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Title: Mamie's Watchword - Thou God Seest Me
Author: Mathews, Joanna H. (Joanna Hooe), 1849-1901
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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Little Sunbeams.

V.

MAMIE'S WATCHWORD.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

By the Author of this Volume.


I.

LITTLE SUNBEAMS.

By JOANNA H. MATHEWS, Author of the "Bessie Books."

      I. BELLE POWERS' LOCKET. 16mo      $1.00
     II. DORA'S MOTTO. 16mo               1.00
    III. LILY NORRIS' ENEMY               1.00
     IV. JESSIE'S PARROT                  1.00
      V. MAMIE'S WATCHWORD                1.00
     VI. NELLIE'S HOUSEKEEPING            1.00

    _The Set in a neat box_, $6.00


II.

THE FLOWERETS.

  A series of Stories on the Commandments. 6 vols. In a box      $3.60

    "It is not easy to say too good a word for this admirable
    series. Interesting, graphic, impressive, they teach with
    great distinctness the cardinal lessons which they would
    have the youthful reader learn."--_S. S. Times._


III.

THE BESSIE BOOKS.

    6 vols. In a box      $7.50

    "Bessie is a very charming specimen of little girlhood. It
    is a lovely story of home and nursery life among a family of
    bright, merry little children."--_Presbyterian._


    ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,
    _New York_.

      *      *      *      *      *      *


MAMIE'S WATCHWORD.

"Thou God Seest Me."

by

JOANNA H. MATHEWS,

Author of the "Bessie Books" and the "Flowerets"



[Illustration]

New York:
Robert Carter and Brothers,
530 Broadway.
1882.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
Robert Carter and Brothers
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.



CONTENTS.


                                  PAGE
       I. THE DOLL                   9
      II. HOW BELLE DID IT          27
     III. THE BREAKWATER            47
      IV. FORBIDDEN PLEASURES       69
       V. THE DUCKLING              88
      VI. POOR LITTLE WAGTAIL      110
     VII. THE FIRST STEP           133
    VIII. DISOBEDIENCE             151
      IX. ADRIFT                   172
       X. RESCUE                   190
      XI. REPENTANCE               212



[Illustration]



MAMIE'S WATCHWORD.



I.

_THE DOLL._


"MAMMA! can I have it? Can I, mamma? Buy it for me, buy it; will you,
mamma?"

"May be so, dear. I will see about it."

"No, not may be; not see about it, mamma! I must have it, and I know
you can afford it!"

The speakers were Mrs. Stone and her little daughter Mamie; the scene,
Miss Ashton's broad, shady piazza, where, at this time, a little fair
was taking place.

And what was the object on which Mamie's heart was so set; for which
she was begging so persistently, you will ask.

Why, just this.

A beautiful doll; a famous, much-talked-of doll, dressed as an infant
by Miss Annie Stanton, for the fair; a doll eagerly desired by all the
children present, as any little girl will readily believe when she
hears that seldom has a doll had such an outfit.

Mamie's eyes were fixed eagerly upon her as she pleaded and entreated
with her mother, holding fast to her hand, and almost dancing in her
extreme anxiety to secure the much-coveted prize.

"Perhaps I can, dear," said Mrs. Stone's rather languid voice, as she
looked smilingly down at her little daughter; "perhaps I can afford it;
but you know, Mamie, that the doll is to be sold to whoever shall offer
the highest price for her."

"Well, _you_ offer the highest price for her, mamma; do, oh, do! Offer
a great deal more than any one else, so I shall be sure to have her. I
want her so!"

"But it is not to be known what each one offers till the fair is over,
Mamie," said her mother; "then, whoever has said they will give the
most, is to take the doll."

"Ask Miss Stanton to tell you," pleaded Mamie.

Mrs. Stone shook her head.

"That would not be fair, Mamie; and Miss Stanton would refuse to tell
if I asked her. I will make an offer for the doll, but you will have to
take your chance with the rest, my darling."

Mamie was so little used to any opposition or contradiction from her
over-indulgent mother that she did not know how to meet it; and, though
it was made thus plain to her that it might not be within her mother's
power to give her the doll, she felt as though the possibility of
disappointment were more than she could bear, and as if it would be
altogether mamma's fault if the longed-for toy did not fall to her
share.

The eager face clouded over, a frown gathered between her eyes, and an
ugly pout upon her lips.

Oh, if little children who like to appear well only knew how such pouts
and frowns disfigure the faces which God has made to be so pleasant
and so fair, they would surely beware how they let Discontent set his
hateful mark upon them!

"But I want it so; and I must have it," Mamie muttered fretfully.

"Yes, dear; we shall see," was Mrs. Stone's answer, as she went forward
to the table where the baby doll lay in her glory.

"Tell me what you are going to give," said Mamie, as her mother bent
forward with a smile, and whispered her offer to Miss Stanton.

"Ah! but that is a secret, Mamie," said the young lady, drawing forth
the paper on which she wrote the names of would-be purchasers with the
sum each one proposed to give; and putting down Mrs. Stone's, and the
amount she had offered for the doll. "No one is to be told till this
evening."

"Did you offer the _most_, mamma?" repeated Mamie, upon whose mind it
seemed impossible to impress the fact that no one would know this till
the appointed time.

"I doubt if any one will give more than I will," said Mrs. Stone, who
thought that she had really offered more than the value of the doll, as
indeed perhaps she had done, so anxious was she to gratify her little
daughter.

Mamie's face cleared a little.

"I do want it so," she said less fretfully, but still with much energy
in her tone.

"Yes, I believe the children all do," laughed Miss Annie Stanton; "at
least, I can answer for several, Maggie and Bessie among them."

"I don't believe anybody wants it so much as I do," persisted Mamie.
"I've been thinking about it and thinking about it till I feel as if I
could not bear to give it up. Oh, I must have that doll, I must!"

Somebody who was passing paused at her side as she spoke, and turning
her eyes from the doll, they met those of Miss Ashton fixed rather
anxiously upon her. Mamie's color deepened, and she looked a little
ashamed, for she hardly knew herself how much she valued the good
opinion of her teacher, and now it seemed to her that her last speech
had been rather obstinate and selfish.

"I mean if I could have it quite fairly, Miss Ashton," she said, as if
in answer to the lady's look, for she had spoken no word.

"Of course," said Miss Ashton, smiling; "we would not believe you
wished to do what was unfair, even to gain the doll, Mamie."

"No," answered Mamie half reluctantly; "but you can't think how much I
want it, Miss Ashton. I'm sure none of the others care as much as I do
about it."

"I do not know about that," said Miss Ashton. "Look at Belle, Mamie.
How do you think she feels?"

Mamie turned and looked at Belle.

Her little schoolmate stood beside the doll, quite absorbed in
regarding its beauties,--not that they were new to her, for she had
watched the progress of its magnificent wardrobe from the very
commencement,--her eyes wandering from one pretty trifle to another
with longing, almost loving, interest; her fingers touching them now
and then, but so daintily and so carefully that there was no fear they
would come to harm through her handling. Miss Stanton had found it
necessary to warn off more than one little pair of hands that day, lest
they should mar the splendor of that wardrobe, or its mistress; but
there was no need of this with Belle, so gently and delicately did she
smooth and touch them. Her face was very wistful as Mamie looked at
her, showing plainly that her desire for the beautiful doll was quite
as great as Mamie's own, and that her disappointment would be quite as
severe if it did not fall to her lot.

Mamie watched her for a moment, and then, leaving her mother's side,
walked slowly over to the corner of the table where Belle stood.

"Isn't she lovely?" she said, meaning the doll.

"Yes," answered Belle. "I should think she is! Oh, I want her so! Don't
you, Mamie?"

"Indeed, I do," said Mamie with quite as much emphasis as Belle had
used. "Indeed, I do."

"But I don't s'pose you want her as much as I do," said Belle; "least I
don't s'pose you need her so much."

"Why not?" asked Mamie, half resenting such a supposition.

"'Cause you have your little sister to play with," said Belle, "and
I have no sister, nor any mamma to play with me," she added with a
half-smothered sigh.

That appeal seldom failed to touch the hearts of Belle's playmates and
companions; the child's longing for her lost mother was so great, her
sense of loneliness, at times, so pitiful; and the years which had
passed since her mother's death seemed to have little or no power to
weaken these in her loyal little heart.

Mamie stood silent. The doll was not yet hers to give up; but she now
had a feeling as if she ought to wish that Belle, rather than herself,
should be the fortunate possessor.

"I b'lieve if I had a little sister I should not care so much about
dolls," continued Belle, with an air of deep consideration; "but this
doll does seem so very _real_ and live; doesn't she, Mamie?"

Mamie assented, with a half impatient, though unspoken wish that Belle
did not care so very much about the doll.

"Belle," she said, "if I do have her, I will let you play with her a
great deal; and sometimes I'll let you take her to your own house, if
you'll be careful of her."

Belle shook her head.

"That wouldn't be like having her for my very own, Mamie; I'd like to
make believe that she was my sister if I had her, she's such a very
real doll."

"S'pose none of us have her; but somebody who is a stranger to the
school," said Lily Norris, who had just drawn near, and who easily
guessed what the other children were talking about. "Wouldn't that be a
shocking occurrence?"

"Yes," said Belle, giving a long sigh at the possibility of such a
catastrophe. "Shocking! But we'll have to bear it, perhaps."

"Belle!" called Bessie Bradford from the other end of the piazza
where she stood behind the flower-table; "Belle, how long you've been
away from our table!" and recalled thus to a sense of her duties as
saleswoman, Belle ran back to her post, which she had been tempted to
quit for a closer view of the coveted doll, so often seen, but of whose
perfections she never tired.

"I hope Mr. Powers will be the one to give the most for the doll, so
Belle can have it," said Lily to Mamie, when Belle had left them.

"Don't you want it yourself?" asked Mamie.

"Yes," answered Lily; "but I think I'd 'most rather Belle would have it
than any one. She seems to feel as if it would be a kind of company
for her; and she's very lonesome sometimes. She don't have such large
families as we do, you know; nothing but herself and her papa. Yes, I
think I would rather Belle should have it than to have it myself."

Mamie felt that she could not make up her mind to be as generous as
Lily, were the opportunity offered to her; and still she wished that
she could be so. Lily was not "one bit selfish," she saw; neither was
Belle, spite of her intense desire to possess the doll, at all inclined
to be jealous or ill-tempered about it, as Mamie felt she might be
herself if another child carried off the prize.

"Belle used to fret and cry like every thing if she didn't have what
she wanted," she said to herself; "but she doesn't now. I wonder why;"
and again there came a disagreeable consciousness to Mamie that she had
not improved in this respect as much as her little schoolmate.

The excitement and anxiety respecting the doll increased rather than
lessened as the day wore on and the fair drew near its close. Every
papa and mamma, grandmamma, uncle, or aunt, who came in, was introduced
to the young lady, and besought to "offer a whole lot for her."

But none were as eager as Belle and Mamie, though the former did not
show the impatience Mamie had displayed. Her papa was seized upon the
moment he entered the fair, it is true; and begged to offer so much for
the doll that he should be sure to gain it for his little daughter;
but she did not insist that she _would_ have it, as Mamie had done, or
worry and fret her father.

And somehow, she scarcely knew why, this seemed to keep Mamie a little
in check. It really appeared as if Belle, lonely little Belle, needed
the doll more than she did. True, Belle had "lots of toys," but so had
she; and then she had a baby sister at home, and Belle had none, and
"no mother;" and Mamie really caught herself wondering if she could
resolve to wish that Belle, rather than herself, might have the doll,
and if she ever could be so generous as to give it up to her if it were
in her power to do so.

The day passed on, evening came, the fair was drawing to its close,
having proved a most triumphant success, and the time for announcing
the name of the doll's purchaser had arrived. This was proclaimed by
Mr. Stanton's voice from his sister's table at the end of the piazza,
and instantly every little saleswoman had deserted her stand, and they
all flocked to the place of interest.

"I hope it is you, papa; oh, I hope it's you! I could almost pray it
might be you," said Belle, holding fast to her father's hand, and
squeezing it tight in breathless expectation, as all waited to hear the
name of the happy owner.

Mr. Powers smiled down at her rather sadly. He could not help a feeling
of amusement, and still he did not like to see her so eager, so excited
over that which might prove a disappointment.

Mamie, who stood near, watched her, too; curious, despite her own
interest in the grand affair of the day, to see what Belle would say
and do if another than her papa should prove to be the munificent
purchaser.

Mr. Stanton took the list from his sister's hand, and casting his eye
over it, proclaimed aloud that Mrs. Benjamin Howard had offered the
largest sum for the doll, and hence it was hers. This was not Gracie
Howard's mamma, but her grandmamma; but still each young hearer felt
sure that the prize would be bestowed upon Gracie or one of her little
sisters. For whom else could Grandmamma Howard want it?

When Mrs. Howard's name was announced, Belle's face wore, for a moment,
a look of blank and utter disappointment, and Mamie's was not more
pleased. But still the latter kept her eye on Belle, and it seemed as
if it only needed a display of temper from her to produce the same from
Mamie.

But that did not follow. Choking back her sobs, and dashing some
bright drops from her eyes, Mamie saw her raise her face towards her
father, and say some words which did not reach her own ear; saw Mr.
Powers smile tenderly down on his little daughter as he answered her,
and presently Belle was smiling and bright again.

Mrs. Stone was agreeably surprised that her own little spoiled child
made no loud outcry over her disappointment. It is true that Mamie
could not or did not refrain from a pout and a fretful "I declare, it's
just too bad! I wanted it so, and--and--so did Belle."

And she was half inclined to feel resentful towards kind old Mrs.
Howard, and to think she had no right to have purchased the doll; and
later, when Maggie and Bessie came to her and said,--

"Mamie, we feel that it would be only taking a polite interest in Mrs.
Howard for us all to go and congratulate her on having the doll," she
refused to join her companions in doing so.

But when she saw them all, even Belle, going up with cheerful and
pleased faces to where the dear old lady sat, she felt ashamed to
be left out, and fell into the ranks, standing by while Lily Norris
delivered herself of the following speech, composed on the spur of the
occasion by Maggie, who was too shy to speak it herself, and so begged
Lily to be spokeswoman.

"Dear ma'am: while we have to mourn for ourselves, we have also to
rejoice for you, and to congratulate you because you have the doll; and
we do it with all our hearts, 'cause you have been so kind and good to
us about the fair."

This little oration was pronounced by Lily without the slightest
embarrassment or faltering; for, although not conceited, she was a
self-possessed little monkey, and now she felt that the credit of the
performance was due to Maggie, and not to herself.

And lest there should be any mistake on this head, she added, almost in
the same breath with the concluding words of the speech, "The praise of
making that up is Maggie's, not mine;" and retired within the ranks of
her schoolmates.

Their congratulations were received by Mrs. Howard with much pleasure,
and by all such as heard them with some amusement; after which a
farewell look was taken of the famous doll, who was now carried away by
her owner.

Mamie was petted and made much of by her not over-wise mother, because
she bore her disappointment so well, for it was something so new to
see her conduct herself in such a peaceable and sensible manner when
she was crossed in any way, that Mrs. Stone was surprised as well as
pleased.

Mr. Stone, too, and even her brother Walter, had each his word of
praise for Mamie as they drove home; and she really felt herself quite
a heroine, because she had not cried and fretted like any baby.

But in spite of this consciousness of superior virtue, which was all
the more pleasing because it was somewhat of a novelty, Mamie felt that
Belle had been, to use her own words, "even better" than she had.
Belle had not shown even a shadow of sulkiness or ill temper; and yet
her heart had seemed to be set upon the doll even more than Mamie's own.

"Belle is always so good now," she said to herself, "and yet she used
to be so spoiled, and to be provoked if she did not have every thing
she wanted, and cry about it just--just like me. I wish I could grow as
good as she is now. Everybody says she has improved so. I wonder how
she does it. Some time I'll ask her."

Such were Mamie's thoughts and resolutions as she lay in her bed that
night, and she dropped off to sleep on this last.

The opportunity for putting it in practice came sooner than she had
supposed probable; for it was vacation, and she did not expect to see
Belle at school every day, as was usual.



[Illustration]



II.

_HOW BELLE DID IT._


"WHY, Belle! Is that you?"

"Why, yes, Mamie! Is that you?"

These very unnecessary questions were put by the two little schoolmates
as they stood facing one another within the saloon of the drawing-room
car attached to the train which was on its way to Boston.

There certainly could be no doubt in the mind of either that the one
was Belle and the other Mamie; and the above exclamations were only due
to the surprise felt by each one at the sight of the other.

"Yes, it is I," was Mamie's answer. "Where are you going, Belle?" she
questioned in the next breath.

"To Netasquet," replied Belle; "and Lily Norris is there now."

"Why, I am going there too!" exclaimed Mamie, in a delighted voice;
"all of us are,--papa and mamma, and all the boys, and Lulu and me. How
very fortunate, Belle, that so many of us are going there together!
Won't we have nice times?"

"Um--m, well, maybe so. Maggie and Bessie are not going there," said
Belle in a tone which told that she thought all pleasure questionable
in which her last-named two little friends did not share.

"They've gone to Newport, haven't they?" said Mamie.

"Yes, their papa has bought a house there, and now they'll go there
every summer. Papa and I are going to make them a good long visit by
and by; but first we have to go to Netasquet."

Belle said this with a sigh, as if even the prospect of the "good long
visit" could scarcely console her for the present separation from
Maggie and Bessie.

"Who are you with?" was Mamie's next question.

"Papa and Daphne and Uncle and Aunt Walton," answered Belle.

"Oh! and Ma--bel?" said Mamie, following the direction of Belle's eye,
and seeing the head of her little cousin, Mabel Walton, peeping out
from the door of a compartment at the end of the car.

"Yes. You don't seem very rejoiced about Mabel," said Belle, who
had noticed the tone in which Mamie uttered the last words,--a tone
expressive of any thing but pleasure.

"An' no wonder," muttered old Daphne, Belle's nurse, who stood behind
her young mistress; but Mamie, thinking it as well to change the
subject of conversation, only said,--

"Don't you want to see my little sister Lulu, Belle?"

"Yes," answered Belle with alacrity, and would have followed Mamie at
once to that part of the saloon where her friends were seated, if
Daphne had not interfered, saying,--

"You just come back to your pa, honey. De hosses done pullin' us now,
and dey're gwine for put to de injine, and dere'll be a screechin' an'
a shakin' an' a jerkin' fit to knock de bref out of yer. 'Sides, I've
foun' out it's best to stick close to yer pa when we're trabellin'
roun'. Come to lose sight of him, 'taint easy sayin' what'll become of
us."

And with a fearful recollection of having been "gone off with" by the
cars on one occasion, when she had been separated from her papa, Belle
rushed back to the compartment of her own party, and, in dread of such
a catastrophe occurring again, clung to him till the train was speeding
on its way. Then she felt safe; neither she nor papa could leave the
cars while they were rushing on at this rate.

But after some time, just as she was beginning to tire of looking
out of the window, and watching the rapidly changing scene without,
Mamie's face showed itself at the open door of the compartment; and
having nodded in her own free and easy way to the party in general, she
said to Belle's papa,--

"Mr. Powers, couldn't Belle come with me to see our Lulu?"

Mr. Powers consented, finding that his little daughter wished to go,
and Belle, slipping from his knee, took Mamie's outstretched hand,
looking back, however, at her Cousin Mabel.

"Mabel can come too if she likes," said Mamie; but Mabel, feeling that
there was a want of cordiality in the invitation, plumply and poutingly
refused it; upon which Mamie looked rather relieved.

Mabel and Mamie were never the best of friends; each one called
the other "a horrid child," "selfish," "hateful," and other such
uncomplimentary names; not always in one another's hearing, it is true;
but Mamie knew pretty well what Mabel thought of her; and Mabel, on her
side, felt that Mamie regarded her with no friendly eye.

Some little readers may know the reason why; others may wish to ask it.

It was this:--

_Both_ were spoiled, selfish children, allowed to do pretty much as
they pleased, and each one so accustomed to having her own way that
they were almost sure to clash and quarrel when they were thrown
together. Out of school, that is; in school Miss Ashton's authority and
the peace-making efforts of their little classmates kept matters pretty
smooth; but in their play-time, or when they met one another elsewhere,
there was apt to be some falling out which each always declared to be
entirely the fault of the other. Mabel, a quiet child, to whom words
did not come easily, would generally relieve her feelings by "making
faces" at Mamie, in which ugly practice she had become quite an adept;
but Mamie had a sharp little tongue of her own, and put no check upon
it if she chose to say biting or taunting things to Mabel.

So now you will understand the reason of Mamie's dissatisfied "oh! and
Ma--bel?" when she heard of whom Belle's party was composed. Probably
Mabel was not much more pleased when her cousin told her whom she had
met without in the saloon.

But Belle, who was at peace with Mamie, and who was extremely fond
of babies and very little children, was only too glad to accept the
latter's invitation, and go with her to play with her little sister.

Lulu, a bright, cunning child nearly three years old, soon made friends
with Belle, and graciously received all the petting and coaxing that
were lavished upon her.

But, pet and darling though she was, and though Mamie seemed both proud
and fond of her, Belle could not but perceive that Mamie domineered
over the little one, and sometimes needlessly contradicted or crossed
her. Sometimes Lulu would take such things quietly; at others she would
resist or fret, thereby making a disturbance, and annoying those about
her.

Belle noticed all this, though she made no remark; but Mamie did not
fail to perceive that she looked at her once or twice with wondering
disapproval, when some petty act of tyranny or selfishness showed
itself towards the little sister.

