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Queen Anne in a woollen hood and shawl, carefully covering her face with a veil of gauze. Queen Anne's youthful beauty had long since become a thing of the past; but the more wan and dejected she was in appearance, the more the heart of her little mistress clave to her in this crisis of her life.
"We'd better have some luggage," said Dolly, "for we're going on a long journey."
After a careful examination of her treasures, all she cared to take was a photograph of her father in a little inlaid case, a present from him on her last birthday, and a much-thumbed volume of fairy tales. These she tied in her pocket-handkerchief, which she slung on her
Queen Anne was made to take a touching farewell of her people, especially of Lucinda Ethel, the doll with real hair and eyelashes, and a lovely waxen face, that came to Dolly last Christmas, but had never gained the place in her affections that Queen Anne had done. Lucinda Ethel stared straight before her right up at the ceiling, and so did all the other dolls of various ages and different degrees of beauty. Dolly caught up her favourite, whom she felt sure they despised, and simply saying, "I forgot; they don't care for you any more than nurse does for me," she passed out through the second door on to the staircase.
There were no lamps lighted on the stairs or in the lobby. Dolly crept down to the hall. The drawing-room door stood ajar, and the fire-glow came through it. Dolly remembered there was something in there she would like to take leave of, and so pushed open the door and entered. There was no one there, but the tea equipage still stood on the little Oxford table; a dish with cut slices of cake, and cups scattered about, showed that afternoon tea had been partaken of. The cut cake suggested to Dolly the necessity of providing refreshment for the contemplated journey, so she transferred a few of the slices from the dish to the bundle that contained her book and photograph.
Then she came and stood on the glowing hearth, and glanced up to a portrait over the mantel, and the sweet, tender face looked down upon the little solitary figure. Dolly wanted to feel glad she was going, but somehow she didn't. She certainly thought it a great thing to assert her
little self, and act independently; but to herself she admitted that if she could only creep into those arms she would gladly give up all independence. She could remember when she used to be able to do so, but that was all past; the only mother she had was a picture.
"Good-bye, dear picture-mother," she said. sorrowfully; "you don't want Dolly, either. You are happy 'cause you are in heaven, and maybe I shall come too some day."
But "some day" is little better than no day to a child who lives in the present.
A picture, after all, is only a picture, and this could not lay a detaining hand on Dolly. Nothing occurring to turn her from her foolish little purpose, she turned away without a sign of relenting in her face, crossed the hall, let herself out through the door, and went down the drive, and out through the gate on to the road.
Now she was quite alone, and more determined than ever to be brave, and to make Queen Anne brave too.
"You mustn't cry," she said; "we'll find another hone with the fairies, or perhaps with angels; and 1 think we'll go there now."
This was a brilliant idea. She knew that in the church was the figure of an angel, and Dolly bent her steps in that direction as soon as she had formed that resolve.
Along the trodden highway over the crisp white snow, with stars glimmering overhead and the pale moon rising, went she and Queen Anne. There was a private and nearer way to the church, across the vicarage gardens and through a meadow, but she preferred the road. Bell and Edith, her sisters, would be sure to take the former way home, and if they were to meet her and take her back to nurse, how disappointed Queen Anne would be!
On she trudged, and in due course she reached the church porch. A light gleamed down the south aisle. Some of the decorators were at work in the far corner. The nave and the chancel were all in shadow. It was in the chancel that the angel-figure stood, and it was easy for her to reach it without being seen by either Bell or Edith, whose heads she saw bent over their work, and whose voices she heard talking with other ladies. The pews
were old-fashioned high ones, and Dolly could pass between them without being seen.
It was a very ancient church, and contained many monuments, but the most beautiful of all were four white marble ones in the chancel, erected to the memory of members of the family of the great duke who was lord of the manor. They consisted of groups of statuary enshrined in alcoves of pure marble.
The one group which Dolly loved best, the group with the angel in it, commemorated the death of the late duchess. It was the three Parcæ, or Fates, lovely female figures the size | of life, one seated at the distaff, another holding the spindle, and the third standing with open scissors ready to cut the thread in two. Dolly had no idea of the symbolical meaning of the group, but she loved to dream all sorts of lovely things about them when the solemn organ music rolled through the shadowy aisles. Behind them was the angel figure, with an inverted torch in one hand, and the other lifted towards heaven.
