MoboReader> Literature > A Flight with the Swallows; Or, Little Dorothy's Dream

   Chapter 3 OFF AND AWAY.

A Flight with the Swallows; Or, Little Dorothy's Dream By Emma Marshall Characters: 9100

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The excitement of preparation for departure is always infectious, and, however much Mrs. Acheson and little Dorothy had at first disliked the idea of leaving home for the winter, before the actual day for saying good-bye arrived, they were both in a measure reconciled to the coming change.

Dorothy had packed a large box, with things she must take, and Ingleby, glad she should be so amused, did not prevent her, as she really ought to have done; for such a strange medley as that box contained had surely scarcely ever been collected for transportation across the Channel: paint-boxes; new and old picture-books, coloured by her own hand; Belinda's wardrobe-an extensive one; pencils; india-rubber; her desk; her workbox (which last, by-the-bye, was seldom used); her "Little Arthur's History" and "Mrs. Markham's History;" boxes of dominoes and draughts; magnetic ducks and geese and fish; and many more things of the like kind, which would take me far too long to enumerate.

When the luggage stood in the hall on the morning of departure, Canon Percival shrugged his shoulders, and gave a low whistle. "As I am courier," he said, "and must look after the luggage, I am rather alarmed to see so many boxes. What is that old box with brass nails, Ingleby?"

"Oh, that is Miss Dorothy's, sir; she packed it herself."

"With toys, I suppose, and rubbish. No, I shall not be answerable for that. If we take Nino and Belinda, that must suffice."

Ingleby looked doubtful. "The best way will be, sir, to get it carried into the servants' hall before the poor child comes down; she is breaking her heart, as it is, over Puff and Muff."

"Nonsense!" said Canon Percival, impatiently. "Dorothy must be more reasonable; we have spoilt her long enough."

Ingleby dreaded a scene, and began to drag away the box into a remote region behind the red baize door, hoping to get it out of sight, and out of mind, before Dorothy and her mother appeared.

She had just succeeded, and was returning breathless, when Dorothy, with Belinda in her arms and Nino toddling behind, came downstairs.

The luggage was packed on a fly, and Mrs. Acheson, Dorothy, and Canon Percival drove to the station in the carriage. All the servants were gathered in the hall, and were saying good-bye, with many wishes that Mrs. Acheson would come back soon quite well. A little telegraph boy, with his bag strapped across his shoulder, came gaily up to the door. Then he took out of his bag the dark orange envelope which often sends a thrill of fear through the hearts of those whose nearest and dearest ones are separated from them, and handed it to Canon Percival.

"A paid answer, sir," said the messenger.

And Canon Percival, after scanning the few words, took out his pencil and wrote-

"Yes, with pleasure."

"What is it, Cranstone? nothing wrong?"

"Oh no, only that our travelling party is to be enlarged in London. Little Irene Packingham is to spend the winter at San Remo with her grandmother, and the telegram is from Mrs. Baker, the child's schoolmistress, saying Lady Burnside had telegraphed to her to communicate with me."

"How very odd not to write! It must be a sudden determination."

"Yes; but we shall not get to Paddington, much less to San Remo, if we dawdle about here any longer; come, make haste."

They were off at last, and at the station several friends appeared, who came to wish them a safe journey. Ingleby and the footman had got the luggage labelled and in the van; and Dorothy and her mother were comfortably seated in a first-class carriage, while Canon Percival stood by the door, exchanging a few last words with a gentleman; and then the guard came up with the familiar question-"Any more going?" Canon Percival jumped in, and they were gliding quietly out of the station and leaving Coldchester far behind.

For the convenience of early crossing the English Channel the next morning, the party were to sleep at the Charing Cross Hotel; and here, under the charge of one of Mrs. Baker's governesses, little Irene Packingham was waiting for them.

Dorothy's curiosity had been roused when her mother told her of a little travelling companion, but the two children stood looking at each other, shy and speechless, while Canon Percival and Mrs. Acheson were engaged talking to the governess.

