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 +<html>
 +    <p>
 +      <br /><br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h1>
 +      THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
 +    </h1>
 +    <p>
 +      <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      By E. Nesbit
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      <br /><br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h4>
 +      To my dear son Paul Bland,<br /> behind whose knowledge of railways<br /> my
 +      ignorance confidently shelters.
 +    </h4>
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <hr />
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      Contents
 +    </h2>
 +    <table summary="" style="margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto">
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0001"> Chapter I. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The beginning of things.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0002"> Chapter II. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          Peter's coal-mine.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0003"> Chapter III. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The old gentleman.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0004"> Chapter IV. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The engine-burglar.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0005"> Chapter V. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          Prisoners and captives.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0006"> Chapter VI. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          Saviours of the train.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0007"> Chapter VII. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          For valour.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0008"> Chapter VIII. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The amateur firemen.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0009"> Chapter IX. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The pride of Perks.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0010"> Chapter X. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The terrible secret.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0011"> Chapter XI. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The hound in the red jersey.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0012"> Chapter XII. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          What Bobbie brought home.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0013"> Chapter XIII. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The hound's grandfather.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <a href="#link2HCH0014"> Chapter XIV. </a>
 +        </td>
 +        <td>
 +          The End.
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +    </table>
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <hr />
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br /> <a name="link2HCH0001" id="link2HCH0001">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter I. The beginning of things.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      They were not railway children to begin with. I don't suppose they had
 +      ever thought about railways except as a means of getting to Maskelyne and
 +      Cook's, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, and Madame Tussaud's. They were
 +      just ordinary suburban children, and they lived with their Father and
 +      Mother in an ordinary red-brick-fronted villa, with coloured glass in the
 +      front door, a tiled passage that was called a hall, a bath-room with hot
 +      and cold water, electric bells, French windows, and a good deal of white
 +      paint, and 'every modern convenience', as the house-agents say.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were three of them. Roberta was the eldest. Of course, Mothers never
 +      have favourites, but if their Mother HAD had a favourite, it might have
 +      been Roberta. Next came Peter, who wished to be an Engineer when he grew
 +      up; and the youngest was Phyllis, who meant extremely well.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother did not spend all her time in paying dull calls to dull ladies, and
 +      sitting dully at home waiting for dull ladies to pay calls to her. She was
 +      almost always there, ready to play with the children, and read to them,
 +      and help them to do their home-lessons. Besides this she used to write
 +      stories for them while they were at school, and read them aloud after tea,
 +      and she always made up funny pieces of poetry for their birthdays and for
 +      other great occasions, such as the christening of the new kittens, or the
 +      refurnishing of the doll's house, or the time when they were getting over
 +      the mumps.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      These three lucky children always had everything they needed: pretty
 +      clothes, good fires, a lovely nursery with heaps of toys, and a Mother
 +      Goose wall-paper. They had a kind and merry nursemaid, and a dog who was
 +      called James, and who was their very own. They also had a Father who was
 +      just perfect&mdash;never cross, never unjust, and always ready for a game&mdash;at
 +      least, if at any time he was NOT ready, he always had an excellent reason
 +      for it, and explained the reason to the children so interestingly and
 +      funnily that they felt sure he couldn't help himself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You will think that they ought to have been very happy. And so they were,
 +      but they did not know HOW happy till the pretty life in the Red Villa was
 +      over and done with, and they had to live a very different life indeed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The dreadful change came quite suddenly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter had a birthday&mdash;his tenth. Among his other presents was a model
 +      engine more perfect than you could ever have dreamed of. The other
 +      presents were full of charm, but the Engine was fuller of charm than any
 +      of the others were.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Its charm lasted in its full perfection for exactly three days. Then,
 +      owing either to Peter's inexperience or Phyllis's good intentions, which
 +      had been rather pressing, or to some other cause, the Engine suddenly went
 +      off with a bang. James was so frightened that he went out and did not come
 +      back all day. All the Noah's Ark people who were in the tender were broken
 +      to bits, but nothing else was hurt except the poor little engine and the
 +      feelings of Peter. The others said he cried over it&mdash;but of course
 +      boys of ten do not cry, however terrible the tragedies may be which darken
 +      their lot. He said that his eyes were red because he had a cold. This
 +      turned out to be true, though Peter did not know it was when he said it,
 +      the next day he had to go to bed and stay there. Mother began to be afraid
 +      that he might be sickening for measles, when suddenly he sat up in bed and
 +      said:
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I hate gruel&mdash;I hate barley water&mdash;I hate bread and milk. I
 +      want to get up and have something REAL to eat.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What would you like?&rdquo; Mother asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;A pigeon-pie,&rdquo; said Peter, eagerly, &ldquo;a large pigeon-pie. A very large
 +      one.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So Mother asked the Cook to make a large pigeon-pie. The pie was made. And
 +      when the pie was made, it was cooked. And when it was cooked, Peter ate
 +      some of it. After that his cold was better. Mother made a piece of poetry
 +      to amuse him while the pie was being made. It began by saying what an
 +      unfortunate but worthy boy Peter was, then it went on:
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +      He had an engine that he loved
 +        With all his heart and soul,
 +      And if he had a wish on earth
 +        It was to keep it whole.
  
 +      One day&mdash;my friends, prepare your minds;
 +        I'm coming to the worst&mdash;
 +      Quite suddenly a screw went mad,
 +        And then the boiler burst!
 +
 +      With gloomy face he picked it up
 +        And took it to his Mother,
 +      Though even he could not suppose
 +        That she could make another;
 +
 +      For those who perished on the line
 +        He did not seem to care,
 +      His engine being more to him
 +        Than all the people there.
 +
 +      And now you see the reason why
 +        Our Peter has been ill:
 +      He soothes his soul with pigeon-pie
 +        His gnawing grief to kill.
 +
 +      He wraps himself in blankets warm
 +        And sleeps in bed till late,
 +      Determined thus to overcome
 +        His miserable fate.
 +
 +      And if his eyes are rather red,
 +        His cold must just excuse it:
 +      Offer him pie; you may be sure
 +        He never will refuse it.
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Father had been away in the country for three or four days. All Peter's
 +      hopes for the curing of his afflicted Engine were now fixed on his Father,
 +      for Father was most wonderfully clever with his fingers. He could mend all
 +      sorts of things. He had often acted as veterinary surgeon to the wooden
 +      rocking-horse; once he had saved its life when all human aid was despaired
 +      of, and the poor creature was given up for lost, and even the carpenter
 +      said he didn't see his way to do anything. And it was Father who mended
 +      the doll's cradle when no one else could; and with a little glue and some
 +      bits of wood and a pen-knife made all the Noah's Ark beasts as strong on
 +      their pins as ever they were, if not stronger.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter, with heroic unselfishness, did not say anything about his Engine
 +      till after Father had had his dinner and his after-dinner cigar. The
 +      unselfishness was Mother's idea&mdash;but it was Peter who carried it out.
 +      And needed a good deal of patience, too.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At last Mother said to Father, &ldquo;Now, dear, if you're quite rested, and
 +      quite comfy, we want to tell you about the great railway accident, and ask
 +      your advice.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right,&rdquo; said Father, &ldquo;fire away!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So then Peter told the sad tale, and fetched what was left of the Engine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hum,&rdquo; said Father, when he had looked the Engine over very carefully.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children held their breaths.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Is there NO hope?&rdquo; said Peter, in a low, unsteady voice.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hope? Rather! Tons of it,&rdquo; said Father, cheerfully; &ldquo;but it'll want
 +      something besides hope&mdash;a bit of brazing say, or some solder, and a
 +      new valve. I think we'd better keep it for a rainy day. In other words,
 +      I'll give up Saturday afternoon to it, and you shall all help me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;CAN girls help to mend engines?&rdquo; Peter asked doubtfully.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course they can. Girls are just as clever as boys, and don't you
 +      forget it! How would you like to be an engine-driver, Phil?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My face would be always dirty, wouldn't it?&rdquo; said Phyllis, in
 +      unenthusiastic tones, &ldquo;and I expect I should break something.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I should just love it,&rdquo; said Roberta&mdash;&ldquo;do you think I could when I'm
 +      grown up, Daddy? Or even a stoker?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You mean a fireman,&rdquo; said Daddy, pulling and twisting at the engine.
 +      &ldquo;Well, if you still wish it, when you're grown up, we'll see about making
 +      you a fire-woman. I remember when I was a boy&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Just then there was a knock at the front door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who on earth!&rdquo; said Father. &ldquo;An Englishman's house is his castle, of
 +      course, but I do wish they built semi-detached villas with moats and
 +      drawbridges.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ruth&mdash;she was the parlour-maid and had red hair&mdash;came in and
 +      said that two gentlemen wanted to see the master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've shown them into the Library, Sir,&rdquo; said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I expect it's the subscription to the Vicar's testimonial,&rdquo; said Mother,
 +      &ldquo;or else it's the choir holiday fund. Get rid of them quickly, dear. It
 +      does break up an evening so, and it's nearly the children's bedtime.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Father did not seem to be able to get rid of the gentlemen at all
 +      quickly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wish we HAD got a moat and drawbridge,&rdquo; said Roberta; &ldquo;then, when we
 +      didn't want people, we could just pull up the drawbridge and no one else
 +      could get in. I expect Father will have forgotten about when he was a boy
 +      if they stay much longer.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother tried to make the time pass by telling them a new fairy story about
 +      a Princess with green eyes, but it was difficult because they could hear
 +      the voices of Father and the gentlemen in the Library, and Father's voice
 +      sounded louder and different to the voice he generally used to people who
 +      came about testimonials and holiday funds.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then the Library bell rang, and everyone heaved a breath of relief.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They're going now,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;he's rung to have them shown out.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But instead of showing anybody out, Ruth showed herself in, and she looked
 +      queer, the children thought.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Please'm,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;the Master wants you to just step into the study.
 +      He looks like the dead, mum; I think he's had bad news. You'd best prepare
 +      yourself for the worst, 'm&mdash;p'raps it's a death in the family or a
 +      bank busted or&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That'll do, Ruth,&rdquo; said Mother gently; &ldquo;you can go.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then Mother went into the Library. There was more talking. Then the bell
 +      rang again, and Ruth fetched a cab. The children heard boots go out and
 +      down the steps. The cab drove away, and the front door shut. Then Mother
 +      came in. Her dear face was as white as her lace collar, and her eyes
 +      looked very big and shining. Her mouth looked like just a line of pale red&mdash;her
 +      lips were thin and not their proper shape at all.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's bedtime,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Ruth will put you to bed.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But you promised we should sit up late tonight because Father's come
 +      home,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Father's been called away&mdash;on business,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;Come,
 +      darlings, go at once.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They kissed her and went. Roberta lingered to give Mother an extra hug and
 +      to whisper:
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It wasn't bad news, Mammy, was it? Is anyone dead&mdash;or&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nobody's dead&mdash;no,&rdquo; said Mother, and she almost seemed to push
 +      Roberta away. &ldquo;I can't tell you anything tonight, my pet. Go, dear, go
 +      NOW.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So Roberta went.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ruth brushed the girls' hair and helped them to undress. (Mother almost
 +      always did this herself.) When she had turned down the gas and left them
 +      she found Peter, still dressed, waiting on the stairs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I say, Ruth, what's up?&rdquo; he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't ask me no questions and I won't tell you no lies,&rdquo; the red-headed
 +      Ruth replied. &ldquo;You'll know soon enough.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Late that night Mother came up and kissed all three children as they lay
 +      asleep. But Roberta was the only one whom the kiss woke, and she lay
 +      mousey-still, and said nothing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If Mother doesn't want us to know she's been crying,&rdquo; she said to herself
 +      as she heard through the dark the catching of her Mother's breath, &ldquo;we
 +      WON'T know it. That's all.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When they came down to breakfast the next morning, Mother had already gone
 +      out.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;To London,&rdquo; Ruth said, and left them to their breakfast.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's something awful the matter,&rdquo; said Peter, breaking his egg. &ldquo;Ruth
 +      told me last night we should know soon enough.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Did you ASK her?&rdquo; said Roberta, with scorn.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, I did!&rdquo; said Peter, angrily. &ldquo;If you could go to bed without caring
 +      whether Mother was worried or not, I couldn't. So there.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't think we ought to ask the servants things Mother doesn't tell
 +      us,&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's right, Miss Goody-goody,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;preach away.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'M not goody,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;but I think Bobbie's right this time.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course. She always is. In her own opinion,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, DON'T!&rdquo; cried Roberta, putting down her egg-spoon; &ldquo;don't let's be
 +      horrid to each other. I'm sure some dire calamity is happening. Don't
 +      let's make it worse!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who began, I should like to know?&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Roberta made an effort, and answered:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I did, I suppose, but&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then,&rdquo; said Peter, triumphantly. But before he went to school he
 +      thumped his sister between the shoulders and told her to cheer up.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children came home to one o'clock dinner, but Mother was not there.
 +      And she was not there at tea-time.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was nearly seven before she came in, looking so ill and tired that the
 +      children felt they could not ask her any questions. She sank into an
 +      arm-chair. Phyllis took the long pins out of her hat, while Roberta took
 +      off her gloves, and Peter unfastened her walking-shoes and fetched her
 +      soft velvety slippers for her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When she had had a cup of tea, and Roberta had put eau-de-Cologne on her
 +      poor head that ached, Mother said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, my darlings, I want to tell you something. Those men last night did
 +      bring very bad news, and Father will be away for some time. I am very
 +      worried about it, and I want you all to help me, and not to make things
 +      harder for me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;As if we would!&rdquo; said Roberta, holding Mother's hand against her face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You can help me very much,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;by being good and happy and not
 +      quarrelling when I'm away&rdquo;&mdash;Roberta and Peter exchanged guilty
 +      glances&mdash;&ldquo;for I shall have to be away a good deal.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We won't quarrel. Indeed we won't,&rdquo; said everybody. And meant it, too.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then,&rdquo; Mother went on, &ldquo;I want you not to ask me any questions about this
 +      trouble; and not to ask anybody else any questions.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter cringed and shuffled his boots on the carpet.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll promise this, too, won't you?&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I did ask Ruth,&rdquo; said Peter, suddenly. &ldquo;I'm very sorry, but I did.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And what did she say?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;She said I should know soon enough.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It isn't necessary for you to know anything about it,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;it's
 +      about business, and you never do understand business, do you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Roberta; &ldquo;is it something to do with Government?&rdquo; For Father
 +      was in a Government Office.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;Now it's bed-time, my darlings. And don't YOU worry.
 +      It'll all come right in the end.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then don't YOU worry either, Mother,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;and we'll all be as
 +      good as gold.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother sighed and kissed them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We'll begin being good the first thing tomorrow morning,&rdquo; said Peter, as
 +      they went upstairs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why not NOW?&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's nothing to be good ABOUT now, silly,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We might begin to try to FEEL good,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;and not call names.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who's calling names?&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;Bobbie knows right enough that when I
 +      say 'silly', it's just the same as if I said Bobbie.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;WELL,&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No, I don't mean what you mean. I mean it's just a&mdash;what is it
 +      Father calls it?&mdash;a germ of endearment! Good night.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The girls folded up their clothes with more than usual neatness&mdash;which
 +      was the only way of being good that they could think of.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I say,&rdquo; said Phyllis, smoothing out her pinafore, &ldquo;you used to say it was
 +      so dull&mdash;nothing happening, like in books. Now something HAS
 +      happened.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I never wanted things to happen to make Mother unhappy,&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +      &ldquo;Everything's perfectly horrid.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Everything continued to be perfectly horrid for some weeks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother was nearly always out. Meals were dull and dirty. The between-maid
 +      was sent away, and Aunt Emma came on a visit. Aunt Emma was much older
 +      than Mother. She was going abroad to be a governess. She was very busy
 +      getting her clothes ready, and they were very ugly, dingy clothes, and she
 +      had them always littering about, and the sewing-machine seemed to whir&mdash;on
 +      and on all day and most of the night. Aunt Emma believed in keeping
 +      children in their proper places. And they more than returned the
 +      compliment. Their idea of Aunt Emma's proper place was anywhere where they
 +      were not. So they saw very little of her. They preferred the company of
 +      the servants, who were more amusing. Cook, if in a good temper, could sing
 +      comic songs, and the housemaid, if she happened not to be offended with
 +      you, could imitate a hen that has laid an egg, a bottle of champagne being
 +      opened, and could mew like two cats fighting. The servants never told the
 +      children what the bad news was that the gentlemen had brought to Father.
 +      But they kept hinting that they could tell a great deal if they chose&mdash;and
 +      this was not comfortable.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One day when Peter had made a booby trap over the bath-room door, and it
 +      had acted beautifully as Ruth passed through, that red-haired parlour-maid
 +      caught him and boxed his ears.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll come to a bad end,&rdquo; she said furiously, &ldquo;you nasty little limb,
 +      you! If you don't mend your ways, you'll go where your precious Father's
 +      gone, so I tell you straight!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Roberta repeated this to her Mother, and next day Ruth was sent away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then came the time when Mother came home and went to bed and stayed there
 +      two days and the Doctor came, and the children crept wretchedly about the
 +      house and wondered if the world was coming to an end.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother came down one morning to breakfast, very pale and with lines on her
 +      face that used not to be there. And she smiled, as well as she could, and
 +      said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, my pets, everything is settled. We're going to leave this house, and
 +      go and live in the country. Such a ducky dear little white house. I know
 +      you'll love it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A whirling week of packing followed&mdash;not just packing clothes, like
 +      when you go to the seaside, but packing chairs and tables, covering their
 +      tops with sacking and their legs with straw.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      All sorts of things were packed that you don't pack when you go to the
 +      seaside. Crockery, blankets, candlesticks, carpets, bedsteads, saucepans,
 +      and even fenders and fire-irons.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The house was like a furniture warehouse. I think the children enjoyed it
 +      very much. Mother was very busy, but not too busy now to talk to them, and
 +      read to them, and even to make a bit of poetry for Phyllis to cheer her up
 +      when she fell down with a screwdriver and ran it into her hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Aren't you going to pack this, Mother?&rdquo; Roberta asked, pointing to the
 +      beautiful cabinet inlaid with red turtleshell and brass.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We can't take everything,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But we seem to be taking all the ugly things,&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We're taking the useful ones,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;we've got to play at being
 +      Poor for a bit, my chickabiddy.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When all the ugly useful things had been packed up and taken away in a van
 +      by men in green-baize aprons, the two girls and Mother and Aunt Emma slept
 +      in the two spare rooms where the furniture was all pretty. All their beds
 +      had gone. A bed was made up for Peter on the drawing-room sofa.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I say, this is larks,&rdquo; he said, wriggling joyously, as Mother tucked him
 +      up. &ldquo;I do like moving! I wish we moved once a month.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother laughed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't!&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Good night, Peterkin.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      As she turned away Roberta saw her face. She never forgot it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, Mother,&rdquo; she whispered all to herself as she got into bed, &ldquo;how brave
 +      you are! How I love you! Fancy being brave enough to laugh when you're
 +      feeling like THAT!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next day boxes were filled, and boxes and more boxes; and then late in the
 +      afternoon a cab came to take them to the station.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Aunt Emma saw them off. They felt that THEY were seeing HER off, and they
 +      were glad of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But, oh, those poor little foreign children that she's going to
 +      governess!&rdquo; whispered Phyllis. &ldquo;I wouldn't be them for anything!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At first they enjoyed looking out of the window, but when it grew dusk
 +      they grew sleepier and sleepier, and no one knew how long they had been in
 +      the train when they were roused by Mother's shaking them gently and
 +      saying:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Wake up, dears. We're there.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They woke up, cold and melancholy, and stood shivering on the draughty
 +      platform while the baggage was taken out of the train. Then the engine,
 +      puffing and blowing, set to work again, and dragged the train away. The
 +      children watched the tail-lights of the guard's van disappear into the
 +      darkness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This was the first train the children saw on that railway which was in
 +      time to become so very dear to them. They did not guess then how they
 +      would grow to love the railway, and how soon it would become the centre of
 +      their new life, nor what wonders and changes it would bring to them. They
 +      only shivered and sneezed and hoped the walk to the new house would not be
 +      long. Peter's nose was colder than he ever remembered it to have been
 +      before. Roberta's hat was crooked, and the elastic seemed tighter than
 +      usual. Phyllis's shoe-laces had come undone.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Come,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;we've got to walk. There aren't any cabs here.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The walk was dark and muddy. The children stumbled a little on the rough
 +      road, and once Phyllis absently fell into a puddle, and was picked up damp
 +      and unhappy. There were no gas-lamps on the road, and the road was uphill.
 +      The cart went at a foot's pace, and they followed the gritty crunch of its
 +      wheels. As their eyes got used to the darkness, they could see the mound
 +      of boxes swaying dimly in front of them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A long gate had to be opened for the cart to pass through, and after that
 +      the road seemed to go across fields&mdash;and now it went down hill.
 +      Presently a great dark lumpish thing showed over to the right.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's the house,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;I wonder why she's shut the shutters.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who's SHE?&rdquo; asked Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The woman I engaged to clean the place, and put the furniture straight
 +      and get supper.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a low wall, and trees inside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's the garden,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It looks more like a dripping-pan full of black cabbages,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The cart went on along by the garden wall, and round to the back of the
 +      house, and here it clattered into a cobble-stoned yard and stopped at the
 +      back door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was no light in any of the windows.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Everyone hammered at the door, but no one came.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The man who drove the cart said he expected Mrs. Viney had gone home.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You see your train was that late,&rdquo; said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But she's got the key,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;What are we to do?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, she'll have left that under the doorstep,&rdquo; said the cart man; &ldquo;folks
 +      do hereabouts.&rdquo; He took the lantern off his cart and stooped.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ay, here it is, right enough,&rdquo; he said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He unlocked the door and went in and set his lantern on the table.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Got e'er a candle?&rdquo; said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know where anything is.&rdquo; Mother spoke rather less cheerfully than
 +      usual.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He struck a match. There was a candle on the table, and he lighted it. By
 +      its thin little glimmer the children saw a large bare kitchen with a stone
 +      floor. There were no curtains, no hearth-rug. The kitchen table from home
 +      stood in the middle of the room. The chairs were in one corner, and the
 +      pots, pans, brooms, and crockery in another. There was no fire, and the
 +      black grate showed cold, dead ashes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      As the cart man turned to go out after he had brought in the boxes, there
 +      was a rustling, scampering sound that seemed to come from inside the walls
 +      of the house.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, what's that?&rdquo; cried the girls.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's only the rats,&rdquo; said the cart man. And he went away and shut the
 +      door, and the sudden draught of it blew out the candle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, dear,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;I wish we hadn't come!&rdquo; and she knocked a chair
 +      over.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;ONLY the rats!&rdquo; said Peter, in the dark.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0002" id="link2HCH0002">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter II. Peter's coal-mine.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What fun!&rdquo; said Mother, in the dark, feeling for the matches on the
 +      table. &ldquo;How frightened the poor mice were&mdash;I don't believe they were
 +      rats at all.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She struck a match and relighted the candle and everyone looked at each
 +      other by its winky, blinky light.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;you've often wanted something to happen and now it has.