Dolly turned the button of one of the pews opposite, and let herself into its cushioned privacy, so that Queen Anne might learn to know the angel figure, and that her own little solitary soul might be filled with its beauty and purity.
I cannot pretend to tell you when the soft murmur of the voices of her sisters and their companions ceased to be heard by Dolly. While she and Queen Anne were dreaming there in the warm dark church, at home the family dinner was over, but no Dolly appeared at dessert. Mr. Verner rang, and inquired of nurse why Miss Dolly had not come down ; and nurse was obliged to confess that she had been helping cook, and had forgotten Miss Dolly. She would go and fetch her. But no Dolly was to be found in any part of the house.
There was great consternation, and in the midst of it nurse recalled the child's declaration
that she would go away. Of course she had thought it only a childish threat, and had attached no importance to it at the time. It came back to her now with cruel significance, and she began to think that she had not been as careful of the poor little lonely creature as she ought to have been. Then she discovered
that Dolly's garden hat and jacket were missing from the peg in her wardrobe, and the shock of this discovery was more than sufficient punishment for any unintentional neglect.
Just as fathers, and brothers, and men, and maid-servants were preparing to continue the search outside of the house, all were startled by a strange and unexpected sound-the clear and solemn tolling of the church bell. The strokes were unequal, certainly, and so unlike the sexton's usual performance, that a wild idea entered the minds of some of the projected search-party.
"Can Dolly have gone to her sisters in the church, and got locked up there?"
"Poor child! she will be dead of fright," said the vicar, in agony. "Run, Harold, run, and get the key."
Harold's long legs soon carried him over the ground, and when the church was entered they found poor Dolly with a face as white as that of the snow, tugging at the great rope, and Queen Anne propped up against one of the pews calmly regarding her.
Dolly had fallen asleep, dreamed, and awakened to find herself in solitude, with the moon shining in through the high windows. Fortunately she knew where the rope that pulled the one bell hung by the chancel arch, and by hanging on to it and swinging herself to and fro, had managed to make it sound.
When she saw the search-party enter the church, with the lanterns shining on their anxious faces, she jumped into her father's arms with a glad cry
"I'll never, never run away again!"
My belief is that Queen Anne was the only one of them all who thoroughly enjoyed that adventure. If she had been prime favourite with her little mistress before, she was a still greater favourite for the future, and none of the other dolls had a chance beside her.
The last I heard of the matter was a remark intended for Queen Anne's private ear
"We must be good, Queen Anne; you and I ran away once, but we'll never do so again. Oh! wasn't it awful in that big dark church?”
But Queen Anne looked as though she had not minded in the least, and it is my own opinion that she rather liked being a heroine.
By the Author of "A Little Too Clever," "Pen's Perplexities," "Margaret's Enemy," &c.
CHAPTER I.-THE TWO LUCYS.
T was all very miserable; no wonder the children felt wretched. Of course there were many children, not a mile away, far worse off than they; but they did not stop to think of that at all, and if they had done so, it would not have made them very much happier; for everything was just about as cheerless and dispiriting as it well could be.
Miss Pendleton was ill, very ill, and when you know that, it explains the whole matter. For Miss Pendleton was the life and soul of the place, always busy, always cheerful, ordering everything without fuss, ruling every one firmly, but without harshness, keeping the whole place going from morning to night, and from week to week, with a steady, comfortable regularity that could not be really felt and appreciated until it was missed.
It was very different now. A stranger was in her place, and Miss Pendleton was delivered over to the nurse and the doctor. The old routine was falling all to pieces. No bell might be rung to disturb the sick woman. The children came straggling in to the meals one after another, instead of trooping along the stone
passage with a merry rush. The bread-andmilk was cold, the porridge burnt, Mrs. Wing cross and snappish, for she knew little or nothing of the ways of the house, and when she sought to find them out, she received such contradictory information that she was fairly bewildered.
