struck in Geoff.  'Did they do anything to the bear?'

'Only shot him dead; nothin' else.  'Twas the doctor hisself as shot
him; we didn't want no savage wild beasts round Northbourne woods.
But, as I was sayin', there's no nice feelin' about bears, and I make
no doubt 'twas owin' to one of them Polar beasts as Jerry lost his arm,
but we'll hear about that from hisself.  Poor lad, he wasn't a bad
sort, Jerry.  You could always take his word for whatever 'twas.  I
never knowed Jerry tell a lie, and you can't say more'n that for a
genelman born.  B'ys, I'd rather, when my own time comes to be laid by
in the churchyard yonder, have it in writin' over me, _He never telled
a lie_, than I'd have anything on arth writ there.'

'Well,' said Alick reflectively, 'there's one thing I can't make out,
and that is, what brought Jerry Blunt back to Northbourne?   If I'd his
chances, and got free away from this stupid hole, catch me ever coming
back, that's all!'

'Ah, so you say, muster!'  Binks had returned to the refractory carrots
once again.  'But you'll find out, one of these days, that there's
summat in each of us like cords that draws a man to the old home.  'Tis
nature, as the Almighty 'as planted deep in our hearts, a-workin' in
the wust of us and in the best of us alike.  Why, 'tis the same thing,
that hankering, we--some of us--has for a further-away home still, the
homeland beyond.'

As Binks leant on his spade, and pushed back his straw hat to gaze over
the blue waters to the misty, far-off horizon, a softer look stole over
the wrinkled face.  He had forgotten, the mischievous boys perched on
the wall above, forgotten Jerry, the returned wanderer, in the thought
of that home to which he would willingly enough depart, where the old
man's human treasures were already housed, and where they awaited
himself.

'I say, let's get down, and slip round to the lane; perhaps we might
catch Jerry, and walk home with him.'

It was Geoff's suggestion; and the brothers slid down from the wall to
the beach on the other side to make off, amid a distracting volley of
heart-rending howls from the betrayed Splutters and Shutters.



CHAPTER III

'MISS THEEDORY'

'Oh dear!  I wish I could make it come right!'

The speaker was a tall girl of eighteen or so, who sat with her thumbs
pressing her ears, and her fingers shading her eyes, to shut out the
sights and sounds of the blue waters that rolled up and broke in crisp
waves on the stretch of yellow sands under the windows of the Bunk
dining-room.

Theo Carnegy had been trying her hardest for a couple of hours to add
up the housekeeping bills for the week.  It was a task the girl dreaded
always, and on this particular day the figures seemed unusually
contrary and obstinate to cope with.  Somehow, they utterly refused to
come straight and tally with the money she had been entrusted with to
lay out.  The bristling difficulties seemed all the more unmanageable
because the sunshine that afternoon was so bright, and the wind so
fresh; while the boat that belonged to the Carnegy family lay tossing
at anchor within sight, as if inviting the girl down for the greatest
enjoyment of her life--a pull across the bay.

But there was good stuff in Theo, gentle and yielding though she
looked, with her sweet, soft face, and the fair waving hair surrounding
it.  She was the one of all the Carnegys who had deliberately given her
heart to God's service.  That she had done so spoke out of her clear,
steadfast eyes, and in the peaceful lines of her mouth, and more than
all, in her unflagging determination to keep on straight at what she
knew to be her duty, without allowing herself to be beguiled to this
side or to that of the narrow path.  Eighteen is not a very advanced
age, even regarded from the point of view of her brothers and little
sister; and Theo, who passionately loved the sea, had a great struggle
to keep her blue eyes fixed on the tiresome figures, which would not
come right, struggle as she might to make them.  It never occurred to
her to shirk a difficulty in any sense; her nature was such that she
must grapple with a duty, however distasteful, once she felt she was
appointed to fulfil it.  Her mother had died when Theo, the eldest
Carnegy, was fifteen, and Queenie, the younger, only two years old.
So, already, she had been for three years her father's housekeeper.  A
certain sum of money was given into her hands every week by the
captain, and there was an end of the matter as regarded him.  He wanted
to hear nothing about ways and means, certainly no details regarding
household management.  All such was forbidden sternly; the captain's
time was valuable, he imagined, it being dedicated to the great object
which he hoped to achieve before he died.  Distinctly, the naval
battles of the world throughout the ages were more important than the
everyday skirmishes in his own household.  Theo, therefore, knew that
on no pretext whatever might she venture to appeal to her preoccupied
father in her difficulties; but she was faithful to her charge, and
gallantly enough fought with the distracting items and their
corresponding figures, which should have agreed, but didn't.  It was
uphill work, however, for the youthful housekeeper.

'Can't you come out yet, Theo?  The boys are across the bay at the
Vicarage, and we could have the boat all to ourselves, if you would
only leave those nasty sums!'

It was a patient little voice that interrupted the distracted girl.
Its owner had been into the room three times already, with the same
object, to ask the pathetic question.

'Oh, don't worry me, Queenie dear!  I'm just as anxious as yourself to
go on the water; but there's three halfpence gone astray, and I--I
can't find it out!' half sobbed Theo, who was getting nervous over the
troublesome figures.

Queenie, a small, sedate maiden of five, a miniature of Theo in face,
stood silent in the doorway for a few seconds, wistfully piecing out
the possible meaning of her tall sister's bewildered grief.  Then she
disappeared.

'Theo, look!'

Theo glanced through her fingers, and Queenie, who had been struggling
with the clasp of what looked like a doll-purse, proudly spread out
three halfpennies so remarkably clean and bright that they had
unmistakably been carefully washed by their small owner.

'You may have these, Theo, 'stead of the three you've lost.  Please
take them.  I don't weally want them, for I've still got five
ha'pennies left!'  The small woman spoke urgently.

'Oh, my darling Queenie, you don't understand!  I could have done that
myself--I could have put in three halfpence, and made all right, but it
would have been all wrong in another way.  Listen now, and I shall try
to explain to you.'

Placing her arm round Queenie's little neck, Theo tried to make the
child understand that such a proceeding would not be fair, nor upright,
nor honest.  It would not be getting out of the difficulty; it would
rather be making it a deeper one.

'What's difficulties?' abruptly asked Queenie, with her round, solemn
eyes gazing into her sister's face.

'Difficulties are things made on purpose to be conquered in the right
way,' said Theo, after a pause of consideration.  'I think,' she added,
'that God puts them in our way, very often, just to try us.'

'Oh, if God makes difficulties, they must be quite right, mustn't they,
Theo?'

'Yes, yes!' was the quick response; and Theo, fired afresh, shut out
the fair picture of the tiny speaker whose grave, sweet face looked out
of a tangle of fine-spun, golden hair.  Covering her eyes, she applied
herself with renewed vigour to the detested task before her.

Queenie, who had oftentimes witnessed such struggles before, knew
better than to utter another word; the child stood perfectly still.
There was no sound in the room but the ticking of the clock and the
cracking of the seeds with which Miss Pollina, the old grey parrot in
the cage by the window, amused herself unceasingly from morn until
night.  Even Miss Pollina seemed to be aware that perfect quietness was
necessary for the present, and she had hushed her usual chatter.

'I've got them!  I've got them!' cried out Theo, suddenly throwing up
her pencil in the air, and showing all her white teeth in a joyous
laugh over her triumph.  Pollina instantly lifted up her head and
raised her voice also in a succession of deafening screams of
congratulation, while Queenie, always sedate as regards laughter and
chatter, silently performed, with a quaint gravity, a careful, slow
minuet round and round the room.

'I lent three halfpence to Geoff to make up his sixpence for the
hospital-cot collection at the children's service last Sunday.  He had
only fourpence halfpenny.  I remember it all now.  Oh, how stupid I've
been, to be sure!'  It was an intense relief to have chased
successfully the truant halfpence.  'Now, Queenie,' went on Theo
gleefully, 'in five minutes I shall be ready for you, and we are going
to have a good time in the boat.  Get your hat on, deary.'

'May I bring some of my doll-people, Theo?'  Queenie turned as she was
disappearing through the doorway to ask anxiously.

'Oh dear, yes!  As many as you can carry!' Theo called back absently,
for she was finishing the column of figures, with a flourish of triumph.

In five minutes more 'Miss Theedory,' as all Northbourne called the
captain's eldest daughter, was rowing across the bay with Queenie
sedately facing her in the Bunk boat.  Queenie had seated several
members of her waxen family on either side of her, and taking them an
airing was a serious responsibility for their anxious little parent.
She was in truth over-burdened with family cares, being the owner of no
less than thirteen dolls of various sizes and degrees of beauty.  'Miss
Queenie's baker's dozen,' the boys Geoff and Alick loved to tease her
by calling them.

At the Bunk there was a tiny, three-cornered room overlooking the bay,
too small for any purpose whatever, even for a storeroom.  This niche
had been given up to Queenie as a play-room.  In it the child kept her
thirteen children; and, in addition, all the accumulated toys of the
family which had come down to herself, the youngest Carnegy, were
therein hoarded and stored by that most staid and careful of little
maids.

'Where is us going to, Theo?' sedately inquired Queenie, after she had
settled her family to her mind in the boat.

'Across to the Vicarage, first.  We are going to have tea with Mrs.
Vesey.  I wrote this morning to say that we should come.  And then, on
our way back, I shall pull round to old Mrs. Dempster's; I want to have
a talk with her about Ned.  You won't mind sitting in the boat if I tie
her to the old punt, will you, deary?'

'Oh no!' tranquilly said Queenie.  The little maid was quite as much at
home on the sea as on the land, for the Carnegy young folk took to the
water like ducklings, from the time they could walk.  The family boat,
'The Theodora,' christened after Theo herself, was in daily use in the
bay, which was generally well sheltered, no matter how fierce the
storms that raged out their fury in the deep waters beyond.  'Is Ned a
naughty boy?' inquired the little girl presently, her watchful eyes
fixed on the waxen ladies and gentlemen who lay back languidly when
they did not abruptly slide altogether down to the bottom of the boat.

'Well, Ned's not a bad boy exactly!' said Theo slowly.  'He's not quite
satisfactory, though.  I'm afraid our Alick is too much with Ned; they
are putting mischief into each other's heads, if I'm not mistaken!'
Theo had a trick of talking confidentially to her little sister, as if
she were grown-up enough to understand that this world is not made of
play-days.  Possibly that was one of the reasons why Queenie seemed so
sedate and solemn.

'Alick's going to be a sailor, and find the North Pole,' observed
Queenie, administering a quiet box on the ear to an ill-behaved doll
that wobbled with the motion of the boat in a manner that was enough to
render anybody who watched her quite sea-sick.  'Who lost the North
Pole, Theo?' demanded the child.

Queenie's questions were usually of a most unexpected nature, and were
occasionally comical enough.

'Oh, nobody, of course!' laughed Theo.  'What a queer mite you are,
deary!'  Then she went on gravely, 'Finding the North Pole means trying
to reach and to see, with human eyes, what I, for one, don't believe
human beings will ever live to behold.  It is one of God's mysteries
which man has never yet penetrated, perhaps never was meant to
penetrate.'

'What's mysteries?'  Queenie of course thirsted to know.

'Dark, wonderful things; possibly things that it might hurt us to see
or to know.  I've heard Mr. Vesey say that when the fever to find the
North Pole gets into the blood it never leaves a man until life
perishes.  That's why so many have been already lost in the attempt.
They will persist, and nature gives out.  But here we are at the
Vicarage pier.  Jump out, dear, and I'll tie "The Theodora" safely up.'



CHAPTER IV

BINKS'S BIT O' TEACHIN'

An uproarious welcome awaited the captain's daughters as they stepped
out of their boat on the little pier belonging to the Vicarage.
Splutters and Shutters scrambled to meet the visitors, barking out
hospitality in their customary violent fashion.  Behind them hobbled
Binks, eager to help 'Miss Theedory' fasten up the boat, privately
sceptical of the young lady's capacity to do so.

'Oh, Binks!  How d'ye do?' politely asked Queenie, who, having
disembarked her waxen family, was endeavouring to protect them from the
frantic welcome of the terriers, both of which seemed ready to eat up
the doll-guests, so glad were they to see them.

'Sadly, missy; I'm but proper sadly!'

'What is it, Binks?' sympathetically asked Theo, shaking out her
blue-cotton skirts, and drawing on a pair of gloves, for Mrs. Vesey was
peculiarly dainty and sensitive about trifles.  Though an invalid
herself, the poor lady was always exquisitely dressed, maintaining as a
reason that if the human body be the temple of Christ, then it must be
the bounden duty of the Christian owner not only to keep it wholesome,
but also to adorn it, making it fair without, to match the fairness
within.  Not only in her own person did this dainty gentlewoman carry
out her theory, but she looked for it in the persons of her visitors.
Theo invariably respected her wishes by appearing before her trim and
trig.

'Tis jes' they rheumatics, Miss Theedory!' answered Binks cheerfully,
for all the world as if his aches and pains were so many honours.  'But
there, what's 'ee to expec' at sixty-seven?  People's jints bain't made
to hold out for ever-'n-ever.  Will 'um now?'

'No, they won't!' joined in Queenie comprehendingly.  'Miss Muffet's
jints are giving way, too.  Just look, Binks!'  She held up for
inspection an elaborately dressed lady, whose arms and legs were in
such a tremulous condition that their total lapse from the body to
which they belonged would have been no surprise.

'I shall ask father for some of that famous liniment of his, Binks,'
said Theo.  'I could send you over some in a little bottle; the boys
shall bring it this evening.'

'If you ask me candid, I should say that glue would be the best
liniment to patch _them_ jints!'  Binks was stolidly contemplating the
loose condition of Miss Muffet's limbs.

'We're at cross purposes!' laughed Theo.  'Come along, Queenie; there's
Mrs. Vesey standing at the drawing-room window waving to us.  We must
not keep her waiting.  Can't you leave your doll-people in the boat,
dear?  Binks will see that the dogs don't worry them to bits.'

'Ay, ay!  That I will, missy.  Bless 'em both, they're picters, they
two, as taut and trig as you please.  God give 'em smooth seas to sail
over!' added the old man under his breath, as he watched the captain's
daughters cross the lawn above.

Time was, far back in years, when Binks had watched with pride such
another maiden as 'Miss Theedory,' the daughter God had given, or,
rather, had lent, for a little while, to the parents who idolised her.
The frosts of death nipped the human flower.  Slowly, surely, it faded,
until the little home it had gladdened and made fair was empty and
dark, like the hearts left sorrowing.  Long years ago though it was
since the blow had fallen, still not yet was the wound healed over.
Behind the austere front and grim temper of old Binks, the memory of
his maid Bessie lived fresh and fragrant as the girl herself had been.
There are some of us who, loyal ever to the love rooted deep in our
hearts, thus keep green the memory of those 'faces we have loved long
since, and lost awhile!'

'She's rare and sweet, is Miss Theedory,' murmured the weather-beaten
old man, when the sisters had disappeared, and he turned to fasten the
boat to the pier-head.  'But I make no doubt she've her peck o'
troubles, too, what with them limbs of young brothers, and the captain
so uplifted-like that he can't give a hand to help her rule 'em.  Yes,
Miss Theedory has no easy life of it, though she be a born lady.  'Tis
a world o' ups and downs, this is.'

'Hilloa, Binks!  Oh, I say!'

The old man wheeled round to find Geoff and Alick had unexpectedly
returned.

'Whatever's ado now?  What's brought 'ee both back?' snapped the old
man crustily.  The boys were anything but pleasant interruptions in his
eyes.

'Oh, we got tired waiting about for Jerry.  He hasn't come yet.  And
we've just seen our boat come into the pier, and we want it to go for a
row,' both boys spoke at once.

'Ye want the boat, do 'ee now?  Well, then, ye can't get it, that's
all!'  Binks faced round upon the boys, who were trying to push past
him and jump into the boat.  'Miss Theedory, she says, says she,
"Binks, I looks to you to see arter that boat for me!" and with that
she stepped up to the house, she and little missy, to see the mistress.
'Tain't likely I'm a-goin' to 'low her to find no boat waitin' for her,
bym-bye, when she's ready to go back 'ome.  You jes' be off, young
musters!'

'That's all nonsense!  It's no use of you showing fight.  We mean to
have the boat.  It's our boat, and Theo can walk home; do her good,
too.'

Alick spoke sullenly, and pushed past Binks on the slippery little
pier.  But he reckoned without counting the cost.  Binks, though
rheumatic and a trifle bent, still retained some of the strength that
had made him a byword as an athlete in his young days.  With a touch of
angry red in his brown, wrinkled cheek, and a spark of wrath in his
deep-set eyes, he seized the boy neatly by the back of the collar and
the band of his Norfolk tweed jacket.  It was useless for Alick to
splutter and howl and threaten.  Old Binks swung him, as though he were
a kitten, over the edge of the pier, while Geoff fairly doubled up in a
wild ecstasy of laughter.

[Illustration: SWUNG HIM AS THOUGH HE WERE A KITTEN.]

'Tis this way I'll serve 'ee, if so be as you wants to, interfere wi'
me doin' of my dooty, young sir!' croaked out the sturdy old veteran.

'Let me down, I say, let me down!  Oh, I'll pay you out!' screamed
Alick, maddened more by a sense of humiliation than of terror, for none
of the Carnegy name dreaded a ducking in the sea.

'There ye be, then!'  Binks at last deposited his wriggling burden flat
on the pier.  'Now, p'raps ye'll understand the way an honest man
dispoges of obstructions in the path o' dooty!  You're an obstruction,
you are, muster; and if so be as you lay the lesson to heart, the bit
o' teachin' on my part will be wuth while.'

'I'll pay you out.  See if I don't!' repeated Alick, sidling hurriedly
off, with a parting shot in the shape of the coward's favourite threat.

'Oh, come!'--Geoff was at his heels,--'the old chap is very game.  You
must allow, too, that he was in the right, Alick, and we were wrong.'

Clear-sighted Geoff never hesitated to render justice to others.  But
Alick was different.  Baffled and furious, he slouched away, hatching
secret revenge upon the old man who had so determinedly baulked his
will.



CHAPTER V

BREAKERS AHEAD

Ned Dempster was certainly the sharpest of all the boys in Northbourne.
Naturally sharp, that is to say, for he, in common with Alick Carnegy,
was incorrigibly idle, and Ned's talent of ability was therefore
allowed to rust from disuse.

The Carnegy boys and Ned were in the same class at Sunday school, a
class taught by Theo.  The rest of the boys comprising it being dull
and lumpish, it was only to be expected that a sharp-witted lad like
Ned stood out brilliantly from his neighbours, attracting by his
intelligence the attention of his teacher as well as her young brothers.

Ned Dempster was an orphan who had been brought up by his grandmother,
Goody Dempster, the oldest inhabitant of the little fishing-village, an
aged woman whose skin was baked brown by the sun and the salt
sea-breezes until she had more the appearance of a New Zealander than
an Englishwoman.  Pitying the boy, as well as being considerably
interested in his intelligent answers in class, Theo began to have him
a good deal at the Bunk.  She found many little offices there for him,
such as to look after and keep tidy 'The Theodora,' the family boat,
and to help in the obstinately unproductive garden.  In this way the
acquaintance between the three boys became a week-day as well as a
Sunday one.  Alick and Ned, in particular, rapidly found themselves to
be kindred spirits.  In each was ingrained a powerful love of
adventure.  Alick, a great reader, who had devoured already his
father's little library, which was made up for the most part of books
on seafaring subjects, found in Ned Dempster a listener who hungered
for as much of that exciting fare as Alick could manage to retail
second-hand.

For a long time the darling topic that absorbed their individual
attention was pirates.  The boys were never weary of rehearsing all the
thrilling scenes of pirate-life which Alick had either read or heard
of.  In these lively pastimes Geoff willingly shared, lending a hand
and a stentorian throat to the exciting work, though his tastes did not
lie in that direction to the same extent as did those of his brother
and Ned Dempster.  Still, to be dressed in fierce red sashes, to wear
elaborately corked moustaches, to be armed with clumsy, antique weapons
which represented cutlasses, and to board, with ringing shouts, the
beached-up fishing-boats in search of slaves, was a delightsome
diversion.  And perhaps to Geoff its greatest charm was that there was
plenty of noise about it.

In course of time the joys of pirate-life palled.  Next, there set in
an extended course of terrible shipwrecks to order; these catastrophes
being altogether independent of the weather.  Into this game, which was
not so exclusively manly, the many dolls belonging to Queenie were
pressed.  Time after time, these waxen ladies were bravely rescued and
ceremoniously restored, dripping from the waves, to their anxious
little owner, who, truth to tell, caught more colds than one in tending
the shipwrecked doll-people.

But, in after days, Alick and Ned struck out quite a new line.  Late
and early they were found poring over atlases; drawing charts upon
everything and anything, promiscuously, in the Northbourne landscape.
Their daily conversation consisted of mysterious whispers about
marching Polewards; about dangerous floes, and about camping out on the
ice.  At this juncture Geoff threw up his partnership in the games,
which had become over-serious for his light-hearted, fun-loving nature.
Not for him was there any attraction in the great mystery of the North
Pole.

