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Hetty Gray - Nobody's Bairn
by Rosa Mulholland
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"I have not been able to get her to tell me what she was about that day for two hours alone in the grounds. She has not behaved well, I am sorry to say; she has been in disgrace as well as ill."

"Then it was a jolly shame!" burst forth Mark. "I left her to hold a string for me, and I forgot all about her, and went away to ride. And she stood holding the string for two hours in the cold. And I called her a duffer for not running away and letting all my pegs go crooked in the ground. Oh, I say, Miss Davis, it makes a fellow feel awfully ashamed of himself."

"So it ought," said Miss Davis, who now understood the whole thing. "She would not tell for fear of getting you blamed."

"And I called her a tell-tale before," said Mark, "because she told you about the trick. I've been punishing her for weeks about that. Miss Davis, can't I go in and see her and beg her pardon?"

"Certainly," said Miss Davis; "she is sitting at the fire, and her eyes are red with crying. Come in with me and we will try to make her happy again."

"Why, Hetty, you do look miserable!" cried Mark, coming into the room and looking ruefully at her pale cheeks and the black shadows round her eyes. "And to think of you never telling after all I made you suffer!"

"I wanted to show you that I am not a tell-tale, Mark; but oh, I am so glad you have come. I thought you were never going to be friends with me again."

"I was away four days," said Mark; "and of course I thought you knew. But Hetty, you are a jolly queer girl I can tell you, and I can't half understand you. Think of anyone standing two hours to be pierced through and through with cold, rather than drop a fellow's string and run away!"

Hetty looked at him wistfully, recognizing the truth that he never could understand the sort of feeling that led her into making, as he considered, such a fool of herself. Miss Davis gazed at her kindly and pityingly, thinking of how many hard blows she would get in the future, in return for acts like that which had so puzzled Mark. And she resolved that another time she would be slow in blaming any eccentric conduct in Hetty, and would wait till she could get at the motive which inspired it.



CHAPTER XV.

THE CHILDREN'S DANCE.

One day during these Christmas holidays a lady came to visit at Wavertree Hall, bringing her two little girls. Phyllis and Nell had gone with Miss Davis to see some other young friends in the neighbourhood, and Hetty, who was spending one of her lonely afternoons in the school-room with her books and work, was sent for to take the little visitors for a walk in the grounds, while their mother had tea with Mrs. Enderby.

Hetty was pleased at being wanted, and soon felt at home with the strange little girls, who at once took a great fancy to her. Seeing she could give pleasure her spirits rose high, and she became exceedingly merry, and said some very amusing things.

"I think," said Edith, the elder of the young visitors, "that you must be the girl who told such funny stories one evening when mamma dined here. She said it was as good as going to the theatre."

"That was a long time ago," said Hetty; "I am not funny now. At least, very seldom."

"I think you are funny to-day," said Grace, the second sister; "I wish you would come to our house and act for us, as you did then."

"I don't go to houses," said Hetty, shaking her head; "I belonged to Mrs. Rushton then, and she meant me to be a lady. But now she is dead, and it is settled that I am not to be a lady when I am grown up. I am only to be a governess, and work for myself."

"But governesses are ladies," said Edith; "a dear friend of ours is a governess, and there never was a nicer lady."

"Oh, I know," said Hetty; "Miss Davis is quite the same. But I mean, I am not to be the kind of lady that goes out to parties."

"Well, I will try and get you leave to come to our party," said Edith. "We are going to have one before the holidays are over."

"I don't think you will get leave from Mrs. Enderby," said Hetty; "and then I have no frock."

"They must get you a frock somewhere," said Grace; "I could send you one of mine."

"That would give offence, I am sure," said Hetty smiling. "It is not for the trouble of getting the frock that Mrs. Enderby would keep me from going. She does not wish me to get accustomed to such things."

"Then she is horrid," cried Edith; "making you just like Cinderella."

"No, no," said Hetty, "you must not say that. Cinderella was a daughter of the house, and I am nobody's child. That is what the village people say. And only think if they had sent me to a charity school!"

Edith and Grace gazed at her gravely. Hetty stood with her hands behind her back, looking them in the eyes as she stated her own case.

"And you have nobody belonging to you, really, in the whole world?" said Edith.

"Nobody," said Hetty, "and nothing. At least nothing but a tiny linen chemise."

"Did you drop down out of the clouds in that?" asked Grace with widening eyes.

"No," said Hetty laughing; "but I came out of the sea in it. I was washed up as a baby on the Long Sands. There were great storms at the time and a great many shipwrecks. And nobody ever asked about me. They must have been all drowned. John Kane, one of Mr Enderby's carters, picked me up. So you see I am not the kind of girl to be going out to parties."

"You will have to be very learned if you are going to be a governess," said Grace; "I suppose you are always studying."

"I work pretty hard at my books," said Hetty; "but I am not clever. And how I am ever to be as well informed as Miss Davis I don't know. Some things I remember quite well, and other things I am always forgetting. I am sure if I ever get any pupils they will laugh at me. I wish I could live in a little cottage in the fields, and work in a garden and sell my flowers."

"I should always come and buy from you," said Grace; "what kind of flowers would you keep?"

"Oh, roses," said Hetty; "roses and violets. When I was in London I saw people selling them in the streets. I would send them to London and get money back."

"I think I will come and live with you," said Grace eagerly.

"Grace, don't be a goose," saith Edith; "Hetty has not got a cottage, and she is going to be a governess."

"Yes," sighed Hetty; "but I shall never remember my dates."

A few days after this conversation occurred, an invitation to a children's party came from Edith and Grace to all the children at Wavertree Hall, including Hetty Gray. Mrs. Enderby did not wish Hetty to know that she had been invited, but Nell whispered the news to her.

"Mamma and Phyllis think you ought not to go," said Nell; "but Mark and I intend to fight for you. Mark says he was so nasty to you lately that he wants to make up."

Hetty's eyes sparkled at the idea of having this pleasant variety.

"I shall never be allowed to go," she said.

"Oh, if it is only a frock, you can have one of mine," said Nell; "I got a new one for the last party, and my one before is not so bad."

"It isn't the frock, I am sure," said Hetty; "it is because I am not to be a lady. At least," she added, remembering Edith's rebuke, "I am not to be a party-lady, not a dancing-and-dressing-lady. I am only to be a book-lady, a penwiper-lady, a needle-and-thread-lady, you know, Nell."

"Oh, Hetty! a penwiper-lady!"

"Yes, haven't you seen them at bazaars?" said Hetty, screwing up her little nose to keep from laughing.

"I never know whether you are in earnest when you begin like that," said Nell pouting; "I suppose you don't want to come with us."

However, when Hetty heard that she had really got leave to go "for this once, because Edith and Grace had made such a point of it," there was no mistake about her gladness to join in the fun.

"How will you ever keep me at home after this?" she said, as Phyllis and Nell stood surveying her dressed in one of their cast-off frocks, of a rose-coloured tint which suited her brunette complexion. "I shall be getting into your pockets the next time, and tumbling out in the ball-room with your pocket-handkerchief."

"No one wants to keep you at home, except for your own good," said Phyllis with an air of wisdom.

"Never mind, Phyllis, it won't be into your pocket that I shall creep," said Hetty gaily.

Phyllis did not feel like herself that evening, and was dissatisfied about she knew not what. She could not admit to herself that she was displeased because another was to enjoy a treat, even though she thought she had a right to her belief that it would have been better if Hetty had been made to stay at home. "Of course, as mother consents, it is all right," she had said; but still she did not feel as much enjoyment as usual in dressing for the party. Half suspecting the cause of this, and willing to restore her good opinion of her own virtue, she brought a pretty fan to Hetty and offered to lend it to her. Hetty took it with a look and exclamation of thanks; but Phyllis thought she hardly expressed her gratitude with sufficient humbleness. However, Phyllis had now soothed away that faint doubt in her own mind as to her own kindness and generosity, and took no further notice of her unwelcome companion.

Arrived at the ball, Hetty was warmly received by Edith and Grace, and was soon in a whirl of delightful excitement. She had "as many partners as she could use," as a tiny girl once expressed it, and she was not, like Cinderella, afraid that her frock would turn to rags, or anxious to run home before the other dancers. Everybody was very kind to her, and if anyone said, "That is the little girl whom Mr. Enderby is bringing up for charity," Hetty did not hear it, and so did not care.

"Oh, Hetty, you do look so nice!" said Nell, dancing up to her. "A gentleman over there asked me if you were my sister. And I did not tell him you were going to be a governess."

"You might have told him," said Hetty. "I don't care. I have been speaking to such a nice governess. She is here in care of some little children. I think she is the prettiest lady in the room; and she looks quite happy. I wish I could turn out something like her. Only I shall never remember the dates."

Hetty sighed, and the next minute was whirled away into the dance again.

Now Phyllis had told herself over and over again in the course of the evening that she was very pleased poor Hetty should be enjoying the pleasure of this party, always adding a reflection, however, that she hoped she might not be spoiled by so foolish an indulgence. "If I were going to be a governess," thought she, "I should try to fit myself for the position. Of course it is father's and mother's affair, but when one has a little brains one can't help thinking, I believe if I were in mother's position I should be wiser; but then, of course, I cannot have any things or people to manage till I am grown up. It is the duty of a girl to do what she is told; afterwards people will have to do what she tells them. When the time comes for me to be a mistress I shall take good care that everybody does what is right."

These reflections occurred to Phyllis while she was sitting out a dance for which Hetty had got a partner.

Soon afterwards, while the breathless flock of young dancers were fanning themselves on the sofas, the lady of the house requested Hetty to recite or act something to amuse the company.