And once, although Belle meant no reproof, Mamie felt reproached and
ashamed.

For Mrs. Stone had given to each of the three children a cake. Mamie's
and Belle's were alike, being the only two of the kind that the stock
on hand afforded. Lulu's was quite as good if she could have thought
so; but it did not strike her in that light, and she clamored for "a
tate lite Mamie's."

"There are no more, my darling. Change with her; will you not, Mamie?"
said her mother.

But no; Mamie, too, fancied her own cake the best, and she flatly
refused to exchange with her sister, who sat upon papa's knee, holding
the despised cake at arm's length, and regarding it with a comical
expression of displeasure. Lulu put up a grieved lip at this, and
would probably have burst into a loud cry, for there is no denying
that she, too, was somewhat over-petted and spoiled; but Belle stepped
forward and put her own cake in the baby's hand, taking the rejected
dainty in exchange.

"That is a kind, unselfish little girl," said Mr. Stone; "but are you
sure you like that cake quite as well, my dear?"

"I can eat this one quite as well, sir," answered Belle, too truthful
to say that she did really like the one as well as the other, and then
added, "Lulu is so little, sir, I s'pose it makes more difference to
her than to me."

She did not look at Mamie, nor did her manner seem to throw any blame
on her; but the latter did feel thoroughly ashamed to think that
a stranger should yield that which she had refused to give up for
the sister over whom, at times, she made so much ado; and she ate
her cake with very little real enjoyment. At first, too, she felt
rather provoked with Belle for being more unselfish than herself;
but presently that feeling passed away, and she looked at her with
admiration, as she thought, "She is better than I, a great deal better."

For spoiled though she was, and at times extremely perverse, fretful,
and selfish, there was much that was good in Mamie Stone; and one of
her best qualities was that she was always quick to see and acknowledge
what was worthy of praise in others, and she was also honest with
herself, and ready to confess her faults.

But then the trouble was that she was too often satisfied with allowing
that she had been wrong, and took little or no pains to correct
herself, and to strive against such naughtiness for the future.

Of late, however, Mamie had felt the wish to be a better and more
amiable child; and she would often please herself with imagining how
she would grow less selfish and exacting, more willing to give up her
own will to that of others, more obedient and respectful to her parents
and elders.

But when the time arrived for these good resolutions to be put in
practice they always seemed to fail her; temptation came in her way,
some small trifle crossed her, and she saw herself, her own wilful,
pettish, perhaps disobedient little self, not one whit improved by all
those good resolutions and delightful dreams of the wonderfully good
child she had intended to become.

Still she did honestly wish to do better; but she did not seem to know
the right way to set about this; perhaps she had not a good motive;
perhaps it was from the desire to have people say what a good girl she
had become; how much she had improved; to receive such praise as she
often heard bestowed upon some of her young companions,--Belle for
instance.

"A kind, unselfish little girl," her father had called Belle; and Mamie
would have been very much pleased to hear papa say that to her; but he
never did,--and why? Because she never deserved it. Mamie felt that,
although it did vex her that it was so. And she would really like to
deserve it, she thought.

"But I never can remember in time," she said to herself. "I wonder how
Belle does it. People used to say she was spoiled when she first came
to this country, and knew Maggie and Bessie and all of us, and went to
Miss Ashton's school; and now every one says she is so good and sweet;
and so she is too. And she has a right not to be so good as me, too,
I s'pose, 'cause she has no mother, and her father and old Daphne do
spoil her dreadfully, every one knows that."

If "spoiling" meant indulgence, Belle certainly had her share of that;
but, only child and motherless though she was, it was not the weak and
foolish yielding to every whim and temper which had nearly been the
ruin of poor Mamie's mind and character, and which were fast doing
their own ill work even with little Lulu's sweeter and more docile
disposition.

"I'm going to ask Belle how she does it," Mamie said again to herself;
and saying this recalled to her mind that she had made the same
resolve on the day of the fair; but until now she had never had the
opportunity to carry it out.

Now, ever since that time, Mamie had not ceased to plume herself on
her good behavior on the occasion, and her mamma had bestowed upon her
praise enough to turn half a dozen little heads.

So, her mind full of this, Mamie began the conversation in this manner.

"Weren't we good that day, Belle?"

"What day?" asked Belle, surprised, as she had reason to be, at this
sudden reference to a matter she had well-nigh forgotten.

"Why, _that_ day; the fair day," answered Mamie; "were we not good?"

"Oh, yes," said Belle, still rather surprised; "every one was very
good; and we made such a lot of money for Jessie and her grandfather.
It was all very nice."

"But _us_, _we_, you and I, I mean," persisted Mamie. "Were we not good
about the doll?"

"Well, yes, I s'pose so," said Belle, her great black eyes fixed
wonderingly on Mamie. "But I don't know if we were any better than all
the rest, and I think maybe I was not so good; for I was real provoked,
at first, that I could not have it, and it was very hard work for me
not to cry. But, do you know, Mamie, I think now I am glad Mrs. Howard
had it, and gave it to Nellie Ransom, 'cause Nellie does not have so
many toys and pretty things as most of us children in the school, and
she was so very pleased to have it."

"Um--well, I don't know about that," said Mamie, reflectively. "Mamma
says I behaved beautifully about that doll, and the next morning she
took me to Bruner's, and let me choose the prettiest one that was
there; but it wasn't so lovely as _that_ one; but I don't think I'm
such a mountain of goodness as to be so very glad Nellie had it instead
of me. I'd 'most as lief _you_ had had it as to have it myself, Belle."

"Oh, thank you, dear!" said Belle, flushing with pleasure, and kissing
her playmate with as much gratitude as if she had really bestowed the
doll upon her.

"I would," repeated Mamie, feeling more and more virtuous; "and I do
think that you were real good. Tell me how you do it, Belle;" and
she lowered her voice and drew closer to Belle, so that no one might
overhear her.

"Do what?" asked Belle, more and more mystified by Mamie's obscure
manner of expressing herself.

"How is it that you try not to be--well--not to be
spoiled--or--or--selfish--or to stop yourself when you feel like being
naughty. For you do try, Belle, I know; and I would like to, too, and
to have people say I try to cure myself and am good; but every time I
make up my mind, I will go and forget, and am naughty again, and then
it is too late."

"But I'm _not_ always good," said Belle; "sometimes I am quite naughty,
though I do know better than I used to. But you see, Mamie, papa is
always sorry then, and that helps me to remember about being obstinate
or selfish or naughty. I don't like to grieve papa, so I have to try
to be good, so as to keep him as glad as I can."

"Is that the reason?" said Mamie. "Well, I like to please my papa and
mamma too; but then it is such a bother, and I cannot remember always."

"Well," said Belle, solemnly, and with the air of one giving advice in
a grave matter, as indeed she was; "there's another thing that might
help you more than that if you could think about it, Mamie. Bessie put
me in mind of it. She said it always helped her when she felt provoked,
and felt like being in a passion with any one; and it does help me to
be good. It is remembering that our Father in heaven sees us all the
time, and knows all the naughty things we do, whether they are much
naughty, or only a little naughty; and what He thinks about it."

"Oh, yes," said Mamie, slowly, as if the thought had struck her for the
first time. Presently she added: "Belle, do you suppose God noticed
just now when I wouldn't give Lulu the cake?"

"Yes, of course He did," answered the little Mentor.

"And do you believe He thought I was dreadful?" asked Mamie.

"Well, yes," said Belle. "I'm afraid He did. Pretty dreadful. You see
Lulu is so little, and I s'pose He thinks such a big girl as you ought
to know better and give up more."

"Yes," said Mamie; "but, Belle, I don't know if I like to think God
sees _every_ thing I do. It's a little uncomfortable."

"When you're not good it is," answered Belle; "but that's the help, you
see. And we can't help His seeing us whether we like it or not. And
then you know if He sees when we're naughty, He knows right away when
we're sorry too."

Mamie sat as if thinking for one moment; then speaking in a still lower
whisper than she had done before, she said,--

"Belle, don't tell anybody; but I believe I quite enjoy being naughty
sometimes."

"I'm not surprised," said her young teacher. "I do, too, sometimes,
and so I thought there was not much hope of me; and I told Maggie
Bradford about it, and she said she enjoyed it very much sometimes, but
afterwards she felt so horridly about it that it did not make up for
that. And that was just like me, so it encouraged me a good deal."

"Yes," said Mamie, after another pause for reflection; "every one
thinks Maggie is such a nice child that that is rather encouraging.
It seems as if I couldn't help being obstinate or cross sometimes, or
liking to fret mamma when she don't want to do what I want her to. She
'most generally does though, 'cause I fuss till she lets me."

Mamie said these last words in a tone of some triumph, very different
from the rather subdued way in which she had spoken before, and Belle
was much shocked.

"O Mamie!" she said; "s'pose your mamma was to go away from you to
heaven."

Mamie turned and looked at her mother, who was leaning back in
her chair with a languid, weary air; and, smitten with a sudden
fit of remorse for many past offences in the way of fretting and
"fussing,"--one no longer ago than this very morning,--she rushed at
her and half smothered her with penitent kisses; then, without giving
her any explanation of this unexpected burst of affection, she returned
to her conversation with Belle.

"I don't see how I'm to remember always about God noticing what I do,"
she said.

"That is bad habits," answered Belle. "You've never been accustomed to
it, and so it seems hard at first. But you know that text, 'Thou God
seest me.' Take that to remember by."

"I don't want to," said Mamie, with a disdainful shrug of her
shoulders; "that's too old-fashioned. I've known that ever since I was
born. (I'd rather have something new.")

"There's a Bible verse I had the other Sunday," said Belle, "that means
the same, I believe. Maybe you'd like that."

"Let's hear it," said Mamie, with an appearance of real interest.

"'The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the
good,'" said Belle. "I s'pose you understand it."

"Yes," said Mamie. "It means He sees us whether we are good or whether
we are naughty. It's nice to think He sees us when we're good. Yes, I
like that, and I think I'll have it to remember myself by. Tell it to
me again, Belle."

Belle did as she was asked, repeating the text till Mamie knew it quite
well.

"I'd be rather surprised at myself if I did turn good," she said, when
this was accomplished; "but we will see. Now let's stop being sober,
and play."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



III.

_THE BREAKWATER._


NOW perhaps you may think that Mamie was irreverent and careless,
and did not really wish to improve herself; but, heedless as she
seemed, she had really in her heart a desire to be a better girl, less
troublesome and wilful and disobedient. It was a wish that came and
went; sometimes she felt as if she did not care at all about curing
herself of her fretful, unruly ways; at others, she felt as if she
"would give any thing to be as good as Maggie, Bessie, and Belle," who
all were so much happier and brighter than she was, because--Mamie knew
this--they were so much more contented and amiable.

So, when Belle had left her and gone back to her own friends, she sat
for a while quietly in her corner, thinking over what her little friend
had said to her, and the verse she had given her for--a--a--what was
it? Mamie had the idea in her mind, but she could not think of the word
she wanted.

It would be, as she had said to Belle, rather pleasant to know that the
Father in heaven was watching her attempts to be a better girl, and she
really thought it would be a help to have such a--what was that word?

"Papa," she said at last, "when people take a text or any thing to
remember by, what do they call it?"

"To remember what by, daughter?" asked Mr. Stone.

"Well, to remember--to remember how to behave themselves by; to keep
good by. Don't you know what I mean?"

"A motto, do you mean?" asked her papa.

"No, not a motto. I s'pose it's the same as a motto, but it has another
name. Dora Johnson had a motto; so I want something else."

Now it is not very surprising that Mr. Stone did not immediately hit
upon the word which Mamie wanted; but after he had suggested one or two
which would not answer, she grew pettish and irritable, as she was too
apt to do, leaning back in her seat with raised shoulders and pouting
lips, and giving snappish, disrespectful replies to her father's
efforts to help her.

"Oh, don't! you bother me so I can't think myself." "You're real mean
not to help me;" and such dutiful little speeches found their way from
her lips.

"Well," said Mr. Stone, after he had shown more patience with the
spoiled child than most fathers would or should have done, "perhaps the
word you want is 'watchword.'"

"Yes, that is it," said Mamie, her face clearing, and her lips and
shoulders settling themselves into their proper places; "watchword! I
am going to have a watchword, and behave myself by it."

"And what is your watchword?" asked Mr. Stone.

"Now stop! you shan't laugh, or I won't tell you," pouted Mamie. "It is
'the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the
good.' So when I am good, He sees me, and is pleased."

"Yes," said her father, becoming grave; "but how is it when a little
girl wears a scowling brow and puckered lips at her papa? For 'the eyes
of the Lord are in _every_ place.'"

Mamie sat silent, quite confounded for the moment. This _was_ bringing
it closely home to her. That All-seeing Eye had then marked the cross,
fretful face she had put on to her father; that All-hearing Ear--for it
flashed across her mind that the ear of the Lord was as quick to hear
as His eye to see--had heard her disrespectful words to him when he
was so kindly trying to help her out of her difficulty. Here, within
a few moments, she had been selfish and unkind to Lulu, undutiful to
her father; just, too, when she had been saying she wanted to be a good
girl; and "the eyes of the Lord" had been watching her all the time. It
was not a pleasant thought.

Mamie turned her face away from her father, and, planting both elbows
upon the window-frame, gazed out, but without seeing or heeding much
of the rapidly changing landscape. She was thinking, half ashamed of
herself, half vexed at she scarcely knew what. But she began to doubt
if, after all, she would have "a watchword." It seemed likely to prove
troublesome, perhaps more of a reproach than a help to her; and she
half resolved that she would keep it in mind no longer. She "wished
Belle had not told it to her."

However, her reflections, unpleasant though they were, kept her quiet
and thoughtful for so long, that her father, not wishing to see her
make herself unhappy, spoke to her, saying,--

"There, never mind then, daughter. Papa did not mean to make you fret.
We will think no more about it."

But Mamie's thoughts had done her this much good. Turning to her
father, she said, in a half shamefaced manner, so unused was she to
making apologies when she had been in the wrong: "I'm sorry I was
cross, papa, and spoke so to you."

Mr. Stone was pleased, and showed that he was so, which restored
Mamie's good-humor with herself; and she was much more amiable and
tractable than usual during the remainder of the journey, which did not
come to an end till quite late in the evening.

They reached the station where they were to quit the cars some time
before sunset, it is true; but then there was a ride of several miles
in a great, jolting stage-coach,--rather a severe trial to the young
travellers, tired with a long day's journey. Perhaps older and stronger
people than Mamie, Belle, and Lulu were inclined to be fretful at the
prospect, and to feel as if a very small trifle were too great to be
borne after the heat and fatigue of the day.

A large number of passengers had left the train at this point, all
bound for the same watering-place as our friends, and had to be
accommodated with places in the stage-coaches which were waiting their
arrival. There was a choice of seats in the lumbering vehicles, those
upon the top being generally preferred, as being cooler now that the
day was drawing to its close, and also as affording a better view of
the country than those inside.

"I speak for a seat up on top! I speak for a seat up on top!" cried
Mamie, as she saw several people climbing to the coveted places. "Papa,
I want a seat up there."

"Please, papa, go on top of the stage-coach, and take me," pleaded
Belle; and Mr. Powers, who had his eye already on that airy position,
and who had no one but Belle and old Daphne to care for, speedily
swung his little daughter to her high seat, and, following himself,
established her in comfort on his knee.

"I want to go too; I will go too!" said Mabel Walton, who had been
unusually fretful and aggravating during the last hour of the journey;
but her mother interfered, saying that Mabel had not been very well,
and she did not wish her to ride outside in the night air.

Mamie's brothers, four in number, had clambered up, some on the top of
one stage, some on another; but Mr. Stone, who had his wife, baby, and
nurse to render comfortable, was too late to secure one of these seats.
Every one was filled, and Mamie and her papa were obliged to ride
inside.

Mr. and Mrs. Stone both dreaded an outcry from their little girl, or at
least some wayward behavior; and indeed there were signs of a coming
storm on Mamie's lips and brow, as her father lifted her within the
stage-coach. But it was perhaps held in check by the terrific howl
which burst from Mabel when she found she could not have her own way,
and ride where she chose; for while she had been arguing and fretting
with her mother on the subject, every place without was filled, and
when Mrs. Walton gave way it was too late to indulge the whim of the
ungoverned child.

Mamie saw the frowns, shrugs, and looks of annoyance with which the
other occupants of the coach regarded the screaming, struggling Mabel,
and at once resolved to form a pleasing contrast to her; and it was
with a delightful consciousness of superior virtue that she nestled
into her own corner. Her mother's praises added not a little to this,
and altogether Mamie felt well satisfied with herself and her own
behavior throughout the day. And in this state of feeling she resolved
to keep to her "watchword" after all, for it was rather pleasant to
believe that "the eyes of the Lord" had beheld more good than evil in
her.

Now, I cannot say that the state of Mamie's mind was altogether right,
or that she was not a little self-righteous; but she certainly enjoyed
it, and it had, at least, one good result, that it was productive
of great comfort to those about her. For Mabel, even after she had
screamed herself hoarse, did not cease to whine and fret till they had
nearly reached their destination, and there could be no doubt that all
the other passengers were ready to declare her a nuisance. To do her
justice, it was some time since Mabel had shown herself so wilful and
fractious, for her fits of perverseness were becoming less frequent
than they once were.

At last, however, her interest in the new scenes to which she was
approaching took her thoughts from her own woes, and she ceased to
grumble and complain.

When they reached the shore it was almost too dark for the children to
see more than the long line of hotels, the greater part painted white
with green blinds, standing each in its plot of ground, surrounded by
its white-washed picket fence, their piazzas thronged with people,
their windows gleaming with lights.

On the other hand was the sea,--the grand, glorious old ocean, calm and
quiet to-night, as its gentle waves rippled and glanced in the beams
of a young moon, and beat out their ceaseless song in a measured murmur
on the shore.

And now they parted company, Belle and her papa, Mabel and her parents,
being left at one hotel, while Mr. Stone's family passed on to another.

However, the houses were quite near enough for the little girls to
feel sure they could have each other's society whenever they were so
inclined.

Belle was enchanted to be met by Lily Norris at the very door of the
hotel; for Lily had heard that her little friend was coming, and was on
the watch to welcome her.

To Mabel, the pleasure of the meeting was more doubtful, for Lily
sometimes took rather a high hand with some of her shortcomings, and
teased her now and then when she was cross, so that they were not
always the best of friends. But on the present occasion, Lily was
gracious and rather patronizing, as was thought to become one who had
been already on the ground for three days, and who was therefore
entitled to do the honors of the place.

There never was such a charming spot as Netasquet, according to Lily's
showing; but just at present, supper and bed were the first things to
be thought of for our tired, hungry little travellers, and all other
pleasures must be postponed till to-morrow morning.

Directly after breakfast, Mamie sauntered out upon the piazza, and
stood gazing at the sea, not knowing exactly what to do with herself.
Her brothers had started off on their own discoveries, the other
children in the house were strangers to her, and she was just wishing
for Belle and Lily, when she saw all three of her little playmates
coming towards her, bright, good-natured, and gay.

"Ask your mamma to let you come with us," said Lily; "we're going to
have some fun, and I expect she'll be very glad to have you out of the
way while the unpacking is being done; and mamma says my nurse can go
with us to take care of us all."

Mamie was only too glad to go, and at once signified her readiness
to accept the invitation, not even thinking it necessary to ask the
permission Lily had suggested, but contenting herself with simply
telling her mother that she _was going_.

The other children were too much used to such independence on her part,
however, to pay much heed to it; and they all four went off pleasantly
together.

"Now, what shall we do?" said Lily. "You shall choose, 'cause you're
the newest come. There's the beach, and there's the rocks and the river
and the spring and the ditch and the breakwater,--lots of places to go,
and lots of things to do."

"What is the breakwater?" asked Mamie, for whom the name had a great
attraction.

"There it is, over there," answered Lily, pointing to where a long,
narrow pier jutted out into the sea, the central part broken and
ruined, the heavy stones of which it had been built lying in a confused
mass, some on one side, some on the other. Useless as a pier, the only
purpose it now served was that which its name denoted, to break the
force of the waves as they rolled in on the bathing beach, save that it
was also a fine, though not always a very safe spot from which to watch
the breakers.

"Mamma never allows me to go there alone," added Lily; "and she will
not let me go even with some one to take care of me, if the waves are
very high; but they are not high to-day, so Nora will take us."

"Let's go there, then," said Mamie; and the others assented.

But just then Mrs. Stone's voice was heard calling to Mamie from the
piazza they had left.

"Mamie," she said, "I do not wish you to go near that breakwater, my
darling."

Mamie ran back a few steps and then stood still, where all she said
reached both her mother and the children.

"Now," she said, in her most obstinate tones, "that's too bad, and I'm
just going. We're all going, and Lily's nurse is going to take care of
us."

"No," said her mamma, far more decidedly than she was accustomed to
speak to Mamie, "I cannot allow it. I am afraid for you to go there."

Lily came forward as Mamie stood fuming and pouting. "Mrs. Stone," she
said respectfully, "mamma thinks it is safe when the waves are so low
as they are to-day, and she lets me go quite often with Tom or Nora,
and sometimes she takes me herself. Nora will take good care of us all."

"No, dear," said Mrs. Stone, who was rather a nervous, anxious mother;
"I should not know one moment's peace till Mamie came back. I really
cannot let her go. I think it a very unsafe place for children to play.
Why cannot you amuse yourselves on the beach?"

