Melchior's Dream and Other Tales
by Juliana Horatia Ewing
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"Lord, have mercy upon me! I'll never do it no more!"

Mr. Lindsay was not likely to alter his opinion on the subject of bullies. This one, like others, was a mortal coward. Like other men, who have no fear of GOD before their eyes, he made up for it by having a very hearty fear of sickness, death, departed souls, and one or two other things, which the most self-willed sinner knows well enough to be in the hands of a Power which he cannot see, and does not wish to believe in. Bully Tom had spoken the truth when he said that if he thought there was a ghost in Yew-lane he wouldn't go near it. If he had believed the stories with which he had alarmed poor Bill, the lad's evening walk would never have been disturbed, as far as he was concerned. Nothing but his spite against Bessy would have made him take so much trouble to vex the peace, and stop the schooling, of her pet brother; and as it was, the standing alone by the churchyard at night was a position so little to his taste, that he had drunk pretty heavily in the public-house for half an hour beforehand, to keep up his spirits. And now he had been paid back in his own coin, and lay grovelling in the mud, and calling profanely on the Lord, Whose mercy such men always cry for in their trouble, if they never ask it for their sins. He was so confused and blinded by drink and fright, that he did not see the second ghost divest himself of his encumbrances, or know that it was John Gardener, till that rosy-cheeked worthy, his clenched hands still flaming with brimstone, danced round him, and shouted scornfully, and with that vehemence of aspiration, in which he was apt to indulge when excited:

"Get hup, yer great cowardly booby, will yer? So you thought you was coming hout to frighten a little lad, did ye? And you met with one of your hown size, did ye? Now will ye get hup and take it like a man, or shall I give it you as ye lie there?"

Bully Tom chose the least of two evils, and staggering to his feet with an oath, rushed upon John. But in his present condition he was no match for the active little gardener, inspired with just wrath, and thoughts of Bessy; and he then and there received such a sound thrashing as he had not known since he first arrogated the character of village bully. He was roaring loudly for mercy, and John Gardener was giving him a harmless roll in the mud by way of conclusion, when he caught sight of the two young gentlemen in the lane—Master Arthur in fits of laughter at the absurd position of the ex-Yew-lane Ghost and Mr. Lindsay standing still and silent, with folded arms, set lips, and the gold eye-glass on his nose. As soon as he saw them, he began to shout, "Murder! help!" at the top of his voice.

"I see myself," said Master Arthur, driving his hands contemptuously into his pockets—"I see myself helping a great lout who came out to frighten a child, and can neither defend his own eyes and nose, nor take a licking with a good grace when he deserves it!"

Bully Tom appealed to Mr. Lindsay.

"Yah! yah!" he howled: "will you see a man killed for want of help?"

But the clever young gentleman seemed even less inclined to give his assistance.

"Killed!" he said contemptuously; "I have seen a lad killed on such a night as this, by such a piece of bullying! Be thankful you have been stopped in time! I wouldn't raise my little finger to save you from twice such a thrashing. It has been fairly earned! Give the ghost his shroud, Gardener, and let him go; and recommend him not to haunt Yew-lane in future."

John did so, with a few words of parting advice on his own account.

"Be hoff with you," he said. "Master Lindsay, he speaks like a book. You're a disgrace to your hage and sect, you are! I'd as soon fight with an old charwoman. Though, bless you, young gentlemen," he added, as Bully Tom slunk off muttering, "he is the biggest blackguard in the place; and what the Rector'll say, when he comes to know as you've been mingled up with him, passes me."

"He'll forgive us, I dare say," said Master Arthur. "I only wish he could have seen you emerge from behind that stone! It was a sight for a century! I wonder what the youngster thought of it! Hi, Willie, here, Sir! What did you think of the second ghost?"

Bill had some doubts as to the light in which he ought to regard that apparition; but he decided on the simple truth.

"I thought it looked very horrid, Sir."

"I should hope it did! The afternoon's work of three able-bodied men has been marvellously wasted if it didn't. However, I must say you halloed out loud enough!"

Bill coloured, the more so as Mr. Lindsay was looking hard at him over the top of his spectacles.

"Don't you feel rather ashamed of all your fright, now you've seen the ghosts without their sheets?" inquired the clever young gentleman.

"Yes, Sir," said Bill, hanging his head. "I shall never believe in ghosts again, Sir, though."

Mr. Bartram Lindsay took off his glasses, and twiddled them in his fingers.

"Well, well," he said in a low hurried voice; "I'm not the parson, and I don't pretend to say what you should believe and what you shouldn't. We know precious little as to how much the spirits of the dead see and know of what they have left behind. But I think you may venture to assure yourself that when a poor soul has passed the waves of this troublesome world, by whatever means, it doesn't come back kicking about under a white sheet in dark lanes, to frighten little boys from going to school."

"And that's very true, Sir," said John Gardener, admiringly.

"So it is," said Master Arthur. "I couldn't have explained that myself, Willie; but those are my sentiments and I beg you'll attend to what Mr. Lindsay has told you."

"Yes, Sir," said Bill.

Mr. Lindsay laughed, though not quite merrily, and said—

"I could tell him something more, Arthur, though he's too young to understand it: namely, that if he lives, the day will come, when he would be only too happy if the dead might come back and hold out their hands to us, anywhere, and for however short a time."

The young gentleman stopped abruptly; and the gardener heaved a sympathetic sigh.

"I tell you what it is, Bartram," muttered Master Arthur, "I suppose I'm too young, too, for I've had quite enough of the melancholies for one night. As to you, you're as old as the hills; but it's time you came home; and if I'd known before what you told me to night, old fellow, you shouldn't have come out on this expedition. Now, for you, Willie," added the young gentleman, whirling sharply round, "if you're not a pattern Solomon henceforth, it won't be the fault of your friends. And if wisdom doesn't bring you to school after this, I shall try the argument of the one-legged donkey."

"I don't think I shall miss next time, Sir."

"I hope you won't. Now, John, as you've come so far, you may as well see the lad safe home; but don't shake hands with the family in the present state of your fists, or you might throw somebody into a fit. Good-night!"

Yew-lane echoed a round of "Good-nights;" and Bill and the gardener went off in high spirits. As they crossed the road, Bill looked round, and under the trees saw the young gentlemen strolling back to the Rectory, arm in arm. Mr. Bartram Lindsay with his chin high in the air, and Master Arthur vehemently exhorting him on some topic, of which he was pointing the moral with flourishes of the one-legged donkey.

