|Chapter Title||Holiday! Holiday!|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||More about Misrule|
MORE ABOUT MISRULE.*
By ETHEL TURNER.
"O frabjous days 'Callooh! Callay' He chortled in is joy." "Peter," shrieked Essie's excited voice, "Peter, Peter—quick, quick—"
"What?" said the perfectly unemotional voice of Peter. He was sitting on the edge of the side veranda and did not move an inch. "Hurry," screamed Essie, "oh, lovely, lovely !" " What's the good of anything ?" was Peter's answer, and he remained seated, kicking the toe of one of his house-shoes against a stump in the path. A hole had already appeared in the leather of the left shoe, and he watched it enlarging with a vicious kindest pleasure, " Oh, Peter," shouted Essie. Peter rose up and moved moodily towards, the spot where, in a small depression in the first paddock, Essie's blue galatea frock and mushroom hat were to be seen moving about excitedly. " Bullyfrogs," she shouted joyously as Peter approached; "I found them, you didn't I knewed they'd come back. Had you forgetted it rained last night ?" Peter was investigating with his hand in the little pond of water that always formed in this spot after rain. His heaviness of spirit light- ened a little as he knelt on the muddy edge of the depression and felt cautiously about; it was two months since a drop of rain had fallen, and he had actually forgotten there were such pleasant things in life as tadpoles. "Look out," said Essie; "you're getting your knicklebockles all muddied. She herself, with the daintier instinct of her sex, was merely standing on a wet stone and prodding the mud of the pool with a stick. "Let's get the bottle," she suggested joyous- ly; " le's start another 'quarium—the old gold fish bowl, it's not much broked—put my pinky shells at the bottom, ferny leaves all round, the bullies swimming all about—oh, come on, Peter." Peter stood up and gloomily surveyed his mud-patched knees. " What's the good of anything ?" he growled. Essie with an effort brought her eager thoughts from the tadpoles to the dejected mood of her brother. "Oh," she said comfortingly, "it's only 'boat 8 o'clock, we've only just had break- fus. It's long as long to school yet." Peter refused consolation. " It's always the way," he said wretchedly, "just as you get doing anything you like, that old bell goes and rings." "We don't always hear it," Essie sugges- ted hopefully. "If we went down at the bottom of the paddock then we couldn't possibly. Come on." Peter remained motionless and miserable. "She'd only come and look for as," he said. Essie's spirits were incapable of being damped. " Let's ask mum for a holiday," she said, and leapt from her stone to dry ground; "come on, p'raps she will." Peter shook his head in mote misery. Had he not already proffered the petition to his hard-hearted mother and been refused ? " Le's ask Nellie to ask her," said Essie, " to beg an' beg an' beg. Come on." Peter shook his head again. He had already vainly approached Nellie on the subject. "P'raps Miss Burton's aunt'll fall down stairs again, and she'll have to stay at home," suggested the dauntless Essie. Peter had already weighed the chances of this contingency again arising and decided against the probability of it. " Nothing'll keep her away," he groaned "P'raps there'll be nice things to do," said Essie, who, left to herself, would actually have enjoyed lessons, "sums with marbles or apples in, or in the reading-book 'boat 'it was the schooler Hesp'rus what sailed the wintled sea.'" " I hate sums with marbles or apples in," said the confirmed pessimist "and 'bout Casabianca or that Heap'rus girl makes me feel as sick as anything." "P'raps you feel ill now," said the little sister hopefully. "It's no good," said Peter, and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. " I feel awfully ill, and mother won't let me not go." A great sob lifted his chest. "I believe she's stopping loving me, she doesn't care a bit how bad I feel." Essie regarded him anxiously. " Have yon got a pain anywhere?" she asked. Peter gave another sob. " I've got one all over me," he said, " an' I told her about it an' she didn't care one bit. I might be getting plague—I saw a rat in the stable yesterday, truly. P'raps I'll die, and then she'll be sorry." Essie laid down her wet stick. "Le's ran ? an' tell her," she said and started away up to the house; "come on, p'raps she thought it wasn't a very really pain; le's go an' tell her you're crying." She ran on over the damp paddock grass, through the hole in the fence, up the path, and burst into the breakfast room. Peter followed her, weeping copiously now as he ran. " Why, sweetheart!" said Esther, " what' s the matter ?—come and tell me all about it." " He feels so ill," said Essie, and burst into tears also; " he's been crying dreadfully. He might be getting plague." "What nonsense!" said Esther, but she looked a trifle startled, for the daily paper she had just laid down was full of this horror; "what d'you know about the plague ?" "there was a r-r-rat in the stable yesterday," sobbed Peter. " A great big r-r-rat," sobbed Essie. "You are not to play near the stable," said Esther sharply; "I forbid you to go in." Her frightened thoughts flew to the bags of horse-feed, then to the place they had come *The sole right of serial publication in Queensland has been secured by the pro- prietors of the " Queenslander."