 +      This is quite an adventure, isn't it? I told Mrs. Viney to get us some
 +      bread and butter, and meat and things, and to have supper ready. I suppose
 +      she's laid it in the dining-room. So let's go and see.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The dining-room opened out of the kitchen. It looked much darker than the
 +      kitchen when they went in with the one candle. Because the kitchen was
 +      whitewashed, but the dining-room was dark wood from floor to ceiling, and
 +      across the ceiling there were heavy black beams. There was a muddled maze
 +      of dusty furniture&mdash;the breakfast-room furniture from the old home
 +      where they had lived all their lives. It seemed a very long time ago, and
 +      a very long way off.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was the table certainly, and there were chairs, but there was no
 +      supper.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's look in the other rooms,&rdquo; said Mother; and they looked. And in each
 +      room was the same kind of blundering half-arrangement of furniture, and
 +      fire-irons and crockery, and all sorts of odd things on the floor, but
 +      there was nothing to eat; even in the pantry there were only a rusty
 +      cake-tin and a broken plate with whitening mixed in it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What a horrid old woman!&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;she's just walked off with the
 +      money and not got us anything to eat at all.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then shan't we have any supper at all?&rdquo; asked Phyllis, dismayed, stepping
 +      back on to a soap-dish that cracked responsively.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;only it'll mean unpacking one of those big cases
 +      that we put in the cellar. Phil, do mind where you're walking to, there's
 +      a dear. Peter, hold the light.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The cellar door opened out of the kitchen. There were five wooden steps
 +      leading down. It wasn't a proper cellar at all, the children thought,
 +      because its ceiling went up as high as the kitchen's. A bacon-rack hung
 +      under its ceiling. There was wood in it, and coal. Also the big cases.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter held the candle, all on one side, while Mother tried to open the
 +      great packing-case. It was very securely nailed down.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Where's the hammer?&rdquo; asked Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's just it,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;I'm afraid it's inside the box. But
 +      there's a coal-shovel&mdash;and there's the kitchen poker.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And with these she tried to get the case open.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let me do it,&rdquo; said Peter, thinking he could do it better himself.
 +      Everyone thinks this when he sees another person stirring a fire, or
 +      opening a box, or untying a knot in a bit of string.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll hurt your hands, Mammy,&rdquo; said Roberta; &ldquo;let me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wish Father was here,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;he'd get it open in two shakes.
 +      What are you kicking me for, Bobbie?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wasn't,&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Just then the first of the long nails in the packing-case began to come
 +      out with a scrunch. Then a lath was raised and then another, till all four
 +      stood up with the long nails in them shining fiercely like iron teeth in
 +      the candle-light.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hooray!&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;here are some candles&mdash;the very first thing!
 +      You girls go and light them. You'll find some saucers and things. Just
 +      drop a little candle-grease in the saucer and stick the candle upright in
 +      it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How many shall we light?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;As many as ever you like,&rdquo; said Mother, gaily. &ldquo;The great thing is to be
 +      cheerful. Nobody can be cheerful in the dark except owls and dormice.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So the girls lighted candles. The head of the first match flew off and
 +      stuck to Phyllis's finger; but, as Roberta said, it was only a little
 +      burn, and she might have had to be a Roman martyr and be burned whole if
 +      she had happened to live in the days when those things were fashionable.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then, when the dining-room was lighted by fourteen candles, Roberta
 +      fetched coal and wood and lighted a fire.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's very cold for May,&rdquo; she said, feeling what a grown-up thing it was
 +      to say.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The fire-light and the candle-light made the dining-room look very
 +      different, for now you could see that the dark walls were of wood, carved
 +      here and there into little wreaths and loops.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The girls hastily 'tidied' the room, which meant putting the chairs
 +      against the wall, and piling all the odds and ends into a corner and
 +      partly hiding them with the big leather arm-chair that Father used to sit
 +      in after dinner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Bravo!&rdquo; cried Mother, coming in with a tray full of things. &ldquo;This is
 +      something like! I'll just get a tablecloth and then&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The tablecloth was in a box with a proper lock that was opened with a key
 +      and not with a shovel, and when the cloth was spread on the table, a real
 +      feast was laid out on it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Everyone was very, very tired, but everyone cheered up at the sight of the
 +      funny and delightful supper. There were biscuits, the Marie and the plain
 +      kind, sardines, preserved ginger, cooking raisins, and candied peel and
 +      marmalade.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What a good thing Aunt Emma packed up all the odds and ends out of the
 +      Store cupboard,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;Now, Phil, DON'T put the marmalade spoon in
 +      among the sardines.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No, I won't, Mother,&rdquo; said Phyllis, and put it down among the Marie
 +      biscuits.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's drink Aunt Emma's health,&rdquo; said Roberta, suddenly; &ldquo;what should we
 +      have done if she hadn't packed up these things? Here's to Aunt Emma!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And the toast was drunk in ginger wine and water, out of willow-patterned
 +      tea-cups, because the glasses couldn't be found.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They all felt that they had been a little hard on Aunt Emma. She wasn't a
 +      nice cuddly person like Mother, but after all it was she who had thought
 +      of packing up the odds and ends of things to eat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was Aunt Emma, too, who had aired all the sheets ready; and the men who
 +      had moved the furniture had put the bedsteads together, so the beds were
 +      soon made.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Good night, chickies,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;I'm sure there aren't any rats. But
 +      I'll leave my door open, and then if a mouse comes, you need only scream,
 +      and I'll come and tell it exactly what I think of it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then she went to her own room. Roberta woke to hear the little travelling
 +      clock chime two. It sounded like a church clock ever so far away, she
 +      always thought. And she heard, too, Mother still moving about in her room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next morning Roberta woke Phyllis by pulling her hair gently, but quite
 +      enough for her purpose.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Wassermarrer?&rdquo; asked Phyllis, still almost wholly asleep.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Wake up! wake up!&rdquo; said Roberta. &ldquo;We're in the new house&mdash;don't you
 +      remember? No servants or anything. Let's get up and begin to be useful.
 +      We'll just creep down mouse-quietly, and have everything beautiful before
 +      Mother gets up. I've woke Peter. He'll be dressed as soon as we are.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they dressed quietly and quickly. Of course, there was no water in
 +      their room, so when they got down they washed as much as they thought was
 +      necessary under the spout of the pump in the yard. One pumped and the
 +      other washed. It was splashy but interesting.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's much more fun than basin washing,&rdquo; said Roberta. &ldquo;How sparkly the
 +      weeds are between the stones, and the moss on the roof&mdash;oh, and the
 +      flowers!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The roof of the back kitchen sloped down quite low. It was made of thatch
 +      and it had moss on it, and house-leeks and stonecrop and wallflowers, and
 +      even a clump of purple flag-flowers, at the far corner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;This is far, far, far and away prettier than Edgecombe Villa,&rdquo; said
 +      Phyllis. &ldquo;I wonder what the garden's like.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We mustn't think of the garden yet,&rdquo; said Roberta, with earnest energy.
 +      &ldquo;Let's go in and begin to work.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They lighted the fire and put the kettle on, and they arranged the
 +      crockery for breakfast; they could not find all the right things, but a
 +      glass ash-tray made an excellent salt-cellar, and a newish baking-tin
 +      seemed as if it would do to put bread on, if they had any.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When there seemed to be nothing more that they could do, they went out
 +      again into the fresh bright morning.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We'll go into the garden now,&rdquo; said Peter. But somehow they couldn't find
 +      the garden. They went round the house and round the house. The yard
 +      occupied the back, and across it were stables and outbuildings. On the
 +      other three sides the house stood simply in a field, without a yard of
 +      garden to divide it from the short smooth turf. And yet they had certainly
 +      seen the garden wall the night before.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a hilly country. Down below they could see the line of the railway,
 +      and the black yawning mouth of a tunnel. The station was out of sight.
 +      There was a great bridge with tall arches running across one end of the
 +      valley.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Never mind the garden,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;let's go down and look at the
 +      railway. There might be trains passing.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We can see them from here,&rdquo; said Roberta, slowly; &ldquo;let's sit down a bit.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they all sat down on a great flat grey stone that had pushed itself up
 +      out of the grass; it was one of many that lay about on the hillside, and
 +      when Mother came out to look for them at eight o'clock, she found them
 +      deeply asleep in a contented, sun-warmed bunch.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They had made an excellent fire, and had set the kettle on it at about
 +      half-past five. So that by eight the fire had been out for some time, the
 +      water had all boiled away, and the bottom was burned out of the kettle.
 +      Also they had not thought of washing the crockery before they set the
 +      table.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But it doesn't matter&mdash;the cups and saucers, I mean,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +      &ldquo;Because I've found another room&mdash;I'd quite forgotten there was one.
 +      And it's magic! And I've boiled the water for tea in a saucepan.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The forgotten room opened out of the kitchen. In the agitation and half
 +      darkness the night before its door had been mistaken for a cupboard's. It
 +      was a little square room, and on its table, all nicely set out, was a
 +      joint of cold roast beef, with bread, butter, cheese, and a pie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Pie for breakfast!&rdquo; cried Peter; &ldquo;how perfectly ripping!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It isn't pigeon-pie,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;it's only apple. Well, this is the
 +      supper we ought to have had last night. And there was a note from Mrs.
 +      Viney. Her son-in-law has broken his arm, and she had to get home early.
 +      She's coming this morning at ten.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      That was a wonderful breakfast. It is unusual to begin the day with cold
 +      apple pie, but the children all said they would rather have it than meat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You see it's more like dinner than breakfast to us,&rdquo; said Peter, passing
 +      his plate for more, &ldquo;because we were up so early.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The day passed in helping Mother to unpack and arrange things. Six small
 +      legs quite ached with running about while their owners carried clothes and
 +      crockery and all sorts of things to their proper places. It was not till
 +      quite late in the afternoon that Mother said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There! That'll do for to-day. I'll lie down for an hour, so as to be as
 +      fresh as a lark by supper-time.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then they all looked at each other. Each of the three expressive
 +      countenances expressed the same thought. That thought was double, and
 +      consisted, like the bits of information in the Child's Guide to Knowledge,
 +      of a question and an answer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Q. Where shall we go?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A. To the railway.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So to the railway they went, and as soon as they started for the railway
 +      they saw where the garden had hidden itself. It was right behind the
 +      stables, and it had a high wall all round.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, never mind about the garden now!&rdquo; cried Peter. &ldquo;Mother told me this
 +      morning where it was. It'll keep till to-morrow. Let's get to the
 +      railway.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The way to the railway was all down hill over smooth, short turf with here
 +      and there furze bushes and grey and yellow rocks sticking out like candied
 +      peel from the top of a cake.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The way ended in a steep run and a wooden fence&mdash;and there was the
 +      railway with the shining metals and the telegraph wires and posts and
 +      signals.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They all climbed on to the top of the fence, and then suddenly there was a
 +      rumbling sound that made them look along the line to the right, where the
 +      dark mouth of a tunnel opened itself in the face of a rocky cliff; next
 +      moment a train had rushed out of the tunnel with a shriek and a snort, and
 +      had slid noisily past them. They felt the rush of its passing, and the
 +      pebbles on the line jumped and rattled under it as it went by.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh!&rdquo; said Roberta, drawing a long breath; &ldquo;it was like a great dragon
 +      tearing by. Did you feel it fan us with its hot wings?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I suppose a dragon's lair might look very like that tunnel from the
 +      outside,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Peter said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I never thought we should ever get as near to a train as this. It's the
 +      most ripping sport!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Better than toy-engines, isn't it?&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      (I am tired of calling Roberta by her name. I don't see why I should. No
 +      one else did. Everyone else called her Bobbie, and I don't see why I
 +      shouldn't.)
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know; it's different,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;It seems so odd to see ALL of
 +      a train. It's awfully tall, isn't it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We've always seen them cut in half by platforms,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wonder if that train was going to London,&rdquo; Bobbie said. &ldquo;London's where
 +      Father is.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's go down to the station and find out,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they went.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They walked along the edge of the line, and heard the telegraph wires
 +      humming over their heads. When you are in the train, it seems such a
 +      little way between post and post, and one after another the posts seem to
 +      catch up the wires almost more quickly than you can count them. But when
 +      you have to walk, the posts seem few and far between.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the children got to the station at last.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never before had any of them been at a station, except for the purpose of
 +      catching trains&mdash;or perhaps waiting for them&mdash;and always with
 +      grown-ups in attendance, grown-ups who were not themselves interested in
 +      stations, except as places from which they wished to get away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never before had they passed close enough to a signal-box to be able to
 +      notice the wires, and to hear the mysterious 'ping, ping,' followed by the
 +      strong, firm clicking of machinery.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The very sleepers on which the rails lay were a delightful path to travel
 +      by&mdash;just far enough apart to serve as the stepping-stones in a game
 +      of foaming torrents hastily organised by Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then to arrive at the station, not through the booking office, but in a
 +      freebooting sort of way by the sloping end of the platform. This in itself
 +      was joy.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Joy, too, it was to peep into the porters' room, where the lamps are, and
 +      the Railway almanac on the wall, and one porter half asleep behind a
 +      paper.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were a great many crossing lines at the station; some of them just
 +      ran into a yard and stopped short, as though they were tired of business
 +      and meant to retire for good. Trucks stood on the rails here, and on one
 +      side was a great heap of coal&mdash;not a loose heap, such as you see in
 +      your coal cellar, but a sort of solid building of coals with large square
 +      blocks of coal outside used just as though they were bricks, and built up
 +      till the heap looked like the picture of the Cities of the Plain in 'Bible
 +      Stories for Infants.' There was a line of whitewash near the top of the
 +      coaly wall.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When presently the Porter lounged out of his room at the twice-repeated
 +      tingling thrill of a gong over the station door, Peter said, &ldquo;How do you
 +      do?&rdquo; in his best manner, and hastened to ask what the white mark was on
 +      the coal for.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;To mark how much coal there be,&rdquo; said the Porter, &ldquo;so as we'll know if
 +      anyone nicks it. So don't you go off with none in your pockets, young
 +      gentleman!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This seemed, at the time but a merry jest, and Peter felt at once that the
 +      Porter was a friendly sort with no nonsense about him. But later the words
 +      came back to Peter with a new meaning.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Have you ever gone into a farmhouse kitchen on a baking day, and seen the
 +      great crock of dough set by the fire to rise? If you have, and if you were
 +      at that time still young enough to be interested in everything you saw,
 +      you will remember that you found yourself quite unable to resist the
 +      temptation to poke your finger into the soft round of dough that curved
 +      inside the pan like a giant mushroom. And you will remember that your
 +      finger made a dent in the dough, and that slowly, but quite surely, the
 +      dent disappeared, and the dough looked quite the same as it did before you
 +      touched it. Unless, of course, your hand was extra dirty, in which case,
 +      naturally, there would be a little black mark.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Well, it was just like that with the sorrow the children had felt at
 +      Father's going away, and at Mother's being so unhappy. It made a deep
 +      impression, but the impression did not last long.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They soon got used to being without Father, though they did not forget
 +      him; and they got used to not going to school, and to seeing very little
 +      of Mother, who was now almost all day shut up in her upstairs room
 +      writing, writing, writing. She used to come down at tea-time and read
 +      aloud the stories she had written. They were lovely stories.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The rocks and hills and valleys and trees, the canal, and above all, the
 +      railway, were so new and so perfectly pleasing that the remembrance of the
 +      old life in the villa grew to seem almost like a dream.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother had told them more than once that they were 'quite poor now,' but
 +      this did not seem to be anything but a way of speaking. Grown-up people,
 +      even Mothers, often make remarks that don't seem to mean anything in
 +      particular, just for the sake of saying something, seemingly. There was
 +      always enough to eat, and they wore the same kind of nice clothes they had
 +      always worn.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But in June came three wet days; the rain came down, straight as lances,
 +      and it was very, very cold. Nobody could go out, and everybody shivered.
 +      They all went up to the door of Mother's room and knocked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, what is it?&rdquo; asked Mother from inside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;mayn't I light a fire? I do know how.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And Mother said: &ldquo;No, my ducky-love. We mustn't have fires in June&mdash;coal
 +      is so dear. If you're cold, go and have a good romp in the attic. That'll
 +      warm you.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But, Mother, it only takes such a very little coal to make a fire.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's more than we can afford, chickeny-love,&rdquo; said Mother, cheerfully.
 +      &ldquo;Now run away, there's darlings&mdash;I'm madly busy!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother's always busy now,&rdquo; said Phyllis, in a whisper to Peter. Peter did
 +      not answer. He shrugged his shoulders. He was thinking.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Thought, however, could not long keep itself from the suitable furnishing
 +      of a bandit's lair in the attic. Peter was the bandit, of course. Bobbie
 +      was his lieutenant, his band of trusty robbers, and, in due course, the
 +      parent of Phyllis, who was the captured maiden for whom a magnificent
 +      ransom&mdash;in horse-beans&mdash;was unhesitatingly paid.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They all went down to tea flushed and joyous as any mountain brigands.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But when Phyllis was going to add jam to her bread and butter, Mother
 +      said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Jam OR butter, dear&mdash;not jam AND butter. We can't afford that sort
 +      of reckless luxury nowadays.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis finished the slice of bread and butter in silence, and followed it
 +      up by bread and jam. Peter mingled thought and weak tea.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      After tea they went back to the attic and he said to his sisters:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I have an idea.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What's that?&rdquo; they asked politely.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I shan't tell you,&rdquo; was Peter's unexpected rejoinder.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, very well,&rdquo; said Bobbie; and Phil said, &ldquo;Don't, then.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Girls,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;are always so hasty tempered.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I should like to know what boys are?&rdquo; said Bobbie, with fine disdain. &ldquo;I
 +      don't want to know about your silly ideas.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll know some day,&rdquo; said Peter, keeping his own temper by what looked
 +      exactly like a miracle; &ldquo;if you hadn't been so keen on a row, I might have
 +      told you about it being only noble-heartedness that made me not tell you
 +      my idea. But now I shan't tell you anything at all about it&mdash;so
 +      there!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And it was, indeed, some time before he could be induced to say anything,
 +      and when he did it wasn't much. He said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The only reason why I won't tell you my idea that I'm going to do is
 +      because it MAY be wrong, and I don't want to drag you into it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't you do it if it's wrong, Peter,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;let me do it.&rdquo; But
 +      Phyllis said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;<i>I</i> should like to do wrong if YOU'RE going to!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Peter, rather touched by this devotion; &ldquo;it's a forlorn hope,
 +      and I'm going to lead it. All I ask is that if Mother asks where I am, you
 +      won't blab.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We haven't got anything TO blab,&rdquo; said Bobbie, indignantly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes, you have!&rdquo; said Peter, dropping horse-beans through his fingers.
 +      &ldquo;I've trusted you to the death. You know I'm going to do a lone adventure&mdash;and
 +      some people might think it wrong&mdash;I don't. And if Mother asks where I
 +      am, say I'm playing at mines.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What sort of mines?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You just say mines.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You might tell US, Pete.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then, COAL-mines. But don't you let the word pass your lips on pain
 +      of torture.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You needn't threaten,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;and I do think you might let us
 +      help.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If I find a coal-mine, you shall help cart the coal,&rdquo; Peter condescended
 +      to promise.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Keep your secret if you like,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Keep it if you CAN,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'll keep it, right enough,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Between tea and supper there is an interval even in the most greedily
 +      regulated families. At this time Mother was usually writing, and Mrs.
 +      Viney had gone home.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Two nights after the dawning of Peter's idea he beckoned the girls
 +      mysteriously at the twilight hour.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Come hither with me,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and bring the Roman Chariot.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Roman Chariot was a very old perambulator that had spent years of
 +      retirement in the loft over the coach-house. The children had oiled its
 +      works till it glided noiseless as a pneumatic bicycle, and answered to the
 +      helm as it had probably done in its best days.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Follow your dauntless leader,&rdquo; said Peter, and led the way down the hill
 +      towards the station.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Just above the station many rocks have pushed their heads out through the
 +      turf as though they, like the children, were interested in the railway.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In a little hollow between three rocks lay a heap of dried brambles and
 +      heather.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter halted, turned over the brushwood with a well-scarred boot, and
 +      said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here's the first coal from the St. Peter's Mine. We'll take it home in
 +      the chariot. Punctuality and despatch. All orders carefully attended to.
 +      Any shaped lump cut to suit regular customers.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The chariot was packed full of coal. And when it was packed it had to be
 +      unpacked again because it was so heavy that it couldn't be got up the hill
 +      by the three children, not even when Peter harnessed himself to the handle
 +      with his braces, and firmly grasping his waistband in one hand pulled
 +      while the girls pushed behind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Three journeys had to be made before the coal from Peter's mine was added
 +      to the heap of Mother's coal in the cellar.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Afterwards Peter went out alone, and came back very black and mysterious.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've been to my coal-mine,&rdquo; he said; &ldquo;to-morrow evening we'll bring home
 +      the black diamonds in the chariot.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a week later that Mrs. Viney remarked to Mother how well this last
 +      lot of coal was holding out.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children hugged themselves and each other in complicated wriggles of
 +      silent laughter as they listened on the stairs. They had all forgotten by
 +      now that there had ever been any doubt in Peter's mind as to whether
 +      coal-mining was wrong.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But there came a dreadful night when the Station Master put on a pair of
 +      old sand shoes that he had worn at the seaside in his summer holiday, and
 +      crept out very quietly to the yard where the Sodom and Gomorrah heap of
 +      coal was, with the whitewashed line round it. He crept out there, and he
 +      waited like a cat by a mousehole. On the top of the heap something small
 +      and dark was scrabbling and rattling furtively among the coal.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Station Master concealed himself in the shadow of a brake-van that had
 +      a little tin chimney and was labelled:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     G. N. and S. R.
 +          34576
 +    Return at once to
 +  White Heather Sidings
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      and in this concealment he lurked till the small thing on the top of the
 +      heap ceased to scrabble and rattle, came to the edge of the heap,
 +      cautiously let itself down, and lifted something after it. Then the arm of
 +      the Station Master was raised, the hand of the Station Master fell on a
 +      collar, and there was Peter firmly held by the jacket, with an old
 +      carpenter's bag full of coal in his trembling clutch.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So I've caught you at last, have I, you young thief?&rdquo; said the Station
 +      Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm not a thief,&rdquo; said Peter, as firmly as he could. &ldquo;I'm a coal-miner.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Tell that to the Marines,&rdquo; said the Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It would be just as true whoever I told it to,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're right there,&rdquo; said the man, who held him. &ldquo;Stow your jaw, you
 +      young rip, and come along to the station.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, no,&rdquo; cried in the darkness an agonised voice that was not Peter's.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not the POLICE station!&rdquo; said another voice from the darkness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not yet,&rdquo; said the Station Master. &ldquo;The Railway Station first. Why, it's
 +      a regular gang. Any more of you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Only us,&rdquo; said Bobbie and Phyllis, coming out of the shadow of another
 +      truck labelled Staveley Colliery, and bearing on it the legend in white
 +      chalk: 'Wanted in No. 1 Road.'
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What do you mean by spying on a fellow like this?&rdquo; said Peter, angrily.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Time someone did spy on you, <i>I</i> think,&rdquo; said the Station Master.
 +      &ldquo;Come along to the station.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, DON'T!&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;Can't you decide NOW what you'll do to us? It's
 +      our fault just as much as Peter's. We helped to carry the coal away&mdash;and
 +      we knew where he got it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No, you didn't,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, we did,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;We knew all the time. We only pretended we
 +      didn't just to humour you.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter's cup was full. He had mined for coal, he had struck coal, he had
 +      been caught, and now he learned that his sisters had 'humoured' him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't hold me!&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I won't run away.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Station Master loosed Peter's collar, struck a match and looked at
 +      them by its flickering light.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why,&rdquo; said he, &ldquo;you're the children from the Three Chimneys up yonder. So
 +      nicely dressed, too. Tell me now, what made you do such a thing? Haven't
 +      you ever been to church or learned your catechism or anything, not to know
 +      it's wicked to steal?&rdquo; He spoke much more gently now, and Peter said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I didn't think it was stealing. I was almost sure it wasn't. I thought if
 +      I took it from the outside part of the heap, perhaps it would be. But in
 +      the middle I thought I could fairly count it only mining. It'll take
 +      thousands of years for you to burn up all that coal and get to the middle
 +      parts.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not quite. But did you do it for a lark or what?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not much lark carting that beastly heavy stuff up the hill,&rdquo; said Peter,
 +      indignantly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then why did you?&rdquo; The Station Master's voice was so much kinder now that
 +      Peter replied:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You know that wet day? Well, Mother said we were too poor to have a fire.