* * * * *

For those who like to know "what became of" everybody, these facts are added:

The young gentlemen got safely home; and Master Arthur gave such a comical account of their adventure, that the Rector laughed too much to scold them, even if he had wished.

Beauty Bill went up and down Yew-lane on many a moonlight night after this one, but he never saw another ghost, or felt any more fears in connection with Ephraim Garnett. To make matters more entirely comfortable, however, John kindly took to the custom of walking home with the lad after night-school was ended. In return for this attention, Bill's family were apt to ask him in for an hour; and by their fire-side he told the story of the two ghosts so often—from the manufacture in the Rectory barn to the final apparition at the cross-roads—that the whole family declare they feel just as if they had seen it.

Bessy, under the hands of the cheerful doctor, got quite well, and eventually married. As her cottage boasts the finest window plants in the village, it is shrewdly surmised that her husband is a gardener.

Bully Tom talked very loudly for some time of "having the law of" the rival ghost; but finding, perhaps, that the story did not redound to his credit, was unwilling to give it further publicity, and changed his mind.

Winter and summer, day and night, sunshine and moonlight, have passed over the lane and the churchyard, and the wind has had many a ghostly howl among the yews, since poor Bill learnt the story of the murder; but he knows now that the true Ephraim Garnett has never been seen on the cross-roads since a hundred years ago, and will not be till the Great Day.

In the ditch by the side of Yew-lane shortly after the events I have been describing, a little lad found a large turnip, in which someone had cut eyes, nose, and mouth, and put bits of stick for teeth. The turnip was hollow, and inside it was fixed a bit of wax candle. He lighted it up, and the effect was so splendid, that he made a show of it to his companions at the price of a marble each, who were well satisfied. And this was the last of the Yew-lane Ghosts.



"Oh, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem By that sweet ornament which truth doth give! The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odour which doth in it live."


My godmother, Lady Elizabeth, used to say, "Most things are matters of habit. Good habits and bad habits." And she generally added, "Your bad habit, Selina, is a habit of grumbling."

I was always accustomed to seeing great respect paid to anything my godmother said or did. In the first place, she was what Mrs. Arthur James Johnson called "a fine lady," and what the maids called "a real lady." She was an old friend and, I think, a relative of my father, who had married a little below his own rank—my mother being the daughter of a rich manufacturer. My father had died before I can remember things, and Joseph and I lived with our mother and her friends. At least, we were with our mother when she could bear the noise; and for the rest of our time, when we were tired of playing games together, we sat with the maids.

"That is where you learned your little toss and your trick of grumbling, my dear," my godmother said, planting her gold eye-glasses on her high nose; "and that is why your mouth is growing out of shape, and your forehead getting puckered, and your chin poked, and—and your boots bulged crooked."

"My boots, godmother?"

"Your boots, my dear. No boots will keep in shape if you shake your hips and kick with your heels like a servant out Sunday walking. When little girls flounce on the high road, it only looks ridiculous; but when you grow up, you'll never have a clean petticoat, or be known for a well-bred woman behind your back, unless you learn to walk as if your legs and your feelings were under your own control. That is why the sergeant is coming to-morrow and every week-day morning to drill you and Joseph from ten to eleven whilst you remain here."

And my godmother pressed the leaves of the journal on her lap, and cut them quite straight and very decisively with a heavy ivory paper-knife.

I had never been taught that it is bad manners to mutter—nurse always talked to herself when she was "put out"—and, as I stood in much awe of Lady Elizabeth, I did not like to complain aloud of her arrangements. So I turned my doll with a sharp flounce in my arms, and muttered behind her tarlatan skirts that "I did think we were to have had whole holidays out visiting."

I believe my godmother heard me; but she only looked at me for a moment over the top of her gold eye-glasses, and then went on reading the paper through them.

After a few moments, she laid it down on her lap with her left hand, and with her right hand took off her eye-glasses and held them between her fingers.

"I shall be sorry if you don't grow up nice-looking, Selina," she said. "It's a great advantage to a woman—indeed, to anyone—to be good-looking. Your mother was a pretty woman, too; and your father—"

Lady Elizabeth stopped, and then, seeming suddenly to see that I was watching her and waiting, put her glasses before her eyes again, and continued—

"Your father was a very good-looking gentleman, with a fine face and a fine figure, beautiful eyes and mouth, very attractive hands, and most fascinating manners. It will be a pity if you don't grow up nice-looking."

I grew crimson, partly with mortification and partly with astonishment. I had a strong natural desire to be pretty, but I felt sure I had been taught somehow that it was much more meritorious not to care about it. It certainly did not please me when (if I had offended them) the maids said I should never be as pretty as Maud Mary Ibbetson, my bosom friend; but when nurse took the good looking-glass out of the nursery, and hung up the wavy one which used to be in her room instead, to keep me from growing vain, I did not dispute her statement that "the less little girls looked in the glass the better." And when I went to see Maud Mary (who was the only child of rich parents, and had a cheval-glass in her own bed-room), it was a just satisfaction to me to feel that if she was prettier, and could see herself full length, she was probably vainer than I.

It was very mortifying, therefore, to find that my godmother not only thought me plain, but gave me no credit for not minding it. I grew redder and redder, and my eyes filled with tears.

Lady Elizabeth was very nice in one way—she treated us with as much courtesy and consideration as if we were grown up. People do not think about being polite to children, but my godmother was very polite.

"My dear child," she said, holding out her hand, "I am very sorry if I have hurt your feelings. I beg your pardon."

I put my hot and rather dirty little paw among her cool fingers and diamond rings. I could not mutter to her face, but I said rather under my sobs that "it seemed such a thing" to be blamed for not being pretty.

"My dear Selina, I never said anything about your being pretty. I said I should be sorry if you did not grow up nice-looking, which is quite another thing. It will depend on yourself whether you are nice-looking or not."

I began to feel comforted, but I bridled my chin in an aggrieved manner, which I know I had caught from Mrs. Marsden, the charwoman, when she took tea in the nursery and told long tales to nurse; and I said I "was sure it wasn't for want of speaking to" nurse that my hair did not wave like Maud Mary's, but that when I asked her to crimp it, she only said, "Handsome is that handsome does, and that ought to be enough for you, Miss Selina, without my slaving to damp-plait your hair every night."

