Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland, Barbara Tozier and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: "Two funny fair-haired children with their fingers in
MILLY AND OLLY
New Revised Edition
MRS. HUMPHRY WARD
Illustrated by RUTH M. HALLOCK
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
TO F.A., IN THE NAME OF THE CHILDREN OF FOX HOW, THIS REVIVAL OF A
CHILD'S STORY WRITTEN TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO, UNDER THE SPELL OF ROTHA
AND FAIRFIELD, IS INSCRIBED BY THE WRITER.
After many years this little book is once more to see the light. The
children for whom it was written are long since grown up. But perhaps
the pleasure they once took in it may still be felt by some of the
Millys and Ollys of to-day. Up in the dear mountain country which it
describes, the becks are still sparkling; "Brownholme" still spreads its
green steeps and ferny hollows under rain and sun; the tiny trout still
leap in its tiny streams; and Fairfield, in its noble curve, still
girdles the deep valley where these children played: the valley of
Wordsworth and Arnold--the valley where Arnold's poet-son rambled as a
boy--where, for me, the shy and passionate ghost of Charlotte Bronte
still haunts the open door-way of Fox How--where poetry and generous
life and ranging thought still dwell, and bring their benediction to the
passers-by. "Aunt Emma" in her beautiful home, unchanged but for its
vacant chairs, is now as she ever was, the friend of old and young; and
the children of to-day still press to her side as their elders did
before them. The parrot alas! is gone where parrots may; but amid the
voices that breathe around Fox How--the voices of seventy years--his
mimic speech is still remembered by the children who teased and loved
him. For love, while love lasts, gives life to all things small and
great; and in those who have once felt it, the love of the Fairfield
valley, of the gray stone house that fronts the fells, and of them that
dwell therein, is "not Time's fool--"
"Or bends with the remover to remove."
MARY A. WARD.
September 18, 1907.
I. Making Plans
II. A Journey North
IV. Out on the Hills
V. Aunt Emma's Picnic
VI. Wet Days at Ravensnest
VII. A Story-telling Game
VIII. The Story of Beowulf
IX. Milly's Birthday
X. Last Days at Ravensnest
"Two funny fair-haired children with their fingers in their mouths"
"'I can't do without my toys, Nana'"
"The flowers Milly gathered for her mother"
"So they put Olly up on a tall piece of rock, and he sang"
"He was quite sure that h-a-y spelt 'ham' and s-a-w spelt 'was'"
"'Suppose we have a story-telling game'"
"'Haven't you got a bump?' asked Olly"
"Milly, come down! come down directly! Mother wants you. Do make haste!"
"I'm just coming, Olly. Don't stamp so. Nurse is tying my sash."
But Master Olly went on stamping, and jumping up and down stairs, as his
way was when he was very much excited, till Milly appeared. Presently
down she came, a sober fair-haired little maiden, with blue eyes and a
turn-up nose, and a mouth that was generally rather solemn-looking,
though it could laugh merrily enough when it tried. Milly was six years
old. She looked older than six. At any rate she looked a great deal
older than Olly, who was nearly five; and you will soon find out that
she was a good deal more than a year and a half wiser.
"What's the matter, Olly? What made you shout so?"
"Oh, come along, come along;" said the little boy, pulling at his
sister's hand to make her run. "Mother wants to tell us something, and
she says it's a nice something, and I kissed her like anyfing! but she
wouldn't tell me without you."
Then the two children set off running, and they flew down a long passage
to the drawing-room, and were soon scrambling about a lady who was
sitting working by the window.
"Well, monkeys, don't choke me before I tell you my nice something. Sit
on my knee Olly. Now, Milly, guess--what have father and I just been
"Sending Olly to school, perhaps," said Milly. "I heard Uncle Richard
talking about it yesterday."
"That wouldn't be such a nice something," said Olly, making a long face.
"I wouldn't like it--not a bit. Boys don't never like going to school. I
want to learn my lessons with mother."
"I know a little boy that doesn't like learning lessons with mother very
much," said the lady, laughing. "But my nice something isn't sending
Olly to school, Milly. You're quite wrong--so try again."
"Oh, mother! is it a strawberry tea?" cried Milly. "The strawberries are
just ripe, I know. Gardener told nurse so this morning. And we can have
tea on the lawn, and ask Jacky and Francis!"
"Oh, jolly!" said Oliver, jumping off his mother's knee and beginning to
dance about. "And we'll gather them ourselves--won't you let us,
"But it isn't a strawberry tea even," said his mother. "Now, look here,
children, what have I got here?"
"It's a map--a map of England," said Milly, looking very wise. Milly had
just begun to learn geography, and thought she knew all about maps.
"Well, and what happens when father and I look at maps in the
"Why," said Milly, slowly, "you and father pack up your things, and go
away over the sea, and we stay behind with nurse."
"I don't call _that_ a nice something," said Olly, standing still again.
"Oh, mother, _are_ you going away?" said Milly, hanging round her
"Yes, Milly, and so's father, and so's nurse"--and their mother began to
"So's nurse?" said Milly and Olly together, and then they stopped and
opened two pairs of round eyes very wide, and stared at their mother.
"Oh, mother, mother, take us too!"
"Why, how should father and I get on, travelling about with a pair of
monkeys?" said their mother, catching hold of the two children and
lifting them on to her knee; "we should want a cage to keep them in."
"Oh, mother, we'll be _ever_ so good! But where are we going? Oh, do
take us to the sea!"
"Yes, the sea! the sea!" shouted Olly, careering round the room again;
"we'll have buckets and spades, and we'll paddle and catch crabbies, and
wet our clothes, and have funny shoes, just like Cromer. And father'll
teach me to swim--he said he would next time."
"No," said Mrs. Norton, for that was the name of Milly's and Oliver's
mother. "No, we are not going to the sea this summer. We are going to a
place mother loves better than the sea, though perhaps you children
mayn't like it quite so well. We're going to the mountains. Uncle
Richard has lent father and mother his own nice house among the
mountains and we're all going there next week--such a long way in the
"What are mountains?" said Olly, who had scarcely ever seen a hill
higher than the church steeple. "They can't be so nice as the sea,
mother. Nothing can."
"They're humps, Olly," answered Milly eagerly. "Great, big humps of
earth, you know; earth mixed with stone. And they reach up ever so high,
up into the sky. And it takes you a whole day to get up to the top of
them, and a whole day to get down again. Doesn't it, mother? Fraeulein
told me all about mountains in my geography. And some mountains have got
snow on their tops all year, even in summer, when it's so hot, and we're
having strawberries. Will the mountains we're going to, have snow on
"Oh, no. The snow mountains are far away over the sea. But these are
English mountains, kind, easy mountains, not too high for you and me to
climb up, and covered all over with soft green grass and wild flowers,
and tiny sheep with black faces."
"And, mother, is there a garden to Uncle Richard's house, and are there
any children there to play with?"
"There's a delightful garden, full of roses, and strawberries and
grapes, and everything else that's nice. And it has a baby river all to
itself, that runs and jumps and chatters all through the middle of it,
so perhaps Olly may have a paddle sometimes, though we aren't going to
the sea. And the gardener has got two little children, just about your
age, Aunt Mary says: and there are two more at the farm, two dear little
girls, who aren't a bit shy, and will like playing with you very much.
But who else shall we see there, Milly? Who lives in the mountains too,
near Uncle Richard?"
Olly looked puzzled, but Milly thought a minute, and then said quickly,
"Aunt Emma, isn't it, mother? Didn't she come here once? I think I
"Yes, she came once, but long ago, when you were quite small. But now we
shall see a great deal of her I hope, for she lives just on the other
side of the mountain from Uncle Richard's house, in a dear old house,
where I spent many, many happy days when I was small. Great-grandpapa
and grandmamma were alive then. But now Aunt Emma lives there quite
alone. Except for one creature, at least, an old gray poll-parrot, that
chatters away, and behaves as if it were quite sensible, and knew all
"Hasn't she got any pussies, mother?" asked Olly.
"Yes, two I believe; but they don't get on with Polly very well, so they
live in the kitchen out of the way--"
"I like pussies better than pollies," said Olly gravely.
"Why, what do you know about pollies, old man?"
"Pollies bite, I know they do. There was a polly bited Francis once."
"Well, and pussies scratch," said Milly.
"No, they don't, not if you're nicey to them," said Olly; who was just
then very much in love with a white kitten, and thought there were no
creatures so delightful as pussies.
"Well, suppose you don't make up your mind about Aunt Emma's Polly till
you've seen her," said Mrs. Norton. "Now sit down on the rug there and
let us have a talk."
Down squatted the children on the floor opposite their mother, with
their little heads full of plans and their eyes as bright as sparks.
"I'll take my cart and horse," began Olly; "and my big ball, and my
whistle, and my wheelbarrow, and my spade, and all my books, and the big
"You can't, Olly," exclaimed Milly. "Nurse could never pack all those
up. There'd be no room for our clothes. You can take your whistle, and
the top, and the picture books, and I can take my dolls. That'll be
quite enough, won't it, mother?"
"Quite enough," said Mrs. Norton. "If it's fine weather you'll see--you
won't want any toys. But now, look here, children," and she held up the
map. "Shall I show you how we are going to get to the mountains?"
"Oh yes," said Milly, "that'll be like my geography lesson--come, Olly.
Now mother'll teach _you_ geography, like Fraeulein does me."
"That's lessons," said Olly, with half a pout, "not fun a bit. It's only
girls like lessons--Boys never do--Jacky doesn't, and Francis doesn't,
and I don't."
"Never mind about it's being lessons, Olly. Come and see if it isn't
interesting," said Mrs. Norton. "Now, Milly, find Willingham."
Willingham was the name of the town where Milly and Oliver lived. It is
a little town in Oxfordshire, and if you look long enough on the map you
_may_ find it, though I won't promise you.
"There it is," said Milly triumphantly, showing it to her mother and
"Quite right. Now look here," and Mrs. Norton took a pencil out of her
pocket and drew a little line along the map. "First of all we shall get
into the train and go to a place called--look, Milly."
"Bletchley," said Milly, following where the pencil pointed. "What an
"It's an ugly place," said Mrs. Norton, "so perhaps it doesn't deserve a
better name. And after Bletchley--look again, Milly."
