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owed so much to the Institution, and I was much attached to poor Sarah's family. If you please we will say no more about it."
The children understood sufficient to know that their good Patience Martin had done some noble deed for which the committee and everybody thanked and honoured her; thev glanced the same to each other, and looked admiringly on her.
The Matron, probably understanding something of what the modest youn# woman who had done good in secret, felt, rose, rang the bell, and desired that Sarah Prior might be sent.
In the interim the cake and the sugar-plums were mentioned, but the two girls kept their toys, as yet in reserve.
Presently the door opened, and a tall, thin girl entered. She was taller than either Georgie or Hilda, and looked so grave and womanly that they were glad nothing had been said about the toys which they now felt sure could not be offered to her.
Patience also seemed surprised at the sight of Sarah, for she exclaimed—
"Well, really! is this little Sally Prior?"
Then taking her hand, and looking at her, she said "Oh, yes! and you are very like your mother my dear!" and kissed her.
Sarah blushed, smiled, looked very much pleased, and very pretty.
"But I ought not to have been so surprised," resumed Patience, "for you must be twelve, I never thought of that."
"Going on for thirteen, ma'am," said Sarah, with a little curtsey. '■ But may I ask, if you please ma'am, whether you come from grandmother'.' and how is she? and is she better of her headaches '.'"
"I am not come from grandmother, my dear, I am Patience Martin."
"It is Miss Martin, your benefactress, Sarah," said the Matron.
'• Patience Martin!" exclaimed Sarah Prior, at once surprised out of her timid propriety, "Oh, then
you know something about Uncle Tom!"
Patience all at once went as crimson as Sarah had been a minute or two before, and thensaid, "No, my dear, indeed I do not. I've heard nothing of him, and if grandmother hasn't.then I'm afraid we none of us ever shall!" and so saying Patience sighed, as she always did when she spoke of that lost sailor friend of hers.
"But please, Patience—ma'am," added Sarah, correcting herself. "grandmother sent me word that she'd done nothing but have pleasant dreams about Uncle Tom. so she thinks he'll come back again."
Patience smiled kindly at Sarah's remark, and said, "Uncle Tom may be very happy, dear, and yet we never see him again. But we will not now say more about him."
"Sarah," said the Matron, speaking quickly, "you had better tell Brooks to take your friends round the house; Miss Martin would like to see the improvements and I au» wanted."
A carnage of grand people had just then driven to the door.
Patience took Sarah by the hand, and Lawrence and his sisters followed.
"You'll never think of giving her the dolls and things'.'" said he, in an under-tone.
"No, I think we must take them back again," remarked Hilda.
"We never will!" said Georgie, energetically, "we'll give them to her to give to the little children. That will be giving her a pleasure."
"it is so kind of you to come to see me," said Sarah in the meantime, her whole countenance beaming with joy. "But do you know, dear Patience, grandmother and everybody fancied that Miss Martin that sent me here was some lady. How grandmother will be surprised!"
When the Mrs. Brooks, whom the Matron had mentioned as their guide, joined them. Patience started, and then said half dubiously—
"Is it—or perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought it was Martha Wallace—' dear Mother—Martha,' as we used to call her."
"And so it is !" said the Widow Brooks, embracing and kissing 1'atience. "And think of you remembering me! But I've had a deal of trouble since those days! I'm now a widow; my only child, thank God ! is in the school, and I am come back as one of the nurses. Well. I am glad to see you. Patience! And only to think that you are now rich enough to buy a presentation for our Sarah here!"
For Sarah, who had gone to fetch Mrs. Brooks, had told her the wonderful news.
"Oh, I'm not rich," said Patience, "but I was able, and very glad to do it for the sake of Sarah's family. But come now, say no more about it, and let us go the round of the place," added she, in her usual cheerful voice.