I repeated nurse's speech pretty volubly, and with her sharp accent and accompanying toss. My godmother heard me out, and then she said—

"Nurse quoted a very good proverb, which is even truer than it is allowed to be. Those who do well grow to look well. My little goddaughter, that soft child's face of yours can be pinched and pulled into a nice shape or an ugly shape, very much as you pull and pinch that gutta-percha head I gave you, and, one way or another, it is being shaped all along."

"But people can't give themselves beautiful figures, and eyes, and mouths, and hands, as you said papa had, unless they are born so," I objected.

"Your father's figure, my dear," said Lady Elizabeth, "was beautiful with the grace and power which comes of training. He was a military man, and you have only to look at a dozen common men in a marching regiment and compare them with a dozen of the same class of men who go on plodding to work and loafing at play in their native villages, to see what people can do for their own figures. His eyes, Selina, were bright with intelligence and trained powers of observation; and they were beautiful with kindliness, and with the well-bred habit of giving complete attention to other people and their affairs when he talked with them. He had a rare smile, which you may not inherit, but the real beauty of such mouths as his comes from the lips being restrained into firm and sensitive lines, through years of self-control and fine sympathies."

I do not quite understand. "Do you mean that I can practise my mouth into a nice shape?" I asked.

"Certainly not, my dear, any more than you can pinch your nose into shape with your finger and thumb; but your lips, and all the lines of your face, will take shape of themselves, according to your temper and habits.

"There are two things," my godmother continued, after turning round to look at me for a minute, "there are two things, Selina, against your growing up good-looking. One is that you have caught so many little vulgarisms from the servants; and the other is your little bad habit of grumbling, which, for that matter, is a very ill-bred habit as well, and would spoil the prettiest eyes, nose, mouth, and chin that ever were inherited. Under-bred and ill-educated women are, as a general rule, much less good-looking than well-bred and highly-educated ones, especially in middle life; not because good features and pretty complexions belong to one class more than to another, but because nicer personal habits and stricter discipline of the mind do. A girl who was never taught to brush her teeth, to breathe through the nostrils instead of the lips, and to chew with the back teeth instead of the front, has a very poor chance of growing up with a pretty mouth, as anyone may see who has observed a middle-aged woman of that class munching a meat pie at a railway-station. And if, into the bargain, she has nothing to talk about but her own and her neighbour's everyday affairs, and nothing to think about to keep her from continually talking, life, my dear child, is so full of little rubs, that constant chatter of this kind must almost certainly be constant grumbling. And constant grumbling, Selina, makes an ugly under-lip, a forehead wrinkled with frowning, and dull eyes that see nothing but grievances. There is a book in the library with some pictures of faces that I must show you. Do you draw at all, my dear?"

"Mamma gave me a drawing-slate on my birthday," I replied, "but Joseph bothered me to lend it to him, and now he's broken the glass. It is so tiresome! But it's always the way if you lend things."

"What makes you think that it is always the way if you lend things?" my godmother gently inquired.

"It seems as if it was, I'm sure," was my answer. "It was just the same with the fish-kettle when cook lent it to the Browns. They kept it a fortnight, and let it rust, and the first time cook put a drop of water into it it leaked; and she said it always was the way; you might lend everything you had, and people had no conscience, but if it came to borrowing a pepperpot—"

My godmother put up both her long hands with an impatient gesture.

"That will do, my dear. I don't care to hear all that your mother's cook said about the fish-kettle."

I felt uncomfortable, and was glad that Lady Elizabeth went on talking.

"Have you and Joseph any collections? When I was your age, I remember I made a nice collection of wafers. They were quite as pretty as modern monograms."

"Joseph collected feathers out of the pillows once," I said, laughing. "He got a great many different sorts, but nurse burned them, and he cried."

"I'm sorry nurse burned them. I daresay they made him very happy. I advise you to begin a collection, Selina. It is a capital cure for discontent. Anything will do. A collection of buttons, for instance. There are a great many kinds; and if ever some travelled friend crowns your collection with a mandarin's button, for one day at least you won't feel a grievance worth speaking of."

I was feeling very much aggrieved as Lady Elizabeth spoke, and thinking to myself that "it seemed so hard to be scolded out visiting, and when one had not got into any scrape." But I only said that "nobody at home ever said that I grumbled so much;" and that I "didn't know that our servants complained more than other people's."

"I do not suppose they do," said my godmother. "I have told you already that I consider it a foible of ill-educated people, whose interests are very limited, and whose feelings are not disciplined. You know James, the butler, Selina, do you not?"

"Oh, yes, godmamma!"

I knew James well. He was very kind to me, and always liberal when, by Lady Elizabeth's orders, he helped me to almonds and raisins at dessert.

"My mother died young," said Lady Elizabeth, "and at sixteen I was head of my father's household. I had been well trained, and I tried to do my duty. Amid all the details of providing for and entertaining many people, my duty was to think of everything, and never to seem as if I had anything on my mind. I should have been fairly trained for a kitchen-maid, Selina, if I had done what I was told when it was bawled at me, and had talked and seemed more overwhelmed with work than the Prime Minister. Well, most of our servants had known me from babyhood, and it was not a light matter to have the needful authority over them without hurting the feelings of such old and faithful friends. But, on the whole, they respected my efforts, and were proud of my self-possession. I had more trouble with the younger ones, who were too young to help me, and whom I was too young to overawe. I was busy one morning writing necessary letters, when James—who was then seventeen, and the under-footman—came to the drawing room and wished to speak to me. When he had wasted a good deal of my time in describing his unwillingness to disturb me, and the years his father had lived in my father's service, I said, 'James, I have important letters to write, and very little time to spare. If you have any complaint to make, will you kindly put it as shortly as you can?' 'I'm sure, my lady, I have no wish to complain,' was James's reply; and thereon his complaints poured forth in a continuous stream. I took out my watch (unseen by James, for I never insult people), and gave him five minutes for his grievances. He got on pretty fast with them. He had mentioned the stone floor of his bed-room, a draught in the pantry, the overbearingness of the butler, the potatoes for the servants' hall being under-boiled when the cook was out of temper, the inferior quality of the new plate-powder, the insinuations against his father's honesty by servants who were upstarts by comparison, his hat having been spoilt by the rain, and that he never was so miserable in his life—when the five minutes expired, and I said 'Then, James, you want to go?' He coloured, and I really think tears stood in his eyes. He was a good-hearted lad.