 +      We always had fires when it was cold at our other house, and&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;DON'T!&rdquo; interrupted Bobbie, in a whisper.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well,&rdquo; said the Station Master, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, &ldquo;I'll tell
 +      you what I'll do. I'll look over it this once. But you remember, young
 +      gentleman, stealing is stealing, and what's mine isn't yours, whether you
 +      call it mining or whether you don't. Run along home.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Do you mean you aren't going to do anything to us? Well, you are a
 +      brick,&rdquo; said Peter, with enthusiasm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're a dear,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're a darling,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's all right,&rdquo; said the Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And on this they parted.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't speak to me,&rdquo; said Peter, as the three went up the hill. &ldquo;You're
 +      spies and traitors&mdash;that's what you are.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the girls were too glad to have Peter between them, safe and free, and
 +      on the way to Three Chimneys and not to the Police Station, to mind much
 +      what he said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We DID say it was us as much as you,&rdquo; said Bobbie, gently.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well&mdash;and it wasn't.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It would have come to the same thing in Courts with judges,&rdquo; said
 +      Phyllis. &ldquo;Don't be snarky, Peter. It isn't our fault your secrets are so
 +      jolly easy to find out.&rdquo; She took his arm, and he let her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's an awful lot of coal in the cellar, anyhow,&rdquo; he went on.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, don't!&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;I don't think we ought to be glad about THAT.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know,&rdquo; said Peter, plucking up a spirit. &ldquo;I'm not at all sure,
 +      even now, that mining is a crime.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the girls were quite sure. And they were also quite sure that he was
 +      quite sure, however little he cared to own it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0003" id="link2HCH0003">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter III. The old gentleman.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      After the adventure of Peter's Coal-mine, it seemed well to the children
 +      to keep away from the station&mdash;but they did not, they could not, keep
 +      away from the railway. They had lived all their lives in a street where
 +      cabs and omnibuses rumbled by at all hours, and the carts of butchers and
 +      bakers and candlestick makers (I never saw a candlestick-maker's cart; did
 +      you?) might occur at any moment. Here in the deep silence of the sleeping
 +      country the only things that went by were the trains. They seemed to be
 +      all that was left to link the children to the old life that had once been
 +      theirs. Straight down the hill in front of Three Chimneys the daily
 +      passage of their six feet began to mark a path across the crisp, short
 +      turf. They began to know the hours when certain trains passed, and they
 +      gave names to them. The 9.15 up was called the Green Dragon. The 10.7 down
 +      was the Worm of Wantley. The midnight town express, whose shrieking rush
 +      they sometimes woke from their dreams to hear, was the Fearsome
 +      Fly-by-night. Peter got up once, in chill starshine, and, peeping at it
 +      through his curtains, named it on the spot.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was by the Green Dragon that the old gentleman travelled. He was a very
 +      nice-looking old gentleman, and he looked as if he were nice, too, which
 +      is not at all the same thing. He had a fresh-coloured, clean-shaven face
 +      and white hair, and he wore rather odd-shaped collars and a top-hat that
 +      wasn't exactly the same kind as other people's. Of course the children
 +      didn't see all this at first. In fact the first thing they noticed about
 +      the old gentleman was his hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was one morning as they sat on the fence waiting for the Green Dragon,
 +      which was three and a quarter minutes late by Peter's Waterbury watch that
 +      he had had given him on his last birthday.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The Green Dragon's going where Father is,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;if it were a
 +      really real dragon, we could stop it and ask it to take our love to
 +      Father.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Dragons don't carry people's love,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;they'd be above it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, they do, if you tame them thoroughly first. They fetch and carry
 +      like pet spaniels,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;and feed out of your hand. I wonder why
 +      Father never writes to us.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother says he's been too busy,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;but he'll write soon, she
 +      says.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I say,&rdquo; Phyllis suggested, &ldquo;let's all wave to the Green Dragon as it goes
 +      by. If it's a magic dragon, it'll understand and take our loves to Father.
 +      And if it isn't, three waves aren't much. We shall never miss them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So when the Green Dragon tore shrieking out of the mouth of its dark lair,
 +      which was the tunnel, all three children stood on the railing and waved
 +      their pocket-handkerchiefs without stopping to think whether they were
 +      clean handkerchiefs or the reverse. They were, as a matter of fact, very
 +      much the reverse.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And out of a first-class carriage a hand waved back. A quite clean hand.
 +      It held a newspaper. It was the old gentleman's hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      After this it became the custom for waves to be exchanged between the
 +      children and the 9.15.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And the children, especially the girls, liked to think that perhaps the
 +      old gentleman knew Father, and would meet him 'in business,' wherever that
 +      shady retreat might be, and tell him how his three children stood on a
 +      rail far away in the green country and waved their love to him every
 +      morning, wet or fine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For they were now able to go out in all sorts of weather such as they
 +      would never have been allowed to go out in when they lived in their villa
 +      house. This was Aunt Emma's doing, and the children felt more and more
 +      that they had not been quite fair to this unattractive aunt, when they
 +      found how useful were the long gaiters and waterproof coats that they had
 +      laughed at her for buying for them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother, all this time, was very busy with her writing. She used to send
 +      off a good many long blue envelopes with stories in them&mdash;and large
 +      envelopes of different sizes and colours used to come to her. Sometimes
 +      she would sigh when she opened them and say:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Another story come home to roost. Oh, dear, Oh, dear!&rdquo; and then the
 +      children would be very sorry.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But sometimes she would wave the envelope in the air and say:&mdash;&ldquo;Hooray,
 +      hooray. Here's a sensible Editor. He's taken my story and this is the
 +      proof of it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At first the children thought 'the Proof' meant the letter the sensible
 +      Editor had written, but they presently got to know that the proof was long
 +      slips of paper with the story printed on them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Whenever an Editor was sensible there were buns for tea.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One day Peter was going down to the village to get buns to celebrate the
 +      sensibleness of the Editor of the Children's Globe, when he met the
 +      Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter felt very uncomfortable, for he had now had time to think over the
 +      affair of the coal-mine. He did not like to say &ldquo;Good morning&rdquo; to the
 +      Station Master, as you usually do to anyone you meet on a lonely road,
 +      because he had a hot feeling, which spread even to his ears, that the
 +      Station Master might not care to speak to a person who had stolen coals.
 +      'Stolen' is a nasty word, but Peter felt it was the right one. So he
 +      looked down, and said Nothing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was the Station Master who said &ldquo;Good morning&rdquo; as he passed by. And
 +      Peter answered, &ldquo;Good morning.&rdquo; Then he thought:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perhaps he doesn't know who I am by daylight, or he wouldn't be so
 +      polite.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And he did not like the feeling which thinking this gave him. And then
 +      before he knew what he was going to do he ran after the Station Master,
 +      who stopped when he heard Peter's hasty boots crunching the road, and
 +      coming up with him very breathless and with his ears now quite
 +      magenta-coloured, he said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't want you to be polite to me if you don't know me when you see
 +      me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Eh?&rdquo; said the Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought perhaps you didn't know it was me that took the coals,&rdquo; Peter
 +      went on, &ldquo;when you said 'Good morning.' But it was, and I'm sorry. There.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why,&rdquo; said the Station Master, &ldquo;I wasn't thinking anything at all about
 +      the precious coals. Let bygones be bygones. And where were you off to in
 +      such a hurry?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm going to buy buns for tea,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought you were all so poor,&rdquo; said the Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So we are,&rdquo; said Peter, confidentially, &ldquo;but we always have three
 +      pennyworth of halfpennies for tea whenever Mother sells a story or a poem
 +      or anything.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said the Station Master, &ldquo;so your Mother writes stories, does she?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The beautifulest you ever read,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You ought to be very proud to have such a clever Mother.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;but she used to play with us more before she had to be
 +      so clever.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well,&rdquo; said the Station Master, &ldquo;I must be getting along. You give us a
 +      look in at the Station whenever you feel so inclined. And as to coals,
 +      it's a word that&mdash;well&mdash;oh, no, we never mention it, eh?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;I'm very glad it's all straightened out between
 +      us.&rdquo; And he went on across the canal bridge to the village to get the
 +      buns, feeling more comfortable in his mind than he had felt since the hand
 +      of the Station Master had fastened on his collar that night among the
 +      coals.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next day when they had sent the threefold wave of greeting to Father by
 +      the Green Dragon, and the old gentleman had waved back as usual, Peter
 +      proudly led the way to the station.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But ought we?&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;After the coals, she means,&rdquo; Phyllis explained.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I met the Station Master yesterday,&rdquo; said Peter, in an offhand way, and
 +      he pretended not to hear what Phyllis had said; &ldquo;he expresspecially
 +      invited us to go down any time we liked.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;After the coals?&rdquo; repeated Phyllis. &ldquo;Stop a minute&mdash;my bootlace is
 +      undone again.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It always IS undone again,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and the Station Master was more
 +      of a gentleman than you'll ever be, Phil&mdash;throwing coal at a chap's
 +      head like that.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis did up her bootlace and went on in silence, but her shoulders
 +      shook, and presently a fat tear fell off her nose and splashed on the
 +      metal of the railway line. Bobbie saw it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why, what's the matter, darling?&rdquo; she said, stopping short and putting
 +      her arm round the heaving shoulders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He called me un-un-ungentlemanly,&rdquo; sobbed Phyllis. &ldquo;I didn't never call
 +      him unladylike, not even when he tied my Clorinda to the firewood bundle
 +      and burned her at the stake for a martyr.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter had indeed perpetrated this outrage a year or two before.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, you began, you know,&rdquo; said Bobbie, honestly, &ldquo;about coals and all
 +      that. Don't you think you'd better both unsay everything since the wave,
 +      and let honour be satisfied?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I will if Peter will,&rdquo; said Phyllis, sniffling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;honour is satisfied. Here, use my hankie, Phil,
 +      for goodness' sake, if you've lost yours as usual. I wonder what you do
 +      with them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You had my last one,&rdquo; said Phyllis, indignantly, &ldquo;to tie up the
 +      rabbit-hutch door with. But you're very ungrateful. It's quite right what
 +      it says in the poetry book about sharper than a serpent it is to have a
 +      toothless child&mdash;but it means ungrateful when it says toothless. Miss
 +      Lowe told me so.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right,&rdquo; said Peter, impatiently, &ldquo;I'm sorry. THERE! Now will you come
 +      on?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They reached the station and spent a joyous two hours with the Porter. He
 +      was a worthy man and seemed never tired of answering the questions that
 +      begin with &ldquo;Why&mdash;&rdquo; which many people in higher ranks of life often
 +      seem weary of.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He told them many things that they had not known before&mdash;as, for
 +      instance, that the things that hook carriages together are called
 +      couplings, and that the pipes like great serpents that hang over the
 +      couplings are meant to stop the train with.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you could get a holt of one o' them when the train is going and pull
 +      'em apart,&rdquo; said he, &ldquo;she'd stop dead off with a jerk.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who's she?&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The train, of course,&rdquo; said the Porter. After that the train was never
 +      again 'It' to the children.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And you know the thing in the carriages where it says on it, 'Five
 +      pounds' fine for improper use.' If you was to improperly use that, the
 +      train 'ud stop.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And if you used it properly?&rdquo; said Roberta.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It 'ud stop just the same, I suppose,&rdquo; said he, &ldquo;but it isn't proper use
 +      unless you're being murdered. There was an old lady once&mdash;someone
 +      kidded her on it was a refreshment-room bell, and she used it improper,
 +      not being in danger of her life, though hungry, and when the train stopped
 +      and the guard came along expecting to find someone weltering in their last
 +      moments, she says, 'Oh, please, Mister, I'll take a glass of stout and a
 +      bath bun,' she says. And the train was seven minutes behind her time as it
 +      was.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What did the guard say to the old lady?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;<i>I</i> dunno,&rdquo; replied the Porter, &ldquo;but I lay she didn't forget it in a
 +      hurry, whatever it was.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In such delightful conversation the time went by all too quickly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Station Master came out once or twice from that sacred inner temple
 +      behind the place where the hole is that they sell you tickets through, and
 +      was most jolly with them all.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Just as if coal had never been discovered,&rdquo; Phyllis whispered to her
 +      sister.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He gave them each an orange, and promised to take them up into the
 +      signal-box one of these days, when he wasn't so busy.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Several trains went through the station, and Peter noticed for the first
 +      time that engines have numbers on them, like cabs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said the Porter, &ldquo;I knowed a young gent as used to take down the
 +      numbers of every single one he seed; in a green note-book with silver
 +      corners it was, owing to his father being very well-to-do in the wholesale
 +      stationery.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter felt that he could take down numbers, too, even if he was not the
 +      son of a wholesale stationer. As he did not happen to have a green leather
 +      note-book with silver corners, the Porter gave him a yellow envelope and
 +      on it he noted:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     379
 +     663
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      and felt that this was the beginning of what would be a most interesting
 +      collection.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      That night at tea he asked Mother if she had a green leather note-book
 +      with silver corners. She had not; but when she heard what he wanted it for
 +      she gave him a little black one.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It has a few pages torn out,&rdquo; said she; &ldquo;but it will hold quite a lot of
 +      numbers, and when it's full I'll give you another. I'm so glad you like
 +      the railway. Only, please, you mustn't walk on the line.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not if we face the way the train's coming?&rdquo; asked Peter, after a gloomy
 +      pause, in which glances of despair were exchanged.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No&mdash;really not,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then Phyllis said, &ldquo;Mother, didn't YOU ever walk on the railway lines when
 +      you were little?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother was an honest and honourable Mother, so she had to say, &ldquo;Yes.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But, darlings, you don't know how fond I am of you. What should I do if
 +      you got hurt?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Are you fonder of us than Granny was of you when you were little?&rdquo;
 +       Phyllis asked. Bobbie made signs to her to stop, but Phyllis never did see
 +      signs, no matter how plain they might be.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother did not answer for a minute. She got up to put more water in the
 +      teapot.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No one,&rdquo; she said at last, &ldquo;ever loved anyone more than my mother loved
 +      me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then she was quiet again, and Bobbie kicked Phyllis hard under the table,
 +      because Bobbie understood a little bit the thoughts that were making
 +      Mother so quiet&mdash;the thoughts of the time when Mother was a little
 +      girl and was all the world to HER mother. It seems so easy and natural to
 +      run to Mother when one is in trouble. Bobbie understood a little how
 +      people do not leave off running to their mothers when they are in trouble
 +      even when they are grown up, and she thought she knew a little what it
 +      must be to be sad, and have no mother to run to any more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So she kicked Phyllis, who said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What are you kicking me like that for, Bob?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And then Mother laughed a little and sighed and said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Very well, then. Only let me be sure you do know which way the trains
 +      come&mdash;and don't walk on the line near the tunnel or near corners.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Trains keep to the left like carriages,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;so if we keep to
 +      the right, we're bound to see them coming.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Very well,&rdquo; said Mother, and I dare say you think that she ought not to
 +      have said it. But she remembered about when she was a little girl herself,
 +      and she did say it&mdash;and neither her own children nor you nor any
 +      other children in the world could ever understand exactly what it cost her
 +      to do it. Only some few of you, like Bobbie, may understand a very little
 +      bit.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was the very next day that Mother had to stay in bed because her head
 +      ached so. Her hands were burning hot, and she would not eat anything, and
 +      her throat was very sore.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If I was you, Mum,&rdquo; said Mrs. Viney, &ldquo;I should take and send for the
 +      doctor. There's a lot of catchy complaints a-going about just now. My
 +      sister's eldest&mdash;she took a chill and it went to her inside, two
 +      years ago come Christmas, and she's never been the same gell since.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother wouldn't at first, but in the evening she felt so much worse that
 +      Peter was sent to the house in the village that had three laburnum trees
 +      by the gate, and on the gate a brass plate with W. W. Forrest, M.D., on
 +      it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      W. W. Forrest, M.D., came at once. He talked to Peter on the way back. He
 +      seemed a most charming and sensible man, interested in railways, and
 +      rabbits, and really important things.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When he had seen Mother, he said it was influenza.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, Lady Grave-airs,&rdquo; he said in the hall to Bobbie, &ldquo;I suppose you'll
 +      want to be head-nurse.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course,&rdquo; said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then, I'll send down some medicine. Keep up a good fire. Have some
 +      strong beef tea made ready to give her as soon as the fever goes down. She
 +      can have grapes now, and beef essence&mdash;and soda-water and milk, and
 +      you'd better get in a bottle of brandy. The best brandy. Cheap brandy is
 +      worse than poison.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She asked him to write it all down, and he did.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When Bobbie showed Mother the list he had written, Mother laughed. It WAS
 +      a laugh, Bobbie decided, though it was rather odd and feeble.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nonsense,&rdquo; said Mother, laying in bed with eyes as bright as beads. &ldquo;I
 +      can't afford all that rubbish. Tell Mrs. Viney to boil two pounds of
 +      scrag-end of the neck for your dinners to-morrow, and I can have some of
 +      the broth. Yes, I should like some more water now, love. And will you get
 +      a basin and sponge my hands?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Roberta obeyed. When she had done everything she could to make Mother less
 +      uncomfortable, she went down to the others. Her cheeks were very red, her
 +      lips set tight, and her eyes almost as bright as Mother's.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She told them what the Doctor had said, and what Mother had said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And now,&rdquo; said she, when she had told all, &ldquo;there's no one but us to do
 +      anything, and we've got to do it. I've got the shilling for the mutton.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We can do without the beastly mutton,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;bread and butter will
 +      support life. People have lived on less on desert islands many a time.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course,&rdquo; said his sister. And Mrs. Viney was sent to the village to
 +      get as much brandy and soda-water and beef tea as she could buy for a
 +      shilling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But even if we never have anything to eat at all,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;you
 +      can't get all those other things with our dinner money.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Bobbie, frowning, &ldquo;we must find out some other way. Now THINK,
 +      everybody, just as hard as ever you can.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They did think. And presently they talked. And later, when Bobbie had gone
 +      up to sit with Mother in case she wanted anything, the other two were very
 +      busy with scissors and a white sheet, and a paint brush, and the pot of
 +      Brunswick black that Mrs. Viney used for grates and fenders. They did not
 +      manage to do what they wished, exactly, with the first sheet, so they took
 +      another out of the linen cupboard. It did not occur to them that they were
 +      spoiling good sheets which cost good money. They only knew that they were
 +      making a good&mdash;but what they were making comes later.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie's bed had been moved into Mother's room, and several times in the
 +      night she got up to mend the fire, and to give her mother milk and
 +      soda-water. Mother talked to herself a good deal, but it did not seem to
 +      mean anything. And once she woke up suddenly and called out: &ldquo;Mamma,
 +      mamma!&rdquo; and Bobbie knew she was calling for Granny, and that she had
 +      forgotten that it was no use calling, because Granny was dead.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In the early morning Bobbie heard her name and jumped out of bed and ran
 +      to Mother's bedside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh&mdash;ah, yes&mdash;I think I was asleep,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;My poor
 +      little duck, how tired you'll be&mdash;I do hate to give you all this
 +      trouble.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Trouble!&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ah, don't cry, sweet,&rdquo; Mother said; &ldquo;I shall be all right in a day or
 +      two.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And Bobbie said, &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; and tried to smile.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When you are used to ten hours of solid sleep, to get up three or four
 +      times in your sleep-time makes you feel as though you had been up all
 +      night. Bobbie felt quite stupid and her eyes were sore and stiff, but she
 +      tidied the room, and arranged everything neatly before the Doctor came.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This was at half-past eight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Everything going on all right, little Nurse?&rdquo; he said at the front door.
 +      &ldquo;Did you get the brandy?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've got the brandy,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;in a little flat bottle.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I didn't see the grapes or the beef tea, though,&rdquo; said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Bobbie, firmly, &ldquo;but you will to-morrow. And there's some beef
 +      stewing in the oven for beef tea.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who told you to do that?&rdquo; he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I noticed what Mother did when Phil had mumps.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Right,&rdquo; said the Doctor. &ldquo;Now you get your old woman to sit with your
 +      mother, and then you eat a good breakfast, and go straight to bed and
 +      sleep till dinner-time. We can't afford to have the head-nurse ill.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was really quite a nice doctor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When the 9.15 came out of the tunnel that morning the old gentleman in the
 +      first-class carriage put down his newspaper, and got ready to wave his
 +      hand to the three children on the fence. But this morning there were not
 +      three. There was only one. And that was Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter was not on the railings either, as usual. He was standing in front
 +      of them in an attitude like that of a show-man showing off the animals in
 +      a menagerie, or of the kind clergyman when he points with a wand at the
 +      'Scenes from Palestine,' when there is a magic-lantern and he is
 +      explaining it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter was pointing, too. And what he was pointing at was a large white
 +      sheet nailed against the fence. On the sheet there were thick black
 +      letters more than a foot long.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Some of them had run a little, because of Phyllis having put the Brunswick
 +      black on too eagerly, but the words were quite easy to read.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And this what the old gentleman and several other people in the train read
 +      in the large black letters on the white sheet:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     LOOK OUT AT THE STATION.
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      A good many people did look out at the station and were disappointed, for
 +      they saw nothing unusual. The old gentleman looked out, too, and at first
 +      he too saw nothing more unusual than the gravelled platform and the
 +      sunshine and the wallflowers and forget-me-nots in the station borders. It
 +      was only just as the train was beginning to puff and pull itself together
 +      to start again that he saw Phyllis. She was quite out of breath with
 +      running.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;I thought I'd missed you. My bootlaces would keep coming
 +      down and I fell over them twice. Here, take it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She thrust a warm, dampish letter into his hand as the train moved.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He leaned back in his corner and opened the letter. This is what he read:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Dear Mr. We do not know your name.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother is ill and the doctor says to give her the things at the end of the
 +      letter, but she says she can't aford it, and to get mutton for us and she
 +      will have the broth. We do not know anybody here but you, because Father
 +      is away and we do not know the address. Father will pay you, or if he has
 +      lost all his money, or anything, Peter will pay you when he is a man. We
 +      promise it on our honer. I.O.U. for all the things Mother wants.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     &ldquo;sined Peter.
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Will you give the parsel to the Station Master, because of us not knowing
 +      what train you come down by? Say it is for Peter that was sorry about the
 +      coals and he will know all right.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     &ldquo;Roberta.
 +     &ldquo;Phyllis.
 +     &ldquo;Peter.&rdquo;
 + </pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Then came the list of things the Doctor had ordered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old gentleman read it through once, and his eyebrows went up. He read
 +      it twice and smiled a little. When he had read it thrice, he put it in his
 +      pocket and went on reading The Times.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At about six that evening there was a knock at the back door. The three
 +      children rushed to open it, and there stood the friendly Porter, who had
 +      told them so many interesting things about railways. He dumped down a big
 +      hamper on the kitchen flags.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Old gent,&rdquo; he said; &ldquo;he asked me to fetch it up straight away.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Thank you very much,&rdquo; said Peter, and then, as the Porter lingered, he
 +      added:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm most awfully sorry I haven't got twopence to give you like Father
 +      does, but&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You drop it if you please,&rdquo; said the Porter, indignantly. &ldquo;I wasn't
 +      thinking about no tuppences. I only wanted to say I was sorry your Mamma
 +      wasn't so well, and to ask how she finds herself this evening&mdash;and
 +      I've fetched her along a bit of sweetbrier, very sweet to smell it is.