"Rugby," said Milly, reading the names as her mother pointed, "and then
Stafford, and then Crewe--what a funny name, mother!--and then Wigan,
and then Warrington, and then Lancaster. Ox-en-holme, Kendal,
Wind-er-mere. Oh, mother, what a long way! Why, we've got right to the
top of England."
"Stop a bit, Milly, and let me tell you something about these places.
First of all we shall get out of the train at Bletchley, and get into
another train that will go faster than the first. And it will take us
past all kinds of places, some pretty and some ugly, and some big and
some small. At Stafford there is an old castle, Milly, where fierce
people lived in old days and fought their neighbours. And at Crewe we
shall get out and have our dinner. And at Wigan all the trees grow on
one side as if some one had come and given them a push in the night; and
at Lancaster there's another old castle, a very famous one, only now
they have turned it into a prison, and people are shut up inside it.
Then a little way after Lancaster you'll begin to see some mountains,
far, far away, but first you'll see something else--just a little bit of
blue sea, with mountains on the other side of it. And then will come
Windermere, where we shall get out and drive in a carriage. And we shall
drive right into the mountains, Olly, till they stand up all round us
with their dear kind old faces that mother has loved ever since she was
The children looked up wonderingly at their mother, and they saw her
face shining and her eyes as bright as theirs, as if she too was a child
going out for a holiday.
"Oh! And, mother," said Olly, "you'll let us take Spot. She can go in my
Now Spot was the white kitten, so Milly and mother began to laugh.
"Suppose you go and ask Spot first, whether she'd like it, Olly," said
Mrs. Norton, patting his sunburnt little face.
A JOURNEY NORTH
Milly and Oliver lived at Willingham, a little town in Oxfordshire, as I
have already told you. Their father was a doctor, and they lived in an
old-fashioned house, in a street, with a long shady garden stretching
away behind it. Milly and Oliver loved their father, and whenever he put
his brown face inside the nursery door, two pairs of little feet went
running to meet him, and two pairs of little hands pulled him eagerly
into the room. But they saw him very seldom; whereas their mother was
always with them, teaching them their lessons, playing with them in the
garden, telling them stories, mending their frocks, tucking them up in
their snug little beds at night, sometimes praising them, sometimes
scolding them; always loving and looking after them. Milly and Olly
honestly believed that theirs was the best mother in the whole world.
Nobody else could find out such nice plays, or tell them such wonderful
stories, or dress dolls half so well. Two little neighbours of theirs,
Jacky and Francis, had a poor sick mother who always lay on the sofa,
and could hardly bear to have her little boys in the room with her.
Milly and Oliver were never tired of wondering how Jacky and Francis got
on with a mother like that. "How funny, and how dreadful it must be.
Poor Jacky and Francis!" It never came into their, heads to say, "Poor
Jacky's mother" too, but then you see they were such little people, and
little people have only room in their heads for a very few thoughts at a
However, Milly had been away from her mother a good deal lately. About
six months before my story begins she had been sent to school, to a
kindergarten, as she was taught to call it. And there Milly had learnt
all kinds of wonderful things--she had learnt how to make mats out of
paper, blue mats, and pink mats, and yellow mats, and red mats; she had
learned how to make a bit of soft clay look like a box, or a stool, or a
bird's nest with three clay eggs inside it; she had begun to add up and
take away; and, above all, she had begun to learn geography, and
Fraeulein--for Milly's mistress was a German, and had a German name--was
just now teaching her about islands, and lakes, and capes, and
peninsulas, and many other things that all little girls have to learn
about some time or other, unless they wish to grow up dunces.
As for Milly's looks, I have told you already that she had blue eyes and
a turn-up nose, and a dear sensible little face. And she had very thick
fair hair, that was always tumbling about her eyes, and making her look,
as nurse told her, like "a yellow owl in an ivy bush." Milly loved most
people, except perhaps John the gardener, who was rather cross to the
children, and was always calling to them not to walk "on them beds," and
to be sure not to touch any of his fruit or flowers. She loved her
father and her mother; she loved Olly with all her whole heart, though
he was a tease, she loved her nurse, whom she and Olly called Nana, and
who had been with them ever since Milly was born; and she loved
Fraeulein, and was always begging flowers from her mother that she might
take them to school for Fraeulein's table. So you see Milly was made up
of loving. And she was a thoughtful little girl too, tidy with her
dress, quick and quiet at her lessons, and always ready to sit still
with her fairy-book or her doll, when mother was busy or tired. But
there were two things in which Milly was not at all sensible in spite of
her sensible face. She was much too ready to cry when any little thing
went wrong, and she was dreadfully afraid of creatures of all sorts. She
was afraid of her father's big dog, she was afraid of the dear brown cow
that lived in the field beyond the garden, she was afraid of earwigs. I
am even ashamed to say she was afraid of spiders. Once she ran away as
if a lion were behind her from a white kitten that pulled her dress with
its frolicsome paws to make her play with it; but that, Milly would tell
you, was "when I was little," and she was quite sure she was a good deal
Now what am I to tell you about Olly?
Olly was just a round ball of fun and mischief. He had brown hair, brown
eyes, a brown face, and brown hands. He was always touching and meddling
with everything, indoors and out, to see what was inside it, or what it
was made of. He liked teasing Milly, he liked his walks, he liked his
sleep in the morning, he liked his dinner, he liked his tea, he liked
everything in the world, except learning to read, and that he hated. He
could only do one thing besides mischief. He could sing all kinds of
tunes--quick tunes, slow tunes, and merry tunes. He had been able to
sing tunes ever since he was quite a tiny baby, and his father and
mother often talked together of how, in about a year, he should be
taught to play on the piano, or perhaps on the violin, if he liked it
better. You might hear his sharp, shrill little voice, singing about the
house and the garden all day long. John the gardener called it
"squealin'," and told Olly his songs were "capital good" for frightening
away the birds.
Now, perhaps, you know a little more about Milly and Olly than you did
when I began to tell you about them, and it is time you should hear of
what happened to them on that wonderful journey of theirs up to the
First of all came the packing up. Milly could not make up her mind about
her dolls; she had three--Rose, Mattie, and Katie--but Rose's frocks
were very dirty, Mattie had a leg broken, and Katie's paint had been all
washed off one wet night, when Olly left her out on the lawn. Now which
of these was the tidiest and most respectable doll to take out on a
visit? Milly did not know how to settle it.
[Illustration: "'I can't do without my toys, Nana'"]
"I think, Nana," she said at last to her nurse, who was packing the
children's trunk, "I will take Katie. Mother always sends us away when
we get white faces to make us look nice and red again; so, perhaps, if I
take Katie her colour will come back too, you know."
"Perhaps it will, Miss Milly," said nurse, laughing; "anyhow, you had
better give me the doll you want directly, for it is time I packed all
the toys now. Now, Master Olly, you know I can't let you take all those
For there was Olly dragging along his wheelbarrow heaped up with toys
with one hand, and his cart and horse with a box of bricks standing up
in it with the other. He would not listen to what Milly said about it,
and he would scarcely listen to nurse now.
"I can't do without my toys, Nana. I _must_ do mischief if you won't let
me take all my toys; I can't help it."
"I haven't got room for half those, Master Olly, and you'll have ever so
many new things to play with when we get to Ravensnest."
"There'll be the new children, Olly," said Milly, "and the little rivers
and all the funny new flowers."
"Those aren't toys," said Olly, looking ready to cry. "I don't know
nothing about them."
"Now," said nurse, making a place in the box, "bring me your bricks and
your big ball, and your picture-books. There, that's all I can spare
"Wait one minute," said Olly, rushing off; and just then Mrs. Norton
called nurse away to speak to her in the drawing-room. When nurse came
back she saw nobody in the nursery. Milly had gone out in the garden,
Olly was nowhere to be seen. And who had shut down the trunk, which was
open when she left it? Me-ow, sounded very softly from somewhere close
"Why--Spot! Spot!" called nurse.
Me-ow, Me-ow, came again; a sad choky little mew, right from the middle
of the children's trunk. "Master Olly and his tricks again," said nurse,
running to the box and opening it. There, on the top, lay a quantity of
frocks that nurse had left folded up on the floor, thrown in anyhow,
with some toys scattered among them, and the frocks and toys were all
dancing up and down as if they were bewitched. Nurse took out the
frocks, and there was the children's collar-box, a large round
cardboard-box with a lid, jumping from side to side like a box in a
fairy tale; and such dreadful pitiful little mews coming from the
inside! Nurse undid the lid, and out sprang Spot like a flash of
lightning, and ran as if she were running for her life out of the door
and down the stairs, and safe into the kitchen, where she cuddled
herself up in a corner of the fender, wishing with all her poor
trembling little heart that there were no such things in the world as
small boys. And then nurse heard a kind of kicking and scuffling in the
china cupboard, and when she opened it there sat Olly doubled up, his
brown eyes dancing like will-o'-the-wisps, and his little white teeth
"Oh! Nana, she _did_ make a funny me-ow! I just said to her, Now,
Spottie, _wouldn't_ you like to go in my box? and she said, Yes; and I
made her such a comfy bed, and then I stuck all those frocks on the top
of her to keep her warm. Why did you let her out, Nana?"
"You little mischief," said Nana, "do you know you might have smothered
poor little Spot? And look at all these frocks; do you think I have got
nothing better to do than to tidy up after your tricks?"
But nurse never knew how to be very hard upon Olly; so all she did was
to set him up on a high chair with a picture-book, where she could see
all he was doing. There was no saying what he might take a fancy to pack
up next if she didn't keep an eye on him.
Well, presently all the packing was done, and Milly and Olly had gone to
say good-bye to Fraeulein, and to Jacky and Francis. Wednesday evening
came, and they were to start early on Thursday morning. Olly begged
nurse to put him to bed very early, that he might "wake up krick"--quick
was a word Olly never could say. So to bed he went at half-past six, and
his head had scarcely touched the pillow two minutes before he had gone
cantering away into dreamland, and was seeing all the sights and hearing
all the delicious stories that children do see and hear in dreamland,
though they don't always remember them when they wake up. Both Milly and
he woke up very early on Thursday morning; and directly his eyes were
open Olly jumped out of bed like an india-rubber ball, and began to put
on his stockings in a terrible hurry. The noise of his jump woke nurse,
and she called out in a sleepy voice:
"Get into bed again, Master Olly, directly. It is only just six o'clock,
and I can't have you out of bed till seven. You'll only be under my
feet, and in everybody's way."