"When he began to say that he could never regard any other place as he looked on this, and that he felt towards his lordship and me as he could feel towards no other master and mistress, I gave him another five minutes for what he was pleased with. To do him justice, the list was quite as long as that of his grievances. No people were like us, and he had never been so happy in his life. So I said, 'Then, James, you want to stay?'

"James began a fresh statement, in which his grievances and his satisfactions came alternately, and I cut this short by saying, 'Well, James, the difficulty seems to be that you have not made up your mind what you do want. I have no time to balance matters for you, so you had better go downstairs and think it well over, and let me know what you decide.'

"He went accordingly, and when he was driven to think for himself by being stopped from talking to me, I suppose he was wise enough to perceive that it is easier to find crosses in one's lot than to feel quite sure that one could change it for a better. I have no doubt that he had not got all he might lawfully have wished for, but, different as our positions were, no more had I, and we both had to do our duty and make the best of life as we found it. It's a very good thing, dear child, to get into the habit of saying to oneself, 'One can't have everything.' I suppose James learned to say it, for he has lived with me ever since."

At this moment Joseph called to me through the open window which led into the garden—

"Oh, Selina! I am so sorry; but when I got to the shop I couldn't remember whether it was a quarter of a yard of ribbon or three-quarters that you wanted for the doll's hat."

Joseph was always doing stupid things like this. It vexed me very much, and I jumped up and hastily seized my doll to go out and speak to him, saying, as I did so, that "boys were enough to drive one wild, and one might as well ask the poodle to do anything as Joseph." And it was not till I had flounced out of the drawing-room that I felt rather hot and uncomfortable to remember that I had tossed my head, and knitted my brows, and jerked my chin, and pouted my lips, and shaken my skirts, and kicked up my heels, as I did so, and that my godmother had probably been observing me through her gold eye-glasses.


"It is easier to prevent ill habits than to break them."—OLD PROVERB.

I must say that Joseph was rather a stupid boy. He was only a year younger than me, but I never could make him understand exactly what I wanted him to do when we played together; and he was always saying, "Oh, I say, look here, Selina!" and proposing some silly plan of his own. But he was very good-natured, and when we were alone I let him be uncle to the dolls. When we spent the day with Maud Mary, however, we never let him play with the baby-house; but we allowed him to be the postman and the baker, and people of that sort, who knock and ring, and we sent him messages.

During the first week of our visit to Lady Elizabeth, the weather was so fine that Joseph and I played all day long in the garden. Then it became rainy, and we quarrelled over the old swing and the imperfect backgammon board in the lumber-room, where we were allowed to amuse ourselves. But one morning when we went to our play-room, after drilling with Sergeant Walker, Joseph found a model fortress and wooden soldiers and cannon in one corner of the room; and I found a Dutch market, with all kinds of wooden booths, and little tables to have tea at in another. They were presents from my godmother; and they were far the best kind of toys we had ever had, you could do so many things with them.

Joseph was so happy with his soldiers that he never came near the Dutch fair; and at other times he was always bothering to be allowed to play with the dolls. At first I was very glad, for I was afraid he would be coming and saying, "Oh, I say, Selina," and suggesting things; and I wanted to arrange the shops my own way. But when they were done, and I was taking the dolls from one booth to another to shop, I did think it seemed very odd that Joseph should not even want to walk through the fair. And when I gave him leave to be a shopkeeper, and to stand in front of each booth in turn, he did not seem at all anxious to come; and he would bring a cannon with him, and hide it behind his back when I came to buy vegetables for the dolls' dinners.

We quarrelled about the cannon. I said no one ever heard of a greengrocer with a cannon in his shop; and Joseph said it couldn't matter if the greengrocer stood in front of the cannon so as to hide it. So I said I wouldn't have a cannon in my fair at all; and Joseph said he didn't want to come to my fair, for he liked his fortress much better, and he rattled out, dragging his cannon behind him, and knocked down Adelaide Augusta, the gutta-percha doll, who was leaning against the fishmonger's slab, with her chin on the salmon.

It was very hard, and I said so; and then Joseph said there were plenty of times when I wouldn't let him play with the dolls; and I said that was just it—when I didn't want him to he wanted, and when I wanted him to he wouldn't, and that he was very selfish.

So at last he put away his cannon, and came and played at shops; but he was very stupid, and would look over his shoulder at the fortress when he ought to have been pretending to sell; and once, when I had left the fair, he got his cannon back and shot peas out of it, so that all the fowls fell off the real hooks in the poulterer's shop, and said he was bombarding the city.

I was very angry, and said, "I shall go straight down, and complain to godmamma," and I went.

The worst of it was that only that very morning Lady Elizabeth had said to me, "Remember one thing, my dear. I will listen to no complaints whatever. No grumbles either from you or from Joseph. If you want anything that you have not got, and will ask for it, I will do my best for you, as my little guests; and if it is right and reasonable, and fair to both, you shall have what you want. But you must know your own mind when you ask, and make the best of what I can do for you. I will hear no general complaints whatever."

Remembering this, I felt a little nervous when I was fairly in the drawing-room, and Lady Elizabeth had laid down her glasses to hear what I had to say.

"Do you want anything, my dear?" said she.

I began to complain—that Joseph was so stupid; that it seemed so provoking; that I did think it was very unkind of him, etc.; but Lady Elizabeth put up her hand.

"My dear Selina, you have forgotten what I told you. If there is anything that an old woman like me can do to make your father's child happy, do not be afraid to ask for it, but I will not have grumbling in the drawing-room. By all means make up your mind as to what you want, and don't be afraid to ask your old godmother. But if she thinks it right to refuse, or you do not think it right to ask, you must make the best of matters as they stand, and keep your good humour and your good manners like a lady."

I felt puzzled. When I complained to nurse that Joseph "was so tiresome," she grumbled back again that "she never knew such children," and so forth. It is always easy to meet grievance with grievance, but I found that it was not so easy to make up my mind and pluck up my courage to ask in so many words for what I wanted.

"Shall I ask Joseph to put away his cannon and come and play at your game for an hour now, my dear? I will certainly forbid him to fire into your shop."

This did not quite satisfy me. As a matter of fact, Joseph had left his fortress to play with me; and I did not really think he would discharge his cannon at the poulterer's again. But I thought myself hardly used, and I wanted my godmother to think so too, and to scold Joseph. What else I wanted, I did not feel quite sure.

