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reckon, with lots of servants, all done up in beautiful caps and frizzy hair, and their gowns as stiff and smart as can be. They wouldn't care to have a child poking round, I reckon ; but I shouldn't care. I'd look out for myself."
"I hope I shan't go there," cried little Lucy shudderingly, as the elder girl drew this picture. The child was timid and nervous of strangers. Lucy's words had filled her clinging sensitive little heart with dread and fear.
Lucy the elder laughed lightly. "Just the thing I should love. Don't you think I ought instead of you?"
to have been the one "I wish you were. But it isn't settled, and perhaps she'll change her mind. Oh, yes! I am sure she will, if I ask her to let me stay," the little Lucy cried eagerly.
CHAPTER II.-WHICH SHALL IT BE? HINGS were just at their worst. Miss Pendleton had been in bed six weeks, and was as far from recovery as on the day she had broken down and reluctantly allowed herself to be put to bed and waited upon. She had broken down and could not pick up, for though her spirit was strong and her energy untiring, her body was fragile. When all those she loved had gone from her one by one, a little child, a helpless, forsaken baby, had come across her path. Miss Pendleton took the child to her desolate home, loved her and cared for her, as if she were her own. There were other forsaken, miserable children in the world, and as Miss Pendleton's kind deed became known people brought them to her.
But misfortune came. The small funds that by the most skilful management kept this little family together, were suddenly reft away by the treachery of a trusted friend. That was a blow indeed, and an ugly fact to face. Miss Pendleton was out of health at the time, and that made it worse. There were the children, eight of them, all destitute, except for her; none of them old enough to go out into the world except Lucy Forbes, and she was the one least fit to go, for she had profited the least by the kind care and beneficent rule of her present home.
Indeed, this child had been a source of much grief to her benefactress; she was defiant, un
truthful, reserved, and unaffectionate. She had come to Miss Pendleton at the age of six, years sufficient to be influenced by the home she had lived in. The others had been babes, and Miss Pendleton felt sure that it made all the difference. However, having taken the child, she would not forsake her, but hoped by patient endeavour to weed out the evil and cultivate the good. So she had let others go from her to homes that seemed suitable, but had kept Lucy Forbes under her own eye.
But now it seemed that she would be able to keep none of them any longer. One or two kind friends had sent her small sums of money, with many regrets they could not do more, and while she was scheming and contriving to interest people she broke down, and was seized with a low wasting fever.
Many people were sorry, and some were helpful. Mrs. Wing was but a lonely widow working hard for a living, but she came and looked after the children. A nurse from the hospital near by came in at night, and afterwards altogether, to nurse the poor creature.
A day or two before that breakdown a lady had called at the old house. She was rich, and being alone in the world, she had a fancy to take a young child that she might bring up, as an occupation and interest.
If there was one child that Miss Pendleton was more devotedly attached to than another, it was the little one who had first claimed her love, who had come to her as an infant, and regarded her as a mother-the little Lucy Gordon.
"There is a dear little girl," she said, resolutely disregarding the sharp pang that the idea of separation brought with it, "most gentle, grateful, loveable. I greatly desire to see her in a comfortable, happy home. She will repay any amount of care. I have had her from her babyhood, and can speak with certainty." "Pray let me see the child?" the lady said eagerly.
"They are all out now for the next two hours in the park. Could you arrange another time?" "Not until I return from a visit to the country. Ah, well, it must be left till then, I suppose. Is the child pretty ?"
"Hardly to a stranger, but a most winning sweet little face when you once really know it."
glad of the enforced reprieve. She would keep | she was not permitted even the few loving words Lucy with her a little longer before she parted with her for good and aye, for Mrs. Coningham wished the child to break off all connection with her former life, and to become entirely hers.
Little Lucy fully returned the love of her dear Mamie. She had known neither mother nor father, friend nor relation. Mamie was all to her. She was quite sure she loved Mamie
and gentle "God bless you, my child," which had consoled her for the dull miserable days. How she longed for Mamie to be quite well!
No time could have been a more bitter one than this for Lucy Forbes' statement that Mamie meant to send her away.
The child could know nothing of the truth, and even had she done so, her child-mind would
not have comprehended the loving forethought that had prompted it.
At first she would not believe Lucy's story, but gradually she began to fear it might be true, and then she supposed it was to be a punishment to her. She knew she had not meant to be very naughty, and felt sure Mamie would believe her and forgive her if she were to climb up into her lap and tell her so. But there was no chance of that. So as the days passed on, the child grew sad and miserable, frequently crying herself to sleep, and longing to creep into Mamie's kind arms and be consoled with the promise that she should never leave her.
Things were in this condition when Mrs. Coningham's carriage drew up at the door one January afternoon. Lucy Forbes was at her post by the window watching the passers-by.
"Here, Lucy," she cried, seizing the child's hand and dragging her hastily to the window. "Look, she's come to fetch you. Don't I wish it was me. There she is, just look!"