from—those dreadful wharves of the harbour. She drew Peter to her. "Put out your tongue," the said. Peter displaced half-an-inch of it. "You can't t-tell by just looking at your t-tongue," he sobbed. Esther felt him anxiously. "He's as cool as possible," she said to Nellie, who just then came in. " Not the least bit feverish." "I think he's school-feverish," laughed Nell. " Isn't that it, Peterkin ?" Peter gave a fresh indignant sob. " I f-feel as ill as anything," he said. Essie redoubled her sobs, "He feels as ill as anything," she said. Then Esther laughed—for the moment she had forgotten how she had already been en- treated for a holiday. "You little scamps," she said, and caught her boy up in one arm and her girl in another and cuddled them up to her. " You bad little scamps!" But they still wept grievously, for Peter had no doubt in the world that he did feel very bad indeed, and Essie was equally convinced that his condition was really serious. Esther's eyes went to the window and out to the grass. Suoh a glory of sunshine every- where, young leaves fluttering out on the trees, young grass pushing up emerald shoots among the duller blades, dancing lights all over the blue river—a puppy or two yelping on the paths with sheer delight at living, a kitten or two careering in giddy circles on the lawn. Esther moved out of earshot of the children, and looked shamefacedly at Nellie. "It is certainly a particularly lovely morn- ing," she said; "Yes, isn't it," said Nellie listlessly. "And I must say I am a great believer in fresh air for children." Esther had the grace to blush a little. "It is an excellent thing,undoubtedly," said Nell, a smile flickering up to the corners of her mouth. "Your father thought Essie was looking a little pale the other day." " Yea," said Nellie, " at least I remember he said Peter was so very brown and rosy that Essie's merely pink cheeks looked almost pale in contrast." "Well, that's the same thing," said Esther unblushingly. " Oh, exactly," said Nell. "It isn't as if they were old enough for it to matter losing their lessons occasionally," Esther continued. " Essie is only five.*' " Only five," assented Nell. "It is far better for both to be running about in the sunshine, especially as I gave Poppet a holiday to go to Meg's." "Far better," said Nell, "and think how poor Miss Burton will enjoy a day off." Esther's face fell a little. The Major was called upon to pay thirty pounds a year for the morning services of Miss Burton and just how often that young lady arrived at Misrule door, and was bidden "holiday-make to-day," no one would have liked to tell him. "It shall be the very last time," said Esther; then she raised her voice: " Children, you may have a holiday this morning, but never, never again—it is the very last time, so it will be no use ever asking me again. Out you run to play—unless Peter would rather I put-him back to bed." Peter's fair little face shone like a cherub's through its stream of tears. " I think I feel a little better," he said. "He thinks he feels a little better," said Essie beamingly. " Then be off," said Esther, and with a sound very like the puppies' yelps of delight the two sprang away through the long window and rushed out of sight. " I'm afraid I'm not fit to be the mother of a family," Esther said, and for the space of ten minutes, while she gave the orders for the day, had as uncomfortable sense of wrong- doing. Away at the fence that divided Misrule's wild grounds from the sunless stretches of the pine-surrounded house Peter gave a low, far- carrying whistle that speedily brought Jack out from bis home. "Hello," he said, and displayed just one quarter of a glad smile of welcome through the hole in the fence, "hello—how'd you get out ?—won't they be after you ?" Two eager noses poked through the opening to answer him. " Holiday—holiday—hurrah, a holiday, do just what they liked !" The quarter of a smile faded into an ex- pression of keen envy. " And you had one last week too," said the little dweller among the pines, "and I had to do penins'lars and gulfs all the time. I never get holidays." " Why don't you ask?" said Peter; "don't you ever get a pain or anything ?" But the lady of the Pines was not an Esther, and her son knew he might as well save his breath. "I've got to learn dates and Stephen and John before she comes back," he said groan- ingly. Sympathy passed through the hole. "Has she gone out in the Box