Part 2 out of 3
"'Cook! I desire that you will not touch my children!'
"'As you please, ma'am,' says I, 'if you'll be so good as to stop the
young gentlemen from touching my pans, and--' I was going to say
'custard,' but Master James shouts out quite quick:-
"'Why, I only wanted to make a pie, mamma.'
"'And I only wanted to make some toffey!' cries Whipper-snapper; and
then mamma answers, like a duchess at court:-
"'There can't possibly be any objection, my dears; and I wish, Cook,
you would he a little more good-natured to the children;--your temper
is sadly against you!'
"And out she sails, ribbons and window-curtains and all; and, says I
to myself, as I cooled down, (for the young gentlemen luckily went
away with their dear mama,)--says I to myself, 'It's a very fine
thing, no doubt, to go about in ribbons, and petticoats, and grand
clothes; but, if one must needs carry such a poor, silly head inside
them, as Missus does, I'd rather stop as I am, and be a cook with
some sense about me.'
"I don't say, my dears," continued the supposed cook, "that I spoke
very politely just then; but who could feel polite, when their dinner
had been put back at least half-an-hour over such nonsense as that?
Missus used to say the 'dear boys' came to the kitchen on a wet day,
because they'd got NOTHING ELSE TO DO! Nothing else to do! and had
learnt Latin and Greek, and all sorts of schooling besides! So much
for education, thought I. Why, it would spoil the best lads that
ever were born into the world. For, of course, you know if these
young gentlemen had been put to decent trades, they'd have found
something else to do with their fingers besides mischief and waste.
And, dear me, I talk about not having been polite to Missus just
then, but now you tell me, dears, what Missus, with all her
education, would have said if she'd been in my place, when one young
gentleman was drinking her custard, and another young gentleman was
pulling her pans on the floor! Do you think she'd have been a bit
more polite than I was? Wouldn't she have called me all the stupid
creatures that ever were born, and told the story over and over to
all her friends and acquaintance to make them stare, and say there
were surely no such simpletons in the world as ladies and gentlemen,
and ladies' and gentlemen's young ladies and young gentlemen?
"However, I did not go as far as that, because, you see, I had some
sense about me, and could make allowances for all the nonsense the
poor things are brought up to."
There was no resisting the twinkle in Aunt Judy's eye when she came
to this point, though it shone through an old pair of Nurse's
spectacles; and the little ones clapped their hands, and declared it
was every bit as good as a Cook story, ONLY A GREAT DEAL BETTER!
That twinkle had quite brought Aunt Judy back to them again, in spite
of her cook's attire, and No. 6 cried out:-
"Oh! don't stop, Aunt Judy! Do go on, Cooky dear! do tell some more!
Did you always live in that place, please?"
"There now!" exclaimed Aunt Judy, throwing herself back in the chair,
"isn't that a regular young lady's question, out and out? Who but a
young lady, with no more sense in her head than a pin, would have
thought of asking such a thing? Why, miss, is there a joint in the
world that can bear basting for ever? No, no! a time comes when it
must be taken down, if any good's to be left in it; and so at the end
of three years my basting-time was over, and the time for taking down
"'Cook,' says I to myself, 'you must give in. If you go on with
those cherubs (that was their company name, you know) much longer,
there won't be a bit of you left!' And, sure enough, that very
morning, dears, they'd come down upon me with a fresh grievance, and
I couldn't stand it, I really couldn't! The sweeps had been by four
o'clock to the kitchen chimney, and I'd been up and toiling every
minute since, and hadn't had time to eat my breakfast, when in they
burst--the young ladies, not the sweeps, dears, I mean:- and there
they broke out at once--I hadn't fed their sea-gulls before
breakfast--(a couple of dull-looking grey birds, with big mouths,
that had come in a hamper over night as a present to the cherubs;)
and it seems I ought to have been up before daylight almost, to look
for slugs for them in the garden till they'd got used to the place!
"Oh, these ladies and gentlemen! they'd need know something of some
sort to make amends, for there are many things they never know all
their life long!
"'Young ladies,' says I, 'I didn't come here to get meals ready for
sea-gulls, but Christian ladies and gentlemen. If the sea-gulls want
a cook, your mamma must hire them one on purpose. I've plenty to do
for her and the family, without looking after such nonsense as that!'
"'That's what you always say,' whimpers the youngest Miss; 'and you
know they don't want any cooking, but only raw slugs! And you know
you might easily look for them, because you've got almost nothing to
do, because it's such an easy place, mamma always says. But you're
always cross, mamma says that too, and everybody knows you are,
because she tells everybody!'
"When little Miss had got that out, she thought she'd finished me up;
and so she had, for when I heard that Missus was so ungenteel as to
go talking of what I did, to all her acquaintance, and had nothing
better to talk about, I made up my mind that I'd give notice that
"'Very well, miss,' says I, 'your mamma shall soon have something
fresh to talk about, and I hope she'll find it a pleasant change.'
"There was some of them knew what I meant at once, for after they'd
scampered off I heard shouts up and down the stairs from one to the
other, 'Cook's going!' 'We shall have a new cook soon!' 'What a
lark we'll have with the toffey and the pies! We'll make her do just
as we choose!'
"'There, now,' thought I to myself, 'there'll be somebody else put
down to baste before long. Well, I'm glad my time's over.' And
thereupon I fell to wishing I was back again in father and mother's
ricketty old cottage, that I'd once been so proud to leave, to go and
live with gentlefolks. But, you see, it was no use wishing, for I'd
my bread to earn, and must turn out somewhere, let it be as
disagreeable as it would. Father and mother were dead, and there was
no ricketty cottage for me to go back to, so I wiped my eyes, and
told myself to make the best of what had to be.
"Well, dears," pursued Cooky, after a short pause, during which the
little ones looked far more inclined to cry than laugh, "Missus was
quite taken aback when she heard I wouldn't stay any longer.
"'Cook,' she said, 'I'm perfectly astonished at your want of sense in
not recognizing the value of such a situation as mine! and as to your
complaints about the children, anything more ridiculously
unreasonable I never heard! Such superior, well-taught young people,
you are not very likely to meet with again in a hurry!'
"'Perhaps not, ma'am,' says I, 'in French, and crochet, and the
piano, and Latin, and things I don't understand, being only a cook.
But I know what behaviour is, and that's what I'm sure the young
ladies and gentlemen have never been taught; or if they have, they're
so slow at taking it in, that I think I shall do better with a family
where the behaviour-lessons come first!'
"Missus was very angry, and so was I; but at last she said:-
"'Cook, I shall not argue with you any longer; you know no better,
and I suppose I must make allowances for you.'
"'I'm much obliged to you, ma'am, I'm sure,' was my answer; 'it's
what I've always done by you ever since I came to the house, and I'll
do it still with pleasure, and think no more of what's been said.'
"I spoke from my heart, I can tell you, dears, for I felt very sorry
for Missus, and thought she was but a lady after all, and perhaps I'd
hardly made allowances enough. I'd lost my temper, too, as I knew
after she went away. But, you see, while she was there, it was so
mortifying to be spoken to as if all the sense was on her side, when
I knew it was all on mine, wherever the French and crochet may have
been. Well, but the day before I left, I broke down with another of
them, as it's fair that you should know.
"I'd felt very lonely that day, busy as I was, and in the afternoon I
took myself into the scullery to give the pans a sort of good-bye
cleaning, and be out of everybody's way. But there, in the midst of
it, comes the eldest young gentleman flinging into the kitchen,
shouting, 'Cook! Cook! Where's Cook?' as usual. I thought he was
after some of his old tricks, and I HAD been fretting over those
pans, thinking what a sad job it was to have no home to go to in the
world, so I gave him a very short answer.
"'Master James,' says I, 'I've done with nonsense now, I can't attend
to you. You must wait till the next cook comes.'
"But Master James came straight away to the scullery door, and says
he, 'Cook, I'm not coming to teaze. I've brought you a needle-book.
There, Cook! It's full of needles. I put them all in myself. Keep
"Dear, dear, I can't forget it yet," pursued Cook, "how Master James
stood on the little stone step of the scullery, with his arm
stretched out, and the needle-book that he'd bought for me in his
hand. I don't know how I thanked him, I'm sure; but I had to go back
to the sink and wash the dirt off my hands before I could touch the
pretty little thing, and then I told him I would keep it as long as
ever I lived.
"He laughed, and says he, 'Now shake hands, Cooky,' and so we shook
hands; and then off he ran, and I went back to my pans and fairly
"'Why, Cook,' says I to myself, 'that lad's got as good a heart as
your own, after all. And as to sense and behaviour, they haven't
been forced upon him yet, as they have upon you. Latin's Latin, and
conduct's conduct, and one doesn't teach the other; and it's too bad
to expect more of people than what they've had opportunity for.'
Well, dears, that was the rule I always went by, and I've been in
many situations since--with single ladies, and single gentlemen, and
large families, and all; and there was something to put up with in
all of them; and they always told me there was a good deal to put up
with in me, and perhaps there was. However, it doesn't matter, so
long as Missus and servant go by one rule--TO MAKE ALLOWANCES, AND
NOT EXPECT MORE FROM PEOPLE THAN WHAT THEY'VE HAD OPPORTUNITY FOR;
and, above all, never to be cocky when all the advantage is on their
own side. It's a good rule, dears, and will stop many a foolish word
and idle tale, if you'll go by it."
Aunt Judy had finished at last, and she took off the old spectacles
and laid them on the doll's table, and paused.
"It IS a good rule," observed No. 4, "and I shall go by it, and not
tell real Cook Stories when I grow up, I hope."
"I love old Cooky," cried No. 6, getting up and hugging her round the
neck; "but is it wrong, Aunt Judy, to tell funny make-believe Cook
Stories, like ours?"
"Not at all, No. 6," replied Aunt Judy. "My private belief is, that
if you tell funny make-believe Cook Stories while you're little, you
will be ashamed of telling stupid real ones when you're grown up."
"Death and its two-fold aspect! wintry--one,
Cold, sullen, blank, from hope and joy shut out;
The other, which the ray divine hath touch'd,
Replete with vivid promise, bright as spring."
"Well then; but you must remember that I have been ill, and cannot be
expected to invent anything very entertaining."