They went through the great dormitories, with their interminable rows of little white beds ; the spacious lavatories, or washingrooms; the great (lining-hall, where the immense tables were being cleared after the dinner; and through the now empty schoolrooms into the pleasant, airy play-ground, now swarming with its three hundred girls. Scarcely had they reached the middle of the space, however, when a little band came forward dancing hand-in-hand and singing—
"Air, water, earth, and fire,
And the merry little group, having approached within a few yards, wheeled round and went off again, singing as before.
It was very pretty, and showed what a favourite Sarah Prior was amongst her companions, and how warm was the sympathy which all felt in the pleasure of one who had apparently so few friends outside the school.
Now was the time for the distribution of those very toys 'which had lain so heavily on the minds of the young visitors. They all at once
thought so, and communicating their wishes to Sarah herself, the basket was fetched, and the little singing band was called up. They were twenty in number, and as it singularly enough happened, that there was exactly that number of toys in the packet, Sarah distributed them with impartiality aila wisdom, giving puzzles, or dolls, or musical inventions, according to the tastes and characters of the little girls themselves.
The most rapturous joy prevailed; the little singing group, all of whom were amongst the younger children, rushed back to their companions to show their treasures, and then such a shout of joy arose from the whole three hundred, as satisfied the young donors that their gifts were fully appreciated, and made them rather glad to be taken by their attendant into the chapel where, however, they now heard the foolish little rhyme about Sarah and her friends being sung by a much larger choir.
Mrs. Brooks and Sarah accompanied Patience and the young Kversheds back through the'grouuds to the lodge-gates, Lawrence by the way telling them of "the surly old hound which had almost bitten them as they went in."
But a great change had come over the old man, and Lawrence felt as if he had told Ids story to very little purpose.
Old Twibill now came out from under the archway, with a merry twinkle in his eye, and a smile at the corners of his mouth, and would have no nay, but they must come into his parlour. He made no apology, however, for his rudeness in the morning, nor, of course, did anyone refer to it.
"There is a medal of the Institute," said he, presenting it to Patience, " as she now is, struck in best metal. There's not more than two left; but one is for you, Missus. Thanks is superfluous. I neither struck it nor paid for it; and I daresay you'll set as much store by it as I should. I have another when I want to look at it."
"And here, young gentlefolks," said he, turning to the visitors, " I daresay you'll have nothing to say against a peppermint lozenge. I keep a few by me always. Now you'd better be off or you'll be losing your train."
They all thought the same, and Patience taking an affectionate leave of her friends, they walked rapidly towards the common.
Scarcely, however, had they left the great gateway of the school when Lawrence began:
"Where did you ever get all your money from. Patience, to buy that great tall Sarah Prior into the school?"
•' Oh, do tell us. Patience," said Hilda, "it was so good of you. And to think you never told us, not even mamma!"
"It was not such a very great thing to do," returned Patience. "And as to the money, I've always had good wages from your mamma, and she has been very kind to me, so that I did not need to lay out much for myself. I had a little hoard put by for a rainy day: and I thought it would be long before I wanted it for myself," and again Patience sighed, "and I knew that poor Sarah had nobody left to do anything for her, and that if I could only get her in here it would be the making of her, as ithad been of me. We were just then setting off for Scotland, so I sent the money to Mrs. Dinwiddie, who was a good, true friend of mine, and she managed it all for me, but then she died suddenly, so nothing more was known of me, nor was there need. Sarah was in the school; nor perhaps should I have asked your mamma to let me go over before next summer, only she was so good herself to propose it just now."
"I shall tell papa," said Georgie, "because I have heard him say how sorry he was that you did not put your money into grandpapa's bank, because there it would be safe and bring you in interest; and that he was sorry you managed to put by Bo little."
When the children reached home, they found, to their disappointment, that their kind, merry-hearted grandfather had been during their
absence, but was now gone again, and that he had carried off with him their mamma's Malvern picture.