Now, having made up their minds to go to the breakwater, this proposal
did not suit any of the children; but probably Belle and Lily would
have submitted to the change of plan without murmuring, if Mamie had
done so.

But Mamie was the last to think of this; her mother's words and her
mother's wishes had little weight with the spoiled child when they
interfered with her own pleasure; and she shocked both Lily and Belle
by declaring passionately that she _would_ go to the breakwater, and
she was "not going to stay away for such old nonsense as that."

"Children!" exclaimed Mrs. Stone, who knew too well the uselessness of
contention with Mamie when she was in a contrary mood; "children! my
dear little girls! Lily! I do beg of you not to tempt Mamie down on
that dreadful breakwater! my dears, do give it up!"

"Don't you be afraid, ma'am," answered Lily, magnificently, but quite
oblivious in her indignation of her parts of speech; "don't you be
afraid; neither us nor my nurse will help her to disobey you; and Nora
never takes children when she knows their mothers don't want them to
go. She won't let Mamie go on the breakwater."

Mamie turned upon her angrily, with the words, "What business is it
of yours?" upon her lips; but as she did so, she caught Belle's eye
fixed reproachfully and anxiously upon her. She hesitated for one
second, then tried to go on, and to put from her the thought which came
to her mind; but somehow she could not, she _dared_ not; for Belle's
reproachful eye had recalled the recollection of that other All-seeing
Eye which even now was watching her. She was not yet penitent, not
yet even thoroughly ashamed and subdued; but she was afraid; afraid
to brave that Eye in the face of her forgotten resolution. She stood
silent, still looking vexed and unamiable, but making no reply, when
her mother said to Lily,--

"Be sure then to make Nora understand she is not to venture upon the
breakwater."

"Come on," whispered Lily, putting her arm through Belle's; "come on,
Belle, and leave her to be sulky by herself. A child who speaks that
way to her mother ought to be treated with lofty scorn;" and Lily threw
her head back, and looked very stern in an attempt to manifest the
feeling she spoke of.

Belle suffered herself to be drawn on a few steps, Mabel following;
but presently turning her head, and seeing Mamie still standing with
downcast looks, she stopped, and said,--

"Don't let's be offended with her for that, Lily; I think she's sorry
now, and she'll be good if we coax her. Come on, Mamie," in a louder
tone.

"Yes, come on," said Lily, forgetting her "lofty scorn," and already
reproaching herself for having been so severe with her young playmate;
"come on, there's lots of fun in other places. Shall we go to the
beach?"

With a mixed feeling of shame, repentance, and vexation, Mamie hung
back for a moment, half resolving that she would not go; but reflecting
that it would be "very stupid at home with nobody to play with," she
thought better of it, and followed the others.

Her thoughts, and those of her companions, were presently diverted from
her misdoings by Lily saying,--

"Oh, there now! You have no spades and pails, and the beach is not a
bit of fun without. You can buy them at the store. There's all your
fathers standing by the gate. Why don't you go and ask for money to buy
them?"

No sooner said than done. Mr. Powers, Mr. Stone, and Mr. Walton, who
were standing talking together, were immediately besieged by three
eager little voices, begging for money to buy the articles which Lily
had pronounced necessary for proper enjoyment of the beach. Their
demands were readily gratified; and Lily having called Nora, the whole
troop sallied down to the store, where Lily caused great amusement by
asking the salesman for "pades and spails." This mistake served as a
good joke for some time, and restored good humor and merriment to the
young party.

The beach proved quite as attractive as Lily had pictured it, and the
time was happily whiled away there till the hour for bathing arrived,
and people began to flock down for that purpose. Among them came the
older friends of our little girls; and now there was a new delight for
Lily and Belle, Mamie considering the pleasure of a surf bath, at the
best, doubtful; and Mabel positively refusing to try it.

Mabel chose to accept her mother's offer of driving home in the great,
red "beach wagon" which was waiting on the sands for those who wished
to use it; but the other children preferred to walk; and as little
Belle, as usual, went clinging to her father's hand, it came to pass
that Mamie and Lily were left to walk together, and they fell rather
behind the rest of the party.

"See here, Mamie," said Lily; "I didn't know you were really trying to
improve yourself. You know it didn't look much like it this morning
when you spoke so to your mother; but are you, really now?"

"Yes, I am," answered Mamie; "and I've taken a watchword to help me,
out of the Bible."

"That is a good plan," said Lily approvingly. "What is it?"

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place," repeated Mamie; "and
this morning when I was mad because mamma wouldn't let me go to the
breakwater, I just thought the eye of the Lord saw me then, and that
stopped me. But I think mamma might have let me go, don't you?"

"Well, yes, I think she might as well have let you go," said Lily,
trying to mingle a mild disapprobation of Mrs. Stone's objections
with the teaching of a due submission on Mamie's part, and a modest
consciousness of her own better fortune; "and my mamma always lets
me go with some one to take care of me. But then, Mamie, mammas are
different, you know, and their children can't expect to alter them."

"No," said Mamie, feeling, as perhaps Lily meant she should, that her
little companion was more blessed in an accommodating mamma than she
was, at least, in the matter of the breakwater; "no, but it is so
stupid in mamma to be afraid of nothing. She ought to know that 'the
eyes of the Lord' see me there, and He will take care of me."

Lily looked at her doubtfully. She had a feeling that it was not quite
proper for Mamie to speak of her Maker in this careless way, and still
she did not wish to take her to task about it; nor, if she had, would
she have exactly known how to express the feeling in words. But she
felt herself called upon, at least, to show her disapproval of the
manner in which Mamie spoke of her mother, and she said gravely,--

"I wouldn't call my mamma 'stupid,' anyway, whatever she wouldn't let
me do."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



IV.

_FORBIDDEN PLEASURES._


THEY were nearing the breakwater as Lily spoke these last words, and
the rest of the party paused when they came opposite to it, and Mr.
Norris held out his hand to his little daughter, saying,--

"We are going on the breakwater for a few moments, Lily, and Mr. Powers
is going to take Belle. Do you want to come?"

Lily assented, and seized upon her papa's hand, all the more eagerly
because she saw her brother Tom and the Stone boys upon the pier, and
Lily always liked to go where Tom was.

Mamie rushed up to her father.

"You come too, papa; you come too, and take me; will you?" she
exclaimed.

"Mamma does not wish you to go upon the breakwater, Mamie," answered
Mr. Stone. "I promised her this morning that I would not take you
there, nor allow you to go under any circumstances."

"It's not fair," whined Mamie, her good resolutions and her watchword
once more forgotten; "it's not fair! The other children are going, and
why can't I, with you to take care of me?"

"Because I _promised_ mamma, dear," said Mr. Stone. "I am sorry she has
this fear of your going upon the breakwater; but since it is so, we
must give way to it, for we do not wish to trouble her, and you know
she seldom crosses any of your wishes."

Ah! but Mamie had no thought for that now. She was crossed just at the
present moment, and she forgot all her mother's indulgence; and it only
seemed to her that she was very ill used, and her mamma very unkind
and provoking.

She begged and fretted, but all in vain; her father was usually firmer
with her than her mother was, and now having, as he said, given a
promise that he would not allow Mamie to go, he would not yield to her
desire.

In this mood she was led home, where she increased her own discontent
and longing for a forbidden pleasure by refusing to employ or amuse
herself in any other way; and standing sullenly at one end of the
long piazza, idly leaning against a pillar, and watching the distant
breakwater where she could see several figures, among whom she
distinguished Belle and Lily, sitting or clambering around.

"It was too bad," "too mean," "real hateful," she said to herself;
she "knew the breakwater was just the very pleasantest spot in the
whole place; it must be so grand to see the waves come up there;" and,
resolutely putting from her all better thoughts and feelings, she
nursed her ill-humor till she was thoroughly miserable.

And from that time the desire to go upon the breakwater took complete
possession of Mamie's mind. Not that she knew of any very special
attraction there; there were half a dozen play-grounds quite as
pleasant, some far more so than the forbidden spot; but I am sorry to
say that it was for that very reason, because it _was_ forbidden, that
she longed to go, and was determined to do so if she could possibly
find the way. To _worry_ her mother into withdrawing her refusal was
her first idea; but she soon found this was useless; all her teasing,
oft-repeated though it was, could not move Mrs. Stone. She believed the
place to be dangerous, was nervous and uneasy even when her great boys
were there, and nothing could persuade her to give Mamie the desired
permission.

Still it must not be supposed that Mamie exactly planned an act of
deliberate disobedience, and carried such a purpose about with her in
her heart. But she was rebellious and discontented; thought her mother
was "mean" and "foolish;" and nursed other undutiful feelings, and so
paved the way for sin when temptation and opportunity came. She was not
openly naughty and disobedient, as yet; and she forgot that the Eye
which saw all her actions, good and bad, marked quite as plainly every
thought of her heart.

She was playing with Lulu that afternoon, when Lily came rushing over
to her in a state of great excitement.

"Come over to our house, and see the very cunningest and queerest thing
you ever saw in your life," she said.

"What is it?" asked Mamie.

"Come and see," repeated Lily. "Can she come, Mrs. Stone?" to Mamie's
mamma, who sat upon the piazza near by.

Mrs. Stone gave the permission which Lily judged necessary, but which
Mamie probably would not have thought of asking; and the latter dropped
the tongue of the wagon which she was drawing, in the character of
Lulu's horse.

"Lulu do too," said the little one, who had no mind to be shut out from
the promised entertainment.

"O you pet! Could she come too, Mrs. Stone?" asked Lily. "We'd be very
careful of her, and it's a very safe place, just behind the house, that
we are going to."

Permission was given for this also; Mamie, who was very fond of her
little sister, and generally very good to her, also begging for it; and
the delighted baby was led away by her two proud young protectors.

Lily guided her guests to the back of "our house," as she called the
hotel where she boarded; and there were gathered not only Belle and
Mabel, but most of the other children who were staying there, even her
brother Tom and some boys quite as large among them, much interested
in a mixed brood of newly hatched chickens and ducklings which were
running about a coop.

Within was the mother hen, ruffling up her feathers till she was twice
her natural size, clucking and scolding at what she plainly considered
this unwarrantable intrusion upon her premises, and thrusting her head
through the bars of her coop in wild but vain efforts to follow her
nestlings.

"There!" said Lily, "did you ever see any thing so cunning? The little
ducks are rather ugly, but then they are funny; and it is so queer for
a hen to have ducks for her children. I never heard of any thing so
romantic. Now, you need not laugh, Tom. Does it not seem very strange?"

"Not so strange when you know that they gave the old hen duck's eggs,
as well as her own, to set on," said Tom.

"But the little ducks' heads don't fit; they are too big for them. Is
that because a hen set on them?" asked Belle, which question sent all
the large boys into a fit of laughter, whereupon poor Belle looked as
if she had half a mind to run away.

But Tom Norris kindly drew her to him, and told her that young
ducklings were always such awkward, top-heavy looking little things.

"They're not one bit pretty, only funny," said Lily; "but the chickens
are real cunning and pretty; dear little downy things. I'd like to have
one in my hands; can I, Tom?"

"No," answered Tom, "you must not touch them. Mrs. Clark would not like
it, for you might hurt it; and it would distress the old hen."

"She couldn't make much more fuss than she is making now, the cross old
thing!" said Lily, shaking her fist at the hen, "and we're not doing a
thing to her or her chickens."

"She's afraid we will, you see," said Tom. "Hi! and there's Lulu after
one now;" and dropping Belle's hand which had been confidingly nestling
in his, he darted upon the little one just as she had succeeded in
grasping a tiny chicken.

For Lily and Mamie, in their own excitement over the birds, had left
their hold of the child's hands, and being seized with the same desire
which Lily had expressed, she had improved her opportunities, and made
off after a chicken.

She had barely secured her prize when Tom's hand was upon her, not
rudely or roughly, but with a firm, though gentle hold; and Tom's voice
was telling her that she "must let the poor little chickie go."

"No, no. Lulu want it so. Lulu love it," lisped the little one in
coaxing tones, holding up the peeping, struggling thing against Tom's
cheek as if to persuade him by its downy charms to let her keep it.

"But Lulu hurts it, and it is God's little chickie, and He don't want
it to be hurt," said Tom, gently unclasping the fat, dimpled fingers,
and releasing the poor, terrified bird before it had received much
farther injury than a good fright.

"Lulu dest only 'queeze it a little; dest only," said the child,
with whom these last words, meaning "just only," were a favorite
expression; and the distressed tone of voice and grieved lip told that
she was taking the release of the chicken much to heart.

"But it hurts it to squeeze it," said Tom, taking her up in his arms;
"and Mrs. Clark will be angry if you hurt it or kill it."

"Tlart don't see," said Lulu, looking around her to make sure of the
truth of her argument.

"But God sees," said Tom, "and He wants Lulu to be good and not catch
the little chickens or ducklings."

"Does He say Lulu naughty dirl if she tuts 'em?" asked Lulu, raising
her eyes to the sky where she had been told God lived, as if she
expected to see Him.

"He says Lulu is naughty if she hurts the birdies, or don't mind what
she is told," said Tom.

"Den Lulu won't," said the little one; "but Lulu want de chittee
so-o-o," she added, with a long-drawn sigh which told that the
sacrifice was almost too much for her.

"That's a good girl. Don't you want me to give you some pretty shells?"
said Tom approvingly.

This attempt to divert her attention proved quite successful, and Tom
carried her away with all her smiles restored.

"What a dear, good little thing!" said one and another of the childish
group, all of whom had heard what passed.

"Yes, so she is," said Mabel; "but Tom might have let her have the
chicken a few moments. It was no such great harm, and it was real mean
and silly of him."

Lily turned upon her with threatening voice and manner.

"Don't you dare to talk that way of my Tom," she said. "He's _not_ mean
and silly, but he's wise as any thing, and knows a whole lot about what
is right; and he is un-meaner than any one you know!"

"I shall touch the chickens and ducks if I want to, and Tom shan't say
any thing about it," said Mabel, defiantly.

"It's none of my affairs if you do," returned Lily; "but you're not
going to talk horridly about my Tom."

That she would take very decided measures to prevent this, or, at
least, to punish any repetition of the offence, Lily plainly showed by
the very emphatic little nod of her head, with which she treated Mabel.

The latter turned pettishly away, knowing that Lily generally had the
best of it in any war of words, but she muttered as she did so,--

"I'll touch them when Tom's not here."

"She forgets 'the eyes of the Lord' are everywhere," said Mamie,
rather jauntily, for Lulu being her sister, she felt very proud of her
good behavior on this occasion, and as if it reflected some credit on
herself; "and she's not half as good as Lulu."

Lily turned her eyes upon her with a look in which Mamie read some
disapproval and questioning.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"Nothing much. I was only thinking," said Lily, not feeling quite
sure that she would be justified in calling Mamie to account for what
she felt to be a careless way of speaking. Moreover, one quarrel was
as much as she cared to manage at once; and, considering Mabel as the
greater offender of the two, she allowed Mamie to go unreproved for the
time.

But, having spoken her mind on the subject of Mabel's criticism of
Tom's conduct, her feelings were relieved, and she was ready to be
friends again, which she showed by saying,--

"Let's all go to the Rocks now if our mothers will let us. Come, Mabel,
make up, and come with us."

Mabel certainly meant to go with the others, but she was resentful,
and had no intention of "making up" so soon; and for some time she
held aloof from Lily, regarding her with frowning and angry looks, and
refusing to walk near her.

"The Rocks make the most splendid place to play in that you ever went
to," said Lily, with the confidence of one who was familiar with the
spot in question, and therefore fully entitled to express an opinion;
"and I'm going to take down some little boats Tom made me, and we'll
sail them in a lovely pool that I know of. But then everybody must be
pleasant and nice if they expect me to lend them to them," she added,
by way of a persuasive admonition to the still sullen Mabel.

But even this inducement did not move Mabel, and her good humor was not
restored till they reached the Rocks, and the charms of the wonderful
place made her forget all cause of offence.

Lily had not, indeed she could not, say too much in praise of these
magnificent rocks. They lay in a vast stretch along the coast, now low
and shelving to the water's brink, now abrupt and precipitous, rising
in huge masses piled one upon the other, or here and there standing
out boldly in some single, grand bluff. All over them were curious
natural steps worn in the solid stone. You might go some distance, and
imagine you had come to a place whence there was no outlet for farther
progress, and lo! turning to the right hand or the left, you would
seldom fail to find these stepping-places to help you onwards. A light
and active foot was an advantage, it is true; and now and then a good
jump was necessary, unless one was contented to turn ignominiously
back, and search for some easier way. But a rich reward for any amount
of hard scrambling awaited you when you had reached some choice spot,
and resting in a natural seat, carved by nature out of the stone,
looked out over the great expanse of blue ocean before you, or cast
your eye down the long line of coast where the white, curling waves
were breaking in masses of snowy foam.

Here in one spot, below where the great boulders lay massed in wild
confusion, the waters came rolling in, in one grand, massive sweep;
there, in another, they were boiling and churning as in some great
caldron; farther on still, where some huge rock rose frowning and
stern, thrusting itself into the sea far beyond its fellows, they were
broken into countless showers of spray which, now and then, caught the
sun's rays, and sparkled with all the colors of the rainbow.

But perhaps the whole beauty and grandeur of the place could scarcely
be felt by our little friends; and for them, the chief attractions were
the cosey nooks these rocks afforded for playing baby-house; the famous
hiding-places; and, most of all, the numerous pools either left by the
tide, or collecting on higher ground, after some recent rain. These
were extremely convenient for sailing vessels of various sizes and
shapes, building docks and piers, bathing any dolls which might be made
of such materials as would stand a bath, or which were past injury; in
short, there were various ways in which they might be, and were made
useful by the young frequenters of the spot.

And many of the salt-water pools were miniature gardens, filled with
tiny sea-plants of all lovely shades of green, purple, and brown, and
here and there of a bright red like coral; and among them lived curious
little fish and water animals, anemones, starfish, with others whose
names are too hard for you to remember.

None knew their advantages better than Lily, who jumped and sprang and
clambered like a goat,--I beg her pardon, a gazelle would have been
more complimentary. Nora and the other nurses who accompanied the young
party held their breath as they saw her almost fly from point to point,
graceful and fearless, seeming as if her tiny feet scarcely touched
the ground; but the children themselves looked on admiringly, and
were fired, by her example, with the desire to do likewise, rebelling
against the restraining hands which were laid upon them when they tried
to follow too rapidly.

Ah! those famous rocks made a capital play-ground with an endless
variety of entertainment.

"Miss Lily'll be satisfied now, I suppose, for here's where she always
likes to come and play," said Nora with a sigh of relief, as the
roguish sprite paused upon a high, bold rock, and snatching off her hat
turned towards the others and waved it triumphantly, calling out, "Come
on! Here's a _splendid_ place, with a great, big puddle and lots of
stones about."

"'Pears like a temptin' ob Probidence," wheezed old Daphne, Belle's
nurse, as puffing and blowing, with one eye fixed anxiously on her
little charge, who fearlessly followed Lily's guidance, she awkwardly
slid and rolled from ledge to ledge. "It's de uncanniest place eber
_I_ see. We don't hab none sech down Souf to home. De shore am smoof
and de water quiet and well-behaved most times down dere. None ob yer
splutterin' and fussin' like dis, nor sech awful hard walkin';" and
Daphne's injured groan and sniff but added force to her uncomplimentary
comparison; but it was with a hopelessly resigned expression of
countenance which much amused the other nurse-maids, that she, at last,
settled herself into a shady nook, declaring that "dese are de hardest
stones I _eber did_ see."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



V.

_THE DUCKLING._


THE spot chosen by Lily for the afternoon's amusement was indeed
universally pronounced to be "splendid." On the very top of a broad,
flat rock lay a pool of water (fresh water this; the waves seldom
washed so high even in the most furious of storms), it collected here
from the rains and dew and fogs, and but rarely dried up. Just now
it was unusually full, and the most unaccommodating of nurses could
scarcely have refused permission to make the most of such a delightful
sheet of water. All four of our young friends and two other little
girls, named Alice and Julia Gordon, who had been invited to join
them, were soon busily at work.

Lily produced, from the depths of her pocket, some tiny dolls "made
to be drowned and upset and such misfortunes," and the boats being
launched, these unfortunate passengers were speedily consigned to the
probable fate which awaited them.

Ah, such a fate! Spite of the smiling, sunny face of that miniature
sea, what "horrible accidents" and "shocking disasters" took place
thereon! what storms arose, caused by the violent stirring up of its
waters with whirling of sticks and splashing of stones! how those
gallant vessels ran into one another, turned bottom upwards, lost masts
and rudders! how they spilled their passengers, who were saved only to
be sent forth on another perilous voyage!

By and by it was decided to build a pier,--a breakwater where the
distressed vessels might run for shelter now and then; and all
proceeded to hunt up small stones and pebbles for the structure.

Away went Lily, springing up here and down there, across rifts and
chasms, swinging herself lightly from ridge to ridge, peering into
holes and clefts, and, whenever she found a stone suitable for her
purpose, passing it on to her less venturesome companions. Coming
round a corner of the rock, she found Belle standing alone, and gazing
thoughtfully over the blue waters of the sea.

"Why, Belle!" she exclaimed, "what are you thinking of so solemnly? Why
don't you pick up stones?"

"I was thinking about Mamie," answered Belle. "Lily, I believe she
wants to be good, but she don't quite know how to set about it."

"Oh, ho! and I s'pose you want to take pattern by Maggie and Bessie,
and help her, do you?" said Lily, going down on her hands and knees,
and thrusting her arm into a cleft where she spied a suitable stone.