"Oh, we do remember, indeed, Aunt Judy; we have been so miserable,"
was the answer; and the speaker added, shoving her little chair close
up to her sister's:-
"I said if you were not to get better, I shouldn't want to get better
"Hush, hush, No. 6!" exclaimed Aunt Judy, quite startled by the
expression; "it was not right to say or think that."
"I couldn't help it," persisted No. 6. "We couldn't do without you,
"We can do without anything which God chooses to take away," was Aunt
Judy's very serious answer.
"But I didn't want to do without," murmured No. 6, with her eyes
fixed on the floor.
"Dear No. 6, I know," replied Aunt Judy, kindly; "but that is just
what you must try not to feel."
"I can't help feeling it," reiterated No. 6, still looking down.
"You have not tried, or thought about it yet," suggested her sister;
"but do think. Think what poor ignorant infants we all are in the
hands of God, not knowing what is either good or bad for us; and then
you will see how glad and thankful you ought to be, to be chosen for
by somebody wiser than yourself. We must always be contented with
God's choice about whatever happens."
No. 6 still looked down, as if she were studying the pattern of the
rug, but she saw nothing of it, for her eyes were swimming over with
the tears that had filled into them, and at last she said:-
"I could, perhaps, about some things, but ONLY NOT THAT about you.
Aunt Judy, you know what I mean."
Aunt Judy leant back in her chair. "ONLY NOT THAT." It was, as she
knew, the cry of the universal world, although it broke now from the
lips of a child. And it was painful, though touching, to feel
herself the treasure that could not be parted with.
So there was a silence of some minutes, during which the hand of the
little sister lay in that of the elder one.
But the latter soon roused up and spoke.
"I'll tell you what, No. 6, there's nothing so foolish as talking of
how we shall feel, and what we shall do, if so-and-so happens.
Perhaps it never may happen, or, if it does, perhaps we may be helped
to bear it quite differently from what we have expected. So we won't
say anything more about it now."
"I'm so glad!" exclaimed No. 6, completely reassured and made
comfortable by the cheerful tone of her sister's remark, though she
had but a very imperfect idea of the meaning of it, as she forthwith
proved by rambling off into a sort of self-defence and self-
"And I'm not really a baby now, you know, Aunt Judy! And I do know a
great many things that are good and bad for us. I know that YOU are
good for us, even when you scold over sums."
"That is a grand admission, I must own," replied Aunt Judy, smiling;
"I shall remind you of it some day."
"Well, you may," cried No. 6, earnestly; and added, "you see I'm not
half as silly as you thought."
Aunt Judy looked at her, wondering how she should get the child to
understand what was passing through her own mind; wondering, too
whether it was right to make the attempt; and she decided that on the
whole it was; so she answered:-
"Ay, we grow wise enough among ourselves as we grow older, and get to
know a few more things. You are certainly a little wiser than a baby
in long petticoats, and I am a little wiser than you, and mamma wiser
than us both. But towards God we remain ignorant infants all our
lives. That was what I meant."
"But surely, Aunt Judy," interrupted No. 6, "mamma and you know--"
There she stopped.
"Nothing about God's dealings," pursued Aunt Judy, "but that they are
sure to be good for us, even when we like them least, and cannot
understand them at all. We know so little what we ought really to
like and dislike, dear No. 6, that we often fret and cry as foolishly
as the two children did, who, while they were in mourning for their
mother, broke their hearts over the loss of a set of rabbits' tails."
No. 6 sprang up at the idea. She had never heard of those children
before. Who were they? Had Aunt Judy read of them in a book, or
were they real children? How could they have broken their hearts
about rabbits' tails? It must be a very curious story, and No. 6
begged to hear it.
Aunt Judy had, however, a little hesitation about the matter. There
was something sad about the story; and there was no exact teaching to
be got out of it, though certainly if it helped to shake No. 6's
faith in her own wisdom, a good effect would be produced by listening
to it. Also it was not a bad thing now and then to hear of other
people having to bear trials which have not fallen to our own lot.
It must surely have a tendency to soften the heart, and make us feel
more dependent upon the God who gives and takes away. On the whole,
therefore, she would tell the story, so she made No. 6 sit quietly
down again, and began as follows:-
"There were once upon a time two little motherless girls."
No. 6's excitement of expectation was hardly over, so she tightened
her hand over Aunt Judy's, and ejaculated:-
"Poor little things!"
"You may well say so," continued Aunt Judy. "It was just what
everybody said who saw them at the time. When they went about with
their widowed father in the country village where 'they lived, even
the poor women who stood at their cottage door-steads, would look
after them when they had passed, and say with a sigh:-
"'Poor little things!'
"When they went up to London in the winter to stay with their
grandmamma, and walked about in the Square in their little black
frocks and crape-trimmed bonnets, the ladies who saw them,--even
comparative strangers,--would turn round arid say:-
"'Poor little things!'
"If visitors came to call at the house, and the children were sent
for into the room, there was sure to be a whispered exclamation
directly among the grown-up people of, 'Poor little things!' But oh,
No. 6! the children themselves did not think about it at all. What
did they know,--poor little things,--of the real misfortune which had
befallen them! They were sorry, of course, at first, when they did
not see their mamma as usual, and when she did not come back to them
as soon as they expected. But some separation had taken place during
her illness; and sometimes before, she had been poorly and got well
again; and sometimes she had gone out visiting, and they had had to
do without her till she returned; and so, although the days and weeks
of her absence went on to months, still it was only the same thing
they had felt before, continued rather longer; and meantime the
little events of each day rose up to distract their attention. They
got up, and dined, and went to bed as usual. They were sometimes
merry, sometimes naughty, as usual. People made them nice presents,
or sent for them to pleasant treats, as usual--perhaps more than
usual; their father did all he could to supply the place of the lost
one, but never could name her name; and soon they forgot that they
had ever had a mamma at all. Soon? Ay, long before friends and
strangers lead left off saying 'Poor little things' at sight of them,
and long before the black frocks and crape-trimmed bonnets were laid
aside, which, indeed, they wore double the usual length of time."
"And how old were they?" asked No. 6, in a whisper.
"Four and five," replied Aunt Judy; "old enough to know what they
liked and disliked from hour to hour. Old enough to miss what had
pleased them, till something else pleased them as well. But not old
enough to look forward and know how much a mother is wanted in life;
and, therefore, what a terrible loss the loss of a mother is."
"It's a very sad story I'm afraid," remarked No. 6.
"Not altogether," said Aunt Judy, smiling, "as you shall hear. One
day the two little motherless girls went hand in hand across one of
the courts of the great Charity Institution in London, where their
grandmamma lived, into the old archway entrance, and there they stood
still, looking round them, as if waiting for something. The old
archway entrance opened into a square, and underneath its shelter
there was a bench on one side, and on the other the lodge of the
porter, whose business it was to shut up the great gates at night.
The porter had often before looked at the motherless children as they
passed into the shadow of his archway, and said to himself, 'Poor
little things;' for just so, during many years of his life, he had
watched their young mother pass through, and had exchanged words of
friendly greeting with her.
"And even now, although it was at least a year and a half since her
death, when he saw the waiting children seat themselves on the bench
opposite his door, the old thought stole over his mind. How sad that
she should have been taken away so early from those little ones! How
sad for them to be left! No one--nothing--in this world, could
supply the loss of her protecting care.--POOR LITTLE THINGS!--and not
the less so because they were altogether unconscious of their
misfortune; and here, with the mourning casting a gloom over their
fair young faces, were looking with the utmost eagerness and delight
towards the doorway,--now and then slipping down from their seats to
take a peep into the Square, and see if what they expected was
coming,--now and then giggling to each other about the grave face of
the old man on the other side of the way.
"At last, one, who had been peeping a bit as before, exclaimed, with
a smothered shout, 'Here he is!' and then the other joined her, and
the two rushed out together into the Square and stood on the
pavement, stopping the way in front of a lad, who held over his arm a
basket containing hares' and rabbits' skins, in which he carried on a
"They looked up with their smiling faces into his, and he grinned at
them in return, and then they said, 'Have you got any for us to-day?'
on which he set down his basket before them, and told them they might
have one or two if they pleased, and down they knelt upon the
pavement, examining the contents of his basket, and talked in almost
breathless whispers to each other of the respective merits, the
softness, colour, and prettiness, of--what do you think?"
At the first moment No. 6, being engrossed by the story, could not
guess at all; but in another instant she recollected, and exclaimed:-
"Oh, Aunt Judy, do you mean those were the rabbits' tails you told
"They were indeed, No. 6," replied Aunt Judy; "their grandmamma's
cook had given them one or two sometime before, and there being but
few entertaining games which two children can play at alone, and
these poor little things being a good deal left to themselves, they
invented a play of their own out of the rabbits' tails. I think the
pleasant feel of the fur, which was so nice to cuddle and kiss,
helped them to this odd liking; but whatever may have been the cause,
certain it is they did get quite fond of them--pretended that they
could feel, and were real living things, and talked of them, and to
them, as if they were a party of children.
"They called them 'Tods' and 'Toddies,' but they had all sorts of
names besides, to distinguish one from the other. There was,
'Whity,' and 'Browny,' and 'Softy,' and 'Snuggy,' and 'Stripy,' and
many others. They knew almost every hair of each of them, and I
believe could have told which was which, in the dark, merely by their
"This sounds ridiculous enough, does it not, dear No. 6?" said Aunt
Judy, interrupting herself.
No. 6 smiled, but she was too much interested to wish to talk; so the
"Now you must know that I have looked rather curiously at hares' and
rabbits' tails myself since I first heard the story; and there
actually is more variety in them than you would suppose. Some are
nice little fat things--almost round, with the hair close and fine;
others longer and more skinny, and with poor hair, although what
there is may be of a handsome colour. And as to colour, even in
rabbits' tails, which are white underneath, there are all shades from
grey to dark brown one the upper side; and the patterns and markings
differ, as you know they do on the fur of a cat. In short, there
really is a choice even in hares' and rabbits' tails, and the more
you look at them, the more delicate distinctions you will see.