"I wish you would speak to Joseph," I said. "He would attend to you if you told him how selfish and stupid he is."

"My dear, I never offered to complain to Joseph, but I will order him not to molest you, and I will ask him to play with you."

"I'm sure I don't want him to play with me, unless he can play nicely, and invent things for the dolls to say, as Maud Mary would," was my reply; for I was getting thoroughly vexed.

"Then I will tell him that unless he can play your game as you wish it, he had better amuse himself with his own toys. Is there anything else that you want, my dear?"

I could not speak, for I was crying, but I sobbed out that "I missed Maud Mary so."

"Who is Maud Mary, Selina?"

"Maud Mary Ibbetson, my particular friend—my very particular friend," I explained.

I spoke warmly, for at that moment the memory of Maud Mary seemed adorable, and I longed to pour my complaints into her sympathetic ear. Besides, I had another reason for regretting that she was not with me. When we were together, it was she, as a rule, who had new and handsome toys to exhibit, whilst I played the humbler part of admirer. But if she had been with me, then, what would not have been my triumph in displaying the Dutch fair! The longer I thought of her the faster my tears fell, but they did not help me to think of anything definite to ask for; and when Lady Elizabeth said, "would you like to go home, my dear? or do you want me to ask your friend to stay with you?" I had the grace to feel ashamed of my peevishness, and to thank my godmother for her kindness, and to protest against wanting anything more. I only added, amid my subsiding sobs, that "it did seem such a thing," when I had got a Dutch fair to play at dolls in, that Joseph should be so stupid, and that dear Maud Mary, who would have enjoyed it so much, should not be able to see it.


"Nous aurons aussi la fete dans notre rue."—RUSSIAN PROVERB.

Next day, when our drill in the long corridor was over, Lady Elizabeth told Joseph to bring his fortress, guns, and soldiers into the library, and to play at the Thirty Years' War in the bay-window from a large book with pictures of sieges and battles, which she lent him.

To me my godmother turned very kindly and said, "I have invited your little friend Maud to come and stay here for a week. I hope she will arrive to-day, so you had better prepare your dolls and your shops for company."

Maud Mary coming! I danced for joy, and kissed my godmother, and expressed my delight again and again. I should have liked to talk about it to Joseph, but he had plunged into the Thirty Years' War, and had no attention to give me.

It was a custom in the neighbourhood where my mother lived to call people by double Christian names, John Thomas, William Edward, and so forth; but my godmother never called Maud Mary anything but Maud.

It was possible that my darling friend might arrive by the twelve o'clock train, and the carriage was sent to meet her, whilst I danced up and down the big hall with impatience. When it came back without her my disappointment knew no bounds. I felt sure that the Ibbetsons' coachman had been unpunctual, or dear Maud Mary's nurse had been cross, as usual, and had not tried to get her things packed. I rushed into the library full of my forebodings, but my godmother only said, "No grumbling, my dear!" and Joseph called out, "Oh, I say, Selina, I wish you wouldn't swing the doors so: you've knocked down Wallenstein, and he's fallen on the top of Gustavus Adolphus;" and I had to compose myself as best I could till the five o'clock train.

Then she came. Darling Maud Mary!

Perhaps it was because I crushed her new feather in kissing her (and Maud Mary was very particular about her clothes); perhaps it was because she was tired with travelling, which I forgot; or perhaps it was because she would rather have had tea first, that Maud Mary was not quite so nice about the Dutch fair as I should have liked her to be.

She said she rather wondered that Lady Elizabeth had not given me a big dolls' house like hers instead; that she had come away in such a hurry that she forgot to lock hers up, and she should not be the least surprised if the kitten got into it and broke something, but "it did seem rather odd" to be invited in such a very hurried way; that just when she was going to a big house to pay a grand visit, of course the dressmaker "disappointed" Mrs. Ibbetson, but "that was the way things always did happen;" that the last time Mr. Ibbetson was in Paris he offered to bring her a dolls' railway train, with real first-class carriages really stuffed, but she said she would rather have a locket, and that was the very one which was hanging round her neck, and which was much handsomer than Lucy Jane Smith's, which cost five pounds in London.

Maud Mary's inattention to the fair and the dolls was so obvious that I followed my godmother's advice, and "made the best of it" by saying, "I'm afraid you're very much tired, darling?"

Maud Mary tossed her chin and frowned.

It was "enough to tire anybody," she said, to travel on that particular line. The railway of which her papa was a director was very differently managed.

I think my godmother's courtesy to us, and her thoughtful kindness, had fixed her repeated hints about self-control and good manners rather firmly in my head. I distinctly remember making an effort to forget my toys and think of Maud Mary's comfort.

I said, "Will you come and take off your things, darling?" and she said, "Yes, darling;" and then we had tea.

But next day, when she was quite rested, and had really nothing to complain of, I did think she might have praised the Dutch fair.

She said it "seemed such a funny thing" to have to play in an old garret; but she need not have wanted to alter the arrangement of all the shops, and have everything her own way, as she always had at home, because, if her dolls' house was hers, my Dutch fair was mine. I did think, for a moment, of getting my godmother to speak to her, but I knew it would be of no use to complain unless I had something to ask for. When I came to think of it, I found that what I wanted was that Maud Mary should let me manage my own toys and direct the game, and I resolved to ask her myself.

"Look here, darling," said I, "when I come and play with you, I always play dolls as you like, because the dolls' house is yours; I wish you would play my game to-day, as the Dutch fair is mine."

Maud Mary flounced to her feet, and bridled with her wavy head, and said she was sure she did not want to play if I didn't like her way of playing; and as to my Dutch fair, her papa could buy her one any day for her very own.

I was nettled, for Maud Mary was a little apt to flourish Mr. Ibbetson's money in my face; but if her father was rich, my godmother was a lady of rank, and I said that "my godmother, Lady Elizabeth, said it was very vulgar to flounce and toss one's head if one was put out."

Maud Mary crimsoned, and, exclaiming that she did not care what Lady Elizabeth or Lady Anybody Else said, she whisked over three shops with the ends of her sash, and kicked the wax off Josephine Esmeralda's nose with the heel of her Balmoral boot.

I don't like confessing it, but I did push Maud Mary, and Maud Mary slapped me.

And when we both looked up, my godmother was standing before us, with her gold spectacles on her nose.