At this proposal Hetty was startled and dismayed. It was a very long time since she had done anything of the kind, except for the amusement of Mark and Nell, and she had forgotten all the old stories and characters that used to be found so entertaining by grown people. She felt a shyness amounting to terror at being obliged to come forward and perform before this company; and, besides, she was very sure that Mrs. Enderby would disapprove of her doing so. She therefore begged earnestly to be excused, and retreated into a corner. The lady of the house desisted for a time from her persuasions, but after another dance was finished she renewed her request. Hetty's distress increased, but she felt quite unable to explain to her hostess the reasons why it was impossible she could comply with her wishes. She could only repeat:

"I forget how to do it; indeed I do. And Mrs. Enderby does not like it."

"Mrs. Enderby would like you to please me," said the hostess. "And I cannot think you forget. My daughters tell me you were most amusing last week when they saw you."

"Was I?" said Hetty, dismayed. "But that was in the garden and came by accident. I could not do anything before all this crowd."

"Well, if you were a shy child I could understand," said the lady; "but you know I heard you long ago when you were much younger. If you were not shy then you cannot be so now."

Hetty could not explain that it was just because she was older now that she was shy. Long ago she had been too small to realize the position she was placed in. She felt ready to weep at being found so disobliging, yet when she thought of the performance required of her, her tongue clove to her mouth with fright.

The hostess now crossed the room to Phyllis, who had been watching what had passed between her and Hetty from a distance.

"I have been trying to persuade little Miss Gray to recite for us, or to do some of her amusing characters, but she has all sorts of reasons why she cannot oblige me. Is she always so obstinate?"

Phyllis hesitated.

"I think she has a pretty strong will of her own," she said. "I am afraid she will not yield."

"Well, my dear, you know her better than I do, and it is nice of you not to be too ready to blame her. But I like little girls who do as their elders bid them. And I confess I expected to find her agreeable when I invited her here this evening."

Now if Phyllis had been as generous as she would have liked to believe herself she would have said, "I know my mother does not approve of Hetty's performances, and Hetty knows it too. Perhaps this is why she refuses." But Phyllis, quite unconsciously to herself, was pleased to hear Hetty blamed, and was willing to think that she ought to have put all her scruples aside in order to oblige Mrs. Enderby's friend. While she considered about what it would be pretty to say, her hostess went on:

"I suppose she is a little conceited and spoiled. She is certainly exceedingly pretty and clever."

It was much more difficult now for Phyllis to make her amiable speech; yet she had not the least idea that she was a jealous or an envious girl. She always felt so good, and everybody said she was so. Jealous people are always making disturbance. Therefore it was quite impossible that Phyllis could be jealous.

"I will go and speak to her," she said to the lady of the house, and crossed the room to where Hetty sat, looking unhappy.

"Hetty," said Phyllis, "I think you ought to do as you are asked. It was exceedingly kind of Mrs. Cartwright to invite you here. Of course she expected you to be obliging."

"You mean that she asked me, thinking I would amuse the company?" said Hetty quickly. "Then I am very sorry you have told me so, Phyllis, for I should never have guessed it. And now I shall feel miserable till I get away."

"Can't you be agreeable?"

"No, I can't. Just think of trying it yourself."

"Of course it would not be suitable for me," said Phyllis. "Our positions are different. However, if you choose to be ungrateful you must."

And she walked away, leaving Hetty sitting alone reflecting sadly on her words. So after all it was not kindness and liking for her that had made these people include her in their invitation. It was only the desire to have their party made more amusing by her performance. She wished she could do what was required of her, so that she need owe them nothing. But she could not; and how hateful she must seem.

All her pleasure was over now, and she was glad when the moment came to get away. Her silence was not noticed during the drive home, for every one else was too sleepy to talk. But Hetty was too unhappy to be sleepy.

The next morning Miss Davis asked at breakfast if the party had been enjoyable.

"It was all very nice," said Phyllis, "until towards the end, when Hetty put on fine airs and refused to be obliging. After that we all felt uncomfortable."

"That is not true, Miss Davis," said Hetty bluntly.

Her temper had suddenly got the better of her.

Phyllis's blue eyes contracted, and her lip curled.

"Please send her out of the room, Miss Davis," she said.

"Hetty, I am sorry for this," said Miss Davis, "I could not have believed you would speak so rudely."

"You have not heard the story, Miss Davis."

"I have heard you put yourself very much in the wrong. Phyllis would not tell an untruth of you, I am sure."

"She said I put on fine airs," said Hetty, trembling with indignation. "I did not put on airs. They wanted me to perform, and I could not do it. If I had done it Phyllis would have been the first to blame me. I remember how she scorned me for doing it long ago."

"I hope you will make her apologize to me, Miss Davis," said Phyllis quietly. The more excited poor Hetty became, the quieter grew the other girl.

"She is ungenerous," continued Hetty, striving valiantly to keep back her tears; "she knew her mother would not approve of my performing; and besides, I told her I was afraid. If I had done it she would have complained to Mrs. Enderby of my doing it."

This passionate accusation hit Phyllis home. She knew it was true—so true that though she had arraigned Hetty before Miss Davis for the pleasure of humbling her, she yet had no intention of carrying the tale to her mother, fearing that Mrs. Enderby would say that Hetty had been right. Had Hetty made "a show of herself" by performing, Phyllis would perhaps have made a grievance of it to her parents. Stung for a moment with the consciousness that this was true, before she had had time to persuade herself of the contrary, Phyllis grew white with anger. The injury she could least forgive was a hurt to her self-complacency.

"She must apologize, Miss Davis, or I will go to papa," said Phyllis, disdaining to glance at Hetty, but looking at her governess.

Miss Davis was troubled.

"This is all very painful," she said. "Hetty, you had better go to your room till you have recovered your composure. Whatever may have been your motives last night you have now put yourself in the wrong by speaking so rudely."

Hetty flashed out of the room, and Phyllis, quiet and triumphant, turned to her lesson-books with a most virtuous expression upon her placid face.

Hetty wept for an hour in her own room. Looking back on her conduct she could not see that she had been more to blame than Phyllis. Oh, how was it that Phyllis was always proved to be so good while she was always forced into the wrong? She remembered a prayer asking for meekness which Mrs. Kane had taught her, and she knelt by her bedside and said it aloud; and just then she heard Miss Davis calling to her to open the door.

"My dear," said the governess, "I have come to tell you that you really must apologize to Phyllis. It was exceedingly rude of you to tell her so flatly that her words were untrue."

Hetty flushed up to the roots of her hair and for a few moments could not speak. She had just been on her knees asking for strength from God to overcome her pride, and here was an opportunity for practising meekness. But it was dreadfully hard, thought Hetty.

"I will try and do it, Miss Davis. But may I write a letter in my own way?"

"Certainly, my dear. I am glad to find you so willing to acknowledge yourself in fault."

Left alone to perform her task Hetty opened her desk and sat biting her pen. At last she wrote:

"Dear Phyllis,—I am very sorry I said so rudely that you did not tell the truth. But oh, why did you not tell it, and then there need not have been any trouble?

"HETTY."

Hetty brought this note herself into the school-room, and in presence of Miss Davis handed it to Phyllis.

"Do you call that an apology?" said Phyllis, handing the note to Miss Davis.

"I don't think you have made things any better, Hetty," said Miss Davis.

"I said what I could, Miss Davis. Phyllis ought to apologize to me now."

Phyllis gave her a look of cold surprise, and took up a book.

"Pray, Miss Davis, do not mind," said she over the edges of her book. "I expect nothing but insolence from Hetty Gray. Mother little knew what she was providing for us when she brought her here."

Hetty turned wildly to the governess. "Miss Davis," she cried, "can I not go away somewhere, away from here? Is there not some place in the world where they would give a girl like me work to do? How can I go on living here, to be treated as Phyllis treats me?"

Miss Davis took her by the hand and led her out of the room and upstairs to her own chamber. Having closed the door she sat down and talked to her.

"Hetty," she said, "when you give way to your pride in passions like this you forget things. You asked me just now, is there any place where people would give work to a girl like you to do? I don't think there is—no place such as you could go to."

"I would go anywhere," moaned Hetty.

"Anywhere is nowhere," said Miss Davis. "Just look round you and see all that is given to you in this house. There is your comfortable bed to sleep in, you have your meals when you are hungry, you have good clothing, you have a warm fireside to sit at, you have the protection of an honourable home. Yet you would fling away all these advantages because of a few wounds to your pride. Phyllis is trying, I admit—I have to suffer from her at times myself—but you and I must bear with something for the sake of what we receive."

Hetty raised her eyes and looked at Miss Davis's worn face and the line of pain that had come out sharply across her brow, and forgot herself for the moment, thinking of the governess's patient life.

"But, Miss Davis, you need not suffer from Phyllis; you are not like me. Any people would be glad to get you, who are so clever and so good. You could complain of her to her mother, and if she did not get better you could go away."

"Should I be any more safe from annoyance in another family? Hetty, my dear, there are always thorns in the path of those who are poor and dependent on others, and our wisest course is to make the best of things. I might say to you, you have no one to think of but yourself. For me, I have a mother to support, and I have to think of my dear young brother, who is not too wise for his own interests, and whose prospects are at the mercy of a rather capricious old uncle."

"Oh that I had a mother and a brother to work for!" cried Hetty passionately.

"Perhaps that would teach you wisdom, my dear. However, profit by my experience and be cheered up. Take no notice if Phyllis is unkind. It is better to be here, even with her unkindness, than straying about the world alone, meeting with such misfortunes as you never dreamed of."

After Miss Davis had left her, Hetty sat a long time pondering over that lady's words. It seemed to her that the governess, good and patient as she was, had no motive for her conduct high enough to carry her through the trials of her life. It was certainly an excellent thing to be prudent for the sake of her mother and brother; to bear with present evils for fear of worse evils that might come. But yet—but yet, was there not a higher motive than all this for learning to be meek and humble of heart? Looking into her own proud and stubborn nature, the little girl assured herself that Miss Davis's motives would never be in themselves enough for her, Hetty—never sufficiently strong to crush the rebellion of self in her stormy young soul. Instinctively her thoughts flew to Mrs. Kane, and seizing her hat and cloak she flew out of the house, and away down the road to the labourer's cottage.