"Well, the poor little girls knew all about this, and a great deal
more, I dare say, than I have noticed, for they had played at fancy-
life with them, till the Tods had become far more to them than any
toys they possessed; actually, in fact, things to love; and I dare
say if we could have watched them at night putting their Tods to bed,
we should have seen every one of them kissed.
"It was a capital thing, as you may suppose, for keeping the children
quiet as well as happy in the nursery, at the top of the London
house, in one particular corner of which the basket of Tods was kept.
But when grandmamma's bell rang, which it did day by day as a
summons, after the parlour breakfast was over, the Tods were put
away; and it was dolls, or reasonable toys of some description, which
the motherless little girls took down with them to the drawing-room;
and I doubt whether either grandmamma or aunt knew of the Tod family
in the basket up-stairs.
"After the affair had gone on for a little time, the children were
accidentally in the kitchen when the rabbit-skin dealer called, and
the cook begged him to give them a tail or two; and thenceforth, of
course, they looked upon him as one of their greatest friends; and if
they wanted fresh Tods, they would lie in wait for him in the archway
entrance, for fear he should go by without coming in to call at their
grandmamma's house. And on the day I have described, two new
brothers, 'Furry' and 'Buffy,' were introduced to the Tod
establishment, and the talking and delight that ensued, lasted for
the whole afternoon.
"Nobody knew, I believe; but certainly if anybody had known how the
hearts of those children were getting involved over the dead rabbits'
tails, it would have been only right to have tried to lead their
affection into some better direction. What a waste of good emotions
it was, when they cuddled up their Tods in an evening; invented
histories of what they had said and done during the day, and put them
by at last with caresses something very nearly akin to human love!"
"Oh, dear Aunt Judy," exclaimed No. 6, "if their poor mamma had but
"All would have been right then, would it not, No. 6?"
No. 6 said "Yes" from the very depths of her heart.
"AS IT SEEMS TO US, you should say," continued Aunt Judy; "but that
is all. It could not have seemed so to the God who took their mother
"No. 6, I am telling you a very serious truth. Had it indeed been
right for the children that their mother should have lived, she would
NOT have been taken away. For some reason or other it was necessary
that they should be without the comfort, and help, and protection, of
her presence in this world. We cannot understand it, but a time may
come when we may see it all as clearly as we now see the folly of
those children who so doted upon senseless rabbits' tails."
"Oh, Aunt Judy, but it was still very, very sad."
"Yes, about that there cannot be a doubt, and I am as much inclined
as anybody else to say, 'Poor little things' every time I mention
them. But now let me go on with the story, for it has a sort of end
as well as beginning. The Tod affair came at last to their
"I am so glad," cried No. 6.
"You will not say so when I tell you how it happened," was Aunt
Judy's rejoinder. "The fact was, that one unfortunate day one of the
Tods disappeared. Whether it lead been left out of the basket when
grandmamma's bell rang, and so got swept away by the nurse and burnt,
I cannot say; but, at any rate, when the children went to their play
one morning, 'Softy,' their dear little 'Softy,' was gone. He was
the fattest-furred and finest-haired of all the Tod family, and the
one about whom they invented the prettiest stories; he was, in fact,
the model, the out-of-the-way-amiable pattern Tod. They could not
believe at first that he really was gone. They hunted for him in
every hole and corner of their nursery and bed-room; they looked for
him all along the passages; they tossed all the other Tods out of the
basket to find him, as if they really were--even in their eyes--
nothing but rabbits' tails; they asked all the servants about him,
till everybody's patience was exhausted, and they got angry; and then
at last the children's hope and temper were both exhausted too, and
they broke out into passionate crying.
"This was vexatious to the nurse, of course; but her method of
consolation was not very judicious.
"'Why, bless my heart,' was her beginning, 'what nonsense! Didn't
the children know as well as she did, that hares' and rabbits' tails
were not alive, and couldn't feel? and what could it signify of one
of them was thrown away and lost? They'd a basket-full left besides,
and it was plenty of such rubbish as that! They were all very well
to play with up in the nursery, but they were worth nothing when all
was said and done!'
This was completely in vain, of course. The children sat on the
nursery floor and cried on just the same; and by-and-by went away to
the corner of the room where the Tod-basket was kept, and bewailed
the loss of poor 'Softy' to his brothers and sisters inside.
"As the time approached, however, for grandmamma's summoning bell,
the nurse began to wonder what she could do to stop this fretting,
and cool the red eyes; so she tried the coaxing plan, by way of a
"'If she was such nice little girls with beautiful dolls and toys,
she never would fret so about a rabbit's tail, to be sure! And,
besides, the boy was sure to be round again very soon with the hare
and rabbit skins; and if they would only be good, and dry their eyes,
she would get him to give them as many more as they pleased. Quite
fresh new ones. She dared say they would be as pretty again as the
one that was lost.'
"If nurse had wished to hit upon an injudicious remark, she could not
have succeeded better. What did they care for 'fresh new' Tods
instead of their dear 'Softy?' And the mere suggestion that any
others could be prettier, turned their regretful love into a sort of
passionate indignation; yet the nurse had meant well, and was
astonished when the conclusion of what was intended to be a kind
harangue, was followed by a louder burst of crying than ever.
"It must be owned that the little girls had by this time got out of
grief into naughtiness; and there was now quite as much petted temper
as sorrow in their tears; and lo! while they were in the midst of
this fretful condition, grandmamma's summoning bell was heard, and
they were obliged to go down to her.
"You can just imagine their appearance when they entered the drawing-
room with their eyes red and swelled, their cheeks flushed, and
anything but a pleasant expression over their faces. Of course,
grandmamma and aunt immediately made inquiries as to the reason of so
much disturbance, but the children were scarcely able to utter the
usual 'good morning;' and when called upon to tell their cause of
trouble, did nothing but begin to cry afresh.
"Whereupon their aunt was dispatched up-stairs to find out what was
amiss; and then, for the first time, she heard from the nurse the
history of the Tod family, the children's devotion to them, and their
present vexatious grief about the loss of a solitary one of what she
called their stupid bits of nonsense.
"Foolish as the whole affair sounds in looking back upon it, it
certainly was one which required rather delicate handling, and I
doubt whether anybody but a mother could have handled it properly.
Grandmamma and aunt had every wish to do for the best, but they
hardly took enough into consideration, either the bereaved condition
of those motherless little ones, or their highly fanciful turn of
mind. Yet nobody was to blame; the children spent all the summer
with their father in the country, and all the winter with their
grandmamma in London; and, therefore, no continued knowledge of their
characters was possible, for they were always birds of passage
everywhere. Certainly, however, it was a great mistake, under such
circumstances, for grandmamma and aunt to have broken rudely into the
one stronghold of childish comfort, which they had raised up for
Aunt Judy paused, and No. 6 really looked frightened as to what was
coming next, and asked what Aunt Judy could mean that they did.
"Were they very angry?"
"No, they were not very angry," Aunt Judy said; "perhaps if they had
been only that, the whole thing would have passed over and been
"But they held grave consultation upon the subject, and made it too
serious, in my opinion, and I dare say you will think so too.
Meantime the naughty children were turned out of the room while they
talked, and the mystery of this, sobered their temper considerably;
so that they made no further disturbance, but wandered up and down
the stairs, and about the hall, in silent discomfort.
"At one time they thought they heard the drawing-room door open, and
their aunt go up-stairs towards the nursery department again; but
then for a long while they heard no more; and at last, childlike,
began to amuse themselves by seeing how far along the oil-cloth
pattern they could each step, as they walked the length of the hall,
the great object being to stretch from one particular diamond to
another, without touching any intermediate mark.
"In the midst of the excitement of this, they heard their aunt's
voice calling to them from the middle of the last flight of stairs.
There was something in her face, composed as it was, which alarmed
them directly, and there they stood quite still, gazing at her.
"'Grandmamma and I,' she began, 'think you have been very silly
indeed in making such a fuss about those rabbits' tails; and you have
been very naughty indeed to-day, VERY NAUGHTY, in crying so
ridiculously, and teazing all the servants, because of one being
lost. You can't play with them rationally, nurse is sure, and so we
think you will be very much better without them. Grandmamma has sent
me to tell you--YOU WILL NEVER SEE THE TODS, AS YOU CALL THEM, ANY
"Aunt Judy, it was horrible!" cried No. 6; "savage and horrible!" she
repeated, and burst the next instant into a flood of tears.
"Oh, my old darling No. 6," cried Aunt Judy, covering the sobbing
child quite round with both her arms, "surely YOU are not going into
hysterics about the rabbits' tails too! I doubt if even their little
mammas did that. Come! you must cheer up, or mamma will leave to be
sent for to say that if you are so unreasonable, you must never
listen to Aunt Judy's stories any more."
No. 6's emotion began to subside under the comfortable embrace, and
Aunt Judy's joke provoked a smile.
"There now, that's good!" cried Aunt Judy; "and now, if you won't be
ridiculous, I will finish the story. I almost think the prettiest
part is to come."
This was consolation indeed; but No. 6 could not resist a remark.
"But, Aunt Judy, wasn't that aunt--"
"Hush, hush," interrupted Aunt Judy, "I apologized for both aunt and
grandmamma before I told you what they did. They meant to do for the
'The best can do no more.'
They cured the evil too, though in what you and I think rather a
rough manner. And rough treatment is sometimes very effectual,
however unpleasant. It was but a preparation for the much harder
disappointments of older life."
"Poor little things!" ejaculated No. 6, once more. "Just tell me if
they cried dreadfully."
"I don't think I care to talk much about that, dear No. 6," answered
her sister. "They had cried almost as much as they could do in one
day, and were stupified by the new misfortune, besides which, they
had a feeling all the time of having brought it on themselves by
being dreadfully naughty. It was a sad muddle altogether, I must
confess. The shock upon the poor children's minds at the time must
have been very great, for the memory of that bereavement clung to
them through grown-up life, as a very unpleasant recollection, when a
thousand more important things had passed away forgotten from their
thoughts. In fact, as I said, the motherless little girls really
broke their hearts over a parcel of rabbits' tails. But I must go on
with the story. After a day or two of dull desolation, the children
wearied even of their grief. And both grandmamma and aunt became
very sorry for them, although the fatal subject of the Tods was never
mentioned; but they bought them several beautiful toys which no child
could help looking at or being pleased with. Among these presents
was a brown fur dog, with a very nice face and a pair of bright black
eyes, and a curly tail hung over his back in a particularly graceful
manner; and this was, as you may suppose, in the children's eyes, the
gem of all their new treasures. The feel of him reminded them of the
lost Tods; and in every respect he was, of course, superior. They
named him 'Carlo,' and in a quiet manner established him as the
favourite creature of their play. And thus, by degrees, and as time
went on, their grief for the loss of the Tods abated somewhat; and at
last they began to talk about them to each other, which was a sure
sign that their feelings were softened.
