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The boys had all left school by then, and were out at work at different farms, but Harry and Jimmy still lived at home and had to be washed and mended and done for by Pris, and kept out of mischief as much as possible. Lucy was the only one at school, and she was thirteen and nearly as tall as Pris, and nearly as old as Pris was when she took up the reins of government. Annie was nursemaid at the vicarage, and Tom had married his Susan a year ago, and had a slatternly, untidy wife and a constantly crying baby in his bare little home, neither of whom, I regret to say, kept him from very constant attendance at the Cricketers.
Sometimes it crossed Pris's mind whether after all it would not have been better for Tom to go as a soldier; whether this sort of slipshod life of Tom's was worth the sacrifice Will had made for it; but she was not given to vain speculations, and it is impossible for the wisest of us to estimate the worth while of things.
Pris had heard nothing of Will since that golden Sunday, but this had been no disappointment since she knew that he was a poor scholar, and her own scholarship was of such an unreliable character that a letter, even a love-letter, would have been rather an embarrassment, as it would have entailed the necessity of answering it and all by herself too, without Lucy's help, who was quite a good little scholar, and always took the main part of the labor of any family correspondence. But she reckoned the days back to that Sunday and on to the day when he would come home, comforting her patient heart with memory or anticipation when things went criss-cross as they are apt to do in life. It never occurred to her mind that Will might not come back, still less that when he came she might not be there to receive him.
When she got too ill to keep about, Polly came home to nurse her. Polly was going to be married very soon to her Fred, who had quite justified the good opinion they had formed of him, and had been very faithful to Polly and steady and hardworking in his business, so that he I would have a comfortable home to offer her when the time came for their wedding.
Pris took what Mr. Mason said very quietly. He thought at first she hardly understood, she was very weak and he fancied that her mind was dulled and unable to take in fresh ideas. He had been a little bit nervous in telling her she was
going to die, and had expected great agitation and a scene that would wring his heart, but perhaps there was something more pathetic in the composed, matter-offact way she took it.
"Well, Annie's old enough now to come home and see to father, and his rheumatics ain't near so bad as they used to be since he wore that bit of new flannel; and Annie she knows about keeping his things aired, and if she can't quite manage the washing at first Tom's wife would help her a bit nows and thens; and Lucy, she's getting terrible handy, and she's a deal stronger than she were, and don't get that croupy cough in the winter as she used. I'd aliked to have finished them new shirts for Jimmy, but there! they're all cut out and Annie could place them so as Lucy could finish 'em off."
Her mind kept running off into what seemed to Mr. Mason insignificant details, not realizing how great a part in Pris's life such details had formed; but when he spoke of the great change that lay so near her, he could not tell whether she quite understood, though she said, "Yes, sure," and "There now! so 'tis," and repeated the "Amen" at the end of the prayers he said, and “Thank you kindly, sir," when he gave her his blessing and went away. He did not say anything about Will Wiseman, though he had not forgotten that Sunday and the proud look on Pris's face, but he had that feeling, shared by many, that, at the solemn hour of death, human love must be put aside with other worldly things, forgetting how strong in the suffering heart upon the cross the human love for the mother and the friend was, and how love is stronger than death, and never faileth though all else may vanish away.
After Mr. Mason had gone away Pris told Polly, in the words at the beginning of the chapter, the disappointment it was to go without seeing Will again, and she cried a little over it, and Polly, with the prospect of her own marriage so bright and near before her, said it did seem a bit hard and cried too. But after that Pris did not seem to fret, but lay very quiet, waiting for the end.
That end did not come till nearly a week had passed, and, indeed, she rallied a little, so that they thought perhaps she might get about again, and the end when it came was unexpected.
It was a bright, beautiful May afternoon. Lucy, when she came in from school to dinner, had brought a bit of gorse in flower, and Pris had seemed
quite pleased with it, and would have it laid on the broad window-ledge, for her bed was across the little window. The sun poured in bright and warm across the patchwork quilt, and Polly wanted to draw the curtain, but Pris would not let her.
Polly had been washing out a few things that morning and on the gooseberry bushes outside were hung some of her father's red cotton handkerchiefs. Whether it was this and the sun shining on the gorse that brought back that golden Sunday so vividly to Pris, I do not know. But when she spoke, which was not very often, it was always of Will and of his red coat, and of his bright sword and spurs.
Jock, who was getting an old dog now, and lazy, and blind of one eye, had crept up and got on to the foot of the bed, an unheard of intrusion in old times; but the last week he had done it unrebuked, for Pris seemed to like to have him there, and there was so little she cared for or noticed now, as mind and body fell into the drowsiness that often precedes the long sleep.