"I'd like to, but I don't know how very well," said Belle; "and it was
not that I was thinking about so much. I was just wishing Maggie was
here to give me a proverb to make a proverb-picture out of. Lily, do
you know of one about a breakwater?"

"No," answered Lily, giving a violent tug to the stone which refused
to be dislodged from its position,--"oh! you obstinate old thing, come
out,--no, I don't, Belle. But why do you want one about a breakwater?"

"'Cause I think Mamie feels very naughty to her mamma about it,"
answered Belle. "She keeps saying how mean it is in her not to say she
can go, and calls her foolish and stupid; and she says she will coax
her papa to take her. And you know she ought not to talk so about her
mother, even if she is--Lily, do you think Mrs. Stone is a very wise
mamma to Mamie?"

"Wise!" repeated Lily. "I should think not! There! why did you not
come before, when you had to come?"--this to the stone, which she had
at length succeeded in bringing up; then again to Belle,--"Belle, I
think she's just about the foolishest mother I ever did see. Augh! if
my mamma was so foolish as that, I should be too ashamed of her for
any thing;" and Lily sprung to her feet, and flourished her stone in
the air as if to give emphasis to her opinion. "But I'll tell you,
Belle; I have a very good idea. I think we could manage to give Mamie
a lesson without offending her, and just pretending it's all play.
As soon as our breakwater is finished, we'll have a game about a
disobedient child,--no, ever so many children, so Mamie won't think
we mean her,--ever so many disobedient children who went on it when
their mothers did not want them to, and were very severely punished by
terrible things which happened to them. Don't you think that would do?"

"Well, yes," answered Belle, rather doubtfully, for Lily's attempts at
moral teaching were apt to be more personal than agreeable, and to give
offence where she did not intend it; "but you'll have to be very sure
Mamie don't think we mean it for a hint to her, Lily; else she'll be
mad."

"Oh, yes! we'll be careful," said Lily; and, secure of the success of
her plan, she ran back to the pool, followed by Belle.

Meanwhile Mamie and Mabel had been busily at work raising the
breakwater which was now nearly finished, and enough stones having been
gathered, Lily also lent a hand to its completion; while Belle, feeling
rather tired, sat quietly by, looking on.

"I wish I had my magnet swans and fishes up here," said Alice Gordon;
"would not this be a nice place to swim them!"

"Yes," said Belle; "and wouldn't it be fun if we had some of the new
little _ducklies_ here to teach them to swim!"

"Duck-ly-_ings_, they are called," said Lily, jamming down a refractory
stone which, as she said, would not "stay _put_" and thereby spattering
the water over herself and her playmates. But no one minded such a
trifle as that. Builders of breakwaters cannot always expect to keep
quite dry.

"I thought Tom called them _ducklies_," said little Belle.

"_Ings_--lyings--duck--ly--ings," repeated Lily with emphasis. "Yes,
indeed, it would be too cunning and funny to have them here, and teach
them to swim. This would make just about a big enough pond for them."

"Let's bring one to-morrow," said Mabel.

"Mrs. Clark wouldn't let us," said Lily. "She's an awfully cross old
patch."

"Let's take one without asking her then," said Mabel. "We can put it
back all safe, and she'll never know it."

"That would be very naughty, though," said Belle.

"And God would see, if Mrs. Clark didn't," said Mamie. "Mabel, you
forget 'the eyes of the Lord are in every place.'"

"See here," said Lily, who had just put the last stone upon the
miniature pier, and then plumped herself down upon the rock beside
Belle,--"see here, Mamie; it seems to me you're getting rather intimate
with the Lord."

"I'm not," said Mamie resentfully; for she had felt rather grand when
she made her speech to Mabel, and did not like to have her weapons
turned upon herself. "We ought to remember God sees us all the time."

"Course we ought," returned Lily; "but then I don't b'lieve it's proper
to talk about it in that familiar kind of a way--so--so--well, I don't
know exactly how to tell it, but as if the Lord was not any thing so
very great, you know," and Lily's voice took a graver tone. "He hears
us all the time, too, and we ought to be a little careful how we speak
about Him in our play."

"He sees us and hears us now, just this very minute; don't He?" said
Belle thoughtfully.

A moment's silence fell upon the little group as to one and all came
the solemn recollection of the Almighty presence here among them; a
silence broken, of course, by Lily, who, turning again to Mamie, said,
"It's very nice of you, Mamie, certainly, to try to remember that text
of yours all the time; but then I mean we ought to think a little more
soberly, and speak a little more piously about it; or it's not likely
to do us much good. Now let's play."

The proposed play was successfully carried out, both Lily and Belle
being careful to avoid looking at Mamie during its performance lest
she should guess that it was intended expressly for her benefit, take
offence, and so fail to profit by it.

Nevertheless, Mamie had her own doubts on the subject; and, as the play
progressed, withdrew from any active share in it, sitting down and
watching the others with a solemn countenance.

The truth was that her conscience was not at rest; not that she planned
any deliberate disobedience, but she knew that she was cherishing
rebellious and undutiful feelings in her heart, because she would not
make up her mind to give up, without farther murmuring and teasing, the
pleasure her mother had forbidden.

The oft-shipwrecked and oft-rescued rag dolls, now in a most distressed
and bedraggled condition, as became their various misfortunes, were
supposed to be a family of children seized with an uncontrollable
desire to go upon the breakwater in spite of the commands of their
parents that they should keep away from it. One after another yielded
to the temptation, and all met with the most disastrous fates. Two
were swept away by an uncommonly high wave sent for the purpose, and,
as they were carried into the depths of the sea, raised pitiful voices
to their comrades, crying, "Be warned by us! depart from disobedience,
and be warned by us!" A part of the pier gave way with others,
precipitating them into the briny deep; another child fell through a
hole, and became wedged in between the stones, "where she had to stay
all the rest of her life, and grew up there, but never got out, and had
a horrid time." In short, some terrible but well-deserved catastrophe
overtook each one, till the whole family were destroyed.

"That's not a bit real," said Mamie, in a tone of great
dissatisfaction, when the last survivor had been disposed of. "I know
children _don't_ usually be drowned and squeezed up in stones just
because they go on breakwaters."

"No," said Belle, "not _usually_; but then they might be, you know.
Accidents _sometimes_ happen, 'specially if people don't mind."

"Children don't _usually_ be ate up by bears," said Lily; "but the
Elisha children were; and I don't s'pose they expected the bears at
all. So that shows punishments may come to us that we never thought
about, besides the punishment of a very bad conscience."

Lily had said "we" and "us" lest Mamie should feel that she intended a
particular thrust at her; but as she spoke the last words, she could
not refrain from giving a sidelong glance to see if her moral lesson
were taking a proper effect, and Mamie caught it, and it increased her
suspicion that she was to receive a reproof and warning under this
friendly disguise.

"I just believe Lily does mean that play for me," she said to herself,
"and she has no right to. I wish she'd mind her own business." Then,
rising and moving away with a very superb air, she said aloud, "That's
a very foolish, tiresome play, and I shan't stay to see any more of it."

"Oh! it's done," said Lily; "the disobedient children are all used up.
We'll fish them out now, and lay them in the sun to dry. I do wish we
could have some of the ducklings here; it would be such fun."

Other people were now beginning to flock down to the rocks, for this
was the favorite resort in the afternoons; and numerous groups were to
be seen, scattered here and there, in such convenient resting-places
as they might find, watching the breaking of the waves, and all the
mingled beauties of sea and sky. Among them came Mr. Powers, Mr. and
Mrs. Norris, Mrs. Stone and the little Gordons' mother; and Mr. Norris
asked if there were not a cluster of "Sunbeams" who would like to shed
the light of their rays upon "Indian Rock."

Yes, indeed! Lily had painted the glories of "Indian Rock" in such
glowing terms, that they were only too eager to accept the invitation;
and with the help of many a lift, pull, and push from the strong arms
of the gentlemen, the whole party, great and small, were soon landed
on that enchanting spot. For there each one of the children had been
forbidden to venture, unless in company with some older and experienced
person; and their nurses had been told not to lead them there. For
"Indian Rock" was a dangerous spot, unless one trod it with care, or
had the guidance and support of a strong, firm hand.

"Papa," said Mamie, as her father helped her up to the top of a
slippery ledge, "I'm sure I do not think the breakwater could be more
dangerous than this, and I don't see why you could not let me go there
just as well as here. Lily's mamma lets her go there with only Nora or
Tom, and I'm sure I don't see why I can't."

Much to Mamie's surprise, and somewhat to her alarm, her father
now spoke quite sternly to her, bidding her put all thought of the
breakwater out of her head, since, dangerous or not, her mother was
afraid to have her go there, and his word had been passed that she
should not be allowed to do so.

After this, she dared say no more; but still she silently fretted and
murmured, and thought herself hardly used, thereby losing half her
pleasure in the beautiful scene before her.

It was two or three days before any of the children came down to play
in their pool again. Other pleasures took up their time and attention;
but, at last, one bright, sunny afternoon, it was proposed to go.

When the hour arrived, however, Lily and Belle were invited to go for
a drive and a visit to the light-house; and the juvenile party was
reduced to four. Lily kindly lent her ships and boats, and a new supply
of unhappy passengers had been provided; but these did not satisfy
Mabel, who, since the day on which she had first seen the ducklings,
had never ceased to wish that she could see them swim.

"You've been here the longest; would you mind asking Mrs. Clark to lend
us one of the ducklings to take down to the Rocks this afternoon?" she
said to Lily, as the latter, ready dressed for the drive, stood upon
the piazza, waiting for the carriage.

"I should think I _would_ mind!" exclaimed Lily. "I would not do it
for any thing. Why, Mabel, she's the crossest old thing that ever
lived. This morning when I came up from the bath, I asked her for a
ginger-cake, and she told me I was always stuffing! Stuffing! Such a
horrid word to say! And besides, it's not true. I'm not eating all the
time, and mamma gave me leave to ask for the cake."

"Didn't she give it to you?" asked Mabel.

"Oh, yes, she gave me a whole plateful; at least, she was going to; but
you don't think I was going to take them after that! No, indeedy!"

"But I don't want her to _give_ us a duckling, only to lend us one to
swim it down in our pool," said Mabel. "Wouldn't you dare to ask her?"

"I'd dare enough," answered Lily, who seldom confessed to dread of
living thing, unless it were a horse; "but I know it would be of no
use; and I never ask people for things when I'm sure they don't want to
give them to me. Here's the carriage."

This was not Mabel's doctrine. Like Mamie Stone, she had a great deal
of faith in fretting or worrying for that which other people did not
wish to grant, knowing from experience that she often, by this means,
gained her point.

Having seen Belle and Lily off, she sauntered out to the back lot where
the chickens and ducks were kept, and stood looking at the ducklings
with a growing desire to have one to play with. Should she go and ask
Mrs. Clark?

Before she had fully made up her mind to do so, the woman herself came
around the corner of the house, and the next moment her loud, sharp
voice struck disagreeably on Mabel's ear, and put all thoughts of
asking a favor from her quite out of the little girl's mind.

"Now look here! What are you about there? You let them chickens alone,
and go round to your own side of the house. I don't want the boarders'
children meddling round here."

Such was the greeting which Mabel received; not very encouraging
certainly, and she moved away with a scowl at Mrs. Clark which did not
make her look much more amiable than the loud-voiced scold herself.

"I wasn't touching your old chickens," she called out as soon as she
thought herself at a safe distance.

But, instead of going back to the house, she walked on to the end of
the lot where it was divided from the next field by a row of currant
bushes and a stone wall. Walking along by the bushes, without any
particular purpose, and thinking it was time for her to go and see if
the other children were ready for the walk to the Rocks, she heard a
curious little noise among the bushes.

Stooping down and peering in at the spot whence it seemed to come, she
saw one of the ducklings lying on the ground, and making the faint
sound which had attracted her attention.

"I wonder how it came here, so far from its hen-mother and the other
ducklings," she said to herself. "I could take it up now if I liked,
and carry it to the Rocks, and neither the hen nor Mrs. Clark could see
me."

The temptation was strong. Mrs. Clark had vanished into the house; and
the next moment Mabel had the duckling in her hand, hand and bird both
hidden beneath the little overskirt of her dress, and she was running
rapidly out of the gate which opened on a cross road by the side of the
house.

Then she heard Alice and Julia Gordon calling her.

"Mabel! Where are you, Mabel? We are ready to go;" and Nanette's
voice, "Ou êtes-vous donc, Mademoiselle?" and although she had no
intention of keeping her prize a secret, it was with a half-guilty
feeling that she went forward and joined them, still keeping her hand
hidden beneath her overskirt. She would let the other children see what
she had there when they reached the rocks, but not now.

But she was not allowed to keep her secret so long; for as they were
walking along the path which lay above the cliffs, Julia Gordon said,--

"What do you keep your hand under your skirt for, Mabel?"

Mabel looked around before she answered. She had tried to persuade
herself that she had done nothing wrong in "borrowing" the duckling for
an afternoon's play, since no one had told her she was not to have it;
but, nevertheless, she felt rather doubtful of what the nurses would
say when they knew what she had there.

The three women in charge of the little party had fallen somewhat
behind; and Mamie, having taken it into her head to draw the wagon in
which Lulu was seated, was also with them, and out of hearing for the
moment, if she lowered her voice.

"Don't tell if I tell you something," said Mabel, in answer to Julia's
question, and speaking to both her and Alice.

"No, what is it?"

"You and Alice come close, one on each side of me," said Mabel. "I
don't want any one else to know it till we are at the pool." Then, as
her companions obeyed, full of eager curiosity, "It's a duckling; one
of the new little ducklings that have the hen for a mother; and we'll
swim it in the pool."

"Oh, what fun!" said Julia.

"Did Mrs. Clark lend it to you?" asked Alice.

"No, I didn't ask her, she's so cross," answered Mabel; "but it wasn't
any harm, for the duckling had come away from its mother, anyhow. I
found it under the currant bushes, and I expect it will do it a great
deal of good to teach it to swim. Mrs. Clark ought to be very much
obliged to us."

"Perhaps the poor little thing had run away to see if it could find any
water," said Julia. "Ducks always want to swim, I believe, and this one
had no mother duck to teach it."

"Yes; so you see it's quite a kindness," said Mabel.

"Let's see it," said Alice.

"Presently, when we are at the rock where the pool is," said Mabel.
"I don't want to take him out now for fear he begins to wiggle again
before I get him in the water, and he knows what we are going to do
with him. Won't he be glad?"

"Yes," said Julia. "Does he wiggle much?"

"Not now," said Mabel. "At first he wiggled dreadfully, but I held him
tighter, so he couldn't; and he made a little noise, too, but I shut up
his bill close, so he couldn't. He's very quiet and good now."

"Aren't you going to let Mamie see him?" asked Alice.

"Oh, yes, when we are ready to put him into the water; but I dare
say she'll go and say something hateful about him when she sees him.
Mamie's real ugly to me, and I can't bear her."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



VI.

_POOR LITTLE WAGTAIL._


ARRIVED at the Rocks, the children speedily made their way to the
pool which they considered their own special property, but, to their
great disgust, found that their rights there had not been properly
appreciated; for not only had some intruders been making free with
their breakwater, but it was, as Mamie said, actually "unbuilt," and
the stones lying scattered about in all directions.

But this was soon lost sight of in the new interest of the duckling;
and Mamie was speedily taken into the secret.

She was pleased with this addition to the afternoon's entertainment,
and therefore did not express the disapprobation which Mabel had
rather looked for, saying "nothing hateful," but becoming as eager as
the other children to give the poor little bird his first "lesson in
swimming." In fact, I am afraid that all four intensely enjoyed this
bit of mischief,--the outwitting of Mrs. Clark being considered a great
triumph, and quite a feat on Mabel's part.

And now they felt secure from interference. Lulu could not be brought
here upon the rocks, and her nurse must keep her above on the bank; and
the maids who attended Mabel and the little Gordons, having made their
charges promise not to leave the broad, flat rock where they were quite
safe, had preferred to join her, and keep an eye upon the children from
a little distance. No one else was near, save some strangers seated
upon a ledge above them; and now, closing around the pool, they were
ready for "such fun."

Stooping down to the tiny sheet of water, Mabel at last hastily
withdrew her hand from beneath her skirt, and gently dropped the
duckling into it.

[Illustration: Mamie.     p. 112.]

But instead of seeming to enjoy his introduction to the new element,
and beginning to swim fearlessly about, as some of the children knew
young ducks usually do, he rolled over on his side with drooping head
and wings, and lay floating helplessly on the water, the only motion he
made being a feeble opening and shutting of his bill, as though gasping
for air.

"What a stupid little duck!" said Mamie. "He ought to swim right away.
Once I saw a whole litter of ducklings go right in the water, and swim
as well as the big ducks. Here, sir! get up and swim."

And she lifted the duckling's head with her finger, and tried to put
him in an upright position; but the instant she let him go he fell over
again.

"You naughty, lazy thing!" said Mabel. "Now you've _got_ to swim,
sir, so you may as well do it. Here, let's poke him with this stick."

"I think there's something the matter with him," said Julia. "He looks
kind of flabby and sick; don't you think he does?"

"Oh, yes! look at his eyes; they're growing all white," said Mamie.

"Take him out of the water," said Alice. "You, Mabel; he's yours."

But if the duckling were sick or ailing, Mabel had no desire to claim
him. She was frightened now, and the words of the other children added
to her alarm.

"What have you done to him, Mabel?" asked Julia.

"I didn't do any thing," she answered snappishly; "and you shan't say I
did."

"Was he this way when you found him?" asked Alice, lifting the duck out
of the water.

"I don't know," pouted Mabel. "No, he wasn't; 'cause he wiggled and
squirmed so I could hardly hold him at first."

"I expect you've hurt him then," said Mamie. "You ought to be ashamed
to touch him."

Alas, poor little Wagtail! As Alice laid him upon the rock he fluttered
his wings feebly, stretched out his feet, gasped once more, and lay
quite motionless. No wonder that he had, at last, lain "quiet and good"
in the thoughtless little hand which had grasped him so tightly to
still his "wiggling."

"O Mabel! you _have_ hurt him. He's dead, I believe," said Julia in a
tone of horrified distress.

Thoroughly ashamed and sorry now that she believed herself to have
done such fearful mischief, Mabel raised a doleful cry which speedily
brought her own nurse and the maid of the little Gordons to inquire
into the cause of the trouble.

The story was told by Julia, for Mabel could not make herself
understood; but, to the surprise of all the children, it was looked
upon as a good joke by both the women, who laughed immoderately when
they heard it.

Nannette, knowing that she would be called to account if Mabel appeared
with red eyes and swollen cheeks, hastened to soothe and comfort her
little mistress, telling her she need not be troubled, since her mamma
would make good the loss of the duckling to Mrs. Clark, and would not
let the latter scold her.

But Mabel was hard to be comforted. She felt as if she had been cruel
as well as naughty, and it made her very uncomfortable to think that
the poor little bird had come to its death in her hands. Though wilful
and rather selfish, she was a tender-hearted child where pain or
suffering was concerned, and now it was with a kind of sick horror
that she shuddered and cried over her work. So great was her distress
that even Mamie, forgetting the smothered ill-will between them, tried
to console her, but all in vain; and she made such an ado that it
attracted the attention of the party on the rock beyond them, and one
of the ladies rose and came towards them.

"What is the trouble? Can I be of any help here?" she asked in a kind
voice. Then seeing the dead bird, she added, "Ah! I see, your duckling
is dead. How did it come, my dear?" laying her hand on Mabel's head.

Mabel had ceased her cries at sound of the strange voice, but she did
not speak; and Mamie answered for her.

"She killed it herself, ma'am. She didn't mean to, but then she had no
business to touch it."

At this indisputable but unpleasant truth, Mabel broke out again,
having first relieved her feelings by making her "very ugliest face" at
Mamie for "telling tales of her." Then turning to the lady, she said
with a heavy sob, "Indeed, I didn't mean to hurt it, ma'am; indeed, I
didn't."

"I am sure you did not," said the lady soothingly, sitting down on the
rock beside Mabel. "But where did the duckling come from? Was it yours?"

No; there was an added trouble. Mabel did not speak, but hung her
head; while Julia, after a moment's hesitation, answered,--

"No, ma'am, it was not hers; it was not any of ours. It was Mrs.
Clark's, a very cross woman who keeps the house where we board; and I
s'pose Mabel is afraid of her too. I know I would be."

"There's no need of saying any thing about it to Mrs. Clark, I'm
thinking," said the nurse of the little Gordons. "Put it under the bank
where you found it, Miss Mabel, and she'll never know."

The lady looked with grave eyes at Mabel, as if watching her to see
if she would listen to such wrong advice. Neither Mabel nor the other
children noticed this; but she was pleased to see the former shake her
head decidedly, as she answered, sobbing,--

"No, no, I wouldn't do that. I'll have to tell. Once I hid something,
and didn't tell I did it,--Belle and Lily knew about it, and Mamie
too,--and it made me such a lot of trouble; and I'm never going to not
tell again. But I don't care for that old Mrs. Clark. Papa won't let
her scold me. But, oh, dear! I wish I hadn't squeezed the poor little
duck; I wish I hadn't! I never thought he'd go and kill himself just
for that. I squeezed him pretty softly too. Oh, dear! and I meant to
put him back safely, too, when we had done swimming him."

And looking confidingly up in the lady's sweet, sympathizing face,
Mabel told the whole story of the finding of the duckling beneath the
currant bush, and how she had brought him away.

