Chapter 39699229

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1897-09-25
Page Number2
Word Count1997
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleMonica
article text

FOR THE. CHILDREIL "MONICA." .(By BElrtha Adams, Forth.) CHAPTER I. "I go to the door, first of all, and' knock," said Monica; "Itap, tap, like this, and he calls out, 'Well!' 'then I' say, 'Time to get up, Jack Money,' and he says 'all right, little Un,' and out. he comes wif his hair all standing up. on end, .and I stand in his diming-room ,ill 'his 'close' is all on, then 'he comes= and 'talks to me." Monica's little face shone as she spoke; her 'eyes danced merrily, for' Jack Money was her friend and hero. "Our ccaw was' jumpin' like a calf' wh'en I tooked her over to his paggit. (paddock) thits mornin'; she jumped right over his fence; mudder, into his garden, and sat down. in his turnips;; ihe corned and drove her away wif a. broom. Jack is makini' a sofa, mudder, .tho' he calls ilt a sofy. He's very funny that way is' Jack." "Miidder" wcint on with her washing, there were piles of , dirty clothes all' roiind her on the ground, and a baby sprawling on its back in a clothes basket. ;A chicken which had entered the wash house'c'ny a vdoyhge of in,s?ec tio'i, had :flown, ,oi:'to the table to pick flies off the: window pane, and landed with its legs in' a milk jug. Poor "mulPuder" was much too.busy to answer Monica's busy run of olhatter. "Mudd'er," continued Monica, "Jack said this msorning vat it was ,time I put girl's close on. He said girls of my age ought to give up wearin' little boys' shoots (suits). WhEn will all those shocits of little Ned's. be worn cut?" "Mudder" was listening now; she did not answer Monica's question though, for she could not. How could she tell her when they many suits of her little dead son would be all wc an out, when there was such a quantity, and money was so very scarce. 'Monica must go on wearing the little trousers and coats till they were richer; the dear little coats she had bought so, proudly when the married years had only been a few. It was funny to watch the fair-haired little girl as she stood there, whip in hand. The, roo'm was full of cloudy steam, and her bright face crowned by its guolden. topknot of curls shone through it like a ray of beautiful sun light', brightening the dingy wash house till t'he very drops in the big copper leapt to lolok at her. Monica snapped her little whip ,and scattered the floating s'teae. "Jack Money peeped, in at .cur house yesterday, when I wasn't at home; he wanted to. have -a word wif me," she said. "He was goin' to let me' have a whiff of his pipe; he says it will make a man of me." "Ye mustn't smoke' his pipe, dearie," said her moither, talking her arms out of the soap-suds. "I doen't like ye to do things like that." "So I telled him, mudder, but he says 'nonsense.' I told him vat it would 'stunch' me growth, vat's what vee boys all say, but Jack says I'd better be half a boy, than neither a boy nor a girl. I'm gain' harvesttin' wif Jack and ves boys to-morrow." "Ye're noit going 'to do any such thing, Monnie," said 'Mrs. Lisle. "I won't have ye go out- in the paddicks among the rough men." "Vay isn't ever wough to me, mud der, vay is always kind and good. I am gain' harvestin', Jack says I can have boy's wages if I -helps him toss vee. sheaves in. He has made me a little pitchfork big enuf for vee likes of me, and I am goin', mudder, to earn some pence for you." "Alright, dearie," said the tired woman, with something between a sob and a laugh in her throat. "Take that skewer from the baby, Monnie." "He's poking it into his' windpipe,. mudde.r. He finks it is a stick of lollie. Give me vee skewer boy baiby; skewers isn't gcod for vee likes of you. I'll be a man, me boy, 'long, long afore you will." She lifted the baby from; the clothes baskete with a happy little Iaugh,,and put him on the table, where imme diately 'he seized on the milk jug and upset it over himself and Monica. The chicken flew squawking away. Monica smudged the baby's face with milk. "Milk's good for the 'plexion,"' she said. "Boy baby, your 'plexion 'is all spotty, 'this was?tn' will do you good." "Take off the baby's clothes, Mon niae," said the washer-woman raising her face wearily and catching sight of' the overturned jug, "he must be soaked thrcrAgh." "So he is, mudder." She strigped 'the

