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forthwith launched himself out of bed, to examine afresh the shelves and drawers, and try how easily he could reach the hooks and manage the lock.

"If I only had my trunk in here, now!" But, for want of the things that were really to be placed there, he had hung within it, cap, coat, jacket, and trousers that he took off on going to bed, in such order and space as they were rarely used to; and had put his shoes and stockings in a drawer, and set his tool-box-a chief treasure that he had kept in his own especial knowledge through the packing and removal-on the floor. This was suggestive.

little feet had toddled and scampered over its floors, till they came to sound with a manly tread in the old home, and at last, turned themselves away from it, and went out into the wide world.

Johnnie Osburn knew little of all this, beyond that it was a quaint, roomy old place, that, as he said, "looked as if lots of people had lived in it, and had always been very happy;" and that his father had been fortunate enough to buy it for such moderate sum as he could afford to pay; and that now, after two or three years' "talk" about going somewhere out of town to live, here they actually were, and he had got all the indispen

What if he were to drive in a few extra sable exploring and reconnoitring to do, as nails, lower down, for small things?

On consideration, however, he wisely came to the conclusion that it might not exactly do. Former experience had taught him that such improvements were not always hailed with approbation by maturer minds; and he therefore proceeded, as the next best amusement he could devise, to take down his garments and put himself into them; hanging his night-gown in their stead, in solitary state. Ten minutes more, and he was rushing down the front staircase, to the piazza door, just to take a look down the lane, where the bobolinks were singing, (it was now late in May, and they always arrive punctually upon the eleventh, don't they?) and then hasten to the stable to see Blackbird at his breakfast.

The house stood back a little from the high-road, and was shaded on each side with great elm and ash trees; but in front, across the road, and into the lane that ran straight down from just opposite the gate, was the prettiest green glimpse in the world.

Elms and locusts, of wild and natural growth, covered it in with walls and roof; and all summer long the birds and butterflies made it their arcade of fashion. Aristocratic birds' nests they were, that cuddled in its nooks-built long ago by the oldest families, and rebuilt, or replaced, in the self-same spot, for nobody knows how many years, by generation after generation.

And the old house, too, that looked down the lane, bad stood there long enough to be quite in keeping with the rest; and many

fast as possible.

Behind the house, the ground sloped pleasantly southward a little way, and here was the garden.

Beyond it, in the hollow, with promise of endless delight, a little chattering brook went by, from the hills to the river; and up from its opposite margin rose a green, wooded knoll, which would have been a hill, and have had a name of its own, if it had not been for the bigger ones a little way off that took to themselves all the glory of the neighbourhood, and so left it simply to be known as the High Pasture.

But while I have been telling you thus much of the immediate surroundings of John's new home, he was himself taking a much more rapid survey of it all, and catching a glimpse of his father in the barnyard, has darted away to join him, and look after Blackbird.

It was very pleasant, down there in the barn-yard, this bright May morning.

The barn itself was a curious building, nearly as big as a church, and consisting of two parts, built at different times, and by people who seemed to have had very different purposes in its construction.

The old part was a long, large, open haybarn, the other, and newer, was a small addition for stable use, across the northerly end, causing the entire building to assume the form of a T. The whole was neatly boarded and shingled, apparently at some recent time, and painted, like the house, of an agreeable shade of tawny or buff brown.

John's father was talking with a man who had a carpenter's rule in his hand. They were planning a partition which should enclose a portion of the large barn, nearest the stable and behind the stanchions, for a tool

room.

Another man, close by, was currying down Blackbird, who stood in the angle of the building, fastened by his halter to a ring in the side of the barn.

Overhead was a great twittering and bustle; for the barn-swallows, whose nests were crowded close all along under the eaves, were skimming incessantly back and forth, for morning exercise and enjoyment, and to pick up their aerial breakfast as they flew.

John thought there never was a spot or scene or combination of circumstances more perfectly enchanting; or, at least, if his thought did not put itself precisely into these words, it would have done so, if his sensations could possibly have been brought within such simple form of translation.