Fortunately it was a good hour for her visit. John had gone out after his dinner. The cottage kitchen was tidied up, the fire shining, the two old straw arm-chairs drawn up by the hearth. Mrs. Kane was just screwing up her eyes, trying to thread a needle, when Hetty dashed in and flung her arms around her neck.

"Oh, Mrs. Kane, the pride has got so bad again; and I have been quarrelling with Phyllis and wanting to run away."

"Run away!" said Mrs. Kane; "oh, no, dearie, never run away from your post."

"What is my post?" said Hetty weeping; "I have no post. I am only a charity girl and in everybody's way. Phyllis hints it to me in every way she can, even when she does not say it outright. Oh, how can I have patience to grow up? Why does it take so long to get old?"

Mrs. Kane sighed. "It doesn't take long to grow old, dear, once you are fairly in the tracks of the years. But it does take a while to grow up. And you must have patience, Hetty. There's nothing else for it but the patience and meekness of God."

Hetty drew a long breath. All that was spiritual within her hung now on Mrs. Kane's words. The patience of God was such a different thing from the prudence of this world. That was the difference between Miss Davis and Mrs. Kane.

"There was something beautiful you said one day," said Hetty in a whisper; "say it again. It was, 'Learn of me—'"

"Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart," said Mrs. Kane. "That is the word you want, my darling, and it was said for such as you."

Hetty's tears fell fast, but they were no longer angry tears. She was crying now with longing to be good.

"There was something else," she said presently, when she could find her voice; "something that was spoken for me too."

"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," said Mrs. Kane, stroking her head. And then Hetty cried more wildly, thinking with remorse of her own pride.

"If He is for you, my dear, you needn't care who is against you," continued Mrs. Kane; "take that into your heart and keep it there."

After that they had a long talk about all Hetty's difficulties, and when at last the little girl left the cottage, it was with a lighter step than had brought her there. When she walked into the school-room just in time for tea the signs of woe were gone from her countenance, and she looked even brighter than usual. Without giving herself time to think, or to observe the looks of those in the room, she went straight up to Phyllis and said cheerfully:

"Phyllis, I am sorry I gave you offence. I hope you will forget it and be friends with me"; and then she took her seat at the table as if nothing had happened.

Miss Davis, who had been rather dreading her appearance, fearing a renewal of the quarrel, looked up at her and actually coloured all over her faded face with pleasure and surprise. Hetty had really taken her lessons to heart, and was going to be a wise and prudent girl after all. She little thought that a far higher spirit actuated the girl than had at all entered into her teachings.

Phyllis glanced round with a triumphant air as if saying, "Now I am indeed proved in the right. She herself has acknowledged it!" and then she said gently:

"I accept your apology, Hetty, and I will not say anything of the matter to my mother."

"Is not Phyllis good," whispered Nell afterwards, "not to tell mamma? Because you know, you were very naughty to her, Hetty, and she is papa's daughter and the eldest."

Nell's friendly speeches were sometimes hard to bear, as well as Phyllis's unfriendly ones. Hetty would have been glad if the whole affair could have been laid before Mrs. Enderby, and saw no reason to congratulate herself on Phyllis's silence to her mother as to the quarrel and its cause. But the others judged differently. Miss Davis was pleased that by her own tact she had been able to arrange matters without calling in the aid of Mrs. Enderby, who, she was aware, liked a governess to have judgment and decision sufficient to keep the mistress of the house out of school-room squabbles. Nell was delighted that there was to be no more "fuss." Phyllis above all was pleased, for now she felt no more necessity for questioning her own motives and conduct, no more danger of being told by her mother that Hetty had in the beginning been in the right, while she, by opposing her, had brought on the wrong which had followed.

Falling back upon her own doctrine, that she must be right because her judgment told her so, Phyllis was coldly amiable to Hetty for the rest of the evening; while Hetty, having made her act of humility, rather suffered from a reaction of feeling, and had to struggle hard to keep the moral vantage-ground she had gained.



CHAPTER XVI.

A TRIAL OF PATIENCE.

Two more years passed over Hetty's head. She had grown tall and looked old for her age, her large gray eyes were full of serious thought, her brow was grave, and the expression of her mouth touched with sadness. The haughtiness and mirth of her childhood were alike gone. Earnest desire to attain to a difficult end was the one force that moved her, and this had become visible in her every word and glance. She was painfully aware that the time was approaching when she must go forth to battle with the world for herself, and that on her own qualifications for fighting that battle her position in the world must depend. That she had not sufficient aptitude for learning out of books, or for remembering readily all that she gathered from them, she greatly feared. Her memory gave her back in pictures whatever had engaged her imagination; but much that was useful and necessary was wont to pass away out of her grasp. Thorough determination, close application, did not remove this difficulty, and she was warned by those around her that unless she could make better use for study of the three years yet before her than she had made of those that lay behind her, she could never be a teacher of a very high order. Of all that this failure meant, Hetty understood more clearly now than when she had wished to live with Mrs. Kane and be the village schoolmistress. Loving all that was beautiful and refined in life, she had learned to dread, from another motive than pride, the fate of being thrown upon a lower social level. And yet this was a fate which seemed now to stare her in the face.

Mr. Enderby, who had of late taken a personal interest in her studies, examining her from time to time on various subjects, said to her:

"My little girl, if you do not wake up and work harder I fear you will have to take an inferior position in life to that which I desired for you."

Poor Hetty! Was she not wide awake? So wide awake that when he and all the household were asleep she lay staring her misfortune in the face. And how could she work harder than she did, weeping in secret over the dry facts that would not leave their mark upon her brain? Thus it was that life looked dreary to her, and her face was grave and pale. Phyllis and Nell, who were three and two years older than herself, had begun to talk of the joys which the magic age of eighteen had in store for them. They would leave off study and go forth into the enjoyment of their youth in a flattering world. Idleness, pleasure, happiness awaited them. No one could say they were not sufficiently well educated to take that graceful place in life which Providence had assigned to them; Hetty was rebuked for being less learned than she ought to be, because for her there was no graceful place prepared; only a difficult and narrow path leading away she knew not where.

Of the difference between their position and hers she could not help thinking, but she had been so long accustomed to realize it that she did not dwell upon it much. Miss Davis was the person on whom her eyes were fixed as an image of what she ought to hope to become.

To be exactly like Miss Davis. To look like her, think like her, be as well informed, as independent, as much respected; to teach as well, speak as wisely, be called an admirable woman who had fought her own way against poverty in the world, this was what Hetty had been assured by Mr. and Mrs. Enderby ought to be the object of her ambition and the end of all her hopes. And Hetty tried honestly to will as they willed for her good. But her face was not less sad on that account.

Things were in this state when one day, a day never to be forgotten by her, Hetty was feeling more than usually unhappy. Only the evening before Mr. Enderby had examined her on several subjects, and had found her wanting. He had spoken to her with a little severity, and at the same time looked at her pityingly, and the girl had felt more miserable than can be told at having disappointed him. To-day she was left to spend a long afternoon by herself, as Miss Davis had taken Phyllis and Nell to visit some friends, and, though her morning's work ought to have been over, she still sat at her lessons, labouring diligently. At last becoming thoroughly tired she closed her book and raised her eyes wearily, when they fell on a jar of wild flowers which yesterday she had arranged and placed upon a bracket against the wall. It was spring, and in the jar was a cluster of pale wood-anemones with some sprays of bramble newly leafed. Hetty's eyes brightened at the sight of these flowers, and noted keenly every exquisite outline and delicate hue of the group. It seemed to her at the moment that she had never seen anything so beautiful before. Mechanically she took up her pencil and began to imitate on a piece of paper the waving line of the bramble wreath, and the graceful curves of the leaves. To her own great surprise something very like the bramble soon began to appear upon the paper. A sharp touch here, a little shadow there, and her drawing looked vigorous and true. After working in great excitement for some time Hetty got up and pinned her drawing to the wall, and stood some way off looking at it. Where had it come from? she asked herself. She had never learned to draw. She had not known that she could draw. Oh, how delightful it would be if she could reproduce the flowers as they grew! Not quite able to believe in the new power she had discovered in herself, she set again to work, altering the arrangement of the flowers in the jar, and taking a larger sheet of paper. It was only ruled exercise paper, but that did not seem to matter when the flowers blossomed all over it. The second drawing was even better than the first; and Hetty stood looking at it with flushed cheeks and throbbing heart, wondering what was this new rapture that had suddenly sprung up in her life.

As her work was done, and the afternoon was all her own, she was able to give herself up to this unexpected delight, and spent many hours composing new groups of flowers, and arranging them in fanciful designs. When a maid brought up her solitary tea she lifted her flushed face and murmured, "Oh, can it be tea-time?" and then spread out all her drawings against the wall, and stared at them while she ate her bread and butter.

She felt nervous at the thought of letting anybody see them, and locked them up in her desk before Miss Davis and the other girls came home.

In earliest dawn of the next morning, however, she was out of bed and studying the drawings as she stood in her night-dress and with bare feet. Were they really good, she asked herself, or were her eyes bewitched; and would Mr. Enderby laugh at them if he saw them? Anguish seized on her at the thought, and she dressed herself with trembling hands. A new idea, striving in her mind, seemed to set all nature thrilling with a meaning it had never borne for her before. There had been great painters on the earth, as she knew full well, whose existence had been made beautiful and glorious by their genius; and there were artists living in the present day, small and great, who must surely be the happiest beings in the world. Their days were spent, not in drudgery, and lecturing, and primness, but in the study and reproduction of the beauty lying round them. Oh, if God should have intended her to be one of these!