These last words were spoken in tones of great admiration, but they were lost on little Lucy. She stood at the window looking down at the lady, not knowing whether to laugh at the impossibility of such a fine lady wanting her, or cry at the fear that it was really true.
"Which of you two Lucys is Lucy Gordon?" asked Mrs. Wing, abruptly entering the room. “Oh, dear, what a litter! Now do try to keep quiet while the lady's here; you shall come down to tea directly she's gone."
While Mrs. Wing was speaking Lucy Forbes hastily whispered: "I'll go and see the lady and tell her you don't want to come, shall I?" "Oh, do!" little Lucy cried gladly. "Perhaps she'll have you instead."
Lucy smiled to herself and stepped up to Mrs. Wing.
"Oh, so you're Lucy Gordon. Well, I'm sure I'm very glad to hear it. I somehow thought it was little Lucy."
"Then you see you thought wrong," the big Lucy replied lightly. "Why should you be glad though ?"
"Because I hope I'm going to see you away from this house before long," Mrs. Wing replied incautiously. "You are no credit to it, and no benefit to the others, and I don't believe you'll
ever return a 'thank you' to Miss Pendleton for her kindness."
"Certainly not," Lucy cried provokingly, as she ran lightly away to smooth her hair and wash her hands.
It was not wonderful that Mrs. Wing did not know the children's surnames, for there was scarcely a child in the place except Lucy Forbes who knew her own. It had been part of Miss Pendleton's plan to take the little waifs and strays, who had been brought to her, quite away from their early surroundings. No one but her self knew their history, least of all the children themselves.
Where the little things had been baptised she had continued to call them by the name so given, but in every case she had given them fresh surnames and made their parents promise to give them up entirely to her if she was to have them at all.
The two Lucys had been so named before they came to Miss Pendleton, but having especial reason in both cases to keep them from their own relatives she had given both surnames of her own choosing, by which means she hoped to prevent them from falling again into the bad hands from which she had rescued them, even when she was no longer able to shield and protect them.
Lucy the elder came tripping downstairs into the little room where Mrs. Coningham sat waiting with much impatience. She was at a first glance a decidedly pretty girl-so far as features went, by far the prettiest of all the children. She had put on her most pleasing expression as she pulled open the door, and with a modest little air entered the room.
"So you are Lucy," the lady said, holding out her hand. "Come and let me have a good look at you."
Lucy took the plump gloved hand, and stole a long glance at the face before her.
"Mamie is very kind," Lucy replied cautiously, "but I like you too."
"You think you would like me as well as your kind Mamie if you knew me as well."
"I think I should like you better," Lucy replied, with a half-frank, half-timid air, as if she were speaking the truth, as indeed she was, but knew she ought not to have done so.
"Ah well," the lady replied, not displeased, "you must never be ungrateful to your kind friend, but it is only natural; she has many to divide her love among, and that cannot be like having only one. How would you like to come and live with me, my child?”
Lucy sped a swift glance of surprised delight at her face. "Oh, it would be nice!" she cried, eagerly. "Me to live with you? You do not mean that, do you?"
"Poor child! I daresay it is but a sorry life here," Mrs. Coningham said compassionately. "But what a big girl you are for your age. I did not expect to see half such a big child. How sad it is that your poor Mamie is so ill. Now run away and send some one to see me." "Am I going to live with you?" Lucy asked. "I daresay you will. You will know all in time. Good-bye, my dear. Run away, for I am
in a great hurry."
Lucy ran in search of Mrs. Wing, her heart palpitating fast for the result of the interview.
When Mrs. Wing had gone into the room she slipped into a corner, hoping to hear something.
In a few minutes the lady swept out, her silks rustling grandly as she went. "I am delighted with the child's appearance. With Miss Pendleton's consent I will call for her on Monday. You will send me a line to-morrow, will you not?" she said, as she went.
This was Friday. Would anything happen between this and Monday?
CHAPTER III.-LUCY FORBES MANAGES LITTLE
ROM some word or two that she remembered to have heard, Mrs. Wing supposed that the Lucy Mrs. Coningham thought of adopting was sweet little Lucy, Miss Pendleton's adopted child.
She was overjoyed to find that she had been
mistaken, and although she thought such a stroke of fortune far too good for "that girl," she could not help rejoicing at the prospect of relief both to herself and Miss Pendleton, should she ever resume her old place.
But of this there seemed less chance than ever. Miss Pendleton had sunk to the lowest ebb, and although the fever had left her, she seemed to have no strength left.
Her one care and anxiety was about the children, a burden from which those about her, the nurse, and doctor, and Mrs. Wing, strove to turn her thoughts.
She had inquired several times in the early part of her illness whether Mrs. Coningham had called, and had at last begun to believe that the lady had altered her mind. When therefore Mrs. Wing, softly entering the invalid's room, after the children were safely in bed, bent over her with the information that Mrs. Coningham had been, and only awaited a written permission from Miss Pendleton to complete her arrangements for transferring the child to her new home, a smile of thankful satisfaction broke over the sick woman's face.