* * * * *

Lady Elizabeth was very kind, and even then I knew that she was very right.

When she said, "I have asked your friend for a week, and for that week, my dear, she is your guest, and you must try to please, and make the best of it," I not only did not dispute it; I felt a spirit of self-suppression and hospitable pride awake within me to do as she had said.

I think the hardest part of it was that, whatever I did and whatever I gave up, Maud Mary recognized no effort on my part. What she got she took as her due, and what she did not get she grumbled about.

I sometimes think that it was partly because, in all that long week, she never ceased grumbling, that I did; I hope for life.

Only once I said, "O godmamma! how glad I shall be when I am alone with Joseph again!" And with sudden remorse, I added, "But I beg your pardon, that's grumbling; and you have been so kind!"

Lady Elizabeth took off her eye-glasses, and held out her hands for mine.

"Is it grumbling, little woman?" she said. "Well, I'm not sure."

"I'm not sure," I said, smiling; "for you know I only said I should be so glad to be alone with Joseph, and to try to be good to him; for he is a very kind boy, and if he is a little awkward with the dolls, I mean to make the best of it. One can't have everything," I added, laughing.

Lady Elizabeth drew my head towards her, and stroked and kissed it.

"GOD bless you, child," she said. "You have inherited your father's smile."

* * * * *

"But, I say, Selina," whispered Joseph, when I went to look at his fortress in the bay-window. "Do you suppose it's because he's dead that she cried behind her spectacles when she said you had got his smile?"



"If solid happiness we prize, Within our breast this jewel lies.

* * * * *

From our own selves our joys must flow, And peace begins at home."


The family—our family, not the Happy Family—consisted of me and my brothers and sisters. I have a father and mother, of course.

I am the eldest, as I remind my brothers; and of the more worthy gender, which my sisters sometimes forget. Though we live in the village, my father is a gentleman, as I shall be when I am grown up. I have told the village boys so more than once. One feels mean in boasting that one is better born than they are; but if I did not tell them, I am not sure that they would always know.

Our house is old, and we have a ghost—the ghost of my great-great-great-great-great-aunt.

She "crossed her father's will," nurse says, and he threatened to flog her with his dog-whip, and she ran away, and was never heard of more. He would not let the pond be dragged, but he never went near it again; and the villagers do not like to go near it now. They say you may meet her there, after sunset, flying along the path among the trees, with her hair half down, and a knot of ribbon fluttering from it, and parted lips, and terror in her eyes.

The men of our family (my father's family, my mother is Irish) have always had strong wills. I have a strong will myself.

People say I am like the picture of my great-grandfather (the great-great-great-nephew of the ghost). He must have been a wonderful old gentleman by all accounts. Sometimes nurse says to us, "Have your own way, and you'll live the longer," and it always makes me think of great-grandfather, who had so much of his own way, and lived to be nearly a hundred.

I remember my father telling us how his sisters had to visit their old granny for months at a time, and how he shut the shutters at three o'clock on summer afternoons, and made them play dummy whist by candle light.

"Didn't you and your brothers go?" asked Uncle Patrick, across the dinner-table. My father laughed.

"Not we! My mother got us there once—but never again."

"And did your sisters like it?"

"Like it? They used to cry their hearts out. I really believe it killed poor Jane. She was consumptive and chilly, but always craving for fresh air; and granny never would have open windows, for fear of draughts on his bald head; and yet the girls had no fires in their room, because young people shouldn't be pampered."

"And ye never-r offer-r-ed—neither of ye—to go in the stead of them?"

When Uncle Patrick rolls his R's in a discussion, my mother becomes nervous.

"One can't expect boys to consider things," she said. "Boys will be boys, you know."

"And what would you have 'em be?" said my father. Uncle Patrick turned to my mother.

"Too true, Geraldine. Ye don't expect it. Worse luck! I assure ye, I'd be aghast at the brutes we men can be, if I wasn't more amazed that we're as good as we are, when the best and gentlest of your sex—the moulders of our childhood, the desire of our manhood—demand so little for all that you alone can give. There were conceivable uses in women preferring the biggest brutes of barbarous times, but it's not so now; and boys will be civilised boys, and men will be civilised men, sweet sister, when you do expect it, and when your grace and favours are the rewards of nobleness, and not the easy prize of selfishness and savagery."

My father spoke fairly.

"There's some truth in what you say, Pat."

"And small grace in my saying it. Forgive me, John."

That's the way Uncle Patrick flares up and cools down, like a straw bonfire. But my father makes allowances for him; first, because he is an Irishman, and, secondly, because he's a cripple.

* * * * *

I love my mother dearly, and I can do anything I like with her. I always could. When I was a baby, I would not go to sleep unless she walked about with me, so (though walking was bad for her) I got my own way, and had it afterwards.

With one exception. She would never tell me about my godfather. I asked once, and she was so distressed that I was glad to promise never to speak of him again. But I only thought of him the more, though all I knew about him was his portrait—such a fine fellow—and that he had the same swaggering, ridiculous name as mine.

How my father allowed me to be christened Bayard I cannot imagine. But I was rather proud of it at one time—in the days when I wore long curls, and was so accustomed to hearing myself called "a perfect picture," and to having my little sayings quoted by my mother and her friends, that it made me miserable if grown-up people took the liberty of attending to anything but me. I remember wriggling myself off my mother's knee when I wanted change, and how she gave me her watch to keep me quiet, and stroked my curls, and called me her fair-haired knight, and her little Bayard; though, remembering also, how lingeringly I used just not to do her bidding, ate the sugar when she wasn't looking, tried to bawl myself into fits, kicked the nurse-girl's shins, and dared not go upstairs by myself after dark—I must confess that a young chimpanzee would have as good claims as I had to represent that model of self-conquest and true chivalry, "the Knight without fear and without reproach."

However, the vanity of it did not last long. I wonder if that grand-faced godfather of mine suffered as I suffered when he went to school and said his name was Bayard? I owe a day in harvest to the young wag who turned it into Backyard. I gave in my name as Backyard to every subsequent inquirer, and Backyard I modestly remained.


"The lady with the gay macaw."


My sisters are much like other fellows' sisters, excepting Lettice. That child is like no one but herself.

I used to tease the other girls for fun, but I teased Lettice on principle—to knock the nonsense out of her. She was only eight, and very small, but, from the top row of her tight little curls to the rosettes on her best shoes, she seemed to me a mass of affectation.

