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

   Chapter 4 NINO.

A Flight with the Swallows; Or, Little Dorothy's Dream By Emma Marshall Characters: 8211

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Mrs. Acheson roused herself to talk to the little girls, and was kindly anxious that Irene should not feel strange and unhappy. But Irene was not a child to respond quickly, and Mrs. Acheson could but contrast her with her own little Dorothy, who was so caressing and tender in her ways, and had a gentle voice, while Irene had a quick, decided way of speaking.

"Have you been unwell long, my dear?" Mrs. Acheson asked.

"I have had a cough, and-and father does not wish me to keep a cough, because of mother."

"You don't remember your mother?"

"No. I have a stepmother, you know, and two little brothers."

"You will like being with your grandmamma and your cousins at San Remo. Your grandmamma is such a dear old lady. Do you know, the thought of being near her reconciled me to spending the winter abroad."

Irene's face brightened at this.

"I am glad you know grannie," she said. "Your cough is very bad, I am afraid," Irene continued, as Mrs. Acheson was interrupted by a fit of coughing.

"Mother's cough is much better," Dorothy said, hotly. "Jingle says so, and she knows better than you do."

Irene made no reply to this, and soon after Ingleby came to put them both to bed.

Irene had been too much accustomed to changes to be much affected by this change, and as soon as her head touched the pillow, she was asleep. But Dorothy tossed and fidgeted, and besought Ingleby not to leave her, and persisted in holding her hand in hers, though her nurse sorely wanted rest herself, and to get all things forward for the early start the next morning.

At last Ingleby disengaged her hand from Dorothy's clinging clasp, and went downstairs to cater for some supper. But her disappearance soon roused Dorothy; she began to cry and call, "Jingle! Jingle!" This woke Irene, who jumped out of her own bed in the next room, and coming to her, said, "What do you want?"

"I don't want you," was the somewhat ungracious reply. "I want Jingle or mother."

"Are you ill? have you a pain anywhere?" asked practical Irene.

"No, but I want Jingle. Oh dear, dear!"

"If nothing is the matter, I think you ought to go to sleep, and not cry; it may frighten your mamma."

"It is so horrid here," said poor little Dorothy; "and I wonder how Puff and Muff are; and I want Nino. Why did Jingle take him away? Oh dear, dear! and there's such a buzzing noise in the street, and rumble, rumble; oh dear!"

"Do you ever try saying hymns to get yourself to sleep?" Irene asked. "If you like I'll repeat one, and then you can say it over when I get back to my own bed."

Dorothy turned her face away on the pillow, and was not very encouraging; but Irene repeated this beautiful evening hymn for a child, which I hope all the little girls and boys who read my story know with their hearts as well as their heads:-

"On the dark hill's western side,

The last purple gleam has died;

Twilight to one solemn hue

Changes all, both green and blue.

"In the fold, and in the nest,

Birds and lambs have gone to rest;

Labour's weary task is o'er,

Closely shut the cottage door.

"Saviour, ere in sweet repose

I my weary eyelids close,

While my mother through the gloom

Singeth from the outer room,

"While across the curtain white,

With a dim uncertain light,

On the floor the faint stars shine,

Let my latest thought be Thine.

"'Twas a starry night of old

When rejoicing angels told

The poor shepherds of Thy birth,

God became a Child on earth.

"Soft and quiet is the bed

Where I lay my little head;

Thou hadst but a manger bare,

Rugged straw for pillow fair.

"Saviour, 'twas to win me grace

Thou didst stoop to this poor place,

Loving with a perfect love

Child and man and God above.

"Thou wast meek and undefiled:

Make me gentle, too, and mild;

Thou didst foil the tempter's power:

Help me in temptation's hour.

"Thou didst love Thy mother here,

Make me gentle, kind, and dear;

Thou didst mind her slightest word,

Teach me to obey, O Lord.

"Happy now, I turn to sleep;

Thou wilt wat

ch around me keep;

Him no danger e'er can harm

Who lies cradled in Thy arm."

When Ingleby came up, she found Dorothy sound asleep, and her arm round Irene's neck. Both children were in profound slumber. Ingleby gently lifted Irene and carried her back to her own room, Dorothy murmuring as she turned round on her pillow, "Away with the swallows, off to the sunny South."

They were off in good earnest the next morning-a bright and beautiful morning. The sea was blue, and the sky clear; only a brisk wind chased the waves shoreward, and gave just that motion which to good sailors is so delightful.

There were, of course, some unhappy people who could not bear even that gentle motion, and had to take flight to the cabin. Poor Ingleby was one of these, and in spite of all her brave attempts to keep up, she was obliged to leave the children to Canon Percival's care, and retreat with her mistress to the lower regions.

Dorothy and Irene sat together on the middle seat of the deck, with their faces to the dancing waves, over which some white birds were darting, who had their nests in the face of the cliffs of Dover. It had all the delightful sense of novelty to Dorothy, but Irene was already a traveller. In a dim, dreamy way she was thinking of her voyage home, four years before; she remembered the pain of parting with the dark-skinned ayah, and her father's sad face, as they drew near England.


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Those white cliffs brought it all back to her, and she recalled how her father said,-

"England was your dear mother's home, and she loved it, but she is in a better home now; I must not wish her back again."

After that her life at Mrs. Baker's was dull and monotonous; going on and on day after day, week after week, year after year, with but little to mark the passing away of time.

Irene was not particularly attractive to strangers, and the passengers who turned upon Dorothy admiring glances, and even, in that foolish way some people have, exclaimed, "What a lovely child!" scarcely gave a thought to her companion.

"A plain girl," one lady said; "they cannot be sisters!"

Then one of the ladies ventured to put her hand on Nino's head, who was curled up under the rug which was tucked round both little girls' legs, with his head and ears and black nose just appearing. Nino growled, and Dorothy made a gesture as if to get a little farther away.

"Oh, what a cross little doggie!" was the remark.

"He is not cross," Dorothy said, pressing Nino closer.

"Don't you think so?" the lady said, in an offended tone. "Perhaps he has learned of his mistress to be cross."

She laughed, but Dorothy did not laugh, or even smile.

"He is a spoiled little dog," said the younger of the two ladies, reaching forward to give Nino another pat.

Another growl, followed this time by a snap.

"Horrid little beast!" was the next exclamation. "Children ought not to be allowed to take pet dogs about with them, to the annoyance of other people."

Dorothy edged away, closer and closer to Irene, who, to Dorothy's surprise, spoke out boldly.

"Nino did not growl till you touched him," she said; "no one ought to pat strange dogs."

"My dear, your opinion was neither asked for nor wanted," was the reply. And Dorothy struggled from the rug, and hastened to call her uncle, who was talking to a gentleman.

"Uncle Crannie, do come and move our seat; there are some very rude ladies who hate Nino."

But Canon Percival was busy talking, and did not immediately listen to Dorothy. Nino had toddled off to inspect the boat, and by some means, how no one could quite tell, had slipped over the side of the steamer, and was engulfed in the seething waves below. Irene saw what had happened, and cried out,-

"Oh! Nino has fallen through that open place. Nino will be drowned."

Then poor little Dorothy, turning, saw Irene rushing to the place, and called aloud,-

"Nino, Nino will be drowned! Nino, Nino, my Nino! will nobody save him? Oh, Uncle Crannie, Uncle Crannie, save him!"

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