"Nana, I won't be in _anybody's_ way," exclaimed Olly, running up to her
and scrambling on to her bed with his little bare toes half way into his
stockings. "I can't keep still in my bed all such a long time. There's
something inside of me, Nana, keeps jumping up and down, and won't let
me keep still. Now, if I get up, you know, Nana, I can help you."
"Help me, indeed!" said nurse, kissing his little brown face, or as much
of it as could be seen through his curls. "A nice helping that would be.
Come back to bed, sir, and I'll give you some picture-books till I'm
ready to dress you."
So back to bed Master Olly went, sorely against his will, and there he
had to stay till nurse and Milly were dressed, and the breakfast things
laid. Then nurse gave him his bath and dressed him, and put him up to
eat his bread and milk while she finished the packing. Olly was always
very quiet over his meals, and it was the only time in the day when he
Presently up rattled the cab, and down ran the children with their
walking things on to see father and John lift the boxes on to the top;
and soon they were saying good-bye to Susan the cook, and Jenny the
housemaid, who were going to stay and take care of the house while they
were away; and then crack went the whip, and off they went to the
station. On the way they passed Jacky and Francis standing at their
gate, and all the children waved their hats and shouted "Hurrah!
hurrah!" At the station nurse kept tight hold of Olly till father had
got the tickets and put all the boxes into the train, and then he and
Milly were safely lifted up into the railway carriage, and nurse and
father and mother came next, with all the bags and shawls and umbrellas.
Such a settling of legs and arms and packages there was; and in the
middle of it "whew" went the whistle, and off they went away to the
But they had a long way to go before they saw any mountains. First of
all they had to get to Bletchley, and it took about an hour doing that.
And oh! what a lovely morning it was, and how fresh and green the fields
looked as the train hurried along past them. Olly and Milly could see
hundreds and thousands of moon-daisies and buttercups growing among the
wet grass, and every now and then came great bushes of wild-roses, some
pink and some white, and long pools with yellow irises growing along the
side; and sometimes the train went rushing through a little village, and
they could see the little children trotting along to school, with their
books and slates tucked under their arms; and sometimes they went along
for miles together without seeing anything but the white-and-brown cows
in the fields, and the great mother-sheep with their fat white lambs
beside them. The sun shone so brightly, the buttercups were so yellow,
the roses so pink, and the sky so blue, it was like a fairy world. Olly
and Milly were always shouting and clapping their hands at something or
other, for Milly had grown almost as wild as Olly.
Sh-sh-sh-sh went the train, getting slower and slower till at last it
"Bletchley, Bletchley!" shouted Olly, jumping down off the seat.
"No, my boy," said his father, catching hold of him, "we shall stop five
more times before we get to Bletchley; so don't be impatient."
But at last came Bletchley, and the children were lifted out into the
middle of such a bustle, as it seemed to Milly. There were crowds of
people at the station, and they were all pushing backward and forward,
and shouting and talking.
"Keep hold of me, Olly," said Milly, with an anxious little face. "Oh,
Nana, don't let him go!"
But nurse held him fast; and very soon they were through the crowd, and
father had put them safe into their new train, into a carriage marked
"Windermere," which would take them all the way to their journey's end.
"That was like lions and bears, wasn't it, mother?" said Olly, pointing
to the crowd in the station, as they went puffing away. Now, "lions and
bears" was a favourite game of the children's, a romping game, where
everybody ran about and pretended to be somebody else, and where the
more people played, and the more they ran and pushed and tumbled about,
the funnier, it was. And the running, scrambling people at the station
did look rather as if they were playing at lions and bears.
And now the children had a long day before them. On rushed the train,
past towns and villages, and houses and trains. The sun got hotter and
hotter, and the children began to get a little tired of looking out of
window. Milly asked for a story-book, and was soon very happy reading
"Snow White and Rose Red." She had read it a hundred times before, but
that never mattered a bit. Olly came to sit on nurse's knee while she
showed him pictures, and so the time passed away. And now the train
stopped again, and father lifted Olly on his knee to see a great church
far away over the houses, and taught him to say "Lichfield Cathedral."
And then came Stafford; and Milly looked out for the castle, and
wondered whether the castles in her story-books looked like that, and
whether princesses and fairy godmothers and giants ever lived there in
After they had left Stafford, Olly began to get tired and fidgety. First
he went to sit on his father's knee, then on mother's, then on
nurse's--none of them could keep him still, and nothing seemed to amuse
him for long together.
"Come and have a sleep, Master Olly," said nurse. "You are just tired
and hot. This is a long way for little boys, and we've got ever so far
to go yet."
"I'm not sleepy, Nana," said Olly, sitting straight up, with a little
flushed face and wide-open eyes. "I'm going to keep awake like father."
"Father's going to sleep, then," said Mr. Norton, tucking himself up in
a shady corner; "so you go too, Olly, and see which of us can go
When Olly had seen his father's eyes tight shut, and heard him give just
one little snore--it was rather a make-believe snore--he did let nurse
draw him on to her knee; and very soon the little gipsy creature was
fast asleep, with all his brown curls lying like a soft mat over nurse's
arm. Milly, too, shut her eyes and sat very still; she did not mean to
go to sleep, but presently she began to think a great many sleepy
thoughts: Why did the hedges run so fast? and why did the telegraph
wires go up and down as if they were always making curtsies? and was
that really mother opposite, or was it Cinderella's fairy godmother? And
all of a sudden Milly came bump up against a tall blue mountain that had
a face like a man, and cried out when she bumped upon it!
"Crewe, I declare," exclaimed father, jumping up with a start. "Why,
Olly and I have been asleep nearly an hour! Wake up, children, it's
Nurse had to shake Olly a great many times before he would open his
sleepy eyes, and then he stood up rubbing them as if he would rub them
quite away. Father lifted him out, and carried him into a big room, with
a big table in it, all ready for dinner, and hungry people sitting round
it. What fun it was having dinner at a station, with all the grown-up
people. Milly and Olly thought there never was such nice bread and such
nice apple-tart. Nothing at home ever tasted half so good. And after
dinner father took them a little walk up and down the platform, and at
last, just as it was time to get into the train again, he bought them a
paper full of pictures, called the _Graphic_, that amused Olly for a
But it was a long long way to Windermere, and poor Milly and Olly began
to get very tired. The trees at Wigan did make them laugh a little bit,
but they were too tired to think them as funny as they would have
thought them in the morning. They are such comical trees! First of all,
the smoke from the smoky chimneys at Wigan has made them black, and
stopped the leaves from growing, and then the wind has blown them all
over on one side, so that they look like ugly little twisted dwarfs, as
if some cruel fairy had touched them with her wand. But Olly soon forgot
all about them; and he began to wander from one end to the other of the
carriage again, scrambling and jumping about, till he gave himself a
hard knock against the seat; and that made him begin to cry--poor tired
little Olly. Then mother lifted him on to her knee, and said to him,
very softly, "Are you very tired, Olly? Never mind, poor little man, we
shan't be very long now, and we're all tired, darling--father's tired,
and I'm tired; and look at Milly there, she looks like a little white
ghost. Suppose you be brave, and try a little extra hard to be good.
Then mother'll love you an extra bit. And what do you think we shall see
soon? such a lovely bit of blue sea with white ships on it. Just you
shut your eyes a little bit till it comes, I'll be sure to tell you."
And sure enough, after Lancaster, mother gave a little cry, and Olly
jumped up, and Milly came running over, and there before them lay the
dancing windy blue sea, covered over with little white waves, running
and tumbling over each other. And on the other side of it, what did the
"Mother, mother! what is it?" cried Olly, pointing with his little brown
hand far away; "is it a fairy palace, mother?"
"Perhaps it is, Olly; anyway, the hill-fairies live there. For those are
the mountains, the beautiful mountains we are going to see."
"But how shall we get across the sea to them?" asked Milly, with a
"This is only a corner of the sea, Milly--a bay. Don't you remember bays
in your geography? We can't go across it, but we can go round it, and we
shall find the mountains on the other side."
Oh! how fast the train seemed to go now that there was something to look
at. Everywhere mountains were beginning to spring up. And when they had
said good-bye to the sea, the mountains began to grow taller and taller.
What had happened to the houses too? They had all turned white or gray;
there was no red one left. And the fields had stone walls instead of
hedges; and inside the walls there were small sheep, about as big as the
lambs they had seen near Oxford in the morning.
Oxenholme, Kendal, Windermere. How glad the tired children were when the
train ran slowly down into Windermere station, and they could jump out
and say good-bye to it for a long, long time! They had to wait a little,
till father had found all the boxes and put them in the carriage that
was waiting for them, and then in they tumbled, nurse having first
wrapped them up in big shawls, for it was evening now, and the wind had
grown cold. That was a nice drive home among the mountains. How tall and
dark and quiet they were. And what was this shining on their left hand,
like a white face running beside them, and peeping from behind the
trees? Why, it was a lake; a great wide lake, with tiny boats upon it,
some with white sails and some without.
"Mother! mother! may we go in those boats some day?" shouted Olly, in a
little sharp tired voice, and his mother smiled at him, and said--"Yes,
How happy mother looked. She knew all the mountains like old friends,
she could tell all their names; and every now and then, when they came
to a house, she and father would begin to talk about the people who
lived in it, just as if they were talking about people they knew quite
well. And now came a little town, the town of Wanwick mother called it,
right among the mountains, with a river running round it, and a tall
church spire. It began to get darker and darker, and the trees hung down
over the road, so that the children could hardly see. On they went, and
Olly was very nearly asleep again, when the carriage began to crunch
over gravel, and then it stopped, and father called out--"Here we are,
children, here we are at Ravensnest."
And out they all jumped. What were those bright lights shining? Olly and
Milly hardly knew where they were going as nurse took them in, and one
of Uncle Richard's servants showed them the way upstairs to the nursery.
Such a nice nursery, with candles lit, and a little fire burning, two
bowls of hot bread and milk on the table, and in the corner two little
white beds, as soft and fresh as nests! In twenty minutes Olly was in
one of these little white beds, and Milly in the other. And you may
guess whether they were long about going to sleep.