Standing there, quite quietly, between the interest of hearing his father's talk with the carpenter, on the one hand, and that of watching, on the other, the progress of Blackbird's toilet, and with that living wonder and delight about him in the air,-for a body drawn by several opposing forces or attractions remains at rest,-John presently perceived, coming in at a little gate below the barn that opened on a footpath to the house, a boy of about his own age. A new force introduced and the body moves. Boy is more attractive to boy, than bird or horse, or man. John started off, on a line whose instinctive direction brought him into the footpath at the precise point to meet the stranger lad, who carried in one hand a nice, white, covered basket, and in the other, a little china pitcher.

When John came up, he spoke,

My mother sent me over with her compliments, and she thought, as you had just moved in, your mother might like a few warm biscuits, and a little cream, for breakfast. And she says, if there is anything she can do to help her in any way, she shall be very happy."

"I'll go up to the house with you, and find mother," replied John. "Where do you live ?"

"Oh, just over in the next house, down the road. My father's name is Mr. Sellinger. He's the minister. My name's Stephen."

"And my father's name is Mr. Osburn, and my name's John," was the reply and so they both walked up to the side-porch together.

John opened the door, and met his mother in the passage which led from the kitchen to the dining-room. She had a plate of buttered toast in her hand; and the table was nicely set in the dining-room, as he saw through the open door.

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Ah, Johnnie!" she said, "where is papa? I was just wondering how I should manage to get you both invited in to breakfast."

"I'll call him in a minute. But here's some breakfast to be invited in, mother. Mrs. Sellinger has sent you over some cream, and some nice hot biscuits."

Stephen came forward, and repeated his mother's message.

Mrs. Osburn smiled, and a faint, soft colour, as of a surprised pleasure, came up in her face. She had lived for many years in the city, where people come and go without taking a bit of notice of each other; and this warm-hearted country neighbourliness was something she had quite forgotten to expect though her early girlhood knew it very well. Johnnie, too, could'nt but be reminded of the boy and girl who lived in the opposite house to theirs in Pinckney Street, and whom he had watched so long a time, day after day, at the doors and windows, without knowing their names; and now, here was Stephen Sillinger, who lived as far off as half the length of Pinckney Street, at least, yet with whom he already began to feel well acquainted, and whose mother's biscuits they were to eat for breakfast!

Mrs. Osburn sent back a message of thanks; and John accompanied Stephen as far as the barn, whence he summoned his father to breakfast; and when they came in together, he cried out to his mother, with a burst of repressed enthusiasm, as he saw the plate of delicious-looking rolls upon the table,—

"I say, mother! why didn't you thank her more? Why, she's the very jolliest woman that ever I heard of!"

AN EPISODE OF MY CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS.

BY A SCHOOLBOY.

AST half our head-master at Fordbridge fortnight before the day fixed for the commencement of the Christmas holidays. It was decided that school should cease immediately, so we were all of us sent home a fortnight earlier than was anticipated. That event-I am awfully sorry, of course, for poor Symons-has, I expect, exerted an influence on my life which I shall always feel. Yes, I really mean it; for she is such a jolly girl! At any rate she writes jolly letters; and I mean, as soon as ever I leave school, to go up to her governor and ask for his daughter Emma as my wife. But I'm afraid I'm putting the cart before the horse; I must retrace my steps, as they say in the three-volume novels, and bring you by degrees to the climax of my story.

LAST bild our head-mddenly just about a

'Twas late on Saturday night when I got home, and my pater (we used always to say pater and mater at Fordbridge, because it sounded classical) met me at Durlea Road Station in our dog-cart, and drove me home to The Rookery, which was the name of our place. Of course I was jolly glad to get home, and all the "kids" and my mater were pleased to see me. I did enjoy my tea that night, I know, after my frosty drive. But my tale really commences with the Sunday.