When the maids came to dust the school-room they found Hetty hard at work upon a new wreath of ivy which she had hastily snatched from the garden wall and hung against the curtain, and they thought she was doing some penance at Miss Davis's bidding. By eight o'clock the drawings were hid away, the flowers and wreaths disposed of in the jars, and Hetty was sitting at the table with a book in her hand. No one need know, she thought, of how she spent those early hours when everybody else was in bed. And so day after day she worked on steadily with her pencil, and there was a strange and unutterable hope in her heart, and a new light of happiness in her eyes.

After some time she became more daring and attempted to bring colour into her designs. Using her school-room box of paints, the paints intended only for the drawing of maps, she placed washes of colour on her leaves and along her stems, making the whole composition more effective and complete. Day by day she improved on her first ideas, till she had stored up a collection of really beautiful sketches.

With this new joy tingling through her young veins from morning till night, and from night till morning again, Hetty began to look so glad and bright that everyone remarked it. Miss Davis looked on approvingly, thinking that her own excellent discipline of the girl was having an effect she had scarcely dared to hope for. Nell was full of curiosity to know why Hetty had become so gay.

"May I not have the liberty to be gay as well as you?" said Hetty laughing.

"Of course; but then you are so suddenly changed. Miss Davis says it is only because you are growing good. But I think there must be something that is making you good."

"I am glad to hear I am growing good. Something is making me very happy, but I cannot tell you what it is."

Nell, always on the look-out for a secret, opened her eyes very wide, but could get no further satisfaction from Hetty, who only laughed at her appeals to be taken into confidence. That evening, however, she told Miss Davis that Hetty had admitted that there was something that was making her so happy.

"I knew she had a secret," said Nell mysteriously.

"Then it is the secret of doing her duty," said Miss Davis. "She has made great improvement in every respect during the last few weeks."

"I know she gets up earlier in the mornings than she used to do," said Nell, "and I don't think she is at her lessons all the time."

"I hope she has not been making any more friends in the village," said Phyllis.

"I am sorry such thoughts have come into your minds, children," said Miss Davis; "I see nothing amiss about Hetty. If she is happier than she used to be, we ought all to feel glad."

Phyllis did not like the implied rebuke, and at once began to hope that she might be able to prove Miss Davis in the wrong. If Hetty could be found to have a secret, as Nell supposed, Phyllis decided that it ought to be found out. Her mother did not approve of children having secrets. Even if there was no harm in a thing in itself, there was a certain harm in making a mystery of it. So, having arranged her motive satisfactorily in her mind, Phyllis, feeling more virtuous than ever, resolved to observe what Hetty was about. The next morning she got up early and came down to the school-room an hour before her usual time. And there was Hetty working away at her drawing with a wreath of flowers pinned before her on the wall.

Phyllis came behind her and was astonished to see what she had accomplished with her pencil; and Hetty started and coloured up to her hair, as if she had been caught in a fault.

"Well, you are a strange girl," said Phyllis; "I did not know drawing was a sin, that you should make such a mystery over it."

"I hope it is not a sin," said Hetty in a low voice. She felt grieved at having her efforts discovered in this way. She wished now that she had told Miss Davis all about it. Phyllis opened the piano and began to practise without having said one word of praise of Hetty's work; and the poor little artist felt her heart sink like lead. Perhaps the beauty that she saw in her designs existed only in her own foolish eyes.

She worked on silently for about half an hour, and then put away her drawing materials and her flowers, and began to study her lessons for the day.

"Of course you do not expect me to keep your secret from Miss Davis," said Phyllis, looking over her shoulder. "I have been always taught to hate secrets, and my conscience will not allow me to encourage you in this."

"Do exactly as you please," said Hetty; "I shall be quite satisfied to let Miss Davis know what I have been doing."

"Then why did you not tell her before?" asked Phyllis.

"I am not bound to explain that to you," said Hetty; but finding her temper was rising she added more gently, "I am willing to give an account of my conduct to any one who may be scandalized by it"; and then, fearing to trust herself further, she went out of the room.

On the stairs she met Miss Davis, and stopped her, saying:

"Phyllis has a complaint to make of me. I shall be back in the school-room presently after she has made it."

"What is it about, my dear?"

"She can tell you better than I can," said Hetty. "Please go down now, Miss Davis, and then we can have it over before breakfast."

"Miss Davis, I find Nell was right in thinking that Hetty was doing something sly," began Phyllis, as the governess entered the school-room.

"I am sorry to hear it. What can it be?"

"Nothing very dreadful in itself perhaps. It is the secrecy that is so ugly, especially as there was no reason for it in the world."

"What has Hetty done?" repeated Miss Davis.

"Why, she has been getting up early in the mornings to draw flowers," said Phyllis, unwillingly perceiving that the fault seemed a very small one when plainly described.

"I did not know she could draw," said Miss Davis; "but, if she can, I see no harm in her doing it."

"I think she ought to spend the time at the studies father is so anxious she should improve in," said Phyllis; "and I imagine she knows it too, or she would not have been so secret."

"There is something in that, Phyllis; though I would rather you had not been so quick to perceive it."

Phyllis curled her lip slightly. "Intelligence is given us that we may use it, I suppose," she said coldly; "but I have done my duty, and I have nothing more to say in the matter."

Breakfast passed over without anything being said on the subject of the great discovery; but after the meal was finished, Miss Davis desired Hetty to fetch her her drawings that she might see them. Hetty went to her own room immediately, and returned bringing about a dozen drawings in a very primitive portfolio made of several newspapers gummed together.

Miss Davis was no artist, but she felt that the designs were good, and remarkable as having been executed by a girl so untaught as Hetty. They increased her opinion of her pupil's abilities, yet she looked on them chiefly from the point of view Phyllis had suggested to her, and considered them in the light of follies upon which valuable time had been expended.

"My dear," she said, "these are really very pretty, and I am sure they have given you a great deal of pleasure. But I cannot countenance your going on with this sort of employment. Think of how usefully you might have employed at your books the hours you have spent upon these trifles. I presume you were aware of this from the first yourself, and that this is why you have been so silent as to your new accomplishment."

"No," said Hetty decidedly; "I did not feel that I was wasting time. On the contrary, my drawing gave me better courage to work at my lessons. The hours I spent were taken from my sleep. I was always at my books before Phyllis was at hers."

"Phyllis is not to be made a rule for you, my dear. She has not the same necessity to exert her powers to the utmost. If you can do without part of your sleeping time, you ought to devote it to your books. And pray, if you did not think you were committing some fault, why did you say nothing to anyone of what you were about?"

"I cannot tell you that, Miss Davis," said Hetty, her eyes filling with tears; "I mean I cannot explain it properly. I could not bring myself to show what I had done; but I had no idea of wrongness about the matter."

"Well, my dear, we will say no more about it. Take the drawings away; and in future work at your lessons every moment of your time. I will put you on your word of honour, Hetty, not to do any more of this kind of thing."

"Do not ask me to give you such a promise, Miss Davis."

"But Hetty, I must, and I do."

"Then, Miss Davis, I will speak to Mr. Enderby."

The governess and her two pupils gazed at Hetty in amazement.

"I mean," Hetty went on, "that I hope he will think drawing a useful study for me. Will you allow me to speak to him this evening, Miss Davis?"

"Certainly, my dear," said Miss Davis stiffly. "There is nothing to hinder you from consulting Mr. Enderby on any subject. I am sure he will be kind enough to give you his advice. Only I think I know what it will be beforehand; and I would rather you had shown more confidence in me."

Hetty could not give her mind to her lessons that day, nor get rid of the feeling that she was in disgrace. When evening came, the hour when Mr. Enderby was usually to be found in his study, she asked Miss Davis's permission to go to him, and with her portfolio in her hand presented herself at his door.

"Come in, Hetty," said Mr. Enderby; "what is this you have got to show me? Maps, plans, or what? Why, drawings!"

Hetty's mouth grew dry, and her heart beat violently. The tone of his voice betrayed that the master of Wavertree had no more sympathy for art, or anything connected with it, than had Miss Davis. He was an accurate methodical man with a taste for mathematics, who believed in the power conferred by knowledge on man and woman; but who had little respect for those who concerned themselves with only the beauties and graces of life. Art was to him a trifle, and devotion to it a folly. Therefore Hetty with her trembling hopes was not likely to find favour at his hands.

"My child, I am sure they are very pretty; but this sort of thing will not advance you in the world."

"But, Mr. Enderby,—I have been thinking—artists get on as well as governesses. I do these more easily than I learn my dates. If I could only learn to be an artist."

Mr. Enderby put his eye-glass to his eye, and gazed at her a little pityingly, a little severely, with a look that Hetty knew.

"You would like to become an artist? Well, my girl, I must tell you to put that foolish idea out of your head. In the first place, you are not to imagine that because you can sketch a flower prettily, you have therefore a genius for painting; and such fancies are only calculated to distract your mind from the real business of your life. Besides, remember this, I have given, am giving, you a good education as a means of providing for you in life. Having bestowed one profession upon you already, I am not prepared to enter into the expense and inconvenience of a second. So run away like a sensible girl and stick to your books. You had better leave these drawings with me and think no more about them."

Saying this, Mr. Enderby opened a drawer and locked up Hetty's designs within it; and, humbled and despairing, Hetty returned to the school-room.

Her face of grief and her empty hands told sufficiently what the result of her errand had been. No remark was made by Miss Davis or the girls, though Nell, who thought the drawings wonderfully pretty, was impatient to know what her papa had said of them. She was too much in awe of Miss Davis to seek to have her curiosity gratified just then; and the evening study went on as if nothing had happened.



CHAPTER XVII.

HETTY'S FUTURE IS PLANNED.