"Poor little souls! How late they are sleeping. They must have been
tired last night."
So said nurse at eight o'clock, when she came back into the nursery from
a journey to the kitchen after the breakfast things, and found the
children still fast asleep; so fast that it looked as if they meant to
go on sleeping till dinner-time.
"Milly!" she called softly, shaking her very gently, "Milly, it's
breakfast-time, wake up!"
Milly began to move about, and muttered something about "whistles" and
"hedges" in her sleep.
Then nurse gave her another little shake, and at last Milly's eyes did
try very hard to open--"What is it? What do you want, Nana? Where are
we?--Oh, I know!"
And up sprang Milly in a second and ran to the window, her sleepy eyes
wide open at last. "Yes, there they are! Come and look, Nana! There,
past those trees--don't you see the mountains? And there is father
walking about; and oh! do look at those roses over there. Dress me
quick, dress me quick, please, dear Nana."
Thump! bump! and there was Olly out of bed, sitting on the floor rubbing
his eyes. Olly used always to jump out of bed half asleep, and then sit
a long time on the floor waking up. Nurse and Milly always left him
alone till he was quite woke up. It made him cross if you began to talk
to him too soon.
"Milly," said Olly presently, in a sleepy voice, "I'm going right up the
mountains after breakfast. Aren't you?"
"Wait till you see them, Master Olly," said nurse, taking him up and
kissing him, "perhaps your little legs won't find it quite so easy to
climb up the mountains as you think."
"I can climb up three, four, six, seven mountains," said Olly stoutly;
"mountains aren't a bit hard. Mother says they're meant to climb up."
"Well, I suppose it's like going up stairs a long way," said Milly,
thoughtfully, pulling on her stockings. "You didn't like going up the
stairs in Auntie Margaret's house, Olly."
Auntie Margaret's house was a tall London house, with ever so many
stairs. The children when they were staying there were put to sleep at
the top, and Olly used to sit down on the stairs and pout and grumble
every time they had to go up.
But Olly shook his obstinate little head.
"I don't believe it's a bit like going up stairs."
However, as they couldn't know what it was like before they tried, nurse
told them it was no good talking about it. So they hurried on with their
dressing, and presently there stood as fresh a pair of morning children
as anyone could wish to see, with rosy cheeks, and smooth hair, and
clean print frocks--for Olly was still in frocks--though when the winter
came mother said she was going to put him into knickerbockers.
And then nurse took them each by the hand and led them through some long
passages, down a pretty staircase, and through a swing door, into what
looked like a great nagged kitchen, only there was no fireplace in it.
The real kitchen opened out of it at one side, and through the door came
a smell of coffee and toast that made the children feel as hungry as
little hunters. But their own room was straight in front, across the
kitchen without a fireplace, a tiny room with one large window hung
round with roses, and looking out on to a green lawn.
"Nana, isn't it pretty? Nana, I think it's lovely!" said Milly, looking
out and clapping her hands. And it _was_ a pretty garden they could see
from the window. An up-and-down garden, with beds full of bright
flowers, and grass which was nearly all moss, and so soft that no
cushion could be softer. In the distance they could hear a little
splish-splash among the trees, which came, Milly supposed, from the
river mother had told them about; while, reaching up all round the
house, so that they could not see the top of it from the window, was the
green wild mountain itself, the mountain of Brownholme, under which
Uncle Richard's house was built.
The children hurried through their breakfast, and then nurse covered
them up with garden pinafores, and took them to the dining-room to find
father and mother. Mr. and Mrs. Norton were reading letters when the
children's curly heads appeared at the open door, and Mrs. Norton was
just saying to her husband:
"Aunt Emma sends a few lines just to welcome us, and to say that she
can't come over to us to-day, but will we all come over to her to-morrow
and have early dinner, and perhaps a row afterward--"
"Oh, a row, mother, a row!" shouted Olly, clambering on to his mother's
knee and half-strangling her with his strong little arms; "I can row,
father said I might. Are we going to-day?"
"No, to-morrow, Olly, when we've seen a little bit of Ravensnest first.
Which of you remembers Aunt Emma, I wonder?"
"I remember her," said Milly, nodding her head wisely, "she had a big
white cap, and she told me stories. But I don't quite remember her face,
"I don't remember her, not one bit," said Olly. "Mother, does she keep
saying, 'Don't do that;' 'Go up stairs, naughty boys,' like Jacky's aunt
For the children's playfellows, Jacky and Francis, had an aunt living
with them whom Milly and Olly couldn't bear. They believed that she
couldn't say anything else except "Don't!" and "Go up stairs!" and they
were always in dread lest they should come across an aunt like her.
"She's the dearest aunt in the whole world," said mother, "and she never
says, 'Don't,' except when she's obliged, but when she does say it
little boys have to mind. When I was a little girl I thought there was
nobody like Aunt Emma, nobody who could make such plans or tell such
"And, mother, can't she cut out card dolls? asked Milly. Don't you know
those beautiful card dolls you have in your drawer at home--didn't Aunt
Emma make them?"
"Yes, of course she did. She made me a whole family once for my
birthday, a father and a mother, and two little girls and two little
boys. And each of the children had two paper dresses and two hats, one
for best and one for every day--and the mother had a white evening dress
trimmed with red, and a hat and a bonnet."
"I know, mother! they're all in your drawer at home, only one of the
little boys has his head broken off. Do you think Aunt Emma would make
me a set if I asked her?"
"I can't say, Milly. But I believe Aunt Emma's fingers are just as quick
as ever they were. Now, children, father says he will take you out while
I go and speak to cook. Olly, how do you think we're going to get any
meat for you and Milly here? There are no shops on the mountains."
"Then we'll eat fisses, little fisses like those!" cried Olly, pointing
to a plate of tiny red-spotted fish that father and mother had been
having for breakfast.
"Thank you, Olly," said Mr. Norton, laughing; "it would cost a good deal
to keep you in trout, sir. I think we'll try for some plain mutton for
you, even if we have to catch the sheep on the mountains ourselves. But
now come along till mother is ready, and I'll show you the river where
those little fishes lived."
Out ran the children, ready to go anywhere and see anything in this
beautiful new place, which seemed to them a palace of wonders. And
presently they were skipping over the soft green grass, each holding one
of father's hands, and chattering away to him as if their little tongues
would never stop. What a hot day it was going to be! The sky overhead
was deep blue, with scarcely a cloud, they could hear nothing in the
still air but the sleepy cooing of the doves in the trees by the gate,
and the trees and flowers all looked as if they were going to sleep in
"Father, why did that old gentleman at Willingham last week tell mother
that it always rained in the mountains?" asked Milly, looking up at the
"Well, Milly, I'm afraid you'll find out before you go home that it does
know how to rain here. Sometimes it rains and rains as if the sky were
coming down and all the world were going to turn into water. But never
mind about that now--it isn't going to rain to-day."
Down they went through the garden, across the road, and into a field on
the other side of it, a beautiful hay-field full of flowers, with just a
narrow little path through it where the children and Mr. Norton could
walk one behind another. And at the end of the path what do you think
they found? Why, a chattering sparkling river, running along over
hundreds and thousands of brown and green pebbles, so fast that it
seemed to be trying to catch the birds as they skimmed across it. The
children had never seen a river like this before, where you could see
right to the very bottom, and count the stones there if you liked, and
which behaved like a river at play, scrambling and dancing and rushing
along as if it were out for a holiday, like the children themselves.
"What do you think of that for a river, children?" said Mr. Norton.
"Very early this morning, when you little sleepyheads were in bed, I got
up and came down here, and had my bath over there, look--in that nice
brown pool under the tree."
"Oh, father!" cried both children, dancing round him. "Let us have our
baths in the river too. Do ask Nana--do, father! We can have our bathing
things on that we had at the sea, and you can come too and teach us to
"Well, just once perhaps, if mother says yes, and it's very warm
weather, and you get up very _very_ early. But you won't like it quite
as much as you think. Rivers are very cold to bathe in, and those pretty
stones at the bottom won't feel at all nice to your little toes."
"Oh, but, father," interrupted Milly, "we could put on our sand shoes."
"And wouldn't we splash!" said Olly. "Nurse won't let us splash in our
bath, father, she says it makes a mess. I'm sure it doesn't make a
"What do you know about it, shrimp?" said Mr. Norton, "you don't have to
tidy up. Hush, isn't that mother calling? Let's go and fetch her, and
then we'll go and see Uncle Richard's farm, where the milk you had for
breakfast came from. There are three children there, Milly, besides cows
and pigs, and ducks and chickens."
Back ran Milly and Olly, and there was mother watching for them with a
basket on her arm which had already got some roses lying in it.
"Oh, mother! where did you get those roses?" cried Milly.
"Wheeler, the gardener, gave them to me. And now suppose we go first of
all to see Mrs. Wheeler, and gardener's two little children. They live
in that cottage over there, across the brook, and the two little ones
have just been peeping over the wall to try and get a look at you."
Up clambered Milly and Olly along a steep path that seemed to take them
up into the mountain, when suddenly they turned, and there was another
river, but such a tiny river, Milly could almost jump across it, and it
was tumbling and leaping down the rocks on its way to the big river
which they had just seen, as if it were a little child hurrying to its
"Why, mother, what a lot of rivers," said Olly, running on to a little
bridge that had been built across the little stream, and looking over.
"Just to begin with," said Mrs. Norton. "You'll see plenty more before
you've done. But I can't have you calling this a river, Olly. These baby
rivers are called becks in Westmoreland--some of the big ones, too,
On the other side of the little bridge was the gardener's cottage, and
in front of the door stood two funny fair-haired little children with
their fingers in their mouths, staring at Milly and Olly. One was a
little girl who was really about Milly's age, though she looked much
younger, and the other was a very shy small boy, with blue eyes and
straggling yellow hair, and a face that might have been pretty if you
could have seen it properly. But Charlie seemed to have made up his mind
that nobody ever should see it properly. However often his mother might
wash him, and she was a tidy woman, who liked to see her children look
clean and nice, Charlie was always black. His face was black, his hands
were black, his pinafore was sure to be covered with black marks ten
minutes after he had put it on. Do what you would to him, it was no use,
Charlie always looked as if he had just come out of the coal-hole.