other side of the church. It was "nuts" for me all that service-time. I regularly took stock of the lot, and by the end of the second lesson I had made my choice, and to her I devoted my eyes the rest of the morning. She sat in the outside corner in the front pew, and was so jolly, you've no idea. I am no hand at description. Her hair was black as a crow, and so were her eyes-and such eyelashes! Her mouth was awfully pretty--such a pouting, playful expression, you know; and I know she blushed pretty finely once or twice when she caught my eyes looking at her. I looked as loving as ever I could at her from behind my Prayer-book; but, poor girl, she didn't dare smile or anything in return, for one of the Truffles was just a few yards from her. I determined then and there I'd get to know her, and I tried to express as much by my pantomimic farewell which I took of her during the last prayer. When we got home I felt I ought to show in some way my feeling of devotion, so resolutely held out against a second helping of pudding, and only drank one glass of port at dessert. After dinner I strolled out into the garden to consider what my next move would be, and in about an hour I had fixed my plans for the campaign. My father was one of the great men in our little village, We all went to church in the morning, and and rejoiced in the honour of being churcha good pewful it was of us, and it seemed very warden. As such he had possession of a duplinatural to see all the old folks again, and the cate key of the church door; and that fact parson seemed as if he had been in the pulpit led me to adopt the course I did. How could ever since midsummer, and was still going on get the key? That was the first difficulty. with the same old sermon. He was a very At last I thought of an excuse: I will tell learned old boy, you know, but rather long-him I want to go and practise on the church winded and prosy. But I had a great treat that Sunday morning, the long discourse notwithstanding. About a quarter of a mile from our house on the Gillsland road, stood a fine old house, which was always called "The Nunnery." Not that it was a nunnery now, for the two Misses Truffle kept a boarding-school there, and kept the girls almost as strict as the nuns used to be kept. As I had always lived at Durlea, I of course had often seen the Misses Truffles' school in my younger days, but then I was quite a green young spoon, and did not think anything about the girls as I do now. Since I had been at school I had never caught a glimpse of the young ladies, for, as luck would have it, their holidays always were on when mine were, and there never used to be any one in their pews at church but the two Misses Truffle and their antique mother, and a poor girl, who was currently reported to be a perpetual boarder there, her residence being in the West Indies and her parents unnatural. But on this morning the Misses Truffle and their school were there in all their glory, no less than six pews of them; and, Fortunately, they sat facing our pew on the

organ. Ah! but it was Sunday, and I knew he would not like me on that account to spend the afternoon thus. I knew where my father kept all his keys: keys of stables and barns and cellars, all labelled and hung up on hooks in his sanctum, as we called the room, half office, half smoking-room, which he appropriated. Perhaps I could find the church key up there. Up I went, having first seen my pater was snoring at an awful rate in the dining-room, and after going through nearly all the keys, there, sure enough, I found the great key of the church door. I pushed it in my pocket, and cut down-stairs as hard as I could, and off I ran towards the church, about a mile down the road.

Fortunately, there were no houses near the church, except, indeed, the vicar's, and his was well behind it, and quite out of sight of the door. People, had they been about, would have wondered to see me going alone into the church, but, luckily, when I reached the church gate, not a person was in sight, so I stole into the porch unobserved. The old key was somewhat rusty, and made a hideous and alarming row before I succeeded in opening the door,

but at last I was really inside the church, so I carefully locked the door from the inside, and set to my task. The girl I had so admired had a very pretty Church Service, and I had noticed particularly, when the school passed us on the way home from church, that she had not got it in her hand. There lay my hope. Rather anxiously I made my way to the pew where she had sat. A cursory glance, and I could not see the book. I was beginning to despair, when I saw the cushion raised a little at the corner. In a moment I had turned it up, and the Church Service of my charmer was in my hand, and in another I had opened it and read, in a schoolboy's hand on the first leaf, "Emma Fellows, Christmas Day, 1864." So her name was known to me, and her image in my mind assumed a greater reality. I could now apostrophise her by her name, and instinctively I began a sonnet, all of which I now remember is that "Emma" rhymed with "dilemma," and "love" with "dove." I had thus far got the church key and her Church Service-now for the next link in the chain. Sitting down on the very spot which her fair form had so recently pressed, I took out my pocket-book, tore out a leaf, and resting it on the ledge where she but a few hours before had rested her head on her hands, I wrote as follows:

"Can you guess who writes this? Will you, dearest Emma, grant me a favour? If you get this all right, blow your nose at the second collect to-night. I live but for you. Try and answer, as you value my peace."

