Puslapio vaizdai

was Archie's new bull-terrier who did it. You know we can all hurt each other if we like. God lets us, but He does n't like it. He wants us to help each other instead. But if we had n't the power to do harm, we could n't have the power to do good, either. We must have both; and if we misuse our power, dreadful things happen." Joy's sobs slackened.

picture of death it was a little fanciful, but she longed to remove the last traces of horror that still lingered in Joy's eyes.

The reading was a great success. The seven queens and the dark barge overlaid the specter of reality. Eliza and King Arthur floated into the land of Avalon together,


"I'm not sure," she said tearfully, Where far beyond those voices there is and it was her first doubt of any created thing, "that God ought to have made a bull-terrier at all if He did n't want Eliza to be hurt. O Mummy, what happens to stiff cats?"

Mrs. Featherstone looked at Eliza, dispassionately. It was difficult to predict a future for a cat of such exclusively materialistic habits, but she did the best she could, and suggested a handsome funeral for Eliza's immediate present.

"And may we pick the Madonna lilies under the wall?" asked Joy, leaping to her feet in recovered ecstasy.

Much to the gardener's annoyance, Mrs. Featherstone agreed to the sacrifice of the lilies, and Eliza's grave was strewn with this inappropriate emblem. Joy danced hand in hand with Mrs. Featherstone about the sacred spot, singing with touching fervor her favorite hymn,

There is a Home for little children,

above the bright blue sky.

It is to be hoped that Eliza's spirit was accommodated elsewhere, as she had a very strong dislike of children, and would have deeply resented any home which was given up to them.

Mrs. Featherstone read the "Morte d'Arthur" out loud to the assembled family after tea. She knew that as a


It was Joy's fourteenth birthday and the first of June. She started the day at dawn. Every bird in Devonshire was awake, and all of them seemed to Joy to be in the Rock Lodge garden.

Fat thrushes with operatic voices shook themselves into trances, blackbirds, with ringing notes piercingly sweet and loud, got the better of the most reluctant worms, and divided their talents with impartial rapture between securing their breakfast and making most meticulous music. Chaffinches sprayed their brief melodies from bough to bough, and every finch and lark and tiny wren set the seal of their loud joy upon the morning.

Far away in a hollow glen the cuckoo dropped his wandering challenges, playing hide and seek with outraged heads of families. Muffling the ecstatic screams of a fox-terrier puppy called Absolom under her skirt, Joy crept out upon the lawn.

The lawn was very wet with dew, and Joy had taken neither time nor pains over her toilet. She was the age of Juliet, but she had none of Juliet's preoccupations. Her mind was as blank and innocent as a newborn leaf blowing this way and that to catch a light adventure. She looked

back at the old house with a sudden thrill at her heart. It was hers; it must be hers forever. The transfiguring golden light covered it, and the birds' persistent voices all around it made it like a shell of melody. All the happiness of Joy's smooth and eager years was harvested in its old walls.

She could not think of life without her home. The mossy, precipitous drive the horses had to be lead so carefully up and down, the swift drops and scrambles of the little paths from rocky platform to rocky platform on which garden beds yielded only to the stoutest and most persistent flowers, were as much a part of her as Maude and Archie. The Rock Lodge garden was bad for gardeners, but it was a paradise for children. Joy put Absolom down gingerly, and watched a white and clamorous streak pass through the shrubberies and out on to the moors. Absolom had smelt rabbits, and the law and the prophets no longer existed for him.

There was nothing to be done but to fly after him. Joy's skirts were short, her legs were long and slender; she flew without increase of breath up the steep path which led to the moor. She had not meant to go to the moor; she had meant to go down to the village and thank the villagers for sending her presents. She had found in the hall, left overnight, a jackdaw, two baby rabbits in a basket, cowslip wine, and heather honey. They came from the little pink, shell-like cottages hidden in the trees below her. Lynton was full of smiling, calm, immovable people with strong instincts and pleasant manners, who hated slowly and steadily, loved forever, and on the whole minded their own business with placidity; and they were all Joy's

friends. Nobody ever hurried or altered their plans at Lynton, or tried to please anybody more than they intended to go on pleasing them, and nobody ever changed.

"So if I live here always," Joy thought as she hurried up the path, "they'll always love me." Life stretched before her like the summer day, sunny and inexhaustible.

When she reached the top of the moor above the house, Absolom had vanished.

