|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||A Girl Named Bobbie|
A Girl Named Bobbie.
I assure you, Mrs. Jones, I'm near wor ritted out of my life, one thing and another, as I have told Wilkes. It's wearing myself to a shadow, I am, will all these children, and the house, and everything."
It was a somewhat substantial shadow that uttered this speech, but the person it was addressed to (the grocer's wife from over the way) did not appear to see any- thing startling in the statement,and looked very sympathetically at her friend.
" Isn't Angelina old enough to give you a hand a bit ?" she queried, and glanced over to where a fat, stolid-looking girl was seated in a chair near the window trying, with many contortions of her brow, to transmit some task to her memory.
* " Angelina !" echoed the mother, bridling for all the world like a ruffled hen; " Angelina, indeed ; why she's her French, and her potery, and her pianee lessons ; I wouldn't let her descend to cooking and messing about over the children, 'specially when I've a girl for the purpose."
" Well, how is baby ? He didn't look very well when I saw him last," said Mrs. Jones, anxious to repair her mistake, " and : he's such a fine little fellow, too."
" Angel, my love, go and tell nurse to bring Georgie in," said the mother, and the Angel, shaking her fat little shoulders like a spoilt child, sulkily obeyed, and brought
" nurse " in.
A tall, slender child, bending beneath the weight of a great heavy baby, a little frightened face, with dark eyes that had in them a strained, unnatural look, a tangled mass of tawny, red-gold hair pushed under a white cap, which the baby's fat little hands were always clutching
this was " nurse " and-Bobbie.
" Sakes alive, look at the way she's hold ing the darling,"exclaimed the fond mother, " hold him up now, girl, and show him to the lady." Bobbie stumbled across the floor, holding the child at a dangerous angle, and finally precipitated him headlong into the lady's lap, amidst the shrieks of his
" He's such a fat, heavy baby," said Bobbie, impatiently, in the midst of the mother's angry tirade, " and he was pulling my hair so, I couldn't help letting him go."
"Fat! heavy! it's like your impudence to speak like that to your mistress. There, there, my lovey-dovey, did she frighten mammy's darling with her ugly red hair?" and Mrs. Wilkes soothed and comforted her youngest born with many tender words. " You told me, too, miss," she added, look- ing severely at the little delinquent, " that you had been used to children."
" So I have," said Bobbie, " to ladies' children," and she tossed back her head with the proud little gesture that might,, perhaps, become Colonel Lennox's little heiress, but looked strangely out of place
on Mrs. Wilkes's little nursemaid.
" The airs of her 1" exclaimed Mrs. . Wilkes, and she dealt Bobbie a ringing box
on the ear?, " I'll have none of your sauce, miss. Now come and take Georgie again."
The force of the blow sent Bobbie stag " gering to the other end of the room, and
roused for a moment the old fury of pas-, sion within her. Only for a moment, though. Ted's still, white face, with the
stream of blood trickling from the dark rough curls, seemed to come before her like a flash, and with a li'tie shudder at her ungovernable temper she turned very white, and stood with her haughty little head bent in an agony of shame.
.« It's all along of the red hair," remarked Mrs. Jones, in a whisper that Bobbie heard, " they can't help it, people with that kind of hair, I've often heard tell."
The child's head drooped lower, and the wealth !of red-gold, rebellious hair, from which the cap had fallen, tumbled in riotous confusion over her shoulders.
" My 1 " said Mrs. Jones j " she's got enough of it "
" Put your cap on this minute, Sally," said her mistress, " and then take the
Bobbie picked up the disfiguring cap, crushed it on over the sunny, rippling masses, and held out her arms for the
She never "quite knew afterwards how it happened, perhaps it was that she was faint from want of food (she had not eaten her dinner), perhaps the heavy child had tried her strength, the blow and the rush of passions made her giddy j at any rate the moment Mrs. Wilkes gave the child to her, her arms seemed to grow nerveless, and he dropped from them again heavily to the floor, striking his head against the
A scene of wild confusion ensued, but in about a quarter of an hour the child seemed better and fell asleep, and the mother had time to turn to her trembling
"You did it on purpose" sne cried, in a voice that thrilled with anger, " you bad, wicked girl. Lock her in the washhouse for me, will you, Mrs. Jones, till I can see to her, and if I don't make her smart for this my name ain't Susan Wilkes "
Bobbie made no resistance, as Mrs. Jones marshalled her off to the washhouse, pushed her in, and locked the door.
Perhaps a few words may be necessary here to explain how Miss Roberta Lennox had become transformed, in this short time, into Sally, Mrp. Wilkes's little drudge. We left her last month flying in terror from the parsonage, with, as she firmly believed, the
mark of Cain on her brow.
Had she not felt the bo v's heart-, and had it not been still, ah so still '. and his face so cold and death like, and the blood ! -ah that terrible red, red blood, day and night it haunted her. She had gone on, now running, now walking, till the shadows of night were falling, and she thought she must have put many miles between herself and that terrible room in the parsonage. At the bottom of a short lane was a cottage, standing in a little plot of ground j with no clear idea of doing anything, but to ask for a drink of water, she pushed open the pate, walked mechanically up the little path and knocked
at the door.
A stout woman with a harassed ex-
pression on her face and a screaming baby in her arms, opened the door.
" O, I 'epose you're the nursemaid they sent from the registry-well it's not before you were wanted. Here, come in child, take off your hat and hold the baby a bit, I am worn out," and before the bewildered Bobbie could protest, she was pushed into a chair and a baby set on her knee.
" I-I," she began, but the woman silenced her at once, bidding her not to talk, but to quiet the child.
This was a work of some duration, and by the time the baby had fallen asleep Bobbie had decided that this was perhaps the best thing for her. When the woman Mrs. Wilkes could attend to her, she ex- plained that she had not come from the registry office, but she wanted a situation, and would come for a shilling a week if Mrs. Wilkes would take her.
"Have you had anything to do with children," queried the woman, eyeing the well-fitting shoes and black stockings with some disfavor-the dress, though of good quality, was fruit stained and a good
"Oyes/' returned Bobbie, and a lump rose in her throat, as her thoughts flew to the children with whom she had had so much to do.
u Well, you can come for a week on trial," said the woman slowly, as she made a mental calculation as to her savings by
" Here's the last girl's cap, I'll call you Sally, after her," and Bobbie, rejoicing that no inquiries were made as to her name, meekly put on the cap and became "Sally."
(TO BE CONTINUED.)