yet?" said Essie; this was the time, she knew, for one of the day's two drives. "Um," said the boy. " Will she be a good long time ?" said Peter cautiously. "Only just gone," said Jack. "Tell you," said Peter, "me and Essie'll get over the fence and have a look round at your place." The bold suggestion made him thrill even as he made it, but an extra special holiday like this really demanded extra special doings. The quarter of Jack's mouth that was ex- posed to view looked doubtful. "P'raps you'd better not," he said. " Tell you, I might pop over to you for a minute— 1066 to 1087, 1082 to 1100—Magna Charta, what-d'ye-call-it Riots-thick I know it enough." " All right," said Peter a little disappointedly. But Essie was also carried off the plane of every day by the thought of this extra holiday a-stretch before them. She poked her toes into two knot-holes on the fence and clambered up it, clinging like a tenacious beetle to the top. "You've been in here 'bout fourteen 'leven times," she said; "we won't let you over again 'cept you let us come in your place first, will we, Peter?" " No, we won't," said Peter, fired once more; "we've showed you all our things—the new
tap in the bath room, and mother's pink ball slippers, and every thing, and we've let you have tries with the bicycle pumps—now you'll have to let us come over to you." Jack looked hesitatingly behind him at his own house. " What's the good ?" he said, " it's whips nicer in your place." " Come on, Peter," said Essie, who had not scratched her little legs on the rough fence for nothing, " I'm going—come on, he'll have to let us 'cause it's our turn." The dread mother of the house with Lylie was safely out of the way in her Box—one of the coloured men was driving it, one could just be seen mending the hinge of the distant gate—the father was away in the country; there only remained the boy Charlie in all the mysterious place. Peter's courage and curiosity rose, there might never be another such chance. He swarmed up after Essie, and they lowered themselves carefully and stood their ground firmly. "Now," said Essie to her distinctly dis- mayed host, "come on, you've got to show us everything." _She stalked towards the quiet gray house, Peter following a trifle more cautiously, and Jack bringing up most unwillingly in the rear.
CHAPTER XIV.—Over the Fence Again. Heroic deeds will be done to-day. The hall door was closed, but then so too occasionally was that of Misrule. "We can easily go in the back door," said Essie. Jack was beginning to make the best of a bad bargain. There's the dining-room window open," he said, "then Charlie won't see as, he's peeling potatoes in the kitchen." Essie's courage rose still higher; this could not be so very mysterious a place after all if homely potatoes were partaken of in it just as at Misrule. " Come on," she said. Jack pushed open the French window of the dining-room, and his eager, staring co- rades stepped inside. Just an ordinary dining-room, very well and comfortably furnished, but nothing in the least out of the common run of dining-rooms. " Where's your drawing-room ?" said Essie. "We haven't got one—we draw in the nursery," answered Jack. " Where's your breakfast-room ?" said Essie. Jack led them into another very comfortable room. " Is this where your father has his meals by himself?" said Peter. He knew there was something rather fanny about this. Jack answered that it was. "Is this the chair he sits on?" demanded Essie. "' Yes," said Jack, and the children examined the chair with interest, but found it merely an ordinary chair, not in tho least stimulating. They went out thirstily into the hall, and Peter was interested in the fastening of the front door, which had a chain and ball on a different principle from the Misrule one. Essie counted the umbrellas and recognised some things hanging on the walls as boome- rangs—had they not a big collection of these up at Yarrahappini ? But what terrifying sound was this that came to smite the ears of all the three? Nothing less than the Box stopping at the door, nothing less than the door-gong sounding through the house. Heavy velvet curtains hung over the hall window and reached to the ground. Quick as thought Jack pushed his comrades behind the folds of them and sat down himself on a hall chair and began saying aloud, " William the First, 1066 to 1100; Stephen, 1100 to 1085; William the Third—— " He affected to be startled when