Strangers always liked Lettice. I believe she was born with a company voice in her mouth; and she would flit like a butterfly from one grown-up person to another, chit-chattering, whilst some of us stood pounding our knuckles in our pockets, and tying our legs into knots, as we wished the drawing-room carpet would open and let us through into the cellar to play at catacombs.

That was how Cocky came. Lettice's airs and graces bewitched the old lady who called in the yellow chariot, and was so like a cockatoo herself—a cockatoo in a citron velvet bonnet, with a bird of Paradise feather. When that old lady put up her eye-glass, she would have frightened a yard-dog; but Lettice stood on tip-toes and stroked the feather, saying, "What a love-e-ly bird!" And next day came Cocky—perch and all complete—for the little girl who loves birds. Lettice was proud of Cocky, but Edward really loved him, and took trouble with him.

Edward is a good boy. My mother called him after the Black Prince.

He and I disgraced ourselves in the eyes of the Cockatoo lady, and it cost the family thirty thousand pounds, which we can ill afford to lose. It was unlucky that she came to luncheon the very day that Edward and I had settled to dress up as Early Britons, in blue woad, and dine off earth-nuts in the shrubbery. As we slipped out at the side door, the yellow chariot drove up to the front. We had doormats on, as well as powder-blue, but the old lady was terribly shocked, and drove straight away, and did not return. Nurse says she is my father's godmother, and has thirty thousand pounds, which she would have bequeathed to us if we had not offended her. I take the blame entirely, because I always made the others play as I pleased.

We used to play at all kinds of things—concerts, circuses, theatricals, and sometimes conjuring. Uncle Patrick had not been to see us for a long time, when one day we heard that he was coming, and I made up my mind at once that I would have a perfectly new entertainment for him.

We like having entertainments for Uncle Patrick, because he is such a very good audience. He laughs, and cries, and claps, and thumps with his crutch, and if things go badly, he amuses the rest.

Ever since I can remember anything, I remember an old print, called "The Happy Family," over our nursery fire-place, and how I used to wonder at that immovable cat, with sparrows on her back, sitting between an owl and a magpie. And it was when I saw Edward sitting with Benjamin the cat, and two sparrows he had brought up by hand, struggling and laughing because Cocky would push itself, crest first, under his waistcoat, and come out at the top to kiss him—that an idea struck me; and I resolved to have a Happy Family for Uncle Patrick, and to act Showman myself.

Edward can do anything with beasts. He was absolutely necessary as confederate, but it was possible Lettice might want to show off with Cocky, and I did not want a girl on the stage, so I said very little to her. But I told Edward to have in the yard-dog, and practise him in being happy with the rest of the family pets. Fred, the farm-boy, promised to look out for an owl. Benjamin, the cat, could have got mice enough; but he would have eaten them before Edward had had time to teach him better, so I set a trap. I knew a village-boy with a magpie, ready tamed.

Bernard, the yard-dog, is a lumbering old fellow, with no tricks. We have tried. We took him out once, into a snow-drift, with a lantern round his neck, but he rescued nothing, and lost the lantern—and then he lost himself, for it was dark.

But he is very handsome and good, and I knew, if I put him in the middle, he would let anything sit upon him. He would not feel it, or mind if he did. He takes no notice of Cocky.

Benjamin never quarrels with Cocky, but he dare not forget that Cocky is there. And Cocky sometimes looks at Benjamin's yellow eyes as if it were thinking how very easily they would come out. But they are quite sufficiently happy together for a Happy Family.

The mice gave more trouble than all the rest, so I settled that Lettice should wind up the mechanical mouse, and run that on as the curtain rose.


"Memor esto majorum."


" . . . .

All my fears are laid aside, If I but remember only Such as these have lived and died!"


Do you wish to avoid vexations? Then never have a Happy Family! Mine were countless.

Fred could not get me an owl. Lettice did want to show off with Cocky. I had my own way, but she looked sulky and spiteful. I got Tom Smith's magpie; but I had to have him, too. However, my costume as Showman was gorgeous, and Edward kept our Happy Family well together. We arranged that Tom should put Mag on at the left wing, and then run round behind, and call Mag softly from the right. Then she would hop across the stage to him, and show off well. Lettice was to let mother know when the spectators might take their places, and to tell the gardener when to raise the curtain.

I really think one magpie must be "a sign of sorrow," as nurse says; but what made Bernard take it into his beautiful foolish head to give trouble I cannot imagine. He wouldn't lie down, and when he did, it was with a grump of protest that seemed to forbode failure. However, he let Cocky scold him and pull his hair, which was a safety-valve for Cocky. Benjamin dozed with dignity. He knew Cocky wasn't watching for his yellow eyes.

I don't think Lettice meant mischief when she summoned the spectators, for time was up. But her warning the curtain to rise when it did was simple malice and revenge.

I never can forget the catastrophe, but I do not clearly remember how Tom Smith and I began to quarrel. He was excessively impudent, and seemed to think we couldn't have had a Happy Family without him and his chattering senseless magpie.

When I told him to remember he was speaking to a gentleman, he grinned at me.

"A gentleman? Nay, my sakes! Ye're not civil enough by half. More like a new policeman, if ye weren't such a Guy Fawkes in that finery."

"Be off," said I, "and take your bird with you."

"What if I won't go?"

"I'll make you!"

"Ye darsen't touch me."

"Daren't I?"

"Ye darsen't."

"I dare."


"Are you going?"


I only pushed him. He struck first. He's bigger than me, but he's a bigger coward, and I'd got him down in the middle of the stage, and had given him something to bawl about, before I became conscious that the curtain was up. I only realised it then, because civil, stupid Fred, arrived at the left wing, panting and gasping—

"Measter Bayard! Here's a young wood-owl for ye."

As he spoke, it escaped him, fluff and feathers flying in the effort, and squawking, plunging, and fluttering, made wildly for the darkest corner of the stage, just as Lettice ran on the mechanical mouse in front.

Bernard rose, and shook off everything, and Cocky went into screaming hysterics; above which I now heard the thud of Uncle Patrick's crutch, and the peals upon peals of laughter with which our audience greeted my long-planned spectacle of a Happy Family!

* * * * *

Our Irish uncle is not always nice. He teases and mocks, and has an uncertain temper. But one goes to him in trouble. I went next morning to pour out my woes, and defend myself, and complain of the others.