The imagination of Ned Dempster, on the other hand, took fire over the
marvellous adventures, the awe-inspiring dangers and hardships of those
explorers who, hitherto, have failed to attain the great object.  This,
in truth, was an aim to live for, to perish for, if need be; and as
time went on, the boys became closer intimates than ever, particularly
as nobody else took any interest in the one topic that had seized, with
iron grip, their youthful imaginations.  Perhaps the fact of the
indifference of others bound the two closer together.

Alick grew worse and worse over the preparation of his lessons for the
tutor.  The routine and discipline of the schoolroom became too irksome
to be borne.  Consequently, punishments and detentions and complaints
were the order of the day at the Bunk, to the despair of their tutor,
Philip Price, a quiet, not over robust-looking young man, who had
qualified for the Church, but as yet had failed in getting a living.
Meantime he taught the young Carnegys every morning, and made up a
slender income by giving afternoon lessons elsewhere.

The young man and his widowed mother, after their home was broken up by
death, had sought a hiding-place far from the summer-friends, who fell
away so quickly in the 'day of trouble.'

'I'll work for you, mother dear; never you fear about the future!'
Philip had bravely declared.  Poor lad, he had gallantly striven to do
so, but sometimes he felt as though every man's hand was against him,
so fruitless were his struggles.  It is hard work to force one's way
inside the world's pitilessly closed doors.

Certainly, Philip Price might have had his chances, as they are called,
if he had not been so bent upon entering the clerical profession.  His
mother's relatives were City men of some repute, and a sure footing
among them might have been gained by the young man, had he chosen to
relinquish his dream.  But Philip did not so choose.  Even after he had
fully qualified, and the living he had made so sure of stepping into
passed into the hands of others, and it seemed as if the labourer were
not 'worthy of his hire,' Philip did not regret his choice of a career.

'It will come right, mother, don't you doubt it,' he persisted.
Meanwhile something else came.  Failing health was the cross that
Philip Price was required to shoulder.  He grew painfully thin as time
went on; his tall, elastic figure acquired a stoop; and there came, to
stay, an anxious, upright line between his eyebrows, that spoke of
mental worry.

'Philip dear,' his watchful mother, quick to note these signs, laid her
hand on his shoulder to say, 'these pupils try you overmuch.  I know
they do!'

'Nonsense, dear old mater!' evaded Philip, imprisoning the wrinkled
hand.  He had come in looking unusually spent, and thrown himself on
the hard, slippery sofa of the cheap lodging the Prices called,
nowadays, their home.

The truth was the young tutor had begun to tire woefully of the daily
grind he had taken up so blithely.  It was the incorrigible Carnegy
boys who were his special worry.  His other pupils, a meek, small boy
and his shy sister, though they would never set the Thames on fire by
their wit, at the same time would never goad their teacher to
desperation by mutinous, unruly ways.  But Philip Price never carried
tales out of school.  Not from himself did his mother learn how tried
the tutor was, but, with a woman's instinct, she divined the cause.

'I wish, dear, you had never seen that family, the Carnegys,' she said
plaintively.  It was a chance shot, of course, but Philip started up
alert.

'I've been told a good deal about them, only to-day,' went on the
widow, taking up some fleecy knitting.  The mother and son were sitting
in the twilight, and knitting needed no spectacles.  'It seems they are
an ill-governed pack, the young people, neglected by their father, and
allowed to grow up anyhow, people say.  Philip, I feel quite positive
that they try you beyond your strength.  Is it not so?  Tell me, my
dear.'

'Mother,'--Philip's thin face flushed as he spoke hurriedly,--'is it
quite fair of you to quote "they say" about people whom you don't know?
The Carnegys are not an "ill-governed pack," I assure you.  The
boys--my pupils--are, I grant you, unmanageable young rebels; but the
others--Miss Carnegy and her little sister--they are----'  Philip
stopped abruptly.

'Well, Phil?'  His mother raised her head quickly to glance at the
troubled face opposite.

'They are as sweet and gentle-natured as they are fair!' said Philip in
a low voice.

'I should like very well to see and know these Misses Carnegy for
myself,' presently observed Mrs. Price; and Philip noted the faint,
jealous displeasure in her voice.

'Mother,' he laughed in a boyish way, 'one of those Misses Carnegy, as
you call them, is so charming that you could not resist taking her in
your arms and setting her on your lap!'

'Oh, they are only children, these girls?'

'One of them is,' rejoined Philip, after a hesitating pause.  'She is a
child of five.  But the other Miss Carnegy is grown up; she is the
eldest, and the mainstay of the family.  There is no mother, you see.'

'Ah!  Poor dear young things!  Well, but, my boy, the thing troubling
me most is that you should be condemned to such poor work as teaching,
when, by rights, you ought to be filling a far different position.  Oh,
Philip, to think with your fine abilities you should be nothing better
than a mere drudge!  I often wish, dear, that you had not been so
obstinate.  You might have had a capital position by this time, with
one or other of your uncles in the City.'

'Hush, mother, please!'  Philip raised his thin hand.  'You know that
from my childhood I've desired to be a soldier of Christ.  If there be
no opening prepared for me as yet, it must be that I am not fit for the
work.  In God's own good time He will point the way.  I am content to
wait that time, mother; and,' added the young man softly under his
breath, 'if it be that the opening never come in this life, well, we
know that all things are possible to Him, without any feeble help from
us weak mortals.'

'Dear boy,' sighed the widow, 'your patience shames my discontent.
But, you see, it tries a mother's heart sorely to see her child
stranded high and dry, while others, not half so fit, rush in and win
the prizes of life.'

'Bide a wee, mater, bide a wee!  Everything comes to the man who can
wait, as the old proverb says.  But I must confess I am at the end of
my patience with those young scamps, the Carnegy boys.'

'Speak to their father, Philip.  Rouse him up to rule in his own
house,' said Mrs. Price energetically.

'I really think I must,' assented Philip; and he did.



CHAPTER VI

THE LITTLE MOTHER

The next day the harassed tutor bearded the lion in his den.

'I really must have a few words with you, captain!' he began nervously
enough.

'What on earth's the matter, Price?  What's wrong now?' testily
demanded the captain, grievously annoyed at being disturbed over his
ponderous literary labours.

'It's the old story,' said Philip dejectedly.  'The fact is, the boys
are getting beyond me, Alick especially so.'

'Well,' said the captain, fidgeting impatiently with his pen as he sat
surrounded by waves of MSS., 'thrash them, can't you?'

'I'd rather try any other means than that!' was the quietly spoken
answer.

'Hasn't the pluck in him for it!' was the thought that passed through
the fiery old sailor's mind.  But if he had noted the calm smile of a
self-controlled nature that flitted across the face of the young man
standing opposite him, the captain would have rapidly changed his
opinion as to the lack of pluck in Philip Price.

'Oh, well, what do you want me to do, eh?  You really can't expect me
to come into the schoolroom and horsewhip the young scamps for you!
You see for yourself how my time is occupied on a most important
subject.'  The captain waved his pen over the closely-written sheets
before him.

'Perhaps not.  But I really must ask you to reason with Alick, if not
to punish him.  It is imperative that something of the sort must be
done.  It comes to this, captain, I don't feel that it's quite honest
to be taking your money for the mockery of teaching the boys,
particularly Alick!'  As he forced himself to speak thus, a dark-red
flush rose to Philip Price's brow, for he was one of the over-sensitive
folk.

'Pshaw, man!  What a fool you must be!'  The blunt captain was at the
end of his patience.  He was quivering to get back to his work.
'Besides, boys will be boys all the world over.  Alick is no worse than
others, I suppose.  You're too conscientious.  It's absurd!' ended the
sailor in a more kindly tone, after he had pushed his spectacles up
into the roots of his iron-grey hair, to take a leisurely look at the
earnest, agitated face confronting him.

'Now, I'll tell you what, Price!' he began again--'the best thing you
can do is to go and talk the matter over with Theo.  That girl can do
anything with her brothers.  She's got a way that some women are born
with--not all women, mind you, but my Theo has it.  Just go and consult
her, and let me get on with my work, I beg of you.  I am going over my
MSS. for the fifth time, young man!  That will give you an idea of my
perseverance with difficulties.  Follow the example, and you'll soon
conquer those young limbs.  Now, good morning to you, Price, good
morning!' and Philip was hastily bowed out of the stuffy little
sanctum, with its piles of MSS. and its odours of stale tobacco.

'Theo's the one to settle it all!' cheerfully muttered the captain, as
the tutor's footsteps died away.  'She's such a sensible little woman,
and has such a talent for managing and organising; she takes after me!'
he added, with a complacence that would have received a rude shock by a
little plain speaking as to those duties close at hand in his home that
he was daily neglecting, in order to follow a will-o'-the-wisp in the
shape of literary success.

'Miss Carnegy, the captain has referred me to you about a matter I have
been forced to mention to him.'

Philip Price was standing in the doorway of the tea-house, as the
Carnegys called the rustic erection at the end of the long,
unproductive garden, hanging sheer over the little rocky headland on
which the captain had built his bunk, when he came to settle at
Northbourne.  A large part of the Carnegys' lives was spent in the
tea-house, for as a family they loved the open air.

It was Queenie's schoolroom, in spring, summer, and autumn.  The two
fair heads raised at the sound of Philip's voice belonged to Theo and
her pupil.  They were busy over the Monday Bible-lessons, it being a
wise rule of the young teacher to follow up the lessons of Sunday while
they were still fresh in the childish memory of her little charge.

'What a contrast!' inwardly groaned the tutor as he took in the
peaceful scene, and compared it with the one he had so recently
quitted, in despair, where Geoff and Alick had that morning well-nigh
goaded him to frenzy by their rebellious conduct.  Alick had been in
one of his worst moods, and Geoff had caught the infection.  Books had
been flung up to the ceiling; the ink-bottles deliberately emptied; and
the rebels daringly shouted 'Rule Britannia!' from the top of the table
on which they had leaped, brandishing the fire-irons.  The tutor knew
that he could have severely chastised one of the boys, and conquered
him with ease, but he could hardly cope at once, single-handed, with
the two.  He therefore felt it to be the most dignified thing to leave
the schoolroom in silence.  All this he told, in a few brief words, to
Theo, unwilling as he was to burden her youthful shoulders, already
overweighted with many cares.

'I'm sorry, Mr. Price, so sorry!'  Theo spoke humbly, and her sweet
face coloured from chin to brow with vexation.  'It's hard for you to
be subjected to such treatment.  The boys are truly unmanageable.  But,
indeed, they have good hearts; they will be so repentant for their
shocking behaviour by and by.'

'They must say so, if they are,' said Philip, firmly, his pale face
growing set.  'I must have an apology from them before I can resume the
lessons, whatever may be the cost.'

'Of course! oh, of course!' hurriedly assented Theo, her fingers
working nervously.  There were breakers ahead, she foresaw.  The idea
of Alick, or Geoff either, apologising!  'I shall go to them, and do my
best to bring them to reason,' she said presently.

'Thank you!  I am sorry that the matter should vex _you_!' was the
grave reply; and lifting his hat, the tutor departed home.

'Vex me!' murmured Theo, leaning her head out of one of the open
windows of the tea-house, and staring absently down upon the waves
leaping over the black rocks below.  'Vex me!  It's more than that.
Oh, it's too bad that all the burden should fall on me!  Father _ought_
to look after the boys.  It's too bad!' she repeated.

Then the sea and sky were blurred, and a vision took their place--a
vision of a sweet, fading face; hands outstretched in pleading; and a
loved voice, long since dumb, rang in her ears: 'You will promise,
Theo, to be a little mother to the boys, and help them over the rough
places in life's journey, as I should have tried to do?  God will help
you, dear.  He will ever be ready with His aid!'

How vividly it all came back to the girl, that dark time in her young
life when the dear, tender mother was called from out their midst.
When all things, in heaven and earth alike, were shrouded in the
pitiless gloom which hid the face of her Heavenly Father from the
despairing daughter.  What a chill, empty, rudderless home it was for
the terror-struck children, with no one to look to for guidance!
Father was away at the far ends of the world on his good ship, and
mother--ah, farther off still was the mother, who had slipped out of
the little home.  Theo remembered, with a pang, the clinging hands of
the desolate boys and the baby, Queenie, which had stirred her out of
her own stupor of sorrow.  It was borne in upon her, then, that she
must step into the dead mother's empty place; and, frail, weak girl
though she was, she had done her brave best to fill it ever since.  She
knew well, none better, that God had indeed helped her daily in her
efforts hitherto.  Lifting her tear-stained face, Theo told herself
that He would do so still, for 'His mercies never fail.'  With a silent
little prayer for strength and patience, she left Queenie in the
tea-house while she went indoors to confront the rebels as courageously
as she could.



CHAPTER VII

MUTINY AT THE BUNK

'Boys!'  Theo's clear treble voice rang through the din that was
shaking the very pictures on the walls of the Bunk dining-room.

'Why, it's Theo, I declare!' shouted Geoff, the first to hear his
sister.  'We're in a state of mutiny, Theo!  Isn't it fun?'  He
shrieked in his glee.

'We've turned on old Price, and completely routed him off the decks,
and we've seized the ship.  We're in sole command of the Bunk--hooray!'
Alick, his face flushed with triumph, his eyes dancing with wicked
mischief, executed a hornpipe in the middle of the dining-table in
furious style and  making a hideous clatter, shouting the while--

  'Will ye hear of Captain Kidd,
  And the deeds of which he did,
  All upon the Spanish main,
  Where so many men were slain?'


'Won't you get down, boys dear, and tell me quietly what has maddened
you so this morning?'  Theo, who had been standing transfixed, spoke at
last, looking calmly at her excited brothers, and her voice, so evenly
modulated and gentle, had an instantaneous effect.  The dreadful din
and noisy dancing abruptly ceased, while the rebels regarded her with
much the same sullen stare as one encounters from a drove of Highland
cattle when molested.

'Where's Price?  Have you seen him?' suspiciously asked Geoff.  'Has he
been reporting us?'

'He'd better not try on that game, I tell you, the coward that he is!'
growled Alick.

'I don't know about Mr. Price being the coward,' pointedly said Theo.
'It isn't usually the fashion among brave men for two to set on one, is
it, boys dear?' she added tranquilly.

Geoff gasped.  Then his mouth, opening to sharply retort, shut with a
click.  He knew that his sister, though only a girl, was perfectly
right.  It had been an unfair, uneven conflict.  Theo put her finger on
the blot with remarkable accuracy for a girl; two to one must always be
unfair, and a rush of shame tingled over him.

Not so Alick.  He would not allow himself to be convinced.

'I'd like to know what right has Price to grind us down?' he muttered,
gloomily frowning at Theo.  'He's an oppressor, that's what he is!  But
I'll soon let him see; I'll pitch into him, if he dares to show his
white face here again, I tell you!  Down with tyrants!'

'He isn't likely to show his face here,' said Theo, loftily regarding
the inflamed countenance of her brother.  'That is,' she continued,
'not unless he receives an ample apology from each of you for this
morning's work.'

'Apology!' shouted--almost yelled--Alick.  'Never!  Don't you believe
it, Miss Theo!  You think you can do most things, but you won't bend us
to that!'  Rub-a-dub on the dining-table hammered the furious boy's
toes and heels, as he broke out into another hornpipe.

'Won't you come down, dears?' again pleaded Theo as gently as before.
'Come to the tea-house, and tell me exactly what the trouble was from
the very beginning,' she said persuasively.

'Oh, we'll tell you!' eagerly assented the boys, with one voice; and
scrambling down from the table, each slipped an arm through Theo's, and
walked away with her, both talking at once, excitedly endeavouring to
make the best of their case in her eyes.  They were genuinely fond of
their elder sister; principally, it may have been, because she never
scolded or flouted them, however badly they behaved.  Theo's way was
different.  It was by gentle means she sought to lead, not drive, her
rebellious, hot-headed young brothers back to the path of duty from
which they were so constantly straying.

'What did you want, did you say?' she asked, bewildered by the two
angry voices full of complaint on either side of her.

'You be quiet, Geoff, and let me tell her, said Alick, in a domineering
tone.  'I'm the eldest!'  That being a fact, Geoff could not well
contradict it, and Alick triumphantly went on, 'You see, Theo, this is
how it all began.  We asked Price, civilly enough, this morning to
allow us a whole day off on Wednesday next, instead of the usual
half-holiday.  And I'll tell you why we were so anxious for a whole
day.  You know Jerry Blunt?'

Theo nodded.  Everybody had heard of the wanderer's return to
Northbourne.

'Of course you do.  Well, but perhaps you didn't know that he has set
up as a bird-trainer, because he can't do any work since he lost his
right arm, and he is bound to make a living somehow.  Jerry told Ned
Dempster that he was going to Brattlesby Woods all day Wednesday to
seek for young bullfinches, and he also said that we might go with him,
if we cared to, and help search the nests.  Wouldn't that have been
splendid?  Now, wouldn't it?'

Theo nodded again--emphatically.  She thoroughly sympathised with all
the boys' pleasures and pursuits, even when she could not join them.

'But that cantankerous old Price refused us flat.  He said we'd been
far too idle, me especially, to yield us one single hour extra; and he
hammered away about his responsibilities as he has the cheek to call
_us_.  Now, I ask you, wasn't that enough to make a fellow just mad?
Wouldn't you have done exactly as we did yourself, Theo?'  Alick gave
his sister's arm an impatient shake.

'Well, no.  I don't think I should have danced so madly on the table to
the horrible music of the fire-irons.  And I _do_ know I should not
have insulted a gentleman.  Another thing'--Theo skilfully reserved her
best shot for the last--'I also am quite sure I shouldn't have set on
him when he was single-handed and I had a partner, as I said before.'

Geoff slid his hand quickly out of Theo's arm; her shot had gone home,
and his face took on a look of hot shame.  Alick, on the other hand,
only frowned the more deeply.

'Let us sit down and talk it all over reasonably,' went on Theo.
'Queenie dear, it is one o'clock; you may take your lesson-book, and
make yourself and your doll-people tidy for dinner.'  Queenie
obediently trotted off to the house, and the speaker continued.
'What's all this about Jerry Blunt, boys?  I thought he was a sailor?
What in the world has a sailor to do with training bullfinches, I want
to know?'

'Why,' glibly began Alick, his face clearing, for the subject was one
specially dear to him, 'you know Jerry was away on that expedition to
find the North Pole--the one that went so far north.  They got to the
Franz Josef Land, the very farthest anybody has ever yet penetrated.
But they failed that time, and Jerry got a frost-bite all through his
own carelessness--he admits that.  His right hand and arm above the
elbow had to be taken off.  Oh, you needn't shudder, Theo; a man can't
both venture and go scot-free.  When the expedition came back they gave
Jerry the sack--turned him off, you know.  So he has come back to
Northbourne to settle with his old mother, and of course he is anxious
to turn an honest penny for a living.  It seems he knows a rare lot
about training young bullfinches to pipe real tunes.  He learned the
trick from a cunning old Frenchman's yarns--a man who was on the
expedition.'

'Yes, and just fancy, Theo!' cut in Geoff excitedly, and forgetting all
his recent twinges of compunction.  'Jerry trains the bullfinches with
a queer little musical instrument, a bird organ it is called.  The
notes are as like their own as they can possibly be, Jerry says so.  He
is going to show us the one he has got of his own.  Old Frenchy, who
taught him how to train, gave him one for himself.'

'What's Jerry Blunt's object in training the birds?  How can it be a
living for him?' asked Theo wonderingly.  For the moment she, too, had
forgotten the disagreeable events of the morning in the novelty of the
subject.

'Why, he will sell them, of course--sell them to a chap in London who
sells them again.  They fetch a good price, I can tell you.  And oh,
Theo, listen, _we_ are going to have a trained finch, Alick and I.
We're going to save up, and Jerry has promised to keep a young bird to
train for us.  We shall pay him, you know.'  Geoff in his elation
jumped up and down on the seat.

'Yes, we are!' said Alick; adding wrathfully, 'and wasn't it a mean,
low trick of Price to refuse us leave to go with Jerry?'  He was quite
ready to blaze up again, volcanic-wise, in another fury.

'Well, boys,' Theo spoke quietly and simply, but there was that in her
face and voice that forced both other brothers to listen, 'you know,
each of you, that father is too busy to look after you; so Mr. Price is
set over you, and he is on honour--being a gentleman, you
understand--not to take advantage of father's preoccupation to give you
such holidays as you have no right to have.  Already they say your work
is far too light, and I know Mr. Vesey has again and again urged father
to send you both to a public school.  When the book is done, and sent
to the publishers, father means to see about it seriously.  You've
called Mr. Price a great many bad names to-day, but you can't call him
dishonourable; that's one point in his favour, and it's but fair that
we should allow him what we can.  It would have been so easy for him to
grant this favour----'

'Humph!' interrupted Alick, as if to say, 'Oh, you're coming round to
our view, are you?  I thought you would!'