"I am glad, dear," said the lady, when Mabel had finished, "that you
have made up your mind to confess what you have done, and not to
attempt to hide it. I believe you acted without thought, and perhaps
did not intend to do any thing very naughty; but you would make a
little wrong a great wrong by trying to hide it."

"Yes," said Mamie to herself, "and God would know it anyway, for 'the
eyes of the Lord are in every place,' and He sees whatever we do; so
He saw Mabel take that little duck."

Mamie had been somewhat mindful of Lily's reproof since the last
day they were here, and was more careful how she took the words of
the Bible heedlessly upon her lips; but I am sorry to say she was
rather more anxious to test the conduct of others by her watchword
than she was her own, unless indeed she imagined herself particularly
well-behaved and virtuous; when she would feel as if she was laying up
a very good account for herself in the eyes of her Maker.

She almost started; for it seemed as if the stranger lady must have
read her thoughts when the latter said to Mabel,--

"And even if you had hidden this from us all, dear, you know there is
one Eye from which you could not hide it; an Eye which sees even the
very wish to do wrong, and you could not have been comfortable or happy
knowing that, could you?"

"No, ma'am," said Mabel, recalling the misery of the time she had
spoken of; the time when she had taken a locket belonging to her
Cousin Belle, not with the intention of keeping it, it is true; but
when she knew Belle did not wish her even to touch it, and the locket
had mysteriously disappeared, and so she had been brought into great
trouble and disgrace for a time. "Yes, ma'am, and I'm always going to
tell, always."

There is no saying how far the consciousness that her father and mother
would shield her from blame, and make good the loss to Mrs. Clark, went
to support Mabel's resolution to confess all; but as she was by no
means a deceitful or dishonest child, we will hope that she would have
made this amends, even with the prospect of a severe scolding as the
consequence.

So perhaps the lady's words made less impression on her than they did
upon Mamie, on whose conscience they smote unpleasantly, as she could
not help feeling that, in her heart, there was the wish, and even the
half-formed intention, to do wrong if opportunity should offer.

"And now what will you do with the poor little duckling?" said the
lady, taking the dead bird in her hand, and smoothing its downy back.
"Shall we let one of the women toss it away in the waves?"

"Oh, no, ma'am!" said Mabel; "don't you think I ought to give it back
to Mrs. Clark, even if it is dead? She might want to have it stuffed
and put under a glass shade like a canary of mine that died, and papa
had him stuffed for me."

The lady could hardly keep back a smile at the idea of the ugly little
duck preserved beneath a glass shade, like some rare and valued pet;
but she only said, approvingly,--

"Very well; perhaps you are right to wish to give it back to the owner."

"And if Mrs. Clark don't want him any more we might have a grand
funeral for him, and bury him to-morrow," said Julia Gordon.

"Oh, I hope she won't want him," said Mabel, rather cheered by the
prospect of funeral honors to her victim.

"Would you like," said the lady, "that I should tell you a thing which
happened to me when I was a little girl?"

"Yes'm," said Mabel, brightening afresh at the suggestion; and in the
eager faces which were turned towards her the kind stranger saw that
her offer met with general approval. Our little friends, like most
children, were always ready for a story.

"When I was a child," she began, "I was not the best-behaved one in the
world. I do not think I meant to be very naughty, but I was thoughtless
and wilful, perhaps a little obstinate when I had once made up my mind
to do or have a thing; and although I had a good, wise, and tender
mother, I was impatient of contradiction even from her. As to my
brothers and sisters, all older than I was, I would not listen to the
least advice or interference from them.

"I was about ten years old, and we were spending the summer, as usual,
at my grandfather's country-seat up in the mountains. On the side of
the hill, at a short distance from grandpapa's, were the farm-house,
dairy, orchard, and kitchen-garden; and all these I thought much more
amusing places than the house, lawn, and flower-garden where I properly
belonged, and where my mother generally preferred to have me play.
For there were more ways and places for me to get into mischief down
at the farm than there were at the house; and I am afraid mother knew
very well that my heedlessness and self-will led me often to do the
thing I wished rather than the thing that was _right_. Still I was not
forbidden to go to the farm; and, so long as my brothers or sisters
were with me, she never objected.

"The thing of all others which attracted me most at the farm was a
half-grown black kitten. Mother could not bear cats, so we never had
one at home, or at grandpapa's; but up at the farm-house, I could amuse
myself by the hour with this playful little creature, which grew very
fond of me.

"One morning we had some young visitors; and of course we must show
them all the beauties and curiosities of the place. Among them was the
orchard, although the apples there were as yet hardly larger than nuts.

"As we were passing through it one of my brothers spied a nest in a
tree.

"'Hallo, Annie!' he said, 'there's a nest. I'll bring it down for you
if you want it.'

"I did want it; but one of my sisters begged Will to make sure that it
was empty.

"'Oh, it must be empty; it's too late for birds to be in it,' said
Will, who like myself was rather headstrong and heedless; and raising a
whip he carried, he whisked the lash over and around the nest.

"Ah! the nest was not empty, though it really was late in the season
for the young ones; and, the next moment, a beautiful bird fell
fluttering at our feet, its wing broken by the blow from Will's whip,
while its mate flew from the nest, terrified almost out of her life.

"A more crestfallen, distressed being than Will it would have been
hard to find; for he was very tender-hearted, and would not hurt a
living thing purposely. We were all much disturbed, and at once set
about doing all we could for the poor little sufferer. My eldest
brother bound up its wing as well as he was able, and we brought some
hay with which Will climbed the tree, and made a bed in a forked branch
near the nest. He said there were four half-fledged birds in the
nest, and was more disturbed than ever at the mischief he had done.
But he promised himself and us that he would care for parent-birds as
well as nestlings, as long as either should need it; knowing that the
poor little mother would have too much to do to feed both husband and
children.

"Brother Ned handed up the wounded bird, and Will put it carefully
in the bed he had made for it; after which, the rest of us went on,
and left him digging a supply of worms which he intended to put in a
convenient place, as a store from which the mother-bird might help
herself without the trouble of looking for them. He was still quite
quiet and out of spirits when he joined us at the dairy some half-hour
later, though he told us the mother-bird had returned, and her poor
mate had eaten a caterpillar placed handy for him.

"That afternoon my sister Rosa and I went up to the orchard with Will
to see about his birds, and carry them food and water.

"As we passed the door of the farm-house, Blackie, the kitten, came
running out to see us, and I took her up in my arms to take her with me.

"'Don't bring that cat,' said Will. 'She might get at the birds.'

"'No, she won't. I shan't let her,' I answered.

"'But she might,' said Rosa; 'she's so quick and active, she'd be up
the tree before you knew it.'

"'No, she shan't,' I repeated positively; 'I'll keep her in my arms all
the time, and I'm going to take her.'

"And though Will begged me, and was even angry about it, I persisted in
taking the cat with me.

"And I did keep her fast in my arms, although she struggled to be free,
and even scratched me severely when she saw, as she immediately did,
what Will was at.

"He found the little creature somewhat better than when he had left it
in the morning, and it was quite tame, fluttering but little when he
climbed the tree, and almost taking the worm he offered from his hand.
He supplied it with all it needed, and came down as soon as possible,
as the mother-bird had again flown from the nest when he came near.

"How kitty's eyes gleamed and sparkled, and how fiercely she struggled
in my arms! It was all I could do to keep my hold; and I was so afraid
that she would escape in spite of me, that I was sorry that I had not
listened to my sister and brother and left her behind.

"But at last we were ready to go; and when I put puss down at the
farm-house door, I relieved my feelings and visited my own obstinacy
on her by giving her two or three good cuffs. It never came into the
mind of any one of us as she scampered away and hid beneath the stoop,
that she might find her way back to the nest by herself, or of all the
mischief she would work there.

"You may be very sure that the first thing to be thought of in the
morning was the helpless birds up in the orchard; and directly
after breakfast Will and I went over to the farm. As we passed the
house-door, kitty came frisking out to me, as usual; but mindful of the
trouble I had had with her the day before, I bade her stay at home.

"All in vain, however; puss was determined to follow. Whether she
guessed where we were going or no, I cannot tell; but it really seemed
as if she did, and, feeling guilty, wanted to be on the spot when we
discovered her cruelty. Come she would, although Will threw stones at
her, and I beat her with a stick, and chased her back many times; we
would take only a few steps onwards, and there she was after us again.
At last Will turned an empty barrel over her, put a stone on top of it,
and there we left her mewing piteously.

"But we might have let her come on; the mischief was done. When we
reached the tree, what destruction was there! The lame bird was gone
from his bed of hay, and a few bright feathers scattered about told
what his fate had been; the nest hung, torn and ragged, empty of its
young inhabitants; while the mother-bird was flying wildly to and
fro, wheeling round and round her ruined home, and uttering piteous,
mournful notes.

"Will looked at me, and I at him; but for the moment, neither of us
could find words for the thought that was in both our minds; but if the
painful truth had needed to be made plainer, it was done so at that
instant by puss, who sprang suddenly forward, and pounced on something
among the long grass beneath the tree. Will was upon her like a flash,
and with some difficulty succeeded in taking her prey from her. It
was one of the nestlings, but quite dead and stiff. Perhaps he had
been killed by a fall from the tree when the cat attacked his home, or
perhaps her cruel claws had crushed the life out of him when she had
gorged herself upon his father and brothers, and could eat no more.

"Will, great boy though he was, could not keep back his tears, and
vowed all manner of vengeance on puss for the destruction of his
adopted family. As for me, I was heart-broken, for I could not but feel
that it was all my fault; and while poor pussy had only followed her
own natural instincts in destroying the birds, I had been obstinate and
wilful, and so brought about such a sad thing; for if I had not carried
the cat there, she would probably not have discovered the nest.

"And I am forced to believe that Will made good his word in the most
severe manner; for from that day I never saw kitty again, although I
went to the farm as often as before; but I never had the courage to ask
any questions, feeling quite sure that puss and birds had all come to
a violent death through my obstinacy."

"Is that all, ma'am?" asked Mabel, when the lady had ceased speaking.

"That is all," she answered; "and, judging from your grave little
faces, I should think it was enough."

"Oh, we like it very much, and we are sorry it is finished," Julia
hastened to say.

"Yes," said Mabel with a long sigh; "and I think that story is rather a
comfort."

"How so?" asked the lady.

"'Cause it's nice to know you could be naughty once when you are so
good now."

"How do you know I am good now, or that I have improved any since I was
a child?" said the lady smilingly.

"I should think you must be good when you are so kind to us," answered
Mabel, slipping her hand confidingly into that of her new friend.

"Well, perhaps I may have improved in the way of believing others could
be as wise as myself, and in giving up my own will now and then," said
the lady; "for that was a severe lesson to me."

"But how did the pussy get out from the barrel?" asked Mamie.

"Oh! I forgot that. Some one of the family had heard her mewing, and
let her out, not knowing of any particular reason why she should be
kept a prisoner."

Then she bade the children good-by, and leaving them to their play went
back to her own friends.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



VII.

_THE "FIRST STEP."_


BUT the spirit had gone from their play for that afternoon; the pool,
beside which the dead duckling still lay, had lost its attraction for
them all; and after spending some little time scrambling about over the
rocks and watching the waves, they concluded to go back to the hotel.

Mabel gave the dead duckling into Nannette's hands to be carried home;
but arrived there, she took it at once to her father, and made an
honest confession of the whole affair.

Mr. Walton was a good deal amused at the tragic account she gave of the
duckling's death and her own despair; but he did not let her see that,
and, praising her for her readiness to make what amends she could, he
offered to go with her to see the formidable Mrs. Clark.

Passing through the hall on the way to Mrs. Clark's quarters, they met
Mr. Clark, a man as good-natured and easy-going as his wife was sharp
and bustling, and inquired of him where that good woman was to be found.

"Wal, she's up to her elbows in a lot of varieties she's fixin' up for
tea jest now," answered Mr. Clark, raising his hat with one hand, and
scratching his head with the other, as his custom was whenever he made
a remark or gave an answer; "an' I donno as she cares to be disturbed.
Things is rayther in a chaos round kitchen ways, Mr. Walton. Is there
any thing I could do for you, sir?"

"Here is a little girl," said Mr. Walton, "who feels that she has not
done right, and wants to confess what she has done. Speak to Mr. Clark,
my dear."

But poor Mabel, whatever she might wish or be willing to do, could
find no words beyond "I--I--you--I"--and here she hung her head, and
with gathering tears brought forward the hand which held the dead
duckling, which until now she had kept hidden.

"Shall I tell Mr. Clark?" asked her father.

Mabel nodded assent.

"It seems she picked up this duckling and carried it down to the Rocks
this afternoon," said Mr. Walton, "intending to give it a swim in some
pool, and then bring it back; but she has handled it too roughly, I
suppose; for when she reached there it was dying. She is very sorry
now, and feels that she did wrong to take it without permission; but I
will make it all right with you, Mr. Clark, and Mabel will promise not
to meddle again with what is not her own."

"Whew!" said Mr. Clark, staring at the duckling as if he had not heard
the latter part of Mr. Walton's speech; "there's two of 'em. Won't my
wife be in a takin' though? I found another on 'em lyin' sick under
the currant bushes this arternoon, an' it's dead or dyin' by this time.
I see it warn't no use coddlin' it up; 'twas too fur gone, so I let it
be."

"I found this one under the currant bushes," said Mabel, regaining her
voice. "It was just lying there, so that was the way I came to take it."

"Did you, though?" said Mr. Clark; "well, sure enough, it's the very
same fellow I left there. Don't you fret then, child; you've only put
it out of its misery a little sooner, for it wouldn't ha' come round no
way. 'Tain't no odds about it, Mr. Walton; jes' let it go, and I'll fix
it with my old woman so she won't blame the little girl."

Very much relieved, and thankful that she had made up her mind to
confess, Mabel ran away to her mother, receiving permission from Mr.
Clark to keep the duckling for the proposed funeral honors. The roar
of laughter with which he heard her intentions did not sound very
pleasant in her ears, but she was too grateful to escape a scolding to
find fault with the good-natured man.

Mabel had imagined that Belle and Lily would be very much shocked when
they came home and heard of the fate of the duckling; but they were not
half as much so as she feared; for she did not fail to tell them that
Mr. Clark had said the little bird could not possibly have lived and
thriven; and besides, its burial afforded the prospect of a pleasant
entertainment for the next day.

"And Maggie and Bessie are coming over to spend the day to-morrow,"
said Belle. "Papa had a letter from Mrs. Bradford saying so. We'll wait
till they come, shan't we?"

"Yes," said Mabel, "we will; and maybe Maggie would make up some poetry
for us about him."

The promised visit of Maggie and Bessie Bradford made quite a jubilee;
and the next morning, when they landed with their papa from the boat
which had brought them from Newport, they were met on the dock by a
host of eager little friends.

They were soon told the story of the duckling, but as they had only a
few hours to spend in the place, and there was much to be seen and to
do, Maggie declined to spend any portion of her time in composition,
save so much as would answer for the purpose of a short epitaph.

Mabel had sacrificed "the sweetest sugarplum box with the loveliest
lady on the cover," to the service of the duckling, and he was tenderly
laid therein. The procession was a large one, comprising not only most
of the children in the house, but several others from the neighboring
hotels; and Wagtail was buried with military honors; that is, to the
beating of a drum and tooting of two tin trumpets, after which the
assembly sang "Shoo Fly" about the grave.

These imposing ceremonies afforded so much consolation to Mabel that
she privately informed Belle and Lily that she would like to have a
duck funeral every day, only she would not like to be the one to kill
it.

Maggie also composed a most touching epitaph for him, of mixed poetry
and prose, which ran as follows:--

     "Oh, pause, and drop a virtuous tear,
      Whatever footsteps wander here;
      For here's the body of Wagtail Duck,
      Whom cruel Death so soon did pluck!

    To the memory of Wagtail Duck, Esq.,
                    who
        Died in the fifth day of his age,
                   after
                A short life
                     in
    Which he was never known to do wrong
                    and
              Painful illness.
        Reader, go and do likewise."

This gem of composition, having been greatly approved by the mourners,
was carried to Tom Norris in order that he might print it upon the
board which, by Lily's request, he had prepared for a headstone. He
read it without a smile, gravely shaking his head, and saying,--

"Yes, that is the usual fate of ducks; they are only made to be
plucked."

That the inscription excited general admiration after it was printed
and put in its place, might be judged from the visits which were paid
to it in the course of the day by nearly all the grown people in
the house. But this admiration did not appear to be of a melancholy
character, as they usually returned from the grave with the broadest of
smiles on their faces.

This was not observed by Maggie, however, who soon forgot both epitaph
and duckling in the various pleasures provided for her entertainment.

Tom Norris had been presented by his grandfather, just before leaving
home, with a very handsome row-boat. This boat had, of course, been
brought to the sea-shore; for Tom was a great boy now, and so wise and
prudent that he was to be trusted to take care of himself and those
who might be with him. It is true that his mother always gave a sigh
of relief when she saw him come safely home from rowing; and while he
was out, she would send many an anxious glance over the surface of the
sea; but she never objected or interfered with him, and Tom was careful
of her feelings, and did not venture when the sea was rough, lest she
should be worried or alarmed for his safety.

Mamma never would suffer Lily to go in the boat when Tom went in the
deep water; not that she doubted her brother's care for her, but
because Lily was such a heedless little thing, so quick and impulsive
in all her movements, that she feared some sudden jerk or motion might
send her into the water. Lily longed for the forbidden pleasure; but
she was so accustomed to a ready obedience that she never thought of
fretting about it, or worrying her mother to let her go. She did not
even speak of it to Mamie when the latter complained of her mother's
unkindness in not allowing her to go upon the breakwater. Mamma had
said that it was not to be, and Lily had no more to say, but strove to
content herself with the numerous pleasures left to her.

But on this afternoon, as it was an extra occasion on account of the
visit of Maggie and Bessie, dear, kind Tom proposed, and obtained his
mother's permission, to take his boat up a little river which came down
from the back country and crossed the beach, and to give the children a
row there.

They were all enchanted at the prospect, and Mamie had leave to go with
the rest, Tom refusing to take her unless she asked her mamma first.

Tom kept his boat tied to a stake on the inner side of the ruined
breakwater, which shielded it and several others from the force of the
waves when the sea was high, and made a kind of little harbor where
they might ride in safety.

Soon after dinner Tom gathered his passengers together, the company
consisting of all our old young acquaintances, Maggie and Bessie,
Belle, Lily, Mabel, and Mamie. Walter and Ned Stone were to go with
them, and help Tom row.

Down the road they went, a merry, happy flock, till they reached
the breakwater, at the lower end of which stood Mr. Powers and Mr.
Bradford, awaiting them.

Tom hauled up his boat where the stones had fallen so as to make quite
a convenient landing-place, while the other boys ran to bring the oars
which were left in the care of the storekeeper hard by. The boat rocked
up and down on the gentle swell within the shelter of the pier with a
regular, undulating motion, which looked very pleasant in the eyes of
the children, with one exception.

"Tom, my boy," said Mr. Bradford, "I think I'll step in and take an oar
with you as far as the river, if you'll have me."

"Certainly, sir; most happy," answered Tom; and the gentleman stepped
into the boat, which was kept from floating out by the rope which Tom
had noosed about one of the heavy stones of the pier.

"O papa!" said Bessie, "how I do wish I could come in the boat now, and
be rocked up and down that way. I do like it so."

"Come, then," said her father, and, guided by Mr. Powers' hand, the
little girl made her way over the rugged ruins of the pier, and was
lifted by her father into the boat.

"Anybody else want a little tossing about?" asked Tom. "Maggie?" fixing
his laughing eyes on her face, quite sure what her answer would be.

"No--I--thank--you," said Maggie, with long-drawn emphasis on each
word. "Tom, it's very plain that you don't know what sea-sickness is.
Oo--o--o!"

"Poor Maggie! she shuddered at the very thought," said Tom.

"Papa, I'd like to go; could I?" asked Belle; and her father put her
beside Bessie.

"Lily?" said Mr. Powers, holding out his hand towards her as he saw how
wistful she looked.

But Lily shook her head.

"Mamma has forbidden me to go in the boat when it is on the sea, sir,"
she said.

"I think your mamma would not object here, dear, and with Mr. Bradford
in the boat," said Mr. Powers.

"But she might, sir, and I think I'd better not," said obedient Lily.
"She told me so very spressly not to go; and she only gave me leave to
row this afternoon because Tom was going on the river."

"You are a dear, good child," said Mr Powers. "Mamie, are you for the
boat?"

Mamie had, until this minute, been standing farther back than the
other children, not actually _on_ the breakwater, but as near to the
forbidden ground as she could possibly be. She had never been so near
to it before; and I am afraid that if her playmates had not known of
her mother's command, she would have disregarded it altogether. She had
no further thought for it when she heard Mr. Powers invitation, but
started forward.

"Mamie," said Tom, "did not your mother forbid you to come upon the
breakwater?"

"I can't go in the boat if I don't," pouted Mamie, stopping short where
she was.

"Go back!" said Tom decidedly; "you cannot come in till you go down to
the river. Stay with Lily and Maggie."

Mamie began to cry, but did not go back.

"Hi, there, you Mamie! come off the breakwater!" said Walter the next
moment, dashing past her with a pair of oars; and Ned, following with
another, said, "O you disobedient thing! if you're not headstrong. See
if I don't tell mamma of you."

Mamie drew back, but feeling more than ever discontented and rebellious.

"It's too bad!" she said passionately, as she saw Mabel placed beside
Belle and Bessie in the boat. "Everybody else can do every thing they
want to, and I never can, and just for such stupid nonsense. There! I
have been on the breakwater, and never had a bit of harm happen to me."