Far away, and yet so near that she could have dropped a pebble on to it, lay the lawn of Rock Lodge, with the unshaken summer sea, as still as blue bells in a wood, beneath it. The little perched and sliding town of Lynton clung to the cliff's-edge above the deep-green valley of the Watersmeet. The valley lay between two steep and heather-tufted cliffs; a rapid river with waterfalls tossed a bright, impatient way under green bushes from end to end of it.

Three streams met high up in the valley, raged and played together in a fine lather of waterfalls, and then united in a swift and businesslike way in a race to the sea. Joy had followed all the streams to their source and knew half their secrets, where to find a company of kingcups overlooking a deep pool, and where the big trout lay under the shelving rock.

But she never told the boys where the trout lay; she had no wish for the death of living things. It was one of the reasons why she liked best to be alone with Absolom and Rosemary. Absolom and Rosemary were too young to kill anything; they could chase rabbits all day long, and no one be the worse for it. Nicolas was different. different. He liked to kill rats in a

barn with terriers, and he liked it better if Joy was there to see. Not that you could call Nicolas cruel; he was remarkably kind. He carried Rosemary for hours on his back when she was tired, and mended anything that was broken. Nicolas was part of Joy's life, too, quite as much as any of her brothers; rather more, perhaps. Not that Joy could have described what Nicolas was to her. He was Nicolas, and came a long way after Rosemary in her affections.

The Pennants, who were his people, lived only four miles away at Foxglove Hall, and came over constantly on ponies. The only fault Joy had ever had to find in Nicolas beyond the rats, which was hardly a fault, as all boys shared the same desire for their extinction, was that Maude wanted him to like her best, and Nicolas would n't. Joy had explained to Nicolas that it would be much simpler if he would like Maude best, and that he could go on liking Joy second best, which would suit her just as well and be pleasanter all round; and Nicolas, with his curiously hard and honest eyes fixed on her, had said, "You little fool, I shall like you best as long as I live."

It was curious how this remark had remained with her. She remembered it again now as she sat on a tuft of heather, her eyes ranging far and wide in her search for Absolom. Nicolas had not explained why he cared for her like that; but, then, Nicolas never explained things: he only did them when he had said he was going to do them, and even sometimes when he had not.

He was going to take her to the Doone Valley this afternoon alone, and, if her mother would let her, on

Fidget. As soon as she could recover Absolom, Joy must go and look for her mother in the harness-room and ask her for leave to ride Fidget. It was tiresome that on her birthday she was n't to have Archie and Maude with her, but Nicolas had said it was his last day at home, where a broken collar-bone had conveniently laid him, and that he would have his own way about it. He would n't have minded Rosemary, but it was too far to take her, and Nicholas had been so beautifully kind to Joy-he had saved all his pocket money for ages to buy her a brindle bulldog pup. The puppy was to be called Ajax and was very fat; if you stuck a finger into him he rolled over. He was the most deliciously ferocious-looking lamb of a puppy, and Nicolas was training him to be obedient. The training had got as far as Ajax sitting down and wagging his tail, with his head on one side, and all his wrinkles looking very anxious, whenever Nicolas addressed him.

Ajax was one of the dreams of Joy's life realized, and she shrank from being ungracious to the giver of a dream.

The silence of the moors inclosed Joy as if the skies were walls. She sat very still, because it seemed as if her whole being was surrounded by something unseen. It was a curious feeling that she had had before when she was quite alone. If you kept perfectly still and did n't think of anything at all, you melted away from yourself; you became a part of the day and of the listening air. It was a very wonderful feeling, only you could never tell any one about it. It was like being a part of God.

Three white gulls, sailing on their motionless wings, sank down almost

on a level with her head. She watched the shadows their great wings made by her on the grass; their uncanny, changeless, yellow eyes rested on her as if to see whether she was fugitive or a landmark. It was quieter than ever when they were gone, so quiet that Joy could hear her own heart beat, and the light air which stirred the grasses had a song in it. Everything she loved was fast asleep below her; only behind the silent beauty something that was akin to her was stirring. It was as if she and the heather, the butterflies, and the small golden bees, the wide and motionless sea, the raveled fleeces of the summer clouds, were all balanced and held upon a giant hand.

The silence was like the breath of some great being; and if his silence was so golden, what would be his speech? Far away below her in the time-ridden world she heard a clock strike eight.