'Quite easy!' repeated the young girl gravely.  'And there's another
thing: if it would have been such a pleasure to you, think what it
would have been to Mr. Price to get rid of such tiresome plagues as
yourselves for a whole day!'

In a flash Alick remembered the recent words of old Binks to the same
effect.  For the second time the novel idea of how irksome he and Geoff
must be to their much-tried tutor presented itself, to the resentful
boy's secret astonishment.

'I am sure,' Theo began again, and still more gravely, 'you boys must
remember that the Bible tells us to respect those appointed to be
rulers over us.'

'Don't preach!' Alick rudely cut her short; but Geoff bit his lip.  He
was already bitterly ashamed of his morning's exploit, and tender,
serious words from Theo never failed to touch him to the heart.

Left to himself, Geoff was undoubtedly one of those who, amid good
surroundings, would have kept on the straight path easily enough.  So
could many.  But human nature is, for the most part, made up of Alicks
as well as Geoffs--of boys who wilfully choose to do wrong and to stray
from duty.  Like the genuine wheat and the tares, all must grow
together side by side--in the meantime.

'I didn't intend to preach, Alick,' rejoined Theo gently.  'I only want
to ask you boys to show that you also are gentlemen, in the true sense
of the word, by frankly begging Mr. Price's pardon, when he comes
to-morrow, for your rude outbreak of this morning.  It is the least you
can do, to make amends for an almost unpardonable insult.'

There was a silence.  The waves below dashed and broke on the rocks,
and the hoarse voices from a belated, heavy-laden fishing-boat stole
across the water in shouts to the women, who had been anxiously
awaiting them for some hours on the shore.

'Well, boys dear, have you decided?  Are you to act as father's sons,
as Carnegys of the old stock, or, to put it in another way, as
Christians who have given offence, and know that there is but one way
of making up for it?  Will you apologise?'  Theo spoke with urgent
persuasiveness.

'I shall!'  Geoff stood up straight, and his face was pale and set, as
he confronted Theo bravely.

'I shan't!'  Alick's head sunk lower and lower; on his brow a gloomy
scowl deepened, and his eyes refused to meet those of his sister
wistfully seeking his.



CHAPTER VIII

THEO'S HAVEN

'Oh, mother, mother, it's too hard for me!  You have asked too much,
and I have failed, miserably failed!'

The wind from the sea was blowing fresh and free over the village, and
beyond it to the little churchyard, the God's acre of Northbourne.
Kneeling beside one of the grassy mounds therein was Theo Carnegy,
tears rolling down her earnest face.  The girl was overwrought by
home-worries, for Theo was none of the crying sort, as a rule.  But
there are times in the lives of each of us when all things seem too
difficult for our feeble hands to smooth out; the knots, the
difficulties, become hopelessly entangled; we sit down dismayed in
stony despair, or we weep helplessly, according to our several
temperaments.  From the beginning of the sorrow that shaded her young
days, Theo had a trick, in times when harassing troubles crowded upon
her, of secretly slipping away to the churchyard, and whispering her
trials to that grassy mound, the most sacred spot of earth to the girl.

It was so still, so unutterably peaceful, in the hallowed enclosure,
where the green grass grew tangled among the grey headstones that
elbowed each other in the cramped space.  During the week the little
churchyard was deserted.  On Sundays the simple fisher-folk wandered in
and out among the Northbourne sleepers, talking softly of their old
neighbours; but it never occurred to them to do anything towards
keeping the graves neat and straight.  Theo's loving care kept the
quiet corner where her mother slept in perfect order; but for the rest
an air of dreary neglect prevailed.

Bewildered and harassed by her brothers' mad outbreak, Theo had sought
her usual consolation, and was sitting leaning her cheek against the
stone that told the last chapter in the life-history of the gentle
mother who had risen at the Master's call to go up higher.  And as she
so sat, a peace, born of the surrounding silence, brooded down over her
troubled soul.  Her anger at the boys' mutiny died out.  Somehow, among
the silent sleepers round about her, it seemed small and paltry to fume
over the wranglings of the schoolroom.  The wind that stole up from the
bay dried the tears on Theo's cheek.  New resolves stirred her heart.
She would pluck up courage and try, once again, to move Alick's
stubborn will.  Not that she had much hope of inducing him to apologise
to his justly offended tutor.  She knew that Philip Price had created
an insurmountable rock in the path of reconciliation by his insistence
on such a thing.

'I don't blame him, of course not,' she said half aloud.  'It's due to
him that the boys should apologise.  Dear old Geoff is already willing
to do it; but Alick never will!'

'Who is you talking to, Theo?'  A sweet, shrill voice made Theo jump,
and turn quickly.

'Queenie!  Oh, my deary, how did you know where to find me?' she cried
in her surprise.

'Oh, I could find you nowhere, Theo.  I asked everybody, even father.
Then I knewed you must have gone to see mother, and so I comed too.'
Queenie, armed as usual with a couple of dolls, proceeded to seat
herself and them on the other side of the green mound.  'Tell me about
mother an' me, Theo, when I was a very little girl, will you?' she
soberly begged, when she had established herself and her infants to her
satisfaction.

In this little one there was an utter lack of dread of death.  Nobody
had filled her childish mind with vague fears of the unknown life
beyond.  Her simple faith was that unlimited trustful belief that our
Lord alluded to when He said, 'Except ye be converted and become as
little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.'

The mother whom Queenie only knew by hearsay had gone home first--gone
to Paradise beyond the blue skies.  Theo said so.  This dear mother
would be waiting, with wistful welcomes, for each one of her dear ones
when they, too, went to that other far-off home.  Theo said so.
Queenie, therefore, came, with happy, childish trust, to her mother's
quiet resting-place much as she would have trotted into that mother's
room, had God not called His meek servant away out of her earthly home.

'I don't think I could tell you stories to-day, dear.'  Theo rose
slowly from the grass, and looked down upon the fair little face under
its straw hat.  'I am too troubled.'

'Is it the horrid figures, Theo?' Queenie asked, half-sympathetically,
half-absently, her attention being attracted by a bold thrush hopping
across the graves.

'No, it's worse than figures; it's the boys,' mournfully rejoined Theo.

'The boys are going shrimping this evening, with Ned,' said Queenie
importantly.  'I wish you and I was boys, Theo!' the little one
plaintively added.  Queenie was beginning to discover the fact that
dolls were not, perhaps, the highest joys of life.

Going out shrimping with Ned!  Theo started.  Then things were hopeless
indeed.  There would be no evening preparation.  Perhaps even Geoff had
changed his mind, and would refuse to say he was sorry.

'I must take you home now, at once, deary.  Come!  I have to go and see
old Goody Dempster before tea.  Say good-bye, and come.'

Queenie's fresh little mouth was pressed against the grey headstone,
and she softly whispered, 'Good-bye, mother darlin'!'

Theo stooped and did the same.  The touching little ceremony was never
omitted by either.  Then hand in hand they soberly left the quiet
resting-place, the missel-thrush peering out of its bold eye at their
retreating figures.



CHAPTER IX

COMING EVENTS

'May I come in, Goody?'

A sweet voice penetrated the dim recesses of the little thatched
cottage which, with its weather-stained front, was the centre one of
the half-circle of homely dwelling-places that huddled together looking
out on the world of waters.  Sitting by the smoky fire, watching, as
she knitted busily, the iron pot of potatoes boiling for her supper and
that of her grandson Ned, was Goody Dempster.  Her face, as she lifted
it, was brown and wrinkled--indeed, it was not unlike in hue the
kippered herrings hanging on a stick outside.  But a pleased surprise
sprang into her eyes as she recognised her visitor's voice.

'Is that yourself, Miss Theedory?  Come along in, deary!  You're always
a sight for sore eyes, as ye know well.  Sit ye down on the little
stool as ye've set on sin' ye were a tiny toddler.  It's kep' dusted
careful, case you should drop in; and nobody, not even Ned, sits on
Miss Theedory's stool.'

'I know that, Goody dear.  I shouldn't mind if they did; but you mean
it for kindness to keep a stool specially for me.  Well, you see I've
come again to have another talk with you about Ned.  Indeed, I hoped to
see himself, but he doesn't seem to be in the way.'

'No, Miss Theedory, he ain't.  And reason why's this.  He's bin out
with the Fletchers' boat all the day.  There's a great take o'
mackerrow expected shortly, and the Fletchers they're on the look out;
they're always that spry to the main-chance, as you know, deary.  Not
as I'm one to blame they; people has got to be sharp in their bis'ness.'

'Yes, of course,' assented Theo absently.  She was staring into the
fire, wondering what tack would be best to take with Ned, when she did
get hold of the boy.  'Have you been talking to Ned, Goody, as you
promised you would?' she turned her head to ask presently.

'Ay; I've talked a bit to he.  But b'ys is a handful, Miss Theedory, as
nobody should know better than yourself.  Now, my Ned his heart's in
the right place; it's his head as is the trouble.  He has crammed
hisself with trash of foring travel until the b'y is fair crazed to be
off and out into the world.  That's what it is!'

'I shouldn't call books of travels trash,' said Theo slowly.  'It
wouldn't be quite fair--nor true.  But it's exactly the same at home
with our boys, especially with Alick.  He reads exciting books of
adventure constantly.  Of course I know some folk must go out into the
world, and do all the wonderful things; everybody can't be
stay-at-homes for life.  But the worst thing about it is that Alick
won't wait his time.  He wants to shirk his education and rush off, in
his ignorance, to do things that it takes full-grown men, and
well-instructed men, to even attempt.  Oh dear!'

'Same wi' Ned, set 'em both up!' angrily exclaimed Goody, dropping the
stocking she was knitting into her lap.  'And as for wanting to find
the North Pole, did anybody ever hear tell o' sich impident
presumption!  If the Lord had meant as we should find the North Pole,
He'd ha' showed the way to it, straight as straight, and made it easy
as easy.  But seein' as time arter time men have giv' up their lives,
bein' lost in the ice and snows, and still, to my thinking, if not to
others, the North Pole is shrouded from their reach, why, a body can
see, plain as plain, that 'tain't meant as man should ever compass it.
Not that I can say as it's forbid special in the Book; I won't say
that, nohow.  At least,' added Goody cautiously, 'I've never come
across it in my readin's.'

'Oh, well,' said Theo heavily, 'it would not really so very much
signify what the boys' day-dreams of the future were, if they would
only do their duty meantime.  I was trying so hard last Sunday, in the
class, to make them all understand that God Himself leads always, and
that until He points the way we have no right to set out upon it.  But
it is questionable whether they took in my meaning.'

Goody nodded.  There was a little silence in the cottage.  The potatoes
bubbled gaily in the pot, and the clock in the corner ticked in
measured dignity.

'There's one thing, deary, that I think you had ought to be telled.'
Goody broke the stillness, at last, with an effort.  'I've had it on my
mind for some weeks back to let 'ee know; but somehow I dursn't.  Them
b'ys is plannin' mischief.  They've a notion to run away--to sea!'

The old woman spoke the last words in a whisper, though there was
nobody to hear, save the sleepy old tortoiseshell cat by the fender,
which opened one lazy eye, winked as if she, too, were in the secret,
then, shutting it, purred off to sleep.

'Run away!'  Theo's fresh face turned chalky pale, and her eyes widened
into a terrified stare.

'True, deary, quite true!  Night arter night I could hear Ned a-talkin'
in his sleep in his little bed yonder, same's if somethin' was on his
mind.  So, at last, I got out o' my bed one night a-purpose to listen
careful, and there, if Ned wasn't ravin' away to hisself, in his sleep,
and 'twas all about gettin' away up to the docks at Lunnon, and hidin'
in some ship bund for the North, him and Muster Alick.  It giv' me a
turn, as I see it's done the same to you this minnit, my dear.  So I
thought I'd best tell 'ee private, when I'd the chance; for nobody
knows what a b'y won't dare to do.  P'raps you could speak to the
captain, and git him to make a stir.  Eh, deary?'

'Father?  Oh, it would be no use.  He wouldn't care, nor even listen.
He's too busy with his stupid old writings to mind any of us, or what
trouble we are in.  It's too bad the way we are left to ourselves!'
Theo in her excitement lost her self-control, and spoke with a
bitterness not belonging to her sweet nature.  In truth, the girl was
becoming a great deal harassed by the cares that were pressing upon her
so heavily of late.

'Deary!'  A wrinkled brown finger was raised, and Goody looked over her
horn spectacles in grieved surprise.  ''Tain't for me to pint out to
one so good and gentle as our Miss Theedory that one of the great God's
commandments is to "Honour thy father and thy mother"!  Ain't that so?'

'Yes; but--but,' sobbed Theo, who, tired out and ashamed of herself as
well, suddenly broke down, as much to her own astonishment as to that
of Goody, 'that means a father and a mother who take a real interest in
their children, who----'

'It don't say so special, if so be as it means that!' rejoined Goody
dryly.  'It don't mention any sort in pertikler.  It just says "thy
father an' thy mother"; and that's all you and I've got to do with it.
Let's look to our part, and perform it.  But folks is always in such a
hurry to settle other people's bis'ness that they lose sight of their
own.'

'Oh, Goody, you're right!  What a monster, what a bad girl you must
think me!'  Theo sat up straight.  'I am ashamed of myself.  To think I
should grumble at my own father, my good father, who was such a brave
sailor, as everybody knows, and who never has been unkind to one of us
children in all our lives!'

'That's it, deary!  That's it.  'Tain't what your father isn't, but
what he is, that you've got to look at, and to be grateful for.
Remember what I'm a-goin' to say, and don't 'ee take offence at an old
body's words.  We never, none of us, has but one father on earth,
same's we've but one Father in heaven, who commands us so special to
honour our earthly parents.  And another thing, deary; them things as
seem mountains in your young eyes seems but trifles to the captain's
eyes.  If the time comes as there's real need for him to interfere, and
bring about order in his own home, he will be safe to do it, never ye
fear.  The captain he was one of them as England expec's every man to
do his dooty, and he did it in battle, so I've heard tell.  And he will
do it by you and the b'ys, don't 'ee fear!'

'I'm sure he will,' said Theo humbly.  She had come full of the spirit
of putting everything and everybody to rights, and she told herself
that her own pride and self-sufficiency had earned its well-merited
fall.  Theo Carnegy's heart was too gentle and single in thought to
harbour arrogant pride.  Her quick repentance for the ill-advised words
she had suffered to spring off her lips gave ample proof that it was
so, and that in her the Christian spirit reigned.

'Here's Ned a-comin'!'  Granny lifted her head sharply to listen to a
prolonged, familiar whistle, and the cat, uncurling herself, rose up
into an arch.  There was a rush past the little window, and then Ned
bustled into the room, bringing with him a breath of strong sea air and
also of the odours of the mackerel-boat.

'They've comed, granny!  The mackerrow has comed into our bay, and
we're goin' out agin----  Evenin', miss!  I--I didn't see you before.'
Ned's cap was off, and he stood, colouring up, before the young lady
sitting on the stool and looking at him out of her clear, earnest eyes.

'Ned,' said Theo, somewhat gravely, 'I want a quiet talk with you, one
of these days soon.'

'Yes, miss.'

'Not to-morrow,' went on Theo.  And Ned gave a gasp of relief,
unobserved by her.  He was secretly thankful that Miss Theedory had not
fixed on the morrow, seeing it was the day of the proposed bird-hunt in
Brattlesby Woods.  'We are all going across to the Vicarage to tea
to-morrow,' continued the young lady; and Ned's relief changed to
dismay.  'By the way, Ned, we shall be so glad to see you at the
schoolroom tea at six o'clock.  To-morrow will be Mrs. Vesey's
birthday; and there's to be a little treat at the schoolhouse, as well
as our tea at the Vicarage.  You'll come?'

Ned fidgeted and turned all colours.  He was a straightforward, honest
boy, and his nature would have enjoined him to speak out and frankly
say that his word had been already passed to go with Jerry Blunt to the
woods on Wednesday, but his tongue was tied for Alick's sake.  He could
see that Theo was ignorant of her brother Alick's determination to
carry out his rebellious mutiny.  A fierce struggle raged in Ned's
mind.  'His honour rooted in dishonour stood.'  Should he be outspoken,
or should he be faithful to his chum, Master Alick?

'Better be true,' said the clear voice of conscience.

'No.  Better still stick to your friend through thick and thin,'
contradicted a louder voice.  How well the last specious suggestion
sounded!  So did the whispers of the serpent in Eden in Eve's ears.

'You will come to the tea-party, then?' said Theo, rising from her
stool to depart.

'Thank ye, Miss Theedory; yes, I'll come,' was the mumbled reply; and
in an agony of shame Ned shambled out of the cottage, making believe to
be busy over the tangled brown nets lying in front of the door.

He was a capable lad enough, was Ned, and the Fletchers looked upon him
as a promising hand already in the boat.  Loving the sea passionately,
he had been gay as a lark all day, watching keenly for the expected
coming of the swarm of 'mackerrow.'  But though the take had been
abundantly successful, and the boat came home heavily laden; though the
bay and the encircling cottages were bathed in the cheery red light of
a gorgeous sunset, and supper-time was at hand, somehow the spring of
happiness had died out of everything.  Ned hated deceit with the
vigorous hatred of an outspoken, truthful nature.  He wriggled
mentally, full of guilty discomfort, as he watched Theo's straight,
slim figure rapidly stepping round to the Bunk, and told himself
ashamedly that he had wilfully deceived the 'young miss' who was always
so kind, so civil-spoken, to himself.

'Ned!  Ned, my lad!' called out Goody's cracked voice from within.
'Whatever's ado that 'ee don't come to supper?  The taters is coolin'.'

'All right, granny!  I be turnin' over the nets, that's all.'

Goody's ears--her sharpest sense was hearing--detected the heaviness in
Ned's voice.

'What's come to 'ee, Ned, so suddent?' she asked anxiously, as she
heaped a plate with potatoes, and poured out a mug of butter-milk.

Perhaps it was the smoking supper that proved too much for the hungry
fisher-boy, or perhaps Ned's conscience still troubled him, but the boy
was unusually silent.  Goody, try as she might, could get nothing out
of him.

'I'm off again, granny, soon's ever the moon's up,' Ned at length broke
silence to say, when his supper was finished.

'Are ye, lad?  Well, good luck to 'ee!  The wind's fair and the water
calm.'  Goody stepped to the open door, and peered out at the darkening
bay.  'Ay!  There's Fletcher's folk makin' ready in the boat, Ned.'
She returned to the house-place, and reaching down the thick woollen
muffler, stained with salt water, but a valued heirloom for its warmth,
she handed it to the boy.  'See you don't forgit to put it round your
throat,' she enjoined.  'Neither don't 'ee forgit the bit o' a prayer,
my boy, that I taught ye to say out on the deep by night.  Folks is apt
to think as prayers belongs to a night spent in a comfortable bed
ashore.  But God listens as ready to bits of prayers that goes up to
Him in the black silence o' night, out on the waters, same's He listens
to them as is put up in church o' Sundays, with parson for mouthpiece.
Will 'ee remember, Ned?'

'I'll remember, granny; I do always!' quietly replied Ned, throwing the
muffler across his shoulders.  To do the boy justice, he always did
remember the 'bit o' a prayer' Goody had taught his father before him.

The Fletchers, three generations of whom manned the fishing-trawler,
were decent folk, with a keen eye to the main-chance, or what some
people consider to be such--namely, making as much money as possible.
The sky had clouded over somewhat, and it was darkish as the
'Aurora'--known locally as the 'Roarer'--the chief of the Northbourne
fishing-boats, put out for the night's work.  Ned, glancing at the
Bunk, could see the twinkling lights from its several windows reflected
in the calm waters below.  He wondered what Muster Alick was up to at
that time of evening.  'He ain't learnin' of his lessons, that's sure,'
thought Ned, with an uneasy recollection of the story of the rebellious
outbreak in the schoolroom; for Alick had poured his indignant version
of the same into the ears of his humble comrade.  'Happen he've got
hold of a fresh travel-book.'  Then Ned's thoughts easily slipped off
to the subject of other 'travel-books' devoured by Alick and retailed
to himself.  He pictured vividly, as the 'Roarer' swished through the
dark waters, a far different scene to that of the quiet Northbourne
bay.  A scene made up of dangers by land and dangers by sea; of wide,
lonely floes of ice, their white gleam darkening into the gloom of the
mysterious distance as yet untrodden by human feet.  Ned's pulses never
failed to beat like hammers when such thought-pictures dangled
themselves before his mind's vision.  He forgot in the entrancing dream
the outbreak at the Bunk; forgot the holiday to be stolen on the morrow
in Brattlesby Woods, and the deception practised on Miss Theedory;
forgot, for the first time, the 'bit o' a prayer' taught him by
faithful old Goody to say when his nights were passed on the deep.