There were few preparations to make. It was not possible for Miss Pendleton to give her little charge a special outfit. Mrs. Wing promised to write on the morrow, and tell Mrs Coningham that Lucy Gordon would be quite ready to accompany her on Monday.
In the meantime Lucy Forbes was secretly in much trepidation. She had quite resolved what to do, if Miss Pendleton should hear of the matter. She would go to Mrs. Coningham, and beg her to take her in preference to little Lucy, whose shy, timid manner would, she felt sure, set Mrs. Coningham against her.
"Will she have you?" little Lucy had asked, eagerly, when the big Lucy returned.
"Hush; I think she will. Only don't say any more just now. I'll tell you presently when that disagreeable winged thing isn't here," she replied, quickly.
They did not sleep in the same room, but when they were all in bed Lucy Forbes came creeping in, and slipped herself down by the side of little Lucy.
"Now, look here," she said, decisively," she'll have me instead of you unless you prevent her.
She liked me, and I'm quite sure she wouldn't like you, nor you wouldn't like her. She's grand, and haughty, and all that; and you'd be frightened of her-but I'm not a bit. You couldn't get near her, her dress stuck out so. I just wonder what she'd say if you tried to get on her lap like you do on Mamie's."
"How dreadful!" murmured little Lucy; "I know I shouldn't like her."
"I'm not such a baby," replied the other. "I love smart clothes, and if I was a great lady I wouldn't have any children round me spoiling my fine things. But I was going to tell you. Wasn't it funny? Before I said a word she took me for you; at least she said, 'So you're Lucy Gordon,' and she seemed quite pleased. I was just the sort of girl she wanted, she said," Lucy added, putting in a few touches of her own. "Then she asked me if I liked her, and would be glad to come and live with her."
“You didn't tell her you liked her better than Mamie, did you?" asked Lucy.
"I'd like anybody the best who let me do as I liked," Lucy replied; "and I don't like strict people, and fault-finders, and strait-laced things who wear ugly dresses, and make you do the same. But listen, Lucy. If you don't say anything to Mrs. Wing, I expect Mrs. Coningham will take me with her, but she'll have to go on thinking I am Lucy Gordon, or else there'll be no end of trouble. When she hears that I am Lucy Forbes, she'll think she ought to see you, because Mamie spoke about you. Now, if I get the chance of going I am quite sure she'll keep me. But when Mamie gets well, she'll find out about it, and they can alter it if they like. All you've got to do is to say nothing about it. How could we know which Lucy it was the lady wanted to see?"
"But she said Lucy Gordon," little Lucy replied, doubtfully.
"You silly child! Why need you remember that. I advise you to forget it. Anyway your best plan is to say nothing. Mamie will most likely put it down that we didn't know, and then you won't have told any story. If she asks, you can confess. She'll forgive you if you tell her you liked her best, and didn't want to leave her, for I know she's very jealous."
"I know what I'll do: I'll ask Mamie to let
you go directly she gets better. I'll tell her that the lady liked you best, and wants you. Perhaps, though, they'd let me go in and see her just for a minute," she added, eagerly.
"They won't, I don't expect, and it's no good waiting till she gets better; for if you go you are to go on Monday."
Monday! Oh, I don't want to go away with that nasty woman," little Lucy cried, spasmodically. "Why did Mamie let her?"
"I don't know; it isn't a bit fair," replied the elder Lucy, whose own idea was that Miss Pendleton had put forward her own favourite in order to spite herself. "I'll take all the blame if she's angry," she added, coaxingly. "I'll tell her that you were so miserable at the idea of going away that we thought I'd better go instead. Now that would be quite true, wouldn't it?"
"Yes," the child replied, eagerly. "But I do hope Mamie won't be angry. I wish I didn't know anything about it."
"I wish I hadn't said a word, you little simpleton, but just done it and left it to chance," Lucy Forbes muttered, crossly, under her breath. "I'm always fortunate, and I don't believe it would ever have been found out. Not that there's anything so dreadful, that I can see, to make a fuss about."
CHAPTER IV.-THE NEW HOME.
UCY FORBES was engaged in the interesting occupation of dressing herself. It would have been more interesting if the garments at her disposal had been more to her mind, but she was doing her best to make herself look as nice as possible.
"I don't suppose I shall be dressed like this very long," she exclaimed, with much satisfaction, to little Lucy, who was nervously hovering about her. "She sees no harm in feathers. I can tell by her own bonnet."
"But will she buy them for you, do you think?" asked Lucy.
"Of course she will," the other replied. "Do you suppose I am going to be her servant ?" "I didn't know," Lucy replied, dubiously. "No fear.!" laughed her companion. shall turn out as fine a lady as Mrs. Coning