 +      Twopence indeed,&rdquo; said he, and produced a bunch of sweetbrier from his
 +      hat, &ldquo;just like a conjurer,&rdquo; as Phyllis remarked afterwards.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Thank you very much,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and I beg your pardon about the
 +      twopence.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No offence,&rdquo; said the Porter, untruly but politely, and went.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then the children undid the hamper. First there was straw, and then there
 +      were fine shavings, and then came all the things they had asked for, and
 +      plenty of them, and then a good many things they had not asked for; among
 +      others peaches and port wine and two chickens, a cardboard box of big red
 +      roses with long stalks, and a tall thin green bottle of lavender water,
 +      and three smaller fatter bottles of eau-de-Cologne. There was a letter,
 +      too.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Dear Roberta and Phyllis and Peter,&rdquo; it said; &ldquo;here are the things you
 +      want. Your mother will want to know where they came from. Tell her they
 +      were sent by a friend who heard she was ill. When she is well again you
 +      must tell her all about it, of course. And if she says you ought not to
 +      have asked for the things, tell her that I say you were quite right, and
 +      that I hope she will forgive me for taking the liberty of allowing myself
 +      a very great pleasure.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The letter was signed G. P. something that the children couldn't read.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I think we WERE right,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Right? Of course we were right,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All the same,&rdquo; said Peter, with his hands in his pockets, &ldquo;I don't
 +      exactly look forward to telling Mother the whole truth about it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We're not to do it till she's well,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;and when she's well we
 +      shall be so happy we shan't mind a little fuss like that. Oh, just look at
 +      the roses! I must take them up to her.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And the sweetbrier,&rdquo; said Phyllis, sniffing it loudly; &ldquo;don't forget the
 +      sweetbrier.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;As if I should!&rdquo; said Roberta. &ldquo;Mother told me the other day there was a
 +      thick hedge of it at her mother's house when she was a little girl.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0004" id="link2HCH0004">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter IV. The engine-burglar.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      What was left of the second sheet and the Brunswick black came in very
 +      nicely to make a banner bearing the legend
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     SHE IS NEARLY WELL THANK YOU
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      and this was displayed to the Green Dragon about a fortnight after the
 +      arrival of the wonderful hamper. The old gentleman saw it, and waved a
 +      cheerful response from the train. And when this had been done the children
 +      saw that now was the time when they must tell Mother what they had done
 +      when she was ill. And it did not seem nearly so easy as they had thought
 +      it would be. But it had to be done. And it was done. Mother was extremely
 +      angry. She was seldom angry, and now she was angrier than they had ever
 +      known her. This was horrible. But it was much worse when she suddenly
 +      began to cry. Crying is catching, I believe, like measles and
 +      whooping-cough. At any rate, everyone at once found itself taking part in
 +      a crying-party.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother stopped first. She dried her eyes and then she said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm sorry I was so angry, darlings, because I know you didn't
 +      understand.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We didn't mean to be naughty, Mammy,&rdquo; sobbed Bobbie, and Peter and
 +      Phyllis sniffed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, listen,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;it's quite true that we're poor, but we have
 +      enough to live on. You mustn't go telling everyone about our affairs&mdash;it's
 +      not right. And you must never, never, never ask strangers to give you
 +      things. Now always remember that&mdash;won't you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They all hugged her and rubbed their damp cheeks against hers and promised
 +      that they would.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And I'll write a letter to your old gentleman, and I shall tell him that
 +      I didn't approve&mdash;oh, of course I shall thank him, too, for his
 +      kindness. It's YOU I don't approve of, my darlings, not the old gentleman.
 +      He was as kind as ever he could be. And you can give the letter to the
 +      Station Master to give him&mdash;and we won't say any more about it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Afterwards, when the children were alone, Bobbie said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Isn't Mother splendid? You catch any other grown-up saying they were
 +      sorry they had been angry.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;she IS splendid; but it's rather awful when she's
 +      angry.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;She's like Avenging and Bright in the song,&rdquo; said Phyllis. &ldquo;I should like
 +      to look at her if it wasn't so awful. She looks so beautiful when she's
 +      really downright furious.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They took the letter down to the Station Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought you said you hadn't got any friends except in London,&rdquo; said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We've made him since,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But he doesn't live hereabouts?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No&mdash;we just know him on the railway.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then the Station Master retired to that sacred inner temple behind the
 +      little window where the tickets are sold, and the children went down to
 +      the Porters' room and talked to the Porter. They learned several
 +      interesting things from him&mdash;among others that his name was Perks,
 +      that he was married and had three children, that the lamps in front of
 +      engines are called head-lights and the ones at the back tail-lights.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And that just shows,&rdquo; whispered Phyllis, &ldquo;that trains really ARE dragons
 +      in disguise, with proper heads and tails.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was on this day that the children first noticed that all engines are
 +      not alike.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Alike?&rdquo; said the Porter, whose name was Perks, &ldquo;lor, love you, no, Miss.
 +      No more alike nor what you an' me are. That little 'un without a tender as
 +      went by just now all on her own, that was a tank, that was&mdash;she's off
 +      to do some shunting t'other side o' Maidbridge. That's as it might be you,
 +      Miss. Then there's goods engines, great, strong things with three wheels
 +      each side&mdash;joined with rods to strengthen 'em&mdash;as it might be
 +      me. Then there's main-line engines as it might be this 'ere young
 +      gentleman when he grows up and wins all the races at 'is school&mdash;so
 +      he will. The main-line engine she's built for speed as well as power.
 +      That's one to the 9.15 up.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The Green Dragon,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We calls her the Snail, Miss, among ourselves,&rdquo; said the Porter. &ldquo;She's
 +      oftener be'ind'and nor any train on the line.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But the engine's green,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, Miss,&rdquo; said Perks, &ldquo;so's a snail some seasons o' the year.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children agreed as they went home to dinner that the Porter was most
 +      delightful company.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next day was Roberta's birthday. In the afternoon she was politely but
 +      firmly requested to get out of the way and keep there till tea-time.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You aren't to see what we're going to do till it's done; it's a glorious
 +      surprise,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And Roberta went out into the garden all alone. She tried to be grateful,
 +      but she felt she would much rather have helped in whatever it was than
 +      have to spend her birthday afternoon by herself, no matter how glorious
 +      the surprise might be.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Now that she was alone, she had time to think, and one of the things she
 +      thought of most was what mother had said in one of those feverish nights
 +      when her hands were so hot and her eyes so bright.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The words were: &ldquo;Oh, what a doctor's bill there'll be for this!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She walked round and round the garden among the rose-bushes that hadn't
 +      any roses yet, only buds, and the lilac bushes and syringas and American
 +      currants, and the more she thought of the doctor's bill, the less she
 +      liked the thought of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And presently she made up her mind. She went out through the side door of
 +      the garden and climbed up the steep field to where the road runs along by
 +      the canal. She walked along until she came to the bridge that crosses the
 +      canal and leads to the village, and here she waited. It was very pleasant
 +      in the sunshine to lean one's elbows on the warm stone of the bridge and
 +      look down at the blue water of the canal. Bobbie had never seen any other
 +      canal, except the Regent's Canal, and the water of that is not at all a
 +      pretty colour. And she had never seen any river at all except the Thames,
 +      which also would be all the better if its face was washed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Perhaps the children would have loved the canal as much as the railway,
 +      but for two things. One was that they had found the railway FIRST&mdash;on
 +      that first, wonderful morning when the house and the country and the moors
 +      and rocks and great hills were all new to them. They had not found the
 +      canal till some days later. The other reason was that everyone on the
 +      railway had been kind to them&mdash;the Station Master, the Porter, and
 +      the old gentleman who waved. And the people on the canal were anything but
 +      kind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The people on the canal were, of course, the bargees, who steered the slow
 +      barges up and down, or walked beside the old horses that trampled up the
 +      mud of the towing-path, and strained at the long tow-ropes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter had once asked one of the bargees the time, and had been told to
 +      &ldquo;get out of that,&rdquo; in a tone so fierce that he did not stop to say
 +      anything about his having just as much right on the towing-path as the man
 +      himself. Indeed, he did not even think of saying it till some time later.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then another day when the children thought they would like to fish in the
 +      canal, a boy in a barge threw lumps of coal at them, and one of these hit
 +      Phyllis on the back of the neck. She was just stooping down to tie up her
 +      bootlace&mdash;and though the coal hardly hurt at all it made her not care
 +      very much about going on fishing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      On the bridge, however, Roberta felt quite safe, because she could look
 +      down on the canal, and if any boy showed signs of meaning to throw coal,
 +      she could duck behind the parapet.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Presently there was a sound of wheels, which was just what she expected.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The wheels were the wheels of the Doctor's dogcart, and in the cart, of
 +      course, was the Doctor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He pulled up, and called out:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hullo, head nurse! Want a lift?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wanted to see you,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Your mother's not worse, I hope?&rdquo; said the Doctor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No&mdash;but&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, skip in, then, and we'll go for a drive.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Roberta climbed in and the brown horse was made to turn round&mdash;which
 +      it did not like at all, for it was looking forward to its tea&mdash;I mean
 +      its oats.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;This IS jolly,&rdquo; said Bobbie, as the dogcart flew along the road by the
 +      canal.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We could throw a stone down any one of your three chimneys,&rdquo; said the
 +      Doctor, as they passed the house.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;but you'd have to be a jolly good shot.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How do you know I'm not?&rdquo; said the Doctor. &ldquo;Now, then, what's the
 +      trouble?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie fidgeted with the hook of the driving apron.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Come, out with it,&rdquo; said the Doctor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's rather hard, you see,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;to out with it; because of what
 +      Mother said.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What DID Mother say?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;She said I wasn't to go telling everyone that we're poor. But you aren't
 +      everyone, are you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not at all,&rdquo; said the Doctor, cheerfully. &ldquo;Well?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, I know doctors are very extravagant&mdash;I mean expensive, and
 +      Mrs. Viney told me that her doctoring only cost her twopence a week
 +      because she belonged to a Club.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You see she told me what a good doctor you were, and I asked her how she
 +      could afford you, because she's much poorer than we are. I've been in her
 +      house and I know. And then she told me about the Club, and I thought I'd
 +      ask you&mdash;and&mdash;oh, I don't want Mother to be worried! Can't we be
 +      in the Club, too, the same as Mrs. Viney?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Doctor was silent. He was rather poor himself, and he had been pleased
 +      at getting a new family to attend. So I think his feelings at that minute
 +      were rather mixed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You aren't cross with me, are you?&rdquo; said Bobbie, in a very small voice.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Doctor roused himself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Cross? How could I be? You're a very sensible little woman. Now look
 +      here, don't you worry. I'll make it all right with your Mother, even if I
 +      have to make a special brand-new Club all for her. Look here, this is
 +      where the Aqueduct begins.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What's an Aque&mdash;what's its name?&rdquo; asked Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;A water bridge,&rdquo; said the Doctor. &ldquo;Look.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The road rose to a bridge over the canal. To the left was a steep rocky
 +      cliff with trees and shrubs growing in the cracks of the rock. And the
 +      canal here left off running along the top of the hill and started to run
 +      on a bridge of its own&mdash;a great bridge with tall arches that went
 +      right across the valley.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie drew a long breath.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It IS grand, isn't it?&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It's like pictures in the History of
 +      Rome.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Right!&rdquo; said the Doctor, &ldquo;that's just exactly what it IS like. The Romans
 +      were dead nuts on aqueducts. It's a splendid piece of engineering.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought engineering was making engines.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ah, there are different sorts of engineering&mdash;making road and
 +      bridges and tunnels is one kind. And making fortifications is another.
 +      Well, we must be turning back. And, remember, you aren't to worry about
 +      doctor's bills or you'll be ill yourself, and then I'll send you in a bill
 +      as long as the aqueduct.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When Bobbie had parted from the Doctor at the top of the field that ran
 +      down from the road to Three Chimneys, she could not feel that she had done
 +      wrong. She knew that Mother would perhaps think differently. But Bobbie
 +      felt that for once she was the one who was right, and she scrambled down
 +      the rocky slope with a really happy feeling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis and Peter met her at the back door. They were unnaturally clean
 +      and neat, and Phyllis had a red bow in her hair. There was only just time
 +      for Bobbie to make herself tidy and tie up her hair with a blue bow before
 +      a little bell rang.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There!&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;that's to show the surprise is ready. Now you wait
 +      till the bell rings again and then you may come into the dining-room.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So Bobbie waited.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Tinkle, tinkle,&rdquo; said the little bell, and Bobbie went into the
 +      dining-room, feeling rather shy. Directly she opened the door she found
 +      herself, as it seemed, in a new world of light and flowers and singing.
 +      Mother and Peter and Phyllis were standing in a row at the end of the
 +      table. The shutters were shut and there were twelve candles on the table,
 +      one for each of Roberta's years. The table was covered with a sort of
 +      pattern of flowers, and at Roberta's place was a thick wreath of
 +      forget-me-nots and several most interesting little packages. And Mother
 +      and Phyllis and Peter were singing&mdash;to the first part of the tune of
 +      St. Patrick's Day. Roberta knew that Mother had written the words on
 +      purpose for her birthday. It was a little way of Mother's on birthdays. It
 +      had begun on Bobbie's fourth birthday when Phyllis was a baby. Bobbie
 +      remembered learning the verses to say to Father 'for a surprise.' She
 +      wondered if Mother had remembered, too. The four-year-old verse had been:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     Daddy dear, I'm only four
 +     And I'd rather not be more.
 +     Four's the nicest age to be,
 +     Two and two and one and three.
 +     What I love is two and two,
 +     Mother, Peter, Phil, and you.
 +     What you love is one and three,
 +     Mother, Peter, Phil, and me.
 +     Give your little girl a kiss
 +     Because she learned and told you this.
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      The song the others were singing now went like this:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     Our darling Roberta,
 +     No sorrow shall hurt her
 +     If we can prevent it
 +        Her whole life long.
 +     Her birthday's our fete day,
 +     We'll make it our great day,
 +     And give her our presents
 +        And sing her our song.
 +     May pleasures attend her
 +     And may the Fates send her
 +     The happiest journey
 +        Along her life's way.
 +     With skies bright above her
 +     And dear ones to love her!
 +     Dear Bob!  Many happy
 +        Returns of the day!
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      When they had finished singing they cried, &ldquo;Three cheers for our Bobbie!&rdquo;
 +       and gave them very loudly. Bobbie felt exactly as though she were going to
 +      cry&mdash;you know that odd feeling in the bridge of your nose and the
 +      pricking in your eyelids? But before she had time to begin they were all
 +      kissing and hugging her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;look at your presents.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They were very nice presents. There was a green and red needle-book that
 +      Phyllis had made herself in secret moments. There was a darling little
 +      silver brooch of Mother's shaped like a buttercup, which Bobbie had known
 +      and loved for years, but which she had never, never thought would come to
 +      be her very own. There was also a pair of blue glass vases from Mrs.
 +      Viney. Roberta had seen and admired them in the village shop. And there
 +      were three birthday cards with pretty pictures and wishes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother fitted the forget-me-not crown on Bobbie's brown head.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And now look at the table,&rdquo; she said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a cake on the table covered with white sugar, with 'Dear Bobbie'
 +      on it in pink sweets, and there were buns and jam; but the nicest thing
 +      was that the big table was almost covered with flowers&mdash;wallflowers
 +      were laid all round the tea-tray&mdash;there was a ring of forget-me-nots
 +      round each plate. The cake had a wreath of white lilac round it, and in
 +      the middle was something that looked like a pattern all done with single
 +      blooms of lilac or wallflower or laburnum.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's a map&mdash;a map of the railway!&rdquo; cried Peter. &ldquo;Look&mdash;those
 +      lilac lines are the metals&mdash;and there's the station done in brown
 +      wallflowers. The laburnum is the train, and there are the signal-boxes,
 +      and the road up to here&mdash;and those fat red daisies are us three
 +      waving to the old gentleman&mdash;that's him, the pansy in the laburnum
 +      train.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And there's 'Three Chimneys' done in the purple primroses,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +      &ldquo;And that little tiny rose-bud is Mother looking out for us when we're
 +      late for tea. Peter invented it all, and we got all the flowers from the
 +      station. We thought you'd like it better.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's my present,&rdquo; said Peter, suddenly dumping down his adored
 +      steam-engine on the table in front of her. Its tender had been lined with
 +      fresh white paper, and was full of sweets.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, Peter!&rdquo; cried Bobbie, quite overcome by this munificence, &ldquo;not your
 +      own dear little engine that you're so fond of?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, no,&rdquo; said Peter, very promptly, &ldquo;not the engine. Only the sweets.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie couldn't help her face changing a little&mdash;not so much because
 +      she was disappointed at not getting the engine, as because she had thought
 +      it so very noble of Peter, and now she felt she had been silly to think
 +      it. Also she felt she must have seemed greedy to expect the engine as well
 +      as the sweets. So her face changed. Peter saw it. He hesitated a minute;
 +      then his face changed, too, and he said: &ldquo;I mean not ALL the engine. I'll
 +      let you go halves if you like.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're a brick,&rdquo; cried Bobbie; &ldquo;it's a splendid present.&rdquo; She said no
 +      more aloud, but to herself she said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That was awfully jolly decent of Peter because I know he didn't mean to.
 +      Well, the broken half shall be my half of the engine, and I'll get it
 +      mended and give it back to Peter for his birthday.&rdquo;&mdash;&ldquo;Yes, Mother
 +      dear, I should like to cut the cake,&rdquo; she added, and tea began.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a delightful birthday. After tea Mother played games with them&mdash;any
 +      game they liked&mdash;and of course their first choice was
 +      blindman's-buff, in the course of which Bobbie's forget-me-not wreath
 +      twisted itself crookedly over one of her ears and stayed there. Then, when
 +      it was near bed-time and time to calm down, Mother had a lovely new story
 +      to read to them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You won't sit up late working, will you, Mother?&rdquo; Bobbie asked as they
 +      said good night.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And Mother said no, she wouldn't&mdash;she would only just write to Father
 +      and then go to bed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But when Bobbie crept down later to bring up her presents&mdash;for she
 +      felt she really could not be separated from them all night&mdash;Mother
 +      was not writing, but leaning her head on her arms and her arms on the
 +      table. I think it was rather good of Bobbie to slip quietly away, saying
 +      over and over, &ldquo;She doesn't want me to know she's unhappy, and I won't
 +      know; I won't know.&rdquo; But it made a sad end to the birthday.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +          *          *          *          *          *          *
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      The very next morning Bobbie began to watch her opportunity to get Peter's
 +      engine mended secretly. And the opportunity came the very next afternoon.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother went by train to the nearest town to do shopping. When she went
 +      there, she always went to the Post-office. Perhaps to post her letters to
 +      Father, for she never gave them to the children or Mrs. Viney to post, and
 +      she never went to the village herself. Peter and Phyllis went with her.
 +      Bobbie wanted an excuse not to go, but try as she would she couldn't think
 +      of a good one. And just when she felt that all was lost, her frock caught
 +      on a big nail by the kitchen door and there was a great criss-cross tear
 +      all along the front of the skirt. I assure you this was really an
 +      accident. So the others pitied her and went without her, for there was no
 +      time for her to change, because they were rather late already and had to
 +      hurry to the station to catch the train.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When they had gone, Bobbie put on her everyday frock, and went down to the
 +      railway. She did not go into the station, but she went along the line to
 +      the end of the platform where the engine is when the down train is
 +      alongside the platform&mdash;the place where there are a water tank and a
 +      long, limp, leather hose, like an elephant's trunk. She hid behind a bush
 +      on the other side of the railway. She had the toy engine done up in brown
 +      paper, and she waited patiently with it under her arm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then when the next train came in and stopped, Bobbie went across the
 +      metals of the up-line and stood beside the engine. She had never been so
 +      close to an engine before. It looked much larger and harder than she had
 +      expected, and it made her feel very small indeed, and, somehow, very soft&mdash;as
 +      if she could very, very easily be hurt rather badly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I know what silk-worms feel like now,&rdquo; said Bobbie to herself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The engine-driver and fireman did not see her. They were leaning out on
 +      the other side, telling the Porter a tale about a dog and a leg of mutton.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you please,&rdquo; said Roberta&mdash;but the engine was blowing off steam
 +      and no one heard her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you please, Mr. Engineer,&rdquo; she spoke a little louder, but the Engine
 +      happened to speak at the same moment, and of course Roberta's soft little
 +      voice hadn't a chance.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It seemed to her that the only way would be to climb on to the engine and
 +      pull at their coats. The step was high, but she got her knee on it, and
 +      clambered into the cab; she stumbled and fell on hands and knees on the
 +      base of the great heap of coals that led up to the square opening in the
 +      tender. The engine was not above the weaknesses of its fellows; it was
 +      making a great deal more noise than there was the slightest need for. And
 +      just as Roberta fell on the coals, the engine-driver, who had turned
 +      without seeing her, started the engine, and when Bobbie had picked herself
 +      up, the train was moving&mdash;not fast, but much too fast for her to get
 +      off.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      All sorts of dreadful thoughts came to her all together in one horrible
 +      flash. There were such things as express trains that went on, she
 +      supposed, for hundreds of miles without stopping. Suppose this should be
 +      one of them? How would she get home again? She had no money to pay for the
 +      return journey.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And I've no business here. I'm an engine-burglar&mdash;that's what I am,&rdquo;
 +       she thought. &ldquo;I shouldn't wonder if they could lock me up for this.&rdquo; And
 +      the train was going faster and faster.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was something in her throat that made it impossible for her to
 +      speak. She tried twice. The men had their backs to her. They were doing
 +      something to things that looked like taps.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Suddenly she put out her hand and caught hold of the nearest sleeve. The
 +      man turned with a start, and he and Roberta stood for a minute looking at
 +      each other in silence. Then the silence was broken by them both.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The man said, &ldquo;Here's a bloomin' go!&rdquo; and Roberta burst into tears.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The other man said he was blooming well blest&mdash;or something like it&mdash;but
 +      though naturally surprised they were not exactly unkind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're a naughty little gell, that's what you are,&rdquo; said the fireman, and
 +      the engine-driver said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Daring little piece, I call her,&rdquo; but they made her sit down on an iron
 +      seat in the cab and told her to stop crying and tell them what she meant
 +      by it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She did stop, as soon as she could. One thing that helped her was the
 +      thought that Peter would give almost his ears to be in her place&mdash;on
 +      a real engine&mdash;really going. The children had often wondered whether
 +      any engine-driver could be found noble enough to take them for a ride on
 +      an engine&mdash;and now there she was. She dried her eyes and sniffed
 +      earnestly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, then,&rdquo; said the fireman, &ldquo;out with it. What do you mean by it, eh?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, please,&rdquo; sniffed Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Try again,&rdquo; said the engine-driver, encouragingly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie tried again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Please, Mr. Engineer,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;I did call out to you from the line,
 +      but you didn't hear me&mdash;and I just climbed up to touch you on the arm&mdash;quite
 +      gently I meant to do it&mdash;and then I fell into the coals&mdash;and I
 +      am so sorry if I frightened you. Oh, don't be cross&mdash;oh, please
 +      don't!&rdquo; She sniffed again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We ain't so much CROSS,&rdquo; said the fireman, &ldquo;as interested like. It ain't
 +      every day a little gell tumbles into our coal bunker outer the sky, is it,
 +      Bill? What did you DO it for&mdash;eh?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's the point,&rdquo; agreed the engine-driver; &ldquo;what did you do it FOR?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie found that she had not quite stopped crying. The engine-driver
 +      patted her on the back and said: &ldquo;Here, cheer up, Mate. It ain't so bad as
 +      all that 'ere, I'll be bound.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wanted,&rdquo; said Bobbie, much cheered to find herself addressed as 'Mate'&mdash;&ldquo;I
 +      only wanted to ask you if you'd be so kind as to mend this.&rdquo; She picked up
 +      the brown-paper parcel from among the coals and undid the string with hot,
 +      red fingers that trembled.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Her feet and legs felt the scorch of the engine fire, but her shoulders
 +      felt the wild chill rush of the air. The engine lurched and shook and
 +      rattled, and as they shot under a bridge the engine seemed to shout in her
 +      ears.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The fireman shovelled on coals.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie unrolled the brown paper and disclosed the toy engine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought,&rdquo; she said wistfully, &ldquo;that perhaps you'd mend this for me&mdash;because
 +      you're an engineer, you know.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The engine-driver said he was blowed if he wasn't blest.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm blest if I ain't blowed,&rdquo; remarked the fireman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the engine-driver took the little engine and looked at it&mdash;and
 +      the fireman ceased for an instant to shovel coal, and looked, too.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's like your precious cheek,&rdquo; said the engine-driver&mdash;&ldquo;whatever
 +      made you think we'd be bothered tinkering penny toys?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I didn't mean it for precious cheek,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;only everybody that
 +      has anything to do with railways is so kind and good, I didn't think you'd
 +      mind. You don't really&mdash;do you?&rdquo; she added, for she had seen a not
 +      unkindly wink pass between the two.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My trade's driving of an engine, not mending her, especially such a
 +      hout-size in engines as this 'ere,&rdquo; said Bill. &ldquo;An' 'ow are we a-goin' to
 +      get you back to your sorrowing friends and relations, and all be forgiven
 +      and forgotten?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you'll put me down next time you stop,&rdquo; said Bobbie, firmly, though
 +      her heart beat fiercely against her arm as she clasped her hands, &ldquo;and
 +      lend me the money for a third-class ticket, I'll pay you back&mdash;honour
 +      bright. I'm not a confidence trick like in the newspapers&mdash;really,
 +      I'm not.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're a little lady, every inch,&rdquo; said Bill, relenting suddenly and
 +      completely. &ldquo;We'll see you gets home safe. An' about this engine&mdash;Jim&mdash;ain't
 +      you got ne'er a pal as can use a soldering iron? Seems to me that's about
 +      all the little bounder wants doing to it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's what Father said,&rdquo; Bobbie explained eagerly. &ldquo;What's that for?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She pointed to a little brass wheel that he had turned as he spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's the injector.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;In&mdash;what?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Injector to fill up the boiler.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Bobbie, mentally registering the fact to tell the others; &ldquo;that
 +      IS interesting.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;This 'ere's the automatic brake,&rdquo; Bill went on, flattered by her
 +      enthusiasm. &ldquo;You just move this 'ere little handle&mdash;do it with one
 +      finger, you can&mdash;and the train jolly soon stops. That's what they
 +      call the Power of Science in the newspapers.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He showed her two little dials, like clock faces, and told her how one
 +      showed how much steam was going, and the other showed if the brake was
 +      working properly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      By the time she had seen him shut off steam with a big shining steel
 +      handle, Bobbie knew more about the inside working of an engine than she
 +      had ever thought there was to know, and Jim had promised that his second
 +      cousin's wife's brother should solder the toy engine, or Jim would know
 +      the reason why. Besides all the knowledge she had gained Bobbie felt that
 +      she and Bill and Jim were now friends for life, and that they had wholly
 +      and forever forgiven her for stumbling uninvited among the sacred coals of
 +      their tender.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At Stacklepoole Junction she parted from them with warm expressions of
 +      mutual regard. They handed her over to the guard of a returning train&mdash;a
 +      friend of theirs&mdash;and she had the joy of knowing what guards do in
 +      their secret fastnesses, and understood how, when you pull the
 +      communication cord in railway carriages, a wheel goes round under the
 +      guard's nose and a loud bell rings in his ears. She asked the guard why
 +      his van smelt so fishy, and learned that he had to carry a lot of fish
 +      every day, and that the wetness in the hollows of the corrugated floor had
 +      all drained out of boxes full of plaice and cod and mackerel and soles and
 +      smelts.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie got home in time for tea, and she felt as though her mind would
 +      burst with all that had been put into it since she parted from the others.