CHAPTER X

UNDER ARREST

Tuesday morning had come and gone.  Philip Price, the tutor, sat in the
dining-room of the Bunk with but one pupil facing him at the table.
Geoff, faithful to his promise, had apologised in a manly,
straightforward fashion for his unruly behaviour on the day of the
'Great Rebellion,' as the Carnegys had secretly christened their
outbreak.  No sooner had the boy so done than he was freely forgiven.
But Alick flatly refused to sue for pardon, when confronted with his
offended tutor, spite of Theo's tearful entreaties.  Stubbornly the
wrong-headed, wrong-hearted boy held out.

'Very good!' dryly said Mr. Price, after waiting in vain.  'Then, until
you see fit to do so, I must dispense with your attendance here, Alick,
otherwise our positions as master and pupil would be reversed.
Good-morning to you!'  Philip had risen, and was holding the door open.
A great struggle had been going on in the young man's mind.  It would
be easier, he knew, far easier, for him to gloss over Alick's obstinate
refusal to repent, and just to let things go on in the old way.  The
temptation to do so was great, particularly to one whose days were
shadowed by much physical suffering, which made it the harder for him
to rise up and energetically quell such a rebellious rising as he had
had lately to cope with.  But Philip owned a lion's heart as well as
clear, well-defined notions of right and wrong.  Also he had learned
not to lean on his own strength.  There was, he knew by experience, a
higher help always ready for those who seek it, and Philip had long
made it a habit to do that in all things, small or great.  He was,
therefore, enabled to deal with the young rebel in a dignified and
temperate yet firm manner.

Muttering savagely Alick withdrew with slouching gait.  He knew well
that he was no match in regard to words with his tutor, who had
preserved _his_ temper admirably.  Master Alick consequently felt it to
be the best policy to hold his tongue.

'Has you got a holiday, Alick?  Or has you got the toothache?' asked
Queenie innocently, surprised when Alick sauntered into her playroom,
an hour after, feeling rather like a fish out of water without his
inseparable companion Geoff, and without his usual employment.  Ned
Dempster was also out of the way, he being absent with the
fishing-boats; for the bay was alive with the shoals of mackerel, over
which intense excitement simmered throughout Northbourne.

'Yes, I _has_ got a holiday, miss!' was Alick's grim rejoinder.  'A
pretty long one too, I expect.'  Then he added in a curt, sharp tone,
as though to stop further questions, 'Now, look here, Queenie!  Have
you got any of your family that wants mending, eh?  Any sick and
wounded?  Any broken legs or heads lying about?  Because if you have, I
can undertake to put them right this morning.  I've got nothing else on
hand.'

'Oh, can you, will you?' delightedly said Queenie.  Then, suddenly
recollecting herself, she quickly added, 'But, Alick--oh, I couldn't
get out all my sick dollies this minute, 'cos, you see, it is nearly
'leven o'clock, and Theo will be waiting for me in the tea-house, to
begin my lessons.'

'Lessons!  Never you mind rubbishy old lesson-books, Queenie!  I don't
mean to, never again!'

'Has you learnt up everything then, Alick?' asked the child, gazing
respectfully at her brother, with all the wondering admiration one
often sees in little girls for big brothers.

'What has that got to do with it?' roughly answered the boy.  He was in
that volcanic condition of mind that every word spoken was as a match,
and set up a blaze of ill-temper.  'Give me over that one-legged doll,
and I'll "fix" her up, as the Yankees say.  Hand her ladyship over.'
Alick Carnegy had one tender spot in his heart.  Most of us have.  And
that in Alick was occupied by Queenie.  He was passionately fond of the
innocent-faced, round-eyed little sister, and he was always ready to
mend her sick and damaged properties.

'That's poor Miss Muffet.  She felled out of my arms on the beach, and
Splutters and Shutters worried her, Alick, before I could pull her
away.  Ah, it was dreadful!' chattered Queenie.

'You shouldn't pull things away from dogs.  Never, never do such a
thing.  Do you understand, Queenie?  They might snap, you know, and
then where would you be?'

Down on the floor Alick sat himself, and fell to work to repair as best
he could the interesting cripple.  But Queenie, eager enough though she
was to watch the surgical operation, had a conscience hidden away in
her small person, as her restlessness showed.

'I mustn't stay, Alick.  I mus' go!  Theo will be waiting, for the hall
clock has struck.  I counted 'leven strokes just now!'

Away to her lessons bustled the little maid, and Alick, unhappy, sullen
and forlorn, was left to himself in the play-room.  The boy was
distinctly most miserable.  Indeed, he could not be otherwise; it is
unnatural for the young to be in a state of rebellion against those set
in authority over them.  They suffer hotly for it, with the measureless
capacity for suffering belonging to the young.

In spite of his wretchedness, Alick was, however, fully determined to
go bird-hunting on the morrow in Brattlesby Woods with Jerry Blunt.
Equally determined was the boy also that he would never beg his tutor's
pardon--if he could possibly help it, that was.  Alick knew that if his
continued insubordination came to his father's ears the certain result
would be a thrashing, similar to one of which he still had a most vivid
recollection.  It occurred on the only occasion that the captain had
been roused to administer punishment to both Geoff and Alick.  That was
when the brothers had strangled several of Widow Dempster's hens by
lassoing them, on the pretext that the unfortunate fowls were
prairie-horses, the boys being prairie-hunters.  This was a heinous
misdemeanour in the upright old sailor's eyes.  Alick winced still at
the remembrance of the captain's wrath, and also of the captain's whip,
which he by no means spared on his boys' backs.

'I certainly hope that father won't get to know about this row!' he
muttered uneasily, as he finished screwing on Miss Muffet's leg, and
set her up as proud as the best.  Then looking round for more surgical
needs to operate upon, and finding a hapless horse minus a tail, Alick
ingeniously supplied the unbecoming deficiency with bristles out of the
hearth-brush.  He was a remarkably handy boy; his fingers were skilful,
and he possessed a certain amount of invention.  As he prowled about
the shelves, setting a good many of Queenie's infirm toys on their
feet, and making all things taut, the morning wore on apace.  He was
glad enough of any occupation to pass the time, which seemed strangely
lagging, as he glanced impatiently at his silver watch.

'I suppose Price and old Geoff are as thick as thieves, palavering away
over that awful Latin,' he soliloquised between the tunes he was
whistling.  'Price will be buttering up Geoff at my expense, no doubt.
Well, I don't care; why should I?  I've made up my mind not to give in,
and nobody--not Price, at least--shall make me.  Hilloa!'  Lifting up
his eyes to the light, to see if he had glued on the wooden canary's
head quite straight on its neck, Alick caught sight, through the
window, of a couple of fishing-smacks making steadily for the bay.

'That one to the left is Fletcher's boat, or I'm blind, and Ned's on
board, I know.  I'd better just run down to the beach, and have a
private word in his ears, as soon as he lands, about to-morrow.  What a
day we shall have in Brattlesby Woods!  Oh my, shan't we just!'

In a short time Alick, his morning's misery all forgotten, was down on
the shore, vigourously helping to haul in the heavy nets, and sharing
in the tumultuous excitement never failing to greet any and every boat
that put in to Northbourne beach.

'Can you come along with me, Ned?' he took the opportunity of
whispering in Ned's ear.  'I've got something to tell you about
_to-morrow_.  You know what I mean.'

Yes, Ned could give Muster Alick five minutes before he sped home to
Goody's for a warm meal, and likewise a bit of sleep; for the boy was
stiff, as well as starving, after his long, chill night on the water.

'I only wanted to say,' Alick hastily announced, 'that I'm game to go
with Jerry Blunt to-morrow morning, if you will let me know the hour
you mean to set off.'

'We thought of going pretty early,' said Ned slowly, after a pause of
hesitation.  'We wants to make a good long day of it.  But--but, Muster
Alick, have ye told them up at the Bunk that ye're set on going with
us?  I thought as ye said the tootor wouldn't 'low ye, and that Miss
Theedory backed him up.  Didn't ye?'  Ned eyed his companion with a
certain amount of stern suspicion as he put the questions.

One of Theo's class-boys himself, he had a genuine reverence for his
gentle teacher.  There was nothing, the poor fisher-lad was wont to
tell himself, that he would not have dared or done for the sweet young
lady's sake.  Her very gentleness and soft speech seemed to attract and
also subdue his rough nature, by force of contrast possibly.

'What on earth is that to you?' loftily demanded Alick, resenting both
the questions and the mention of his sister's name, as brothers will.

'Why, 'tis this to me!' rejoined Ned grimly, and standing square.  'I
ain't a-goin' to have Miss Theedory lookin' at me through an' through,
an' a-sayin', "Ned," she'll say, "why ever did'ee lead away my brother
to do wrong?"  I couldn't stand that, muster!'

'What a born idiot you are, to talk in that way!' said Alick grandly.
'It's quite enough for you that I tell you I'm coming to-morrow; that's
all you've got to do with it.  Oh, I say, Ned!'--he descended from his
pinnacle of dignity all in a hurry--'it has been such a lark!  I told
you what a row we have had with old Price, and that I bowled him over.
But Geoff has actually given in.  Theo--I mean my sister--talked him
into an apology--begging pardon, you know.  But I stuck out, and held
my own.  So old Price bowed me off the premises.  You should have
really seen him do it!' ended Alick, with a laugh that had no merriment
whatever in it.  Ned nodded.  He readily comprehended that 'Muster
Alick' had held his own.

'And did he, did Muster Geoff reely ask parding?' he inquired
wonderingly, presently.

'Yes, he did!' Alick spoke shortly, for he resented strongly his
brother's disaffection from a bad cause.  'But what's more to the
purpose, _I_ didn't knock under.  So I'm coming with you; for old Price
won't, he says firmly, give me another lesson until I apologise too.
You may guess, old chap, that I'll have a fine long holiday at that
rate, if--if the governor don't get to hear about it, of course!' ended
Alick rather lamely.

'Oh!' Ned gasped understandingly.  He could readily enough picture the
result of the captain's taking up the matter.  Fireworks would be
nothing to the general flare-up, in that case, the fisher-lad privately
told himself.

Alick next proceeded to plan out the morrow's campaign, and by the time
the Dempsters' cottage was reached, it was agreed that Alick should
make his escape as early as possible from the Bunk, in order that he
might start with Jerry Blunt and Ned before anybody was astir to
prevent him.  Then, with mutual promises of secrecy, the two parted.



CHAPTER XI

A TANGLED WEB

When the Carnegys sat down to dinner that day there was that subtle air
of constraint which is the result of family jars--an electric
disturbance in the home atmosphere which each and all feel.  Theo, at
the head of the table, looked grave and pained.  Geoff was
uncomfortable also, and, in his awkwardness, overtalked himself, in a
frantic desire to smooth matters.  Queenie and the captain himself were
the only members of the family at their ease; while as for Alick, he
sat sullen and dumb, brooding over his self-made wrongs.

'Well,' said the master of the house towards the end of the meal, 'have
you boys come to your senses yet, hey?  Has order been restored on the
decks?  I strongly advised Price to read the Riot Act; I hope he did
so, hey?'  The captain began dimly to be aware of the prevailing
constraint, and then suddenly he recollected the tutor's complaining
report, which had dropped out of his mind two minutes after it was
spoken.

Nobody spoke in answer.  The captain glared, over the top of his
glasses, round the party; but Theo and Geoff would not for worlds have
told tales.  Each felt that silence was the best policy under the
circumstances.

Queenie at last, observing, with some surprise, the unusual hush, took
it upon her small self to reply.

'Alick's been so good!  He has mended all my doll-ladies' broken legs,
and the canary's head, too; and he has made such a bewful new tail for
the old horse--the grey horse, you remember, father, what lost his tail
when he was quite young.  And Alick's tidied all the toy-shelves.  He
has got such a long holiday, Alick has!  Did you know, father?' she
said importantly.

'Ah!' the captain observed gravely, looking his youngest calmly over,
and losing her last words.  'The toy-shelves are _your_ decks, I
suppose, my little woman; the play-room your ship, hey?  Well, well,
history repeats itself.  Oh, by the way, what a wretched memory I've
got!  Dear, dear! why, it has only just come into my mind!  Theo, my
dear, I had occasion to go across the bay the other day, last week I
think it was, about some references I wanted from the Vicarage library,
and I just looked in to have a chat with Mrs. Vesey in her
morning-room.  What a sweet woman that is!  If ever there were a saint
permitted to remain on earth, it is herself.  But what I had to say was
about a special message she gave me for you.  To-morrow will be her
birthday, and she wants all you young folk to go over early, to have
tea and strawberries and cream.  You will like that, my dear, and so
will Queenie.  As for you boys, there's to be a special treat for you,
in honour of the occasion.  I was to be sure and tell you so, I
remember now.  You are to have the key of the museum for yourselves,
and spend the evening there.  But mind, no tricks with the specimens,
which are a valuable collection.  Remember you are on honour, and being
gentlemen, I presume that will suffice to prevent any mischief.  Stupid
of me to forget the message!  However, it's not too late, fortunately;
to-morrow has not yet come.'

There was an involuntary shout of delight from the boys when the
captain finished.  A treat indeed, and a rare one, it was to be
permitted to pass an evening in the curiosity-room of the Vicarage.
From their childhood this museum had been the most interesting spot to
the young Carnegys.  It was packed from floor to ceiling with a
collection of foreign monsters, weapons, and rarities, gathered
together, during a long life on foreign stations in different quarters
of the globe, by the venerable vicar, who, in his heyday, had been an
army chaplain.  A more entrancing treat for Alick and Geoff could not
possibly have been devised.  Suddenly, however, Alick's face gloomed
over.  He remembered that the morrow, the birthday, was Wednesday, and
it was on that day he had bound himself to go to Brattlesby Woods with
Jerry Blunt, the bird-trainer, defying his tutor in the teeth to do so.
Even Alick felt a spasm of regret.  If he had not been so perversely
obstinate in refusing to yield to Mr. Price, here would have been his
reward--a whole evening among the wonders of the Vicarage museum.  It
was maddening!  But the misguided boy felt that he had gone too far to
retrace his steps.  It was too late, he ignorantly told himself; for
Alick knew not that it is never, it can be never, too late to confess
and make amends for a fault--so long as there is breath to bravely
speak out the remorseful confession.

'We know, father, about it,' Theo's quiet voice was saying.  'Mrs.
Vesey guessed you might just possibly forget the message, so she sent
me a note, next day.  It's all arranged, and we are all going.  Father,
dear, wouldn't it be possible for you to come with us too?'  The girl
had left her seat at the head of the table, and came round to lean on
the back of her father's chair.  It seemed to Theo that if the captain
could be induced to join his family's life-pleasures, he would come, in
time, to be a refuge and a help in their life-troubles also; so she
pleaded.

'Tut! tut! tut!  Don't be absurd, my dear Theo.  It's quite unlike you.
I thought you, at least, understood what a life full of urgent
importance mine is, until the _magnum opus_ is achieved.  After
that--well, well, we'll see!'

'Yes, but, dear, just one little holiday!  I know the book is a great
labour, but you might take one afternoon from your work, and come with
us--just for once!'

'No, no, child!  When a man has put his hand to the plough he has no
right to turn back.  And you ought to know better than tempt me, I say.
But with regard to you young people it is very different; you haven't a
care, so you can't do better than be happy, that is, at the appointed
time.  There's a time for everything, the Book says, doesn't it?  Now
then, my dear, let me get away back to my work, if you please.'

The fiery old sailor held a firm conviction that he had an imperative
duty to perform in this world, in the shape of his proposed literary
work.  Duty had been, hitherto, the sailor's god through thick and
thin.  To do him justice, the captain had not the faintest notion of
the gusts of rebellious discontent that often enough swept over the
little household he imagined to be so well ordered.  Deeply attached to
his boys and girls, one and all, though he was, he took no heed of the
fact that the minds of the mere children, as he considered them to be,
were fast awaking up--growing apace with their youthful bodies.  The
truth was, the young folk were utter strangers and foreigners to the
man who had married late in life.  So long as his gentle, tender
wife--a woman eminently fitted for her niche in life by her sweet
nature and her heart filled with Christian grace--lived, the captain's
children were well cared for indeed.  Their needs both of body and soul
were alike looked after.  But the mother who was so qualified by her
rare sweetness to bring up the children God had given her 'in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord,' was called away to a higher,
fuller life 'beyond these voices'; and the sailor, taking the reins of
the household in his unaccustomed fingers, held them over-slackly.



CHAPTER XII

IN THE FAR NORTH

It was June, the 'leafy month': Nature was dressed out in her newest
and freshest of robes, and the homes of her feathered children were
peopled with tiny birdlings, all agape with hunger and curiosity.

Through the shady Brattlesby Woods, and along the hedgerows, stealing
softly, stepping cautiously, crept Jerry Blunt, with his empty sleeve
flapping against his right side, and as he went he peered here and
there where leaves grew thickest.  In his wake followed, on tip-toe,
Alick Carnegy and Ned Dempster, all three intent on seeking for young
bullfinches.

When Jerry Blunt ran away to sea from his native village, Northbourne,
with his soul athirst for adventure, his body was furnished with as
many limbs as other folk.  Little did he dream that the golden future
he panted to grasp would make of him a cripple.  As time went by, and
he became a full-grown man, Jerry had his fill of hairbreadth escapes,
his last exploit of all being to join an enterprising American
expedition got up in the name of science to find the North Pole.  This
venture, one of many, proved the most unfortunate of all for Jerry
Blunt.  Through his own heedless carelessness in refusing to listen to
the advice of his experienced betters, he neglected a severe
frost-bite; in consequence, he lost his arm, which had to be amputated
by the ship's surgeon.  After this catastrophe, Jerry as a man on that
expedition was worth little or nothing.  So he returned, in course of
time, to his native place, 'like a bad shilling,' said Northbourne--and
with an empty coat-sleeve.

'The right arm, too, worse luck!' was all the sympathy he got, and
Jerry, therefore, began to look round for himself.  He knew it was
imperative on him to do something for a living to help out his good old
mother's feeble efforts, and to keep a roof over their two heads.  He
set his wits to work to puzzle out a way.  Without a right arm he was
of little or no use in the fishing-boats, which constituted the sole
trade of Northbourne.  So fishing was out of the question.

Now people don't go the length of Franz Josef Land without picking up a
few odds and ends of information.  Therefore it was not long before
Jerry did hit upon a trade, and it was one thoroughly to his mind.
From his boyhood he had been a passionate lover of the open, and Mother
Nature had shared her secrets with him in no niggard fashion.

He was tolerably well acquainted with the ways and the haunts of his
winged neighbours, and could, perhaps, have 'given points' to many a
scientifically educated naturalist.  And it came to pass that he
bethought himself of certain valuable hints he had got anent the
artificial training of the inhabitants of the air from an astute old
Frenchman, one of those curiosities to be met with but rarely, whose
minds are human museums--treasure-houses in which are stored scraps of
varied knowledge.

'You may keep school, my lad,' dryly commented his mother when she had
carefully digested Jerry's plan, 'but you won't find it easy to keep
scholars.'

'Well, you'll see!' was the quietly spoken prediction; for Jerry Blunt
had fully determined to be a bird-trainer, and the pupils he was in
search of were young bullfinches.

Of course when this remarkable intention became known among the
fisher-folk it was derisively condemned by the elders.  On the other
hand, Jerry's younger neighbours, particularly Ned Dempster, were
immediately fired with an eager desire to assist him in the novel
enterprise.  Ned's enthusiasm naturally infected both the Carnegy boys;
they also would fain become bird-trainers on the spot, lacking all
knowledge of the matter though they, naturally, did.  With the frenzy
that possesses boys in regard to every absolutely new amusement, the
two Carnegys slept, ate, drank, and, as it were, breathed to the tune
of one thought--the determination that they also would be bird-teachers.

This all-powerful, novel freak was at the bottom of the furious meeting
at the Bunk.  Philip Price, the tutor, sympathising fully with the
ardent pursuits of boyhood, had been over-indulgent in the matter of
granting whole Wednesdays, instead of half-holidays.  Any excuse
sufficed.  Skating on inland ponds in the winter; fishing in the bay,
as the year wore on; and, latterly, digging for primrose or fern roots
in Brattlesby Woods.  But Philip Price was beginning to find out by
results that too much play and not enough work was making dull scholars
of his pupils, and he had determined to stand out firmly against any
more indulgences in the future.  It was high time that Alick and Geoff
should realise that 'life is real, life is earnest'; put their
shoulders to the wheel they must and should.  The boys knew this, and
in their hearts admitted the determination to be a just one enough.
But the entrancing novelty of Jerry Blunt's proposed trade carried them
away; they were extravagantly crazed to join in it, by fair means or by
foul.  Hence the outburst of rebellion, and Alick's stubborn refusal to
sue for pardon.

When Wednesday morning arrived, he set off in company with Jerry and
Ned before the early sun had dried the dew on the grass.