"Then you should be thankful for your mercies, and that your sins were
not visited upon you," said Maggie solemnly.

"Yes," said Lily; "and the way you talk about your mother is just too
much, Mamie."

"My dear children," said Mr. Powers, "do not spoil your afternoon's
pleasure by fretfulness and quarrelling. If Mamie has, for a moment,
forgotten her mother's orders, we will hope that she will be more
careful another time. Come, we must walk on, or the boat will be at the
river before we are."

But no; Mamie had not forgotten her mother's orders; she had only hoped
that others had done so, and had herself wilfully disregarded them;
and she was to find the truth of the old proverb, that "it is only the
first step that counts." Her "watchword," as she called it, was quite
forgotten or put aside now; it was no longer a check upon her; and she
had made up her mind that she would disobey her mother and go again
upon the breakwater at the first opportunity. The disappointment about
the boat was more than her wilful little heart could or would bear;
and she was indignant to think that the other children should have
any pleasure of which she was deprived. She forgot that Lily had been
obliged to give up the same; but that she had done so in a cheerful,
docile spirit, which would not even run the chance of doing that which
her mother would not approve.

So now Lily was gay, light-hearted, and full of spirits, chattering
away merrily with Maggie and Mr. Powers as they crossed the beach on
their way to the river where they were to meet the boat; while she,
Mamie, came moodily and discontentedly behind, finding the sand heavy,
the sun hot, the way "so long," and contriving to pick up half a dozen
troubles in the course of the walk.

Things were no better after she was in the boat. It was "no fun on that
stupid river;" the boat was "too crowded," although Mr. Bradford had
left it now; one "pushed" her, and another "shoved" her; although if
you had asked the other children, they would probably have said that
it was she herself who did the pushing and shoving; and, in short, she
made herself so disagreeable that Maggie afterwards privately confided
to Bessie that she found Mamie "very much re-dis-improved, and like the
Mamie of old days."

Her brothers were very much vexed with her, and even threatened to set
her upon the river-bank, and leave her there by herself till they were
ready to land; a threat which was, at last, carried out after she had
become quite unbearable, and destroyed the pleasure of the whole party.

However, it was not much more agreeable to have her shrieking upon the
river-bank than it was to have her grumbling in the boat; and she was
taken in again on promise of better behavior.

This promise she fulfilled by sitting sullenly in her own corner of the
boat without opening her lips; but the sounds which had come from them
before were not so sweet as to make her companions regret her silence.

And for such a trifle Mamie was making herself and all about her
uncomfortable; for the sake of this one forbidden pleasure set against
so many comforts and enjoyments, she had forgotten, or wilfully put out
of sight, all her good resolutions, and the remembrance of that Eye
which watched every thought and feeling of her heart.

And yet, perhaps it was the consciousness of this, the guilty, uneasy
conscience, which helped to make her so fretful and irritable, so hard
to please, and captious to all about her. She was more ready, as we
have seen, to test the conduct of others by her "watchword" than she
was her own, now that the first novelty of it had worn off; but she
could not quite put away the reproachful echo in her own heart.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



VIII.

_DISOBEDIENCE._


LILY lay upon her back on the grass, her hands beneath her head, her
eyes looking up into the sky. She had been lying thus some time,
perfectly quiet, though Belle and Mamie sat beside her, playing with
Lulu.

"Lily," said Belle at last, "what are you doing?"

"Thinking," answered Lily.

"Oh!" said Belle, surprised, perhaps, at this unusual process; for Lily
generally had too many other things on hand to devote much time to
thought; "you look as if you were thinking sober too."

"Well, yes," said Lily, without bringing her eyes down from the sky;
"it was rather pious thinking I was doing."

"Would you mind telling us about it?" asked Belle, interested in the
novelty.

"Oh, no, not at all," answered Lily. "I was thinking about conscience,
and what a dreadful bother it is; but how it improves us, and how awful
we'd be without it. It's a great mercy it was given to us,--to me, at
least; or I should be all the time doing bad things. I think we might
call conscience a bother blessing, because, though it is best for us to
have it, it is a great inconvenience."

"Is it an inconvenience to you now?" asked Belle.

"No, not particular," said Lily, rolling over on her side, and plucking
a head of thistle-down which grew close at hand. "Here, Lulu, blow
this;" and she held it up that the little one might blow off the
feathery seed-vessels; "not particular just now; but it was a great
inconvenience before dinner. You see, Belle,--once more, Lulu; there
they go!--you see I wanted to do a thing very much, but I did not
feel sure mamma would let me, and she had gone to make a call, so I
could not ask her; and I made up my mind I'd just do it; and do you
know, I really believe I felt quite glad mamma was not there, so she
couldn't forbid me; but then my conscience,--I suppose it was my
conscience,--puff away, Lulu,--began to feel badly about it, and so I
put it off till mamma came, and sure enough, she did forbid it. So, you
see, there's a sign that conscience is a bother and a blessing too."

"Yes," said Belle approvingly.

"And then," proceeded Lily, thinking she might as well continue to
give her companions the benefit of her moral reflections, "and then I
was wondering what conscience was. We're so queer inside of us; our
thoughts and our consciences and our remorses, and all that, you know."

"Yes," said Belle again. "Lily, I suppose conscience is a kind of 'Thou
God seest me' feeling; don't you?"

"Why, yes," answered Lily, looking admiringly at Belle. "I never
thought about it that way, but I believe it is; and that was a very
clever idea of yours, Belle. Mamie, what do you think about it? You
seem to have thought a good deal lately about God seeing you all the
time."

"I don'no," muttered Mamie. The conversation was not pleasant to her,
and she did not choose to take any part in it.

"I s'pose heathen can't have consciences as long as they don't know
about God," said Belle thoughtfully.

"No, I'm quite sure they do not," said Lily confidently.

"Hafed, Mr. Stanton's servant boy, used to be a heathen," said Belle.

"Yes, but he's turned now, and a Christian," said Lily. "Belle, I
know three turned heathen," with an air of great satisfaction in the
extensiveness of her acquaintance with converted idolaters. "There's
Hafed, and there's that Chinese pedler that mamma buys matches of, and
there's that old black man on your papa's plantation who used to be a
king in his own country. Belle, when that old black man gets to heaven,
won't he make a queer, awfully ugly old angel?"

"He won't be black then," said Belle; "at least, I b'lieve he won't.
But he's very good if he is so ugly; papa says so."

"How will he get white, I wonder?" queried Lily; "he's so awfully
black; and such a mouth!"

Mamie was glad that the solving of this knotty question diverted the
thoughts of her two little playmates from the subject of conscience and
the all-seeing Eye of God. It really seemed that people had a great
deal to say about it, and were always bringing it up before her mind at
a time when she would have chosen to forget it. She was almost vexed
with dear little Belle because she had, at her own request, given her
the text which, not long since, she had chosen as her watchword, but
which she now strove to put away from her thoughts, and by which she
would not rule her conduct.

"Come, Lulu, we're going home now," she said, fearing that the other
children might go back to the unwelcome subject of conversation.

"No, no; Lulu will tay here. Lulu tay wis Belle and Lily," said the
little one. "Mamie tay too."

"No, I'm going," persisted Mamie; "you come, and Mamie will take you on
a nice, pretty walk."

Lulu obediently scrambled to her feet and put her hand in her sister's,
tempted by the prospect of the promised walk. Belle and Lily did not
urge their stay, partly because Mamie was not in a pleasant mood that
afternoon; secondly, because they both knew that they would shortly be
called to be made ready for a drive with their parents. And there came
Daphne now to bring her little mistress, and to tell Lily to go to her
nurse. So good-by was said to Mamie and Lulu, and the four children
parted and went their different ways.

Mamie was generally kind and good to Lulu, so the pet child always
liked to be with her; and their mother was not afraid to trust them
together within the safe shelter of the enclosures which ran about
their hotel, and the next one where Belle and Lily stayed. Gates opened
in each of the rows of picket fences which divided the grounds, so that
one might pass in and out, and from one house to another without going
upon the high road or plank-walk which bordered it.

And it was only within these enclosures that Mamie had intended to take
her little sister; but the plank-walk had charms for Lulu far beyond
those of the grass-plots and gravel-path about the houses. Lulu liked
to see the world, and thought she could do so to better advantage on
the road.

"We do on de plant-walt, an' see de hosseys an' bow-wows," she said
coaxingly.

Mamie hesitated. Mamma had never told her she must not take Lulu on the
plank-walk; but she was pretty sure she would not allow her to do so if
she were asked. She could not ask her, that was certain; for mamma was
lying down with a bad headache, and she knew she would not be suffered
to go near her. Certainly she found conscience "a bother" now, as Lily
had done that morning; but she would not listen to its calls, as her
young friend had done, and put temptation from her. Papa was away, gone
to town; of course he was out of the question; but there was her nurse.
She could ask leave from her, but with the certainty of being refused,
Mamie was sure of that. The nurse was rather careless and indifferent,
disposed, so long as she believed the children were safe, to take her
ease and enjoy her own gossip with her fellow-servants, as she was
doing now; but Mamie knew very well that she would promptly refuse
permission to go outside of the gates.

Mamie was herself anxious to take her pretty, cunning little sister
out upon the plank-walk, and parade her up and down, and show her
off to the passers-by; any other little girl would have liked to do
the same; the temptation was strong, and in her present rebellious,
undutiful mood, she did not even try to resist it.

Lulu pleaded again.

"Pease, Mamie, do out dere on de plant-walt;" and what did Mamie do?

She salved her still uneasy conscience by running back to where her
nurse sat sewing and talking with some other maids, and asked,--

"Maria, could Lulu and I walk about a little?"

"To be sure, child; just as if you didn't always walk about as much
as you pleased," answered the nurse, not dreaming that Mamie meant to
take her little sister, or to go herself, beyond the safe permitted
enclosure about the house, if, indeed, she gave it any thought at all.

"Come, then, Lulu; Maria says we may go," said Mamie; and, taking good
care to pass out of Maria's sight as she did so, she led the little one
out upon the plank-walk.

Once there, all uneasy thoughts were flung to the winds; and although
she had intended "only to walk up and down a very little way," she was
tempted farther and farther on, and away from the house. Lulu prattled
and chattered away, delighted with all that she saw; and to Mamie the
novelty of having her baby-sister in charge upon the public walk, and
the pleasure with which she saw one and another turn to notice her,
was quite enough to still the last lingering reproaches of conscience.
Perhaps some of those passers-by wondered to see those two young
children wandering alone by a much-travelled highroad; indeed, an old
gentleman stopped, and said, "Where now, alone by yourselves, my little
ones?" to which Mamie hastily made answer, "Oh, just taking a walk,
sir; Maria said we might;" and, believing all was right, the gentleman
passed on, only saying, "Don't go too far then; Maria had best have
come with you."

Mamie did not think so, and made no reply.

She was opposite the breakwater now, the object of so many desires, so
many rebellious and undutiful murmurings; she was alone, at least with
only her little sister for company, and Lulu could not interfere with
her. The long-wished-for opportunity had come.

To do her justice, she had not started from home with any thought of
the breakwater, or intention of going upon it, and had only turned
that way in order to be out of the range of Maria's eyes; but now was
her chance except for Lulu. How was she to take the child over those
ruined, uneven stones?

She looked about her up and down the road. There was no one near;
the friendly old gentleman was quite a distance down the plank-walk;
neither carriages nor foot passengers coming by now, not even a soul to
be seen on the piazzas of the neighboring hotels. There was no time to
be lost; she did not want any one to find her upon the breakwater, and
she would stay there but a moment.

"Come, Lulu," she said; and the two children had crossed the road, and
were at the lower end of the pier.

"Now, Lulu," she said, "you sit down here a moment on this stone. Mamie
is just going up there one minute, and it is too hard for Lulu. If you
are good and sit still, Mamie will give you some pretty shells when we
go home."

The little one wagged her head, and sat down contentedly on the stone
at which Mamie pointed.

"Mamie will only go a very little way," said her sister, and away she
went, scrambling over the stones and rubbish till she reached the
extreme end of the pier.

Her heart beat fast, but it was less with the feeling of guilt, for she
did not take time to listen to that, than with haste and excitement.

"Only one minute," she had said; but as she grasped the wooden pile
by which she stood, and peered over the edge of the breakwater, she
forgot how moments were passing. No wonder Lily and the other children
liked to come there. It was so curious and so beautiful to see the
waves come rolling in right beneath her eyes, and break against the
mass of masonry, solid and resisting still, ruined though it was; so
pretty, when the wave rolled back, to watch the water running out in
a hundred little jets and waterfalls from between the crevices of the
stones; so wonderful to seem to look down into the very heart of those
transparent green rollers with their crests of snowy foam! And with
what a booming sound they came against the obstacle which barred their
farther progress, and would not suffer them to finish their rightful
march upon the beach beyond! Oh, it was grand, glorious!

Mamie was perfectly fascinated. Every thing was forgotten but the sight
and the sounds before her. Her own disobedience, her mother, her little
sister, had for the time quite passed from her thoughts, as she hung
over the edge and looked down upon the sea. A gentle summer sea it was
that day, or it may be that the breaking of some furious wave would
have startled her from her hold, and given her a thorough shower-bath,
if no worse; for Mamie's position was by no means a safe one, though
she did not think of that.

And meanwhile what was Lulu doing?

The little creature sat still for a moment or two as her sister had
bidden her, singing softly to herself and looking up and down the road.
But presently she tired of this; Mamie stayed too long, and there was
no amusement at hand, nothing to do. She called to Mamie several times,
but she did not hear; the sound of the booming waters below her drowned
all other voices. Then Lulu fretted a little, then looked about her
again, and there came a great, big dog trotting along the road.

Now, although Lulu had begged to be allowed to go and see the
"bow-wows," she preferred to view them at a safe distance, or at least
under the shelter of some protecting hand. And she was not acquainted
with this particular "bow-wow," and to her infant eyes he wore a
ferocious and unfriendly aspect. So she must move out of the way before
he came near; and, since Mamie would not come to her, she must go to
Mamie.

Lulu was a great climber for a child of her age, and the roughness of
the path she had to cross had no terrors for her. Rising from her seat
with the fear of that "bow-wow" before her eyes, the baby-feet soon
carried her over jagged stones and crumbling masonry, till she thought
herself at a safe distance from the dog, at whom she peeped from behind
a sheltering pile as he passed by, and then turned once more to go to
Mamie.

Oh, if the poor, timid mother lying suffering upon her bed had but
seen her children then! Mamie on the forbidden spot, leaning over the
leaping waters, with only the clasp of her own small arm about the
wooden pile to keep her from falling headlong into their depths; her
baby-girl clambering with faltering, unsteady steps over that rough and
rugged way.

But now a new object took Lulu's attention, and diverted her thoughts
from Mamie.

Tom Norris had gone over to Newport for the day, and had lent his
boat to Walter and Ned Stone; they were careless boys, especially the
latter, and it was with many a charge to be sure and take good care of
the boat that he had granted the favor.

They had been out rowing that morning, and had come back with a
quantity of spoils in the shape of shells and sea-weeds which they
had gathered. They had returned just before the hour for dinner, and,
meaning to go out again as soon as that meal was over, had not made
the boat properly fast to the stake, but had contented themselves with
carrying off the oars, and knotting a rope over one of the stones of
the pier.

But after dinner some new and greater attraction, _what_ is of no
consequence, had taken their time and thoughts; and, forgetting all
about the neglected boat, they had gone off, leaving it so carelessly
fastened, and liable to slip its hold at any moment when the waves
might become a little stronger; rubbing its pretty painted sides too,
now and then, against the rough stones when the wash of the waves
carried it too near.

But still worse mischief than this was to come from the thoughtlessness
of those heedless boys, joined as it was to Mamie's deliberate
disobedience.

Making her way as she best could to her sister, the eye of the little
child was caught by the pretty boat bobbing up and down upon the waves;
and farther, oh, priceless treasure! by the sight of a few gay shells
which the boys in their hurry had dropped in the bottom of the boat.

"Dere's Mamie's pitty sells," said the darling to herself; "me will det
'em."

And the little feet slipped and slid themselves over the stones, till
she stood at the very water's edge.

You will remember that this was on the sheltered side of the
breakwater, where the waves had little or no force, but only rippled
and washed with a gentle murmur at Lulu's feet.

The boat was still beyond her reach, but the dear little tot generally
managed to gain what she wanted, if her own small hands or own small
brains could bring it about.

"Dere's de wope dat pulls it," she said to herself, and in a moment
she had laid hold of the rope, and drawn the boat in so that she could
step within it. How she ever did so without falling into the water was
matter of wonder to all who afterwards heard of it, but a kind Hand
guarded the baby steps, and she gained the boat without harm.

Here she found enough to amuse her and keep her quiet for a few moments
longer, till Mamie, suddenly rousing to the recollection that Lulu
was waiting for her, drew back from her dangerous position and turned
around.

Where was her little sister?

"Lulu, Lulu!" she called in terrified tones, not seeing her where she
had left her as she started forward.

"Here me are," answered the little voice from the other side of the
breakwater; and, making her way in haste, there she found Lulu deeply
interested in something at the bottom of the boat, over which she was
bending.

"O you naughty little thing! How did you go there, and how am I going
to take you out?" said Mamie.

"Here's a funny ittle lanimal wants to sate hans wiz me," said Lulu,
quite unmoved by her sister's reproaches. "Tome see him, Mamie. Tome in
de boat."

"What will mamma say? How can I take you out?" repeated Mamie again.

"Lulu not tome out; dere's de wope, Mamie, pull it, and tome see dis
funny fellow," urged Lulu; and Mamie, seeing her coolness, and that she
could herself easily manage to step into the boat by drawing it towards
her as Lulu must have done, lost her fears, and grew anxious to see
what it was that interested the child so much. Besides, she would have
to get in the boat herself to take Lulu out.

In another moment, it was done; the boat drawn close to the
landing-place, and she had stepped within it as safely as Lulu had done.

"Only for one moment, Lulu," she said. "You were very naughty to come
in here, and I must take you out. Oh! oh dear! how it rocks!" as the
boat, shaken by her weight, rocked back and forth.

Was it Mamie herself, or innocent little Lulu, on whom the blame justly
rested?

There was another thing which she had forgotten, or rather which she
had not considered, namely, how the boat was to be drawn in again; nor
had she observed that the rope, carelessly fastened in the beginning,
was slipping farther and farther from its hold upon the stone, as the
boat rocked to and fro.

The "funny ittle lanimal" proved to be a very small crab, which was
feeling about him with his claws, in an uncomfortable manner; and in
inquiring into his habits, and "poking him" about the bottom of the
boat, several moments passed away.

And as the movements of the children gave a little added motion, that
treacherous rope slid gradually from its stay, and--the boat was loose,
and at the mercy of the out-going tide!

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



IX.

_ADRIFT._


DRIFTING! drifting! slowly, but steadily, the boat floated out from the
shelter of the pier.

Quite absorbed by the droll movements of the tiny crab, Mamie did
not notice their danger, till, passing out from the shadow which the
breakwater had thrown upon it, the boat glided into the broad sunlight
which flooded the waves beyond.

Then, startled by the burst of sunshine which fell upon her, she raised
her head, and saw the dreadful truth.

Out on the waters, alone, alone! she and Lulu, two little helpless
children, with no eye to watch, no hand to help!

For a moment or two she sat perfectly stunned, motionless where she
was, crouched at the bottom of the boat, her eyes fixed upon the now
fast-receding shore, her lips seeming glued together with horror and
affright, a sick, faint feeling coming over her.

Out on the sea! out on the sea! alone! alone!

And so the precious moments were lost.

Little Lulu prattled away, all unconscious of fear or danger, and still
interested in her captive, and his efforts to escape. But presently she
too looked up.

"Where we doin', Mamie?" she asked, turning great eyes of wonder upon
her sister.

Then Mamie found voice and breath, and, clasping the little one in her
arms, shrieked aloud for help.

But none heard, although Lulu, terrified by her sister's cries, now
joined her own, seeing something was wrong, though she could not yet
understand their peril. For the wind, blowing as it did from the shore,
carried away the sound of their voices, and floated the piteous tones
far out over the sea.

[Illustration: Mamie.     p. 174.]

Farther, still farther, and faster now, as the blue waves, crisping and
sparkling in the sunlight, toyed with the frail boat, and its precious,
helpless freight, and tossed it from one to another, but ever carrying
it farther from home!

Was there no one to see? no one to hear? Why was it that no one looked
out at that time over the dancing waters, and discovered what terrible
plaything they had seized upon?

Far off, so far off it seemed to poor Mamie's straining eyes, and
growing each moment more distant, figures were moving upon the shore;
some up and down the road; others, she could distinguish them well
at first, playing croquet upon the lawns; little children, like
themselves, running up and down the long piazzas of the hotels: but no
one, no one, turned an eye towards their peril, or lent an ear to
the frantic cries which rang from their lips.

Oh, how cruel, how cruel, it seemed!

The boat drifted onward till it was a long distance from the shore,
almost in a straight line, keeping directly in the flood of sunshine
which fell across the waters; and it may be that if any eye did turn
seaward, it was dazzled by the blaze of light, and, even if it saw the
boat, could notice nothing amiss. Kind hearts were there that would
almost have stood still at the thought of the fearful peril about
those little ones; feet which would have flown, hands which would have
strained every nerve to rescue them. But ah! to poor Mamie the whole
world seemed so heartless, so cruel!