This was the severest trial Hetty had ever encountered. Longing for special love, and delight in reproducing the beautiful, were part of one and the same impulse in her nature, and, crushed in the one, all her heart had gone forth in the other direction. Now both had been equally condemned in her as faults, and she fell back, as before, on the mere dull effort towards submission which had already carried her surely, if joylessly, over so many difficult years of her young life. She worked patiently at her books and fulfilled her duties; and she grew thinner and paler, and the old sad look became habitual to her lips and eyes. Another year passed, and as Phyllis and Nell approached nearer and nearer to the period for "coming out" they were more frequently absent from the school-room, and Hetty's days were more solitary than they used to be.

All her mind was now fixed on the idea of fitting herself as soon as possible for some sort of post as governess. She knew she never could take such a position as that which Miss Davis filled, and had meekly admitted to herself that a humble situation must content her.

She often wondered how it would be with her when the Enderby girls should no longer need Miss Davis; and decided according to her own judgment that she ought to be ready to seek a place for herself in the world as soon as the elder girls should have completed their studies.

One evening she sat opposite to Miss Davis at the school-room fireside. Phyllis and Nell were in the drawing-room with their mother. Miss Davis was netting energetically, and Hetty, who had been studying busily, dropped her book and was gazing absently into the fire.

"Hetty," said Miss Davis presently, "put away your book, I want to talk to you."

Hetty obeyed, and looked at her governess expectantly.

"My dear, you know very well that in another year I shall no longer be needed here. Phyllis and Nell will then be eighteen and seventeen, and their mother has decided that they shall come out at the same time. When I am gone there will no longer be any object in your staying in this house. And yet, as you will then be only sixteen, you will be young to begin your life among strangers."

"Yes," said Hetty with a sinking of the heart; "but it is very good of you to think about me like this. Of course I shall have to go. I suppose I can get in somewhere as a nursery governess."

"I have been thinking of something else. Of course it will remain for yourself to decide."

Hetty's heart leaped. A wild idea crossed her mind that perhaps Miss Davis was going to suggest some way by which she might study to be an artist. Though she had never spoken on the subject since Mr. Enderby had pronounced sentence upon her hopes, still the dear dream of a possible beautiful future had always lain hidden somewhere in the most distant recesses of her brain. Now a sudden bright light shone into that darkened chamber. What delightful plan had Miss Davis been marking out for her?

"I have made up my mind," said Miss Davis, "that instead of entering another family I will open a school in the town where I was born. My mother is getting old and she is lonely. If I succeed in my project I shall be able to live with her and continue to make an income at the same time."

"How delightful!" murmured Hetty.

Miss Davis smiled sadly. "I don't know about that. The plan will have its advantages, but there are many difficulties. However, I think it is worth a trial."

Hetty said nothing, only wondered why Miss Davis was not more wildly glad at the thought of being always with her mother. She could not realize how long years of trial and disappointment had made it impossible to the governess to feel vivid anticipations of delight.

"Now as regards you—" Hetty started. She had so completely thrown herself into Miss Davis's personality for the moment that she had entirely forgotten her own. "As regards you, I have been thinking that you might come with me and help me as an under teacher. In this way you might begin to be independent at the age of sixteen, and at the same time continue your own studies under my superintendence. Later, when you were more thoroughly fitted to be a governess, I could endeavour to place you out in the world."

"Oh, how good of you to think of it! You are very, very kind!" said Hetty, though tears of disappointment rushed to her eyes. She crushed back the ungrateful feeling of dismay which pressed upon her at the thought of trying to teach in school. Her common-sense told her that nothing could be more advantageous for her interests than the plan Miss Davis had sketched for her. And she keenly appreciated the thoughtfulness for her welfare which had led the governess to include her in the scheme for her own future.

"You would only have little children to teach at first," Miss Davis went on, "until you grow accustomed to the work and gain confidence in yourself. Of course this is only a suggestion which I make to you, that you may turn it over in your thoughts and be ready to make arrangements when the moment shall arrive. Perhaps by that time, however, Mr. Enderby will be able to provide you with a pleasanter home."

"I do not think so," said Hetty. "He could recommend me only as a nursery governess, and if I were once in that position I could never have any further opportunity to improve. With you I can continue my studies."

"This is precisely what I think," said Miss Davis, "and I am glad you take such a sensible view of the matter. However, we need not speak of this for a year to come."

And so the conversation ended. Hetty longed to put her arms round Miss Davis's neck and thank her warmly for her kindness, but she felt instinctively that the governess would rather she abstained from all such demonstrations. It was only when she went up to bed that she allowed her thoughts to go back to the beautiful moment when she had fancied Miss Davis might have been thinking of making her an artist; and then she cried sadly as she thought of how foolish she had been in imagining even for a second that such a wild improbability had come true.

However, Hetty awakened next morning with a wholesome feeling of satisfaction in her mind which she could not at first account for. In a few moments the conversation with Miss Davis rushed back upon her memory, and she knew that her contentment was due to the prospect of independence that had been put before her as so real and so near. Once installed under Miss Davis's roof, teaching in school and earning the bread she ate, neither servants nor companions could taunt her with being a charity girl any more, Mr. Enderby's fears for her would then be laid to rest, and the dread of disappointing him would be lifted off her mind. In Miss Davis's school she could live and work until she had acquired all that learning which to her was so hard to attain.

With a sweet and brave, if not a glad, look on her face, Hetty came into the school-room that morning and found Phyllis and Nell chatting more gaily than usual at the fire.

"Oh, Hetty," cried Nell, "you must hear our news! We are going to have such a delightful visitor in the house."

"How you rush to conclusions, Nell!" said her sister. "You have not seen her yet, and you pronounce her delightful."

"I know from what mamma told us," cried Nell. "She is pretty, amiable, clever—and ever so rich. Only think, Hetty—to be an heiress at twenty-one without anyone to keep you from doing just as you please! She has a country house in France, and a house in London, with a good old lady to take care of her, who does exactly what she bids her."

"Mother did not say all that," said Phyllis.

"Oh! but I gathered it all from what she did say."

"Is she an orphan then?" asked Hetty.

"She has neither father, nor mother, nor brother, nor sister. Now, Hetty, don't look as if that was a misfortune. It is natural for you to feel it, of course. But if you had houses, and horses, and carriages, and money, you would not think it so bad to be able to do what you liked."

"Nell, I am shocked at you," said Miss Davis. "Would you give up your parents for such selfish advantages as you describe?"

"Oh dear no!" cried Nell. "But if I never had had them, like Reine Gaythorne, and did not know anything about them, I daresay I could manage to amuse myself in the world."

This was the first mention of the name of Reine Gaythorne in the Wavertree school-room, and it was certainly far from the last. Mrs. Enderby had met the young lady at a neighbouring country house, and had thought she would be a desirable acquaintance for her daughters. There was something interesting about the circumstances which had placed a young, beautiful, and wealthy girl alone, and her own mistress, in the world. Mr. and Mrs. Enderby had been greatly attracted by her, and had invited her to pay a visit at their house.

In the course of a few days she arrived at the Hall, and then Phyllis and Nell were but little in the school-room.

Hetty and Miss Davis went on as usual filling their quiet hours with work in their secluded corner of the house. A week passed away during the visit of the charming stranger, and Hetty had never once seen Miss Gaythorne.



CHAPTER XVIII.

REINE GAYTHORNE.

Mrs. Enderby, her visitor, and her two daughters were sitting together one morning at needlework in the pretty morning-room looking out on an old walled garden, at Wavertree Hall. The distant ends of this old garden, draped with ivy and creepers, had been made into a tennis ground, a smooth trim green chamber lying behind the brilliant beds of flowers. Sitting near the window the figures of the girls looked charming against so picturesque a background.

Miss Gaythorne's face, upraised to the light, was full of goodness, sweetness, and intelligence. A low broad brow, soft bright dark eyes, a rich brunette complexion, and red brown hair, so curly as to be gathered with difficulty into a knot at the back of her neck, were some of this girl's beauties which the eye could take in at a glance. A longer time was necessary to discern all the fine traits of character that were so artlessly expressed in turn by her speaking countenance.

She wore a pretty dress of maroon cashmere and velvet, with delicate ruffles of rich old yellow lace. Her dainty little French shoes and fine gold ornaments were immensely admired by the two young girls beside her, who were not yet "out," and were accustomed to be clothed in the simplest attire. Not only her dress, but her accent, which was slightly foreign, her peculiarly winning smiles, her merry little laugh and graceful movements all seemed to the Enderbys more charming than could be described. Even Phyllis, usually so critical, was taken captive by their new friend, Reine.

Miss Gaythorne was just finishing a piece of embroidery. She was very skilful with her needle, and her work was pronounced perfection by Phyllis and Nell. Mrs. Enderby joined her daughters in warm praise of the delicate production to which their visitor was just now putting the last touches.

"I could so easily work one like it for you while I am here," said Reine, "if I had only a new design. I do not like repeating the same design."

"I am sure Hetty could draw one for you," said Nell.

"But I mean something original."

"Oh! Hetty's drawings are original. She gathers a few flowers, and that is all she wants to begin with."

"She must be very clever. Who is Hetty, if I may ask?"

"Oh! Hetty is—Hetty Gray. She lives in this house. She is an orphan girl whom papa is educating to be a governess. She is always in the school-room with Miss Davis."

"Can she draw so cleverly?"

"Yes; it comes to her naturally. I will get a bundle of her drawings from papa to show you. He locked them up because she wanted to be an artist and he did not approve of it."

"It is well she did not want to go on the stage," said Phyllis. "She used to be an extraordinary actress. However, she gave that up and took a dislike to it. Perhaps she has now taken a dislike to drawing, and will not care to make a design for Reine."

"I am sure she will," said Nell. "Drawing is different from acting. People don't feel shy about drawing. I will go directly and ask her."