As they trudged at Jerry's heels he had explained to them, before
entering the woods, the mode of operation to be carried out.  In order
to pipe tunes as bullfinches so marvellously do, they have to go
through a period of training, and downright severe training the hapless
mites find it.  But, as Jerry tersely put it to his hearers, one of
whom winced secretly, what is training but 'keeping the body under
subjection'--a period of toilsome effort that any degree of perfection
necessitates?

Taken from the nest at the age, say, of ten days or so--the most
suitable to begin operations--the callow young things are carefully
tended by one person solely, who accustoms the birds to himself, the
sound of his voice and his cautiously tender touch, before he attempts
anything approaching to training.

This treatment Jerry Blunt intended to carry out with his timid pupils,
of which he gathered a goodly number, with the assistance of Ned and
Alick, long before sunset came round again.  The trainer explained his
proposed code of education still more fully as he and the hungry boys
sat enjoying the picnic repast they had brought with them.  Alick,
whose spirits were at their highest, thought it a delightful experience
to be eating cold chunks of pork and dry bread, which each guest carved
for himself with a clasp-knife.  Infinitely superior was this
delightfully natural, manly style of feeding, than all the rubbishy
artificial formality of the decently appointed meals served at the
Bunk, thought he scornfully.  The only drawback to his sense of
exhilarating pride was the fact that Geoff was not a witness of his
emancipation from society rules.

'Do you actually mean to tell us, Jerry, that in time you will be able
to teach those wretched young shavers to whistle real, proper tunes?'
Alick asked presently, pointing with his knife, in careful imitation of
the manners and customs of his company, to the shivery mites, each
wrapped in a wisp of cotton-wool, which thoughtful Jerry had not
forgotten to bring for the purpose of protecting the birdlings on their
debut into the world out of their warm nest-homes.

'Yes; you bide a wee, Muster Alick!' rejoined Jerry confidently, if
indistinctly, seeing his mouth was full at the moment.  'Before the
summer's out I'll engage that my scholards will sing "The Blue Bells of
Scotland" without a single false note!  And when they do, I'll get a
good price for each on 'em from a chap I knows of in London, who trades
in singin' birds, and is always ready to buy 'em.  But I was a-goin' to
say, Muster Alick, that I'll want some help from you boys.  I can't do
the whole thing single-handed.  I shall have to board out the birds,
after a bit; so there will be plenty of work for each of you, if so be
you're agreeable.'

Of course the boys were more than ready with their promises of help in
the labour of teaching, as soon as they understood how it was to be set
about.

'You will have to put us up to the trick first; how it's to be done,
you know, Jerry,' said Alick.

'All right, muster!  But there's no trick in the matter, and no secret,
'cept it be kindness and firmness.  Them's the two great rulin' powers
with dumb animals, same's with we humans.  'Tain't no good tryin' to
train a child by lettin' him do jes' whatever he pleases.  You wouldn't
call that training, now, would you?  Say!'  Jerry looked up from the
pipe he was filling to put the question, with some little earnestness.

A strange flush stole up into Alick Carnegy's cheeks; for the life of
him he could not help applying Jerry's excellent logic to himself.  The
stern, high-minded face of the tutor he had insulted floated before the
boy's eyes, and he winced, for the second time that day, at Jerry's
words, as he remembered how he had fought with and rebelled against the
authority set over him.  Alick's conscience was by no means altogether
deadened, and his triumph was dashed.

'Yes,' continued Jerry reflectively, as he watched the smoke curling
upward in the air, 'and 'tis the very same wi' ourselves, after we're
growed up to manhood.  That's how the Almighty deals with us.  He's
firm--none firmer; and He's kinder to us than we knows on--none
kinder--if so be as we would but trust ourselves to His way.'

Jerry Blunt, exposed to temptations many and varied, had always been a
right-thinking, honest kind of lad.  In spite of his wanderings to and
fro over the earth, he retained his early faith intact.

'Many's the time in my life,' he went on, speaking in a gravely
reverent tone, 'I've fought to get my will in some things--struck out
blindly, as you might say; but there was always the firm Hand guiding
me in His way, not my own.  Even when this mishap befell me'--Jerry
touched his empty sleeve--'though I couldn't see it at the time, bein'
so ignorant-like, it was all a-purpose for my good.'

'How, Jerry?  What on earth do you mean?  To lose your right arm must
have been a frightful bit of bad luck!'  Alick spoke in astonishment,
but with a certain amount of respect for one who had had such a large
experience as the bird-trainer.

'There ain't no such thing as luck, either good or bad,' Jerry took out
his pipe to say.  ''Tis God's will; that's the properest word
for't--not luck.  As for my own misfortin', as everybody called it,
why, after all it didn't turn out so bad, when you come to think it
out.'

'Why?  Do tell us all about it, Jerry, will you?' urged Alick, to whom
the topic of the North Pole expedition was always attractive; and he
threw himself back on the mossy ground to listen in rapt attention.

'Well, muster, I make no doubt that you've heard tell fifty times over
how I got a frost-bite when I was in Franz Josef Land with the
expedition.  It all came about with me bein' in such a hurry like to
finish a job I'd to do, that I put off rubbin' my hands with snow, as
is the right thing to do, remember, if so be as you boys ever get
frostbit.  Well, the long and the short of that neglect was, they was
forced to take off my arm--there wasn't no chice in the matter--above
the elbow too.  We happened at the moment to be at a fixed camping
dépôt--not one of them nasty movin' floes, but on a good sound
spot--and the expedition was under orders to march norrards when the
thing happened to me.  Well, in course, they nat'rally said as they
didn't want to be saddled with a one-handed man, and I was turned
back--me and old Pierre Lacroix, the Frenchman who taught me how to
train them little customers.'  Jerry pointed with his pipe to the
infant finches under his handkerchief.  'Old Pierre was too rheumatic,
they soon found out, to be any use, in spite of his long head, which
was as full of wisdom as an egg's full of meat.  None but sound,
able-bodied men will do for that work, I tell you.  He was a queer old
fish, Pierre was.  Poor chap, he was a Roming, you know; but for all
that he was, in his mistaken way, a pious, God-fearing man.  It was
kind o' queer to see him, when we two were on our way back through all
them ice-plains; if we so much as heard the howl of a hungry wolf,
Pierre would pull out his beads and rattle off a prayer.  But I didn't
so much wonder at his fright, for the cries of them wolves certainly
did freeze one's marrow through and through.  And we once came to
pretty close quarters with the brutes.  It was one night, a starless,
cloudy night, with a storm brewing, and we heard behind us a faint
sound that struck us dumb with horror.  The wolves had scented us from
afar, and were giving chase.  We took to our heels, as the sayin' is;
but you don't make much way on that there ground.  The awful baying
voices gained on us, minute by minute.  On, on, we breathlessly fought
our way, desperate to escape.  At last, so close was the pack behind
us, that I could count 'em, half a dozen or so, and by the light of the
torches we carried I could plainly see their red tongues lolling out of
their hungry jaws.  So did Pierre, and out came his beads.  But reely,
boys, there are more wonderful escapes in real life than ever folks
read of in books.  Now, what do you suppose saved us that night?  Under
Providence, of course, I means.  We might have turned at bay and shot
one or two, and there was a knife apiece.  But we should have been
doomed men had we done so.  However, help was close, just as hope was
dying out in our hearts.  Running for our lives we had reached the
land,--before that, you understand, we'd been traversing an
ice-floe,--we knew 'twas land by the low bank sheering down.  As we set
foot on it a mighty roaring crack sounded, breaking up into a thousand
echoes in the white silence.  It was the ice parting from the shore,
through the wind-storm that had risen.  Between us and our savage
hunters the cold black waves boiled up instantly, released from their
prison, and the baffled wolves howled furiously at the fissure growing
wider each second.  We were saved; and, boys, never did I see the
finger of God more plainly than at that moment!  I am glad I wasn't
ashamed to throw myself on my knees and thank Him aloud, and Frenchy
joined me with all his heart.'

'But,' began Alick wonderingly, after a long pause, 'how on earth did
you find your way back, you two, through all that frozen white country
with no landmarks?'

'How?  Why, I s'pose you don't know the watchword of all Arctic
expeditions, young master?  'Tain't likely as you should, so I'll tell
you.  The law out yonder is: keep your line of retreat open; and a
better rule couldn't be.  It so be as you take heed to it keerful, you
can't be cut off from the world.  So Pierre an' me, in due time, found
our way back to the ship, which was stationed in the Spitzbergen Sea.'

'And what about t'others, the rest of the expedition?  They pushed on,
didn't they?' asked Ned eagerly.

'Ah! that's the queer thing that I be a-comin' to,' said Jerry,
speaking solemnly.  'In course they pushed on.  But never a man of the
lot came back to tell the story of what they'd seen.  They was too
venturesome; they went too far ahead, and must have perished of sheer
cold; leastways that's what I've heard.  If you don't see a meanin'
under that, well, I do!  And real grateful I feel to the Almighty.  I
lost an arm, but them poor lads they lost their lives.'

There was another silence.  Jerry industriously puffed away; Alick
stared up unblinkingly into a chink of blue between the tree-tops; and
Ned gravely whittled away at a tiny boat of wood, one of a fleet with
which he kept Miss Queenie so numerously supplied that it bade fair to
develop into a Lilliputian navy in time.

'Did you ever use any dogs on the expedition, Jerry?' asked Alick,
whose thoughts had been travelling along the silent white expanse of
the far-away North.

'Dogs?  No, muster, we didn't in them days.  But Frenchy used to talk
away, I remember, o' nights round the camp-fires, about the proper use
dogs would be on an expedition.  There was one breed in pertikler he
spoke well off--the West Siberian, I think he called 'em.'

'Yes,' eagerly put in Alick, 'they're the ones, the West Siberian.
Father was speaking about them.  They're considered to be awfully
useful.'

'I dessay!' assented Jerry, knocking the ashes out of his pipe before
carefully stowing it away in one of his many pockets.  'But 'pears to
me we've got to be thinking of going home.  The trunks o' the trees are
reddening, which tells us the sun's slantin'; and these little shavers
must be fed and bedded before sundown.  Come, musters, rouse
yourselves; we must be steppin' Northbourne way!'

Picking up the shivering, quaking mites in their cotton-wool wrappings,
Jerry lodged them in his several pockets and even in his cap.  But he
firmly refused to suffer the two boys to share his burdens.

'We can't be too keerful for the first day or so after takin' of 'em
out of the nest; so you leave 'em to me,' he persisted; and presently
the trio were trudging on their way back to Northbourne village.



CHAPTER XIII

IN PERIL ON THE SEA

While Alick Carnegy was absent, enjoying his forbidden pleasure in
Brattlesby Woods with Jerry Blunt, the bird-trainer, and Ned Dempster,
strange things were happening in the quiet little bay at home--things
that will be talked of for years to come in the long winter nights,
when the fisher-wives sit mending their husband's nets round the
peat-fires, and the children crowd close to listen with all their ears
to the story.

'The Theodora,' the boat belonging to the Bunk, had been getting out of
repair for some time back.  At first the young folk--even Theo
herself--being a happy-go-lucky, reckless set in most things,
disregarded the leak, never dreaming it to be a serious one, and
laughed at their wet feet; for who ever heard of salt water hurting
anybody?  It is just, however, those neglected little things, evils
that are suffered to go on, which increase sometimes, with a sudden
rush, into big mischiefs.  That week Theodora, who had not been in the
boat for a few days, was struck afresh with the damage; she saw that it
was high time something should be done to mend matters, if only for the
sake of keeping dry feet.  She therefore gave Ned Dempster a few
directions how to remedy the leak.  Of course Ned, being a born
fisher-lad, was quite capable of doing the piece of work in his spare
moments.  This Theo knew.  But, unfortunately, her orders, and
everything else as well, went clean out of Ned's head, owing to the
excitement he had imbibed from Alick about the expedition to Brattlesby
Woods after the finches.

When Theo and Queenie, consequently, got into the boat in the afternoon
to pull across to the little birthday festival at the Vicarage, they
speedily found, to their discomfort, but by no means to their dismay,
that the leak was considerably worse than usual.

'Oh,' screamed Queenie, 'my bestest new shoes is quite wetted, Theo!
Look!'

Queenie certainly was right; the shiny little toes that, dangling, did
not reach the bottom of the boat even, were already wet.  Theo's fresh
blue print also was fringed round with sea-water when she looked down
at it.

'I think we might manage to get across, though,' said Theo hopefully.
'It's a pity to turn back.  We shouldn't get much wetter than we are
already, should we?'

'Not much wetterer,' acquiesced Queenie equably, as she dipped first
the tip of one shoe, then the other, into the water.  Of course, if
Theo didn't mind, it was nothing to Queenie.

The afternoon was a glorious one, with a faint touch of north in the
wind, just enough to bring out colour intensely.  The blue of the sea
and the blue of the sky were alike sapphire in hue, against which the
gulls that darted and skimmed hither and thither showed white.  It was,
in truth, an afternoon when the world seemed so passing fair, so
secure, that the mind was lured into believing that it was
all-sufficient.

Thus it is with ourselves.  When we are getting on too smoothly at
school, or at our work, it all begins to feel such easy plain-sailing,
that we rest on our oars and grow over-confident.  We are, in a sense,
off guard.  And so it was with the occupants of 'The Theodora,' as it
gradually made its way to the middle of the bay.  Of course they would
get across in safety, as Theo declared; they had done it a hundred
times already, since the leak was first sprung.

Nothing had ever happened in the girl's eighteen years of life in the
shape of any serious accident either by land or by sea.  It was
difficult to realise that mishaps could possibly occur, and, with her
eyes fixed on the wondrous blue above and below, Theo rowed on, calling
herself lazy because she did not seem, somehow, able to get so fast
through the water as usual.

'Theo! oh, Theo!'

'Queenie!'

Two affrighted shrieks rang out simultaneously; for, suddenly, the
sisters each became aware that 'The Theodora' had shipped a quantity of
water.  The boat was so heavy that Theo's oars could hardly move it.

'Oh, what have I done?' cried the elder girl, ashy pale, and stunned
with the shock.  'Oh, my darling Queenie!'

It was for the beloved little sister that the thrill of anxious terror
rushed over Theo.  She herself could swim, in a fashion, if the worst
came to the worst; but Queenie, the baby-sister, how was the helpless
little one to be saved?  Wildly Theo gazed over the blue, rippling
water.

There, yonder, on the stretch of sands in front of the fisher-folk's
dwellings, her long sight could distinguish the women at their usual
monotonous employment, mending their nets in the doorways, all unaware
of her peril and that of the child in the sunlit bay.

'Help! help!' she shrieked in the agony of fear that encompassed her,
and in her own ears her voice sounded thin and feebly small, as when in
some horrid nightmare we, all in vain, try to scream aloud, and fail.
Would they sit there, those fisher-women, and never so much as raise
their eyes to glance at the distinctly sinking boat?

It was maddening to the distraught girl, simply maddening.

'What is it, Theo?' quavered the frightened child opposite her in the
boat.  'Is we going to be drowned in the water, Theo?'

'Oh, my darling Queenie! what shall we do?' cried out Theo in a frenzy
of helpless terror.  The oars were lying helpless in the bottom of the
rapidly filling boat.  'What are we to do?'  She fairly shrieked out
the question again.

'Say "Our Father,"' said Queenie promptly; and she clasped her tiny
hands together in Theodora's.  The child was too ignorant to realise
their danger.  It was only the terror in Theo's face that frightened
her--Theo, the sister who was so strong, so tall, so all-wise, in the
trustful little one's innocent eyes.  But though unconscious of all
their peril, the child's unerring instinct pointed to the true,
unfailing Refuge for all human trouble.

'Our Father in heaven, help me to save Queenie!'

The cry, strong and vibrating, floated over the solitary water.  Theo,
in the sudden and unexpected approach of great danger, had forgotten
that God's ears are listening always to catch our prayers, even when
belated and half despairing.

But when the little sister's simple words brought back to her mind the
remembrance of the one great Shelter for us all in the 'day of
trouble,' Theo threw her whole soul into the imploring, impassioned cry
for help.

Then, knowing that God is most ready to aid those who aid themselves,
she rapidly collected her scattered wits to plan out what she had best
do in the extremity she found herself.  Untying the long, soft, red
sash Queenie wore round her waist, she hastily, but firmly, fastened
the child to herself, never ceasing, meanwhile, to cry her loudest for
help, though her voice grew hoarse and weak under the terrible strain.
Then Theo proceeded to free her own skirts from her feet, lest, being
entangled, she might be sucked down under, when the boat settled down,
as she knew, now, it undoubtedly must.

And overhead, flecking with white the blue glitter of the sky, the busy
gulls skimmed hither and thither, wheeling round in circles.  On the
shore the fisher-wives, with bent heads, were still too intent on their
mending to raise their eyes for one moment, and the chatter of their
own high-pitched voices dulled their ears to the despairing cries
floating across the waters.  So the tragedy went on.

It was cool and shady in the Vicarage old-fashioned drawing-room.  Mrs.
Vesey, the invalid mistress, frail and sweet, was lying, as usual, on
her couch, her dim, patient eyes watching the bay for the boat bringing
over her expected guests from the Bunk.

In the next room tea was spread out: piles of sweet cakes and brown
bread-and-butter; strawberries gleamed ripe and red in large, heaped-up
dishes, and jugs of rich yellow cream stood about.  Mrs. Vesey knew
what a feast should be like for hungry boys and girls, and ordered a
lavish repast to be prepared.  Nor had she forgotten to provide for
other guests who were bidden to celebrate her birthday.  Down in the
village schoolroom, tea and plum-cake, with piles of fruit, were all in
readiness to be laid out the moment that the little scholars departed
from afternoon school--a feast which they would return in due time to
demolish.

Mrs. Vesey was a great sufferer; she had been house-ridden for years of
her life, but she bore her cross of bodily ailments bravely and with
soldierly courage.  It was never thrust forward as an excuse to shelter
its bearer from what she felt to be her duty.  Although she was totally
unable to preside in person at the treat for the fisher-children, she
had arranged to be represented by Theo Carnegy, when the Vicarage tea
was over.  That young lady, after helping the little ones to make merry
over their feast, was finally to marshal a procession up to the
Vicarage, where the children intended to present to Mrs. Vesey such
posies as their busy little fingers had managed to gather in the woods
behind the village.

As Mrs. Vesey lay watching the bay from her open windows, Binks, the
old handy-man, moved about on the lawn outside, now and again
exchanging remarks with his mistress as he passed and repassed.

'Muster Geoff, he've come, ma'am!' said he presently, peering in the
room.

'Oh, has he?  Where is he, Binks?'

'He've stepped round to the stable for Splutters and Shutters, ma'am,
that's where he be.  B'ys is never content without the dogs arter them.
I dunno where t'other young muster is, but the ladies is on their way
across in their boat,' added Binks, shading his eyes to gaze out over
the water.

'I know they are,' said Mrs. Vesey; 'I've been watching them.  I saw
them start from the Bunk pier.  The boat's pretty well into the middle
of the bay, now.  Can't you see them, Binks?'

There was no answer.

Perhaps Binks resented the question, or perhaps he objected to admit
that his eyesight was not so good as that of his mistress.  Anyhow, he
continued perfectly silent as he gazed, with a fixed stare, at some
distant object.

'Hi, Splutters!  Heel, Shutters!  Come back, sir!  Oh, Binks, really I
couldn't prevent them coming round on the lawn; they were too much for
me when I opened the stable door.  Oh, good afternoon, Mrs. Vesey!  I
didn't know you were at the window.'  Polite Geoff, heated and flushed
with his chase after the excitable terriers, stood hat in hand under
the window while Splutters and Shutters tore madly up and down and
across the lawn.  Strangely enough, Binks took no notice of their
capers, which, for once, were allowed to go unrebuked.  His eyes,
shaded by his wrinkled hand, were still intent on the distant boat.

'Theo and Queenie are on their way, Mrs. Vesey,' continued Geoff.  'I
see the Bunk boat creeping over; they seem in no particular hurry.
Don't you see them, Binks?' demanded the boy, rather astonished at the
old man's stillness.  'Why, I can see them waving something--a long red
thing.  They certainly don't get on very fast, though, do they?
Why--why, Binks!  Oh, what on earth's the matter?  Something's wrong
with the boat; they're so still and----  Binks, _what_ is it?' Geoff
ended with a shout that was almost a scream, as he clutched the old
man's arm wildly.

'Come along, Muster Geoff!'  Binks roughly shook off the boy's hand.
'Run for your life; you're fleeter than me.  Shove down our boat into
the water, and I'll folly ye quick's ever I can!' roared the old man.
'They're sinkin' out there fast as fast.  God help us all!'

Faster than ever he ran in his life tore Geoff, with a face blanched
and drawn, to seize the Vicarage boat, and push her to the water's
edge, putting forth all the strength of his young body to do so
single-handed.  To jump on board and take up an oar was the work of
half a minute, and Geoff was pushing off without a thought of anybody
else when a hoarse shout stayed him.