"Well, Bessie," said Mrs. Norton to the little girl, "is your mother
"Naw," said Bessie, without taking her fingers out of her mouth.
"Oh, I'm sorry for that. Do you know when she's likely to be in?"
"Naw," said Bessie again, beginning to eat her pinafore as well as her
fingers. Meanwhile Charlie had been creeping behind Bessie to get out of
Olly's way; for Olly, who always wanted to make friends, was trying to
shake hands with him, and Charlie was dreadfully afraid that he wanted
to kiss him too.
"What a pity," said Mrs. Norton, "I wanted to ask her a question. Come
away, Olly, and don't tease Charlie if he doesn't want to shake hands.
Can you remember, Bessie, to tell your mother that I came to see her?"
"Yis," said Bessie.
"And can you remember, too, to ask her if she will let you and Charlie
come down to tea with Miss Milly and Master Olly, this afternoon, at
"Yis," said Bessie, getting shyer and shyer, and eating up her pinafore
faster than ever.
"Good-bye, then," said Mrs. Norton.
"Good-bye, Bessie," said Milly, softly, taking her hand.
Bessie stared at her, but didn't say anything.
Olly, having quite failed in shaking hands, was now trying to kiss
Charlie; but Charlie wouldn't have it at all, and every time Olly came
near, Charlie pushed him away with his little fists. This made Olly
rather cross, and he began to try with all his strength to make Charlie
kiss him, when suddenly Charlie got away from him, and running to a pile
of logs of wood which was lying in the yard he climbed up the logs like
a little squirrel, and was soon at the top of the heap, looking down on
Olly, who was very much astonished.
"Mother, _do_ let me climb up too!" entreated Olly, as Mrs. Norton took
his hand to lead him away. "I want to climb up krick like that! Oh, do
let me try!"
"No, no, Olly! come along. We shall never get to the farm if you stay
climbing here. And you wouldn't find it as easy as Charlie does, I can
"Why, I'm bigger than Charlie," said Olly, pouting, as they walked away.
"But you haven't got such stout legs; and, besides, Charlie is always
out of doors all day long, climbing and poking about. I daresay he can
do outdoor things better than you can. You're a little town boy, you
"Charlie's got a black face," said Olly, who was not at all pleased that
Charlie, who was smaller than he was, and dirty besides, could do
anything better than he could.
"Well, you see, he hasn't got a Nana always looking after him as you
"Hasn't he got _any_ Nana?" asked Olly, looking as if he didn't
understand how there could be little children without Nanas.
"He hasn't got any nurse but his mother, and Mrs. Wheeler has a great
deal else to do than looking after him. What would you be like, do you
think, Olly, if I had to do all the housework, and cook the dinner, and
mind the baby, and there was no nurse to wash your face and hands for
"I should get just like shock-headed Peter," said Olly, shaking his head
gravely at the idea. Shock-headed Peter was a dirty little boy in one of
Olly's picture-books; but I am sure you must have heard about him
already, and must have seen the picture of him with his bushy hair, and
his terrible long nails like birds' claws. Olly was never tired of
hearing about him, and about all the other children in that
"What a funny little girl Bessie is, mother!" said Milly. "Do they
always say _Naw_ and _Yis_ in this country, instead of saying No and
Yes, like we do?"
"Well, most of the people that live here do," said Mrs. Norton. "Their
way of talking sounds odd and queer at first, Milly, but when you get
used to it you will like it as I do, because it seems like a part of the
All this time they had been climbing up a steep path behind the
gardener's house, and now Mr. Norton opened a door in a high wall, and
let the children into a beautiful kitchen-garden made on the mountain
side, so that when they looked down from the gate they could see the
chimneys of Ravensnest just below them. Inside there were all kinds of
fruit and vegetables, but gooseberry bushes and the strawberries had
nothing but green gooseberries and white strawberries to show, to Olly's
"Why aren't the strawberries red, mother?" he asked in a discontented
voice, as if it must be somebody's fault that they weren't red. "Ours at
home were ripe."
"Well, Olly, I suppose the strawberries know best. All I can tell you
is, that things always get ripe here later than at Willingham. Their
summer begins a little later than ours does, and so everything gets
pushed on a little. But there will be plenty by-and-by. And suppose just
now, instead of looking at the strawberries, you give just one look at
the mountains. Count how many you can see all round."
"One, two, three, five," counted Olly. "What great big humps! Should we
be able to touch the sky if we got up to the top of that one, mother?"
and he pointed to a great blue mountain where the clouds seemed to be
resting on the top.
"Well, if you were up there just now, you would be all among the clouds,
and it would seem like a white fog all round you. So you would be
touching the clouds at any rate."
Olly opened his eyes very wide at the idea of touching the clouds.
"Why, mother, we can't touch the clouds at home!"
"That comes of living in a country as flat as a pancake," said Mr.
Norton. "Just you wait till we can buy a tame mountain, and carry it to
Willingham with us. Then we'll put it down in the middle of the garden,
and the clouds will come down to sit on the top of it just as they do
here. But now, who can scramble over that gate?"
For the gate at the other end of the garden was locked, and as the
gardener couldn't be found, everybody had to scramble over, mother
included. However, Mr. Norton helped them all over, and then they found
themselves on a path running along the green mountain side. On they
went, through pretty bits of steep hay-fields, where the grass seemed
all clover and moon-daisies, till presently they came upon a small
hunched-up house, with a number of sheds on one side of it and a
kitchen-garden in front. This was Uncle Richard's farm; a very tiny
farm, where a man called John Backhouse lived, with his wife and two
little girls and a baby-boy. Except just in the hay-time, John Backhouse
had no men to help him, and he and his wife had to do all the work, to
look after the sheep, and the cows, the pigs, the horse, and the
chickens, to manage the garden and the hayfield, and to take the butter
and milk to the people who wanted to buy it. When their children grew up
and were able to help, Backhouse and his wife would be able to do it all
very well; but just now, when they were still quite small, it was very
hard work; it was all the farmer and his wife could do to make enough to
keep themselves and their children fed and clothed.
Milly and Olly were very anxious to see the farmer's children and looked
out for them in the garden as they walked up to the house, but there
were no signs of them. The door was opened by Mrs. Backhouse, the
farmer's wife, who held a fair-haired baby in her arms sucking a great
crust of brown bread, and when Mr. and Mrs. Norton had shaken hands with
her--"I'm sure, ma'am, I'm very pleased to see you here," said Mrs.
Backhouse. "John told me you were come (only Mrs. Backhouse said
'coom'), and Becky and Tiza went down with their father when he took the
milk this morning, hoping they would catch a sight of your children.
They have been just wild to see them, but I told them they weren't
likely to be up at that time in the morning."
"Where are they now?" asked Mrs. Norton. "Mine have been looking out for
them as we came along."
"Well, ma'am, I can't say, unless they're in the cherry-tree. Becky!
A faint "Yis" came from the other end of the garden, but still Milly and
Olly could see nothing but a big cherry-tree growing where the voice
seemed to come from.
"You go along that path, missy, and call again. You'll be sure to find
them," said Mrs. Backhouse, pointing to the tree. "And won't you come
in, ma'am, and rest a bit? You'll be maybe tired with walking this hot
So Mr. and Mrs. Norton went into the farmhouse, and the children went
hand-in-hand down the garden, looking for Becky and Tiza.
Suddenly, as they came close to the cherry-tree, they heard a laugh and
a little scuffling, and looking up, what should they see but two little
girls perched up on one of the cherry-tree branches, one of them sewing,
the other nursing a baby kitten. Both of them had coloured print
bonnets, but the smaller had taken hers off and was rolling the kitten
up in it. The little girl sewing had a sensible, sober face; as for the
other, she could not have looked sober if she had tried for a week of
Sundays. It made you laugh only to look at Tiza. From the top of her
curly head to the soles of her skipping little feet, she was the
sauciest, merriest, noisiest creature. It was she who was always playing
tricks on the cows and the horse, and the big sheep-dogs; who liked
nothing so well as teasing Becky and dressing up the kittens, and who
was always tumbling into the milkpail, or rolling downstairs, or losing
herself in the woods, without somehow ever coming to any harm. If she
and Olly had been left alone in the world together they _must_ have come
to a bad end, but luckily each of them had wiser people to take care of
"Becky," said Milly, shyly, looking up into the tree, "will you come
down and say how do you do to us?"
Becky stuck her needle in her work and scrambled down with a red shy
face to shake hands; but Tiza, instead of coming down, only climbed a
little higher, and peeped at the others between the branches.
"We came down to the house when fayther took the milk this morning,"
said Becky. "We thought maybe we'd see you in the garden. Only Tiza said
she'd run away if she did see you."
"Why doesn't Tiza come down?" asked Olly, looking hard up into the tree.
"I want to see her."
Thump! What was that rattling down on Olly's head? He looked down at his
feet very much astonished, and saw a bunch of green cherries which Tiza
had just thrown at him.
"Throw some more! Throw some more!" he cried out, and Tiza began to pelt
him fast, while Olly ran here and there picking them up, and every now
and then trying to throw them back at Tiza; but she was too high up for
him to reach, and they only came rattling about his head again.
"She won't come down," said Becky, looking up at her sister. "Maybe she
won't speak to you for two or three days. And if you run after her she
hides in such queer places you can never find her."
"But mother wants you and her to come to tea with us this afternoon,"
said Milly; "won't Tiza come?"
"I suppose mother'll make her," said Becky, "but she doesn't like it.
Have you been on the fell?"
Milly looked puzzled. "Do you mean on the mountain? No, not yet. We're
going to-morrow when we go to Aunt Emma's. But we've been to the river
"Did you go over the stepping-stones?"
"No," said Milly, "I don't know what they are. Can we go this evening
"Oh yes," said Becky, "they're just close by your house. Does your
mother let you go in the water?"
Now Becky said a great many of these words very funnily, so that Milly
could hardly understand her. She said "doos" and "oop," and "knaw," and
"jist," and "la-ike," but it sounded quite pretty from her soft little
mouth, and Milly thought she had a very nice way of talking.
"No, mother doesn't let us go in the water here, at least, not unless
it's very warm. We paddle when we go to the sea, and some day father
says we may have our bath in the river if it's very fine."