She was a prim, stiff-looking, elderly woman, who was the useful governess in Mrs. Baker's school. She only taught the little girls, looked after the servants, and met girls at the station, or, as in this instance

, accompanied one who was leaving the school.

"Irene has not been very well of late," Miss Pearce was saying; "and Colonel Packingham seems to have written to Lady Burnside that he wished her to spend the rest of the term till after the Christmas holidays at San Remo. Mrs. Baker had a letter from Lady Burnside, requesting us to prepare Irene to start with you to-morrow morning. It is very short notice, but I hope she has her things all right."

After a few more words of a like kind, Miss Pearce said she must hasten back to St. John's Wood, and bade her little charge good-bye.

"Good-bye, Irene; I hope you will be a very good girl, and give no trouble; you have your keys in your pocket, and mind you keep the comforter well round your neck on the boat."

Then a kiss was exchanged, not a very warm one on either side, and Miss Pearce departed.

Rooms had been engaged on the upper floor of the big hotel through which so many people pass coming and going from the Continent. The party went up in a lift, which was a great novelty to Dorothy, who all this time had not spoken a single word to Irene.

A little bedroom next the one which had been arranged by Ingleby for her mistress was found for Irene. And in a very independent, methodical way she began to lay aside her hat and jacket, take out her keys, and unlock her small travelling-bag.

Dorothy, who had seated herself by the window, and was looking down into the square below, watching with deep interest the rapid passing and repassing of cabs and carriages in and out the station, did not invite any conversation.

The contrast between the two children was a very strong one, such as we generally notice between those who from their babyhood have been, as it were, little citizens of the world, and those who have been brought up, as Dorothy had been till nearly her eighth birthday, with every care and every luxury, in a happy, quiet home.

Irene was tall for her age-nearly ten; and she had a determined expression on her face, as if she knew there were rough places and troubles to meet in her daily life, and that she had set herself to overcome them. She had heard a murmur of Ingleby's-"Another child to look after on the journey." And she was determined to give no trouble; she had no long hair to smooth and comb, for her hair was cut short, and her plain blue serge dress was quite free from any adornment. After Dorothy had done with the square, she turned to watch Irene's movements, and regarded her companion with a mingled wonder, and a feeling that was certainly not admiration.

Presently Dorothy called to Ingleby in the next room-

"When are you coming to undress me, Jingle? and when are we to have our tea?"

"I'll come directly, but I am busy getting your mamma's things put for the night; she must go to bed early, and so must you."

"Where's mother?" was the next question asked.

"In the sitting-room opposite."

"I want to go to her."

"Wait a few minutes; she is lying on the sofa, and I want her to rest."

"Where's Belinda to sleep, and Nino?"

"Dear me," said Ingleby, impatiently, "I don't know; here's the cork come out of your mamma's eau-de-Cologne flask, and everything in the travelling basket is soaked. Dear, dear!"

Dorothy now began to snatch at the buttons of her travelling ulster, and threw off the scarf round her neck.

"Let me help you," said Irene. "I am quite ready."

Dorothy was not very gracious, and as Irene tugged at the sleeves of the ulster, a lock of the silky hair caught in a button, and Dorothy screamed-

"Oh, don't! you hurt me. Oh, Jingle!"

Ingleby came running in at the cry of distress, and began to pity and console.

"I am very sorry," Irene said, moving away to the window, where, through the gathering haze of tears, she saw the gas-lights beginning to start out all round the square below.

A sense of desolation oppressed her; and she wished-oh, how she wished she had stayed at Mrs. Baker's! At first it had seemed delightful to go to grannie, but now she thought anything was better than being where she was not wanted. She was roused by Ingleby's voice-

"You are to have tea in the sitting-room with Mrs. Acheson. The Canon is gone out to dine at St. Paul's Deanery; and as soon as you have had your tea, you are to go to bed."

Dorothy, shaking back her beautiful hair, ran away to a room at the end of the passage, never thinking of Irene, who followed her with the same uneasy sense of "not being wanted" which is hard for us all to bear.

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