"Perhaps you would let me see her drawings first," said Miss Gaythorne.

"Certainly," said Nell; "papa is in his study, and I will go and fetch them."

Mr. Enderby willingly surrendered the drawings to amuse and oblige the cherished guest, and Hetty's work was spread out on a table before Reine.

"Why, these are beautiful," cried she; "and they are really done by a girl of fourteen who never learned to draw!"

"Really," said Nell, enjoying Miss Gaythorne's surprise. "And now, may I ask Hetty to make you a design?"

"If she would be so very good. If it would not give her too much trouble—"

"Why, Hetty will be simply enchanted at the request. She is not allowed to draw, and of course the permission to do so will be delightful."

"Not allowed to draw?" exclaimed Reine in astonishment.

"Nell, how strangely you put things!" said Phyllis. "Father warned her not to squander her time in drawing, while she has so much need to study."

Nell shrugged her shoulders. "Put it as you like, Phyllis," she said; "Hetty is a born artist, and she is going to be thrust into the harness of a governess."

"It is well neither father nor mother is in the room," said Phyllis. "They would be much grieved to hear you make such a speech. I don't know where you get such ideas."

"I don't know," said Nell; "they come to me sometimes."

Reine listened in silence while she studied the drawings more closely. She was something of an artist herself, and had a cultivated taste; and a keen interest in the orphan girl who had a talent like this, and could not be allowed to draw, was springing up within her.

Nell soon danced off to tell Hetty what was required of her.

"Miss Gaythorne wants you to make a design for her, of the size and style of this, and you can use any flowers or foliage you please. Mother hopes Miss Davis will allow you time to do it."

Hetty felt a rush of delight, which made the colour mount to her forehead.

"Thank you, dear Nell," she said; "I know it is you who have got me this piece of good fortune. I shall have some delicious hours over the work."

"Now, mind you make it beautiful," cried Nell; "for I have staked my reputation on you!"

Hetty thought she had never been so happy in her life before, as she went out to pick and choose among the flowers, looking for a theme for her composition. At last she satisfied herself, and came back to the school-room, and went to work.

Miss Davis, who had been much pleased with her of late, looked on with approval. She thought the girl had fairly earned a holiday and a treat.

Hetty was more nervous over this drawing than she had been over any of the others. With them she had been only working to please herself, and of her own free will; but now it seemed as if the eyes of the world were upon every line she drew. She spoiled several beginnings; and at last, flushed and feverish, had to put away the work till to-morrow.

"Drawing seems to be not all unmixed happiness any more than dates," said Miss Davis, smiling at her anxious face. "Come now and have some tea, or you will get a headache."

The next day Hetty went to work again, and succeeded at last in producing a striking and beautiful design. She was far from satisfied with it herself, and said to Nell, "I fear your friend will not think it good enough, but it is the best I can do."

"I think it is lovely," said Nell; "and what trouble you have taken with it! She will be hard to please if she does not like it."

And then Nell fled away with it, and Hetty turned to her books again with a happy feeling at her heart. It seemed to her that she had never before had an opportunity of performing any voluntary service for those who had been so generous towards her, but now she had been able to do something which would really give pleasure to the guest in their house. And then she wished she could see that charming Miss Gaythorne, who was said to be fond of drawing, and to know a great deal about it. She dreamed that night that she was walking through a picture-gallery with the girl called Reine, who was pointing out all the beauties to her as they went.

In the meantime Reine was greatly delighted with the drawing.

"The girl is really a little genius," she said; "will you not allow me to make her acquaintance?"

"I will ask mamma to invite her to the drawing-room some evening," said Nell. "Mother does not like her to come often, for fear of spoiling her. Phyllis has an idea that Hetty needs a great deal of keeping down; but I think it is only because Phyllis is so good herself that she thinks so badly of Hetty."

Reine laughed, and a look of fun remained in her eyes a few moments after this naive speech of Nell's. The peculiarities of Phyllis's style of goodness had not escaped Miss Gaythorne's quick intelligence.

"And mother minds what Phyllis thinks a great deal more than she minds me; because Phyllis is so wise, and never gives her any trouble."

The next morning at breakfast Reine said:

"Do you know, Mr. Enderby, little Miss Gray has made me such a beautiful drawing. She has a great talent. I can't help wishing you would let her be an artist."

"Has she been enlisting you against me?" said Mr. Enderby, with half a smile and half a frown.

"I have never even seen her," said Reine; "but I am greatly struck with her work."

"It is clever," assented the master of Wavertree; "but pray do not arouse foolish ideas in the child's head—ideas which have been fortunately laid to rest. I have great faith in the old warning, 'Beware of the man of one book'; and I think Hetty will do better to stick to what she has begun with. Under Miss Davis she has excellent opportunities of becoming fitted to be a governess, which, after all, is the safest career for a friendless woman. She lives in a respectable home and is saved from many dangers. I do not hold with the new-fangled notion of letting girls run about the world picking up professions."

And then Mr. Enderby deliberately changed the conversation.

However, Reine could not forget the little artist; and that evening, being dressed for dinner rather early, she suddenly bethought her of making her way uninvited to the school-room.

"I really must see her and thank her," she reflected; "and I will ask pardon of Mrs. Enderby afterwards for the liberty." And then she set out to look for the school-room.

It happened that Hetty was sitting all alone at the school-room table; her chin in her hand, her eyes fixed on the pages of a book. A window behind her, framing golden sky and deep-coloured foliage, made her the foreground figure of a striking picture. Her dark head and flowing hair, her pale but richly-tinted face with its thoughtful brow and intelligent mouth, her little warm brown hand and wrist were all softly and distinctly defined against the glories of the distance. As Reine opened the door and came in, Hetty looked up as much startled as if an angel had come to visit her.

Reine was dressed all in white shimmering silk, which enhanced the beauty of her bright brunette face. Her soft luminous eyes beamed on Hetty as she advanced to her with outstretched hands.

"I came to see you and thank you," she began; "I am Reine Gaythorne and—"

Suddenly, as Hetty sprang to her feet and came forward smiling and facing the light, Reine's little speech died on her tongue, and a sharp cry broke from her.

"My mother!" she exclaimed in a tone of deep feeling, and stood gazing at Hetty as if a ghost had risen up before her.

Hetty retreated a step, and the two girls stood gazing at each other. Miss Gaythorne recovered herself quickly, but her hands and voice were trembling as she took Hetty's fingers in her own.

"Have I frightened you, dear?" she said; "but oh, if you knew how strangely, how wonderfully like you are to my darling mother."

"Your mother?" stammered Hetty.

"Such a sweet beauty of a young mother she was as I remember her—and I have a likeness of her at your age;—it seems to me that you are the living image of it."

"How very strange!" said Hetty, with a thrill of delight at the thought that she was like anybody belonging to this charming girl, especially her mother. Hetty had fascinating fancies of her own about an ideal mother; no real mother she had known had ever reached her standard. But Reine's mother must surely have been up to the mark. And to be told that she, Hetty, was like her! She drew nearer to Reine, who put her arms round her neck and kissed her.

"I can't tell you how I feel," said Reine, holding her off and looking at her. "I feel as if you belonged to me someway."

"Don't turn my head," pleaded Hetty wistfully. "Please remember I have no relations and must not expect to be loved. I have had great trouble about that; and it has been very hard for them to manage me."

"Has it?" said Reine doubtfully.

"As I'm now nearly grown up," said Hetty, "of course I have had to learn to behave myself; so don't spoil me."

"I wish I could," said Reine. "I mean I wish I could get the chance. Oh, don't look at me like that. But yes, do. Oh, Hetty, my mother, my mother!"

And Reine leaned her arms on the table, and laid her head on them, and wept.

Hetty stood by wondering, and stroked her head timidly for sympathy.

"Don't think me a great goose," said Reine, looking up. And then suddenly silent again she sat staring at Hetty. After a few moments she sprang up and folded her arms round her and held her close.

"You strange darling, where have you come from; and how am I ever to let you go again?"

A step was heard at the door, and Reine and Hetty instinctively withdrew from each other's embrace. There was something sacred about the feeling which had so suddenly and unexpectedly overpowered them both.

Nell came in.

"Reine, I have been looking for you everywhere."

"I came here to thank Miss Gray for her design," said Reine, "and I don't think I have even mentioned it yet."

"You are as pale as death," said Nell. "What has Hetty been saying to you?"

"Nothing," said Reine absently, her eyes going back to Hetty's face and fixing themselves there.

"How you stare at each other!" said Nell, "and I declare your two faces are almost the same this moment."

"Nell!"

"I always said you were like each other, though Phyllis could not see it. Now I am sure of it."

A wild look came into Reine's face.

"That would be too strange," she said; "for she is so like—so like—some one—Oh, Nell, she is the very image of my mother!"

"Your mother!" echoed Nell, gazing at Hetty and thinking she did not look like anybody's mother, with her short frock and flowing hair.

"But there is the dinner-bell!" she cried, glad of the interruption; for Nell had a great dislike of anything like a sentimental scene. "You must talk about all this afterwards, for we must not be late."

"I will come," said Reine, passing her handkerchief over her face. "Do I look as if I had been crying."

"Your nose is a little red," said Nell; "but they will think it is the cold."

"Then don't say anything about this," said Reine; "but I must come and see Hetty again. Goodnight, darling little mother!"

"Reine, all my respect for you is gone," said Nell as they hastened toward the dining-room. "I thought you were as wise as Phyllis. And to think of you crying and kissing like that because Hetty reminds you of—"

"Don't, Nell," said Reine. "I can't bear any more just now."



CHAPTER XIX.

IF SHE WAS DROWNED, HOW CAN SHE BE HETTY?