Polly had brought her work up-stairs that afternoon and sat by the bedside, not thinking Pris was worse in any way, for she was very quiet and seemed to doze off now and then.
But suddenly, she stirred and raised herself on her pillows with more strength than she had done for days past, and looked eagerly out of the window, over the golden gorse, into the garden where the sun shone on the red handkerchiefs drying on the gooseberry bushes; and such a look of surprise and pleasure and delight came into her face that Polly dropped her work and bent across the bed to see who it was coming up the path.
And not only Polly but Jock stirred too and pricked his ears, quivering all over with expectation as he had done that Sunday when he sat by Pris on the garden wall, and he gave, as then, a little shrill bark of ecstatic delight. But Polly could see no one. There was the old tom cat sunning himself on the bricks and eyed by a robin on the gate with inquisitive inter
"There ain't no one," Polly said; " what did you see? I thought some one was coming in."
And some one indeed had entered, for when she turned to pick up her work and sit down again, she saw that death had come, silently, gently, kindly, and that Pris had fallen back with the sweet, bright
look of welcome and delight on her dead face.
"It do seem hard on her, poor girl, and her sweetheart coming home maybe tomorrow!" sobbed Polly that night_to Fred who had come over to see her. "But there! God knows best."
But she was wrong when she said it was hard, and right, more right than she knew, when she said, "God knows best," for how few of us who use the words realize a hundredth part of the wisdom and tender mercy of his providence. Pris was spared long weeks, perhaps months of hope deferred, ending, if the news ever found its way to Whistley, in bitter disappointment, for Will Wiseman never came back, having died three weeks before Pris, of fever in the hospital at Aden on his way home to England. Could it have been that when the gate of death opened so gently for Pris to pass through, she could see Will in the brightness on the other side and that this accounted for the look of surprise and delight on her dying face? Who can say?
From The National Review. CHILDREN AND MODERN LITERATURE. IT is often said that "this is the Age of Children." If literature really reflects the feelings of the age there would seem to be much truth in the saying. What would our ancestors think if they could rise again and read books the main interest of which centres in children?
The thing is new; it is both a cause and an effect. Children owe a good deal to the way in which they have come to the front in literature, and they never would so have come to the front had not feeling changed with regard to them since the days when - according to Miss Edgeworth the main duty of children was summed up in the lovely lines:
Speak when you're spoken to,
And you'll never be chid.
I know that I read, many years ago, these lines in one of Miss Edgeworth's books, though, so far as my memory serves, they were not quoted with any special approval.
In stories written especially for children it is not unnatural that children should play an important part. This class of literature, however, is of modern growth. Not until the beginning of the present century were children considered
worthy of books peculiarly their own. I do not know that there is really any intimate connection between the Evangelical revival and the provision of books for the young; but I feel sure that the friends of my youth, Mrs. Sherwood and Mrs. Cameron, were among the first to write books about children which children really cared to read. It is very easy to turn some of those books into ridicule; yet they have the merit of being intensely real. There could not be anything more natural than the Fairchild family. The father and mother are prigs of the first water; but the children are true flesh and blood. Their very self-righteousness when they have been for a time free from fault is just as true to nature as their fearful falls from goodness to the depths of childish iniquity when Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild are away from home.
through a stream, through which, in hot haste, the children follow.
One sin leads on to another! In order to get their wet clothes dried, they pay a visit to a neighbor whom mamma has strictly forbidden them to go near. True to nature once more, the naughty neighbor is most kind; dries their clothes, and gives them cowslip wine, which must have had brandy in it, for it makes them all rather tipsy.
The good old servant, John, meets them while they are still under the influence of the liquor, calls them "naughty rogues," takes them home to dinner, and, having tied them to their chairs, thinks they cannot get into further mischief; but he is wrong, for they go into the barn, where Emily falls out of a swing- and then the dread news comes that papa and mamma are coming home. What shall they do? John advises a full confession. The children fall on their knees, and beg for forre-giveness. How far away child-life in the early part of this century is from child-life now, this scene alone is enough to prove. Fancy any of the children we see in Du Maurier's pictures falling on their knees to ask for pardon! It would be about as natural as for a young man of the period to be seen on his knees making a declaration of love to his Dulcinea. We have changed all that. Children are the ruling powers now; at any rate, they occupy a position of great importance.
Mamma," says Lucy, "we have not been naughty for a long time; we have been quite good." To which mamma plies: "Yes, my dear, because papa and I have always been with you and watched over you so closely."