"But you will never guess what turn their conversation took. They
did not begin to say how sorry they had been, or were; nor did they
make any angry remarks about their aunt's cruelty; but one day as
they were sitting playing with Carlo, in what may be called the Tod
corner of the nursery, the eldest child said suddenly to her sister,
in a low voice
"'What do you think our aunt has REALLY done with the Tods?'
"A question which seemed not at all to surprise the other, for she
answered, in the same mysterious tone:-
"'I don't know, but I don't think she COULD burn them.'
"'And I don't, either,' was the rejoinder. 'Perhaps she has only put
them somewhere where WE cannot get at them.'
"The next idea came from the younger child:-
"'Do you think she'll ever let us have them back again?'
"But the answer to this was a long shake of the head from the wiser
elder sister. And then they began to play with Carlo again.
"But after that day they used often to exchange a few words together
on the subject, although only to the same effect--their aunt COULD
not have burnt them, they felt sure. She never said she had burnt
them. She only said, 'YOU WILL NEVER SEE THE TODS ANY MORE.'
"Perhaps she had only put them by; perhaps she had put them by in
some comfortable place; perhaps they were in their little basket in
some closet, or corner of the house, quite as snug as up in the
"And here the conversation would break off again. As to asking any
questions of their aunt, THAT was a thing that never crossed their
minds. It was impossible; the subject was so fatally serious! . . .
But I believe there was an involuntary peeping about into closets and
out-of-the-way places whenever opportunity offered; yet no result
followed, and the Tods were not found.
"One night, two or three months later, and just before the little
things were moved back from London to their country home; and when
they were in bed in their sleeping room, as usual, and the nurse had
left them, and had shut the door between them and the day nursery,
where she sat at work, the elder child called out in a whisper to the
"'Sister, are you asleep?'
"'I'll tell you of a place where the Tods may be.'
"'Do you think so?'
"'Yes. I think we've looked everywhere else. And I think perhaps
it's very nice down there with bits of sawdust here and there on the
ground. I saw some on the bottle to-day, and it was quite soft.
Aunt would be quite sure we should never see them there. I dare say
it's very snug indeed all among the barrels and empty bottles in that
cellar we once peeped into.'
"The younger child here began to laugh in delighted amusement, but
the elder one bade her 'hush,' or the nurse would hear them; and then
proceeded whispering as before
"'It's a great big place, and they could each have a house, and visit
each other, and hide, and make fun.'
"'And I dare say Softy was put there first,' interposed the younger
"'Ay, and how pleased the others would be to find him there! Only
"And they DID think. Poor little things, they lay and thought of
that meeting when 'the others' were put in the cellar where 'Softy'
already was, ready to welcome them to his new home; and they talked
of all that might have happened on such an occasion, and told each
other that the Tods were much happier altogether there, than if the
others had remained in the nursery separated from dear little Softy.
In short, they talked till the door opened, and the nurse,
unsuspicious of the state of her young charges, went to bed herself,
and sleep fell on the whole party.
"But a new world had now opened before them out of the very midst of
their sorrow itself. The fancy home of the Tods was almost a more
available source of amusement, than even playing with the real things
had been; and sometimes in the early morning, sometimes for the
precious half-hour at night, before sleep overtook them, the little
wits went to work with fresh details and suppositions, and they
related to each other, in turns, the imaginary events of the day in
the cellar among the barrels. Each morning, when they went down-
stairs, Carlo was put in the Tod corner of the nursery and instructed
to slip away, as soon as he could manage it, to the Tods in the
cellar, and hear all that they had been about.
"And marvellous tales Mr. Carlo used to bring back, if the children's
accounts to each other were to be trusted. Such running about, to be
sure, took place among those barrels and empty bottles. Such playing
at bo-peep. Such visits of 'Furry' and his family to 'Buffy' and HIS
family, when the little 'Furrys' and 'Buffys' could not be kept in
order, but would go peeping into bungholes, and tumbling nearly
through, and having to be picked out by Carlo, drabbled and chilled,
but ready for a fresh frolic five minutes after!
"Such comical disputes, too, they had, as to how far the grounds
round each Tod's house extended; such funny adventures of getting
into their neighbour's corner instead of their own, in the dim light
that prevailed, and being mistaken for a thief; when Carlo had to
come and act as judge among them, and make them kiss and be friends
"Such dinners, too, Carlo brought them, as he passed through the
kitchen on his road to the cellar, and watched his opportunity to
carry off a few un-missed little bits for his friends below. Dear
me! his contrivances on that score were endless, and the odd things
he got hold of sometimes by mistake, in his hurry, were enough to
kill the Tods with laughing--to say nothing of the children who were
inventing the history!
"Then the care they took to save the little drops at the bottom of
the bottles, for Carlo, in return for all the trouble he had, was
most praiseworthy; and sometimes, when there was a rather larger
quantity than usual, they would have SUCH a feast!--and drink the
healths of their dear little mistresses in the nursery up-stairs.
"In short, it was as perfect a fancy as their love for the Tods, and
their ideas of enjoyment could make it. Nothing uncomfortable,
nothing sad, was ever heard of in that cellar-home of their lost
pets. No quarrelling, no crying, no naughtiness, no unkindness, were
supposed to trouble it. Nothing was known of, there, but comfort and
fun, and innocent blunders and jokes, which ended in fun and comfort
again. One thing, therefore, you see, was established as certain
throughout the whole of the childish dream:- the departed favourites
were all perfectly happy, as happy as it was possible to be; and they
sent loving messages by Carlo to their old friends to say so, and to
beg them not to be sorry for THEM, for, excepting that they would
like some day to see those old friends again, they had nothing left
to wish for in their new home:-
"And here the Tod story ends!" remarked Aunt Judy, in conclusion,
"and I beg you to observe, No. 6, that, like all my stories, it ends
happily. The children had now got hold of an amusement which was
safe from interference, and which lasted--I am really afraid to say
how long; for even after the fervour of their Tod love had abated,
they found an endless source of invention and enjoyment in the
cellar-home romance, and told each other anecdotes about it, from
time to time, for more, I believe, than a year."
When Aunt Judy paused here, as if expecting some remark, all that No.
6 could say, was:-
"Poor little things!"
"Ay, they were still that," exclaimed Aunt Judy, "even in the midst
of their new-found comfort. Oh, No. 6, when one thinks of the
strange way in which they first of all created a sorrow for
themselves, and then devised for themselves its consolation, what a
pity it seems that no good was got out of it!"
It was not likely that No. 6 should guess what the good was which
Aunt Judy thought might have been got out of it; and so she said;
whereupon Aunt Judy explained:-
"Did it not offer a quite natural opportunity,--if any kind friend
had but known of it,--of speaking to those children of some of the
sacred hopes of our Christian faith?--of leading them, through kind
talk about their own pretty fancies, to the subject of WHAT REALLY
BECOMES of the dear friends who are taken away from us by death?
"Had I been THEIR Aunt Judy," she continued, "I should have thought
it no cruelty, but kindness then, to have spoken to them about their
lost mother, and told them that she was living now in a place where
she was much, much happier, than she had ever been before, and where
one of the very few things she had left to wish for, was, that one
day she might see them again: not in this world, where people are so
often uncomfortable and sad, but in that happy one where there is no
more sorrow, or crying, for God Himself wipes away the tears from all
"I should have told them besides," pursued Aunt Judy, "that it would
not please their dear mother at all for them to fret for her, and
FANCY THEY COULDN'T DO WITHOUT HER, and be discontented because God
had taken her away, and think it would have been much better for them
if He had not done so--(as if He did not know a thousand times better
than they could do:)--but that it would please her very much for them
to pray to God to make them good, so that they might all meet
together at last in that very happy place.
"In short, No. 6, I would have led them, if possible, to make a
comforting reality to themselves of the next world, as they had
already got a comforting fancy out of the cellar-dream of the Tods.
And that is the good, dear child, which I meant might have been got
out of the Tod adventure."
Aunt Judy ceased, but there was no chance of seeing the effect of
what she had said on No. 6's face, for it was laid on her sister's
lap; probably to hide the tears which would come into her eyes at
Aunt Judy's allusion to what she had said about HER.
At last a rather husky voice spoke:-
"You can't expect people to like what is so very sad, even if it is--
what you call--right--and all that."
"No! neither does God expect it!" was Aunt Judy's earnest reply. "We
are allowed to be sorry when trials come, for we feel the suffering,
and cannot at present understand the blessing or necessity of it.
But we are not allowed to 'sorrow without hope;' and we are not
allowed, even when we are most sorry, to be rebellious, and fancy we
could choose better for ourselves than God chooses for us."
Aunt Judy's lesson, as well as story, was ended now, and she began
talking over the entertaining part of the Tod history, and then went
on to other things, till No. 6 was quite herself again, and wanted to
know how much was true about the motherless little girls; and when
she found from Aunt Judy's answer that the account was by no means
altogether an invention, she went into a fever-fidget to know who the
children were, and what had become of them; and finally settled that
the one thing in the world she most wished for, was to see them.
Nor would she be persuaded that this was a foolish idea, until Aunt
Judy asked her how she would like to be introduced to a couple of
VERY old women, with huge hooked noses, and beardy, nut-cracker
chins, and be told that THOSE were the motherless little girls who
had broken their hearts over rabbits' tails!--an inquiry which
tickled No. 6's fancy immensely, so that she began to laugh, and
suggest a few additions of her own to the comical picture, in the
course of doing which, she fortunately quite lost sight of the "one
thing" which a few minutes before she had "most wished for in the
"OUT OF THE WAY"
"Oh wonderful Son that can so astonish a Mother!"
"What a horrid nuisance you are, No. 8, brushing everything down as
you go by! Why can't you keep out of the way?"