'Stay, muster!' panted Binks, hurrying to the edge.  'Two's better than
one; two oars will reach 'em quicker!' and in scrambled the breathless
old man, drops of perspiration rolling unheeded down his wrinkled
cheeks.

Not another word was spoken by either as the man and boy tore through
the water, with all the strength they possessed.  Geoff silently
watched Binks's face, trying to read, in its strained lines, the fate
of those behind his back.  But the boy's white, dry lips refused to
utter the terrible question, 'Are they still above water?'  Geoff's
brain seemed too paralysed to think.  Every sense was merged in the mad
race of trying to cut still faster through the water to the rescue.
The hard, brown visage of Binks was a dead wall as he pulled and puffed
and panted.  From it Geoff could gain no information, and, somehow, for
his life, the boy dare not turn his head to see over his shoulder for
himself.

On the shore the women-workers had at last awoke to the fact of the
tragedy being enacted on the blue waters, and in the full blaze of the
summer sunshine, almost within their reach.  Wild cries of affright
arose; the brown nets were flung aside this way and that.  Bewildered
groups stood close down to the water's edge tremblingly wringing their
hands in miserable helplessness, and their eyes starting out of their
heads as their gaze clung, glued, to the little craft slowly, slowly
settling down.



CHAPTER XIV

A DOOR OF ESCAPE

It was a spell of long-drawn-out anguish for the watchers on shore, the
while that Theo Carnegy and little Queenie sank helplessly in their
rapidly filling boat.  From one to another of the cottages round the
bay the news had flown like wild-fire that the captain's boat, with the
captain's daughters, was going down within sight, and not a man nor a
boy in Northbourne village but was out at sea since daybreak, for the
'mackerrow' were proving a little gold-mine to the community, and the
fishermen grudged to sleep or eat, so eager were they to make hay while
the sun was shining.

The women would not have thought twice of taking to the boats
themselves and attempting a rescue, but all the decent crafts were at
sea; the few that were beached were useless, being out of repair.
There was, accordingly, nothing to do but stand in huddled groups
wringing the hands that, perforce, were helpless.  Some--the timid
ones--covered their eyes from the sight.  Others, fascinated, found it
impossible to turn their gaze for a single second from the hapless boat
which their practised sight noted was now perceptibly lower in the
water.  One or two among them, old Goody Dempster conspicuously, stood
with white lips that moved silently as they prayed God to have pity, to
stretch out His mighty hand and save those in dire danger.

And while the women watched breathlessly, or prayed, Geoff, with old
Binks, struggled on, a nightmare feeling weighing them down all the
time, that they were standing still, instead of making way.

At last, when the watchers on the shore could no longer see aught but
the rim of the top of the boat, and only the two clinging figures in
it, for 'The Theodora' had settled down almost under water, the
Vicarage boat pulled up alongside, with a final long sweep, into which
Geoff, half fainting, put his sole remaining strength.

How the rescue was achieved, then, none of the four could ever
afterwards tell or picture with any clearness.  It was as if other
hands than those of Geoff and Binks did the work, while Queenie and
then Theo were half lifted, half dragged in by the two.

More dead than alive, the rescued sisters were, with considerable
difficulty, laid at the bottom of the boat.  Theo had swooned away the
moment she realised that they were saved, and the women watchers on the
shore sobbed loudly in hysterical relief.

'Shall we take 'em over to the Vicarage?' hoarsely asked Binks,
handling his oar for the return.

'No, no!  Home--home to father!' whispered back Geoff, whose voice
seemed to have died away into a feeble sort of whistle.

Then the two, exhausted as they were already, pulled their hardest over
the blue waters to the tiny pier under the Bunk.

The catastrophe, next door to a terrible tragedy, had happened in the
space of about fifteen minutes, and it seemed strangely impossible that
the sun should be still shining, and the light wind curling the
rippling waves as if nothing had happened.

The captain, who had been, as usual, absorbed in his manuscript,
sitting with his back to the window, knew nothing of it until he was
hastily called to carry up the senseless Theo.  It was a considerable
time before his efforts to restore the unconscious girl were
successful; and it would not be easy to tell how the father, whom Theo
Carnegy had allowed herself to think and pronounce indifferent to his
children's welfare, suffered as he hung over the senseless form of his
best-beloved child.  Her peril stirred up all the love that, though
undoubtedly existing, had been dormant.  From that fateful hour,
however, the old sea-captain was an altered man.  His heart awoke to
the fact that the chief place in it should be filled by his motherless
children, instead of, as it had been, by a mere hobby.

All through the hours of the anxious night that followed he went from
one bed to the other, tending the occupants with that gentleness,
almost womanly, which a sailor possesses in no ordinary degree.  For
Queenie there were no apprehensions, save dread of a chill from the
wetting she received; the child was tranquil, and appeared to have
sustained no shock.

'We said "Our Father," me and Theo,' she whispered innocently to the
captain, as he sat by her little bed holding her hands, 'and He sent
Geoff and Binks directly to pick us out of the water; and then Theo
went off to sleep in the boat, and my new shoes is spoilt most
dreadful!'

With Theo it was otherwise.  She had sustained a severe mental shock,
as well as the bodily strain, in her fruitless efforts to pull the
heavy boat through the water.  And it had been a terrible spasm of
terror to sink slowly, helplessly, in the yawning waves, trying all the
time to hold up the precious little sister.  When the doctor from
Brattlesby arrived, he looked grave enough over his elder patient; and
next day he was even more serious.

'She is in for brain fever!' he said briefly.  He was a man of few
words, leaving the burden of conversation, as a rule, to his patients.
Hence, perhaps, it was that little Dr. Cobbe was the most popular
being, man or doctor, for miles round Northbourne.

And with regard to Theo it was as he said.  For many weeks Theo Carnegy
lay battling for her life in the cruel clutches of the fever,
unconscious that her most devoted and tenderest nurse was the father
whom she had bitterly imagined thought more of his hobby than of his
boys and girls.  All Northbourne, as with one heart, sorrowed aloud for
their favourite Miss Theedory; her grave condition was the sole theme
of talk in the cottages round the bay.

'Happen she was too good to live!' croaked Jerry Blunt's mother, with
an appropriate melancholy in her voice; and the gossips nodded
approvingly at a sentiment which fitted in with their own views of life.

'Nothin' o' the sort!' struck in a dissentient voice, which belonged to
Goody Dempster herself.  'There's none too good to live, seein' as life
is a great gift that can only come from the Lord Himself.  He gives,
and He takes away, that's how we've got to look at things.  And, please
God, He will see fit to raise up Miss Theedory among us again, hale and
sound.  She's one as could be ill spared.'

'Amen!' assented more than one voice among the listeners, in ready
response.

But there was one heart that felt heavier than all others--too heavy to
hold a ray of hope--and that belonged to Alick Carnegy.  When he
returned home from his stolen holiday, and found what had happened
during his absence, the remorse of the boy was uncontrollable.  He
could not but feel it to be true, what others did not scruple to tell
him bluntly, for plain-speaking was a distinguishing feature of the
fishing village, that had he and Ned Dempster been at home, they could
have reached his sisters in far less time than Geoff, younger and
weaker of muscle, and Binks, long past his heyday of strength and
stiffened with rheumatism, had done.

With cold shivers of dread, he heard how Theo, though delivered from
one perilous strait, lay in jeopardy of her life in the new peril of
fever.

She would die, he was convinced, and voices seemed to be incessantly
crying in his ears: 'It will be your fault, all your fault!  You fought
to have your own way, in spite of her pleadings, and now she will die
because you were not here to help her in such sore peril.  She was
deserted, so she will die, our Theo!'

Alick, a boy of strong feelings, became maddened by despair, and
exaggerated the calamity.  As time went on--and brain fever rarely
hurries itself--Theo grew no better, but rather weaker, and Alick
secretly called himself her murderer.  He was distraught.

'Oh, Ned, if we had been at home, you and I, we could have reached them
in half the time Geoff and old Binks took!  We could have rescued them
before "The Theodora" began to settle down!' he blurted out when he
found Ned sobbing helplessly in a corner of the tea-house, The latter,
though not possessed of Alick's torturing powers of imagination, was
overcome with remorse for his own share in the transaction.

Oh, Muster Alick, it ain't "we" it's me, only me, as is to blame!' he
hoarsely said, in a voice choked with sobs.

'What do you mean?' asked Alick heavily; and he stared down at the
crouching speaker.

'Miss Theedory telled I to mend the leak,' moaned Ned.  'And she
thought I'd done it, I expec', for she showed how 'twas to be mended;
but I knowed how as well as she did, for I've seed a-many done.  But I
put off the doin' of it to go to Brattlesby Woods along with you,
Muster Alick, and Jerry Blunt, an' I deceived her; an' now she's
drowned, Miss Theedory is!  Leastways, 'tis the same thing; for all
Northbourne's a-sayin' as she's bound to die of it all!'  The boy,
burying his head, broke down into a loud, irrepressible fit of crying.

Ned too!  Alick's lips quivered as he turned abruptly away.  He himself
it was who tempted Ned away, and caused the boy to neglect his duty,
bringing down all this misfortune.  He had been thinking himself the
only person in fault for being wilfully absent, but it was worse and
worse!  He had lured away, and placed another in the same position, so
wide-spreading can a single evil step be in its results.  Even through
his sinking fears about Theo, Alick could not but feel pathetically
sorry for poor Ned, whose grief grew wilder in its abandon after his
confession was out.

'Have you told any one about not mending the leak, Ned?  Does my father
know?' he came back to Ned's side to ask anxiously.

'I dussn't!' was the choking reply.  'But I feels bound, somehow, to
tell you,' he added.  'If Miss Theedory dies, 'twill be me as did it;
an' you can tell 'em all so, if you like!  They'll put me in gaol, o'
course; p'raps they'll hang me.  They may bring it in manslaughter.  I
dunno what they haven't the power to do!' ended Ned desperately.

Alick stared through the window out to sea, with an equally woebegone
face with that of his companion in misery.  Two more unhappy boys one
could not have well beheld.  And this grievous state of affairs had
revengefully trodden on the heels of the delightfully fascinating
expedition to the woods, which had been forbidden to the one boy, and
which the other boy had shirked his duty to join in!

'What would be the end of it all?' Alick dully asked himself.

'Ned,' he said aloud, and there was a passionate ring of regret in his
voice, 'it wasn't worth it!'

'No, muster, it warn't!' assented Ned, fully understanding that Alick
would have given his right hand to have put back the clock of time,
that he might again have the chance of apologising as Geoff had done,
and returning to his duty in the schoolroom.  Both boys felt positively
assured that had they been on the spot the catastrophe could not
possibly have occurred.

There was a spell of silence in the tea-house.  Now and again the echo
of a sob shook Ned from head to foot.  Alick leaned his forehead
against the window jamb, and stared sullenly at the leaping waves
below.  As he gazed, a strange resolve came into the boy's mind, born
of the deepening despair consuming him.

In the black gloom that environed him, came Satan's opportunity.

'You will never be forgiven if Theo dies,' whispered the tempting
voice.  'Perhaps you also will be put in prison, who knows, with Ned as
an accomplice!'  Alick Carnegy, it will be seen, had but confused
notions as to what manslaughter meant.  He shivered and cowered at the
terrifying notions of being shut up for life, perhaps, in some gloomy
gaol.  Better-informed boys may jeer at Alick's ignorance of things in
general, but Northbourne was an out-of-the-way, stand-still spot, with
few or no opportunities of smartening the wits, of keeping up with the
times.

'The best way out of the difficulty would be to run away, wouldn't it?'
as he brooded, somebody seemed to suddenly and swiftly whisper in his
ear.  And Alick, when the sense of the suggestion penetrated his mind,
abruptly lifted his hanging head.  He gasped aloud in relief.  A door
of escape opened in the black, impenetrable wall that was closing in
round him.

'Ned,' he said softly, nudging the other boy, 'listen to me!  Be done
with that cry-baby business!  We two, you and I, have got ourselves
into an awful scrape, and there's only one thing for us.  Can't you
guess what that is?  Rouse up!  Can't you guess?' he repeated
impatiently.

'Me guess?  No!  I can't make Miss Theedory get well; and what else
matters?' Ned lifted a tear-stained face to say brokenly.

'You've often said you'd be game to run away to sea, if I made up my
mind to do it, haven't you?  Well, all the blame of whatever happens
comes on us--you and me.  We are bound to suffer the penalty.'  Alick
spoke slowly, and with the air of weighing his words, while Ned
listened in awe.  'Now, then, it seems to me, is our chance to do it.
Let's set out this very night; they'd never miss us in all the--the
worry about Theo, until it would be too late to overtake us.  We could
walk to London in about three days, I expect; and once at the Docks it
would be queer if you and I couldn't slip quietly on board some
North-bound vessel, as we've often planned to do.  Speak up!  Will you
come?'

And Alick breathlessly waited for Ned's long-of-coming answer.



CHAPTER XV

THE BIRD-SCHOOL

Meantime, while all Northbourne, in its genuine affection for Miss
Theedory, hung expectantly on the issues of life or death--for who
could say which it might be?--Jerry Blunt was quietly making his
preparations for pursuing his new calling of bird-trainer.

Although he had said nothing about it, one of the new pupils had been
specially set apart to be given to Theo, if it pleased God to spare her
young life.  Theo, gentle and sweet-spoken to all, had won the
reverence and loyal regard of the disabled sailor, when he returned
home a cripple, by her friendly welcome to him.

Jerry Blunt was not one to forget a kind word.  He had not come across
so many, in his up-and-down life, that they had become cheapened.

It was not, however, until the young finches were about two months old,
and showed symptoms of whistling powers, that Jerry could really begin
the labour of educating them in real earnest.  His first step was to
systematically separate his pupils into small classes, so to say, or
groups of birds, lodging them in wicker cages.  The next proceeding was
to shut them up in a darkened room and keep them without food for a
given time.

The skilful teacher then began the singing-lessons by slowly playing
over and over the special tune he had selected--'The Blue Bells of
Scotland'--for the finches to learn.  He performed the melody upon a
small instrument given him by Pierre Lacroix, his comrade on the
expedition, the notes of which were curiously like the birds' own.
Jerry truly had marvellous need of patience.  But he knew--none
better--that it is only by slow means that perfect trust is gained.
His pupils sat for a considerable time sulking, perhaps with deeply
injured feelings, being dinnerless; and they were, doubtless,
bewildered by the darkness of the room.  They were not deceived into
thinking that the night had fallen, not they!  As a proof, they made no
attempt to sleep.  They simply sat puzzling out, with suspicion, the
mystery that surrounded them.

By and by, some sharper, brighter wit among his fellows began to listen
to the music, so curiously familiar, with his tiny head on one side;
and he was won over!  Presently he tried, timidly and cautiously, to
pipe a few faint notes in imitation--just a few.  Then he halted.

'Not so bad for a beginning!' delightedly murmured Jerry, under his
breath.

Bully, on his part, rather seemed to like the sound of his own voice.
With a vain perk and a flutter, he tried again, his note more assured.
Lo! there was a duet.  A neighbour finch had joined in; another bully
was won over, and Jerry chuckled softly.  Old Pierre had been perfectly
correct, then!  The thing was possible.  It was Jerry's own first
attempt, and he had been careful to follow out the Frenchman's
directions, though, until he heard with his own ears the result, he had
been secretly somewhat sceptical.

In a few moments more there was a feeble chorus piping in unison with
the tiny bird-organ which Jerry continued to softly play.  The other
finches had summoned up courage to join their brethren.

As an instantaneous reward the teacher let a flood of light into the
dark room, in accordance with Pierre's code.  More, he proceeded to
give his hungry pupils a little--only a little--food, enough, in fact,
to make them ravenous for more.  Then he plunged the little room in
sudden darkness again by shutting out the light.  Thus Jerry gradually
educated the birds into connecting the idea of food and light with the
sound of his little instrument's melody.

After two or three repetitions of this performance, it followed that
the finches, kept on short commons, no sooner heard the notes of the
bird-organ always playing the one unvarying tune, than they, too,
attempted to sing it, in the sheer hope of being fed, and of seeing the
hated darkness disappear.  Jerry being ever careful not to disappoint
their expectations, the result came to pass that the particular melody
was committed to memory--the tune was learned, more or less correctly;
for the feathered pupils were like human scholars, in that the few, not
the many, arrive at perfection.

After this reward for his enormous patience, Jerry Blunt's next move
was to board out his pupils in the village with trustworthy boys who
were selected for the posts of pupil-teachers.  One boy was appointed
to each bird, in order to carry out the business of teaching _the_ tune
by whistling it incessantly until the air was firmly fixed in those
tiny memories, which, if they had not been exactly 'wax to receive,'
proved 'marble to retain.'  As the finches grew perfect in their one
life-lesson, the Scottish ditty resounded sweetly all over the village
of Northbourne.  After that, the pupils being pronounced 'finished,'
Jerry Blunt set forth, with his batch of performers, to London, where
he got a fairly good price for his well-trained songsters.  His birds
sold off rapidly, each of them going off to be the pride and joy of
some girl or boy's heart with the tuneful old melody--

  'O where and O where has my Hieland laddie gane?'

and Jerry returned home with orders for many more bullfinches as he
could procure.

These orders, however, he was doubtful of executing; the finches were
getting too advanced in age to prove docile pupils.  Still, Jerry would
do his best, and he set off to trap some young birds that had already
left the parent-nests.  The work of training these advanced birds was
quite as difficult.  However, Jerry was a persevering individual,
gifted with wondrous patience, an untiring teacher.  He succeeded
beyond his hopes, and as time went on was enabled to earn what he
called a 'tidy' sum.

''Tis wonderful strange, Jerry, my son, that ye can train the morsels
o' critters to sing what we may call human tunes!  Nobody, of course,
could do it but yer own self, I'm sure,' grudgingly admitted his
mother, when success became sure.

'The idea!  That's so like you, mother!' laughed Jerry, as he softly
tickled the head of the bullfinch he had retained as a gift for Miss
Theedory out of the first and best batch.  'You're that conceited, you
think that your own son can do all things better than other folk.  But
I could tell you a true story, now, of what others have done.'

And in his own words Jerry related, while his mother knitted in the
firelight, how a great musician had, as a youth, trained a young
bullfinch to pipe 'God save the King.'  The musician was much attached
to the bird, and the bird to him.  Love begets love, with the animal
creation at least, which is, undoubtedly, the simple secret of the
strange power possessed by some human beings over birds and beasts.  If
you desire to be their masters, you must, first of all, love the dumb
creatures.  Where love is, all things are possible.  Bull-finches, in
particular, have a strongly developed faculty for attaching themselves.
And the simple logic is easy to follow out.  In the training already
described, music and pleasure--that is, the food and sunlight, which
constitute Bully's pleasure--are inseparably connected.  Hence it
follows soon, that the bird, to show his joy at the sight of his owner,
learns to greet him with the one tune his little life has been spent in
learning.

The musician, having cause to go abroad, left his petted bird in charge
of his sister.  On his return to this country, his first visit was to
that lady, who told him, sorrowfully, that Bully had pined himself into
a serious illness, evidently in the grief he felt at his master's
absence.  The grieved owner went hastily into the room where the cage
was, and spoke gently to the ailing bird, which stood huddled up into
what looked like a ball of feathers on his perch.  Instantly, at the
sound of the loved master's voice, the dim, closed eyes were opened
wide.  There was a feeble flutter of the faded plumage; the drooping
head was raised.  Half creeping, half staggering, the little creature
attained the outstretched finger, on which he had barely strength to
steady himself.  With a supreme effort, as it seemed, he piped out
feebly, in low, half-muffled notes, 'God save the King.'  And
then--Bully fell dead!

Jerry's voice had a slight choke in it as he finished his pathetic
little story.  As for his old mother, she had thrown her apron over her
head, and was quietly sobbing under its shelter.

'Well, my lad,' she said, by and by, when her tears were dried, 'I've
aye said that you were the best son mother ever had, and for the same a
blessing will, no doubt, rest upon your head.  And as for the bits o'
birds an' beasts well, I've heard the old passon--Mr. Vesey
himself--say, an' I never forget the words, as--

  '"He prayeth best who loveth best
  All men and bird and beast;"

so, to my thinkin', that's how 'tis wi' you.  Ye love the mites, and ye
can do all things wi' them.  That's yer secret!'

And undoubtedly Jerry's old mother was right.



CHAPTER XVI

THE SEAMY SIDE OF LIFE

It was a still, dark night when two short figures, each carrying a
bundle, stole away from Northbourne, skirting Brattlesby Woods, and
making for the old London road.

The fugitives were Alick Carnegy and Ned Dempster, and each was trying
his hardest to prevent his companion from hearing the choking sobs that
could not be kept down.