"We never have a bath in the river," said Becky, looking very much
astonished at the idea.
"Do you have your bath in the nursery like we do?" asked Milly.
"We haven't got a nursery," said Becky, staring at her, "mother puts us
in the toob on Saturday nights. I don't mind it but Tiza doesn't like it
a bit. Sometimes she hides when it's Saturday night, so that mother
can't find her till it's too late."
"Don't you have a bath except on Saturday?" said Milly. "Olly and I have
one every morning. Mother says we should get like shock-headed Peter if
"I don't know about him," said Becky, shaking her head.
"He's a little boy in a picture-book. I'll show him you when you come to
tea. But there's mother calling. Come along, Olly. Tiza won't come down
"She's a very rude girl," said Olly, who was rather hot and tired with
his game, and didn't think it was all fun that Tiza should always hit
him and he should never be able to hit Tiza. "I won't sit next her when
she comes to tea with us."
"Tiza's only in fun," said Becky, "she's always like that. Tiza, are you
coming down? I am going to get baby out, I heard him crying just now."
"May you take baby out all by yourself?" asked Milly.
"Why, I always take him out, and I put him to sleep at nights; and
mother says he won't go to sleep for anybody as quick as for me," said
Milly felt a good deal puzzled. It _must_ be funny to have no Nana.
"Will you and he," said Becky, pointing to Olly, "come up this afternoon
and help us call the cows?"
"If we may," said Milly; "who calls them?"
"Tiza and I," answered Becky; "when I'm a big girl I shall learn how to
milk, but fayther says I'm too little yet."
"I wish I lived at a farm," said Milly disconsolately.
Becky didn't quite know what to say to this, so she began to call Tiza
"Swish!" went something past them as quick as lightning. It was Tiza
running to the house. Olly set out to run after her as fast as he could
run, but he came bang up against his mother standing at the farmhouse
door, just as Tiza got safely in and was seen no more.
"Ah, you won't catch Tiza, master," said Mrs. Backhouse, patting his
head; "she's a rough girl, always at some tricks or other--we think she
ought to have been a boy, really."
"Mother, isn't Becky very nice?" said Milly, as they walked away. "Her
mother lets her do such a lot of things--nurse the baby, and call the
cows, and make pinafores. Oh, I wish father was a farmer."
"Well, it's not a bad kind of life when the sun shines, and everything
is going right," said Mrs. Norton; "but I think you had better wait a
little bit till the rain comes before you quite make up your mind about
But Milly was quite sure she knew enough about it already to make up her
mind, and all the way home she kept saying to herself, "If I could only
turn into a little farmer's girl! Why don't people have fairy godmothers
now like Cinderella?"
OUT ON THE HILLS
Milly and Olly, and the four little Westmoreland children, had a very
pleasant tea together in the afternoon of the Nortons's first day at
Ravensnest. Bessie and Charlie certainly didn't talk much; but Tiza,
when once her mother had made her come, thought proper to get rid of a
great deal of her shyness, and to chatter and romp so much that they
quite fell in love with her, and could not be persuaded to go anywhere
or do anything without her. Nurse would not let Milly and Olly go to
call the cows, though she promised they should some other day; but she
took the whole party down to the stepping-stones after tea, and great
fun it was to see Becky and Tiza running over the stepping-stones, and
jumping from one stone to another like little fawns. Milly and Olly
wanted sorely to go too, but there was no persuading Nana to let them go
without their father to fish them out if they tumbled in, so they had to
content themselves with dangling their legs over the first
stepping-stone and watching the others. But perhaps you don't quite
known what stepping-stones are? They are large high stones, with flat
tops, which people put in, a little way apart from each other, right
across a river, so that by stepping from one to the other you can cross
to the opposite side. Of course they only do for little rivers, where
the water isn't very deep. And they don't always do even there.
Sometimes in the river Thora, where Milly and Olly's stepping-stones
were, when it rained very much, the water rose so high that it dashed
right over the stepping-stones and nobody could go across. Milly and
Olly saw the stepping-stones covered with water once or twice while they
were at Ravensnest; but the first evening they saw them the river was
very low, and the stones stood up high and dry out of the water. Milly
thought that stepping-stones were much nicer than bridges, and that it
was the most amusing and interesting way of getting across a river that
she knew. But then Milly was inclined to think everything wonderful and
interesting at Ravensnest--from the tall mountains that seemed to shut
them in all around like a wall, down to the tiny gleaming wild
strawberries, that were just beginning to show their little scarlet
balls on the banks in the Ravensnest woods. Both she and Olly went to
bed after their first day at Ravensnest with their little hearts full of
happiness, and their little heads full of plans. To-morrow they were to
go to Aunt Emma's, and perhaps the day after that father would take them
to bathe in the river, and nurse would let them go and help Becky and
Tiza call the cows. Holidays _were_ nice; still geography lessons were
nice too sometimes, thought Milly sleepily, just as she was slipping,
slipping away into dreamland, and in her dreams her faithful little
thoughts went back lovingly to Fraeulein's kind old face, and to the
capes and islands and seas she had been learning about a week ago.
[Illustration: "The flowers Milly gathered for her mother"]
The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Norton were busy indoors till about twelve
o'clock; and the children wandered about the garden with nurse, finding
out many new nooks and corners, especially a delightful steep path which
led up and up into the woods, till at last it took the children to a
little brown summer-house at the top, where they could sit and look over
the trees below, away to the river and the hay-fields and the mountains.
And between the stones and this path grew the prettiest wild
strawberries, only, as Milly said, it was not much good looking for them
yet, for there were so few red ones you could scarcely get enough to
taste what they were like. But in a week or two, she and Olly planned
that they would take up a basket with some green leaves in it, and
gather a lot for father and mother--enough for regular dessert--and some
wild raspberries too, for these also grew in the wood, to the great
delight of the children, who had never seen any before. They began to
feel presently as if it would be nothing very extraordinary to find
trees covered with barley sugar or jam tarts in this wonderful wood. And
as for the flowers Milly gathered for her mother, they were a sight to
see--moon-daisies and meadow-sweet, wild roses and ragged-robins, and
bright bits of rhododendrons. For both the woods and the garden at
Ravensnest were full of rhododendrons of all colours, pink and red, and
white and flame colour; and Milly and Olly amused themselves with making
up bunches of different coloured flowers with as many different colours
in them as they could find. There were no rhododendrons at Willingham;
and the children thought them the loveliest, gayest things they had ever
But at last twelve o'clock came. Nurse tidied the children, gave them
some biscuits and milk, and then sent them to the drawing-room to find
father and mother. Only Mrs. Norton was there, but she said there was no
need to wait for father, as he was out already and would meet them on
the way. They were to go straight over the mountain instead of walking
round by the road, which would have taken much longer. So off they
set--Olly skipping, and chattering as he always did; while Milly stuck
close to her mother, telling her every now and then, when Olly left off
talking, about their morning in the wood, the flowers they had gathered
and the strawberries they had found. At the top of the garden was a
little gate, and beside the gate stood Bessie and Charlie, who had
really been watching for the children all the morning, though they
didn't dare to come into the garden without leave.
"Bessie, we are going to Aunt Emma's," said Milly, running up to them.
"Where are you and Charlie going to?"
"Nawhere," said Bessie, who, as usual, had her pinafore in her mouth,
and never said more than one word at a time if she could help it.
"Nowhere! what do you do all the morning, Bessie?"
"I doan't know," said Bessie, gravely looking up at her; "sometimes I
mind the baby."
"Do you mind the baby, too? Dear, dear! And what does Charlie do?"
"Nawthing," said Bessie again. "He only makes himself dirty."
"Don't you go to school ever?"
"No, but mother's going to send us," said Bessie, whose big eyes grew
round and frightened at the idea, as if it was a dreadful prospect. "Are
you going to be away for all day?"
"Yes; we shan't be back till quite evening, mother says. Here she is.
Good-bye, Bessie; good-bye, Charlie. Will you come and play with us
Bessie nodded, but Charlie ran off without answering; for he saw Olly
coming, and was afraid he might want to kiss him. On the other side of
the gate they had to begin to climb up a steep bit of soft green grass;
and very hard work it was. After quite a little way the children began
to puff and pant like two little steam engines.
"It _is_ a little bit like going upstairs, don't you think, Olly?" said
Milly, sitting down by her mother on a flat bit of gray stone.
"No, it isn't a bit like going upstairs," said Olly, shaking his head;
for Olly always liked contradicting Milly if he could. "It's like--it's
like--walking up a house!"
Suddenly they heard far above them a shout of "Hullo!" Both the children
started up and looked about them. It was like father's voice, but they
couldn't see him anywhere.
"Where are you, father?"
"Hullo!" again. And this time it sounded much nearer to them. Where
could it be? The children began to run about and look behind the bushes
and the rocks, till all of a sudden, just as Milly got near a big rock,
out jumped Mr. Norton from behind it with a great shout, and began to
run after her. Away ran Milly and Olly as fast as their small feet could
carry them, up and down, up and down, till at last there came a steep
place--one of Milly's feet tripped up, down she went, rolling over and
over--down came Olly on the top of her, and the two of them rolled away
together till they stopped at the bottom of the steep place, all mixed
up in a heap of legs and arms and hats and pinafores.
"Here's a boy and girl tied up in a knot," said Mr. Norton, scrambling
down after them and lifting them up. "There's no harm done, is there?"
"I've got a bump on my arm," said Milly, turning up her sleeve.
"And I've got a scratch on my nose," said Olly, rubbing it.
"That's not much for a nice tumble like that," said Mr. Norton, "you
wouldn't mind another, would you, Milly?"
"Not a bit," said Milly, merrily skipping along beside him. "Hide again,
"Another day, not now, for we want to get to Aunt Emma's. But tomorrow,
if you like, we'll come up here and have a capital game. Only we must
choose a nice dry place where there are no bogs."
"What are bogs?" asked Olly.
"Wet places, where your feet go sinking deeper and deeper into the mud,
and you can't find any stiff firm bit to stand on. Sometimes people sink
down and down into a bog till the mud comes right over their head and
face and chokes them; but we haven't got any bogs as bad as that here.
Now, children, step along in front. Very soon we shall get to the top of
the mountain, and then we shall see wonderful things on the other side."