They were very sorry, but soon forgot everything else in the interest which their parents took in the events of this remarkable day, and above all in learning the noble manner in which Patience had laid out the greater part of her savings.
Mr. Longmore, Mrs. Evershed's father, wrote in two. days to say that he had met with a gentleman who was delighted to purchase his daughter's picture, and he then and there inclosed a cheque for twenty guineas. Now, therefore, she told the children that she would enable them to carry out their little schemes of love to their fullest extent.
The only trouble was, that in order to do so. their mother had been obliged to part with a picture which they knew she prized so much. They were ready to regret having thought of such a thing, and wondered amongst themselves, what they must do to show their love sufficiently to her.
"Your mamma is an angel!" said Patience, when they told her. "I'm sure her goodness is a constant example to me. But now you must let this sacrifice which she has made be a real pleasure to her, by helping her to make everybody happy."
That same day Mrs. Evershed wrote to "the Captain" and Mrs. Hedley, begging them to arrange with old Mrs. Bcndelow, who could not read writing, for her to reach Yarmouth on the 12th instant, and accompany them the next day to Brackeulea, where she wished to give her children and the excellent Patience Martin the pleasure of a Valentine Day's visit from them. Furthermore, she said that on that same day. Patience would go to Swanford to fetch Sarah Prior for a visit of a week.
In a day or two, as early indeed as possible, a very delicate pink envelope with ornamental edges, inclosing a reply on a sheet of paper exactly to match, was received by M i\s. Evershed, worded as follows:—
b& Honoured Madame,
"In reply to your favour of the (ith instant, I beg to inform you that my partner and self shall have much gratification in accepting your obliging invitation, which fearing some mistake, the Captain went over yesterday to Ecldfare Marsh, and brought back Mrs.
15 . She joins with us in
respectful thanks, and we shall all, with great pleasure, start on the 13th inst. My partner and self beg affectionate compliments and love to our dear young ladies, Miss (ieorgie and Miss Hilda, and also to Patience; and with all good wishes for the health of yourself and your good gentleman,
'■ I subscribe myself, Madame,
"She does all the business," said Georgie, when the letter was finished.
A large, official-looking letter also arrived from Swanford, granting leave of absence for Sarah Prior.
Nothing could be more satisfactory. Mrs. Evershed then wrote back to Mrs. Hedley, with the fullest directions for their journey, also inclosing a post-office order for the necessary expenses. After this, she and the children went to London to make their purchases, so that they might have the pleasure of giving true Yarmouth valentines. They bought for Mrs. Bendelow a handsome warm cloak which would last her her lifetime, even if she lived to be very old; a pretty work-box, well supplied with every necessary for needlework, for Sarah Prior; a beautifully bound copy of Longfellow's Poems for Patience, who was extremely fond of poetry; and six silver tea-spoons for Mrs. Hedley. These were all the purchases which they made, because Mr. Evershed had undertaken to look out for a handsome black retriever dog, which was the only thing that (ieorgie and Hilda had ever heard their pilot friend express a wish for. He had had, only a few
months before, a dog of that kind, of which he told endless anecdotes, a dog which accompanied him in his boat, and was called "Mate ;" but it disappeared in some strange way. and being very valuable was supposed to have been stolen. His wife said he would have given any money to get it back, and that he grieved for its loss as if it had been a child. The brave old pilot was therefore to have another dog, as near like the first, according to the description which the girls had heard, as it was possible to be.
In due course, the all-eventful 1.1th arrived. It had seemed a long time in coming, spite of all the talking and dreaming about it. But at length it came, and a beautiful spring-like day it was.
Patience set off in the forenoon to bring her protegee, and soon after four o'clock, the children were allowed to go down to the little station to wait for the 5 o'clock train, by which their Yarmouth friends were to arrive. Unfortunately. Patience and Sarah could not possibly arrive till the 5.4,> train, three-quarters of an hour later. Of course, as is always the ease with impatient people, they were a great deal too soon. They walked up and down the platform so long, that though the station clock might have told him the contrary. Lawrence ran into the office to ask Mr. Mather, the station-master, if he did not think some accident must have happened to delay the train.