 +      How she blessed the nail that had torn her frock!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Where have you been?&rdquo; asked the others.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;To the station, of course,&rdquo; said Roberta. But she would not tell a word
 +      of her adventures till the day appointed, when she mysteriously led them
 +      to the station at the hour of the 3.19's transit, and proudly introduced
 +      them to her friends, Bill and Jim. Jim's second cousin's wife's brother
 +      had not been unworthy of the sacred trust reposed in him. The toy engine
 +      was, literally, as good as new.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Good-bye&mdash;oh, good-bye,&rdquo; said Bobbie, just before the engine
 +      screamed ITS good-bye. &ldquo;I shall always, always love you&mdash;and Jim's
 +      second cousin's wife's brother as well!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And as the three children went home up the hill, Peter hugging the engine,
 +      now quite its own self again, Bobbie told, with joyous leaps of the heart,
 +      the story of how she had been an Engine-burglar.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0005" id="link2HCH0005">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter V. Prisoners and captives.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      It was one day when Mother had gone to Maidbridge. She had gone alone, but
 +      the children were to go to the station to meet her. And, loving the
 +      station as they did, it was only natural that they should be there a good
 +      hour before there was any chance of Mother's train arriving, even if the
 +      train were punctual, which was most unlikely. No doubt they would have
 +      been just as early, even if it had been a fine day, and all the delights
 +      of woods and fields and rocks and rivers had been open to them. But it
 +      happened to be a very wet day and, for July, very cold. There was a wild
 +      wind that drove flocks of dark purple clouds across the sky &ldquo;like herds of
 +      dream-elephants,&rdquo; as Phyllis said. And the rain stung sharply, so that the
 +      way to the station was finished at a run. Then the rain fell faster and
 +      harder, and beat slantwise against the windows of the booking office and
 +      of the chill place that had General Waiting Room on its door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's like being in a besieged castle,&rdquo; Phyllis said; &ldquo;look at the arrows
 +      of the foe striking against the battlements!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's much more like a great garden-squirt,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They decided to wait on the up side, for the down platform looked very wet
 +      indeed, and the rain was driving right into the little bleak shelter where
 +      down-passengers have to wait for their trains.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The hour would be full of incident and of interest, for there would be two
 +      up trains and one down to look at before the one that should bring Mother
 +      back.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perhaps it'll have stopped raining by then,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;anyhow, I'm
 +      glad I brought Mother's waterproof and umbrella.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They went into the desert spot labelled General Waiting Room, and the time
 +      passed pleasantly enough in a game of advertisements. You know the game,
 +      of course? It is something like dumb Crambo. The players take it in turns
 +      to go out, and then come back and look as like some advertisement as they
 +      can, and the others have to guess what advertisement it is meant to be.
 +      Bobbie came in and sat down under Mother's umbrella and made a sharp face,
 +      and everyone knew she was the fox who sits under the umbrella in the
 +      advertisement. Phyllis tried to make a Magic Carpet of Mother's
 +      waterproof, but it would not stand out stiff and raft-like as a Magic
 +      Carpet should, and nobody could guess it. Everyone thought Peter was
 +      carrying things a little too far when he blacked his face all over with
 +      coal-dust and struck a spidery attitude and said he was the blot that
 +      advertises somebody's Blue Black Writing Fluid.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was Phyllis's turn again, and she was trying to look like the Sphinx
 +      that advertises What's-his-name's Personally Conducted Tours up the Nile
 +      when the sharp ting of the signal announced the up train. The children
 +      rushed out to see it pass. On its engine were the particular driver and
 +      fireman who were now numbered among the children's dearest friends.
 +      Courtesies passed between them. Jim asked after the toy engine, and Bobbie
 +      pressed on his acceptance a moist, greasy package of toffee that she had
 +      made herself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Charmed by this attention, the engine-driver consented to consider her
 +      request that some day he would take Peter for a ride on the engine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Stand back, Mates,&rdquo; cried the engine-driver, suddenly, &ldquo;and horf she
 +      goes.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And sure enough, off the train went. The children watched the tail-lights
 +      of the train till it disappeared round the curve of the line, and then
 +      turned to go back to the dusty freedom of the General Waiting Room and the
 +      joys of the advertisement game.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They expected to see just one or two people, the end of the procession of
 +      passengers who had given up their tickets and gone away. Instead, the
 +      platform round the door of the station had a dark blot round it, and the
 +      dark blot was a crowd of people.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh!&rdquo; cried Peter, with a thrill of joyous excitement, &ldquo;something's
 +      happened! Come on!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They ran down the platform. When they got to the crowd, they could, of
 +      course, see nothing but the damp backs and elbows of the people on the
 +      crowd's outside. Everybody was talking at once. It was evident that
 +      something had happened.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's my belief he's nothing worse than a natural,&rdquo; said a
 +      farmerish-looking person. Peter saw his red, clean-shaven face as he
 +      spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you ask me, I should say it was a Police Court case,&rdquo; said a young man
 +      with a black bag.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not it; the Infirmary more like&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then the voice of the Station Master was heard, firm and official:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, then&mdash;move along there. I'll attend to this, if YOU please.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the crowd did not move. And then came a voice that thrilled the
 +      children through and through. For it spoke in a foreign language. And,
 +      what is more, it was a language that they had never heard. They had heard
 +      French spoken and German. Aunt Emma knew German, and used to sing a song
 +      about bedeuten and zeiten and bin and sin. Nor was it Latin. Peter had
 +      been in Latin for four terms.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was some comfort, anyhow, to find that none of the crowd understood the
 +      foreign language any better than the children did.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What's that he's saying?&rdquo; asked the farmer, heavily.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Sounds like French to me,&rdquo; said the Station Master, who had once been to
 +      Boulogne for the day.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It isn't French!&rdquo; cried Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What is it, then?&rdquo; asked more than one voice. The crowd fell back a
 +      little to see who had spoken, and Peter pressed forward, so that when the
 +      crowd closed up again he was in the front rank.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know what it is,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;but it isn't French. I know that.&rdquo;
 +       Then he saw what it was that the crowd had for its centre. It was a man&mdash;the
 +      man, Peter did not doubt, who had spoken in that strange tongue. A man
 +      with long hair and wild eyes, with shabby clothes of a cut Peter had not
 +      seen before&mdash;a man whose hands and lips trembled, and who spoke again
 +      as his eyes fell on Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No, it's not French,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Try him with French if you know so much about it,&rdquo; said the farmer-man.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Parlay voo Frongsay?&rdquo; began Peter, boldly, and the next moment the crowd
 +      recoiled again, for the man with the wild eyes had left leaning against
 +      the wall, and had sprung forward and caught Peter's hands, and begun to
 +      pour forth a flood of words which, though he could not understand a word
 +      of them, Peter knew the sound of.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There!&rdquo; said he, and turned, his hands still clasped in the hands of the
 +      strange shabby figure, to throw a glance of triumph at the crowd; &ldquo;there;
 +      THAT'S French.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What does he say?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know.&rdquo; Peter was obliged to own it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here,&rdquo; said the Station Master again; &ldquo;you move on if you please. I'LL
 +      deal with this case.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A few of the more timid or less inquisitive travellers moved slowly and
 +      reluctantly away. And Phyllis and Bobbie got near to Peter. All three had
 +      been TAUGHT French at school. How deeply they now wished that they had
 +      LEARNED it! Peter shook his head at the stranger, but he also shook his
 +      hands as warmly and looked at him as kindly as he could. A person in the
 +      crowd, after some hesitation, said suddenly, &ldquo;No comprenny!&rdquo; and then,
 +      blushing deeply, backed out of the press and went away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Take him into your room,&rdquo; whispered Bobbie to the Station Master. &ldquo;Mother
 +      can talk French. She'll be here by the next train from Maidbridge.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Station Master took the arm of the stranger, suddenly but not
 +      unkindly. But the man wrenched his arm away, and cowered back coughing and
 +      trembling and trying to push the Station Master away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, don't!&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;don't you see how frightened he is? He thinks
 +      you're going to shut him up. I know he does&mdash;look at his eyes!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They're like a fox's eyes when the beast's in a trap,&rdquo; said the farmer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, let me try!&rdquo; Bobbie went on; &ldquo;I do really know one or two French
 +      words if I could only think of them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Sometimes, in moments of great need, we can do wonderful things&mdash;things
 +      that in ordinary life we could hardly even dream of doing. Bobbie had
 +      never been anywhere near the top of her French class, but she must have
 +      learned something without knowing it, for now, looking at those wild,
 +      hunted eyes, she actually remembered and, what is more, spoke, some French
 +      words. She said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Vous attendre. Ma mere parlez Francais. Nous&mdash;what's the French for
 +      'being kind'?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Nobody knew.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Bong is 'good,'&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nous etre bong pour vous.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I do not know whether the man understood her words, but he understood the
 +      touch of the hand she thrust into his, and the kindness of the other hand
 +      that stroked his shabby sleeve.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She pulled him gently towards the inmost sanctuary of the Station Master.
 +      The other children followed, and the Station Master shut the door in the
 +      face of the crowd, which stood a little while in the booking office
 +      talking and looking at the fast closed yellow door, and then by ones and
 +      twos went its way, grumbling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Inside the Station Master's room Bobbie still held the stranger's hand and
 +      stroked his sleeve.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here's a go,&rdquo; said the Station Master; &ldquo;no ticket&mdash;doesn't even know
 +      where he wants to go. I'm not sure now but what I ought to send for the
 +      police.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, DON'T!&rdquo; all the children pleaded at once. And suddenly Bobbie got
 +      between the others and the stranger, for she had seen that he was crying.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      By a most unusual piece of good fortune she had a handkerchief in her
 +      pocket. By a still more uncommon accident the handkerchief was moderately
 +      clean. Standing in front of the stranger, she got out the handkerchief and
 +      passed it to him so that the others did not see.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Wait till Mother comes,&rdquo; Phyllis was saying; &ldquo;she does speak French
 +      beautifully. You'd just love to hear her.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm sure he hasn't done anything like you're sent to prison for,&rdquo; said
 +      Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Looks like without visible means to me,&rdquo; said the Station Master. &ldquo;Well,
 +      I don't mind giving him the benefit of the doubt till your Mamma comes. I
 +      SHOULD like to know what nation's got the credit of HIM, that I should.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then Peter had an idea. He pulled an envelope out of his pocket, and
 +      showed that it was half full of foreign stamps.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Look here,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;let's show him these&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie looked and saw that the stranger had dried his eyes with her
 +      handkerchief. So she said: &ldquo;All right.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They showed him an Italian stamp, and pointed from him to it and back
 +      again, and made signs of question with their eyebrows. He shook his head.
 +      Then they showed him a Norwegian stamp&mdash;the common blue kind it was&mdash;and
 +      again he signed No. Then they showed him a Spanish one, and at that he
 +      took the envelope from Peter's hand and searched among the stamps with a
 +      hand that trembled. The hand that he reached out at last, with a gesture
 +      as of one answering a question, contained a RUSSIAN stamp.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He's Russian,&rdquo; cried Peter, &ldquo;or else he's like 'the man who was'&mdash;in
 +      Kipling, you know.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The train from Maidbridge was signalled.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'll stay with him till you bring Mother in,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're not afraid, Missie?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, no,&rdquo; said Bobbie, looking at the stranger, as she might have looked
 +      at a strange dog of doubtful temper. &ldquo;You wouldn't hurt me, would you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She smiled at him, and he smiled back, a queer crooked smile. And then he
 +      coughed again. And the heavy rattling swish of the incoming train swept
 +      past, and the Station Master and Peter and Phyllis went out to meet it.
 +      Bobbie was still holding the stranger's hand when they came back with
 +      Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian rose and bowed very ceremoniously.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then Mother spoke in French, and he replied, haltingly at first, but
 +      presently in longer and longer sentences.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children, watching his face and Mother's, knew that he was telling her
 +      things that made her angry and pitying, and sorry and indignant all at
 +      once.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, Mum, what's it all about?&rdquo; The Station Master could not restrain
 +      his curiosity any longer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;it's all right. He's a Russian, and he's lost his
 +      ticket. And I'm afraid he's very ill. If you don't mind, I'll take him
 +      home with me now. He's really quite worn out. I'll run down and tell you
 +      all about him to-morrow.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I hope you won't find you're taking home a frozen viper,&rdquo; said the
 +      Station Master, doubtfully.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, no,&rdquo; Mother said brightly, and she smiled; &ldquo;I'm quite sure I'm not.
 +      Why, he's a great man in his own country, writes books&mdash;beautiful
 +      books&mdash;I've read some of them; but I'll tell you all about it
 +      to-morrow.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She spoke again in French to the Russian, and everyone could see the
 +      surprise and pleasure and gratitude in his eyes. He got up and politely
 +      bowed to the Station Master, and offered his arm most ceremoniously to
 +      Mother. She took it, but anybody could have seen that she was helping him
 +      along, and not he her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You girls run home and light a fire in the sitting-room,&rdquo; Mother said,
 +      &ldquo;and Peter had better go for the Doctor.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But it was Bobbie who went for the Doctor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I hate to tell you,&rdquo; she said breathlessly when she came upon him in his
 +      shirt sleeves, weeding his pansy-bed, &ldquo;but Mother's got a very shabby
 +      Russian, and I'm sure he'll have to belong to your Club. I'm certain he
 +      hasn't got any money. We found him at the station.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Found him! Was he lost, then?&rdquo; asked the Doctor, reaching for his coat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie, unexpectedly, &ldquo;that's just what he was. He's been
 +      telling Mother the sad, sweet story of his life in French; and she said
 +      would you be kind enough to come directly if you were at home. He has a
 +      dreadful cough, and he's been crying.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Doctor smiled.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, don't,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;please don't. You wouldn't if you'd seen him. I
 +      never saw a man cry before. You don't know what it's like.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Dr. Forrest wished then that he hadn't smiled.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When Bobbie and the Doctor got to Three Chimneys, the Russian was sitting
 +      in the arm-chair that had been Father's, stretching his feet to the blaze
 +      of a bright wood fire, and sipping the tea Mother had made him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The man seems worn out, mind and body,&rdquo; was what the Doctor said; &ldquo;the
 +      cough's bad, but there's nothing that can't be cured. He ought to go
 +      straight to bed, though&mdash;and let him have a fire at night.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'll make one in my room; it's the only one with a fireplace,&rdquo; said
 +      Mother. She did, and presently the Doctor helped the stranger to bed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a big black trunk in Mother's room that none of the children had
 +      ever seen unlocked. Now, when she had lighted the fire, she unlocked it
 +      and took some clothes out&mdash;men's clothes&mdash;and set them to air by
 +      the newly lighted fire. Bobbie, coming in with more wood for the fire, saw
 +      the mark on the night-shirt, and looked over to the open trunk. All the
 +      things she could see were men's clothes. And the name marked on the shirt
 +      was Father's name. Then Father hadn't taken his clothes with him. And that
 +      night-shirt was one of Father's new ones. Bobbie remembered its being
 +      made, just before Peter's birthday. Why hadn't Father taken his clothes?
 +      Bobbie slipped from the room. As she went she heard the key turned in the
 +      lock of the trunk. Her heart was beating horribly. WHY hadn't Father taken
 +      his clothes? When Mother came out of the room, Bobbie flung tightly
 +      clasping arms round her waist, and whispered:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother&mdash;Daddy isn't&mdash;isn't DEAD, is he?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My darling, no! What made you think of anything so horrible?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I&mdash;I don't know,&rdquo; said Bobbie, angry with herself, but still
 +      clinging to that resolution of hers, not to see anything that Mother
 +      didn't mean her to see.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother gave her a hurried hug. &ldquo;Daddy was quite, QUITE well when I heard
 +      from him last,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;and he'll come back to us some day. Don't fancy
 +      such horrible things, darling!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Later on, when the Russian stranger had been made comfortable for the
 +      night, Mother came into the girls' room. She was to sleep there in
 +      Phyllis's bed, and Phyllis was to have a mattress on the floor, a most
 +      amusing adventure for Phyllis. Directly Mother came in, two white figures
 +      started up, and two eager voices called:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, Mother, tell us all about the Russian gentleman.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A white shape hopped into the room. It was Peter, dragging his quilt
 +      behind him like the tail of a white peacock.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We have been patient,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and I had to bite my tongue not to go to
 +      sleep, and I just nearly went to sleep and I bit too hard, and it hurts
 +      ever so. DO tell us. Make a nice long story of it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I can't make a long story of it to-night,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;I'm very tired.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie knew by her voice that Mother had been crying, but the others
 +      didn't know.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, make it as long as you can,&rdquo; said Phil, and Bobbie got her arms
 +      round Mother's waist and snuggled close to her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, it's a story long enough to make a whole book of. He's a writer;
 +      he's written beautiful books. In Russia at the time of the Czar one dared
 +      not say anything about the rich people doing wrong, or about the things
 +      that ought to be done to make poor people better and happier. If one did
 +      one was sent to prison.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But they CAN'T,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;people only go to prison when they've done
 +      wrong.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Or when the Judges THINK they've done wrong,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;Yes, that's
 +      so in England. But in Russia it was different. And he wrote a beautiful
 +      book about poor people and how to help them. I've read it. There's nothing
 +      in it but goodness and kindness. And they sent him to prison for it. He
 +      was three years in a horrible dungeon, with hardly any light, and all damp
 +      and dreadful. In prison all alone for three years.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother's voice trembled a little and stopped suddenly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But, Mother,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;that can't be true NOW. It sounds like
 +      something out of a history book&mdash;the Inquisition, or something.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It WAS true,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;it's all horribly true. Well, then they took
 +      him out and sent him to Siberia, a convict chained to other convicts&mdash;wicked
 +      men who'd done all sorts of crimes&mdash;a long chain of them, and they
 +      walked, and walked, and walked, for days and weeks, till he thought they'd
 +      never stop walking. And overseers went behind them with whips&mdash;yes,
 +      whips&mdash;to beat them if they got tired. And some of them went lame,
 +      and some fell down, and when they couldn't get up and go on, they beat
 +      them, and then left them to die. Oh, it's all too terrible! And at last he
 +      got to the mines, and he was condemned to stay there for life&mdash;for
 +      life, just for writing a good, noble, splendid book.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How did he get away?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;When the war came, some of the Russian prisoners were allowed to
 +      volunteer as soldiers. And he volunteered. But he deserted at the first
 +      chance he got and&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But that's very cowardly, isn't it&rdquo;&mdash;said Peter&mdash;&ldquo;to desert?
 +      Especially when it's war.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Do you think he owed anything to a country that had done THAT to him? If
 +      he did, he owed more to his wife and children. He didn't know what had
 +      become of them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; cried Bobbie, &ldquo;he had THEM to think about and be miserable about
 +      TOO, then, all the time he was in prison?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, he had them to think about and be miserable about all the time he
 +      was in prison. For anything he knew they might have been sent to prison,
 +      too. They did those things in Russia. But while he was in the mines some
 +      friends managed to get a message to him that his wife and children had
 +      escaped and come to England. So when he deserted he came here to look for
 +      them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Had he got their address?&rdquo; said practical Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No; just England. He was going to London, and he thought he had to change
 +      at our station, and then he found he'd lost his ticket and his purse.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, DO you think he'll find them?&mdash;I mean his wife and children, not
 +      the ticket and things.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I hope so. Oh, I hope and pray that he'll find his wife and children
 +      again.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Even Phyllis now perceived that mother's voice was very unsteady.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why, Mother,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;how very sorry you seem to be for him!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother didn't answer for a minute. Then she just said, &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; and then she
 +      seemed to be thinking. The children were quiet.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Presently she said, &ldquo;Dears, when you say your prayers, I think you might
 +      ask God to show His pity upon all prisoners and captives.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;To show His pity,&rdquo; Bobbie repeated slowly, &ldquo;upon all prisoners and
 +      captives. Is that right, Mother?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;upon all prisoners and captives. All prisoners and
 +      captives.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0006" id="link2HCH0006">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter VI. Saviours of the train.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian gentleman was better the next day, and the day after that
 +      better still, and on the third day he was well enough to come into the
 +      garden. A basket chair was put for him and he sat there, dressed in
 +      clothes of Father's which were too big for him. But when Mother had hemmed
 +      up the ends of the sleeves and the trousers, the clothes did well enough.
