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with the effort to do polite last remark, his sleepy thoughts justice to the dainties set be- turning back to familiar things. fore them, the cobbler and his “Only this morning it was son found themselves left alone that you gave it them,” his at last at the long brilliant father reminded him, reducing table, and they rose hastily him to incredulous silence. It and stole up to bed thoroughly seemed as if not only hundreds worn out.
of miles but hundreds of years “I am afraid the tadpoles separated him from their early will be all dead by now, if start and their last backward Nain won't have given them look at the little grey house on fresh water," was little John's the edge of the hill.
The sumptuous breakfast of mend, he bethought himself of the next morning was unwel- the unwritten letter. It would come to John Davies. He at least be a pretext for securfelt ill; and though the time ing little John's company, and dragged wearily, and stretched he broached the subject as itself out to à portentous soon as the horses had been length, he made the steadily duly inspected. falling rain an excuse for stay- “You are quicker at the ing in the house until after writing than I,” he said, “and tea. Then little John, who the gentleman said to us to do was establishing friendly re- it in haste, isn't it? Here is a lations with every one about splendid bit of paper I have the place, came in bubbling found in the pocket of this over with excitement about coat. It will only be wanted “the horses in the stable - just to rub out this penciltens of them, Tada !”
writing, and I have a leadHe could not disappoint the pencil with an 'insha-rubber' child, and allowed himself to be dragged out, after putting They settled themselves down on, for the protection of his in the library and applied best clothes, a waterproof coat themselves to their formidable which he found hanging among task with great solemnity ; but some other wraps. It almost they were checked at the very swallowed him up, but kept outset by the obstinacy of the him dry very effectually; and pencil-writing, which proved to the air, and his real interest in be of an ineradicable purple, the beautiful animals, did him and defied the india-rubber. good.
"Drat it!” said John Davies, He had been beginning to irritably. “Some kind of blue find his idleness and the lone- ink it is. Perhaps it is someliness of the big library in- thing to be kept, after all. tolerable, and in default of his Can you read it, little John?” tools and a pair of shoes to Little John tried. He made
it out word by word-it was a cobbler solemnly. “I large legible hand — and de- able to understand that just.” livered each syllable in a nasal Little John read it again, monotone after a pause.
and translated it feebly, with "I am afraid, ”” he read a sense of impending disaster. aloud, in this unilluminating “Yes," said John Davies, fashion, " that it is too late to “that's it.” After a pause he right the wrong I have done. continued: “In that coat he I shall die here without my died, look you.
I felt some son's forgiveness, but I will try great shudder coming over me to do what I can. I hereby when I took it from the hook, bequeath to George Warcop, as if something fearful went my only son, all my property, past. What will we do now, real and personal.
Signed, little John ?” John Warcop.'
“There are matches in that The writing degenerated into box of silver,” suggested the & weak scrawl towards the boy cheerfully. “I
found them end, and little John made it this morningShall I burn it out more and more slowly; but in the grate, and then nobody there was
a sentence added will know? which was comparatively easy But the cobbler, though not to read, “I pray God, and as man of very strong prina dying man I ask John ciples, rejected the idea with Davies, that this may be held horror. “That one who is legal."
dead, poor fellow, he would Still lower the page, know, and there would be a straggling across it and almost curse on it all,” he said with illegible, were the words, with conviction, and looked round a mark of question after them: at the lofty book-lined walls of « £3000 for J. D. Sell the the big room with fear in his collection of tapestries ?” But eyes. He went on talking to this where the india- himself, falling back upon rerubber had been powerfully ap- petitions of habitual cautious plied, and an expert decipherer phrases. “We must go fair might well have been baffled and slow," he insisted, as if
in opposition to some unseen “Mr Warcop it was, wrote power driving him on. it," explained little
John. us take deliberation. Better Thanks to the Board-school, to do nothing till we are sure written English was fairly what is the best thing to do." clear to him. " When it was No letter was written after too late, and he was dying, he all, and little John presently was wanting his son to have it wandered off to find the houseall; but it was too late when keeper, with whom his quaintly he was dying, wasn't it, Tada ? old-fashioned ways had already He is saying here that it is too made him a favourite. late."