All boys, of course, secretly believe that it is a fine, manly thing to
run away to sea.  From time immemorial it has sounded so well--in
fiction.  Is there a boy breathing who has not pictured himself, free
as a bird on the wing, shaking off the trammels of home in this
fashion?  But the grim reality was an altogether different matter to
the couple of friends who were setting forth under cover of darkness.
For one thing, Alick, who hated anything underhand, was thoroughly
ashamed of sneaking away in the night.  That in itself distinctly took
away from the dash and glory of the affair.

In addition, he felt himself groping in a fog of misery.  Nevermore, he
felt convinced, would he see his gentle, loving sister in this life;
and he shivered uncontrollably as he thought that, but for his absence
in her hour of peril, Theo would be as well and strong as anybody--as,
for instance, little Queenie, upon whom the accident had left no evil
effects.

Before and behind, life was grim and stripped of hope for both the
boy-adventurers as they plunged along the high road.  They were too
intensely miserable to look forward to the future.  All they were
intent on was to escape from the dreaded consequences of their
misdoings.

It is hard work travelling with a heart of lead in one's bosom--

  'A merry heart goes all the day,
  Your sad tires in a mile-a.'


Still, the two trudged on, mile after mile, until when the dawn stole
up the sky they found themselves on the outskirts of a country town at
a considerable distance from Northbourne.  Having but a few shillings,
belonging to Alick, they had decided to walk every step of the road to
London Docks.  In the dim grey light from the east they saw, to their
astonishment, large looming vans and many blurred forms, all in busy
motion.  There seemed to be, as it were, a commotion of shadows.

'What on earth is it, Ned?  They look like ghosts flitting about!'
Alick said, half fearfully.

'No!  They ain't ghosts!' slowly rejoined Ned, after a prolonged stare.
'I'll tell you what it means.  Tis a circus, or mayhap a wild-beast
show, or somethin' of that sort.  They're carryvans, leastways, and
they're makin' an early start.  Depend on it, that's what 'tis, Muster
Alick!'

Alick whistled.

'I shouldn't wonder, Ned.  You've just hit it.  It's a circus!  Let's
go closer.  Who knows but they might give us a lift on the road to
London!'

Ned shook his head; he was extremely doubtful as to that.  Such
civility was not by any means the rule of the road.

As the boys drew nearer, they felt sure it must be a wild-beast show,
from the rumble of subdued roars, as if from pent-up animals, and the
chatter of birds that resounded from the depths of the caravans in
which the inmates were, evidently, disturbed from their slumbers by the
early move.  Horses were being put to, and men were running to and fro,
but Alick and Ned felt shy of accosting any one of them.

They hung back and watched eagerly.

'Hilloa, you two shavers!  Whatever do you want loafing round here at
this time o' morning?  Say, can't yer?'

The shrill, loud voice came from the window of a house-caravan, and a
woman's head, stuck all over with curl-papers, was thrust out to stare
intently at the new-comers.

'We are going up to London--on business,' said Alick, mustering up
courage, and speaking as manfully as he could.  'And,' he moved up
closer to say, 'we thought that, perhaps, you would give us a lift as
far as you could.  I'll give you a shilling!'

The boy spoke with the air as though shillings were plentiful enough.
But, in truth, he had only two half-crowns of his own in the world;
they were the entire amount of his savings, which he had brought on
setting forth in life.

The woman with the curl-papers stared hard down at the two young
strangers before she answered, not so ill-naturedly--

'Well, I don't much mind, if so be as one of you gits on these yer
steps, and has a ride along of us.  The t'other can git on to one of
the beasteses' vans at the back.  'Twon't break no bones if you do, as
I can see.'  With a reassuring nod, she then withdrew her curl-papers
into the interior of her moving home.

'You'd best go aside her, I suppose, Muster Alick,' whispered Ned.
'I'll hang on to that van yonder;' and he took himself off in the
direction to which the woman had seemed to point.

'The missus said as I might have a ride on the back of this van,' said
he, meekly enough, to a man in his shirt-sleeves, who was too busy with
the bars of the van to look up at the speaker.

'All right!  If so be as she says so, it's got to be, I reckon!' he
growled; and Ned swung himself up behind, trying hard to make out, as
the procession moved off slowly and ponderously at last, what sort of
beasts were on the other side of the boards he was leaning against.
Suppose they were lions, or suppose the boards got loose?  The
fisher-lad, whom storm and tempest on the deep could not dismay, felt a
bit creepy.  Setting his ear close to the wood, he could distinctly
hear hideous growls, as if some savage creature, maddened by hunger,
were ready to break out and leap upon him.  What would granny say if
she could dream of his situation?  But dashing his hand across his
sleepy eyes, Ned hastily told himself there must be no harking back, no
thinking of what granny or anybody else at Northbourne would say or do.
It must be good-bye, for ever, to the old life.  The motion of the van,
the rest after the long tramp, alike caused the country-bred boy to nod
sleepily as he clung to his perch.

Presently, he was back again in Northbourne.  It was Sunday afternoon,
and, dressed in his best, the fisher-boy stood up straight in class to
repeat his hymn to his earnest-eyed, sweet-faced teacher, 'Miss
Theedory.'  And the words he fought sleepily to remember must have been
born of his nearness to the growling monsters within the caravan--

  'Christian, dost thou see them
    On the holy ground,
  How the troops of Midian
    Prowl and prowl around?'



CHAPTER XVII

IN THE MIRE

It was still darkish as the array of vans filed along the London road,
and, in the confusion, Ned lost sight of the van in which Alick had got
a lift beside the lady in curl-papers.  And no wonder! for the fact
was, the show had parted in two divisions--one going to be stationed in
the East End, somewhere about Whitechapel, the other portion to
traverse the suburbs south of the Thames.

It thus happened that the two Northbourne boys were separated, as they
each discovered when the day wore on.  Worse still: they found, to
their dismay, that they had been entrapped artfully.  A couple of
useful boys were desperately needed, as a fever had been hanging about
the show, breaking out at fitful intervals, and the chief victims had
been the boy-helpers, who, one after another, dropped off, some to
hospitals, others to die, like rats in the holes that were all the
homes they knew.

The welcome accorded to Alick and Ned was thus explained.  The
showwoman was secretly overjoyed to give the strangers a lift on their
journey.  But before the first day closed in the pair of adventurers
found out what real hard work meant.  Even Ned Dempster, accustomed to
the dilatory, easy-going life of sea-fishing, knew nothing indeed of
the drudgery and hustling and flurry of such everyday work as he had
stepped into, unawares, among the rough caravan folk.

Alick, of course, was thunderstruck and stupefied to find himself at
everybody's rude beck and call.  And to have his awkward, bewildered
movements hurried on by hard cuffs and violent language was an
unpleasantly new experience for a Carnegy to endure.  His indignant
attempts at rebelling were treated with loud jeers, and by savage
threats of a horse-whipping.  The latter menace was carried out before
the week was over, on the unhappy boy obstinately refusing to clean out
the animals' cages, to fetch and carry the food for birds and beasts,
and to perform a hundred other distasteful offices.

'I'll teach ye; I'll conduct your education, young sir!' shouted the
ring-master.  'And here's the lesson-book!' he sneered, flourishing a
cruel-looking whip.

Stunned and crushed, Alick had asked repeatedly to see Ned, and also
entreated to be permitted to leave the show at once.  His requests
were, of course, harshly refused.  In addition, he was sternly warned
that if he attempted to escape he would be horse-whipped again, and
next-door to death.

'They're a catch for us, them two!' the brutal ring-master remarked to
his wife, as he and she sat at their supper after the performance was
over one evening.  'That tallest youngster's a swell as has run away
from 'ome, judging from his looks and clothes.  He's just what we've
bin wantin' for a long time back.  The fust thing to do is to break
that 'igh speerit of his, and then we'll set to work to train him to
show off with the leopards.  That would draw famous with the public.'

'Not with the leopards!  Not with them beasts!  They're the worst and
the fiercest in the show.  'Tis next-door to impossible to tame a
leopard.  I won't 'ave it, I tell you, so there!' the woman broke in,
with a high-pitched voice.

'Well, well, we're not going to 'ave words about it!'  The first
speaker yielded; for his wife, the widow of the former proprietor, was
the real owner of the circus.  'We needn't say no more about the
leopards--for a bit.  But I'll tell you what.  'Ee can do tricks with
little Mike, the new pony, and the monkeys.  We'll make up a sort of
little performance a-purpose for 'im and them.  I must invent a little
somethink that would be taking.'

'I 'ope 'ee won't catch the fever, like the rest on 'em, that's all!'
muttered the mistress, shaking her head doubtfully.

That, however, was just what Alick Carnegy managed to do.  After some
weeks' slaving and knocking about at the hands of the ring-master, such
as fairly stunned him, he fell sick.  At once the poor, gaunt, dirty
lad, whom Northbourne would have refused to recognise as the smart
Alick Carnegy, always trig and trim, was hustled off to the squalid
room of an old Whitechapel crone who, for the five shillings in the
pocket of his torn coat, agreed to nurse him through his trouble.  If
he had the luck to live through it, the show-folk intended to have him
back.  If he died--well, there was the parish ready to bury him.

Ned, on the other hand, was by no means in such evil plight.  He was
still in the division of the show moving from one suburb to another, so
he had, at least, fresh air to breathe.  True, he had brought on
himself one brutal thrashing by running away from the show on the first
opportunity.  He was easily enough traced to the Docks, where he had
sped, hoping against hope to find Alick loitering there.  Instead, he
was captured by the ring-master himself, who had been informed of the
boy's flight, and who thought it quite worth his while to look up such
an intelligent, hard-working little chap as Ned.  The truth was, Ned
had made himself far too useful among the animals to be thus let slip.
All this time the dejected lad had been purposely kept in ignorance of
the whereabouts of his companion.  It was only by pure accident that he
at last heard of Alick's collapse and speedy removal from the show--to
die, for what anyone cared.  One of the showmen had been despatched
from the head-quarters of the establishment on an errand, and, knocking
up against Ned, exclaimed--

'Hilloa!  You ain't got the fever yet, then?  Your chum has distanced
you; for he's down with it.'  Then the man told Ned that Alick was
lying 'as ill as ill' in the house of an old crone who once belonged to
the show herself.

It was a relief to hear even that much of his companion; it was better
than the mystery of silence.  But Ned's panic was pretty severe when he
thought of Alick's perilous and deserted condition.  A rush of mingled
feelings came over the Northbourne lad.  He felt as the prodigal son
must have felt in the far country.

Yes, it was exactly like the Bible story which 'Miss Theedory' seemed
to like best.  At least, she told it to her class-boys more often than
any other, and Ned, listening to her, had grown to realise the unhappy
youth's condition in that far-off land where he had 'wasted his
substance in riotous living,' and to sympathise cordially with him when
he 'came to himself.'

But Ned, hustled, driven, sworn at, from morning to night, could now,
in those scanty moments allowed him to swallow his rough food, or
before his tired eyes closed in sleep, still more vividly picture the
prodigal's desolation and despair.

Then he remembered the outcome of that despair: the unhappy youth in
the parable suddenly determined to arise and go to his father, to
confess, with bitter remorse, his own mad wrong-doings.  Would it not
be well for himself to arise and return to Northbourne, and to confess
the terrible folly of which he and Alick had been guilty?  Again and
again Ned imagined himself so doing.  But the cruel whip which he had
already tasted was another side to the question.  No, he dare not again
attempt to escape!  He writhed still when he recollected the stinging
lashes of the long, serpent-like whip.  At last came an inspiration.
He could, and he would, write to the captain at the Bunk, entreating
him to come and rescue his son, and also Ned himself.  This resolve,
however, was a work of no small difficulty.  To procure an envelope and
a postage-stamp were next door to impossible for the lad who was
watched so keenly.  Fortunately, some body coming out of the
performance one evening, in pity for his unhappy looks, threw Ned a
penny.  A day or so after, when sweeping out the ring, he found in the
sawdust an envelope unwritten upon, and tolerably clean.  It was a
prize: and that evening, when the public were shrieking with laughter
over the capers of a clown arm-in-arm with a tame bear, followed by a
couple of monkeys skilfully mimicking their very strut, Ned was behind
one of the vans scribbling with pencil a few frantic, ill-spelt words
that, when the crumpled envelope arrived at the Bunk, were wept over
and laughed over in tumultuous joy.  The penny thrown him went for a
stamp; the letter was pushed, with trembling haste, into a letter-box,
and Ned had returned to his post among the squalid back-scenes of the
gay performance before anybody had time to miss him.

His heart beat in mad throbs, so that the boy was scarce able to sleep
a wink that night.  Hopes and fears jostled themselves in his excited
brain.  If the postman, old 'Uncle Dan,' who trudged from Brattlesby
town every day at noon with the Northbourne post-bag, only safely
delivered the letter Ned had posted, all would be well.  With the
captain himself to the fore, every difficulty must, and would, be swept
away.  Then----  But with a sobbing catch in his breath Ned put aside
the after.  He was too weak from misery and ill-usage to finish the
blissful result.  So, over and over, he murmured, 'I have sinned
against heaven and before thee!' until that refrain of all true
penitence lulled him to sleep.


'Alick is found!  My boy is alive!'  The captain had been able to utter
no more as he pushed the crumpled wisp of a letter into a thin hand
eagerly outstretched to receive it.  The tears were running unheeded
down the old man's cheeks.

'Oh, father!'  There was a glad cry.  'God is good indeed!  He has
heard our prayers.'

It was Theo--or was it Theo's ghost?--who sat by the open window
drinking in the sea breezes she was still too weak to go out of doors
and meet.  Yes, Theo was, day by day, coming back to her old sweet
self, after a long spell of illness.  There was only weakness left to
fight--weakness and anxiety about Alick.  As long as possible the fact
of Alick having run away from home was kept from the prostrate girl.
But in the end it abruptly leaked out, and nearly pushed her back
through the gates of death.

Every means that the captain knew of had been set in motion to find the
pair of runaways.  But the searchers were checkmated at the outset by
failing to find the boys at the Docks.  The police in the end convinced
themselves and the captain that the pair had stolen on board some
foreign vessel on the eve of its departure, and, as stowaways, were
already far off on the deep.

But which of the many hundreds of ships that had set sail since might
the boys possibly be aboard?  Again and again had the half-distracted
father asked himself the maddening question as he paced the busy Docks.
He would return then to Northbourne, where his other beloved child lay
in jeopardy of her young life.  Through the anxious night-watches by
her bed, the old sailor pictured his boy on board some barque ploughing
the seas, the stormy winds roaring through the rigging, the decks wet
and slippery, the rough sailors cuffing and jostling the unwelcome
intruders who had stolen their passages.

None knew better than the captain what the boys who had hidden
themselves in some dark corner of an outward-bound vessel would be
called upon to endure, when discovered; none knew better than he the
hourly dangers to which they would be exposed in the perils of the
deep--the risks of foundering, of collision, of tempests.

As the days wore on, and no word came of the runaways, the old sailor's
heart sank to the lowest depths.

'Father, we must trust him to God; it's all we can do,' a low, weak
voice whispered; and the old man took heart again.  He would trust his
boy to that--

  'Eternal Father, strong to save,
  Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.'


Perhaps of all mankind a sailor has experienced most signal proofs of
the omnipotence of God.  Throughout the daily dangers they are exposed
to is the underlying, as well as the overruling, sense of the Almighty
Power that holds the heavens in the hollow of His hand.

The captain knew that his girl was right.  What he and she had to do
was simply trust Alick to his Father in heaven.

Then came Ned's missive with its startling news.

'You will go, father, and fetch him home?'

'Yes, yes!  If I can find him.  Please God I may!'

That same day the captain started for London, and with him went Philip
Price, who insisted on joining in the search for the hapless Alick.
The young tutor had proved himself a very friend in need in 'the day of
trouble' that had befallen the Bunk.  What more natural then that he
should persist in helping the captain in what would be a ticklish piece
of work, as both men knew?

Before the two set out, Philip Price brought his mother over from
Brattlesby to establish her in Theo's sick-room.  It was not the
widow's first visit to the Bunk.  The woman who never had a daughter of
her own found in the serious, gentle Theo a realisation of those
dream-daughters who had never been in real life.

And Theo, on her part, welcomed the quiet, soft-spoken widow--another
bit of Philip Price, so similar were mother and son.  It was a relief
to the overwrought girl to restfully watch the household reins gathered
up in other and abler hands than her own.  As for the widow, she grew
alert and brisk; so good is a little wholesome activity for others.

'We must have no fretting, no repining, dear Miss Carnegy,' she
persisted cheerfully.  'Your young brother is sure to be found.  The
captain can't fail, now he has got my Philip to aid him in the search!'

The widow's text for every sermon was 'my Philip'; and it was one of
which Theo Carnegy never tired, to judge by her intent listening to the
subject-matter it produced.



CHAPTER XVIII

IN MULLINER'S RENTS

It was a hot, stifling summer day, and perhaps Whitechapel never looked
more grimy, more squalid, more sorrowful, perforce from its pathetic
contrast to the summer beauty of the skies.

The pavement was so hot that the heat seemed to rise up, flouting
itself in your very face.

In one particular alley, known as Mulliner's Rents, the heat seemed
almost tropical.  Possibly the dense overcrowding of this quarter with
human life enhanced the burning sensation of the thick air breathed out
and breathed in again, unrefreshed, by multitudes of lungs.  Here,
there, and everywhere human beings stood about idly.  Groups of untidy
women, in twos and threes, gossiped; lazy men lolled against the
houses, smoking in sullen silence; and for every grown-up person there
were fully a dozen of squalid children playing, shouting, staring, and
squabbling with a vigour no heat could abate.

There was little traffic, so to say, in Mulliner's Rents; it was quite
select in that one single respect.  Nothing on wheels penetrated the
unlovely quarter save a coster's barrow of fruit; unwholesome little
yellow pears and cruelly green apples of the lowest type of apple-kind
being the wares of the moment.  It was truly a sad and sorrowful haunt,
this of the man-made town; and so it seemed to the two travellers fresh
from the God-made country--from the wholesome breezes of the _caller_
salt air of Northbourne--when they plunged into its midst.

'Courage, captain!' said Philip Price, when he noticed the blanching of
the elder man's brown face and the unutterable loathing of horror that
spoke out of every feature.  'We've got to put our shoulder to the
wheel, and leave no stone unturned to find Alick, and carry him out of
this pestilent hole.'

Philip Price, before his health broke down, had been for a few months
doing duty as curate in a still more squalid colony of human nests than
even this.  When the sailor flinched, and hung back, Philip strode
forward, determined to conquer, unheeding the battery of stares turned
upon himself and his companion by the inhabitants, and the
free-and-easy comments, of which they were by no means chary.

Already the captain and Philip had that day spent many fruitless hours
in the search, when they hit on a fresh clue and an address in
Mulliner's Rents.  But here, even, difficulties bristled, and the tide
of hopelessness was setting in upon both men when a wretched old crone
was dragged out of a public-house to confront them, with dazed eyes and
with a hateful odour of gin oozing from her whole person.

'Yes--well, yes,' she grudgingly admitted, in answer to the eager
questions of the searchers; 'I does know a boy down with fever.  What
o' that?  I ain't done no harm to him!  He's 'ad the best I could
offer; and five shillin's don't go far when there's sickness,' she
ended, with a whimper, for she was maudlin with drink.

'Take us to that boy at once!' commanded Philip Price; for the
captain's agitation unmanned him for the moment.

The wretched woman, awed by Philip's tone, complied.  Perhaps, also,
she obeyed, half in fear of the policeman, who had stepped up to join
the gentlemen, and half in hope of getting more silver to spend on more
drink.

Before half an hour was over Alick Carnegy was found.  It was a
terrible shock to the captain to recognise his boy in the squalid,
dirty, delirious sufferer tossing wearily on a heap of sacks, on the
grimy floor of an attic at the top of an evil-smelling, dilapidated
house, to which the crone stumblingly conducted them.

'Merciful powers!' he groaned in dismayed horror.

'Hush!' enjoined Philip.  'Be as calm as you can.  I believe the poor
little chap is off his head; but, if there's a gleam of consciousness,
it would send him over the precipice again to witness your agitation.'

There was small fear of the captain doing any further mischief; he was
stunned into helplessness, and stood mute, trying to force himself to
believe that the huddled heap of squalid misery was his very own
son--smart, manly-looking Alick Carnegy.  Though the captain was thus
helpless, Philip Price seemed to know exactly what to do, and how to do
it.

Getting the address of a doctor, he rushed off, in the first place, to
fetch him.  Then a bedstead and clean bedding were hired in.  In an
hour or two more the grimy room was swept and tidied as far as
possible; the window propped up to stay open; the hapless, dirty
sufferer cleansed and made straight; and beside his bed sat a
gentle-faced, trained nurse, whose wholesome presence seemed to
transform the room.