"Oh, you mustn't come here, No. 8. Aunt Judy, look! he's sitting on
my doll's best cloak. Do tell him to go away."
"I can't have you bothering me, No. 8; don't you see how busy I am,
packing? Get away somewhere else."
"You should squeeze yourself into less than nothing, and be nowhere,
The suggestion, (uttered with a jocose grin,) came from a small boy
who had ensconced himself in the corner of a window, where he was
sitting on his heels, painting the Union Jack of a ship in the
Illustrated London News. He had certainly acted on the advice he
gave, as nearly as was possible. Surely no little boy of his age
ever got into so small a compass before, or in a position more
effectually out of everybody's possible way. The window corner led
nowhere, and there was nothing in it for anybody to want.
"No. 8, I never saw anything so tiresome as you are. Why will you
poke your nose in where you're not wanted? You're always in the
"'He poked his flat nose into every place;'"
sung, sotto voce, by the small boy in the window corner.
No. 8 did not stop to dispute about it, though, in point of fact, his
nose was not flat, so at least in that respect he did not resemble
the duck in the song.
He had not, however, been successful in gaining the attention of his
friends down-stairs, so he dawdled off to make an experiment in
"Why, you're not coming into the nursery now, Master No. 8, surely!
I can't do with you fidgetting about among all the clothes and
packing. There isn't a minute to spare. You might keep out of the
way till I've finished."
"Now, Master No. 8, you must be off. There's no time or room for you
in the kitchen this morning. There's ever so many things to get
ready yet. Run away as fast as you can."
"What ARE you doing in the passages, No. 8? Don't you see that you
are in everybody's way? You had really better go to bed again."
But the speaker hurried forward, and No. 8 betook himself to the
staircase, and sat down exactly in the middle of the middle flight.
And there be amused himself by peeping through the banisters into the
hall, where people were passing backwards and forwards in a great
fuss; or listening to the talking and noise that were going on in the
But be was not "out of the way" there, as he soon learnt. Heavy
steps were presently heard along the landing, and heavy steps began
to descend the stairs. Two men were carrying down a heavy trunk.
"You'll have to move, young gentleman, if you please," observed one;
"you're right in the way just there!"
No. 8 descended with all possible speed, and arrived on the mat at
"There now, I told you, you were always in the way," was the greeting
he received. "How stupid it is! Try under the table, for pity's
Under the table! it was not a bad idea; moreover, it was a new one--
quite a fresh plan. No. 8 grinned and obeyed. The hall table was no
bad asylum, after all, for a little boy who was always in the way
everywhere else; besides, he could see everything that was going on.
No. 8 crept under, and squatted himself on the cocoa-nut matting. He
looked up, and looked round, and felt rather as if he was in a tent,
only with a very substantial covering over his head.
Presently the dog passed by, and was soon coaxed to lie down in the
table retreat by the little boy's side, and the two amused themselves
very nicely together. The fact was, the family were going from home,
and the least the little ones could do during the troublesome
preparation, was not to be troublesome themselves; but this is
sometimes rather a difficult thing for little ones to accomplish.
Nevertheless, No. 8 had accomplished it at last.
"Capital, No. 8! you and the dog are quite a picture. If I had time,
I would make a sketch of you."
That was the remark of the first person who went by afterwards, and
No. 8 grinned as he heard it.
"Well done, No. 8! that's the best contrivance I ever saw!"
Remark the second, followed by a second grin.
"Why, you don't mean to say that you're under the table, Master No.
8? Well you ARE a good boy! I'm sure I'll tell your mamma."
"You dear old fellow, to put yourself so nicely out of the way!
You're worth I don't know what."
"Master No. 8 under the table, to be sure! Well, and a very nice
place it is, and quite suitable. Ever so much better than the hot
kitchen, when there's baking and all sorts of things going on. Here,
lovey! here's a little cake that was spared, that I was taking to the
parlour; but, as you're there, you shall have it."
No. 8 grinned with all his heart this time.
"I wish I'd thought of that! Why, I could have painted my ship there
without being squeezed!"
It needs scarcely to be told that this was the observation of the
small boy who had watched an opportunity for emerging from the window
corner without fuss, and was now carrying his little paint-box up-
stairs to be packed away in the children's bag. As he spoke, he
stooped down to look at No. 8 and the dog, and smiled his
approbation, and No. 8 smiled in return.
"No. 8, how snug you do look!"
Once more an answering grin.
"No. 8, you're the best boy in the world; and if you stay there till
Nurse is ready for you, you shall have a penny all to yourself."
No. 8's grin was accompanied by a significant nod this time, to show
that he accepted the bargain.
"My darling No. 8, you may come out now. There! give me a kiss, and
get dressed as fast as you can. The fly will be here directly.
You're a very good boy indeed."
"No. 8, you're the pattern boy of the family, and I shall come with
you in the fly, and tell you a story as we go along for a reward."
No. 8 liked both the praise, and the cake, and the penny, and the
kiss, and the promise of the rewarding story for going under the
table; but the why and wherefore of all these charming facts, was a
complete mystery to him. What did that matter, however? He ran up-
stairs, and got dressed, and was ready before anyone else; and, by a
miracle of good fortune, was on the steps, and not in the middle of
the carriage-drive, when the fly arrived, which was to take one batch
of the large family party to the railway station.
No one was as fond of the fly conveyance as of the open carriage;
for, in the first place, it was usually very full and stuffy; and, in
the second, very little of the country could be seen from the
But, on the present occasion, Aunt Judy having offered her services
to accompany the fly detachment, there was a wonderful alteration of
sentiment, as to who should be included. Aunt Judy, however, had her
own ideas. The three little ones belonged to the fly, as it were by
ancient usage and custom, and more than five it would not hold.
Five it would hold, however, and five accordingly got in, No. 4
having pleaded her own cause to be "thrown in:" and at last, with
nurses and luggage and No. 5 outside, away they drove, leaving the
open carriage and the rest to follow.
Nothing is perfect in this world. Those who had the airy drive
missed the story, and regretted it; but it was fair that the pleasure
should be divided.
And, after all, although the fly might be a little stuffy and closely
packed, and although it cost some trouble to settle down without
getting crushed, and make footstools of carpet bags, and let down all
the windows,--the commotion was soon over; and it was a wonderful
lull of peace and quietness, after the confusion and worry of packing
and running about, to sit even in a rattling fly. And so for five
minutes and more, all the travellers felt it to be, and a soothing
silence ensued; some leaning back, others looking silently out at the
retreating landscape, or studying with earnestness the wonderful red
plush lining of the vehicle itself.
But presently, after the rest had lasted sufficiently long to recruit
all the spirits, No. 7 remarked, not speaking to anybody in
particular, "I thought Aunt Judy was going to tell us a story."
No. 7 was a great smiler in a quiet way, and he smiled now, as he
addressed his remark to the general contents of the fly.
Aunt Judy laughed, and inquired for whom the observation was meant,
adding her readiness to begin, if they would agree to sit quiet and
comfortable, without shuffling up and down, or disputing about space
and heat; and, these points being agreed to, she began her story as
"There were once upon a time a man and his wife who had an only son.
They were Germans, I believe, for all the funny things that happen,
happen in Germany, as you know by Grimm's fairy tales.
"Well! this man, Franz, had been a watchmaker and mender in an old-
fashioned country town, and he had made such a comfortable fortune by
the business, that he was able to retire before he grew very old; and
so he bought a very pretty little villa in the outskirts of the town,
had a garden full of flowers with a fountain in the middle, and
enjoyed himself very much.
"His wife enjoyed herself too, but never so much as when the
neighbours, as they passed by, peeped over the palings, and said,
'What a pretty place! What lucky people the watchmaker and his wife
are! How they must enjoy themselves!'
"On such occasions, Madame Franz would run to her husband, crying
out, 'Come here, my dear, as fast as you can! Come, and listen to
the neighbours, saying, how we must enjoy ourselves!'
"Franz was very apt to grunt when his wife summoned him in this
manner, and, at any rate, never would go as she requested; but little
Franz, the son, who was very like his mother, and had got exactly her
turn-up nose and sharp eyes, would scamper forward in a moment to
hear what the neighbours had to say, and at the end would exclaim:-
"'Isn't it grand, mother, that everybody should think that?'
"To which his mother would reply:-
"'It is, Franz, dear! I'm so glad you feel for your mother!' and
then the two would embrace each other very affectionately several
times, and Madame Franz would go to her household business, rejoicing
to think that, if her husband did not quite sympathize with her, her
"Young Franz had been somewhat spoilt in his childhood, as only
children generally are. As to his mother, from there being no
brothers and sisters to compare him with, she thought such a boy had
never been seen before; and she told old Franz so, so often, that at
last he began to believe it too. And then they got all sorts of
masters for him, to teach him everything they could think of, and
qualify him, as his mother said, for some rich young lady to fall in
love with. That was her idea of the way in which he was one day to
make his fortune.
"At last, a time came when his mother thought the young gentleman
quite finished and complete; fit for anything and anybody, and likely
to create a sensation in the world. So she begged old Franz to
dismiss all his masters, and give him a handsome allowance, that he
might go off on his travels and make his fortune, in the manner
"Old Mr. Franz shook his head at first, and called it all a parcel of
nonsense. Moreover, he declared that Master Franz was a mere child
yet, and would get into a hundred foolish scrapes in less than a
week; but mamma expressed her opinion so positively, and repeated it
so often, that at last papa began to entertain it too, and gave his
consent to the plan.
"The fact was, though I am sorry to say it, Mr. Franz was henpecked.
That is, his wife was always trying to make him obey her, instead of
obeying him, as she ought to have done; and she had managed him so
long, that she knew she could persuade him, or talk him (which is
much the same thing) into anything, provided she went on long enough.
"So she went on about Franz going off on his travels with a handsome
allowance, till Papa Franz consented, and settled an income upon him,
which, if they had been selfish parents, they would have said they
could not afford; but, as it was, they talked the matter over
together, and told each other that it was very little two old souls
like themselves would want when their gay son was away; and so they
would draw in, and live quite quietly, as they used to do in their
early days before they grew rich, and would let the lad have the
money to spend upon his amusements.