 +      His was a kind face now that it was no longer tired and frightened, and he
 +      smiled at the children whenever he saw them. They wished very much that he
 +      could speak English. Mother wrote several letters to people she thought
 +      might know whereabouts in England a Russian gentleman's wife and family
 +      might possibly be; not to the people she used to know before she came to
 +      live at Three Chimneys&mdash;she never wrote to any of them&mdash;but
 +      strange people&mdash;Members of Parliament and Editors of papers, and
 +      Secretaries of Societies.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And she did not do much of her story-writing, only corrected proofs as she
 +      sat in the sun near the Russian, and talked to him every now and then.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children wanted very much to show how kindly they felt to this man who
 +      had been sent to prison and to Siberia just for writing a beautiful book
 +      about poor people. They could smile at him, of course; they could and they
 +      did. But if you smile too constantly, the smile is apt to get fixed like
 +      the smile of the hyaena. And then it no longer looks friendly, but simply
 +      silly. So they tried other ways, and brought him flowers till the place
 +      where he sat was surrounded by little fading bunches of clover and roses
 +      and Canterbury bells.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And then Phyllis had an idea. She beckoned mysteriously to the others and
 +      drew them into the back yard, and there, in a concealed spot, between the
 +      pump and the water-butt, she said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You remember Perks promising me the very first strawberries out of his
 +      own garden?&rdquo; Perks, you will recollect, was the Porter. &ldquo;Well, I should
 +      think they're ripe now. Let's go down and see.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother had been down as she had promised to tell the Station Master the
 +      story of the Russian Prisoner. But even the charms of the railway had been
 +      unable to tear the children away from the neighbourhood of the interesting
 +      stranger. So they had not been to the station for three days.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They went now.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And, to their surprise and distress, were very coldly received by Perks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;'Ighly honoured, I'm sure,&rdquo; he said when they peeped in at the door of
 +      the Porters' room. And he went on reading his newspaper.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was an uncomfortable silence.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, dear,&rdquo; said Bobbie, with a sigh, &ldquo;I do believe you're CROSS.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What, me? Not me!&rdquo; said Perks loftily; &ldquo;it ain't nothing to me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What AIN'T nothing to you?&rdquo; said Peter, too anxious and alarmed to change
 +      the form of words.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nothing ain't nothing. What 'appens either 'ere or elsewhere,&rdquo; said
 +      Perks; &ldquo;if you likes to 'ave your secrets, 'ave 'em and welcome. That's
 +      what I say.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The secret-chamber of each heart was rapidly examined during the pause
 +      that followed. Three heads were shaken.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We haven't got any secrets from YOU,&rdquo; said Bobbie at last.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Maybe you 'ave, and maybe you 'aven't,&rdquo; said Perks; &ldquo;it ain't nothing to
 +      me. And I wish you all a very good afternoon.&rdquo; He held up the paper
 +      between him and them and went on reading.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, DON'T!&rdquo; said Phyllis, in despair; &ldquo;this is truly dreadful! Whatever
 +      it is, do tell us.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We didn't mean to do it whatever it was.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      No answer. The paper was refolded and Perks began on another column.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Look here,&rdquo; said Peter, suddenly, &ldquo;it's not fair. Even people who do
 +      crimes aren't punished without being told what it's for&mdash;as once they
 +      were in Russia.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know nothing about Russia.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes, you do, when Mother came down on purpose to tell you and Mr.
 +      Gills all about OUR Russian.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Can't you fancy it?&rdquo; said Perks, indignantly; &ldquo;don't you see 'im a-asking
 +      of me to step into 'is room and take a chair and listen to what 'er
 +      Ladyship 'as to say?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Do you mean to say you've not heard?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not so much as a breath. I did go so far as to put a question. And he
 +      shuts me up like a rat-trap. 'Affairs of State, Perks,' says he. But I did
 +      think one o' you would 'a' nipped down to tell me&mdash;you're here sharp
 +      enough when you want to get anything out of old Perks&rdquo;&mdash;Phyllis
 +      flushed purple as she thought of the strawberries&mdash;&ldquo;information about
 +      locomotives or signals or the likes,&rdquo; said Perks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We didn't know you didn't know.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We thought Mother had told you.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Wewantedtotellyouonlywethoughtitwouldbestalenews.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The three spoke all at once.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Perks said it was all very well, and still held up the paper. Then Phyllis
 +      suddenly snatched it away, and threw her arms round his neck.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, let's kiss and be friends,&rdquo; she said; &ldquo;we'll say we're sorry first,
 +      if you like, but we didn't really know that you didn't know.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We are so sorry,&rdquo; said the others.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And Perks at last consented to accept their apologies.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then they got him to come out and sit in the sun on the green Railway
 +      Bank, where the grass was quite hot to touch, and there, sometimes
 +      speaking one at a time, and sometimes all together, they told the Porter
 +      the story of the Russian Prisoner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, I must say,&rdquo; said Perks; but he did not say it&mdash;whatever it
 +      was.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, it is pretty awful, isn't it?&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and I don't wonder you
 +      were curious about who the Russian was.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wasn't curious, not so much as interested,&rdquo; said the Porter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, I do think Mr. Gills might have told you about it. It was horrid of
 +      him.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't keep no down on 'im for that, Missie,&rdquo; said the Porter; &ldquo;cos why?
 +      I see 'is reasons. 'E wouldn't want to give away 'is own side with a tale
 +      like that 'ere. It ain't human nature. A man's got to stand up for his own
 +      side whatever they does. That's what it means by Party Politics. I should
 +      'a' done the same myself if that long-'aired chap 'ad 'a' been a Jap.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But the Japs didn't do cruel, wicked things like that,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;P'r'aps not,&rdquo; said Perks, cautiously; &ldquo;still you can't be sure with
 +      foreigners. My own belief is they're all tarred with the same brush.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then why were you on the side of the Japs?&rdquo; Peter asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, you see, you must take one side or the other. Same as with Liberals
 +      and Conservatives. The great thing is to take your side and then stick to
 +      it, whatever happens.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A signal sounded.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's the 3.14 up,&rdquo; said Perks. &ldquo;You lie low till she's through, and
 +      then we'll go up along to my place, and see if there's any of them
 +      strawberries ripe what I told you about.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If there are any ripe, and you DO give them to me,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;you
 +      won't mind if I give them to the poor Russian, will you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Perks narrowed his eyes and then raised his eyebrows.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So it was them strawberries you come down for this afternoon, eh?&rdquo; said
 +      he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This was an awkward moment for Phyllis. To say &ldquo;yes&rdquo; would seem rude and
 +      greedy, and unkind to Perks. But she knew if she said &ldquo;no,&rdquo; she would not
 +      be pleased with herself afterwards. So&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;it was.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well done!&rdquo; said the Porter; &ldquo;speak the truth and shame the&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But we'd have come down the very next day if we'd known you hadn't heard
 +      the story,&rdquo; Phyllis added hastily.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I believe you, Missie,&rdquo; said Perks, and sprang across the line six feet
 +      in front of the advancing train.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The girls hated to see him do this, but Peter liked it. It was so
 +      exciting.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian gentleman was so delighted with the strawberries that the
 +      three racked their brains to find some other surprise for him. But all the
 +      racking did not bring out any idea more novel than wild cherries. And this
 +      idea occurred to them next morning. They had seen the blossom on the trees
 +      in the spring, and they knew where to look for wild cherries now that
 +      cherry time was here. The trees grew all up and along the rocky face of
 +      the cliff out of which the mouth of the tunnel opened. There were all
 +      sorts of trees there, birches and beeches and baby oaks and hazels, and
 +      among them the cherry blossom had shone like snow and silver.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The mouth of the tunnel was some way from Three Chimneys, so Mother let
 +      them take their lunch with them in a basket. And the basket would do to
 +      bring the cherries back in if they found any. She also lent them her
 +      silver watch so that they should not be late for tea. Peter's Waterbury
 +      had taken it into its head not to go since the day when Peter dropped it
 +      into the water-butt. And they started. When they got to the top of the
 +      cutting, they leaned over the fence and looked down to where the railway
 +      lines lay at the bottom of what, as Phyllis said, was exactly like a
 +      mountain gorge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If it wasn't for the railway at the bottom, it would be as though the
 +      foot of man had never been there, wouldn't it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The sides of the cutting were of grey stone, very roughly hewn. Indeed,
 +      the top part of the cutting had been a little natural glen that had been
 +      cut deeper to bring it down to the level of the tunnel's mouth. Among the
 +      rocks, grass and flowers grew, and seeds dropped by birds in the crannies
 +      of the stone had taken root and grown into bushes and trees that overhung
 +      the cutting. Near the tunnel was a flight of steps leading down to the
 +      line&mdash;just wooden bars roughly fixed into the earth&mdash;a very
 +      steep and narrow way, more like a ladder than a stair.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We'd better get down,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;I'm sure the cherries would be quite
 +      easy to get at from the side of the steps. You remember it was there we
 +      picked the cherry blossoms that we put on the rabbit's grave.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they went along the fence towards the little swing gate that is at the
 +      top of these steps. And they were almost at the gate when Bobbie said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hush. Stop! What's that?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That&rdquo; was a very odd noise indeed&mdash;a soft noise, but quite plainly
 +      to be heard through the sound of the wind in tree branches, and the hum
 +      and whir of the telegraph wires. It was a sort of rustling, whispering
 +      sound. As they listened it stopped, and then it began again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And this time it did not stop, but it grew louder and more rustling and
 +      rumbling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Look&rdquo;&mdash;cried Peter, suddenly&mdash;&ldquo;the tree over there!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The tree he pointed at was one of those that have rough grey leaves and
 +      white flowers. The berries, when they come, are bright scarlet, but if you
 +      pick them, they disappoint you by turning black before you get them home.
 +      And, as Peter pointed, the tree was moving&mdash;not just the way trees
 +      ought to move when the wind blows through them, but all in one piece, as
 +      though it were a live creature and were walking down the side of the
 +      cutting.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's moving!&rdquo; cried Bobbie. &ldquo;Oh, look! and so are the others. It's like
 +      the woods in Macbeth.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's magic,&rdquo; said Phyllis, breathlessly. &ldquo;I always knew this railway was
 +      enchanted.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It really did seem a little like magic. For all the trees for about twenty
 +      yards of the opposite bank seemed to be slowly walking down towards the
 +      railway line, the tree with the grey leaves bringing up the rear like some
 +      old shepherd driving a flock of green sheep.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What is it? Oh, what is it?&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;it's much too magic for me. I
 +      don't like it. Let's go home.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Bobbie and Peter clung fast to the rail and watched breathlessly. And
 +      Phyllis made no movement towards going home by herself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The trees moved on and on. Some stones and loose earth fell down and
 +      rattled on the railway metals far below.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's ALL coming down,&rdquo; Peter tried to say, but he found there was hardly
 +      any voice to say it with. And, indeed, just as he spoke, the great rock,
 +      on the top of which the walking trees were, leaned slowly forward. The
 +      trees, ceasing to walk, stood still and shivered. Leaning with the rock,
 +      they seemed to hesitate a moment, and then rock and trees and grass and
 +      bushes, with a rushing sound, slipped right away from the face of the
 +      cutting and fell on the line with a blundering crash that could have been
 +      heard half a mile off. A cloud of dust rose up.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Peter, in awestruck tones, &ldquo;isn't it exactly like when coals
 +      come in?&mdash;if there wasn't any roof to the cellar and you could see
 +      down.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Look what a great mound it's made!&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Peter, slowly. He was still leaning on the fence. &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; he
 +      said again, still more slowly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then he stood upright.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The 11.29 down hasn't gone by yet. We must let them know at the station,
 +      or there'll be a most frightful accident.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's run,&rdquo; said Bobbie, and began.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Peter cried, &ldquo;Come back!&rdquo; and looked at Mother's watch. He was very
 +      prompt and businesslike, and his face looked whiter than they had ever
 +      seen it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No time,&rdquo; he said; &ldquo;it's two miles away, and it's past eleven.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Couldn't we,&rdquo; suggested Phyllis, breathlessly, &ldquo;couldn't we climb up a
 +      telegraph post and do something to the wires?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We don't know how,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They do it in war,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;I know I've heard of it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They only CUT them, silly,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and that doesn't do any good.
 +      And we couldn't cut them even if we got up, and we couldn't get up. If we
 +      had anything red, we could get down on the line and wave it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But the train wouldn't see us till it got round the corner, and then it
 +      could see the mound just as well as us,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;better, because
 +      it's much bigger than us.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If we only had something red,&rdquo; Peter repeated, &ldquo;we could go round the
 +      corner and wave to the train.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We might wave, anyway.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They'd only think it was just US, as usual. We've waved so often before.
 +      Anyway, let's get down.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They got down the steep stairs. Bobbie was pale and shivering. Peter's
 +      face looked thinner than usual. Phyllis was red-faced and damp with
 +      anxiety.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, how hot I am!&rdquo; she said; &ldquo;and I thought it was going to be cold; I
 +      wish we hadn't put on our&mdash;&rdquo; she stopped short, and then ended in
 +      quite a different tone&mdash;&ldquo;our flannel petticoats.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie turned at the bottom of the stairs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes,&rdquo; she cried; &ldquo;THEY'RE red! Let's take them off.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They did, and with the petticoats rolled up under their arms, ran along
 +      the railway, skirting the newly fallen mound of stones and rock and earth,
 +      and bent, crushed, twisted trees. They ran at their best pace. Peter led,
 +      but the girls were not far behind. They reached the corner that hid the
 +      mound from the straight line of railway that ran half a mile without curve
 +      or corner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now,&rdquo; said Peter, taking hold of the largest flannel petticoat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You're not&rdquo;&mdash;Phyllis faltered&mdash;&ldquo;you're not going to TEAR them?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Shut up,&rdquo; said Peter, with brief sternness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;tear them into little bits if you like. Don't you
 +      see, Phil, if we can't stop the train, there'll be a real live accident,
 +      with people KILLED. Oh, horrible! Here, Peter, you'll never tear it
 +      through the band!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She took the red flannel petticoat from him and tore it off an inch from
 +      the band. Then she tore the other in the same way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There!&rdquo; said Peter, tearing in his turn. He divided each petticoat into
 +      three pieces. &ldquo;Now, we've got six flags.&rdquo; He looked at the watch again.
 +      &ldquo;And we've got seven minutes. We must have flagstaffs.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The knives given to boys are, for some odd reason, seldom of the kind of
 +      steel that keeps sharp. The young saplings had to be broken off. Two came
 +      up by the roots. The leaves were stripped from them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We must cut holes in the flags, and run the sticks through the holes,&rdquo;
 +       said Peter. And the holes were cut. The knife was sharp enough to cut
 +      flannel with. Two of the flags were set up in heaps of loose stones
 +      between the sleepers of the down line. Then Phyllis and Roberta took each
 +      a flag, and stood ready to wave it as soon as the train came in sight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I shall have the other two myself,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;because it was my idea
 +      to wave something red.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They're our petticoats, though,&rdquo; Phyllis was beginning, but Bobbie
 +      interrupted&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, what does it matter who waves what, if we can only save the train?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Perhaps Peter had not rightly calculated the number of minutes it would
 +      take the 11.29 to get from the station to the place where they were, or
 +      perhaps the train was late. Anyway, it seemed a very long time that they
 +      waited.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis grew impatient. &ldquo;I expect the watch is wrong, and the train's gone
 +      by,&rdquo; said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter relaxed the heroic attitude he had chosen to show off his two flags.
 +      And Bobbie began to feel sick with suspense.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It seemed to her that they had been standing there for hours and hours,
 +      holding those silly little red flannel flags that no one would ever
 +      notice. The train wouldn't care. It would go rushing by them and tear
 +      round the corner and go crashing into that awful mound. And everyone would
 +      be killed. Her hands grew very cold and trembled so that she could hardly
 +      hold the flag. And then came the distant rumble and hum of the metals, and
 +      a puff of white steam showed far away along the stretch of line.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Stand firm,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and wave like mad! When it gets to that big
 +      furze bush step back, but go on waving! Don't stand ON the line, Bobbie!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The train came rattling along very, very fast.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;They don't see us! They won't see us! It's all no good!&rdquo; cried Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The two little flags on the line swayed as the nearing train shook and
 +      loosened the heaps of loose stones that held them up. One of them slowly
 +      leaned over and fell on the line. Bobbie jumped forward and caught it up,
 +      and waved it; her hands did not tremble now.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It seemed that the train came on as fast as ever. It was very near now.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Keep off the line, you silly cuckoo!&rdquo; said Peter, fiercely.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's no good,&rdquo; Bobbie said again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Stand back!&rdquo; cried Peter, suddenly, and he dragged Phyllis back by the
 +      arm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Bobbie cried, &ldquo;Not yet, not yet!&rdquo; and waved her two flags right over
 +      the line. The front of the engine looked black and enormous. Its voice was
 +      loud and harsh.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, stop, stop, stop!&rdquo; cried Bobbie. No one heard her. At least Peter and
 +      Phyllis didn't, for the oncoming rush of the train covered the sound of
 +      her voice with a mountain of sound. But afterwards she used to wonder
 +      whether the engine itself had not heard her. It seemed almost as though it
 +      had&mdash;for it slackened swiftly, slackened and stopped, not twenty
 +      yards from the place where Bobbie's two flags waved over the line. She saw
 +      the great black engine stop dead, but somehow she could not stop waving
 +      the flags. And when the driver and the fireman had got off the engine and
 +      Peter and Phyllis had gone to meet them and pour out their excited tale of
 +      the awful mound just round the corner, Bobbie still waved the flags but
 +      more and more feebly and jerkily.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When the others turned towards her she was lying across the line with her
 +      hands flung forward and still gripping the sticks of the little red
 +      flannel flags.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The engine-driver picked her up, carried her to the train, and laid her on
 +      the cushions of a first-class carriage.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Gone right off in a faint,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;poor little woman. And no wonder.
 +      I'll just 'ave a look at this 'ere mound of yours, and then we'll run you
 +      back to the station and get her seen to.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was horrible to see Bobbie lying so white and quiet, with her lips
 +      blue, and parted.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I believe that's what people look like when they're dead,&rdquo; whispered
 +      Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;DON'T!&rdquo; said Peter, sharply.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They sat by Bobbie on the blue cushions, and the train ran back. Before it
 +      reached their station Bobbie had sighed and opened her eyes, and rolled
 +      herself over and begun to cry. This cheered the others wonderfully. They
 +      had seen her cry before, but they had never seen her faint, nor anyone
 +      else, for the matter of that. They had not known what to do when she was
 +      fainting, but now she was only crying they could thump her on the back and
 +      tell her not to, just as they always did. And presently, when she stopped
 +      crying, they were able to laugh at her for being such a coward as to
 +      faint.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When the station was reached, the three were the heroes of an agitated
 +      meeting on the platform.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The praises they got for their &ldquo;prompt action,&rdquo; their &ldquo;common sense,&rdquo;
 +       their &ldquo;ingenuity,&rdquo; were enough to have turned anybody's head. Phyllis
 +      enjoyed herself thoroughly. She had never been a real heroine before, and
 +      the feeling was delicious. Peter's ears got very red. Yet he, too, enjoyed
 +      himself. Only Bobbie wished they all wouldn't. She wanted to get away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll hear from the Company about this, I expect,&rdquo; said the Station
 +      Master.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie wished she might never hear of it again. She pulled at Peter's
 +      jacket.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, come away, come away! I want to go home,&rdquo; she said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they went. And as they went Station Master and Porter and guards and
 +      driver and fireman and passengers sent up a cheer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, listen,&rdquo; cried Phyllis; &ldquo;that's for US!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;I say, I am glad I thought about something red, and
 +      waving it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How lucky we DID put on our red flannel petticoats!&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie said nothing. She was thinking of the horrible mound, and the
 +      trustful train rushing towards it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And it was US that saved them,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How dreadful if they had all been killed!&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;wouldn't it,
 +      Bobbie?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We never got any cherries, after all,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The others thought her rather heartless.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0007" id="link2HCH0007">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter VII. For valour.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I hope you don't mind my telling you a good deal about Roberta. The fact
 +      is I am growing very fond of her. The more I observe her the more I love
 +      her. And I notice all sorts of things about her that I like.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For instance, she was quite oddly anxious to make other people happy. And
 +      she could keep a secret, a tolerably rare accomplishment. Also she had the
 +      power of silent sympathy. That sounds rather dull, I know, but it's not so
 +      dull as it sounds. It just means that a person is able to know that you
 +      are unhappy, and to love you extra on that account, without bothering you
 +      by telling you all the time how sorry she is for you. That was what Bobbie
 +      was like. She knew that Mother was unhappy&mdash;and that Mother had not
 +      told her the reason. So she just loved Mother more and never said a single
 +      word that could let Mother know how earnestly her little girl wondered
 +      what Mother was unhappy about. This needs practice. It is not so easy as
 +      you might think.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Whatever happened&mdash;and all sorts of nice, pleasant ordinary things
 +      happened&mdash;such as picnics, games, and buns for tea, Bobbie always had
 +      these thoughts at the back of her mind. &ldquo;Mother's unhappy. Why? I don't
 +      know. She doesn't want me to know. I won't try to find out. But she IS
 +      unhappy. Why? I don't know. She doesn't&mdash;&rdquo; and so on, repeating and
 +      repeating like a tune that you don't know the stopping part of.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian gentleman still took up a good deal of everybody's thoughts.
 +      All the editors and secretaries of Societies and Members of Parliament had
 +      answered Mother's letters as politely as they knew how; but none of them
 +      could tell where the wife and children of Mr. Szezcpansky would be likely
 +      to be. (Did I tell you that the Russian's very Russian name was that?)
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie had another quality which you will hear differently described by
 +      different people. Some of them call it interfering in other people's
 +      business&mdash;and some call it &ldquo;helping lame dogs over stiles,&rdquo; and some
 +      call it &ldquo;loving-kindness.&rdquo; It just means trying to help people.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She racked her brains to think of some way of helping the Russian
 +      gentleman to find his wife and children. He had learned a few words of
 +      English now. He could say &ldquo;Good morning,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Good night,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Please,&rdquo;
 +       and &ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Pretty,&rdquo; when the children brought him flowers, and
 +      &ldquo;Ver' good,&rdquo; when they asked him how he had slept.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The way he smiled when he &ldquo;said his English,&rdquo; was, Bobbie felt, &ldquo;just too
 +      sweet for anything.&rdquo; She used to think of his face because she fancied it
 +      would help her to some way of helping him. But it did not. Yet his being
 +      there cheered her because she saw that it made Mother happier.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;She likes to have someone to be good to, even beside us,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +      &ldquo;And I know she hated to let him have Father's clothes. But I suppose it
 +      'hurt nice,' or she wouldn't have.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For many and many a night after the day when she and Peter and Phyllis had
 +      saved the train from wreck by waving their little red flannel flags,
 +      Bobbie used to wake screaming and shivering, seeing again that horrible
 +      mound, and the poor, dear trustful engine rushing on towards it&mdash;just
 +      thinking that it was doing its swift duty, and that everything was clear
 +      and safe. And then a warm thrill of pleasure used to run through her at
 +      the remembrance of how she and Peter and Phyllis and the red flannel
 +      petticoats had really saved everybody.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One morning a letter came. It was addressed to Peter and Bobbie and
 +      Phyllis. They opened it with enthusiastic curiosity, for they did not
 +      often get letters.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The letter said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Dear Sir, and Ladies,&mdash;It is proposed to make a small presentation
 +      to you, in commemoration of your prompt and courageous action in warning
 +      the train on the &mdash;- inst., and thus averting what must, humanly
 +      speaking, have been a terrible accident. The presentation will take place
 +      at the &mdash;- Station at three o'clock on the 30th inst., if this time
 +      and place will be convenient to you.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +          &ldquo;Yours faithfully,
 +
 +                    &ldquo;Jabez Inglewood.
 +&ldquo;Secretary, Great Northern and Southern Railway Co.&rdquo;
 + </pre>
 +    <p>
 +      There never had been a prouder moment in the lives of the three children.
 +      They rushed to Mother with the letter, and she also felt proud and said
 +      so, and this made the children happier than ever.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But if the presentation is money, you must say, 'Thank you, but we'd
 +      rather not take it,'&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;I'll wash your Indian muslins at
 +      once,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;You must look tidy on an occasion like this.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Phil and I can wash them,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;if you'll iron them, Mother.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Washing is rather fun. I wonder whether you've ever done it? This
 +      particular washing took place in the back kitchen, which had a stone floor
 +      and a very big stone sink under its window.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's put the bath on the sink,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;then we can pretend we're
 +      out-of-doors washerwomen like Mother saw in France.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But they were washing in the cold river,&rdquo; said Peter, his hands in his
 +      pockets, &ldquo;not in hot water.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;This is a HOT river, then,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;lend a hand with the bath,
 +      there's a dear.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I should like to see a deer lending a hand,&rdquo; said Peter, but he lent his.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now to rub and scrub and scrub and rub,&rdquo; said Phyllis, hopping joyously
 +      about as Bobbie carefully carried the heavy kettle from the kitchen fire.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, no!&rdquo; said Bobbie, greatly shocked; &ldquo;you don't rub muslin. You put the
 +      boiled soap in the hot water and make it all frothy-lathery&mdash;and then
 +      you shake the muslin and squeeze it, ever so gently, and all the dirt
 +      comes out. It's only clumsy things like tablecloths and sheets that have
 +      to be rubbed.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The lilac and the Gloire de Dijon roses outside the window swayed in the
 +      soft breeze.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's a nice drying day&mdash;that's one thing,&rdquo; said Bobbie, feeling very
 +      grown up. &ldquo;Oh, I do wonder what wonderful feelings we shall have when we
 +      WEAR the Indian muslin dresses!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, so do I,&rdquo; said Phyllis, shaking and squeezing the muslin in quite a
 +      professional manner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;NOW we squeeze out the soapy water. NO&mdash;we mustn't twist them&mdash;and
 +      then rinse them. I'll hold them while you and Peter empty the bath and get
 +      clean water.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;A presentation! That means presents,&rdquo; said Peter, as his sisters, having
 +      duly washed the pegs and wiped the line, hung up the dresses to dry.