On, on, till she could no longer distinguish any thing more than the
long line of hotels on the shore; the beach glistening on the one hand,
the bare, stern rocks upon the other.

What was to become of them, herself and Lulu? Would they toss gently
about in this way till they died of hunger, or would great fishes come
and eat them up? Or would some terrible storm arise, and the waves,
now so gentle and playful, grow high and fierce, as she had seen them
the other day, and swallow up their frail boat? And the night, the
night! What should they do when the darkness came, and the last faint,
lingering hope that some one would yet see them should be gone? The
sun was sinking towards the west even now; by and by it would be quite
dark. What would mamma do when she missed her little girls, and knew
not where to look? Would she ever know what had become of them? Would
they be found all dead and drowned?

She had ceased to cry aloud now, and sat crouched, in a kind of dumb,
helpless despair, at the bottom of the boat, with both arms clasped
fast about Lulu, who had also hushed her screams, and sat with
questioning, wistful eyes, wandering from Mamie's face over the waves,
up to the sky, and back again to her sister. She did not understand:
how could she? She only knew that Mamie had been frightened, and
cried; and so she had cried too.

It was well that they both sat quite still in the bottom of the boat,
or they might have fallen into the water; but Mamie, in the midst of
all her terror, had sense enough left to know that they were safer so,
and she would not suffer Lulu to stir from her encircling arms.

So on, still on, farther and farther out upon the lonely waters, away
from home and friends, drifted the little helpless ones.

What though all was now bustle and alarm in that home,--indeed,
throughout all the various houses on the shore; that Maria, missing her
charges, so shamefully neglected, had hunted for them in vain, first
about their own hotel, then in every other one, hoping that they might
have gone visiting, or been taken away by some friend; that, hearing
nothing of them, she had first alarmed the other servants of the house,
then the ladies, next roused the sick mother, who grew frantic and
desperate as moment after moment went by, and brought no news of her
darlings? Who dreamed of all the truth?

The alarm was general now; the news went forth like wildfire: two
little children lost! and so many dangerous places where they might
have come to harm!

Stony shore and sandy beach were searched in vain to their farthest
extent; one party explored the little river; others started for the
green, cultivated country lying back of the shore, thinking that the
stray lambs might have been tempted by its beauty to wander too far;
others again hurried down upon the rocks, hoping to find them, perhaps,
hidden in some of their many nooks or niches; the old pier, the dock,
the very bathing-houses, were all searched; but who thought of looking
out to sea, where the cockle-shell of a boat floated, floated far away?

It was not even missed, the little boat; for Mamie's brothers and Tom
Norris were all away, and probably they would not have guessed at the
truth, had they known of its loss.

And so hope grew fainter and fainter as one after another returned from
the fruitless search only to set forth again; and the dreadful fear
grew stronger and stronger that in some way the missing children had
fallen into the water, and would never be seen again; while the poor
mother went from one fainting fit into another, and those about her
scarcely cared to call her back to her misery.

And so the sun sank low in the west, and the twilight gathered, and
the night came down upon land and sea, and still no word came to those
anxious, aching hearts of the little lost ones for whom they watched
and waited.

How was it meanwhile with those poor little waifs?

With that dull, hopeless feeling that nothing could save them now
seeming to benumb her, Mamie sat silent a long time,--silent, that
is, but for the heavy, gasping sobs that struggled up from her poor
little bosom, her eyes fixed on the distant stretch of shore, now fast
receding into one gray, undistinguishable line; Lulu, awed by this
strange, new grief of her sister's into stillness likewise.

But the baby tired at last. She wanted home and mamma, or, at least,
her nurse. The boat and the water had been all very wonderful at first,
and had perhaps lent their charm to keep her quiet; but she was wearied
of them now. She fretted a little; then, finding this failed to draw
Mamie's attention, she spoke.

"Lulu want mamma. Lulu want no more water," she said plaintively.

"O darling! what shall I do? What will become of us?" answered Mamie,
roused by her words from the sort of stupor into which she had fallen.

"Tate Lulu home. Lulu want to do home. Lulu want mamma tate tare
of her," said the little child, whose vague feeling of trouble was
beginning to settle itself into a longing for her mother's care and
comforting.

"O Lulu, Lulu!" broke forth Mamie, "there's no one to take care of us,
there's no one to see us, there's no one to hear us. We're all alone,
all alone, all alone!" her voice dying away to a low murmur of despair.

Was there no Eye to see? Was there no Ear to hear? Was there no Hand to
save?

Whose Hand guided the fragile boat over the deep waters, and held their
waves in check that they might not deal too roughly with the slight
thing which was the sole refuge of those little ones? Whose was the Ear
which bent to hear those piteous tones? Whose the Eye which watched
them on their perilous way?

A few light clouds were sailing overhead on the deep blue sky; and,
as the sun sank in the west, they were tinged with purple, pink, and
gold, changing every instant from one hue to another. All around, on
sea, earth, and sky, poured a flood of golden glory, the little curling
waves breaking into a thousand diamond sparkles as they caught it on
their crests.

Lulu gazed wonderingly into Mamie's face as she spoke so piteously,
then put up a grieved lip; but, before breaking out into a cry again,
she looked about her as if questioning the truth of her words.

The beauty of the sky above caught her eye; a golden-edged cloud fixed
her attention for a moment, and her baby thoughts took a new turn.

Lulu had heard that God lived in the sky; she had been told, too, that
God loved her, and would take care of her; and the little creature
startled her sister with the words,--

"Mamie, where are Dod?"

And across Mamie's mind flashed her watchword. "The eyes of the Lord
are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."

"In every place!" Here, now, watching her and Lulu! For a moment it
seemed to bring new terror to her, speaking, as it did, to her guilty
conscience; but the next there came comfort in the thought.

Not all alone, if His eye watched them there.

"Where are Dod?" repeated Lulu.

"God is in the sky, but He sees us here," she said more calmly than she
had spoken before.

"Den He not tate tare of Mamie and Lulu?" questioned the little child.

"Yes, I think He will; I do believe He will," sobbed Mamie. "I b'lieve
He'll take care of you any way, Lulu darling, 'cause this wasn't your
fault, but only mine. Oh, dear! oh, dear!"

"Tell him tate tare of us, tate de boat home to mamma," lisped the baby
lips. "Tell Him loud up in de sty, Mamie; and tell Him we so 'faid."

Innocent darling! she did not know why or of what she was afraid; only
that she and Mamie were in some great trouble, that she wanted mamma,
that mamma was not here, and that somehow the beauty of the sunset sky
had brought to her mind the thought of God and of His care, of which
she had been told.

"So afraid!"

Poor Mamie was indeed afraid, stricken with such awful dread as,
happily, seldom finds its way into childish heart; but Lulu's words
brought another verse into her mind. It almost seemed to her as if a
voice came over the water, and sounded it into her ear, so suddenly and
so strongly did it come to her.

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."

Bessie Bradford had told it to her one day in the early part of the
summer.

Mamie had a great terror of a thunder-storm; so had Bessie; but once,
when they had happened to be together when one was passing, the former
had shrieked and cried at every flash and peal, while the latter,
though pale and shrinking, had remained perfectly quiet. Afterwards
Mamie had said to her,--

"Bessie, how can you keep from crying when you are frightened in a
thunder-storm?"

And Bessie had answered,--

"When I am very much frightened, I try to think of a verse mamma taught
me to comfort me: 'What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.'"

At the moment it had not made much impression on Mamie; but she had not
forgotten the words; and now, in her time of need, they came to her so
clearly, as I have said, that it almost seemed as if they were spoken
to her:--

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."

What a sense of hope and comfort, almost of relief, crept over the
poor, miserable little child with the recollection!

And "the eyes of the Lord are in every place."

How she clung to the thought now,--the thought that she had been so
ready to put from her for many a day past, which she had tried to
forget because it was a reproach to her conscience, a check upon the
purpose of disobedience which had led to such a terrible result!

"O God!" she said with quivering lips, "I am afraid, so afraid! please
let me trust in Thee; and take a great deal of care of my Lulu and me
on this dreadful water; and if there could be any way for us to go home
to mamma, let us; and help me not to be naughty and disobedient again;
and don't let mamma be very much frightened about us. Amen."

"Is mamma tomin' pitty soon now?" asked Lulu.

"I asked God, darling, to let us go back to her," moaned Mamie, "and He
can help people a great deal; but I don't know but this is 'most too
much even for Him."

Lulu understood, or noticed, only the first part of her speech, and
it satisfied her, at least for the time; and, nodding her pretty head
contentedly, she said,--

"Den Lulu will love Dod, an' be dood dirl."

Still the boat drifted onward, farther and farther from home and
safety, out from the friendly waters of the bay, and more and more
towards the open sea, where, on the distant horizon, hung a misty veil,
soft purplish gray beneath, brightening above into tints of pink and
amber which melted away again into the clear blue of the heaven above.

Not a sound was to be heard but the plashing of the water against the
sides and keel of their boat; not a living thing was to be seen save
their own two little selves. God's curtain of night was falling; and
still they were alone out on the sea!

The sun was gone now; even the glorious colors which he left painted
on the clouds after he had himself sunk from sight, had faded out; the
evening breeze, cool and refreshing on the land, came chilly and damp
over the water; and Lulu shivered as it struck through the thin muslin
covering upon her tiny shoulders.

She had sat uncomplainingly after Mamie had told her she had asked God
to take care of them, waiting in her own docile way to go to mamma; but
now her baby patience was exhausted, as it well might be; for she was
cold, hungry, and tired.

She broke into a pitiful cry.

"Lulu so told; Lulu want hupper; Lulu want mamma," she said appealingly
to her sister, with oh! such a grieved, piteous face and voice, that
Mamie's heart was quite broken; and now all thought of self was
forgotten; and she prayed, poor little soul, that darling Lulu, at
least, might be saved, and taken back to mamma, even if she might not.

Then she tried to speak words of comfort to her baby-sister. Ah, how
hard it was, and what a mockery they seemed! and, taking off her own
little jacket, she wrapped it about Lulu's shoulders, and, resting the
weary little head against her own bosom, petted and soothed, until the
long eyelashes drooped upon the dimpled cheek, and Lulu was asleep in
her arms.

And then it was so lonely, oh, so lonely! far more so than when Lulu
was awake, with her sweet voice prattling broken words now and then;
but so great was Mamie's sense of the wrong she had done to her
innocent sister, that she would not wake her, even for the comfort of
her voice and look.

She had no thought or wish for sleep herself; the child's senses were
all strained to the utmost, listening and watching for she knew not
what.

How still it was, how very still! and deeper and yet deeper grew
the dusky shadows, shrouding the distant white sails which all the
afternoon had specked the far horizon, shutting them out from sight,
and with them the last faint hope of help, which Mamie had somehow
connected with them, leaving her no ray of comfort to cling to but
those words:--

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."

And night was upon the sea where drifted the lost baby voyagers; but
"the eyes of the Lord are in every place."



[Illustration]



X.

_RESCUED_


A SHOUT, a loud halloo, broke the stillness; a hail so sharp and
sudden, so near at hand, that it startled Mamie into new terror for one
moment; then, as it was repeated, brought a fluttering of hope to her
sinking young heart.

A glimmer over the water; then, as she turned her head, and glanced
half fearfully over her shoulder, a light shining brightly through the
surrounding darkness, and coming nearer.

Another hail, to which she still made no answer; perhaps she did not
understand that she would be expected to do so; then a boat coming
near,--a boat from which shone the welcome light, a torch held high
above the head of the boy who carried it.

Then the stranger boat was close to her own, with two people in it,
an old man and a boy; and the light of the torch was falling over
the little figures crouched close together; over the white face and
straining eyes of the elder, over the peaceful, sleeping form of the
younger.

Exclamations of wonder were exchanged between the man and boy, and
questions poured upon her; this Mamie knew from the tone of voice in
which they were uttered, but not one word could she understand; and
their language seemed so harsh and rough to her that it almost made her
afraid of them.

The end of a rope was thrown towards her, but she did not know that she
was expected to catch it; and the directions the man and boy shouted
out only confused and frightened her the more.

Poor child! she did not know whether to look upon these rough creatures
as friends or foes.

Several times they threw the rope, but each time it fell with a dull
splash into the water; and at last a boat-hook was thrown out, and
grappled her own boat. All the while, she heard the man and boy talking
eagerly together in their own uncouth tongue, and she wondered what
they were going to do with her and her little sister. All manner of
wild fancies flitted through her over-excited brain, and made her poor
little frame quiver at one moment with dread, at another with hope.

Who were these people, and where were they taking her? To some far-off
foreign land, where every one spoke that strange, rough language, and
no one would understand a word she might say when she told who she was,
and begged to be taken back to her friends; or could it really be that
they were taking her home? No, that could not be, for they did not know
where she belonged, and she had no way of telling them, or so she
believed.

They had now made her boat fast to their own, and were drawing it
after them; the man was rowing, the boy steering; the light from their
torch falling over both figures, and casting a red glare upon the
waves around. It was a curious scene, and one so new to Mamie that she
watched it with a feeling of there being something unreal about it all.

"It's 'most like a fairy tale, or a book story," she said to herself.
"I wonder what they are going to do with us;" and she drew her arms
close about Lulu, who still slept quietly on her breast.

She wished that the daylight would come, and show her more plainly the
faces of those who now had her in their keeping; for she believed that
it must be nearly morning, so long did the time seem since the light
had died out of the far west; whereas it was scarcely an hour since
dark, and it was still comparatively early in the evening.

Except for the measured dash of the oars, and the ripple of the waters
as the two boats cut through the waves, it was almost as still now as
it had been before her new companions had appeared; for man and boy had
ceased talking, and rowed steadily forward without exchanging a word.

Oh, if she only could know whether these were kind and good people,
who would be ready to take her home, or if they were bad and cruel,
and would do something dreadful to her and Lulu! She thought of every
terrible thing which she had ever heard of as happening to children,
and tormented herself with imagining her little sister and herself in
like situations.

Then she tried to turn her thoughts another way, picturing to herself
the going home, back to her mamma, and how glad mamma would be to see
her and Lulu, and how she would forgive all her naughtiness for very
joy at seeing them. And then she thought how distressed mamma must be
now, and again a heavy sob shook her breast, and two or three scalding
tears ran down upon Lulu's head.

Oh! if she could but be with mamma once more, she would try so hard
never to vex and worry her again; and she was so sure that she would
always be attentive and obedient to her wishes.

But should she ever have the chance? She looked up to the sky, now
thickly studded with stars,--more stars than she had ever seen before;
and how bright and beautiful they were, seeming as if they looked down
upon her right out of heaven,--the heaven where God was! and again
there came to her the thought,--

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee;" and once more she asked
that no further harm might befall her and Lulu, but that these people
into whose hands they had fallen might be kind to them, and find some
way to take them home.

By and by another light shone out of the darkness, burning unsteadily,
but more and more brightly as the boat moved on; and Mamie knew that
they were nearing it. Then a long, low line, growing each instant more
distinct; and presently she saw that the light came from a fire that
was built upon--yes, it was the shore! The land once more! the land
where mamma was! far off it might be, perhaps in another country even;
for it seemed to the poor little voyager that she had come from such a
distance; but still it was the _land_, and she felt as if she must be
nearer home than upon the water.

She could see two figures moving about the fire which cast its fitful
light upon shore and sea, now dying down, now flashing up brightly, but
serving always as a point to guide them landwards.

Not very far off, and burning with a clear, steady flame, was another
light which seemed high up, and looked to Mamie like that of the
light-house which she could see every evening from the piazza of the
hotel. Was it possible it was the same? It would seem almost like a
friend if it were so.

Now the man rowed slower and slower, and presently the foremost boat
made a harsh, grating sound upon the beach. The boy jumped out, and
then Mamie's boat was hauled up, and she and Lulu lifted out, while a
woman and a girl pressed eagerly forward with wondering faces to see
what strange cargo the men had brought to shore.

But alas! the hope that Mamie had felt that these females might
understand her was soon put to flight. They talked fast enough, pouring
out question after question; but she could not comprehend one word;
and when the man had put her down upon her feet on the beach, and she
turned to the woman, and begged, oh, so earnestly! to be taken home
to mamma, the latter shook her head, and only gazed helplessly and
wonderingly into her pitiful face.

Then Lulu, roused from her sleep by the change, and frightened by the
strange scene and faces about her, broke into a loud, distressed cry,
in which Mamie herself could not help joining, as she stretched out
her arms for her little sister, whom the man had now given into the
woman's care.

The woman did not give her up, but spoke a few words to Mamie in a
coaxing voice, and then set off with long, rapid strides, while the
girl seized upon Mamie's hand and followed, leaving the man and boy to
attend to the boats and their fish; for they were fishermen, as Mamie
afterwards found out.

A few steps brought them to a small, a very small house, a mere hut;
and, pushing open the door, the woman entered with Lulu in her arms,
Mamie and the girl coming as closely after as the tired, cramped limbs
of the poor little child could carry her.

The place was neat and clean, though poor; and to Mamie, after the dark
and chill of the sea, it seemed a very haven of refuge. Summer night
though it was, she was not sorry to see a fire of logs burning upon the
open hearth, over which the kettle was singing, while the table was set
for supper. She had not known she was hungry before; but now the brown
loaf upon the table looked very inviting to her, though, at another
time, she would probably have scorned it.

But just now she could attend to nothing but Lulu, who had not ceased
her frantic cries for mamma and "hupper" from the moment she had been
awakened in lifting her from the boat.

Whether the woman understood, or whether she only imagined that the
poor children must be hungry, she sat down beside the fire with Lulu
upon her knee, and, hastily pouring some milk into a cup, held it to
the little one's lips.

Lulu seized upon it, and while Mamie stood close beside her, looking on
with satisfaction, took a long drink, put it from her to take breath,
and ejaculated, "Dood!" then drank again; looked up into the kind,
good-natured face smiling above her, and said, "Mamie some too."

Meanwhile the girl had done a like good office for Mamie, bringing
her also a cup of milk; but she would not touch it till she saw Lulu
satisfied. Their care for one another evidently gratified the woman and
the girl, who both looked on admiringly; and then, Lulu making it quite
plain without the use of words that she wished her sister to share the
privileges of the broad, comfortable lap where she was resting, the
kindly Dutch woman lifted Mamie to her knee, and, in soothing but still
unintelligible tones, tried to find out something of her story, while
the girl bustled about, and soon had ready some more substantial food
in the shape of great bowls of bread and milk, which she brought to the
children.

But it was all in vain that Mamie, encouraged by so much kindness,
endeavored to make the women understand her. She tried them with all
the appropriate words she could think of, speaking to them in a very
loud voice, as if they could comprehend the better for that. "Sea" and
"boat" and "pier" and "lost," shrieked as loud as they might be, made
no impression upon the minds of her hearers. Then she tried them with
such French words as she knew, believing that one foreign language was
as good as another, and Frenchifying the English words she was obliged
to mix with them to make her story at all clear. "Nous came-ez over
l'eau dans le boat-ez," she said with emphasis, "et pauvre mamma will
être très frighten-ez."

These and many other such sentences she composed and delivered with
great care, but _French_ proved of no greater use than English; and
Mamie began to feel very despairing and desperately homesick again.
Lulu, too, was incessantly pleading, "Tome home, Mamie; Mamie tate Lulu
to mamma;" and fretted piteously.

By and by the man and boy came in, and then there was more talk in
Dutch between the family; and at last the boy turned to Mamie, and,
pointing with his finger, said,--

"Netasquet coom?"

One word, at least, was familiar; Mamie understood him to ask her
if they had come from the right direction, and she nodded her
head assentingly. The boy nodded back as if to say, "That is all
right;" and, believing she had now found a satisfactory method of
communication, she kept on nodding her head, and repeating the word
"Netasquet" in answer to all farther questions that were poured upon
her.

Presently the man put on his hat again, and, taking Mamie in his arms
with many encouraging nods and jerks of his thumb over his shoulder,
carried her out of the house, closely followed by the woman, still
carrying Lulu, who, wide awake, and in utter amazement at all the new
and wonderful things which were befalling her at this hour, when she
was accustomed to be fast asleep in her little bed, gazed solemnly
about her with grave, intent eyes, but, strange to say, was perfectly
quiet, and neither cried nor fretted. Perhaps the little one guessed
that these kind, good-natured people were their friends, and meant them
no harm; though she found it necessary to inform the good woman, over
and over again, that she was "mamma's baby," and therefore must "do
home," and could not be expected to stay with her.

Out under the starry night again; and now their bearers walked rapidly
on towards that steady, bright light Mamie had noticed from the boat,
while she looked wistfully through the darkness for some sign or
landmark which might tell her that they were on their way home. For she
could not help hoping that this was the purpose of these good people,
and yet her poor little heart was full of uncertainty and dread.

They went steadily onwards, the man and woman now and then exchanging a
few words, but for the most part in silence, coming nearer and nearer
to the light; and now Mamie saw that it was really in a light-house,
which gradually loomed tall and white out of the dark night.

But even as she saw this she drew a heavy sigh; the light-house she saw
each night was very far away from home, over the water too, and she
shrank from going upon the sea again to-night. Oh! she never, never
would be disobedient, or fret at mamma's orders again. How severely she
had been punished!

Up a flight of steps and through a small door opening into a neat,
comfortable room, where a woman was busy mixing bread. She turned
around as the new-comers entered, and, as if struck dumb with surprise,
stood looking at them with her arms still in the dough she was kneading.

To her the man spoke as if inquiring for some one by name; and she
answered him by an upward jerk of her head, as if she, too, could only
converse with him by signs.