So Milly and Olly ran on, pushing their way through the great tall fern,
or scampering over the short green grass where the little mountain sheep
were nibbling, and where a beautiful creeping moss grew all over the
ground, which, mother told Milly, was called "Stags' horn moss," because
its little green branches were so like stags' horns.
"Now look, children," shouted their father to them from behind. "Here we
are at the top."
And then, all of a sudden, instead of only the green mountain and the
sheep, they could see far away on the other side of the mountain. There,
all round them, were numbers of other mountains; and below, at their
feet, were houses and trees and fields, while straight in front lay a
great big blue lake stretching away ever so far, till it seemed to be
lost in the sky.
"Look, look, mother!" cried Milly, clapping her hands, "there's
Windermere lake, the lake we saw when we were coming from the station.
Look at that steamer, with all the people on board! What funny little
black people. And oh, mother, look at that little boat over there! How
can people go out in such a weeny boat as that?"
"It isn't such a weeny boat, Milly. It only looks so small because it's
such a long way off. When father and I take you and Olly on the lake, we
shall go in a boat just like that. And now, instead of looking so far
away, look just down here below you, and tell me what you see."
"Some chimneys, and some trees, and some smoke, ever so far down,"
shouted the children. "Is it a house, mother?"
"That's Aunt Emma's house, the old house where I used to come and stay
when I was a little girl, and when your dear great-grandfather and
great-grandmother were alive. I used to think it the nicest place in the
"Were you a very little girl, mother, and were you ever naughty?" asked
Milly, slipping her little hand into her mother's and beginning to feel
rather tired with her long walk.
"I'm afraid I was very often naughty, Milly. I used to get into great
rages and scream, till everybody was quite tired out. But Aunt Emma was
very good to me, and took a great deal of pains to cure me of going into
rages. Besides, it always did naughty children good to live in the same
house with great-grandmamma, and so after a while I got better. Take
care how you go, children, it's very steep just here, and you might soon
tumble over on your noses. Olly, take care! take care! where _are_ you
Where, indeed, was Olly going? Just the moment before the little man had
spied a lovely flower growing a little way off the path, in the middle
of some bright yellow-green moss. And without thinking of anything but
getting it, off he rushed. But oh! splish, splash, splish, down went
Olly's feet, up splashed the muddy water, and there was Olly stuck in a
"Father, pull me out, pull me out!" cried the little boy in terror, as
he felt his feet stuck fast. But almost before he could speak there was
father close beside him, standing on a round little hump of dry grass
which was sticking up out of the bog, and with one grip he got hold of
Olly under his arm, and then jump! on to another little hump of grass,
jump! on to another, and there they were safe on the path again.
"Oh, you black boy!" cried father and mother and Milly all together. Was
there ever such a little object! All his nice clean holland frock was
splashed with black mud; and what had happened to his stockings?
"I've got mud-stockings on," shouted Olly, capering about, and pointing
to his legs which were caked with mud up to his knees.
"You're a nice respectable boy to take out to dinner," said Mrs. Norton.
"I think we'll leave you on the mountain to have dinner with the sheep."
"Oh no, father," pleaded Milly, taking Olly fast by the hand. "We can
wash him at Aunt Emma's, you know."
"Don't go too close to him, Milly!" exclaimed Mrs. Norton, "or you'll
get as black as he is. We shall have to put him under the pump at Aunt
Emma's, that's quite certain. But there's nothing to wash him with here,
so he must just go as he is for a bit. Now, Olly, run along and your
feet will soon dry. Father's going first, you go next, just where he
goes, I'm coming after you, and Milly shall go last. Perhaps in that way
we shall get you down safe."
"Oh, but, mother, look at my flower," said Olly, holding it up
triumphantly. "Isn't it a beauty?"
"Shall I tell you what it's called, Olly? It's called a butterwort, and
it always grows in boggy places; I wouldn't advise you to go after one
again without asking father first."
It was a very different thing going down the mountain from climbing up
it. It seemed only a few minutes before they had got almost to the
bottom, and there was a gate leading into a road, and a little village
of white houses in front of them. They walked up the road a little way,
and then father opened a big gate and let them into a beautiful garden
full of rhododendrons like the Ravensnest garden. And who was this
walking down the drive to meet them? Such a pretty little elderly lady,
with gray hair and a white cap.
"Dear Aunt Emma!" said Mrs. Norton, running up to her and taking both
her hands and kissing her.
"Well, Lucy," said the little lady, holding her hands and looking at her
(Lucy was Mrs. Norton's Christian name), "it _is_ nice to see you all
here. And there's dear little Milly, I remember her. But where's Olly?
I've never seen that small creature, you know. Come, Olly, don't be shy.
Little boys are never shy with Aunt Emma."
"Except when they tumble into bogs," said Mr. Norton, laughing and
pulling Olly forward, who was trying to hide his mud-stockings behind
his mother. "There's a clean tidy boy to bring to dinner, isn't he, Aunt
Emma? I think I'll take him to the yard and pump on him a little before
we bring him in."
Aunt Emma put up her spectacles to look at Olly.
"Why, Olly, I think Mother Quiverquake has been catching hold of you.
Don't you know about old Mother Quiverquake, who lives in the bogs? Oh,
I can tell you splendid stories about her some day. But now catch hold
of my hand, and keep your little legs away from my dress, and we'll soon
make a proper boy of you again."
And then Aunt Emma took one of Milly's hands and one of Olly's, and up
they went to the house. But I must start another chapter before I begin
to tell you what the children saw in Aunt Emma's house, and of the happy
time they spent there.
AUNT EMMA'S PICNIC
Instead of taking them straight into the house, however, Aunt Emma took
the children up a little shady path which very soon brought them to a
white cottage covered with honeysuckle and climbing roses.
"This is where my coachman's wife lives," said Aunt Emma, "and she owns
a small boy who might perhaps find you a pair of stockings, Olly, to put
on while your own are washed."
Olly opened his brown eyes very wide at the idea of wearing some other
little boy's stockings, but he said nothing.
Aunt Emma tapped at the door, and out came a stout kind-looking woman.
"Mrs. Tyson, do you think your Johnny could lend my little nephew a pair
of his stockings while we get his own washed? Master Olly has been
tumbling into a bog by way of making friends with the mountains, and I
don't quite know how I am to let those legs into my dining-room."
"Dear me, ma'am, but Johnny'll be proud if he's got any clean, but I'll
not answer for it. Won't ye come in?"
In they walked, and there was a nice tidy kitchen, with a wooden cradle
in the corner, and a little fair-haired boy sitting by it and rocking
the baby. This was Johnny, and Olly looked at him with great curiosity.
"I've got bigger legs than Johnny," he whispered solemnly at last to
Aunt Emma, while they were waiting for Mrs. Tyson, who had gone upstairs
to fetch the stockings.
"Perhaps you eat more bread and milk than Johnny does," said Aunt Emma,
very solemnly too, "However, most likely Johnny's stockings will
stretch. How's the baby, Johnny?"
"She's a great deal better, ma'am," said the little boy, smiling at her.
Milly and Olly made him feel shy, but he loved Aunt Emma.
"Have you been taking care of her all the morning for mother?"
"Yes, ma'am, and she's never cried but once," said Johnny proudly.
"Well done! Ah! there comes Mrs. Tyson. Now, Olly, sit up on that chair,
and we'll see to you."
Off came the dirty stockings, and Mrs. Tyson slipped on a pair of woolen
socks that tickled Olly very much. They were very thick, and not a bit
like his own stockings; and when he got up again he kept turning round
and round to look at his legs, as if he couldn't make them out.
"Do they feel funny to you?" said Mrs. Tyson, patting his shoulder.
"Never you mind, little master; I know they're nice and warm, for I
knitted them myself."
"Mother buys our stockings in the shop," said Olly, when they got
outside again; "why doesn't Mrs. Tyson?"
"Perhaps we haven't so many shops, or such nice ones here, Olly, as you
have at Willingham; and the people here have always been used to do a
great many things for themselves. Some of them live in such lonely
places among the mountains that it is very difficult for them to get to
any shops. Not very long ago the mothers used to make all the stuffs for
their own dresses and their children's. What would you say, Milly, if
mother had to weave the stuff for it every time you had a new dress?"
"Mother wouldn't give me a great many new dresses," said Milly, gravely,
shaking her head. "I like shops best, Aunt Emma."
"Well, I suppose it's best to like what we've got," said Aunt Emma,
Indoors, Olly's muddy stockings were given to Aunt Emma's maid, who
promised to have them washed and dried by the time they had to go home,
and then, when Mrs. Norton had covered up the black spots on his frock
with a clean pinafore she had brought with her, Olly looked quite
The children thought they had never seen quite such a nice house as Aunt
Emma's. First of all it had a large hall, with all kinds of corners in
it, just made for playing hide-and-seek in; and the drawing-room was
full of the most delightful things. There were stuffed birds in cases,
and little ivory chessmen riding upon ivory elephants. There were
picture-books, and there were mysterious drawers full of cards and
puzzles, and glass marbles and old-fashioned toys, that the children's
mother and aunts and uncles, and their great-aunts and uncles before
that, had loved and played with years and years ago. On the wall hung a
great many pictures, some of them of funny little stiff boys in blue
coats with brass buttons, and some of them of little girls with mob-caps
and mittens, and these little boys and girls were all either dead now,
or elderly men and women, for they were the great-aunts and uncles; and
over the mantelpiece hung a picture of a lovely old lady, with bright,
soft brown hair and smiling eyes and lips, that looked as if they were
just going to speak to the two strange little children who had come for
their first visit to their mother's old home. Milly knew quite well that
it was a picture of great-grandmamma. She had seen others like it
before, only not so large as this one, and she looked at it quietly,
with her grave blue eyes, while Olly was eagerly wandering round the
room, spying into everything, and longing to touch this, that, and the
other, if only mother would let go his hand.
"You know who that is, don't you, little woman?" said Aunt Emma, taking
her up on her knee.