"Young Franz either didn't know, or didn't choose to think about
this. Clever as he was about many things, he was not clever enough
to take in the full value of the sacrifices his parents were making
for him; so he thanked them lightly for the promised allowance,
rattled the first payment cheerfully into his purse, and smiled on
papa and mamma with almost condescending complacency. When he was
equipped in his best suit, and just ready for starting, his mother
took him aside.
"'Franz, my dear,' she said, 'you know how much money and pains have
been spent on your education. You can play, and dance, and sing, and
talk, and make yourself heard wherever you go. Now mind you do make
yourself heard, or who is to find out your merits? Don't be shy and
downcast when you come among strangers. All you have to think about,
with your advantages, is to make yourself agreeable. That's the rule
for you! Make yourself agreeable wherever you go, and the wife and
the fortune will soon be at your feet. And, Franz,' continued she,
laying hold of the button of his coat, 'there is something else. You
know, I have often said that the one only thing I could wish
different about you is, that your nose should not turn up quite so
much. But you see, my darling boy, we can't alter our noses.
Nevertheless, look here! you can incline your head in such a manner
as almost to hide the little defect. See--this way--there--let me
put it as I mean--a little down and on one side. It was the way I
used to carry my head before I married, or I doubt very much whether
your father would have looked my way. Think of this when you're in
company. It's a graceful attitude too, and you will find it much
"Franz embraced his mother, and promised obedience to all her
commands; but he was glad when her lecture ended, for he was not very
fond of her remarks upon his nose. Just then the door of his
father's room opened, and he called out:-
"'Franz, my dear, I want to speak to you.'
"Franz entered the room, and 'Now, my dear boy,' said papa, 'before
you go, let me give you one word of parting advice; but stop, we will
shut the door first, if you please. That's right. Well, now, look
here. I know that no pains or expense have been spared over your
education. You can play, and dance, and sing, and talk, and make
yourself heard wherever you go.'
"'My dear sir,' interrupted Franz, 'I don't think you need trouble
yourself to go on. My mother has just been giving me the advice
"'No, has she though?' cried old Franz, looking up in his son's face;
but then he shook his head, and said:-
"'No, she hasn't, Franz; no, she hasn't; so listen to me. We've all
made a fuss about you, and praised whatever you've done, and you've
been a sort of idol and wonder among us. But, now you're going among
strangers, you will find yourself Mr. Nobody, and the great thing is,
you must be contented to be Mr. Nobody at first. Keep yourself in
the background, till people have found out your merits for
themselves; and never get into anybody's way. Keep OUT of the way,
in fact, that's the safest rule. It's the secret of life for a young
man--How impatient you look! but mark my words:- all you have to
attend to, with your advantages, is, to keep out of the way.'
"After this bit of advice, the father bestowed his blessing on his
dear Franz, and unlocked the door, close to which they found Mrs.
Franz, waiting rather impatiently till the conference was over.
"'What a time you have been, Franz!' she began; but there was no time
to talk about it, for they all knew that the coach, or post-wagon, as
they call it in Germany, was waiting.
"Mrs. Franz wrung her son's hand.
"'Remember what I've said, my dearest Franz!' she cried.
"'Trust me!' was Mr. Franz's significant reply.
"'You'll not forget my rule?' whispered papa.
"'Forget, sir? no, that's not possible,' answered
Mr. Franz in a great hurry, as he ran off to catch the post-wagon;
for they could see it in the distance beginning to move, though part
of the young gentleman's luggage was on board.
"Well! he was just in time; but what do you think was the next thing
he did, after keeping the people waiting? A sudden thought struck
him, that it would be as well for the driver and passengers to know
how well educated he had been, so he began to give the driver a few
words of geographical information about the roads they were going.
"'Jump in directly, sir, if you please,' was the driver's gruff
"'Certainly not, till I've made you understand what I mean,' says
Master Franz, quite facetiously. But, then, smack went the whip, and
the horses gave a jolt forwards, and over the tip of the learned
young gentleman's foot went the front wheel.
"It was a nasty squeeze, though it might have been worse, but Franz
called out very angrily, something or other about 'disgraceful
carelessness,' on which the driver smacked his whip again, and
"'Gentlemen that won't keep out of the way, must expect to have their
toes trodden on.' Everybody laughed at this, but Franz was obliged
to spring inside, without taking any notice of the joke, as the coach
was now really going on; and if he had began to talk, he would have
been left behind.
"And now," continued Aunt Judy, stopping herself, "while Franz is
jolting along to the capital town of the country, you shall tell me
whose advice you think he followed when he got to the end of the
journey, and began life for himself--his father's or his mother's?"
There was a universal cry, mixed with laughter, of "His mother's!"
"Quite right," responded Aunt Judy. "His mother's, of course. It
was far the most agreeable, no doubt. Keeping out of the way is a
rather difficult thing for young folks to manage."
A glance at No. 8 caused that young gentleman's face to grin all
over, and Aunt Judy proceeded:-
"After his arrival at the great hotel of the town, he found there was
to be a public dinner there that evening, which anybody might go to,
who chose to pay for it; and this he thought would be a capital
opportunity for him to begin life: so, accordingly, he went up-
stairs to dress himself out in his very best clothes for the
"And then it was that, as he sat in front of the glass, looking at
his own face, while he was brushing his hair and whiskers, and
brightening them up with bear's-grease, he began to think of his
father and mother, and what they had said, and what he had best do.
"'An excellent, well-meaning couple, of course, but as old-fashioned
as the clocks they used to mend,' was his first thought. 'As to
papa, indeed, the poor old gentleman thinks the world has stood still
since he was a young man, thirty years ago. His stiff notions were
all very well then, perhaps, but in these advanced times they are
perfectly quizzical. Keep out of the way, indeed! Why, any
ignoramus can do that, I should think! Well, well, he means well,
all the same, so one must not be severe. As to mamma now--poor
thing--though she IS behindhand herself in many ways, yet she DOES
know a good thing when she sees it, and that's a great point. She
can appreciate the probable results of my very superior education and
appearance. To be sure, she's a little silly over that nose affair;-
-but women will always be silly about something.'
"Nevertheless, at this point in his meditations, Master Franz might
have been seen inclining his head down on one side, just as his
mother had recommended, and then giving a look at the mirror, to see
whether the vile turn-up did really disappear in that attitude. I
suspect, however, that he did not feel quite satisfied about it, for
he got rather cross, and finished his dressing in a great hurry, but
not before he had settled that there could be only one opinion as to
whose advice he should be guided by--dear mamma's.
"'Should it fail,' concluded he to himself, as he gave the last smile
at the looking-glass, 'there will be poor papa's old-world notion to
fall back upon, after all.'
"Now, you must know that Master Franz had never been at one of these
public dinners before, so there is no denying that when he entered
the large dining-hall, where there was a long table, set out with
plates, and which was filling fast with people, not one of whom he
knew, he felt a little confused. But he repeated his mother's words
softly to himself, and took courage: 'DON'T BE SHY AND DOWNCAST WHEN
YOU COME AMONG STRANGERS. ALL YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT, WITH YOUR
ADVANTAGES, IS TO MAKE YOURSELF AGREEABLE;' and, on the strength of
this, he passed by the lower end of the table, where there were
several unoccupied places, and walked boldly forward to the upper
end, where groups of people were already seated, and were talking and
"In the midst of one of these groups, there was one unoccupied seat,
and in the one next to it sat a beautiful, well-dressed young lady.
'Why, this is the very thing,' thought Mr. Franz to himself. 'Who
knows but what this is the young lady who is to make my fortune?'
"There was a card, it is true, in the plate in front of the vacant
seat, but 'as to that,' thought Franz, 'first come, first served, I
suppose; I shall sit down!'
"And sit down the young gentleman accordingly did in the chair by the
beautiful young lady, and even bowed and smiled to her as he did so.
"But the next instant he was tapped on the shoulder by a waiter.
"'The place is engaged, sir!' and the man pointed to the card in the
"'Oh, if that's all,' was Mr. Franz's witty rejoinder, 'here's
another to match!' and thereupon he drew one of his own cards from
his pocket, threw it into the plate, and handed the first one to the
astonished waiter, with the remark:-
"'The place is engaged, my good friend, you see!'
"The young goose actually thought this impudence clever, and glanced
across the table for applause as he spoke. But although Mamma
Watchmaker, if she had heard it, might have thought it a piece of
astonishing wit, the strangers at the public table were quite of a
different opinion, and there was a general cry of 'Turn him out!'
"'Turn me out!' shouted Mr. Franz, jumping up from his chair, as if
he intended to fight them all round; and there is no knowing what
more nonsense he might not have talked, but that a very sonorous
voice behind him called out,--a hand laying hold of him by the
shoulders at the same time -
"'Young man, I'll trouble you to get out of my chair, and' (a little
louder) 'out of my way, and' (a little louder still) 'to KEEP out of
"Franz felt himself like a child in the grasp of the man who spoke;
and one glimpse he caught of a pair of coal-black eyes, two frowning
eye-brows, and a moustachioed mouth, nearly frightened him out of his
wits, and he was half way down the room before he knew what was
happening; for, after the baron let him go, the waiter seized him and
hustled him along, till he came to the bottom of the table; where,
however, there was now no room for him, as all the vacant places had
been filled up; so he was pushed finally to a side-table in a corner,
at which sat two men in foreign dresses, not one word of whose
language he could understand.
"These two fellows talked incessantly together too, which was all the
more mortifying, because they gesticulated and laughed as if at some
capital joke. Franz was very quiet at first, for the other adventure
had sobered him, but presently, with his mother's advice running in
his head, he resolved to make himself agreeable, if possible.
"So, at the next burst of merriment, he affected to have entered into
the joke, threw himself back in his chair and laughed as loudly as
they did. The men stared for a second, then frowned, and then one of
them shouted something to him very loudly, which he did not
understand; so he placed his hand on his heart, put on an expressive
smile, and offered to shake hands. Thought he, that will be
irresistible! But he was mistaken. The other man now called loudly
to the waiter, and a moment after, Franz found himself being conveyed
by the said waiter through the doorway into the hall, with the remark
resounding in his ears:-
"'What a foolish young gentleman you must be! Why can't you keep out
of people's way?'