"Oh!" said Mamie piteously, "can you talk a language? These people
can't, and no one seems to know what I say, so I can ask them to take
me home."

"Well, do tell now," said the woman, stripping the dough from her
fingers, and gazing with interest and curiosity from Mamie to Lulu;
"and where did you come from, and where did Muller and his wife pick
_you_ up? Talk! yes, I can talk, I reckon, if you don't try me on the
Dutch. My old man, he makes out Muller's gibberish, but I ain't no hand
at it."

Thankful beyond words to hear the familiar tongue, or "a language," as
she called it again, Mamie burst into tears of relief as she poured out
her story.

"He picked us up on the sea in a boat that we went into," she sobbed.
"Lulu wasn't naughty, 'cause she did not know any better; but I was
just awful, 'cause mamma forbid me to go on the breakwater, and I did;
and I thought we'd never get back, 'cause these kind people don't know
how to talk. Couldn't you show us the way home?"

"To be sure," answered the woman soothingly, while Muller and his wife
stood silent, satisfied to let Mamie make her tale clear by herself;
"at least, we'll see you get there. You'll be coming from the pier, I
reckon?"

"Yes," moaned Mamie.

"Then I'm thinkin' there may be some folks from down your way upstairs
now. They are just gone up to see the light, and will be down in a
jiffy, and we'll see if they can take you home. If they haven't a
mind to,--shame on 'em if they don't!--my man'll just harness up, and
take you home. It might be better to put you to bed for the night,
for 'tisn't no time for a baby like that to be out; but I reckon your
mother must be nigh about crazed if she don't know nothin' about you;
so we'll get you down to the pier to-night. Don't you take on no more,
you poor lamb; but just wait till John brings the folks down. Here, sit
ye down, Mrs. Muller, and you, too, Muller;" shrieking out these last
words at the top of her voice, and giving each chair a slap with her
hand, as she plumped it energetically down before the good Dutchman and
his wife.

Certainly Mamie could not doubt that the light-house keeper's wife
could "talk a language" as she poured forth question after question,
and made her own remarks on the answers Mamie gave, while the child sat
trembling with impatience to see who "the folks" upstairs might be, and
to know if they would really take her home.

The woman would have taken Lulu from Mrs. Muller; but the poor baby,
who began to think that she was handed from one to another stranger
rather freely to-night, clung to her first friend, and could not be
parted from her, which much pleased that good woman, who soothed
her with gentlest tones and caresses. The little thing sadly needed
petting, for she was quite worn out, and whimpered pitifully again
for "mamma," and to be allowed to "do to heep in ittle bed," not
understanding why she should be so long deprived of these privileges.

Presently voices were heard coming down the long flight of
stairs,--voices to which Mamie listened eagerly; more and more eagerly
as they came nearer and nearer; for they seemed to her familiar and
well known. Could it be?--yes, it really was--there they came around
the turn of the staircase--Mr. and Mrs. Norris with Lily, Mr. Powers
and Belle, Mrs. Walton and Mabel.

"O papa!" she heard Lily saying, "just a few moments longer."

"Not a moment, my daughter. Why! do you know what time it is? after ten
now, and the long drive home still to be taken. A nice hour, truly, for
such young damsels to be running over light-houses and"--

He was interrupted by a shriek of joy from Mamie, who, springing
forward, threw herself wildly upon Mrs. Norris, clinging fast to her
skirts, crying and laughing at the same time, raising to the lady's
astonished gaze a pitiful, tear-stained, pale little face; while broken
words of gladness and pleading came from her lips.

How they all crowded about her and Lulu, who, seeing the familiar face
of Mrs. Norris, also stretched out her arms to her with a glad cry, and
was speedily nestling upon her neck! and how astonished every one was!
and how they all questioned and pitied!--no one had the heart to blame
now, may easily be imagined.

The gentlemen, who were all good German scholars, and could speak with
Muller, soon heard from him how and where he had found the little
castaways,--how, coming home from deep-sea fishing, his boat had, in
the darkness, nearly run down that in which Mamie and her sister were
drifting; how he had made it fast to his own, and brought it in, taking
the children first to his own house, and then bringing them up here,
because, although he had rightly guessed from what quarter they had
come, he had no horse or other means of taking them speedily home, and
so had come to see if his good friend, the light-house keeper, would
not take further steps to restore them to their friends.

There was no need for this now; here were some of their friends on the
spot, and they were ready enough to take all further charge of them,
and carry them home as fast as possible.

With sympathizing thoughts for the agonized mother, searching vainly
for her babies, Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Walton hurried the party away; and
presently they were all in the great wagon which had brought Mamie's
friends to the light-house, and driving home as fast as the darkness of
the evening would allow.

Lulu nestled in Mrs. Norris' arms, and, covered with her shawl, was
soon fast asleep; while Mamie sat with one hand clasped in Lily's, the
other in that of Belle, who, sitting one on each side of her, could not
do enough to show their pity and sympathy. Even Mabel, who sat behind
her, quite forgot the chronic feud between them, and was constantly
leaning forward to put her arm about Mamie's neck, and kiss her cold
cheek, or to ask tenderly, "How do you feel now, Mamie?"

And the rejoicing there was over them when at last they reached home,
and the little wanderers were restored to their frantic mother! How
fast the glad news spread from house to house, bringing joy and relief
even to the hearts of those who had never known or seen them, can be
imagined only by those who knew what the suspense and anxiety had been.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



XI.

_REPENTANCE._


THERE might have been some danger that Mamie would feel herself too
much of a heroine, and forget that all this had been brought about by
her own sad disobedience and naughtiness, but for the trouble which
followed.

Strange to say, neither of the children suffered much from the exposure
and excitement of the evening; and, beyond a little paleness and
languor, seemed as well as usual the next day.

But it was far different with their mother. Not very strong at any
time, the agony and suspense about her little ones had proved too much
for her, and she was very ill; so ill that Mr. Stone was telegraphed
for, and for some hours it was believed she could not live. She was
quite wild, too; and, though she called and pleaded incessantly for
her children, she did not know them when they were brought to her, but
thrust them away from her in a way that frightened little Lulu, and
quite broke poor repentant Mamie's heart. Oh! was her tender, indulgent
mother going to leave her? Would she never know her, never speak to her
again, never tell her she forgave all her disobedient, naughty ways,
all her disrespect and pettishness?

She sat all day, just outside of her mamma's room, listening to every
sound from within, crying bitterly, but silently, and utterly refusing
to be comforted or coaxed away.

But at night there was a little change for the better; Mrs. Stone fell
into a quiet sleep, and the doctor said he had hope for her now.

So Mamie, utterly worn out, suffered herself to be led away by some of
the pitying ladies, and to be put to bed, where she forgot her troubles
until the morning.

She had dreaded facing her father when he should come and hear all the
sad story; but she was awakened by his kiss; and, though he looked
very sober when she poured forth her confession, and offered to submit
patiently to any punishment he might think proper, he told her he
thought she had brought punishment enough upon herself, and that he
hoped this would be a lasting lesson to her.

Mamie thought that it would indeed; she should never forget that
terrible night upon the sea, alone with Lulu, who was rather a silent
reproach than a comfort to her. She could not believe, poor child! that
the night had not been half gone when she was brought home, or that it
was hardly an hour after dark when the fisherman had found her, and
brought her to land.

She was curious to know, as perhaps you may be, how her young
playmates and their parents happened to be at the light-house "in the
middle of the night;" and this was soon satisfactorily explained to her.

It was in this way.

The whole party had driven that afternoon to the house of a friend
whose beautiful place was situated some distance from the shore; and
they had there taken tea, and spent the earlier part of the evening, so
that they had known nothing of the alarm about the lost children.

Their way home lay near the old "Point Light;" for this was not the
light-house which Mamie saw each evening from the piazza of the hotel,
but another, in quite a different direction, though much nearer home;
and Lily and the other children, who were wild to see the light-house
at night while its revolving lamp was burning, had persuaded their
parents to indulge them, late as it was, with a visit there. They
had been up to the very top, seen all that was to be seen, had the
screeching fog-whistle blown many times for their benefit, and had
come down to be astonished by the sight which met them below.

All this, and much more, Belle and Lily poured into Mamie's ears on the
morning of the second day, when her mother had been pronounced a little
better, and she could be coaxed out of doors.

But mamma was still very ill, and must be kept perfectly quiet;
and Mamie, feeling that this was all her fault, and filled with
self-reproach, which was perhaps the greater for her father's kindness,
had no spirits for play, and sat quite subdued and mournful in the
midst of her playmates, who were all ready to devote themselves to her,
and to talk to her if she did not choose to play.

"Mamma says," said Lily, when she had concluded her account of the
way in which they came to be at the light-house,--"Mamma says that it
was quite a providential _dispensary_ that we should have gone to the
light-house."

"What does that mean?" asked Belle.

"I asked her," answered Lily; "and she said it meant that it really
seemed as if God intended us to go there on purpose to find Mamie and
Lulu; because she had really thought it was too late for us to be out,
and was not very willing to be persuaded."

"Because God knew what trouble we were in, and wanted to help us out
of it, I suppose," said Mamie thoughtfully, with the words of her
neglected watchword in her mind.

"Yes," said Belle. "If He did not see us always, and take care of us,
what would become of us? Mamie, it makes me feel like crying, even now
when you're all safe, to think about your being out all alone on the
sea in the dark."

"Yes," assented Lily, "it did me, too, at first; but I'm getting used
to it now. But I hope there's one good thing come out of it. Mamma
doesn't approve at all of children sitting up late; but now, I suppose,
she will see that it can have very delightful consequences."

"Does she think that light-house man would not have brought us home if
you had not come to his light-house?" said Mamie.

"Well, no; but I suppose you wouldn't have been home quite so soon,"
said Lily. "Maybe he wouldn't have brought you at all till the morning."

"I never knew the nights were so dreadfully long," said Mamie. "People
say the nights and the days are just about as long as each other, and
now I know they're not. The nights are a great deal the longest,--oh,
so long!"

And Mamie gave a shuddering sigh at the recollection of the long, weary
time she had passed upon the waters.

"Mamma said the time seemed longer to you than it really was," said
Lily, "because you were alone and frightened; and the days are really
the longest now, 'cause it's summer. In the winter the nights are the
longest. It must be so, you know, 'cause our jography says so, and our
'Elements of 'Stronomy' too."

"Then they never were up all night, and don't know," said Mamie
emphatically, quite resenting the idea that any one could be better
informed in the matter than she who had had such an experience.

"Who were not up all night?" asked Mabel.

"She means the jogra-fers and the 'stron-amers," said Lily; "not the
books of course, but the people who wrote them; but they must have been
grown up; so I dare say they stayed up all night if they chose."

"I should think that _I_ ought to know about it," said Mamie; "and when
I'm grown up, I shall write a jography that says all the others don't
know; 'cause once I stayed up and up and up, and there was a piece of
the night left yet to go to sleep in."

Mamie was not to be convinced, and the others, with a feeling that
she was to be indulged, and not contradicted under the present
circumstances, left her to her belief.

"What did you think about, Mamie?" asked Belle. "Did you think you were
going to be drowned?"

"Yes," said Mamie, her eyes filling with tears; "and, Belle, I
thought a good deal about that watchword you gave me, and how, if I'd
remembered it all the time, that wouldn't have happened to me; but it
did make me feel a little better,--no, not better, there wasn't any
better about it,--but not quite so very afraid to think God could see
me, and take care of me, even out on the sea and in the dark. I did
not see, either, how He was going to help me; and yet the way did come
quite easy after all. And now--and now"--Mamie hesitated, and looked
doubtfully from one to another of her companions.

"Well," said Lily encouragingly.

"I think," said Mamie, "that now I will have to remember always
that God sees me all the time; and that He would think I am very
ungrateful, and don't deserve to be taken care of, if I don't try to be
good and never disobey mamma."

"Yes, I think so too," said Lily; "and that's the very best kind of a
verse to help you to 'resist the hm--hm--and he will flee from you.'"

"The who?" asked Belle, amazed; and Mamie and Mabel also looked
inquiringly at this mysterious utterance from Lily.

"The hm--hm," repeated Lily, no ways abashed, and persisting in the
ambiguous form of expression; "you know that verse, don't you?"

"I know the verse, 'Resist the _devil_, and he will flee from you,'"
said Belle.

"Yes, that's it," said Lily; "but if everybody knows the verse, which
'most all the world does,--and ought to be ashamed of themselves, if
they don't,--why, then it's just as well to say hm--hm, and not that
other ugly word."

"But the Bible says it," said Mabel.

"Yes," answered Lily, in a tone of indulgence for the Scriptures; "the
Bible can say what it pleases, because it _is_ the Bible; but mortals
ought to be more careful."

"You learned that from Maggie and Bessie, I suppose," said Belle. "They
never say that word if they can help it."

"Yes, partly," said Lily with an air of becoming modesty, but yet as
one who feels that she has ground of her own to stand upon, "partly
from them, but partly from my own self. You see, children, I do it to
keep myself from temptation."

"Temptation of what?" asked Belle.

"Temptation to say things I ought not," answered Lily. "Mamma told me
I was falling into the habit of talking rather strongly, of saying
'awful' and 'horrid,' and such words to things that were not at all
awful or horrid, or saying I was 'most dead, when I was not 'most dead
at all; and she said she wanted me to watch myself, and try not to use
such strong expressions; and I thought hm--hm was rather a strong
expression, so I would not say it right out when there was no need.
What's that now?" as a smothered laugh was heard from behind the closed
blinds of the parlor. "I just believe some one is there listening to
us. Go and see, Mamie; it's your house."

Mamie did as she was bid; but she found no one near the window; and
Lily was satisfied that she had been mistaken, as Mamie reported
only two or three young ladies in the parlor, who did not seem to be
thinking of them.

"You know," she continued, when Mamie had returned, "that when we feel
like doing a thing, it is best to keep ourselves quite out of the way
of temptation,--I learned that pretty well when I was always putting
off,--and I _do_ like to talk that kind of a way; so I'm going to keep
myself as much as I can without using wrong words at all. I only began
this morning; but you see I've improved already."

Mamie drew a long, weary sigh.

"Yes, Lily," she said with a doleful shake of her head, "yes, I know
now how one ought not to put one's self in the way of temptation, if
they don't want to do a wrong thing. But--but--I'm afraid I meant all
the time to go on the breakwater if I found a chance. And I b'lieve,
oh, dear! I b'lieve all these days I have been real mad at mamma 'cause
she would not let me go; and now, if she don't get well, I can never
tell her how sorry I am, or try to make up for it."

"But she's a little better to-day," said Belle consolingly. "I heard
everybody say so."

"Yes, a little," said Mamie, who was again crying bitterly; "but papa
says she is very ill yet; and even if she does get well, I shall always
have to remember how bad I was to her. I think I never knew before how
dreadful it is to be bad to your mother; and, when I was out in that
boat, I b'lieve I thought of 'most every naughty thing I ever did to
her."

"Then if she gets well now, it will make you very careful how you
behave badly or saucily to her again," said Lily; "so that will be a
good thing."

"Oh, yes! I should think it might," sighed Mamie.

"Mamie, we are very sorry for you," said Belle, taking her hand and
holding it tenderly.

"So am I," said Mabel: "and, Mamie, I believe I know a little how you
feel by the duckling."

"Oh, you can't!" said Mamie almost indignantly; "a duckling is nothing
to your own mamma. But, Mabel, I was horrid and stuck-up to you about
that duckling, and made an awful fuss 'cause you took it without leave;
and then I did a great deal worse thing myself, and never remembered or
didn't care that God saw me all the time. It's very good in you to be
so kind to me now, and never say any thing hateful."

Mamie had on her confession cap now, and was fain to make a clean
breast of all her misdemeanors, past and present, feeling, poor child!
as if it were somewhat of a relief to do so.

"I'm never going to make faces at you again," said Mabel, moved by this
new meekness.

"And I shan't plague you, and try to make you mad on purpose," said
Mamie. "Let's make up for all our lives."

And offering her lips to Mabel, a kiss of peace was exchanged between
these two little girls, who had never been very good friends, but who
had always taken a naughty pleasure in aggravating one another, and in
each one making the most of the other's faults.

"Here comes papa. He's been down to the post-office, and brought the
mail," said Lily. "Papa, is there a letter for me? Maggie promised to
write to me; but perhaps she has not done it yet."

"Well, I rather think she has favored Mamie this time," said Mr.
Norris, dropping into Mamie's lap a letter addressed in Maggie
Bradford's large, round handwriting.

Brightening instantly at this unexpected consolation, Mamie caught up
the letter, and eagerly opened it.

"Maggie never wrote to me before," she said; "and her letters are so
nice."

"Yes," said Belle; "but I wonder if there is none for me. Maggie writes
to me once a week, and Bessie writes once a week, and this is the day
for Maggie's letter. Mr. Norris, didn't any letter come for me?"

Mr. Norris answered in the most satisfactory manner by rapidly turning
over the letters in his hand, and selecting one which he teasingly
held a moment above her reach; then dropped it into the little eager,
outstretched hands.

"I'll read mine aloud," said Mamie, "'cause Maggie's letters are so
very interesting.

    "MY DEAR MAMIE,--It is the turn for me to write to Belle
    to-day, but I thought she would not mind if I wrote to you
    instead, for we heard this afternoon of your going off in
    the boat, and nearly being lost, and saved by a fisherman,
    which was the greatest of mercies, and of your mamma being
    so ill. And so because we should comfort the afflicted,
    I thought you might like a letter, and Bessie will write
    to Belle. We are very sorry for you, dear; specially for
    your feeling so badly about your mamma, which was only to
    be expected if you had the feelings of human nature; and
    remorse is hard for mankind to bear, indeed, not to be
    endured. But I never heard of such a dreadful adventure as
    you had and dear little Lulu, too, except once when the
    railroad ran off with Bessie and Belle and me, and no one to
    take care of us, but a gentleman we did not know, who was
    very kind, and I believe sent to us by the hand of the Lord,
    and restored us to the bosom of our family.

    "But we are very glad you were saved and not taken away by
    drowning from your orphaned parents, or made a melancholy
    accident in the newspapers of, which would try the souls of
    your friends to read. Bessie and I cried a good deal when we
    heard about you, and I thought you would like to know about
    it, because it's always pleasant to know that your friends
    feel badly about you. We hope that your mamma will soon
    recover, and I am your

                        very respected and attached
                                      friend
                                   MAGGIE STANTON BRADFORD.

    "P.S. I would not wish to say any thing unkind about a
    present my friends gave me, but a cruel young gentleman of
    my acquaintance presented me a dead bird he shot, and I
    would not have it, but cried. But I hope my conduct made a
    sensible impression upon him, for the next time some one
    asked him to go shooting he said no, which makes me think he
    may in time come to have a feeling heart which cannot bear
    to take life.

    "Give my love to Lily and tell her I will write to her
    to-morrow if unexpected circumstances do not prevent.

                                               "M. S. B."

This fine letter met with all the approval which Maggie's compositions
generally called forth; and then Bessie's to Belle was read aloud for
the benefit of all who might choose to hear.


    "MY DEAR BELLE,--Maggie writes to Mamie so I write this
    leter to you but it is not my day but Maggie's. I wish you
    would come to our hose and see us cors we miss you. i can
    play 2 tunes Captain Jinks and Lord in the morning thou
    shalt hear on the piano and i like to play on the piano but
    Maggie does it better, our new old cook has a gra kitty and
    it goes to sleep in her pokit and the cook is black and Fred
    has a white rabit and it stiks up its nose at us and we have
    2 new horses and mamma a pony for her faton so we are quite
    a menagery and we want you and Lily to see them all. So ask
    your papa to bring you to spend that day with us and give my
    dear love to Lily and Lulu, and a little skrap of love to
    Mabel and Mamie but I am sorry for Mamie and Maggie and I
    cried about her. No I think you may give a good deal of my
    love to Mamie, but not too much.

                              from affekshin
                                      BESSIE RUSH BRADFORD."

Happily Belle had spelled over this letter to herself before reading
it aloud, which Bessie had probably not intended; and the wise little
woman had the good sense and good feeling to omit such parts of it as
might seem at all slighting to Mabel and Mamie, of whom Bessie, as you
will have perceived, was not over fond.

It was many days before Mamie recovered her usual spirits and
liveliness, not indeed until her mother was well again; and it was
almost touching to see how tenderly she hung about her when she was
once more permitted to go to her; watching for the least opportunity
to wait on her, or do her some small service; sitting for hours beside
her bed, content only to hold her hand or kiss her pale cheek; so
subdued, so gentle, so submissive and good, that it was hard to believe
she was the Mamie of old.

Nor did the good impression her severe lesson made upon her wear off
when mamma had recovered; and Mrs. Stone felt that all she had suffered
was well repaid by the new docility and obedience shown by her little
daughter.

She was less selfish and wilful with her playmates too, more gentle and
amiable than they had ever known her. The memory of that lonely night
upon the dark sea,--for it was impossible to persuade Mamie that she
did not pass the greater part of the night upon the water,--and the
thought of the care which had watched over her there, were not easily
shaken off; and perhaps it was as well that for many succeeding weeks
she was within sight and sound of the objects which kept it constantly
before her mind.

Certain it is that the change in her was very great and plainly to be
seen, and, as Belle said to the astonished Maggie and Bessie when they
remarked upon it, "more as if she tried to _live_ her watchword than to
_talk so much_ about it."

[Illustration]



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 10, word "a" added to text (that seldom has a)

Page 35, "eat" changed to "ate" (she ate her cake)

Page 156, word "on" added to the text (you on a nice)





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that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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