So Mrs. Wing left them to amuse themselves, and soon had to rush in to settle sundry disputes. Suspecting that big Lucy, with the defiant eyes, of being a ringleader, she made a dash at her, and led her away.
But her triumph was short. Lucy began to bellow and shake the door, and that when Miss Pendleton's very life depended upon quiet. "Hush, hush!" cried Mrs. Wing. you know you will disturb Miss Pendleton." Most mistaken argument; sharp-witted Lucy's reason told her that the more noise she made the sooner she would have her own way, and her heart placed no check upon her head.
And so it ended in Mrs. Wing hurriedly unlocking the door, and the triumph remaining with Lucy.
"I didn't think there was a child in this house would have done it!" she exclaimed reproachfully. "She's been like a mother to you, she has, and you wouldn't spare disturbing her at such a time as this. Aren't you ashamed?"
"No," answered Lucy, boldly. "Who are you to shut me up? You're nobody here. Besides, I hadn't done anything to be shut up for, and you know you wouldn't like me to tell Miss Pendleton of you."
"Tell Miss Pendleton of me, you saucy minx!" Mrs. Wing cried indignantly. more like me telling of you."
"It's no good threatening what you can't perform," cried Lucy, turning away with a laugh and a mock curtsey, which exasperated the unhappy Mrs. Wing the more, that she could find no sort of reply.
From that moment Lucy, the big girl, was a constant terror and irritation to Mrs. Wing.
Lucy was incorrigible. She passed her time in planning mischief and rebellion, and leading the other children into all sorts of naughtinesses, until poor Mrs. Wing would gladly have resigned her post, but for Miss Pendleton's helplessness and the impossibility of finding any one else to take her place.
"I wonder how long this is going to last. If I could get my things together and drop safely out of this window, and if I knew of any better place to go to, I believe I'd run away; don't you?" Lucy remarked.
She was talking to a little girl much smaller and younger than herself. They were both standing against the window as they watched the passers-by emerging and disappearing into the fog of a winter's afternoon.
"Won't you be very glad when Mamie comes back again?" the little girl asked, without heeding Lucy's remark. It was no new thing to hear big Lucy grumble. Little Lucy, for her name was Lucy too, heaved a very big sigh as she spoke.
"I don't know that I care," replied the bigger girl; "I'm not so over fond of Mamie."
"Oh, Lucy!" the child cried. "I love Mamie, don't you? She's so kind."
"No, I don't love her," the elder girl replied, sharply. "She isn't kind to me."
"I'm sure she isn't unkind," little Lucy protested.
"Not to you. You're her favourite, but what 'ud you say if you knew she was secretly trying to get rid of you."
"I wouldn't believe it. She wouldn't send
me away, because she knows I want to stop with her."
"That's nothing," replied the elder Lucy, with a little contemptuous laugh. "But I only wish she'd take it in her head to get rid of me. She won't; that's the worst of it. I don't like this tiresome place. I wish I'd never seen it. Look at those people down there. They go just where they like, and do just what they like. That beggar-man bothering the people for money-even he can do what he likes."
"But you aren't grown up, Lucy, and people don't do what they like till that time."
"Don't they? I'll be bound I'd do pretty much as I liked anywhere else. I'm not afraid of any one but her. But you don't believe Mamie means to get rid of you? Well, then, I'll tell you something. Do you remember a lady coming here just before Christmas. You and I watched her get out of the carriage, and she had on such a beautiful dress, and a red feather in her bonnet, a real beauty."
"Oh, yes, I remember!" Lucy cried. The advent of such a stranger was too rare to be easily forgotten.
"Well, didn't you wonder what she wanted? I did, and since Mamie's been out of the way I've found out. She wanted a little girl to bring up. Bessie Dunn had to go in with lights, and she heard them talking. She wanted one of us to go and live with her. Mamie was just delighted, Bessie said, and went on saying that she wanted a home for one of her little girls. Who do you s'pose she meant?"
"Well, you, I 'spect," Lucy said, diffidently; for she knew that Lucy the elder had been a great deal of trouble.
"So should I have thought so, seeing that Jessie Rane, and Milly Bates, and Maggie Sims have all gone out of the Home before me. But no, it wasn't me; it was you. So there!"