Prayer-book. The light in the church was feeble, as usual, but yet I thought I could see her change colour as she discovered my note, and I know she looked up quickly at me, as our eyes for the moment met. Then the service began. I could not see her read it; I suppose she did so during the prayers, but I fancied during the sermon I could see her looking intently down, as though she were writing. I forgot to say she gave the signal I asked of her at the second collect, so she had at any rate got my note and read it. I am afraid in the dimness my expressive glances lost their power, and I could see that the dear girl could not venture to smile, or even look, for one of the horrid Misses Truffle was at her left hand, and an individual, whom I imagined to be the French governess, in the next pew. At last church was over, and I gave her, as I went down the aisle, a glance which, had it expressed the feelings of my heart, would have been conveying to her a facial representation of the most warm and constant affection.

Supper was over, and we were all gone to bed by eleven o'clock, but I had business before me, so instead of going to sleep I sat up till I thought all was quiet, and then got to work. Though my room was not on the ground-floor, to get out of it on to the roof of the verandah, and then slide down one of the pillars, was an easy task. I had often done it before, and, locking the door of my room, I was soon out of window and standing on the lawn. It was a pitch-dark night, but I knew every inch of my ground, and had taken the This document I folded and placed at the precaution of getting a box of matches and a commencement of the Evening Service, where piece of my candle. Perhaps you wonder why it must catch her eyes; then I clasped the I book, kissed it, and put it where I had found it. Then, after carefully surveying the surrounding coast from the keyhole, I turned the lock, and once more was in the open air. Just as I reached the church gate, a great friend of my pére's came up. Mr. Goodham was his name. "Ah! Charlie," he called out, as he caught sight of me, "you're home again, are you? Coming down to see us, or are you going to spend your afternoon in the churchyard?"

66

No, Mr. Goodham," I replied, "I've only been just looking round the old place; I shall come down and see you in the week, but now I must make haste home."

Luckily, he did not prolong the conversation, and did not say anything more about my being in the churchyard; if he had passed only a minute earlier, he would have caught me in the very act of unlocking the church door. The fates were evidently propitious!

got home in time for tea, but did not restore the key, as I meant to visit the church again that night. I was so excited that I hardly ate any tea; and, much to my mater's surprise, I was ready for church in good time. The school had not arrived when we took our places, so I had well settled down by the time they filed in. Now was the anxious time. The voluntary ceased, the vicar was at the desk, and Emma was in the act of opening her

braved the dangers of the darkness when I could have done it so much easier the next morning. But I couldn't wait. I was terribly anxious to see what Emma had written, and for her sake I could have braved anything. I reached the church door without any adventure, and, having oiled the key, I opened the door without the frightful noise of the morning. Inside the church I could not see my hand before me, and yet I feared to light my candle, as it might be seen by a passer-by;

and for me to be found in the church at midnight would, to say the least, be a curious occurrence. I groped stealthily up the aisle, and I had not gone many steps when the clock tolled out the hour of midnight. Simultaneously I stumbled, and caught with my outstretched arm-what? Something warm and round. Horror! My hair stood almost on end. But joy! I soon thought what it was; it was only the stove pipe, still heated with the day's fires. I reached the pew, I groped for the book, I felt eagerly, as a blind man, through its pages, and was rewarded for all my trouble -all my anxiety; that is, if the paper I held in my hand was favourable. That I must find out-but how? I thought of a plan. Down in the east end was a winding staircase leading to the top of the tower. In there I could strike a light, and no one see it. I retraced my steps down the aisle, and felt round the wall for the doorway. I found it and opened it, and having

gone up two or three steps I sat down and struck a match. Then I lighted my candle, and stuck it up by my side on the step, having first closed the door of the staircase. Truly I was in rather a queer position. Up the belfry steps of a church, and the hour past midnight! Time was I should have shuddered at the feat I was now performing. I could hear the old clock ticking loudly above me, and that was the only sound save my own heavy breathing. But I spared no time in reading the document I had found. By the glittering candle I read these words:

this was the place Emma meant. I had to be very quick in my investigation, for people might be passing at any moment. I walked up and down several times, taking cursory glances each time I passed. At last I stopped and put in my hand to deposit my letter in the trunk of the old tree, when, much to my joy, I felt a corner projecting from the cleft. I pulled it out and found it a daintilyfolded little note, very short and very sweet. "Come for an answer at six o'clock to-night. We break up next Saturday. Adieu! E. F." I was now certain I was right, so I pushed in my letter and started home, to be restless and dissatisfied till the evening came. I passed the rest of the morning in shooting with my father, and after dinner I rode over to our "market-town, Gillsland, and performed some commissions for my mother.