Alas, poor Lucy! She is soon to find that her goodness is as the morning dew. Papa and mamma are called away to visit a sick friend. Naughtiness develops itself even while the children are getting up in the morning. Lucy ties the sheet round her and plays being Lady Noble. Emily makes the pillows into babies. Dressing does not progress as it ought to do. None of the girls is ready when brother Henry bangs at the door and announces that "John has made hot buttered toast; so do be quick, girls." They hurry down, forgetting to say their prayers-or, as Mrs. Sherwood puts it, "to do one single thing which they ought to have done." Nor is this all. They make more buttered toast in the dining-room, mess about in true childish fashion very happy but very naughty.
It is a true touch which describes a quarrel that arises because Lucy takes upon her to command the other children to begin their lessons when breakfast is over. Who does not remember resenting the airs of command assumed by an elder brother or sister? Brother Henry does not appear to obey sister Lucy at all; for when his sisters are making an attempt at doing lessons he bursts in upon them with the exciting intelligence that "there is a little pig in the garden." Could any children resist the temptation to give chase? It runs, and, pig-like, instead of going over a bridge, must, forsooth, rush
If any one is inclined to sneer at such books as Mrs. Sherwood's, I wish he would try to write a story about children. I take it that there are few things more difficult to do well. One is pretty sure to suffer shipwreck between the Scylla of trying to be too funny and childlike or the Charybdis of being too wise and old. It is not easy to recall one's own past in such a way as to reproduce it faithfully, nor are there many men, at any rate, who so watch children as to know more than the outside of their lives. Children are on their guard in the presence of their elders. Their wisest and wittiest sayings, their most amusing and characteristic doings, are not said or done when the eyes of elders are upon them.
There seems to be in some men of genius a sort of intuition which enables them to understand much of which they have but little personal experience. Á hint is enough for them. Imagination enables them to complete the picture. Hence, when such men try to paint pictures of child-life they succeed up to a certain point. It is, however, a new thing
And strewed repentant ashes on his head. HUBERT.
in literature to care to succeed in this | Again, when Hubert says that he can heat direction. Children must always have had the instrument, what boy would say this? interest for their own relations. Their No, in good sooth; the fire is dead with grief, sayings and doings have had a sort of tra- Being create for comfort, to be used dition, but, up to recent times, no written In undeserved extremes; see else yourself. records. The child of Themistocles must There is no malice burning in this coal; have been an object of high interest in his The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit Athenian home, or we should not have out, had handed down to us the well-worn story which proves that human nature is much the same in every age: "My son rules Athens, for he rules his mother; she rules me, and I rule Athens." The Greek play has no place for children. Homer, indeed, | An' if you do, you will but make it blush, who, like our own Shakespeare, seems to And glow with shame of your proceedings, have had that sort of universal insight into the modes of human life that enabled him to touch upon every topic which comes home to the human heart, gives us a pretty story about Hector's infant son.
But children in ancient literature come in seldom, incidentally, in contrast with their elders. If they are introduced of set purpose it seems to be to bring into prominence the fact that brave men can be tender-hearted, and that women are seen at their best with children around them; or else to deepen the gloom of tragic sorrow. It is not quite true to say that children have no place in Greek tragedy. The Medea of Euripides owes much of its terrible force to the fact that Medea murders her children. But the children are not introduced for their own sake. They utter but a few words words wrung from them by terror. They are the mere means of making Medea's jealous rage more horrible, and the retribution which falls on Jason more complete. They help to show how complicated a thing is human passion; how many are the ways in which wrong-doers can be punished.
Much the same may be said as to the children introduced into Shakespeare's plays. The Arthur of “King John" is a touching picture. He is a true boy, but a boy seen amid such exceptional circumstances that his words and deeds do not give us much idea of ordinary boy-life. Some of his speeches smack too much of the philosopher. They are not, nor are they intended to be, the every-day language of childhood. What boy in ordinary life, about to have his eyes put out, would exclaim:
Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
And, like a dog that is compelled to fight, Snatch at his master that doth tarr him on. I venture to think that all this is very unlike the talk of a boy, even when that boy is made by force of circumstances unusually thoughtful. In "Richard III.," we have children introduced; but they are by no means prominent figures. They do not long hold the stage, nor do they strike one as distinctively childlike. The fact is that in those days people would hardly have endured a play where, as in more than one modern drama, children were made the centre of attraction. The change is of gradual growth. Almost the first, if not quite the first, book which gave prominence to children was "Sandford and Merton," published in 1783. In my boyish days I thought it delightful. It never occurred to me then that Harry was an unmitigated little prig. I accepted him and Tommy and Mr. Barlow in perfect faith. Reading the book now, I cannot help wondering that I delighted in it so much then. Possibly children of to-day, more critical in their tastes, more ready to see the absurd side of things than were their parents, and having in their hands books much more amusing and true to life, would find "Sandford and Merton " either dull or merely a mark at which to shoot the arrows of their wit. But the book has great merit. Whatever may be said of Harry and Mr. Barlow, spoiled Tommy is real enough. A story that has been read for a hundred years, that has been burlesqued (as by Mr. Burnand), made fun of in many an article and in many home circles, and yet is read with interest, must have good stuff in it. If it had no other merit, it was original. It began a new era in literature. It showed that a book for the young could interest the old. Mrs. Barbauld (Anna Letitia Aikin) was almost contemporaneous with Mr. Day, the author of "Sandford and Merton." Her "Early
the purple jar in the chemist's window than with her mother for permitting the child to buy it." This and a great deal of the criticism applied to children's books is due not so much to the way we regarded them when we were children ourselves as to our maturer notions of the fitness of things.