Charlie opened the door and his mother walked in again. "Why. you've only just gone!" he ex- claimed. " I came back for another wrap," she said; " why are you not in my sitting room, sir ?" " Lylie buzzes about go a fellow can't learn in there," he said; " it's much quieter here— William the First, 1066 to 1077; William the Second, 1077 to 1100; John, 1100 to 1195; Elizabeth, 1195 to 1403—I'lll know it in a jiffy if I sit here." " Go back to the chair I left you in," his mother said, and Peter, who always said, "But why?" or "What for?" or "In a minute," to commands (issued by Esther or the girls be it understood, not by the Major), knew he would not have dreamed of gain- saying this speaker. From behind the stifling curtains they could hear their comrade's steps going farther and farther away, down the hill, up the stairs, till the last sound died away. Cut off in this alarming manner, Peter and Essie could only cling to each other and tremble. But that was the sound of the hall door being opened again. " I shall not be back for an hour at least, Charlie," Mrs. Saville said; "see that the children stay safely in the sitting-room all the time. Master Jack would not have been downstairs if you had been attending to your duty." Charlie was heard to begin a sentence with "potatoes" in it, but Mrs. Saville never heard excuses. Essie and Peter, beginning to breathe again at a prospect of freedom, let their eyes peep through the lead-lighted hall window. The Box was drawn up at the foot of the steps; on top Tairoa sat, idly flicking his whip as he waited. Leaning out was Lylie, her golden hair hanging over her shoulders. Essie's eyes devoured her—white silk frock, white felt hat, gold bird brooch at her neck—what a story for Poppet's thirsty ears ! But when Mrs. Saville stepped into the carriage again and tried to put on the wrap, the child shook her shoulders, pulled away, and carried on as haughtily as Essie herself did when Martha wanted to dress her in a stiffly-starched, prickling muslin just when she was enjoying making sand-pies. Poppet would never credit, this, though Pip might—Pip who declared that one morning he had seen Poppet's saintly Lylie throw four teacups one after the other out of an upstairs window. The next moment Tairoa flicked his whip in a businesslike manner, and horses, brougham, and all vanished away.
Essie was for plunging out of the suffocating curtain instantly, but Peter remembered there was still Charlie to be reckoned with. But Charlie—happy, careless Island boy—strolled back to the kitchen, finished his potatoes, then stretched himself out in the sun at the back door to enjoy a cigarette. Jack had been able to count on this, and came down now to the release of his friends. They looked a little white and shaken after the experience. " We'll be going now," said Peter, and moved promptly to the hall door. But Jack, with nothing but William the First, William the Second, Henry, the First, and Stephen a-stretch before him, was loath to be left. "You may as well stay now you're here," he said; "come on, and I'll show you how our shower-bath works—it's not like yours." "The blackfellow," said Peter fearfully. Jack stuck his bands in his pockets. "If I give him sixpence for cigarettes he won't let on to her," he said; " but walk quietly—I've only got ninepenoe left altogether—I'm always hav- ing to give them sixpences not to tell. Tairoa's the best, he'll do it for threepence unless it's very bad. Had to give him a shilling the time I climbed on the roof." Peter looked at him with a little awe ; then his eyes went hesitatingly to the front door again. It would be very delightful to be their own side of the fence again ; but then there was no knowing how interesting that shower bath might be. Essie decided the matter by going upstairs very silently. But we won't stay long, " even she said. On the first landing there was a door ajar. " That's only the room we do our lessons in," said Jack; "there's nothing to see in it: come on up to the bath-room." Peter followed him. Essie poked her in- quisitive little nose into the lesson-room, and there, at the table, books spread in neat little piles around her, an atlas propped up in front of her, was Lylie, patiently engaged upon an outline of a map of Asia. Essie rounded her eyes at her. "Why . . ." she said, "why . . . you were out . . .I saw you going out." "Oh," said Lylie, "mamma will be so angry; oh,, how did you