|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||A Girl Named Bobbie|
A Girl Named Bobbie.
" She's got red hair."
"Don't believe you I"
"Allright, you'll see soon; it's as red as red, and she's howling,-didn't I tell you she'd howl ? and she's got a pile of boxes in the hall, full of dolls I'll be bound The Captain looks a decent sort of a fellow, but the girl!- ugh!-" and Ted Wallace stopped overpowered with his disgust.
A gloomy silence fell upon the room where were assembled the five Wallace boys. It was the funniest room imaginable ; except for a big table and two dilapidated chairs it was destitute of furniture ; the floor was bare ; every pane in the two windows was smashed ; but this their den was dearer to the hearts of its young owners than the most luxurious ordinary room could have been.
A box of white mice, a sickly-looking aquarium, and a cage containing a lame magpie occupied one broad window sill ; a small boy, a puppy, and a kitten disported in the other. The small boy's name was Suds-1 believe he was baptised Frederick, but I never heard him called anything but Suds-why, I don't know, but nicknames seldom are appropriate, so we need not trouble to inquire deeply into the origin of the name. A dispassionate observer once remarked it could have had no con- nection with soap suds, and I agree with her,-the j onngeBt son of Dr. Wallace had the strongest antipathy to soap, as his, at present grimy little face bore speaking witness. Another little boy, Bonnie by name and bonnie by nature, was kneeling by the white mice cage poking in bits of bread ; this boy was 7. Ted, surnamed the Speaker, came next. From the time he got up in the morning till he was asleep at night I don't think he gave his tongue five minutes' rest. It was his peculiarity and he could not help it when he had so much to say, he would answer, when laughed at for his chatter. Frank, the next, was 13, His peculiarity was the way in which he devoured books--not lesson books, oh, dear, no, but such as Jack Harkaway, Tom Brown, The Three Midship- men, &c. Dick, the eldest, was nearly 15, and tried to " boss" his younger brothers as boys of that age are apt to do ; this was hie peculiarity.
Thej had all been so happy, all these boys, up to the present time-so happy and now a terrible calamity was to happen to them. They lived with their father, who was a minister, in a tumble-down old parsonage a little way out of Sydney. Their mother bad been dead for five y earp, and an old servant (Bertha) was the only womankind they had about the house.
"If only one of you had been a girl," the doctor would sigh sometimes when Suds came down to dinner with coal black hands, or Frank spilt his coffee over the clean tablecloth, or Ted's knees were more than usually visible through his stockings ; and now a girl was to make her appear- ance at the parsonage.
This is how it had happened. The doctor had a dear college friend (Captain Lennox), who had come out from Ireland with his motherless littledaughter three yearsbefore our story begins. He had plenty of money,
and went " up country " squatting. Now he had just married again, and this was the cause of ali the trouble. The newly married psir were going to travel for two years, the mother objected to the little girl accompanying them, the father objected to boarding schools-what was to be done with her? Captain Lennox asa last resource had asked his old friend Dr. Wallace to let her live with him, and though the doctor pointed out what a very unfeminine household his was, the Captain was only too glad to have the matter set- tled. He placed a handsome sum at his banker's for the doctor to draw on, tock his wife's and his own passage on a homeward bound vessel, and had just dashed up in a hansom with his little girl to hand her over
to his friend's care.
It had all been arranged so quickly that the boys had not known she was coming till the day before, and they felt them- selves very much aggrieved that an " un- known quantity" should be introduced
into the house without their sanction. " Why, we don't even know her name," said Ted, in a much injured tone. The doctor was very absentminded, and had, as Suds indignantly expressed it, " Been and gone and forgotten all about it, but that it began with R."
Their bemoanings and expressions of disgust had reached such a height that, as the cab drove up, the doctor had sent them all upstairs to the den, fearing they would give the child a cold welcome. And it was at this juncture that Ted, who was hanging over the balusters to reconnoitre, had dis- covered the unpardonable fact that the unwelcome addition to the household had red hair, and the still more unpardonable fact that she was " howling."
The five bojs were sitting looking very glum, when suddenly there was a quick, firm step on the stairs, and before they could speak a tall, soldierly man, with a sunburnt face and dark military moustache had entered the room. He only stayed two or three minutes, for he had to meet his wife. Be said he didn't ask them to be good to his little girl, for he knew they would be j they must make her one of themselves, and teach her to be brave and fearless. Then he shook hands warmly with each boy, pressed half a sovereign into each one's hand, and hurried down stairs. Two minutes later he was driving at a furious pace down the road to keep his appointment. The boys were loud in his praise, pronouncing him *' an out-and out brick," whatever the girl might be.
. (TO BB CONTINUED.)