 +      &ldquo;Whatever will it be?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It might be anything,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;what I've always wanted is a Baby
 +      elephant&mdash;but I suppose they wouldn't know that.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Suppose it was gold models of steam-engines?&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Or a big model of the scene of the prevented accident,&rdquo; suggested Peter,
 +      &ldquo;with a little model train, and dolls dressed like us and the
 +      engine-driver and fireman and passengers.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Do you LIKE,&rdquo; said Bobbie, doubtfully, drying her hands on the rough
 +      towel that hung on a roller at the back of the scullery door, &ldquo;do you LIKE
 +      us being rewarded for saving a train?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, I do,&rdquo; said Peter, downrightly; &ldquo;and don't you try to come it over
 +      us that you don't like it, too. Because I know you do.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie, doubtfully, &ldquo;I know I do. But oughtn't we to be
 +      satisfied with just having done it, and not ask for anything more?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who did ask for anything more, silly?&rdquo; said her brother; &ldquo;Victoria Cross
 +      soldiers don't ASK for it; but they're glad enough to get it all the same.
 +      Perhaps it'll be medals. Then, when I'm very old indeed, I shall show them
 +      to my grandchildren and say, 'We only did our duty,' and they'll be
 +      awfully proud of me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You have to be married,&rdquo; warned Phyllis, &ldquo;or you don't have any
 +      grandchildren.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I suppose I shall HAVE to be married some day,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;but it will
 +      be an awful bother having her round all the time. I'd like to marry a lady
 +      who had trances, and only woke up once or twice a year.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Just to say you were the light of her life and then go to sleep again.
 +      Yes. That wouldn't be bad,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;When <i>I</i> get married,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;I shall want him to want me to
 +      be awake all the time, so that I can hear him say how nice I am.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I think it would be nice,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;to marry someone very poor, and
 +      then you'd do all the work and he'd love you most frightfully, and see the
 +      blue wood smoke curling up among the trees from the domestic hearth as he
 +      came home from work every night. I say&mdash;we've got to answer that
 +      letter and say that the time and place WILL be convenient to us. There's
 +      the soap, Peter. WE'RE both as clean as clean. That pink box of writing
 +      paper you had on your birthday, Phil.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It took some time to arrange what should be said. Mother had gone back to
 +      her writing, and several sheets of pink paper with scalloped gilt edges
 +      and green four-leaved shamrocks in the corner were spoiled before the
 +      three had decided what to say. Then each made a copy and signed it with
 +      its own name.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The threefold letter ran:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Dear Mr. Jabez Inglewood,&mdash;Thank you very much. We did not want to
 +      be rewarded but only to save the train, but we are glad you think so and
 +      thank you very much. The time and place you say will be quite convenient
 +      to us. Thank you very much.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +          &ldquo;Your affecate little friend,&rdquo;
 + </pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Then came the name, and after it:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;P.S. Thank you very much.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Washing is much easier than ironing,&rdquo; said Bobbie, taking the clean dry
 +      dresses off the line. &ldquo;I do love to see things come clean. Oh&mdash;I
 +      don't know how we shall wait till it's time to know what presentation
 +      they're going to present!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When at last&mdash;it seemed a very long time after&mdash;it was THE day,
 +      the three children went down to the station at the proper time. And
 +      everything that happened was so odd that it seemed like a dream. The
 +      Station Master came out to meet them&mdash;in his best clothes, as Peter
 +      noticed at once&mdash;and led them into the waiting room where once they
 +      had played the advertisement game. It looked quite different now. A carpet
 +      had been put down&mdash;and there were pots of roses on the mantelpiece
 +      and on the window ledges&mdash;green branches stuck up, like holly and
 +      laurel are at Christmas, over the framed advertisement of Cook's Tours and
 +      the Beauties of Devon and the Paris Lyons Railway. There were quite a
 +      number of people there besides the Porter&mdash;two or three ladies in
 +      smart dresses, and quite a crowd of gentlemen in high hats and frock coats&mdash;besides
 +      everybody who belonged to the station. They recognized several people who
 +      had been in the train on the red-flannel-petticoat day. Best of all their
 +      own old gentleman was there, and his coat and hat and collar seemed more
 +      than ever different from anyone else's. He shook hands with them and then
 +      everybody sat down on chairs, and a gentleman in spectacles&mdash;they
 +      found out afterwards that he was the District Superintendent&mdash;began
 +      quite a long speech&mdash;very clever indeed. I am not going to write the
 +      speech down. First, because you would think it dull; and secondly, because
 +      it made all the children blush so, and get so hot about the ears that I am
 +      quite anxious to get away from this part of the subject; and thirdly,
 +      because the gentleman took so many words to say what he had to say that I
 +      really haven't time to write them down. He said all sorts of nice things
 +      about the children's bravery and presence of mind, and when he had done he
 +      sat down, and everyone who was there clapped and said, &ldquo;Hear, hear.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And then the old gentleman got up and said things, too. It was very like a
 +      prize-giving. And then he called the children one by one, by their names,
 +      and gave each of them a beautiful gold watch and chain. And inside the
 +      watches were engraved after the name of the watch's new owner:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;From the Directors of the Northern and Southern Railway in grateful
 +      recognition of the courageous and prompt action which averted an accident
 +      on &mdash;- 1905.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The watches were the most beautiful you can possibly imagine, and each one
 +      had a blue leather case to live in when it was at home.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You must make a speech now and thank everyone for their kindness,&rdquo;
 +       whispered the Station Master in Peter's ear and pushed him forward. &ldquo;Begin
 +      'Ladies and Gentlemen,'&rdquo; he added.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Each of the children had already said &ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; quite properly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, dear,&rdquo; said Peter, but he did not resist the push.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ladies and Gentlemen,&rdquo; he said in a rather husky voice. Then there was a
 +      pause, and he heard his heart beating in his throat. &ldquo;Ladies and
 +      Gentlemen,&rdquo; he went on with a rush, &ldquo;it's most awfully good of you, and we
 +      shall treasure the watches all our lives&mdash;but really we don't deserve
 +      it because what we did wasn't anything, really. At least, I mean it was
 +      awfully exciting, and what I mean to say&mdash;thank you all very, very
 +      much.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The people clapped Peter more than they had done the District
 +      Superintendent, and then everybody shook hands with them, and as soon as
 +      politeness would let them, they got away, and tore up the hill to Three
 +      Chimneys with their watches in their hands.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a wonderful day&mdash;the kind of day that very seldom happens to
 +      anybody and to most of us not at all.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I did want to talk to the old gentleman about something else,&rdquo; said
 +      Bobbie, &ldquo;but it was so public&mdash;like being in church.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What did you want to say?&rdquo; asked Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'll tell you when I've thought about it more,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So when she had thought a little more she wrote a letter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My dearest old gentleman,&rdquo; it said; &ldquo;I want most awfully to ask you
 +      something. If you could get out of the train and go by the next, it would
 +      do. I do not want you to give me anything. Mother says we ought not to.
 +      And besides, we do not want any THINGS. Only to talk to you about a
 +      Prisoner and Captive. Your loving little friend,
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +          &ldquo;Bobbie.&rdquo;
 + </pre>
 +    <p>
 +      She got the Station Master to give the letter to the old gentleman, and
 +      next day she asked Peter and Phyllis to come down to the station with her
 +      at the time when the train that brought the old gentleman from town would
 +      be passing through.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She explained her idea to them&mdash;and they approved thoroughly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They had all washed their hands and faces, and brushed their hair, and
 +      were looking as tidy as they knew how. But Phyllis, always unlucky, had
 +      upset a jug of lemonade down the front of her dress. There was no time to
 +      change&mdash;and the wind happening to blow from the coal yard, her frock
 +      was soon powdered with grey, which stuck to the sticky lemonade stains and
 +      made her look, as Peter said, &ldquo;like any little gutter child.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was decided that she should keep behind the others as much as possible.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perhaps the old gentleman won't notice,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;The aged are often
 +      weak in the eyes.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was no sign of weakness, however, in the eyes, or in any other part
 +      of the old gentleman, as he stepped from the train and looked up and down
 +      the platform.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The three children, now that it came to the point, suddenly felt that rush
 +      of deep shyness which makes your ears red and hot, your hands warm and
 +      wet, and the tip of your nose pink and shiny.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;my heart's thumping like a steam-engine&mdash;right
 +      under my sash, too.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nonsense,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;people's hearts aren't under their sashes.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't care&mdash;mine is,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;If you're going to talk like a poetry-book,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;my heart's in
 +      my mouth.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My heart's in my boots&mdash;if you come to that,&rdquo; said Roberta; &ldquo;but do
 +      come on&mdash;he'll think we're idiots.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He won't be far wrong,&rdquo; said Peter, gloomily. And they went forward to
 +      meet the old gentleman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hullo,&rdquo; he said, shaking hands with them all in turn. &ldquo;This is a very
 +      great pleasure.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It WAS good of you to get out,&rdquo; Bobbie said, perspiring and polite.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He took her arm and drew her into the waiting room where she and the
 +      others had played the advertisement game the day they found the Russian.
 +      Phyllis and Peter followed. &ldquo;Well?&rdquo; said the old gentleman, giving
 +      Bobbie's arm a kind little shake before he let it go. &ldquo;Well? What is it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, please!&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes?&rdquo; said the old gentleman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What I mean to say&mdash;&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well?&rdquo; said the old gentleman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's all very nice and kind,&rdquo; said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But?&rdquo; he said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wish I might say something,&rdquo; she said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Say it,&rdquo; said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then,&rdquo; said Bobbie&mdash;and out came the story of the Russian who
 +      had written the beautiful book about poor people, and had been sent to
 +      prison and to Siberia for just that.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And what we want more than anything in the world is to find his wife and
 +      children for him,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;but we don't know how. But you must be
 +      most horribly clever, or you wouldn't be a Direction of the Railway. And
 +      if YOU knew how&mdash;and would? We'd rather have that than anything else
 +      in the world. We'd go without the watches, even, if you could sell them
 +      and find his wife with the money.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And the others said so, too, though not with so much enthusiasm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hum,&rdquo; said the old gentleman, pulling down the white waistcoat that had
 +      the big gilt buttons on it, &ldquo;what did you say the name was&mdash;Fryingpansky?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No, no,&rdquo; said Bobbie earnestly. &ldquo;I'll write it down for you. It doesn't
 +      really look at all like that except when you say it. Have you a bit of
 +      pencil and the back of an envelope?&rdquo; she asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old gentleman got out a gold pencil-case and a beautiful,
 +      sweet-smelling, green Russian leather note-book and opened it at a new
 +      page.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;write here.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She wrote down &ldquo;Szezcpansky,&rdquo; and said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's how you write it. You CALL it Shepansky.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old gentleman took out a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles and fitted
 +      them on his nose. When he had read the name, he looked quite different.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;THAT man? Bless my soul!&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Why, I've read his book! It's
 +      translated into every European language. A fine book&mdash;a noble book.
 +      And so your mother took him in&mdash;like the good Samaritan. Well, well.
 +      I'll tell you what, youngsters&mdash;your mother must be a very good
 +      woman.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course she is,&rdquo; said Phyllis, in astonishment.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And you're a very good man,&rdquo; said Bobbie, very shy, but firmly resolved
 +      to be polite.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You flatter me,&rdquo; said the old gentleman, taking off his hat with a
 +      flourish. &ldquo;And now am I to tell you what I think of you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, please don't,&rdquo; said Bobbie, hastily.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why?&rdquo; asked the old gentleman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't exactly know,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;Only&mdash;if it's horrid, I don't
 +      want you to; and if it's nice, I'd rather you didn't.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old gentleman laughed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well, then,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;I'll only just say that I'm very glad you came to
 +      me about this&mdash;very glad, indeed. And I shouldn't be surprised if I
 +      found out something very soon. I know a great many Russians in London, and
 +      every Russian knows HIS name. Now tell me all about yourselves.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He turned to the others, but there was only one other, and that was Peter.
 +      Phyllis had disappeared.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Tell me all about yourself,&rdquo; said the old gentleman again. And, quite
 +      naturally, Peter was stricken dumb.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right, we'll have an examination,&rdquo; said the old gentleman; &ldquo;you two
 +      sit on the table, and I'll sit on the bench and ask questions.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He did, and out came their names and ages&mdash;their Father's name and
 +      business&mdash;how long they had lived at Three Chimneys and a great deal
 +      more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The questions were beginning to turn on a herring and a half for three
 +      halfpence, and a pound of lead and a pound of feathers, when the door of
 +      the waiting room was kicked open by a boot; as the boot entered everyone
 +      could see that its lace was coming undone&mdash;and in came Phyllis, very
 +      slowly and carefully.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In one hand she carried a large tin can, and in the other a thick slice of
 +      bread and butter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Afternoon tea,&rdquo; she announced proudly, and held the can and the bread and
 +      butter out to the old gentleman, who took them and said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Bless my soul!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's very thoughtful of you,&rdquo; said the old gentleman, &ldquo;very.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But you might have got a cup,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;and a plate.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perks always drinks out of the can,&rdquo; said Phyllis, flushing red. &ldquo;I think
 +      it was very nice of him to give it me at all&mdash;let alone cups and
 +      plates,&rdquo; she added.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So do I,&rdquo; said the old gentleman, and he drank some of the tea and tasted
 +      the bread and butter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And then it was time for the next train, and he got into it with many
 +      good-byes and kind last words.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well,&rdquo; said Peter, when they were left on the platform, and the
 +      tail-lights of the train disappeared round the corner, &ldquo;it's my belief
 +      that we've lighted a candle to-day&mdash;like Latimer, you know, when he
 +      was being burned&mdash;and there'll be fireworks for our Russian before
 +      long.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And so there were.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It wasn't ten days after the interview in the waiting room that the three
 +      children were sitting on the top of the biggest rock in the field below
 +      their house watching the 5.15 steam away from the station along the bottom
 +      of the valley. They saw, too, the few people who had got out at the
 +      station straggling up the road towards the village&mdash;and they saw one
 +      person leave the road and open the gate that led across the fields to
 +      Three Chimneys and to nowhere else.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who on earth!&rdquo; said Peter, scrambling down.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's go and see,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they did. And when they got near enough to see who the person was, they
 +      saw it was their old gentleman himself, his brass buttons winking in the
 +      afternoon sunshine, and his white waistcoat looking whiter than ever
 +      against the green of the field.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hullo!&rdquo; shouted the children, waving their hands.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hullo!&rdquo; shouted the old gentleman, waving his hat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then the three started to run&mdash;and when they got to him they hardly
 +      had breath left to say:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How do you do?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Good news,&rdquo; said he. &ldquo;I've found your Russian friend's wife and child&mdash;and
 +      I couldn't resist the temptation of giving myself the pleasure of telling
 +      him.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But as he looked at Bobbie's face he felt that he COULD resist that
 +      temptation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here,&rdquo; he said to her, &ldquo;you run on and tell him. The other two will show
 +      me the way.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie ran. But when she had breathlessly panted out the news to the
 +      Russian and Mother sitting in the quiet garden&mdash;when Mother's face
 +      had lighted up so beautifully, and she had said half a dozen quick French
 +      words to the Exile&mdash;Bobbie wished that she had NOT carried the news.
 +      For the Russian sprang up with a cry that made Bobbie's heart leap and
 +      then tremble&mdash;a cry of love and longing such as she had never heard.
 +      Then he took Mother's hand and kissed it gently and reverently&mdash;and
 +      then he sank down in his chair and covered his face with his hands and
 +      sobbed. Bobbie crept away. She did not want to see the others just then.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But she was as gay as anybody when the endless French talking was over,
 +      when Peter had torn down to the village for buns and cakes, and the girls
 +      had got tea ready and taken it out into the garden.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old gentleman was most merry and delightful. He seemed to be able to
 +      talk in French and English almost at the same moment, and Mother did
 +      nearly as well. It was a delightful time. Mother seemed as if she could
 +      not make enough fuss about the old gentleman, and she said yes at once
 +      when he asked if he might present some &ldquo;goodies&rdquo; to his little friends.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The word was new to the children&mdash;but they guessed that it meant
 +      sweets, for the three large pink and green boxes, tied with green ribbon,
 +      which he took out of his bag, held unheard-of layers of beautiful
 +      chocolates.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian's few belongings were packed, and they all saw him off at the
 +      station.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then Mother turned to the old gentleman and said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I don't know how to thank you for EVERYTHING. It has been a real pleasure
 +      to me to see you. But we live very quietly. I am so sorry that I can't ask
 +      you to come and see us again.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children thought this very hard. When they HAD made a friend&mdash;and
 +      such a friend&mdash;they would dearly have liked him to come and see them
 +      again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      What the old gentleman thought they couldn't tell. He only said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I consider myself very fortunate, Madam, to have been received once at
 +      your house.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ah,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;I know I must seem surly and ungrateful&mdash;but&mdash;&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You could never seem anything but a most charming and gracious lady,&rdquo;
 +       said the old gentleman, with another of his bows.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And as they turned to go up the hill, Bobbie saw her Mother's face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How tired you look, Mammy,&rdquo; she said; &ldquo;lean on me.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's my place to give Mother my arm,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;I'm the head man of
 +      the family when Father's away.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother took an arm of each.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;How awfully nice,&rdquo; said Phyllis, skipping joyfully, &ldquo;to think of the dear
 +      Russian embracing his long-lost wife. The baby must have grown a lot since
 +      he saw it.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I wonder whether Father will think I'VE grown,&rdquo; Phyllis went on, skipping
 +      still more gaily. &ldquo;I have grown already, haven't I, Mother?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;oh, yes,&rdquo; and Bobbie and Peter felt her hands tighten
 +      on their arms.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Poor old Mammy, you ARE tired,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie said, &ldquo;Come on, Phil; I'll race you to the gate.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And she started the race, though she hated doing it. YOU know why Bobbie
 +      did that. Mother only thought that Bobbie was tired of walking slowly.
 +      Even Mothers, who love you better than anyone else ever will, don't always
 +      understand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0008" id="link2HCH0008">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter VIII. The amateur firemen.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's a likely little brooch you've got on, Miss,&rdquo; said Perks the
 +      Porter; &ldquo;I don't know as ever I see a thing more like a buttercup without
 +      it WAS a buttercup.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie, glad and flushed by this approval. &ldquo;I always thought
 +      it was more like a buttercup almost than even a real one&mdash;and I NEVER
 +      thought it would come to be mine, my very own&mdash;and then Mother gave
 +      it to me for my birthday.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, have you had a birthday?&rdquo; said Perks; and he seemed quite surprised,
 +      as though a birthday were a thing only granted to a favoured few.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;when's your birthday, Mr. Perks?&rdquo; The children were
 +      taking tea with Mr. Perks in the Porters' room among the lamps and the
 +      railway almanacs. They had brought their own cups and some jam turnovers.
 +      Mr. Perks made tea in a beer can, as usual, and everyone felt very happy
 +      and confidential.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;My birthday?&rdquo; said Perks, tipping some more dark brown tea out of the can
 +      into Peter's cup. &ldquo;I give up keeping of my birthday afore you was born.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But you must have been born SOMETIME, you know,&rdquo; said Phyllis,
 +      thoughtfully, &ldquo;even if it was twenty years ago&mdash;or thirty or sixty or
 +      seventy.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not so long as that, Missie,&rdquo; Perks grinned as he answered. &ldquo;If you
 +      really want to know, it was thirty-two years ago, come the fifteenth of
 +      this month.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then why don't you keep it?&rdquo; asked Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've got something else to keep besides birthdays,&rdquo; said Perks, briefly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh! What?&rdquo; asked Phyllis, eagerly. &ldquo;Not secrets?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Perks, &ldquo;the kids and the Missus.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was this talk that set the children thinking, and, presently, talking.
 +      Perks was, on the whole, the dearest friend they had made. Not so grand as
 +      the Station Master, but more approachable&mdash;less powerful than the old
 +      gentleman, but more confidential.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It seems horrid that nobody keeps his birthday,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;Couldn't
 +      WE do something?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's go up to the Canal bridge and talk it over,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;I got a
 +      new gut line from the postman this morning. He gave it me for a bunch of
 +      roses that I gave him for his sweetheart. She's ill.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then I do think you might have given her the roses for nothing,&rdquo; said
 +      Bobbie, indignantly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nyang, nyang!&rdquo; said Peter, disagreeably, and put his hands in his
 +      pockets.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He did, of course,&rdquo; said Phyllis, in haste; &ldquo;directly we heard she was
 +      ill we got the roses ready and waited by the gate. It was when you were
 +      making the brekker-toast. And when he'd said 'Thank you' for the roses so
 +      many times&mdash;much more than he need have&mdash;he pulled out the line
 +      and gave it to Peter. It wasn't exchange. It was the grateful heart.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, I BEG your pardon, Peter,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;I AM so sorry.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't mention it,&rdquo; said Peter, grandly, &ldquo;I knew you would be.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So then they all went up to the Canal bridge. The idea was to fish from
 +      the bridge, but the line was not quite long enough.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Never mind,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;Let's just stay here and look at things.