I spoke seriously about Lettice. It is not pleasant for a fellow to have a sister who grows up peculiar, as I believe Lettice will. Only the Sunday before, I told her she would be just the sort of woman men hate, and she said she didn't care; and I said she ought to, for women were made for men, and the Bible says so; and she said grandmamma said that every soul was made for GOD and its own final good. She was in a high-falutin mood, and said she wished she had been christened Joan instead of Lettice, and that I would be a true Bayard; and that we could ride about the world together, dressed in armour, and fighting for the right. And she would say all through the list of her favourite heroines, and asked me if I minded their being peculiar, and I said of course not, why should you mind what women do who don't belong to you? So she said she could not see that; and I said that was because girls can't see reason; and so we quarrelled, and I gave her a regular lecture, which I repeated to Uncle Patrick.

He listened quite quietly till my mother came in, and got fidgetty, and told me not to argue with my uncle. Then he said—

"Ah! let the boy talk, Geraldine, and let me hear what he has to say for himself. There's a sublime audacity about his notions, I tell ye. Upon me conscience, I believe he thinks his grandmother was created for his particular convenience."

That's how he mocks, and I suppose he meant my Irish grandmother. He thinks there's nobody like her in the wide world, and my father says she is the handsomest and wittiest old lady in the British Isles. But I did not mind. I said,

"Well, Uncle Patrick, you're a man, and I believe you agree with me, though you mock me."

"Agree with ye?" He started up, and pegged about the room. "Faith! if the life we live is like the globe we inhabit—if it revolves on its own axis, and you're that axis—there's not a flaw in your philosophy; but IF—Now perish my impetuosity! I've frightened your dear mother away. May I ask, by the bye, if she has the good fortune to please ye, since the Maker of all souls made her, for all eternity, with the particular object of mothering you in this brief patch of time?"

He had stopped under the portrait—my godfather's portrait. All his Irish rhodomontade went straight out of my head, and I ran to him.

"Uncle, you know I adore her! But there's one thing she won't do, and, oh, I wish you would! It's years since she told me never to ask, and I've been on honour, and I've never even asked nurse; but I don't think it's wrong to ask you. Who is that man behind you, who looks such a wonderfully fine fellow? My Godfather Bayard."

I had experienced a shock the night before, but nothing to the shock of seeing Uncle Patrick's face then, and hearing him sob out his words, instead of their flowing like a stream.

"Is it possible? Ye don't know? She can't speak of him yet? Poor Geraldine!"

He controlled himself, and turned to the picture, leaning on his crutch. I stood by him and gazed too, and I do not think, to save my life, I could have helped asking—

"Who is he?"

"Your uncle. Our only brother. Oh, Bayard, Bayard!"

"Is he dead?"

He nodded, speechless; but somehow I could not forbear.

"What did he die of?"

"Of unselfishness. He died—for others."

"Then he was a hero? That's what he looks like. I am glad he is my godfather. Dear Uncle Pat, do tell me all about it."

"Not now—hereafter. Nephew, any man—with the heart of man and not of a mouse—is more likely than not to behave well at a pinch; but no man who is habitually selfish can be sure that he will, when the choice comes sharp between his own life and the lives of others. The impulse of a supreme moment only focusses the habits and customs of a man's soul. The supreme moment may never come, but habits and customs mould us from the cradle to the grave. His were early disciplined by our dear mother, and he bettered her teaching. Strong for the weak, wise for the foolish—tender for the hard—gracious for the surly—good for the evil. Oh, my brother, without fear and without reproach! Speak across the grave, and tell your sister's son that vice and cowardice become alike impossible to a man who has never—cradled in selfishness, and made callous by custom—learned to pamper himself at the expense of others!"

I waited a little before I asked—

"Were you with him when he died?"

"I was."

"Poor Uncle Patrick! What did you do?"

He pegged away to the sofa, and threw himself on it.

"Played the fool. Broke an arm and a thigh, and damaged my spine, and—lived. Here rest the mortal remains."

And for the next ten minutes, he mocked himself, as he only can.

* * * * *

One does not like to be outdone by an uncle, even by such an uncle; but it is not very easy to learn to live like Godfather Bayard.

Sometimes I wish my grandmother had not brought up her sons to such a very high pitch, and sometimes I wish my mother had let that unlucky name become extinct in the family, or that I might adopt my nickname. One could live up to Backyard easily enough. It seems to suit being grumpy and tyrannical, and seeing no further than one's own nose, so well.

But I do try to learn unselfishness; though I sometimes think it would be quite as easy for the owl to learn to respect the independence of a mouse, or a cat to be forbearing with a sparrow!

I certainly get on better with the others than I used to do; and I have some hopes that even my father's godmother is not finally estranged through my fault.

Uncle Patrick went to call on her whilst he was with us. She is very fond of "that amusing Irishman with the crutch," as she calls him; and my father says he'll swear Uncle Patrick entertained her mightily with my unlucky entertainment, and that she was as pleased as Punch that her cockatoo was in the thick of it.

I am afraid it is too true; and the idea made me so hot, that if I had known she was really coming to call on us again, I should certainly have kept out of the way. But when Uncle Patrick said, "If the yellow chariot rolls this way again, Bayard, ye need not be pursuing these archaeological revivals of yours in a too early English costume," I thought it was only his chaff. But she did come.

I was pegging out the new gardens for the little ones. We were all there, and when she turned her eye over us (just like a cockatoo), and said, in a company voice—

"What a happy little family!"

I could hardly keep my countenance, and I heard Edward choking in Benjamin's fur, where he had hidden his face.

But Lettice never moved a muscle. She clasped her hands, and put her head on one side, and said—in her company voice—"But you know brother Bayard is so good to us now, and that is why we are such A HAPPY FAMILY."

* * * * *

The present Series of Mrs. Ewing's Works is the only authorized, complete, and uniform Edition published.

It will consist of 18 volumes, Small Crown 8vo, at 2s. 6d. per vol., issued, as far as possible, in chronological order, and these will appear at the rate of two volumes every two months, so that the Series will be completed within 18 months. The device of the cover was specially designed by a Friend of Mrs. Ewing.

The following is a list of the books included in the Series—

















17. MISCELLANEA, including The Mystery of the Bloody Hand—Wonder Stories—Tales of the Khoja, and other translations.

18. JULIANA HORATIA EWING AND HER BOOKS, with a selection from Mrs. Ewing's Letters.

* * * * *



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