"Yes," said Milly, nodding, "it's great-grandmamma. I wish we could have
"I wish you could, Milly. She would have smiled at you as she is smiling
in the picture and you would have been sure to have loved her; all
little children did. I can remember seeing your mother, Milly, when she
was about as old as you, cuddled up in a corner of that sofa over there,
in 'grandmamma's pocket,' as she used to call it, listening with all her
ears to great-grandmamma's stories. There was one story called 'Leonora'
that went on for years and years, till all the little children in
it--and the little children who listened to it--were almost grown up;
and then great-grandmamma always carried about with her a wonderful
blue-silk bag full of treasures, which we used to be allowed to turn out
whenever any of us had been quite good at our lessons for a whole week."
"Mother has a bag like that," said Milly; "it has lots of little toys in
it that father had when he was a little boy. She lets us look at it on
our birthdays. Can you tell stories, Aunt Emma?"
"Tell us about old Mother Quiverquake," cried Olly, running up and
climbing on his aunt's knee.
"Oh dear, no!" said Aunt Emma; "it's much too fine to-day for
stories--indoors, at any rate. Wait till we get a real wet day, and then
we'll see. After dinner to-day, what do you think we're going to do?
Suppose we have a row on the lake to get water-lilies, and suppose we
take a kettle and make ourselves some tea on the other side of the lake.
What would you say to that, Master Olly?"
The children began to dance about with delight at the idea of a row and
a picnic both together, when suddenly there was a knock at the door, and
when Aunt Emma said, "Come in!" what do you think appeared? Why, a great
green cage, carried by a servant, and in it a gray parrot, swinging
about from side to side, and cocking his head wickedly, first over one
shoulder and then over the other.
"Now, children," said Aunt Emma, while the children stood quite still
with surprise, "let me introduce you to my old friend, Mr. Poll Parrot.
Perhaps you thought I lived all alone in this big house. Not at all.
Here is somebody who talks to me when I talk to him, who sings and
chatters and whistles and cheers me up wonderfully in the winter
evenings, when the rains come and make me feel dull. Put him down here,
Margaret," said Aunt Emma to the maid, clearing a small table for the
cage. "Now, Olly, what do you think of my parrot?"
"Can it talk?" asked Olly, looking at it with very wide open eyes.
"It _can_ talk; whether it _will_ talk is quite another thing. Parrots
are contradictious birds. I feel very often as if I should like to beat
Polly, he's so provoking. Now, Polly, how are you to-day?"
"Polly's got a bad cold; fetch the doc--" said the bird at once, in such
a funny cracked voice, that it made Olly jump as if he had heard one of
the witches in Grimm's "Fairy Tales" talking.
"Come, Polly, that's very well behaved of you; but you mustn't leave off
in the middle, begin again. Olly, if you don't keep your fingers out of
the way Polly will snap them up for his dinner. Parrots like fingers
very much." Olly put his hands behind his back in a great hurry, and
mother came to stand behind him to keep him quiet. By this time,
however, Polly had begun to find out that there were some new people in
the room he didn't know, and for a long time Aunt Emma could not make
him talk at all. He would do nothing but put his head first on one side
and then on the other and make angry clicks with his beak.
"Come, Polly," said Aunt Emma, "what a cross parrot you are.
One--two--three--four. Now, Polly, count."
"Polly's got a bad cold, fetch the doc--" said Polly again while Aunt
Emma was speaking. "One--two--six--seven--eight--nine--two--_Quick_
And then Polly began to lift first one claw and then the other as if he
were marching, while the children shouted with laughter at his
ridiculous ways and his gruff cracked voice.
Then Aunt Emma went behind him and rapped gently on the table. The
parrot stopped marching, stuck his head on one side and listened. Aunt
Emma rapped again.
"Come in!" said the parrot suddenly, quite softly, as if he had turned
into quite another person. "Hush--sh--sh, cat's got a mouse!"
"Well, Polly," said Aunt Emma, "I suppose she may have a mouse if she
likes. Is that all you've got to tell us? Polly, where's gardener?"
"Get away! get away!" screamed Polly, while all his feathers began to
stand up straight, and his eyes looked fierce and red like two little
"That always makes him cross," said Aunt Emma; "he can't bear gardener.
Come, Polly, don't get in such a temper."
"Oh, isn't he like the witches on the broom-sticks in our fairy-book,
Olly?" cried Milly. "Don't you think, Aunt Emma, he must have been
changed into something? Perhaps he was a wicked witch once, or a
magician, you know, and the fairies changed him into a parrot."
"Well, Milly, I can't say. He was a parrot when I had him first, twelve
years ago. That's all I know about it. But I believe he's very old. Some
people say he's older than I am--think of that! So you see he's had time
to be a good many things. Well, Polly, good-night. You're not a nice
bird to-night at all. Take him away, Margaret."
"Jane! Jane!" screamed Polly, as the maid lifted up the cage again.
"Make haste, Jane! cat's in the larder!"
"Oh, you bad Polly," said Aunt Emma, "you're always telling tales.
Jane's my cook, Milly, and Polly doesn't like cats, so you see he tries
to make Jane believe that our old cat steals the meat out of the larder.
Good-bye, Polly, good-bye. You're an ill-natured old bird, but I'm very
fond of you all the same."
"Do get us a parrot, mother!" said Olly, jumping about round his mother,
when Polly was gone.
"How many more things will you want before you get home, Olly, do you
think?" asked his mother, kissing him. "Perhaps you'll want to take home
a few mountains, and two or three little rivers, and a bog or two, and a
few sheep--eh, young man?"
By this time dinner was ready, and there was the dinner-bell ringing. Up
ran the children to Aunt Emma's room to get their hands washed and their
hair brushed, and presently there were two tidy little folks sitting on
either side of Aunt Emma's chair, and thinking to themselves that they
had never felt quite so hungry before. But hungry as Milly was she
didn't forget to look out of the window before she began her dinner, and
it was worth while looking out of the window in Aunt Emma's dining-room.
Before the windows was a green lawn, like the lawn at Ravensnest, only
this lawn went sloping away, away till there was just a little rim of
white beach, and then beyond came the wide, dancing blue lake, that the
children had seen from the top of the mountain. Here it was close to
them, so close that Milly could hear the little waves plashing, through
the open window.
"Milly," whispered Aunt Emma when they were all waiting for pudding, "do
you see that little house down there by the water's edge? That's where
the boat lives--we call it a boathouse. Do you think you'll be
frightened of the water, little woman?"
"No, I don't think so," said Milly, shaking her little wise head
gravely. "I am frightened sometimes, very. Mother calls me a little
goose because I run away from Jenny sometimes--that's our cow at home,
Aunt Emma, but then she's got such long horns, and I can't help feeling
"Well, the lake hasn't got horns, Milly," said Aunt Emma, laughing, "so
perhaps you will manage not to be afraid of it."
How kind and nice Aunt Emma looked as she sat between the children, with
her pretty soft gray hair, and her white cap and large white collar.
Mrs. Norton could not help thinking of the times when she was a little
girl, and used always to insist on sitting by Aunt Emma at dinner-time.
That was before Aunt Emma's hair had turned gray. And now here were her
own little children sitting where she used to sit at their age, and
stealing their small hands into Aunt Emma's lap as she used to do so
After dinner the children had to sit quiet in the drawing-room for a
time, while Aunt Emma and father and mother talked; but they had
picture-books to look at, and Aunt Emma gave them leave to turn out
everything in one of the toy-drawers, and that kept them busy and happy
for a long time. But at last, just when Olly was beginning to get tired
of the drawer, Aunt Emma called to them from the other end of the room
to come with her into the kitchen for a minute. Up jumped the children
and ran after their aunt across the hall into the kitchen.
"Now, children," said Aunt Emma, pointing to a big basket on the kitchen
table, "suppose you help me to pack up our tea-things. Olly, you go and
fetch the spoons, and, Milly, bring the plates one by one."
The tea things were all piled up on the kitchen table, and the children
brought them one after another to Aunt Emma to pack them carefully into
the big basket.
"Ain't I a useful boy, Aunt Emma?" asked Olly proudly, coming up laden
with a big table-cloth which he could scarcely carry.
"Very useful, Olly, though our table-cloth won't look over tidy at tea
if you crumple it up like that. Now, Milly, bring me that tray of bread
and the little bundle of salt; and, Olly, bring me that bit of butter
over there, done up in the green leaves, but mind you carry it
carefully. Now for some knives too; and there are the cups and saucers,
Milly, look, in that corner; and there is the cake all ready cut up, and
there is the bread and butter. Now have we got everything? Everything, I
think, but the kettle, and some wood and some matches, and these must go
in another basket."
"Aunt Emma," said Milly, creeping up close to her, "were you ever a
"Not that I know of, Milly. Would you like me better if I had a wand and
a pair of pet dragons, like old Fairy Blackstick?"
"No," said Milly, stroking her aunt's hand, "but you do such nice
things, just like fairy godmothers do."
"Do I, little woman? Aunt Emma likes doing nice things for good
children. But now come along, it's quite time we were off. Let us go
and fetch father and mother. Gardener will bring the baskets."
Such a merry party they were, trooping down to the boathouse. There lay
the boat; a pretty new boat, painted dark blue, with a little red flag
floating at her bows, and her name, "Ariel," written in large white
letters on the stern. And all around the boathouse stretched the
beautiful blue water, so clear and sunny and sparkling that it dazzled
Milly's eyes to look at it. She and Olly were lifted into the boat
beside Aunt Emma and mother, father sat in the middle and took the oars,
while gardener put the baskets into the stern, and then, untying the
rope which kept the boat tied into the boathouse, he gave it a good push
with one hand and off she went out into the blue lake, rising up and
down on the water like a swan.
"Oh! mother, mother, look up there," shouted Olly, "there's the
mountain. Isn't that where we climbed up this morning?"
Yes, there it was, the beautiful green rocky mountain, rising up above
Aunt Emma's house. They could see it all so clearly as they got farther
out into the lake; first the blue sky, then the mountain with the little
white dots on it, which Milly knew were sheep; then some trees, and in
front, Aunt Emma's house with the lawn and the boathouse. And as they
looked all round them they could see far bigger and grander mountains
than Brownholme, some near and green like Brownholme, and some far away
and blue like the sky, while down by the edge of the lake were hayfields
full of flowers, or bits of rock with trees growing on the top of them.
The children hardly knew what it was made them so quiet; but I think it
was because everything was so beautiful. They were really in the
hill-fairies' palace now.