 +      Everything's so beautiful.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was. The sun was setting in red splendour over the grey and purple
 +      hills, and the canal lay smooth and shiny in the shadow&mdash;no ripple
 +      broke its surface. It was like a grey satin ribbon between the dusky green
 +      silk of the meadows that were on each side of its banks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's all right,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;but somehow I can always see how pretty
 +      things are much better when I've something to do. Let's get down on to the
 +      towpath and fish from there.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis and Bobbie remembered how the boys on the canal-boats had thrown
 +      coal at them, and they said so.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, nonsense,&rdquo; said Peter. &ldquo;There aren't any boys here now. If there
 +      were, I'd fight them.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter's sisters were kind enough not to remind him how he had NOT fought
 +      the boys when coal had last been thrown. Instead they said, &ldquo;All right,
 +      then,&rdquo; and cautiously climbed down the steep bank to the towing-path. The
 +      line was carefully baited, and for half an hour they fished patiently and
 +      in vain. Not a single nibble came to nourish hope in their hearts.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      All eyes were intent on the sluggish waters that earnestly pretended they
 +      had never harboured a single minnow when a loud rough shout made them
 +      start.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hi!&rdquo; said the shout, in most disagreeable tones, &ldquo;get out of that, can't
 +      you?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      An old white horse coming along the towing-path was within half a dozen
 +      yards of them. They sprang to their feet and hastily climbed up the bank.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We'll slip down again when they've gone by,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But, alas, the barge, after the manner of barges, stopped under the
 +      bridge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;She's going to anchor,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;just our luck!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The barge did not anchor, because an anchor is not part of a canal-boat's
 +      furniture, but she was moored with ropes fore and aft&mdash;and the ropes
 +      were made fast to the palings and to crowbars driven into the ground.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What you staring at?&rdquo; growled the Bargee, crossly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We weren't staring,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;we wouldn't be so rude.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Rude be blessed,&rdquo; said the man; &ldquo;get along with you!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Get along yourself,&rdquo; said Peter. He remembered what he had said about
 +      fighting boys, and, besides, he felt safe halfway up the bank. &ldquo;We've as
 +      much right here as anyone else.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, 'AVE you, indeed!&rdquo; said the man. &ldquo;We'll soon see about that.&rdquo; And he
 +      came across his deck and began to climb down the side of his barge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, come away, Peter, come away!&rdquo; said Bobbie and Phyllis, in agonised
 +      unison.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not me,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;but YOU'D better.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The girls climbed to the top of the bank and stood ready to bolt for home
 +      as soon as they saw their brother out of danger. The way home lay all down
 +      hill. They knew that they all ran well. The Bargee did not look as if HE
 +      did. He was red-faced, heavy, and beefy.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But as soon as his foot was on the towing-path the children saw that they
 +      had misjudged him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He made one spring up the bank and caught Peter by the leg, dragged him
 +      down&mdash;set him on his feet with a shake&mdash;took him by the ear&mdash;and
 +      said sternly:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now, then, what do you mean by it? Don't you know these 'ere waters is
 +      preserved? You ain't no right catching fish 'ere&mdash;not to say nothing
 +      of your precious cheek.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter was always proud afterwards when he remembered that, with the
 +      Bargee's furious fingers tightening on his ear, the Bargee's crimson
 +      countenance close to his own, the Bargee's hot breath on his neck, he had
 +      the courage to speak the truth.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I WASN'T catching fish,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;That's not YOUR fault, I'll be bound,&rdquo; said the man, giving Peter's ear a
 +      twist&mdash;not a hard one&mdash;but still a twist.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter could not say that it was. Bobbie and Phyllis had been holding on to
 +      the railings above and skipping with anxiety. Now suddenly Bobbie slipped
 +      through the railings and rushed down the bank towards Peter, so
 +      impetuously that Phyllis, following more temperately, felt certain that
 +      her sister's descent would end in the waters of the canal. And so it would
 +      have done if the Bargee hadn't let go of Peter's ear&mdash;and caught her
 +      in his jerseyed arm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who are you a-shoving of?&rdquo; he said, setting her on her feet.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Bobbie, breathless, &ldquo;I'm not shoving anybody. At least, not on
 +      purpose. Please don't be cross with Peter. Of course, if it's your canal,
 +      we're sorry and we won't any more. But we didn't know it was yours.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Go along with you,&rdquo; said the Bargee.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes, we will; indeed we will,&rdquo; said Bobbie, earnestly; &ldquo;but we do beg
 +      your pardon&mdash;and really we haven't caught a single fish. I'd tell you
 +      directly if we had, honour bright I would.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She held out her hands and Phyllis turned out her little empty pocket to
 +      show that really they hadn't any fish concealed about them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Well,&rdquo; said the Bargee, more gently, &ldquo;cut along, then, and don't you do
 +      it again, that's all.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children hurried up the bank.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Chuck us a coat, M'ria,&rdquo; shouted the man. And a red-haired woman in a
 +      green plaid shawl came out from the cabin door with a baby in her arms and
 +      threw a coat to him. He put it on, climbed the bank, and slouched along
 +      across the bridge towards the village.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You'll find me up at the 'Rose and Crown' when you've got the kid to
 +      sleep,&rdquo; he called to her from the bridge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When he was out of sight the children slowly returned. Peter insisted on
 +      this.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The canal may belong to him,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;though I don't believe it does.
 +      But the bridge is everybody's. Doctor Forrest told me it's public
 +      property. I'm not going to be bounced off the bridge by him or anyone
 +      else, so I tell you.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter's ear was still sore and so were his feelings.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The girls followed him as gallant soldiers might follow the leader of a
 +      forlorn hope.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I do wish you wouldn't,&rdquo; was all they said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Go home if you're afraid,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;leave me alone. I'M not afraid.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The sound of the man's footsteps died away along the quiet road. The peace
 +      of the evening was not broken by the notes of the sedge-warblers or by the
 +      voice of the woman in the barge, singing her baby to sleep. It was a sad
 +      song she sang. Something about Bill Bailey and how she wanted him to come
 +      home.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The children stood leaning their arms on the parapet of the bridge; they
 +      were glad to be quiet for a few minutes because all three hearts were
 +      beating much more quickly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm not going to be driven away by any old bargeman, I'm not,&rdquo; said
 +      Peter, thickly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Of course not,&rdquo; Phyllis said soothingly; &ldquo;you didn't give in to him! So
 +      now we might go home, don't you think?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;NO,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Nothing more was said till the woman got off the barge, climbed the bank,
 +      and came across the bridge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She hesitated, looking at the three backs of the children, then she said,
 +      &ldquo;Ahem.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter stayed as he was, but the girls looked round.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You mustn't take no notice of my Bill,&rdquo; said the woman; &ldquo;'is bark's
 +      worse'n 'is bite. Some of the kids down Farley way is fair terrors. It was
 +      them put 'is back up calling out about who ate the puppy-pie under Marlow
 +      bridge.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Who DID?&rdquo; asked Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;<i>I</i> dunno,&rdquo; said the woman. &ldquo;Nobody don't know! But somehow, and I
 +      don't know the why nor the wherefore of it, them words is p'ison to a
 +      barge-master. Don't you take no notice. 'E won't be back for two hours
 +      good. You might catch a power o' fish afore that. The light's good an'
 +      all,&rdquo; she added.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;You're very kind. Where's your baby?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Asleep in the cabin,&rdquo; said the woman. &ldquo;'E's all right. Never wakes afore
 +      twelve. Reg'lar as a church clock, 'e is.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm sorry,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;I would have liked to see him, close to.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And a finer you never did see, Miss, though I says it.&rdquo; The woman's face
 +      brightened as she spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Aren't you afraid to leave it?&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Lor' love you, no,&rdquo; said the woman; &ldquo;who'd hurt a little thing like 'im?
 +      Besides, Spot's there. So long!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The woman went away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Shall we go home?&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You can. I'm going to fish,&rdquo; said Peter briefly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I thought we came up here to talk about Perks's birthday,&rdquo; said Phyllis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perks's birthday'll keep.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they got down on the towing-path again and Peter fished. He did not
 +      catch anything.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was almost quite dark, the girls were getting tired, and as Bobbie
 +      said, it was past bedtime, when suddenly Phyllis cried, &ldquo;What's that?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And she pointed to the canal boat. Smoke was coming from the chimney of
 +      the cabin, had indeed been curling softly into the soft evening air all
 +      the time&mdash;but now other wreaths of smoke were rising, and these were
 +      from the cabin door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's on fire&mdash;that's all,&rdquo; said Peter, calmly. &ldquo;Serve him right.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh&mdash;how CAN you?&rdquo; cried Phyllis. &ldquo;Think of the poor dear dog.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;The BABY!&rdquo; screamed Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In an instant all three made for the barge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Her mooring ropes were slack, and the little breeze, hardly strong enough
 +      to be felt, had yet been strong enough to drift her stern against the
 +      bank. Bobbie was first&mdash;then came Peter, and it was Peter who slipped
 +      and fell. He went into the canal up to his neck, and his feet could not
 +      feel the bottom, but his arm was on the edge of the barge. Phyllis caught
 +      at his hair. It hurt, but it helped him to get out. Next minute he had
 +      leaped on to the barge, Phyllis following.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Not you!&rdquo; he shouted to Bobbie; &ldquo;ME, because I'm wet.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He caught up with Bobbie at the cabin door, and flung her aside very
 +      roughly indeed; if they had been playing, such roughness would have made
 +      Bobbie weep with tears of rage and pain. Now, though he flung her on to
 +      the edge of the hold, so that her knee and her elbow were grazed and
 +      bruised, she only cried:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No&mdash;not you&mdash;ME,&rdquo; and struggled up again. But not quickly
 +      enough.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter had already gone down two of the cabin steps into the cloud of thick
 +      smoke. He stopped, remembered all he had ever heard of fires, pulled his
 +      soaked handkerchief out of his breast pocket and tied it over his mouth.
 +      As he pulled it out he said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It's all right, hardly any fire at all.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And this, though he thought it was a lie, was rather good of Peter. It was
 +      meant to keep Bobbie from rushing after him into danger. Of course it
 +      didn't.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The cabin glowed red. A paraffin lamp was burning calmly in an orange
 +      mist.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hi,&rdquo; said Peter, lifting the handkerchief from his mouth for a moment.
 +      &ldquo;Hi, Baby&mdash;where are you?&rdquo; He choked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, let ME go,&rdquo; cried Bobbie, close behind him. Peter pushed her back
 +      more roughly than before, and went on.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Now what would have happened if the baby hadn't cried I don't know&mdash;but
 +      just at that moment it DID cry. Peter felt his way through the dark smoke,
 +      found something small and soft and warm and alive, picked it up and backed
 +      out, nearly tumbling over Bobbie who was close behind. A dog snapped at
 +      his leg&mdash;tried to bark, choked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've got the kid,&rdquo; said Peter, tearing off the handkerchief and
 +      staggering on to the deck.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie caught at the place where the bark came from, and her hands met on
 +      the fat back of a smooth-haired dog. It turned and fastened its teeth on
 +      her hand, but very gently, as much as to say:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'm bound to bark and bite if strangers come into my master's cabin, but
 +      I know you mean well, so I won't REALLY bite.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bobbie dropped the dog.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right, old man. Good dog,&rdquo; said she. &ldquo;Here&mdash;give me the baby,
 +      Peter; you're so wet you'll give it cold.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter was only too glad to hand over the strange little bundle that
 +      squirmed and whimpered in his arms.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Now,&rdquo; said Bobbie, quickly, &ldquo;you run straight to the 'Rose and Crown' and
 +      tell them. Phil and I will stay here with the precious. Hush, then, a
 +      dear, a duck, a darling! Go NOW, Peter! Run!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I can't run in these things,&rdquo; said Peter, firmly; &ldquo;they're as heavy as
 +      lead. I'll walk.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Then I'LL run,&rdquo; said Bobbie. &ldquo;Get on the bank, Phil, and I'll hand you
 +      the dear.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The baby was carefully handed. Phyllis sat down on the bank and tried to
 +      hush the baby. Peter wrung the water from his sleeves and knickerbocker
 +      legs as well as he could, and it was Bobbie who ran like the wind across
 +      the bridge and up the long white quiet twilight road towards the 'Rose and
 +      Crown.'
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There is a nice old-fashioned room at the 'Rose and Crown; where Bargees
 +      and their wives sit of an evening drinking their supper beer, and toasting
 +      their supper cheese at a glowing basketful of coals that sticks out into
 +      the room under a great hooded chimney and is warmer and prettier and more
 +      comforting than any other fireplace <i>I</i> ever saw.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a pleasant party of barge people round the fire. You might not
 +      have thought it pleasant, but they did; for they were all friends or
 +      acquaintances, and they liked the same sort of things, and talked the same
 +      sort of talk. This is the real secret of pleasant society. The Bargee
 +      Bill, whom the children had found so disagreeable, was considered
 +      excellent company by his mates. He was telling a tale of his own wrongs&mdash;always
 +      a thrilling subject. It was his barge he was speaking about.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And 'e sent down word 'paint her inside hout,' not namin' no colour, d'ye
 +      see? So I gets a lotter green paint and I paints her stem to stern, and I
 +      tell yer she looked A1. Then 'E comes along and 'e says, 'Wot yer paint
 +      'er all one colour for?' 'e says. And I says, says I, 'Cause I thought
 +      she'd look fust-rate,' says I, 'and I think so still.' An' he says, 'DEW
 +      yer? Then ye can just pay for the bloomin' paint yerself,' says he. An' I
 +      'ad to, too.&rdquo; A murmur of sympathy ran round the room. Breaking noisily in
 +      on it came Bobbie. She burst open the swing door&mdash;crying
 +      breathlessly:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Bill! I want Bill the Bargeman.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a stupefied silence. Pots of beer were held in mid-air,
 +      paralysed on their way to thirsty mouths.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said Bobbie, seeing the bargewoman and making for her. &ldquo;Your barge
 +      cabin's on fire. Go quickly.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The woman started to her feet, and put a big red hand to her waist, on the
 +      left side, where your heart seems to be when you are frightened or
 +      miserable.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Reginald Horace!&rdquo; she cried in a terrible voice; &ldquo;my Reginald Horace!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;All right,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;if you mean the baby; got him out safe. Dog,
 +      too.&rdquo; She had no breath for more, except, &ldquo;Go on&mdash;it's all alight.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then she sank on the ale-house bench and tried to get that breath of
 +      relief after running which people call the 'second wind.' But she felt as
 +      though she would never breathe again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Bill the Bargee rose slowly and heavily. But his wife was a hundred yards
 +      up the road before he had quite understood what was the matter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Phyllis, shivering by the canal side, had hardly heard the quick
 +      approaching feet before the woman had flung herself on the railing, rolled
 +      down the bank, and snatched the baby from her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Don't,&rdquo; said Phyllis, reproachfully; &ldquo;I'd just got him to sleep.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +          *          *          *          *          *          *
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Bill came up later talking in a language with which the children were
 +      wholly unfamiliar. He leaped on to the barge and dipped up pails of water.
 +      Peter helped him and they put out the fire. Phyllis, the bargewoman, and
 +      the baby&mdash;and presently Bobbie, too&mdash;cuddled together in a heap
 +      on the bank.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Lord help me, if it was me left anything as could catch alight,&rdquo; said the
 +      woman again and again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But it wasn't she. It was Bill the Bargeman, who had knocked his pipe out
 +      and the red ash had fallen on the hearth-rug and smouldered there and at
 +      last broken into flame. Though a stern man he was just. He did not blame
 +      his wife for what was his own fault, as many bargemen, and other men, too,
 +      would have done.
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +                  *          *          *          *          *
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Mother was half wild with anxiety when at last the three children turned
 +      up at Three Chimneys, all very wet by now, for Peter seemed to have come
 +      off on the others. But when she had disentangled the truth of what had
 +      happened from their mixed and incoherent narrative, she owned that they
 +      had done quite right, and could not possibly have done otherwise. Nor did
 +      she put any obstacles in the way of their accepting the cordial invitation
 +      with which the bargeman had parted from them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Ye be here at seven to-morrow,&rdquo; he had said, &ldquo;and I'll take you the
 +      entire trip to Farley and back, so I will, and not a penny to pay.
 +      Nineteen locks!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They did not know what locks were; but they were at the bridge at seven,
 +      with bread and cheese and half a soda cake, and quite a quarter of a leg
 +      of mutton in a basket.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a glorious day. The old white horse strained at the ropes, the
 +      barge glided smoothly and steadily through the still water. The sky was
 +      blue overhead. Mr. Bill was as nice as anyone could possibly be. No one
 +      would have thought that he could be the same man who had held Peter by the
 +      ear. As for Mrs. Bill, she had always been nice, as Bobbie said, and so
 +      had the baby, and even Spot, who might have bitten them quite badly if he
 +      had liked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It was simply ripping, Mother,&rdquo; said Peter, when they reached home very
 +      happy, very tired, and very dirty, &ldquo;right over that glorious aqueduct. And
 +      locks&mdash;you don't know what they're like. You sink into the ground and
 +      then, when you feel you're never going to stop going down, two great black
 +      gates open slowly, slowly&mdash;you go out, and there you are on the canal
 +      just like you were before.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I know,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;there are locks on the Thames. Father and I used
 +      to go on the river at Marlow before we were married.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And the dear, darling, ducky baby,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;it let me nurse it for
 +      ages and ages&mdash;and it WAS so good. Mother, I wish we had a baby to
 +      play with.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And everybody was so nice to us,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;everybody we met. And
 +      they say we may fish whenever we like. And Bill is going to show us the
 +      way next time he's in these parts. He says we don't know really.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He said YOU didn't know,&rdquo; said Peter; &ldquo;but, Mother, he said he'd tell all
 +      the bargees up and down the canal that we were the real, right sort, and
 +      they were to treat us like good pals, as we were.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So then I said,&rdquo; Phyllis interrupted, &ldquo;we'd always each wear a red ribbon
 +      when we went fishing by the canal, so they'd know it was US, and we were
 +      the real, right sort, and be nice to us!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So you've made another lot of friends,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;first the railway
 +      and then the canal!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, yes,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;I think everyone in the world is friends if you
 +      can only get them to see you don't want to be UN-friends.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perhaps you're right,&rdquo; said Mother; and she sighed. &ldquo;Come, Chicks. It's
 +      bedtime.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Phyllis. &ldquo;Oh dear&mdash;and we went up there to talk about
 +      what we'd do for Perks's birthday. And we haven't talked a single thing
 +      about it!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No more we have,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;but Peter's saved Reginald Horace's life.
 +      I think that's about good enough for one evening.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Bobbie would have saved him if I hadn't knocked her down; twice I did,&rdquo;
 +       said Peter, loyally.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;So would I,&rdquo; said Phyllis, &ldquo;if I'd known what to do.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;you've saved a little child's life. I do think that's
 +      enough for one evening. Oh, my darlings, thank God YOU'RE all safe!&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="link2HCH0009" id="link2HCH0009">
 +      <!--  H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="height: 4em;">
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </div>
 +    <h2>
 +      Chapter IX. The pride of Perks.
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      It was breakfast-time. Mother's face was very bright as she poured the
 +      milk and ladled out the porridge.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I've sold another story, Chickies,&rdquo; she said; &ldquo;the one about the King of
 +      the Mussels, so there'll be buns for tea. You can go and get them as soon
 +      as they're baked. About eleven, isn't it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peter, Phyllis, and Bobbie exchanged glances with each other, six glances
 +      in all. Then Bobbie said:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother, would you mind if we didn't have the buns for tea to-night, but
 +      on the fifteenth? That's next Thursday.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;<i>I</i> don't mind when you have them, dear,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;but why?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Because it's Perks's birthday,&rdquo; said Bobbie; &ldquo;he's thirty-two, and he
 +      says he doesn't keep his birthday any more, because he's got other things
 +      to keep&mdash;not rabbits or secrets&mdash;but the kids and the missus.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;You mean his wife and children,&rdquo; said Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;it's the same thing, isn't it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;And we thought we'd make a nice birthday for him. He's been so awfully
 +      jolly decent to us, you know, Mother,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;and we agreed that
 +      next bun-day we'd ask you if we could.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But suppose there hadn't been a bun-day before the fifteenth?&rdquo; said
 +      Mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, then, we meant to ask you to let us anti&mdash;antipate it, and go
 +      without when the bun-day came.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Anticipate,&rdquo; said Mother. &ldquo;I see. Certainly. It would be nice to put his
 +      name on the buns with pink sugar, wouldn't it?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Perks,&rdquo; said Peter, &ldquo;it's not a pretty name.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;His other name's Albert,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;I asked him once.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;We might put A. P.,&rdquo; said Mother; &ldquo;I'll show you how when the day comes.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This was all very well as far as it went. But even fourteen halfpenny buns
 +      with A. P. on them in pink sugar do not of themselves make a very grand
 +      celebration.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There are always flowers, of course,&rdquo; said Bobbie, later, when a really
 +      earnest council was being held on the subject in the hay-loft where the
 +      broken chaff-cutting machine was, and the row of holes to drop hay through
 +      into the hay-racks over the mangers of the stables below.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;He's got lots of flowers of his own,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;But it's always nice to have them given you,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;however many
 +      you've got of your own. We can use flowers for trimmings to the birthday.
 +      But there must be something to trim besides buns.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's all be quiet and think,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;no one's to speak until
 +      it's thought of something.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they were all quiet and so very still that a brown rat thought that
 +      there was no one in the loft and came out very boldly. When Bobbie
 +      sneezed, the rat was quite shocked and hurried away, for he saw that a
 +      hay-loft where such things could happen was no place for a respectable
 +      middle-aged rat that liked a quiet life.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Hooray!&rdquo; cried Peter, suddenly, &ldquo;I've got it.&rdquo; He jumped up and kicked at
 +      the loose hay.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;What?&rdquo; said the others, eagerly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Why, Perks is so nice to everybody. There must be lots of people in the
 +      village who'd like to help to make him a birthday. Let's go round and ask
 +      everybody.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mother said we weren't to ask people for things,&rdquo; said Bobbie,
 +      doubtfully.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;For ourselves, she meant, silly, not for other people. I'll ask the old
 +      gentleman too. You see if I don't,&rdquo; said Peter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Let's ask Mother first,&rdquo; said Bobbie.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Oh, what's the use of bothering Mother about every little thing?&rdquo; said
 +      Peter, &ldquo;especially when she's busy. Come on. Let's go down to the village
 +      now and begin.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they went. The old lady at the Post-office said she didn't see why
 +      Perks should have a birthday any more than anyone else.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;No,&rdquo; said Bobbie, &ldquo;I should like everyone to have one. Only we know when
 +      his is.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Mine's to-morrow,&rdquo; said the old lady, &ldquo;and much notice anyone will take
 +      of it. Go along with you.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they went.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And some people were kind, and some were crusty. And some would give and
 +      some would not. It is rather difficult work asking for things, even for
 +      other people, as you have no doubt found if you have ever tried it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When the children got home and counted up what had been given and what had
 +      been promised, they felt that for the first day it was not so bad. Peter
 +      wrote down the lists of the things in the little pocket-book where he kept
 +      the numbers of his engines. These were the lists:&mdash;
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:space="preserve">
 +     GIVEN.
 +     A tobacco pipe from the sweet shop.
 +     Half a pound of tea from the grocer's.
 +     A woollen scarf slightly faded from the draper's, which was the
 +         other side of the grocer's.
 +     A stuffed squirrel from the Doctor.
 +
 +     PROMISED.
 +     A piece of meat from the butcher.
 +     Six fresh eggs from the woman who lived in the old turnpike cottage.
 +     A piece of honeycomb and six bootlaces from the cobbler, and an
 +         iron shovel from the blacksmith's.
 +</pre>
 +    <p>
 +      Very early next morning Bobbie got up and woke Phyllis. This had been
 +      agreed on between them. They had not told Peter because they thought he
 +      would think it silly. But they told him afterwards, when it had turned out
 +      all right.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They cut a big bunch of roses, and put it in a basket with the needle-book
 +      that Phyllis had made for Bobbie on her birthday, and a very pretty blue
 +      necktie of Phyllis's. Then they wrote on a paper: 'For Mrs. Ransome, with
 +      our best love, because it is her birthday,' and they put the paper in the
 +      basket, and they took it to the Post-office, and went in and put it on the
 +      counter and ran away before the old woman at the Post-office had time to
 +      get into her shop.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When they got home Peter had grown confidential over helping Mother to get
 +      the breakfast and had told her their plans.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;There's no harm in it,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;but it depends HOW you do it. I
 +      only hope he won't be offended and think it's CHARITY. Poor people are
 +      very proud, you know.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;It isn't because he's poor,&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;it's because we're fond of
 +      him.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;I'll find some things that Phyllis has outgrown,&rdquo; said Mother, &ldquo;if you're
 +      quite sure you can give them to him without his being offended. I should
 +      like to do some little thing for him because he's been so kind to you. I
 +      can't do much because we're poor ourselves. What are you writing, Bobbie?&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Nothing particular,&rdquo; said Bobbie, who had suddenly begun to scribble.
 +      &ldquo;I'm sure he'd like the things, Mother.&rdquo;
 +     </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The morning of the fifteenth was spent very happily in getting the buns
 +      and watching Mother make A. P. on them with pink sugar. You know how it's
 +      done, of course? You beat up whites of eggs and mix powdered sugar with
 +      them, and put in a few drops of cochineal. And then you make a cone of
 +      clean, white paper with a little hole at the pointed end, and put the pink
 +      egg-sugar in at the big end. It runs slowly out at the pointed end, and
 +      you write the letters with it just as though it were a great fat pen full
 +      of pink sugar-ink.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The buns looked beautiful with A. P. on every one, and, when they were put
 +      in a cool oven to set the sugar, the children went up to the village to
 +      collect the honey and the shovel and the other promised things.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The old lady at the Post-office was standing on her doorstep. The children
 +      said &ldquo;Good morning,&rdquo; politely, as they passed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here, stop a bit,&rdquo; she said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So they stopped.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Those roses,&rdquo; said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Did you like them?&rdquo; said Phyllis; &ldquo;they were as fresh as fresh. <i>I</i>
 +      made the needle-book, but it was Bobbie's present.&rdquo; She skipped joyously
 +      as she spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &ldquo;Here's your basket,&rdquo; said the Post-office woman. She went in and brought
 +      out the basket. It was full of fat, red gooseberries.