Lessons in One Syllable was in its way remarkably clever. Looking now at the funny little volumes of "Evenings at Home," one of which-fourth edition, too bears the date 1798, one does not wonder, on opening them, to find that children are made to talk in fashion quite different from their present mode of conversation. But some of the stories are The point before us now, however, is life-like enough. Little "Lord Linger "the way in which modern literature came ordering out his pony, sending it back to to take so much notice of child-life. Miss the stable, starting for a drive, then for a Edgeworth is a link between "Sandford walk, playing part of a game of billiards, and Merton," Mrs. Barbauld's books, and "doing "a little reading, then some geog- that vast mass of literature which during raphy, giving a glance at his Virgil, aiming the last fifty years has brought children an arrow or two at a target, is not wholly into such great prominence. I think, unlike what a spoiled child might be now-however, that there is one other cause adays; and certainly the boys he sees at play, when he finally makes up his mind to go for a ride with his servant at his heels, are just like boys of to-day.
A door flew open, and out burst a shoal of boys, who, spreading over the green, with immoderate vociferation, instantly began a variety of sports. Everything was noise, motion, and pleasure.
"Jack," said Lord Linger to one of his tenant's sons, "how do you like school?" "Oh, pretty well, my lord!"
"What, have you a good deal of play?" "Oh, no! We have only from twelve to two for play and eating our dinners; and then an hour before supper.
"That is very little indeed!"
"But we play heartily when we do play, and work when we work. Good-bye, my lord! It is my turn to go in at trap."
"I wish I was a schoolboy," said the little lord to himself.
A little later come Miss Edgeworth's stories about children. "Rosamond" was published in 1822.
"Moral Tales," which came out separately, were republished together in 1832. Like "Sandford and Merton," these stories are too distinctly didactic; yet the time was when I, for one, thought them intensely interesting.
A horror I have had all my life of gambling in any form was, I fancy, inspired by The Lottery Ticket."
which has led up to the result. In the books of Mr. Day, Mrs. Barbauld, and Miss Edgeworth there is much moral, but very little religious, teaching. The religion of the two former is untouched by the teaching of the Evangelical revival. It is extremely likely that the religious books written for children in such abundance early in this century owe their origin in some degree to a desire on the part of the writers to counteract what they felt to be false pictures of life—false, because religion is either wholly ignored or presented in a very imperfect manner.
I have already mentioned Mrs. Sherwood, who died in 1851. Her children blood than Harry the good in "Sandford are much more like ordinary flesh and and Merton," or even than Simple Susan, one of the very best child-characters Miss Edgeworth has given us. Her books showed that children could be made interesting not only to the young but to grownup people.
Captain Marryat's boys are capital. There are plenty of them even in the books not specially written for children. Willy, in "The King's Own," is but a child when we make his acquaintance; but he is a power in the ship. He is the darling of the sailors. When Captain A- bids two marines turn their muskets upon the child, his cruel command defeats its own object, and gives the muI am not quite sure that I agree with tineers more help than half-a-dozen comMrs. Oliphant when she says that "prob-rades could have done. The humanizing ably the virtues of the model young per sons whom Miss Edgeworth holds up to the admiration of the youthful world are too matter-of-fact to please a young imagination. Our sympathy perversely goes astray with Ben, who buys a comfortable great-coat, to Harry, who chooses a green and white uniform instead; and we are less angry with Rosamond for admiring
influence of a child upon the roughest men is set before us without a word of moralizing. The few words the child speaks to his father are just the words a child would speak amid the circumstances. When his father, condemned to death for mutiny, devotes him to the service of his country, and bids him "serve her bravely and faithfully," the little lad leans his head