A few friends had joined the Wavertree family circle that evening, and Reine had no further opportunity of speaking about Hetty. She was absent and thoughtful; but wakened up when asked to sing, and sang a thrilling little love song with such power and sweetness as went to everybody's heart. She was thinking as she sang of Hetty's face, and it was her strange yearning for Hetty's love that inspired her to sing as she did.

That night she could not sleep. Her mother's eyes, with the loving look she remembered so well, were gazing at her from all the corners of the room. Her mind went back over the recollections of her childhood; and her father's voice and her mother's smiles were with her as though she had only said good-night to both parents an hour ago. The lonely girl, who had everything that the world could offer her, except that which she longed for most, the affection of family and kindred, felt the very depths of her heart shaken by the experience of the past evening. That a girl who seemed so much a part of herself should have risen up beside her, and yet be nothing to her, seemed something too curious to be understood. Her imagination went to work upon the possibilities of Mr. Enderby's being induced to give Hetty up to her altogether, to be her adopted sister and to live with her for evermore. She was aware that people would distrust this sudden fancy for a stranger, and that opposition would probably be offered to her plan; but then she was not her own mistress; and by perseverance she must surely succeed in the end.

Oh, the delight of having a sister! Reine had had a sister, a baby sister lost in infancy, and had often taken a sad pleasure in fancying what that sister might have been like if she had lived. She had been six years younger than Reine. Hetty was fifteen, about the age that the little sister might now have been. Reine sat up in her bed and counted the years between fifteen and twenty-one twice over on her fingers to make perfectly sure. Hetty was the very age of the little sister. And so like her mother! If the baby sister of whom she had been bereft could be still alive, then Reine would have declared she must be Hetty.

She was now in a fever of excitement. Her curly brown hair had risen in a mop of rings and ringlets around her head with tossing on her pillow, her eyes were round and bright, and a burning spot was on each of her cheeks. At last she sprang out of bed and in a minute was at Nell's bed-room door.

Nell was awakened out of a sound sleep by the opening of her door.

"Don't be frightened, Nell; I'm not a burglar—only Reine."

"What's the matter?" said Nell, rubbing her eyes. "Have you got the toothache?"

"I never had toothache. I want to know something."

"I often want to know things," said Nell, now sitting bolt upright in her little bed; "I'm sometimes dying of curiosity. But it never routed me out of my sleep in the middle of the night."

"It's about Hetty," said Reine, sitting on the floor in a faint streak of moonlight, and looking like a spirit—if spirits have curly hair.

"You've gone Hetty-mad!" said Nell; "wouldn't Hetty keep till morning? We're not going to transport her or lock her up. You will have all next week to sit looking at her."

"Where did you get her?" asked Reine. "I know she is a foundling; but she must have had a beginning somewhere."

"Of course she had; and a most peculiar one. She was found on the Long Sands. That is a place three miles from Wavertree on the sea-shore, where wrecks often come in. John Kane, one of the carters, found her, and Mrs. Kane took her home. Then Aunt Amy, who is dead, fancied her and adopted her. When Aunt Amy died she was left unprovided for, and papa brought her here; and here she is."

"Found on the shore where wrecks come in! And she is just fifteen. Oh, Nell, are you sure you are telling the truth?"

There was a sound in Reine's voice that startled Nell.

"The plain truth. Every village child knows it. What has it got to do with you?"

"I don't know. I don't know. I am afraid to think. Why, Nell, listen to me. When I was a child of seven years old, my mother and father took me to France. They had inherited a property there and were going to take possession of it. They were fond of the sea, and they long travelled by sea. While still near this coast the vessel was overtaken by storm and wrecked. My father, mother, and myself were saved. But my little baby sister was washed out of my mother's arms and drowned."

"Well?"

"Well!"

"If she was drowned how can she be Hetty, if that is what you mean?"

"They thought she was drowned. We were taken into another vessel and carried on to France."

"And never asked any more questions about the baby?"

"I don't know. My father and mother are both dead," said Reine pathetically; "I am sure they did all they could. But I know they thought they saw her drowned before their eyes."

"And I suppose they did. Reine, stop walking about the floor like Crazy Jane, in your bare feet, and either come into my bed or go back to your own."

"I am going," said Reine; "please forgive me, Nell, for spoiling your sleep."

"Don't mention it. We can talk all the rest in the morning. If you are allowed to go on any more now, you will be mad to-morrow, and, what is worse, you will have a cold in your head."

Nell curled herself up in her pillows again, and was soon fast asleep. But Reine could not sleep; and came down to breakfast next morning looking as pale as a ghost.

After Mr. Enderby had gone to his study Nell began:

"Mamma, do you know Reine has got a bee in her bonnet!"

"My dear, where did you get such an expression?"

"Never mind. It is quite accurate. She believes that Hetty is her sister who was drowned when she was a baby."

Mrs. Enderby looked at Reine with a face of extreme surprise.

"Nell talks so much nonsense," she said, "that I scarcely know what to think of her speeches sometimes." And then seeing Reine's eyes full of tears, she added kindly:

"Dear child, is there any grain of truth in what this wild little scatter-brain has said?"

Reine burst into tears.

"Don't mind me, Mrs. Enderby, please; I have been awake all night, and I don't feel like myself. It is only that Hetty Gray is so—so distressingly like my mother. And Nell says she was found on the sea-shore after a storm and wrecks. And it is fourteen years ago. And that is the very time when our vessel was wrecked, and my father and mother believed that our baby was drowned. Oh, Mrs. Enderby, only think! Is it not enough to turn my head?"

"It is a very remarkable coincidence at least," said Mrs. Enderby; "but, dear Reine, try to compose your thoughts. You must not jump too hastily at conclusions. At the end of fourteen years it will be very difficult to find evidence to prove or disprove what you imagine may be true."

Reine shook her head. "I have thought of that; I have thought of it all night."

"In the first place, are you quite sure about the dates?"

"Quite, on my own side. I have a little New Testament in which my father wrote down, the day after our rescue, the date of the wreck and a record of the baby's death."

"We must send for Mrs. Kane," said Mrs. Enderby; "and hear what she has to say before we allow our imaginations to run away with us."

"And oh, Mrs. Enderby,—if you saw the likeness of my mother at just Hetty's age! May I telegraph for it at once—to let you see it?"

"Certainly, my dear; for it and that copy of the Testament. But not a word to Hetty. It would be cruel to run the risk of subjecting her to a heavy disappointment"

The telegram was sent; and Mrs. Kane appeared, wondering greatly why she was wanted at the Hall in such a hurry.

"Now, Mrs. Kane," said Mrs. Enderby, "here is a young lady who is greatly interested in the story of the finding of Hetty Gray on the Long Sands by your husband, and I have promised she shall hear of it from your own lips."

They were all gathered round a sunny window in the great brown hall, lined with carved oak and decorated with armour and antlers. Mrs. Enderby herself pushed a stately old oaken chair towards the rose-framed sash and said encouragingly:

"Sit down, Mrs. Kane, and make yourself comfortable. There is nothing to be nervous about. You know we are all friends of your favourite, Hetty."

Mrs. Kane was trembling with some curious excitement, and could not remove her eyes from Reine Gaythorne's face.

"I do not know who the young lady may be, ma'am," she said, "but this I will say, that she is as like my Hetty as if she was her own born sister."

A flood of colour rushed over Reine's pale face, and she clasped her hands and fixed her eyes on Mrs. Enderby.

"Never mind that," said Mrs. Enderby, "tell the young lady what you remember."

"There's but little to tell," said Mrs. Kane, "beyond what everybody knows. John happened to be down upon the sands that night, and he got the baby lying at his feet. He brought her to me wrapped in his coat, and says he, 'Anne, here's God has sent us a little one.' And we kept it for our own, seeing that nobody asked for it. I have the day and the year written in my prayer-book; for I said to myself, some day, may-be, her friends will come looking for her—out of the sea, or over the land, or whatever way providence will send them. And for one whole week we called her nothing but 'H.G.'"

"H.G.!" echoed Reine.

"Those were the letters wrought upon the shoulder of her beautiful little shift," said Mrs. Kane. "And afterwards we made out that they stood for Hetty Gray."

"She had on a little shift?"

"Mrs. Rushton got it," said Mrs. Kane. "The finest bit of baby clothes I ever set my eyes on."

Reine had come close to Mrs. Kane, and her lips were trembling as she went on questioning her:

"Were the letters in white embroidery—satin stitch they call it? Were they all formed of little flowers curling in and out about the letters; and was the chemise of fine cambric with a narrow hem?"

"That's the description as plain as if you were looking at it," said Mrs. Kane.

"I have half a dozen like it at home in one of my mother's drawers," said Reine turning red and pale. "Where is this little garment? is it not to be found?"

"I have it, dear," said Mrs. Enderby quietly. "After Mrs. Rushton's death I took possession of it. I hardly anticipated so happy a day as this for poor Hetty, but I thought it my duty to take care of it."

The little chemise was produced, and Reine identified it as one of the set belonging to her baby sister supposed to have been drowned, and marked with her initials standing for Helen Gaythorne.

"My mother marked them herself," said Reine, examining the embroidery as well as she could through eyes blinded by tears. "She was wonderfully skilful with her needle, and took a pride in marking all our things with initials designed by herself. Oh, Mrs. Enderby, is not this evidence enough?"

"It seems to me so," said Mrs. Enderby, "especially taken with the dates and the likeness to your family. When your mother's portrait comes——"

"I must send for the little baby-garments too," said Reine; "but oh, why need we wait for anything more? May I not run to my sister, Mrs. Enderby?"

"Calm yourself, my dear Reine, and be persuaded to take my advice. We must consult a lawyer and get information as to the wrecking of the vessel, and the place where the shipwreck occurred. It will then be seen whether it was possible for a child lost on the occasion to have lived to be washed in upon this shore."