"'My good friend,' cried Mr. Franz, 'that's not my plan at present.
I'm trying to make myself agreeable.'
"'Oh--pooh!--bother agreeable,' cried the waiter. 'What's the use of
making yourself agreeable, if you're always in the way? Here!--step
back, sir! don't you see the tray coming?'
"Franz had not noticed it, and would probably have got a thump on the
head from it, if his friend the waiter had not pulled him back. The
man was a real good-natured, smiling German, and said:-
"'Come, young gentleman, here's a candle;--you've a bed-room here, of
course. Now, you take my advice, and go to bed. You WILL be out of
the way there, and perhaps you'll get up wiser to-morrow.'
"Franz took the candlestick mechanically, but, said he:-
"'I understood there was to be dancing here tonight, and I can dance,
"'Oh, pooh! bother dancing,' interrupted the waiter. 'What's the use
of dancing, if you're to be in everybody's way, and I know you will;
you can't help it. Here, be advised for once, and go to bed. I'll
bring you up some coffee before long. Go quietly up now--mind. Good
"Two minutes afterwards, Mr. Franz found himself walking up-stairs,
as the waiter had ordered him to do, though he muttered something
about 'officious fellow' as he went along.
"And positively he went to bed, as the officious fellow recommended;
and while he lay there waiting for the coffee, he began wondering
what COULD be the cause of the failure of his attempts to make
himself agreeable. Surely his mother was right--surely there could
be no doubt that, with his advantages--but he did not go on with the
"Well, after puzzling for some time, a bright thought struck him. It
was entirely owing to that stupid nose affair, which his mother was
so silly about. Of course that was it! He had done everything else
she recommended, but he could not keep his head down at the same
time, so people saw the snub! Well, he would practise the attitude
now, at any rate, till the coffee came!
"No sooner said than done. Out of bed jumped Mr. Franz, and went
groping about for the table to find matches to light the candle.
But, unluckily, he had forgotten how the furniture stood, so he got
to the door by a mistake, and went stumbling up against it, just as
the waiter with the coffee opened it on the other side.
"There was a plunge, a shout, a shuffling of feet, and then both were
on the floor, as was also the hot coffee, which scalded Franz's bare
"The waiter got up first, and luckily it was the 'officious fellow'
with the smiling face. And said he:-
"'What a miserable young man you must be, to be sure! Why, you're
NEVER out of the way, not even when you're gone to bed!'
This last anecdote caused an uproar of delight in the fly, and so
much noise, that Aunt Judy had to call the party to order, and talk
about the horses being frightened, after which she proceeded:-
"I am sorry to say Mr. Franz did not get up next morning as much
wiser as the waiter had expected, for he laid all the blame of his
misfortunes on his nose instead of his impertinence, and never
thought of correcting himself, and being less intrusive.
"On the contrary, after practising holding his head down for ten
minutes before the glass, he went out to the day's amusements, as
saucy and confident as ever.
"Now there is no time," continued Aunt Judy, "for my telling you all
Mr. Franz's funny scrapes and adventures. When we get to the end of
the journey, you must invent some for yourselves, and sit together,
and tell them in turns, while we are busy unpacking. I will only
just say, that wherever he went, the same sort of things happened to
him, because he was always thrusting himself forward, and always
getting pushed back in consequence.
"Out of the public gardens he got fairly turned at last, because he
would talk politics to some strange gentlemen on a bench. They got
up and walked away, but, five minutes afterwards, a very odd-looking
man looked over Franz's shoulder, and said significantly, 'I
recommend you to leave these gardens, sir, and walk elsewhere.' And
poor Franz, who had heard of such things as prisons and dungeons for
political offenders, felt a cold shudder run through him, and took
himself off with all possible speed, not daring to look behind him,
for fear he should see that dreadful man at his heels. Indeed, he
never felt safe till he was in his bed-room again, and had got the
waiter to come and talk to him.
"'Dear me,' said the waiter, 'what a very silly young gentleman you
must be, to go talking away without being asked!'
"'But,' said Franz, 'you don't consider what a superior education I
have had. I can talk and make myself heard--'
"'Oh, pooh! bother talking,' interrupted the waiter; 'what's the use
of talking when nobody wants to listen? Much better go to bed.'
"Franz would not give in yet, but was comforted to find the waiter
did not think he would be thrown into prisons and dungeons; so he
dined, and dressed, and went to the theatre to console himself, where
however he MADE HIMSELF HEARD so effectually--first applauding, then
hissing, and even speaking his opinions to the people round him--that
a set of young college students combined together to get rid of him,
and, I am sorry to add, they made use of a little kicking as the
surest plan; and so, before half the play was over, Mr. Franz found
himself in the street!
"Now, then, I have told you enough of Mr. Franz's follies, except the
one last adventure, which made him alter his whole plan of
"He had had two letters of introduction to take with him: one to an
old partner of his father's, who had settled in the capital some
years before; another to some people of more consequence, very
distant family connections. And, of course, Mr. Franz went there
first, as there seemed a nice chance of making his fortune among such
"And really the great folks would have been civil enough, but that he
soon spoilt everything by what HE called 'making himself agreeable.'
He was too polite, too affectionate, too talkative, too instructive,
by half! He assured the young ladies that he approved very highly of
their singing; trilled out a little song of his own, unasked, at his
first visit; fondled the pet lap-dog on his knee; congratulated papa
on looking wonderfully well for his age; asked mamma if she had tried
the last new spectacles; and, in short, gave his opinions, and
advice, and information, so freely, that as soon as he was gone the
whole party exclaimed:-
"'What an impertinent jackanapes!' a jackanapes being nothing more
nor less than a human monkey.
"This went on for some time, for he called very often, being too
stupid, in spite of his supposed cleverness, to take the hints that
were thrown out, that such repeated visits were not wanted.
"At last, however, the family got desperate and one morning when he
arrived, (having teazed them the day before for a couple of hours,)
he saw nobody in the drawing-room when he was ushered in.
"Never mind, thought he, they'll be here directly when they know I'M
come! And having brought a new song in his pocket, which he had been
practising to sing to them, he sat down to the piano, and began
performing alone, thinking how charmed they would be to hear such
beautiful sounds in the distance!
"But, in the middle of his song, he heard a discordant shout, and
jumping up, discovered the youngest little Missy hid behind the
curtain, and crying tremendously.
"Mr. Franz became quite theatrical. 'Lovely little pet, where are
your sisters? Have they left my darling to weep alone?'
"'They shut the door before I could get through,' sobbed the lovely
little pet; 'and I won't be your darling a bit!'
"Mr. Franz laughed heartily, and said how clever she was, took her on
his knee, told her her sisters would be back again directly, and
finished his remark by a kiss.
"Unfortunate Mr. Franz! The young lady immediately gave him an
unmistakable box on the ear with her small fist, and vociferated
"No, they won't, they won't, they won't! They'll never come back
till you're gone! They've gone away to get out of YOUR way, because
you won't keep out of THEIRS. And you're a forward puppy, papa says,
and can't take a hint; and you're always in everybody's way, and I'LL
get out of your way, too!'
"Here the little girl began to kick violently; but there was no
occasion. Mr. Franz set her down, and while she ran off to her
sisters, he rushed back to the hotel, and double-locked himself into
"After a time, however, he sent for his friend the waiter, for he
felt that a talk would do him good.
"But the 'officious fellow' shook his head terribly.
"'How many more times am I to tell you what a foolish young gentleman
you are?' cried he. 'Will you never get up wiser any morning of the
"'I thought,' murmured Franz, in broken, almost sobbing accents--'I
thought--the young ladies--would have been delighted--with--my song;-
-you see--I've been--so well taught--and I can sing--'
"'Oh! pooh, pooh, pooh!' interrupted the waiter once more. 'Bother
singing and everything else, if you've not been asked! Much better
go to bed!'
"Poor Franz! It was hard work to give in, and he made a last effort.
"'Don't you think--after all--that the prejudice--is owing to--what I
told you about:- people do so dislike a snub-nose?'
"'Oh, pooh! bother a snub-nose,' exclaimed the waiter; 'what will
your nose signify, if you don't poke it in everybody's way?'
"And with this conclusion Mr. Franz was obliged to be content; and he
ordered his dinner up-stairs, and prepared himself for an evening of
tears and repentance.
"But, before the waiter had been gone five minutes, he returned with
a letter in his hand.
"'Now, here's somebody asking something at last,' said he, for a
servant had brought it.
"Franz trembled as he took it. It was sure to be either a scolding
or a summons to prison, he thought. But no such thing: it was an
invitation to dinner. Franz threw it on the floor, and kicked it
from him--he would go nowhere--see nobody any more!
"The 'officious fellow' picked it up, and read it. 'Mr. Franz,' said
he, 'you mustn't go to bed this time: you must go to this dinner
instead. It's from your father's old partner--he wishes you had
called, but as you haven't called, he asks you to dine. Now you're
wanted, Mr. Franz, and must go.'
"'I shall get into another mess,' cried Franz, despondingly.
"'Oh, pooh! you've only to keep out of everybody's way, and all will
be right,' insisted the waiter, as he left the room.
"'Only to keep out of everybody's way, and all will be right,'
ejaculated Mr. Franz, as he looked at his crest-fallen face in the
glass. 'It's a strange rule for getting on in life! However,'
continued he, cheering up, 'one plan has failed, and it's only fair
to give the other a chance!'
"And all the rest of dressing-time, and afterwards as he walked along
the streets, he kept repeating his father's words softly to himself,
which was at first a very difficult thing to do, because he could not
help mixing them up with his mother's. It was the funniest thing in
the world to hear him: 'ALL YOU HAVE TO ATTEND TO, WITH YOUR
ADVANTAGES IS TO--MAKE YOURSELF--no, no! not to make myself
agreeable--IS TO--KEEP OUT OF THE WAY!--that's it!' (with a sigh.)
"When Franz arrived at the house, he rang the bell so gently, that he
had to ring twice before he was heard; and then they concluded it was
some beggar, who was afraid of giving a good pull.
"So, when he was ushered into the drawing-room, the old partner came
forward to meet him, took him by both hands, and, after one look into
his downcast face, said:-
"'My dear Mr. Franz, you must put on a bolder face, and ring a louder
peal, next time you come to the house of your father's old friend!'