It was a long while before the sound reached her senses. When it did, she shivered as if she were called back from a perpetual safety. Mother would be up now in the harness-room cleaning Fidget's harness. Far away at the cliff's-edge Joy caught a flash of white moving in and out of the low furzebushes. The flash stopped dead as her voice recalled it. "Absolom! Absolom!" For a few moments Absolom continued his search, pretending that he had heard nothing, but not for long. Joy was upon him fleeter than his own four legs, and had him by the scruff of the neck. He slued a wicked, jocular eye at her, well knowing the worst that would come to him, and as soon as he was released after a perfunctory shake, crept with imitation shivers to her heel.

Mrs. Featherstone had bought Fidget with her pig money. The grooms had enough to do with the carriage horses, two hunters, and the children's ponies, so Mrs. Featherstone did everything for Fidget herself.

Fidget was a standing reproach to the grooms. Her coat was as soft as satin, her harness sparkled on the dullest mornings, and her leather had the fine smoothness of a laurel-leaf.

Her character was almost worth the care taken over her personal appearance, for Fidget had a warm and generous heart. She was at once lively and reliable, and if she had not been so obviously a lady, she might have been described as a "perfect gentleman."

She let herself go on grass, and walked delicately as if on egg-shells down the awkward drive. Any one with judgment and nerve could ride her, but it must be owned that she felt herself compelled to unseat any one who attempted to ride her without these two qualities. She gave her best to her rider, and expected consideration and sympathy in return. Joy slipped into the harness-room, Absolom bustling in beside her with an air of never having left her side.

Mrs. Featherstone kissed her daughter with unusual tenderness. She wondered if many mothers had so straight and lithe and beautiful a girl to greet upon her fourteenth birthday, and knew that none of them had ever greeted one so innocent, and so unconscious of her beauty.

"I'm going with Nicolas if I may," Joy asked breathlessly, "and may I ride Fidget as a birthday treat? If I must n't, may we have lunch and walk? We want to go to the top of the Doone Valley.

"I finished 'Lorna Doone' last night. Nicolas promised to take me. He says all the savage Doones are dead, but I think there might be rather a nice one left."

Mrs. Featherstone took up Fidget's immaculate bit and redoubled the

polish on it.

like," said Joy. "He 's going back to-morrow because his broken collarbone 's all right. I'm afraid he won't like my not kissing him when he gives me Ajax. Still, I can kiss Ajax instead, can't I?”

"You can kiss bull pups as much as you like," said Mrs. Featherstone,

"And what about Maude and gravely. "Nicolas will have to put Archie?" she asked. up with that as a proxy."

"Nicolas says not," Joy explained regretfully. “He thinks the ponies could n't take them there and back, and, besides, I don't think he particularly wants them. Archie says he does n't care about the Doones if they 're dead, anyway; but I think Maude would have liked to go."

"And yet Nicolas seems to have thought it not too far for you to walk," said Mrs. Featherstone, reflectively.

"He knows a short cut for walking," Joy explained; "but walking is n't quite so like a birthday, is it?"

"No," agreed Mrs. Featherstone. "Well, you'll be quite all right with Nicolas, of course, and you may ride Fidget. Only come back in time for your birthday tea at five, and bring Nicolas with you. The rest of the Pennants are coming over then. You are getting rather old now," she stated, glancing at her daughter. "You 're nearly as tall as I am."

"I don't feel old," said Joy, truthfully; "I think it 's only my legs."

"I dare say it is," Mrs. Featherstone agreed. "Still, I think at fourteen I told Margaret she must stop kissing boys and men except her father and brothers, and I suppose you had better do the same. Nicolas is eighteen now, is n't he?"

"Yes, he 's something awful at Winchester which sounds like 'preposterous,' but means you can do as you

"Mummy," Joy asked thoughtfully, "are men very different from women?" Mrs. Featherstone looked very hard at Fidget's bridle before she answered, then she said slowly;

"Not particularly; a wise woman once said the older she grew the more sure she felt that there were only two kinds of people, men and women, and that they were very much alike. Still, there are certain differences. Women have to remember one or two things in their behavior to men. They must never allow any liberties to be taken with them, and they must not encourage men whom they do not wish to marry. Admiration is very nice, but it would not be very fair to accept a great deal of it unless you were prepared to give something back. Above all, they must play the game with other women. I think the basest thing a woman can do is to take away another woman's man."

"But they can't when they 're married, can they?" Joy asked. "Not without sin," said Mrs. Featherstone, sternly.

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