"Possible or not, it happened!" cried Reine. "Oh, Mrs. Enderby, unless you can make me sleep through the interval I shall never have patience to wait."

The portrait of Reine's mother taken at fifteen years of age and the packet of tiny embroidered chemises arrived the next morning from London. The former looked exactly like a picture of Hetty; the latter was the counterpart of the baby-garment produced by Mrs. Enderby from a drawer of her own. Mr. Enderby was then consulted, and admitted that the case seemed established in Hetty's favour. However, prudent like his wife, he insisted that nothing should be said to Hetty till lawyers had been consulted, and information about the wreck of the vessel obtained.

In the meantime Reine was abruptly sent home to London.

"She will make herself ill if she is allowed to stay in the house with Hetty, and obliged to be silent towards her as to her discovery," said Mr. Enderby. "When the chain of evidence is complete, we can think of what to do."

So Mr. Enderby himself carried off Reine to London that very night.

"It will be necessary to come, my dear," he said, "and make inquiries at once. You will thus arrive more quickly at your end. Now just run into the school-room for a minute and say good-bye to Hetty. But if you love her, say nothing to disturb the child's peace."

It cost Reine a great struggle to obey these sudden orders; but she saw their drift, and was wise enough not to oppose them. In her travelling dress she appeared in the school-room, where Hetty, all unconscious of the wonderful change for her that was hanging in the balance of Fate, sat at work as usual with Miss Davis.

"I have come to say good-bye," said Reine; "I am called off to London in a hurry. But you must not forget me. We shall surely meet again."

Hetty's heart sank with bitter disappointment She had been living in a sort of dream since yesterday, a dream of happiness at being so suddenly and unexpectedly loved by this sweet girl who had risen up like an angel in her path. The hope of seeing her again and enjoying her friendship had kept a glow of joy within her, which now went out and left darkness in its place. She strove to keep her face from showing how deeply she felt what seemed like caprice in Reine.

Reine looked in her face with that long strange gaze which had so impressed Hetty's heart and imagination, smothered a sob, snatched a kiss from her sister's quivering lips, held her a moment in a close embrace, and then turned abruptly and was gone.

"Miss Gaythorne seems a rather impulsive young lady," said Miss Davis disapprovingly. "I wish she had taken a fancy to some one else than my pupil. You must try to forget her, Hetty. Girls like her, with wealth and power and nobody to control them, are apt to become capricious, and work mischief with people who have business to attend to. I hope you understand me, Hetty."

"Yes," said Hetty with a long sigh.

"You must not expect to see Miss Gaythorne again. She will probably have forgotten you to-morrow."

Miss Davis was not in the secret which was occupying the minds of several of the inmates of Wavertree Hall.



CHAPTER XX.

HAPPY HETTY.

About three weeks had passed away. Hetty had endured the worst throes of her disappointment, and had almost succeeded in banishing Reine out of her thoughts. She had steadily turned away her eyes from looking back at that beautiful evening, when, as if by enchantment, a girl who looked and spoke like a sister had held her in a loving embrace, lavishing kisses and loving words upon her, Hetty, who was known to be nobody's child. The quiet studious days went on as if no brilliant interruption had ever flashed in upon them. Miss Davis, at Mrs. Enderby's desire, kept Hetty more than ordinarily busy, and hindered her from paying her customary visits to Mrs. Kane. Mrs. Enderby distrusted the good woman's ability to keep a secret, and, with that prudence which had always distinguished her in her dealings with Hetty, she was resolved that the girl should hear no whisper to disturb her tranquillity till such time as her identity should be considered satisfactorily proved.

At the end of three weeks' time, however, news came from London to Mr. Enderby which placed it beyond a doubt that Hetty was Helen Gaythorne, the baby who had been supposed to be drowned. Although Mrs. Enderby and her daughters had been prepared for this result of the inquiries that had been on foot, yet the established fact, with its tremendous importance for Hetty, seemed to come on them with a shock. The child who had been protected in their house, no longer needed their protection. The girl who was to have been sent out soon as a governess to earn her bread, would henceforth have pleasant bread to eat in a sister's luxurious home. The dependant, whom it had been thought judicious to snub, was now the equal of those who had so prudently dealt with her according to their lights.

Mr. and Mrs. Enderby were extremely pleased at the child's good fortune, and thankful that they had not been induced to send her to a charity school.

"You are always right, dear," said Mrs. Enderby, looking at her husband with pride. "When I was a coward in the matter you insisted on having her here. And if she had gone elsewhere she would never have met Reine, and her identity could hardly have been discovered."

"And her sister may thank you that she does not receive her a spoiled, passionate, unmanageable monkey. Your prudent treatment of the girl has had admirable results. Her demeanour has pleased me very much of late. Meekness and obedience have taken the place of her wilfulness and pride."

Nell was perfectly wild with excitement and delight, clapped her hands over her head and danced about the room.

"I was always the one who liked Hetty the best," she said triumphantly, "and now she will remember it. She will ask me to France to stay with her. And nobody can warn me any more not to give her too much encouragement. I can be allowed to make a companion of Miss Helen Gaythorne."

"What a very unpleasant way you always have of twisting things!" said Phyllis, who had been remarkably silent all along as to the change in Hetty's circumstances. "I am as glad as anyone of Hetty's discovery; but I do not see why it should make any difference to us."

"Phyllis takes a more disinterested view of the matter than you do, Nell," said Mrs. Enderby smiling; "but then my Phyllis was always a wise little girl."

Nell pouted, and Phyllis held her head high. Mrs. Enderby thought she knew the hearts of both. But the woman who could be so exceedingly prudent in the management of "nobody's child" was blind to a great deal that required skilful treatment in the characters and dispositions of her own daughters.

Miss Davis was more affected than anyone in the house by the news of Hetty's extraordinary good fortune. Unconsciously to herself she had learned to love the girl, whom she had counted upon having by her side for many years to come, and it was not without a pang that she saw the young figure disappear suddenly out of her future. Hetty alone knew nothing of the change that had befallen her.

"No, my dear," said Mrs. Enderby to Nell, "I will not allow you to tell her. Indeed, I am a little nervous about the matter, for Hetty is such a strangely impressionable girl one never knows what way she will take things. I must break the truth to her myself."

So Hetty was sent for to Mrs. Enderby's dressing-room, and went with rather a heavy heart, thinking some complaint had been made of her. She had never been so sent for except when trouble was impending.

"I must try to be patient," she was thinking as she went up the stairs. "I do not know what I can have done so very wrong, but I suppose there must be something."

But her sadness was soon turned into amazement and joy.

"Hetty," said Mrs. Enderby, "Miss Gaythorne wishes to have you with her in London, on a visit. Mr. Enderby and I have consented to allow you to go; and I suppose you will not object to give her pleasure."

"Miss Gaythorne!" exclaimed Hetty, scarcely believing she had heard rightly.

"She has taken a fancy to you, and wishes to have you with her. She is a charming girl, and I am sure she will make you happy."

Hetty's face, glowing with delight, sufficiently answered this last speech; but her tongue could find no words.

"In fact, I may as well tell you," continued Mrs. Enderby, "that Reine has discovered you are some kind of relation of hers; and, as she is her own mistress and very independent, she will be disposed to make the most of the relationship."

Hetty was turning slowly pale. "Relationship!" she murmured. "Am I really related to Miss Gaythorne?" and Reine's cry, "My mother, oh, my mother!" seemed to ring again in her ears.

"I believe so, my dear. There, do not think too much of it. At all events, you are to go to her now, and she will tell you all about it. But mind, you and she are to come back and spend Christmas with us. Mark will be at home then, and he will be anxious to see his old playfellow."

"Christmas!" echoed Hetty, in new astonishment. This was only the end of September.

"You see, I fancy Reine will not let you go in a hurry once she has got you," said Mrs. Enderby; "and now, my dear, don't stand there in a dream any longer, but run away and get ready for the mid-day train. Mr. Enderby has to do some business in London, and he will leave you in Portland Place. No, you will not have time to go to see Mrs. Kane. I will give her your love, and tell her you will see her when you come back."

"I am not going to have her told till she is in her sister's house," reflected Mrs. Enderby; "and Mrs. Kane would be sure to pour out everything suddenly. The child is of so excitable a nature, I do not know what might be the consequences to her."

That she could not say good-bye to Mrs. Kane made the only flaw in Hetty's happiness; but she left a little note for her with Miss Davis, who promised to have it safely delivered. And then, with smiles and good wishes from everyone, and pondering over a few mysterious glances which she caught passing from one person to another over her head, Hetty took her place by Mr. Enderby in his trap, and was whirled away to the railway-station.

Mr. Enderby talked to her kindly as they went along, about the pleasures in store for her in London, especially in the picture-galleries, as she had a taste for art.

"And always remember, my dear," he said, "that in the rules I laid down for your education with a view to your future, I acted as I thought best for your good."

Hetty said warmly, "I know—I am sure of that"; and then she began to wonder at his curious manner of speaking, as if all his dealings with her were in the past, and he had no longer any control over her. Could it be, she asked herself, that Reine was going to take her and have her taught to be an artist?

The thought was too delightful to be borne with, considering the likelihood of disappointment. She tried to put it out of her head, and listened to Mr. Enderby as he talked to her of Westminster Abbey and the Tower.

That afternoon about five o'clock, in a certain handsome drawing-room in Portland Place, Reine was flitting about restlessly with flushed cheeks, now re-arranging the roses in some jar, now picking up her embroidery and putting a few stitches in it, then going to the window and looking out. The afternoon tea equipage was on a little table beside her, but she did not help herself to a cup. She was evidently waiting for some one.

At last there was a sound of wheels stopping, and Reine's trembling hands dropped her work into her basket. A ring came to the door, and Reine was in the middle of the room, pressing her hands together, and listening to the closing of the door with impatient delight.

THE END

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