His father sat alone until Say that again about dinner - time, pondering over * John Davies,'” whispered the “the letter from the dead," as
green, and a
he called it. The idea which tion; but he had discovered began at last slowly to dawn that a little boy of his size was in his mind was that at least regarded with suspicion there, he possessed in this paper some- or at least kept under conthing which might enable him tinual supervision. So he left to drive a good bargain. He the wonderful alleys of scent had cautioned the child to say and colour behind him, and no word about it, and knew followed winding path that he could be trusted. speckled with yellow sunshine
That night, at dinner, there and overarched by the tender was an iced pudding. Little colour of leafy beeches. John ate of it with a fearful He soon found himself standjoy, and was not seriously ing on the brink of a fine piece the worse, though he suffered of water. It was hedged round from some qualms afterwards. with But with the old cobbler the group of scented limes trailed case was different. He had their boughs in it where the never had a strong digestion, sun caught the water, turning and it had not been improved it into a sheet of dancing diaby strong tea at every meal, monds. On the farther side and a diet of white bread and there was shelter both from potatoes, with a mere relish of sun and wind, and the tall occasional meat, or herrings, or trees were softly mirrored in bacon added. He ate very the still surface at their feet. sparingly of the delicious The only water little John novelty, and never suspected had seen, besides the sea on a its connection with the horrors wild coast, was a cold, grey of the gastric chill which lake which lay in a flat expanse developed itself in the night. of half - cultivated land with During the small hours of the never a tree nor bush beside it. morning he fancied himself He had passed it on his way dying, and had terrible thoughts to the station two days before, of having brought a super- but no recollection of it was natural visitation upon him- suggested to his mind by this self by dallying with vague enchanting magic of wedded thoughts of suppressing woods and water. He drank dead man's appeal; but he fell in the spirit of the place at a asleep with the coming of the draught, as children will, and light, and the morning found wasted no time upon admiring him able to get up and to turn it. His attention was caught the matter over in his mind at once by the sight of a tiny
boat-house projecting from the Little John had to continue opposite shore, and he left the his explorations alone, and this path to make his way round, time the brilliance of the May keeping his mind open at the weather tempted him to go same time for any marvels farther afield. The gardens that might be discovered by were a blaze of colour, and the way. filled him with awed admira It was by the
Destiny was waiting for him, fashion) for something that in the shape of perhaps the had never existed. unhappiest young man in the Little John introduced himcounty, possessed of youth, self by falling a dozen feet or health, freedom, and à fair so from a young hazel - tree competence.
which he had climbed to proGeorge Warcop had not been cure himself a particularly deunduly cast down by the loss sirable wand with corrugated of his inheritance. It meant bark. He and the waud came that if he was to marry the down together and were picked woman for whose sake he had up together by George Warcop, broken with his father, he who had been up to that momust exchange into a less ex- ment intentionally invisible. pensive regiment to make sure “The old tree it was,” gasped of keeping her in the comfort little John, warding off reshe had a right to expect. He proaches from force of habit was perfectly prepared to sacri- even before he was fice the luxurious bachelorhood being unhurt.
stick which his mother's fortune had kicked me in my face when I made possible for him, and he brake it." was very sure of the girl he On any other man's ground loved—until the day she in- George would have inquired formed him, with sympathetic particularly about the little tears, that she could not be a rascal's right to be up the poor man's wife—it would only tree at all, but upon this land mean misery for both.'
which should have been his A week later she was openly own, and was not, he hesitated, engaged to a man a little worse and while he hesitated, little off than himself. “An ugly, John himself took up the clever little beast,” poor, big, parable. stupid, handsome George called
that him, “with a beggarly estate ought to have all this place?” which cost him more than it he asked, evidently by way of brought him in.” The infer- changing the subject. It was
was obvious. This was not inspiration that suggested the man of her heart. George the idea to him. He had only himself, with his good looks, not asked the same question his youthful worship, and his of the head-gardener and the fine prospects, had been no coachman and the gamekeeper more to her than a temptation for want of opportunity. to which she had succumbed. “I am the man you mean, He was just, and recognised said George shortly. “And, by that she had been to blame, Jove!” he added, struck by a not in leaving him but in possible explanation of the listening to him; and herein child's queer English, “I belay the chief bitterness of it, lieve you're the man that's got that he had sacrificed so much iteh?” (he had cared a good deal for “John Davies, I am," said his father in a silent admiring little John, “and I'm sorry you
didn't get it; but I would like spent a beatific morning, and to keep it too.”
came back to his father at “Well, look here, John luncheon-time full of tales of Davies. You may be too the "sport" he had had in a small to understand just now, boat with Mr George Warcop. but I'll tell you all the same. John Davies listened with You put it wrong just now. eager attention, and even tried I'm not the man that ought to to extract a fifth or sixth recital own this place. My father of the story after luncheon for made his own money, and had the sake of detaining the only an absolute right to leave it companion who could speak an where he liked. I can't ex- intelligible word to him in this plain it better than that; but unutterably dreary world of he was in the right, and I was idleness and illness and soliin the wrong, whatever people tude. may say, will you remember But the magic of the sun on that?"
the water called to little John, Little John sympathetically and he presently slipped away, recognised the hidden presence He was nowhere to be found of strong feeling. He nodded when Mr Burleigh returned in respectfully without a word; the afternoon to inquire whether but when his new friend seemed an answer had yet been reto be about to turn away and ceived to the letter which had leave him, he spoke in the not yet been sent. plaintive babyish voice with John Davies, after making which he was wont to wheedle an embarrassed
attempt to his “Nain.'
answer the polite questions of “Shall I see what is in the the land - agent, got up and little small house there?” he raised a forefinger which said begged, and after a moment's “stay there." hesitation George Warcop con- “Go for little boy," he added sented.
less intelligibly in English, and “It's my little house, as it left the room hurriedly. happens,” he explained, “with He knew where to go. Every my little boat in it, and I inch of the way to the lake had wasn't just lurking round been graphically described to trespassing. I came to see if him, and he made straight for the canoe was all right, and as the little path beyond the I said it was, before disposing flower - gardens.
His heavy of it to a friend.”
dragging steps followed where He felt a curious satisfaction little John's buoyant feet had in his own common-sense friend. passed before him, nd in a liness towards this little inter- few minutes he found himself loper. As for the little inter- at the edge of the water. loper, he had from the beginning By this time the shadows taken a deep interest in “the were on the nearer side, and man that was turned out,” and the cobbler's elderly eyes could it was rapidly mounting to the barely make out the distant height of hero - worship. He boat-house for the glare that