get in our house?" " Jack brought us," said Essie. " Why, you were leaning out of the Box. Did you get out at the gate ? Did you run back ? Why, you've got a different frock on." "Jack," called Lylie, real distress in her voice, "Jack." Jack returned; Peter followed close behind and stared mightily at Lylie, but accepted the odd vision of her and asked no questions. "Are you going to let on ?" demanded Jack to his sister; "we're not doing any harm and they wouldn't come. They only want to see our bathroom tap. If you let on, I'll run away to sea." Of course the poor little mouse wasn't going to tell. Jack never had any fear of her when he had threatened her with going down to the sea in ships. "You—you won't know your lessons," was all she said. "My troubles!" said Jack, his valiant front on for his visitors. "You were in the Box persisted Essie, " you were. You couldn't have gotted back as quick as this. Oh, oh—how did you get back as quick as this ?" "That's my desk—that lot's my books" said Jack, displaying. Peter looked at the beautiful little desk that had been bought to help to make study pleasant for his friend. He turned over the books, " Little Arthur's History—same as us ; Butter's Spelling, Stepping Stones—'spose you re not up to Latin, like me—I've gone into the Principia. What d'you read out of?" Jack tossed his books over. " Where's my Reader—have you been hiding it again, Lylie? It you have—" And Lylie had. Right underneath four or five cushions on the sofa. But she produced it now when bidden, and held it nervously to wards him. " I don't like it being on the table when I'm all alone," she faltered. Mrs. Seville, in her childhood, had been taught to read out of this same " Reading Without Tears," and from a certain sentiment connected with the well-worn volume, now taught her own children from it. But surely we are tenderer of our little children in these days than they were a score or two of years ago, when this same Reader was in the hands of half the youug folks seek- ing or being driven to find a key to the world of books! "Isn't she a silly?" said Jack, "frightened at one of the stories. Why, I like it. Here's the picture—look, wolves—they're going to crunch her up." "Don't!" screamed Lylie, "don't!" She put her fingers in her ears, and ran across the room. Of course Peter said," Tell us," instantly, and Essie pressed to listen and see the picture "Look," said Peter, "that's the girl, only you can't see much of her, she's just going to get eaten. It's about a girl and a little boy and they lived in Russia or somewhere. And the girl was making bread or something, and the father and mother was gone out. And the wolves smelt the bread, and they came and pushed and pushed at the door." "Don't!" screamed Lylie. " Go on," said Peter. " And they pushed the door open, and the girl didn't know what to do, and there was only room for one in the clock-cupboard. So she catched hold of her little brother and put him in it. And when he was in it, he could hear the wolves fighting all over the kitchen, and making an awful row, and crunching up his sister's bones." No one would ever know how this story haunted Lylie's sleeping and waking moments. Essie shivered at it a moment, then she returned to her charge. "You were in the Box," she said, "you were; I sawed you. How'd you come back ?" But Lylie shook off the horrible story and ran round to her. "Oh," she said, "p'raps mamma won't mind very, very much. Oh, play you're my little girl, will you? pretend I have to dress you, and do your hair, and take you out. Oh, I never, never have any one to play with—be my little girl, won't you ?" And for half-an-hour, while the boys roamed
over the house, Essie had to submit to be dressed up in shawls and dolls' bonnets and towels, and anything that came handy, and to let Lylie try to lift and stagger about with her, and kiss her and call her " Little Poppet." Nothing would induce either of the tres- passers, however, to stay longer than half an hour, even though Lylie wept at Essie going, and Jack was so disconsolate, he offered to turn on the gas water-heater, a severely- forbidden thing, for the amusement of his visitor. But the little pair departed as they had come, over the fence, and in perfect safety. On their own territory, however, something struck them, and they looked at each other in deepest disappointment. "Why, we never found a thing out !" they said. (To be Continued.)