"I hardly dare write a word. The Misses Truffle would be mad (I think) if they knew what I was about. What is the favour? There is a hole in the wall at the Nunnery, close by the servants' door. Good-bye. Strict secrecy." I almost upset the candle in my delight as I read Emma's note. I kissed her pretty angular writing over and over, and I felt quite repaid for my midnight labour. Of course, dear girl as she was, she meant me to put my next epistle through the wall at the school, and thus I need not wait till the next Sunday. I was in high spirits when I thought how well I had succeeded so far. Emma certainly was not averse to me, for her note was certainly meant to lead me on. I carefully put out my light, once more groped my way to the church door, and was safely home and in bed by soon after one o'clock. The next morning I felt rather anxious to know if my absence had been noticed, but the meal passed off very quietly, and I got the church key back on its hook unobserved.

My first duty was to write a long letter to Emma. What I put in it I need not relate. Suffice it to say, I assured her of my undying devotion, and of a constancy that no trials would avail to destroy. Then I begged from her her carte to solace me during the holidays, and asked her to answer me as soon as she could. Then I set off to find out the improvised letter-box she had mentioned. All round Miss Truffle's school was a very high wall, which had in bygone days helped the nuns to keep their vows of separation from the world. There were three heavy oak doors. The first double, and wide enough to admit a carriage of any size. Then came the visitors' gate, with a brightly-burnished brass plate bearing on its brazen surface "Misses Truffles' Academy for Young Ladies." Next, round a bend of the road, was the servants' door; and it was to this one I bent my steps. All the wall was old and crumbling, covered with ivy; but here, as dear Emma had said, about a yard from the door, two or three stones had been displaced, and nothing but the ivy prevented the insertion of a hand. Looking through here, I found the hole opened on the very end of the sweeping lawn, which just beyond was bounded by a thick fence, which shut off the kitchen-garden. Just inside the opening in the wall grew a sycamore tree, almost close to the hole. The trunk of this was old and gnarled, and cleft by a fissure which just admitted the insertion of a letter. Doubtless

Punctually at six o'clock I was at "The Nunnery;" but, though I had fed myself with the hope that perhaps she would be there to speak to me, I was disappointed, and had to content myself with a charming note, smelling deliciously of scent, and enclosed in the prettiest magenta envelope. It was much longer than the Sunday one; indeed, too long to put in here. She said she could not give me her carte then, but would, perhaps, at some future time. That 'twas very naughty of me to flatter her, etc. etc. It made me feel awfully jolly; indeed, my surprising spirits and restored appetite quite astonished them at home.

Now there is not the slightest use in my detailing all the events of the week. Not a day passed but what I deposited my note in the old tree, and not an evening but what I received an answer. By Friday night we had arranged quite a jolly treat. As she said, on Saturday they were to break up. Well she told me, by my request, the train she was going by. I determined I would go with her at any rate part of the way. Her home was at Burnhampton, about 150 miles from Durlea. Now I had an old aunt-single, be it noted, and moreover rich-living at Bathtown, about thirty miles away, and on the same line of rail as Burnhampton. Now every holiday I went up to see Aunt Jane. Why should I not go on that very Saturday. I worked the oracle at home, and soon got consent; but I did not tell them, of course, my chief reason. So far so good. I told Emma of my intention, and she did not forbid it in her answer.

Saturday morning came, and I was at the station in good time for the 9.50 train. Presently the lumbering old "Nunnery" carriage rolled up, and down got the senior Miss Truffle, Emma, and two other girls who were going by the same train. The old girl did not let them stand on the platform long, but bundled them all into the waiting-room. Of course I had made no sign when I saw Emma: the time was not yet come. Once in the train she would be out of Miss Truffle's power, for it was her last half, and she was past eighteen. In about five minutes the train screeched and rattled into the station. By, suppose, a previous arrangement with the porter, the three inno

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