"Mr. Franz answered this warm greeting by a sickly smile, and while
he was being introduced to the family, kept bowing on, thinking of
nothing but how he was to keep out of everybody's way!'
"He was tempted every five minutes, of course, to break out in his
usual style, and could have found it in his heart to chuck the whole
party under the chin, and take all the talk to himself. But he could
be determined enough when he chose; and having determined to give his
father's rule a fair chance, he restrained himself to the utmost.
"So, not even the hearty reception of the old partner and his wife,
nor the smiling faces of either daughters or sons, could lure him
into opening out. 'Yes' and 'No;' 'Do you think so?' 'I dare say;'
'Perhaps;' 'No doubt you're right;' and other such unmeaning little
phrases were all he would utter when they talked to him.
"'How shy he is, poor fellow!' thought the ladies, and then they
talked to him all the more. One tried to amuse him with one subject,
another with another. How did he like the public gardens? Were they
not very pretty?--He scarcely knew. No doubt they were, if THEY
thought so. What did he think of the theatre?--It was very hot when
he was there. Had he any friends in the town?--He couldn't say
friends--he knew one or two people a little. And the poor youth
could hardly restrain a groan, as he answered each of the questions.
"Then they chatted of books, and music, and dancing, and pressed him
hard to discover what he knew, and could do, and liked best; and when
it oozed out even from his short answers, that he had read certain
books in more than one language, and could sing--just a little; and
dance--just a little; and do several other things--just a little,
too, all sorts of nods and winks passed through the family, and they
"'Ah, when you know us better, and are not so shy of us as strangers,
we shall find out you are as clever again as you pretend to be, dear
"'I'll tell you what,' added the old partner, coming up at this
moment, 'it's a perfect treat to me, Mr. Franz, to have a young man
like you in my house! You're your father over again, and I can't
praise you more. He was the most modest, unobtrusive man in all our
town, and yet knew more of his business than all of us put together.'
"'No, no, I can't allow that,' cried the motherly wife.
"'Nonsense!' replied the old partner. 'However, my dear boy--for I
really must call you so--it was that very thing that made your
father's fortune; I mean that he was just as unpretending as he was
clever. Everybody trusts an unpretending man. And YOU'LL make your
fortune too in the same manner, trust me, before long. Now, boys!'
added he, turning to his sons, 'you hear what I say, and mind you
take the hint! As for the young puppies of the present day, who
fancy themselves fit to sit in the chair of their elders as soon as
ever they have learnt their alphabet, and are for thrusting
themselves forward in every company--Mr. Franz, I'll own it to you,
because you will understand me--I have no patience with such rude,
impertinent Jackanapeses, and always long to kick them down-stairs.'
"The old partner stood in front of Mr. Franz as he spoke, and
clenched his fist in animation. Mr. Franz sat on thorns. He first
went hot, and then he went cold--he felt himself kicked down-stairs
as he listened--he was ready to cry--he was ready to fight--he was
ready to run away--he was ready to drop on his knees, and confess
himself the very most impertinent of all the impertinent Jackanapes'
But he gulped, and swallowed, and shut his teeth close, and nobody
found him out; only he looked very pale, which the good mother soon
noticed, and said she to her husband:-
"'My dear love, don't you see how fagged and weary it makes Mr. Franz
look, to hear you raving on about a parcel of silly lads with whom HE
has nothing in common? You will frighten him out of his wits.'
"'Mr. Franz will forgive me, I know,' cried the old partner, gently.
'Jacintha, my dear, fetch the wine and cake!'
"The kind, careful souls feared he was delicate, and insisted on his
having some refreshment; and then papa ordered the young people to
give their guest some music; and Franz sat by while the sons and
daughters went through a beautiful opera chorus, which was so really
charming, that Mr. Franz did forget himself for a minute, clapped
violently, and got half-way through the word 'encore' in a very loud
tone. But he checked himself instantly, coloured, apologized for his
rudeness, and retreated further back from the piano.
"Of course, this new symptom of modesty was met by more kindness, and
followed by a sly hint from the merry Jacintha, that Mr. Franz's turn
for singing had come now!
"Poor Mr. Franz! with the recollection of the morning's adventure on
his mind, and his father's rule ringing in his ears, he felt singing
to be out of the question, so he declined. On which they entreated,
insisted, and would listen to no refusal. And Jacintha went to him,
and looked at him with her sweetest smile, and said, 'But you know,
Mr. Franz, you said you could sing a little; and if it's ever so
little, you should sing WHEN YOU'RE ASKED!' and with that Miss
Jacintha offered him her hand, and led him to the piano.
"Franz was annoyed, though he ought to been pleased.
"'But how AM I to keep out of people's way,' thought he to himself,
'if they will pull me forward? It's the oddest thing I ever knew. I
can't do right either way.'
"Then a thought struck him:-
"'I have no music, Miss Jacintha,' said he, 'and I can't sing without
music;' and he was going back again to his chair in the corner.
"'But we have all the new music,' was her answer, and she opened a
portfolio at once. 'See, here's the last new song!' and she held one
up before the unfortunate youth, who at the sight of it coloured all
over, even to the tips of his ears. Whereupon Miss Jacintha, who was
watching him, laughed, and said she had felt sure he knew it; and
down she sat, and began to play the accompaniment, and in two minutes
afterwards Mr. Franz found himself--in spite of himself, as it were--
exhibiting in THE song, the fatal song of the morning's adventure.
"It was a song of tender sentiment, and the singer's almost tremulous
voice added to the effect, and a warm clapping of hands greeted its
"But by that time Mr. Franz was so completely exhausted with the
struggles of this first effort on the new plan, that he began to wish
them good-night, saying he would not intrude upon them any longer.
"They would shake hands with him, though he tried to bow himself off
without; and the old partner followed him down-stairs into the hall.
"'Mr. Franz,' said he, 'we have been delighted to make your
acquaintance, but this has been only a quiet family party. Now we
know your SORT, you must come again, and meet our friends. Wife will
fix the day, and send you word; and don't you be afraid, young man!
Mind you come, and put your best foot forward among us all!'
"Franz was almost desperate. His conscience began to reproach him.
What! was he going to accept all this kindness, like a rogue
receiving money under false pretences? He was shocked, and began to
"'I assure you, dear sir, I don't deserve--You are quite under a
mistake--I really am not--the fact is, you think a great deal better
of me than--"
"'Nonsense!' shouted the old partner, clapping him vigorously on the
back. 'Why, you're not going to teach me at my time of life, surely?
Not going to turn as conceited as that, after all, eh? Come, come,
Mr. Franz, no nonsense! And to-morrow,' he added, 'I'll send you
letters of introduction to some of my friends, who will show you the
lions, and make much of you. You will be well received wherever you
take them, first for my sake, and afterwards for your own. There,
there! I won't hear a word! No thanks--I hate them! Good night.'
"And the old partner fairly pushed Mr. Franz through the door.
"'Oh dear, oh dear!' was the waiter's exclamation when Franz reached
the hotel, and the light of the lamp shone on his white, worn-out
face. 'Oh dear, oh dear! I fear you've been a silly young gentleman
over again! What HAVE you been doing this time?'
"'I've been trying to keep out of everybody's way all the evening,'
growled Mr. Franz, 'and they would pull me forward, in spite of
"'No--really though?' cried the waiter, as if it were scarcely
"'Really,' sighed poor Mr. Franz.
"'Then do me the honour, sir,' exclaimed the waiter, with a sudden
deference of manner; and taking the tips of Franz's fingers in his
own, he bent over them with a salute. 'You're a wise young gentleman
now, sir, and your fortune's made. I'm glad you've hit it at last!
"And Mr. Franz had hit it at last, indeed," continued Aunt Judy, "as
appeared more plainly still by the letters of introduction which
reached him next morning. They were left open, and were to this
"' . . . The bearer of this is the son of an old friend. One of the
most agreeable young men I ever saw. As modest as he is well
educated, and I can't say more. Procure him some amusement, that a
little of his shyness may be rubbed off; and forward his fortunes, my
dear friend, as far as you can . . . '
"Franz handed one of these letters to his friend the waiter, and the
'officious fellow' grinned from ear to ear.
"'There is only one more thing to fear,' observed he.
"'And what?' asked Franz.
"'Why, that now you're comfortable, my dear young gentleman, your
head should be turned, and you should begin to make yourself
agreeable again, and spoil all.'
"'Oh, pooh! bother agreeable; _I_ say now, as you did,' cried Franz,
laughing. 'No, no, my good friend, I'm not going to make myself
agreeable any more. I know better than that at last!'
"'Then your fortune's safe as well as made!' was the waiter's last
remark, as he was about to withdraw: but Franz followed him to the
"'I found out a rather curious thing this evening, do you know!'
"'And that was?--' inquired his humble friend.
"'Why, that I was sitting all the time in that very attitude my
mother recommended--with my head a little down, you know--so that I
really don't think they noticed my snub.'
"The waiter got as far as, 'Oh, pooh!' but Franz was nervous, and
"'Yes--yes! I don't believe there's anything in it myself; but it
will be a comfort to my mother to think it was her advice that made
my fortune, which she will do when I tell her that!'
"'Ah!--the ladies will be romantic now and then!' exclaimed the
waiter, with a flourish of his hand, 'and you must trim the comfort
to a person's taste.'
"And in due time," pursued Aunt Judy, "that was exactly what Mr.
Franz did. Strictly adhering to his father's rule, and encouraged by
its capital success that first night, he got so out of the habit of
being pert, and foolish, and inconsiderate, that he ended by never
having any wish to be so; so that he really became what the old
partner had imagined him to be at first. It was a great restraint
for some time, but his modest manners fitted him at last as easy as
an old shoe, and he was welcome at every house, because he was NEVER
IN THE WAY, and always knew when to retire!
"It was a jovial day for Papa and Mamma's Watchmaker when, two years
afterwards, Mr. Franz returned home, a partner in the old partner's
prosperous business, and with the smiling Jacintha for his bride.
"And then, in telling his mother of that first evening of his good
fortune, he did not forget to mention that he had hung down his head
all the time, as she had advised; and, just as he expected, she