'Now, captain,' cheerily said Philip, who looked another man in the
excitement, 'you are going to take a bit of advice from me, I hope.
You will go straight back to Brattlesby by the night train.  Your
invalid at home must not be forgotten; anxiety is not the best sort of
tonic for her.  And I mean to remain here with your boy.'

'God bless you, Price!'  The old sailor's voice trembled as he wrung
Philip's hand.  'I never knew it was in you!  Man, how one can be
deceived!  I thought your head was in the clouds, and that you didn't
know your right hand from your left, practically speaking.  Yes, yes!
I'll run down to-night, and to-morrow I can return.  I can trust my boy
to you.  Let nothing be spared; there's my purse.  The doctor seemed a
downright good sort of chap and _she_ is worth a gold-mine!'  He
pointed to the nurse, who was deftly bathing Alick's burning brow.

'What a splendid lad that Price is!  He's the very salt of the earth!'
murmured the old captain, as he threaded his way later through the
unsavoury streets, now ablaze with lights that enticed and beckoned
forth misery to stalk out from every dark corner.  'He is a true
Christian--that's what it is!  To think how my boys have ill-treated
him, and here he is caring for Alick so tenderly that the poor boy's
mother couldn't have done more, had she been spared!  That's what you
call returning good for evil, with a vengeance!  Well, well, please
God, I'll mend my own ways too!  If I have my girl and my boy both
restored to me, I'll be a different father to them from what I have
been.'

It had been borne in upon the captain's mind, during the cloud of
sorrow overshadowing his home, that he had, somehow, failed in his
duty.  And, with the courage that belongs only to the brave heart, he
admitted his shortcomings.

There was tremendous excitement in Northbourne when it was known that
Alick had actually been found.  The Bunk was besieged by an
ever-growing crowd, anxious to have the news verified.  And where was
Ned Dempster?  The captain himself had to assure them his next step
would be to discover the hapless Ned.  Yes, yes; Ned also should be
found and brought back.  Not a stone should be left unturned until he
rescued Ned likewise.

And the old sailor kept his word.  On his return to London he and
Philip Price took it in turn, between their spells of watching beside
Alick's sick-bed, to seek out the wandering half of the show-circus.
Time went on, but they were still unsuccessful, however.  Not until the
fever died out, and Alick, weak and exhausted, almost beyond building
up, began to show faint signs of interest in his surroundings, could
any questions be put to him.  It was Philip Price who managed, without
agitating the sufferer, to win from his feeble lips the name of the
show.  After that it was a tolerably easy matter to unearth its
whereabouts.

On demanding Ned's release, a series of denials met them as to the boy
being with the establishment at all.  A storm of furious resistance
which followed had to be quelled by the stern detective who accompanied
the captain in his raid upon the show.  Back in triumph to the
Whitechapel attic they carried the trembling Ned, who had to be scoured
and fed and clothed into his 'right mind' once again.

And this was running away secretly! thought each humiliated adventurer
as they gazed, stony-eyed, at one another.

Shortly after, when Alick had crept sufficiently far out of the fever,
looking a white shadow of his former self, the two boys were conveyed
back to Northbourne, where a genuinely hearty welcome awaited them from
the fisher-folk.  Jerry Blunt, indeed, had suggested a triumphal arch
with WELCOME in letters tall and wide.  But that notion was instantly
quashed by wiser heads.

'We be thankful to see 'em back,' judicially said Northbourne; 'but we
ain't a-goin' to make "conquerin' heroes" of such young limbs!'

So it came to pass that the boys who thought it such a fine, manly
thing to run away to sea, as boys will think, returned meekly, with
shamed eyes, and hearts bounding joyfully at sight of the homes they
had not dreamed were so dear until they had forfeited them, as they
thought, for ever.



CHAPTER XIX

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

'Oh, Alick!

'Oh, Theo!'

After the first cries of greeting there was a silence.  Theo's arms
were tight round her restored brother's neck, and Alick rested his
tear-stained cheek against his sister's.  They were alone in the room,
but, in truth, the boy would not have cared if all Northbourne had been
looking on.

'Theo,' he sobbed out presently, 'it was awful!'

'Yes, dear, it must have been,' whispered Theo sympathetically,
tightening her arms.  'It was not what you expected?'

'It was _awful_!' repeated Alick.  As yet he could find no words to
picture his experience of life out in the hard world.  'And,' he went
on, lifting up his tear-stained face, 'I am more sorry than I can ever
tell that I did it, Theo--sorry and ashamed.'

'Have you told God that, Alick?' asked Theo softly, in his ear.

'Yes, I have,' was the grave, equally low reply.  'I've put it on to
the end of my prayers, night and morning.  And--perhaps He will forgive
me some day, if I--if I can do something, work out something, you know,
to show that I _am_ really and truly sorry.  Don't you think I could
manage something of the sort, Theo?' asked Alick earnestly, if
awkwardly.

'No, Alick, I don't!' said Theo abruptly; and the boy's face fell.  Of
late the boy had been full of this new desire to efface his wrong-doing
by some means or other himself.  'Most certainly, dear old boy,' went
on his sister, more gently, 'you cannot "blot out" your transgression
by your own efforts.  Don't you know that we have, each and every one
of us, in the heavens, that great High Priest who is interceding for us
always, always?  He, our dear Lord, has already done that "something"
which you are groping to do in your weak, small way.  _He_ has worked
out your redemption--yours and mine.  What you have to do is to carry
your sins to the foot of the cross, where the great "something" was
accomplished for us.  You remember the hymn--

  '"I lay my sins on Jesus,
  The spotless Lamb of God."

Oh, Alick!  I'm only a girl, and I can't say the words right; but you
must lay _your_ sin on Jesus, who has promised to bear it.  Tell Him of
your sorrowing repentance.  That's all you have got to do; He does the
rest!'

'And, Theo, there's Price,' Alick lifted his head to say presently.
'Oh, I can't tell you what he has done for me!  He nursed me all
through in that slum of a Whitechapel--me, of all people!  And when I
begged his pardon for all my bad conduct you should have seen his face!
Theo, if you'll give me your word never to tell it to any one, I cried
like a baby; for Price looked for all the world like Stephen looked
when they were stoning him.  But you'll never tell I said so?  I was a
cowardly wretch to insult him as I did; and to think how he has paid me
back--"coals of fire" are nothing to it!'

'Well, I always told you, Alick, that he was a true Christian
gentleman; I was sure of it.'

'I know you did.  I've found it out for myself, now.  Theo!'
energetically added Alick, 'I shall never be the same again, I hate my
old self!  I mean to be so different.  I shall work, and study, and----'

'And try "to do your duty in that state of life unto which it has
pleased God to call you," I hope,' put in Theo quietly.  'But, Alick,
you must ask His help to hold you up, and to prevent your footsteps
from sliding,' she added reverently.  'You can't do it in your own
strength, dear!'  As Theo ceased there were tears on her face, and
Alick's also.  For a long time no other words were spoken--none were
needed.

The sun was setting over the bay, and the fisher-folk, busy with their
preparations for the coming night's work, were cheerily shouting from
one boat to another.  It was good indeed, Alick felt, his heart
throbbing with gratitude, to be once again in the dear old home, in the
clean, wholesome country.


By and by the rest of the family crowded in, and, bit by bit, Alick's
tale was told to his wondering hearers.

'Well, well, boy,' said the captain, putting his arms round the neck of
his prodigal son, 'your precious escapade has taught you one stern
lesson among others, and that is, there's no place like home as yet.'

Alick hung his head to hide his shamed face.  How good everybody was to
him!  The kindness seemed to stab him through and through.  Father's
arm round his neck; one hand clasped by Theo's, and the other hugged up
in both of Queenie's fat, warm little hands; and Geoff devouring him
with eyes dilated with joyful pride over his brother's safe return.
And never a harsh word had passed any one's lips!  Such treatment to a
character of Alick's type was the keenest of punishment.


Under another Northbourne roof another penitent was confessing his
folly that same evening.

'No, granny, never, never will I stir out o' Northbourne, now I've had
the luck to get back to it!' ended Ned, after relating his adventures
in his absence.

'Not even if so be as they can't find the North Pole without 'ee to
help 'em, eh, my lad?' asked granny slyly, across the supper-table.
The old woman had much ado to hide her joy over Ned's return.

Ned coloured, and hung his head abashed.  'Oh, well, I expec' they can
manage without me and Muster Alick!' he stammered at last.

'That's true enough!  Depend upon it, Ned, if the Lord needs you, He
will shape the way for you, plain as plain.  Meantime, it looks as if
He meant you to bide here, seein' as how in His goodness He has bringed
you back to us.  And you just try to remember all your life through, my
lad, what the Book tells us--that "Godliness with contentment is great
gain."'


It is a year ago exactly since 'The Theodora' sank to the bottom of the
blue waters in the bay where she still lies.  Time has wrought and
brought many changes in Northbourne, as time will.  Over at the
Vicarage is the greatest change, for the good old parson has gone home
to--

  That sweet and blessed country
  That eager hearts expect';

and his frail, ailing widow has been taken away to dwell with distant
relatives.  But Binks, under a new master, is still the handy-man;
while Splutters and Shutters have become sedate members of society, for
their new proprietor is Philip Price, than whom few know better the
true secret of ruling.

Yes, the young tutor is now restored to health and strength.  The fine
Northbourne air, the restfulness of country life, and God's goodness,
have combined to set up Philip Price as a robust man.  He had been
ailing so long in the old days, that he had got well-nigh accustomed to
being a semi-invalid.  But, nowadays, he has become so strong that he
has forgotten what ailing means--in his own person that is, for he is a
man of keen sympathies with all concerning his fellow-men.

With renewed health he had thrown himself more vigorously than ever
into his work of teaching; but other things were in store for him.

On Mr. Vesey's unexpected death, the living of Northbourne was vacant,
of course.  Philip Price did not dream of more than a fleeting wish
than it might have fallen to himself.

Other people, however, went a step further than wishing.  The captain,
it so happened, was a cousin of the patron of the parish.  With all his
energy he set about procuring the living for one to whom he would ever
feel bound by ties of gratitude.

'If he be a thorough gentleman, a Christian through and through, and an
honourable man, why--let him have it!' said the patron testily.  This
unexpected compliance was so astounding that the old sailor felt thrown
back on himself, as it were, and returned slightly bewildered by his
own success.

In due time the new vicar and his mother, two proud and happy people,
settled down in the Vicarage house which stares across the bay at the
Bunk.

In the Carnegys' home the only changes are most happy ones.  Since the
captain gave up allowing his hobby to be his master, and has taken a
keener interest in his boys' and girls' daily life, all things are
brighter at the Bunk.  The old naval officer is never happier than when
on the water with his family-crew, and has presented each of his boys
with a canoe, to the pride and glory of not only themselves, but the
entire fishing community.

Theo still pulls Queenie and Queenie's ever-increasing doll-family
about the bay, but in a new 'Theodora.'  But the tall, sweet-faced
sister, of whom the Carnegy boys are so proud, seldom rows across to
the Vicarage nowadays.  Some folk wonder why.  Others, who are wiser,
smile and say that perhaps 'Miss Theedory' will go across some day and
land for life at the Vicarage.  And less likely things have happened.
Indeed, Jerry Blunt is engaged in training a young bullfinch as a
wedding-present, though nobody can induce him to say for whom.  But
people cannot help shrewdly guessing, when they remember that Theo gave
away the first bird-singer Jerry presented to her to Mrs. Vesey, as a
Northbourne keepsake, when she left the Vicarage.

And the Carnegy boys?

Well, they are making the most of their freedom this summer, as next
term they set out on a public-school career.  They have not been idle
this past year, and Philip Price knows they will not disgrace him when
confronted with more strict examiners than himself.  Alick, in
particular, has been diligent, and being endowed with plenty of brains,
his father and Theo are full of hope regarding his future.

Better still, Alick's heart is a changed one.  By God's grace his
footsteps are set in the right path.  No more rebellious outbursts will
there be against those whom the will of God has set over him.  A sharp
lesson taught him the world's cruel hardness to the defenceless, and
showed the true value of a good father and a pure home.

Geoff, ready as ever to take his colour from his surroundings, has been
treading steadily on his altered brother's heels in the 'narrow way.'

And now our sojourn in breezy little Northbourne is over, and we must
say farewell to its fisher-folk.  Some of us may, perchance, meet the
Carnegy boys on life's journey; who can say?  But the
stay-at-homes--the stalwart, active Ned Dempster, now one of Fletcher's
boat-crew; the bird-trainer, Jerry Blunt; the families of the Bunk and
the Vicarage,--to one and all we must say good-bye, which is 'God be
with them!'



THE END



EVERY BOY'S BOOKSHELF.


Frank Lester's Fortunes.  By Frederick Arnold.

A Boy's Adventures Round the World, By John Andrew Higginson.

In Mortal Peril: A Story of the Great Armada.  By E. E. Crake.

Bush Luck.  By W. H. Timperley.

Schooldays at Highfield House.  By A. N. Malan.

Under Fire.  By H. Frederick Charles.

The Young Nor'-Wester.  By J. Macdonald Oxley.



THE BOY'S LIBRARY OF ADVENTURE & HEROISM.


ALLAN ADAIR; or Here and There in Many Lands.  By Dr. GORDON STABLES,
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A HERO IN WOLF-SKIN. A Story of Pagan and Christian.  By TOM BEVAN.
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THE ADVENTURES OF VAL DAINTRY IN THE GRAECO-TURKISH WAR.  By V. L.
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THE HEROES OF MOSS HALL SCHOOL.  By E. C. KENYON, author of "Little
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THE LOST EARLDOM: A Tale of Scotland's Reign of Terror.  By CYRIL GREY,
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A TROOPER OF THE FINNS: A Tale of the Thirty Years' War.  By TOM BEVAN,
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WILD LIFE IN SUNNY LANDS. A Romance of Butterfly Hunting.  By GORDON
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THE VOYAGE OF THE BLUE VEGA.  By GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.  With Six
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COMRADES UNDER CANVAS. A Story of Boys' Brigade Life.  By FREDERICK P.
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BOB MARCHANT'S SCHOLARSHIP.  By ERNEST PROTHEROE. With Seven
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THE BOY SETTLER; or, The Adventures of Sydney Bartlett.  By H. C.
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FROM SCAPEGRACE TO HERO; or, The Adventures and Triumphs of Jem Blake.
By ERNEST PROTHEROE, author of "Bob Marchant's Scholarship."  With
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By TALBOT BAINES REED.


THE ADVENTURES OF A THREE-GUINEA WATCH.  With Seven Full-page and
Sixteen other Illustrations in the Text.

THE COCK HOUSE AT FELLSGARTH.  A Public School Story.  With Seven
Full-page Illustrations by ALFRED PEARSE.

THE FIFTH FORMAT ST. DOMINIC'S.  A Public School Story.  With Seven
Full-page and Eight other Illustrations in the Text.

A DOG WITH A BAD NAME.  With Seven Full-page Illustrations by ALFRED
PEARSE.

ROGER INGLETON, MINOR.  With Seven Full-page Illustrations by J.
FINNEMORE, R.I.

SIR LUDAR: A Story of the Days of the Great Queen Bess.  With Eleven
Full-page Illustrations.

PARKHURST BOYS, and other Stories of School Life.  With Seven Full-page
and many other Illustrations.

THE MASTER OF THE SHELL.  With Seven Full-page and Five other
Illustrations in the Text.

MY FRIEND SMITH. A Story of School and City Life.  With Eleven
Full-page and Eight other Illustrations in the Text.

REGINALD CRUDEN. A Tale of City Life.  With Seven Illustrations by
ALFRED PEARSE.

TOM, DICK, AND HARRY.  With Fifteen Full-page Illustrations.



THE BOY'S OWN SERIES.


A GREAT MISTAKE.  A Story of Adventure.  By T. S. MILLINGTON, author of
"The Latch Key," "The Shadow on the Hearth," etc. Illustrated.

ALL FOR NUMBER ONE; or, Charlie Russell's Ups and Downs.  By HENRY
JOHNSON, author of "Turf and Table," "A Book of Heroes," etc.

MAX VICTOR'S SCHOOLDAYS: The Friends he made and the Foes he conquered.
By S. S. PUSH, author of "Rights and Wrongs," "My School-fellow, Val
Bownser," etc.  Illustrated.

THE MARTYR'S VICTORY. A Tale of Danish England.  By EMMA LESLIE, author
of "That Scholarship Boy," "Glaucia, the Greek Slave," etc. Illustrated.

THE DOCTOR'S EXPERIMENT; or, The Adventures of One of Dr. Reade's
Pupils, as narrated by Himself.  By H. FREDERICK CHARLES, author of
"The Boys of Highfield," "Gentleman Jackson," etc.   Illustrated.

GENTLEMAN JACKSON.  By H. FREDERICK CHARLES, author of "The Doctor's
Experiment," "The Boys of Highfield," etc.  Illustrated.

TOM WALLIS. A Tale of the South Seas.  By LOUIS BECKE, author of "By
Reef and Palm," "Admiral Philip," etc. Illustrated.

THE STORY OF A CITY ARAB.  By G. E. SARGENT, author of "Frank Layton,"
"Boys will be Boys," etc. Illustrated.

THE SHELL-HUNTERS: Their Wild Adventures by Land and Sea.  By GORDON
STABLES, author of "Allan Adair," etc. Illustrated.

HAROLD, THE BOY EARL. A Story of Old England.  By J. F. HODGETTS,
author of "Kormak the Viking," etc.  Illustrated.

ILDERIM, THE AFGHAN. A Tale of the Indian Border.  By DAVID KEE.
Illustrated.

ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  By ONE WHO WAS BORN THERE, author of
"Annie Carr," etc.  Illustrated.

THE STORY OF A POCKET BIBLE.  By G. E. SARGENT, author of "The Story of
a City Arab," "Frank Layton," etc.  Illustrated.

NORTH OVERLAND WITH FRANKLIN.  By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, author of "Archie
Mackenzie," etc.  Illustrated.

THE CAPTAIN'S STORY; or, Jamaica Sixty Years Since.  By Captain
BROOKE-KNIGHT. Illustrated.

CAPTAIN COOK; His Life, Voyages, and Discoveries.  By W. H. G.
KINGSTON, author of "Little Peter the Ship Boy," "Ben Hadden," etc.
Illustrated.

THE HEIR OF BRAGWELL HALL.  By ALFRED BEER. With Seven Illustrations by
J. FINNEMORE, R.I.

THE WALLABY MAN.  By Dr. A. N. MALAN, F.G.S., author of "School Days at
Highfield House," etc.   With Seven Illustrations.

GEOFF BLAKE: His Chums and His Foes.  By S. S. PUGH. With Three
Illustrations by LANCELOT SPEED.

CAVE PERILOUS.  By L. T. MEADE. With Seven Illustrations by S. T. DADD.

FOR CROWN AND COVENANT.  By CYRIL GREY, author of "The Lost Earldom."
With Three Illustrations by ALFRED PEARSE.

UNTRUE TO HIS TRUST; or, Plotters and Patriots.  By HENRY JOHNSON,
author of "Turf and Table," "A Book of Heroes," etc. With Five
Illustrations.

THE VOYAGE OF THE STORMY PETREL.  By W. C. METCALF. With Three
Illustrations by LANCELOT SPEED.

DUCK-LAKE.  Stories of the Canadian Backwoods.  By E. RYERSON YOUNG.
With Seven Illustrations by J. MACFARLANE.

KORMAK, THE VIKING.  By J. FREDERICK HODGETTS. With Fifteen
Illustrations by J. FINNEMORE, R.I.

CYRIL'S QUEST; or, O'er Vale and Hill in the Land of the Inca.  By
ANNIE GRAY. With Three Illustrations by ALFRED PEARSE.

THE BRIGANDS' PREY; A Strange Story of Adventure.  By A. M. JACKSON.
With Five Illustrations by G. E. ROBERTSON.

THE SETTLERS OF KAROSSA CREEK.  and Other Stories of Australian Bush
Life.

By Louis BECKE, author of "Tom Wallis," "Wild Life in the Southern
Seas," etc., etc.  With Three Illustrations by J. FINNEMORE, R.I.

THE SPECIMEN HUNTERS.  By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, P. A., author of "North
Overland with Franklin," "Archie Mackenzie."  Illustrated.

THE ADVENTURES OF TIMOTHY.  By E. C. KENYON. With Four Illustrations.



STORIES FOR BOYS.

THROUGH FIRE and THROUGH WATER.  A Story of Adventure and Peril.  By T.
S. MILLINGTON, author of "Straight to the Mark," etc.  With Sixteen
Illustrations.

TAMATE: The Life and Adventures of a Christian Hero.  By RICHARD
LOVETT, M.A., author of "James Chalmers: his Autobiography and
Letters," etc. With Two Maps and Fifteen Illustrations by J. FINNEMORE,
R.I.

CONDEMNED TO THE GALLEYS. The Adventures of a French Protestant.  By
JEAN MARTEILHE. With Seven Illustrations by E. BARNARD LINTOTT.





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