little fellow, and put him back In the clothes basket, where he lay con tentedly sucking his toes. In a moment or two ,Monica gave a scream. "Oh, mudder, Ive ..wallowed your rent shillin'. Oh, mudder, I've swallowed vee shillin' you saved for vee rent." "Oh, Monica,! you haven't swallowed my only shilling; you haven't gone and swallowed a whole shilling." Mrs. Lisle rush-ed over from her tuab and seized the child by the shoulders. "Iook -in me moaf then, mudder. I was seein' if it would stick to me roof; but it runned away down me freat." "Let me look?" Monica's jaws were ruthlessly torn asunder, and her mouth examined with soap-suddy itngers; there lay the shilling shining under her tongue. "You naughty little thing," said her mother, angrily, "wasting my time with such a story; there's quite three minutes wasted. Put it out, put it out." "Allrigh't, mudder; you thump my back for tellin' a lie, that '11 ake four minutes more, so you'll have seven minutes' peace from washin' those close." "Oh, Monica!" The shilling fall to the ground, and poor, tired mudder 1Iank on a chair hiding her face in the child's haihr. "Oh, Monica, my dearie, there's no- real rest for me, I'll only have to make up for it afterwards." "Why do your big ,tears fall, mudder; why does your eyes be Vet? Let's put all vose close in vee fireplac" and burn yem up. You're always washin' over people's closes, mudder; if we burns yem up vere won't be any maore to wash." She was on the floor in an instant with her arms full of dirty, soiled linen, making her way to the fireplace. Poor little boy-girl; she made -a bonny picture struggling away lade?n -heavily, her pink face flushed, and hair tossing and glinting over it all. "Oh, Monnle! loh, Mo;nnie!! put them down. They're all Mrs. Douglas's week's washing," cried her mother. Monica paused reluctantly on the hearthstone. "Miss Douglas has got plenty more," she said. "I'm. the man of the house, Jack says. I'm not goin' to let you keep on washin' over people's closes." Mrs. Lisle snatched the clothes- away just in time. A frilled pillow-case was just being committed to the flames, for Monica's plump little arm was poised 'for the throw, with the light of a fierce determination upon her face. "Oh, do let the things. be, Mo-nnie," she said, Ipleadingly. "I must just go on washin' -and washin', dearie, till it's all done." "Mrs. Douglas ought to wash hber oan fings," protested Monica, "'stead of markin' you do it." "But she pays me money f-or doing 'it; pays me money, so that I can get bread for us to eat." "I'm sick of bwead, mudder; bwead wifout jam on it, wvif only milk. I will have jam and butter -top of it, and kweam on top of vat again, when I marries Jack Money. Besides, Mrs. Douglas has plenty o' nice flags, and she doesn't wash close nor nofing else does she do." Mrs. Lisle went wearily back to her tub. She had long ago given up argu ing and wondering why some should have all blessings and others none, long ago, when her husband died, and little Ned had follo)wed -him to the country where we Will all have what we want. Monica searched for new diversions. Hers was a lively mind, never dull for want of inspiriting thoughts, and just -now she was th'irsting for something to do. 'The baby lay -gurgling in the clothes basket. He was a very good baby, smiling and placid, for he hadn't been long enough in the world to see the evil part of it. His little world was very nice; just filled with a few inconveniences, as babies' lives are apt to ,be, but for the most part wrapped in. sunlight and kindness, for who, even in these most degenerate times, would have the heart to be cruel to a- -pretty brown-eyed baby. Monica .picked up a pillow-case, and put him into -it; then fastened the buttons at the top, and stood -him upright in his basket. "Monnie, what are you doing -to the 'baby?" asked her mother feebly,for she heard peculiar -muffled sounds, and fear filled her heart. "Nuflin', mudder, only putltin' more close on he," answered Monica, guard edly. Poor baby! He was choking in the ,ease, so Monica mercifully, unbuttoned him. He was only an eighteen-months old baby, and ran a good chance -f neyer being any older when An Monica's hands. There was a tin of mixed whiting on a box in the wash-house. Monica seized on it, and whitened the n:ape of his neck. It twos a terribly hot day, luckily, so the cold touches were pleasant to his little whLte neck. He wriggled with joy. "Does um like -it, boy baby?" said Monnie delightedly, Sas the little lad stretched out his hand for the brush, so she whitened him all over, "Run to mudder," she said, putting a finishing touch to his ear. "Run and show mudder, boy baby." She cleared a path through the heaped clothes, and baby struggled along. "Mum, mum," he called; "'mum, mum !" Mrs. Lisle turned round, unprepared for the sight which met ther gaze. Boy baby presented a remarkable appear

ance, like a new species of white In dian. He. was white from head to heel; his little fat legs, his hair, his toes, even to the tip of his nose, was cov ered with whiting, and from under it all,his dark brown eyes glimmered out, shining with glee. It was no use smacking Monica. She had not meant any harm, for she came close up and patted Ihim admiringly on the head, looking for approval to her mother. "Oh, Monica," she said, and that was all. "Oh, Monica!" Boy baby was pounced upon, and stra~ightway thrust into the wash-tub, whence he issued, spluttering and squealing, with a mouth full of soap suds. "Oh, Monica, what am I to do with you?" she cried, despairingly. "I don't know wmhat to do with you." Monica's face clouded over, like the clouds over a sunny sky, and two big tears welled into her eyes. "I'll do somefin wif meself," she said. "Vat baby was good as gold till you filled 'him's mouf wif soap- suds. How would you like it, mudder, to have your mout filled up. It wasn't me made him kwy; it was you." "Oh, dear," said "mudder;" "oh dear, I wish I'd never been ,born. What am I to do with this baby?" "Give him away," said Monica, still with the tear-dirops on ther cheek. "Give him away, and me too, if we bozzer you so much. I don't mind, I don't care. I wish I-I hadn't never been bored either. I wish I wasn't never bored at all, I do." "Don't cry, ducky; don't cry, my dearie. Mudder does love you both better than her life. She doesn't mind you bothering a bit, so long as she's got you both. There now, dearie, don't cry any more. Give mudder a kiss, so. Now wipe the tears all away." And thus peace was restored. (To be Continued.)