•' It won't be in for fifteen minutes, sir," said the stationmaster, glancing up from his desk to the clock. "You and the young ladies had better sit by the waitingroom fire, out of the cold."
But they all preferred remaining outside, then went out of the station to the railway-bridge, whence the smoke of the engine could be seen from a considerable distance; but presently again returned to the platform. Then the moment they reached the station, a little tinkle in the office announced that the train had left the last station, and soon afterwards Roger, the porter, hoisti'l mi unintelligible signal, and then rang the great bell, after which he crossed the line to the other platform, and they and two or three country people, who were waiting to go forward, did the same.
A minute afterwards the red glaring eyes of the engine came gliding towards them; a violent puffing and blowing off of steam followed; Hilda held back Lawrence, lest he should rush off the platform, and Oeorgie sprang along by Roger's side, trying to gaze into each carriage to welcome their longt xpected friends.
And after all they were not there!
The children could not believe it at first, not indeed until the few tickets had been given up at the station-gate. No, they were not there! and Roger was quite sure that nobody had gone forward who ought to have got out. He had shouted the name, he said, "so uncommon plain," and he had looked well at every carriage.
"' They'll come by the next train, depend upon it," said Mr. Mather. "If they were coming from Yarmouth, they were on the Eastern Counties line, and that's not very punctual. Two minutes out of time would make them too late for this train."
They were obliged to be consoled by this hope. There was nothing else, indeed, for it: therefore, they ran home, and their mother, who was standing at one of the library windows, seeing them thus arrive, threw it open, and learning the intelligence, said she would put on her things and go down with them, as it would then be getting rather dusk, to meet the later train.
The time did not seem so long now that their mother was with them, besides which, they were not so unnecessarily early.
Again glared the red eyes of the engine, which came panting and putting up towards the platform.
"There they are! there they are!" exclaimed Georgie, springing forward as the train stopped, for she had seen the gas in the carriage shining on the large, round weather
beaten face of Mrs. Hedley's " bold pilot husband," who was now making violent gesticulations before opening the door.
The next minute he was violently shaking Georgie's hand, and she was exclaiming, "dear Captain Hedley! I am so glad to see you!"
"I was sadly afraid they'd can-jus too far," said he, " for these sidestations are so uncertain; and here's dear Miss Hilda! Your humble servant, Mrs. Evershed, madam!"
Roger in the meantime had helped out a stout, elderly lady, wrapped in a scarlet and green plaid shawl, and she, as soon as her foot was on the ground, exclaimed:
"You come along with me, young man. There's a barrel of Yarmouth bloaters somewhere, and one or two other little things, so look sharp!"
And away she panted to the luggage van. Georgie and Lawrence ran after her, whilst Mrs. Evershed and Hilda remained to welcome a tall thin old woman, with corkscrew auburn curls, who was helped out carefully by Patience, followed by tall, lanky Sarah Prior, who looked again very pretty with the crimson of pleasure on her cheeks.
"How are you Mrs. Bendelow?" said Mrs. Evershed, at once knowing it must be she, "I hope not much tired by your journey."
"Thank you, ma'am," returned the old woman, "a little crawlymawly, or ailing, as I should say, but nothing to matter; and with such a nation of mercies, I can't grumble, though I may be a bit upset by the news."
'• Nothing painful, I hope?" said Mrs. Evershed, turning to Patience.
But Patience, who was gone off after the Hedleys, was not there to answer.
"Sally, love, have you got the cage?" said' the old woman, now turning to her granddaughter.
"Yes, grandmother, under my cloak."
"I suppose Mrs. Hedley will look after the hamper '.'" continued she: then turning to Mrs. Evershed, she said, "I've taken the liberty, mann, to bring you up some Norfolk biffins,