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

   Chapter 11 WHAT FOLLOWED.

A Flight with the Swallows; Or, Little Dorothy's Dream By Emma Marshall Characters: 9159

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The consequences of self-will do not always pass away as quickly as we hope and expect. Sometimes we have to suffer by seeing the suffering of others, and feel bitterly that we have caused it. I do not think any pain is more keen than that sorrow which is caused by seeing the pain we have given those we love.

Lady Burnside had been afraid on the first evening of Dorothy's return that, in the rapturous joy of poor Ingleby and the general delight of every one, Dorothy might be brought to think lightly of the fault which had caused so much trouble.

Seated in a low chair, her hand in her mother's, and the other children gathered round her, while Ingleby stood feasting her eyes upon her darling, Dorothy became something of a heroine; and no one, in the first joy of receiving her safe and sound, could find it in their hearts to reprove her for what had passed.

Lady Burnside felt that it was not for her to speak seriously to Dorothy; and yet, when she saw her carried away to bed by Ingleby, with her uncle's present clasped in her arms, and heard her say, "I feel quite like Dorothy Dormouse now," she did long to say more than Mrs. Acheson did-"Dorothy will never run away by herself again and frighten poor mother."

As it proved, the fright and long watching had a very serious effect on Mrs. Acheson. The next day Dr. Forman ordered her to keep in bed; and her cough increased so much that for some days there was great anxiety about her. Dorothy was so accustomed to see her mother ill that it did not strike her as anything unusual; but one morning, when she was starting gaily for the Villa Lucia, Ingleby called to Stefano from the top of the stairs that he must take Miss Dorothy, for she could not leave her mistress.

"I can go alone," Dorothy said; for neither Stefano nor his wife were very great favourites of hers.

"No, no," Stefano said; "the little signorina is not to be trusted;" and taking her hand in his, he prepared to lead her along the sunny road to the Villa Lucia.

But Dorothy snatched away her hand, and said, "You should not speak like that to me."

"Ah," Stefano said, "someone must speak, someone must speak at times to little signorinas who give pain and trouble."

Dorothy felt her dignity much injured, and repeated, with emphasis,-

"You should not speak like that to me."

Stefano only shrugged his shoulders; and as they had reached the door of the Villa Lucia, he left her, saying,-

"The little signorina will have to hear hard things, like the rest of us, one day."

Irene met Dorothy with the question-"How is your mother? Grannie is so anxious to know."

"Mother is not up yet," Dorothy replied. "Jingle is sitting with her."

The other children now came clustering round Dorothy with the same question; and Irene, after helping Dorothy to take off her jacket and hat, said,-

"Come and see grannie."

"Before my lesson?"

"Yes; she wants to speak to you."

Dorothy felt a strange misgiving at her heart, and said, sharply,-

"What for? What is she going to say?"

"I think," said Irene, gently, "she wishes to comfort you; your mamma is very, very ill."

"No, she isn't!" said Dorothy, desperately. "No, she isn't; not a bit more ill than she often is. I saw her last night, and she looked quite better-her cheeks pink, and her eyes bright."

"Well," Irene said, "I know Dr. Forman thinks her very ill, and he has sent for Canon Percival."

"For Uncle Crannie? for Uncle Crannie?"

"Yes," Irene said, "two days ago."

Dorothy stood irresolute for a moment, and then, with a great effort to control herself, said,-

"Let me go to your grandmamma; let me go."

But Irene put her arms round Dorothy, and whispered,-

"I have been asking God to make your mamma better, and I think He will. Have you asked Him and told Him all about it?"

"About what?" Dorothy said.

"Everything-how sorry you are that you gave your mamma such anxiety; and have you asked to be forgiven?"

But Dorothy said,-

"I never tell God anything. I say my prayers, but I did not, could not, tell Him about such things as my slapping Baby Bob, and getting angry, and staying at home while you went to Colla. He is so far off, and besides--"

"Oh, Dorothy!" said Irene, seriously, "God is very near, Jesus is very near, and He cares about every little thing."

"Are you sure?" said poor little Dorothy. "Then He knows and cares about mother-mother--"

A sob choked her, and yet she tried not to give way; to cry very much would show that she believed her mother was very, very ill, an

d she could not, dare not believe it! But she said simply-

"I know I am not good; but I love-oh! how I do love mother!"

Lady Burnside received Dorothy with her calm, sweet smile, and Constance, lying on her couch, put out her hand, and said, "Come and kiss me, Dorothy."

Constance had not generally taken much notice of Dorothy. She had looked upon her as a spoiled little thing, and had felt, like many invalids who have been accustomed to be the centre of attraction and attention, a little vexed that every one admired the child, and were, as she thought, blind to her faults. Even Willy, though he was blunt and rough to Dorothy sometimes, was really devoted to her. So was Jack Meredith, and as to Irene and her own little sister Ella, they were ridiculously fond of her. Irene particularly would always give up to Dorothy, though she was so much younger than herself. Baby Bob had, in his own way, the same feeling about Dorothy that Constance had. He strongly objected to anyone who could possibly dethrone him from the position of "King of the Nursery," which was Crawley's favourite title for her youngest child. Baby Bob had ruled with despotic power, and was naturally unwilling to see a rival near the throne. But Constance was now touched by the sight of the little figure in the blue dress, over which the cloud of light silky hair hung, when she saw the wistful questioning glance in those blue eyes, which were turned entreatingly to Lady Burnside, as she said,-

"Tell me really about-about mother."

Then Lady Burnside drew Dorothy close to her, and said,-

"Your dear mother is very ill, Dorothy, but we must pray to God to make her better."

Dorothy stood with Lady Burnside's arm round her, still gazing up at the dear, kind face bending over her; and then, after a pause, she said, in a low tone,-

"Is it my fault? Is it all my fault?"

Lady Burnside made Dorothy sit down on a low chair by her side, and talked so kindly and wisely to her. She told her that her mother had passed a very bad night of coughing the night before New Year's Day; that when the news came of her loss, which Stefano had abruptly told her, Mrs. Acheson had, forgetting how easily she was chilled, run out into the garden with only a shawl thrown over her; that it was with great difficulty she had been persuaded not to go herself to look for Dorothy; that she had paced up and down the room in her distress; and that that night, after the excitement and joy of her return were over, she had been very faint and ill, and now she had inflammation of her lungs, which she was very weak to bear up against.

Lady Burnside had gone through many troubles herself, and she had the sympathetic spirit which children, as well as grown-up people, feel to be so sweet in sorrow. There were no reproaches, and no hard words, but I think little Dorothy never forgot the lesson which she learned from Lady Burnside that morning, and often when she was beginning to be self-willed and irritable, if that self-will was crossed, she would think of Lady Burnside's words,-

"Take care when the first temptation comes to pray to resist it."

She did not return to the Villa Firenze that night, nor did Irene take her into the schoolroom that day. She read to her, and amused her by dressing a doll and teaching her how to crochet a little frock for it.

Early the next morning Canon Percival arrived, and Dorothy was taken by him to see her mother.

As they were walking up the road together, Dorothy said,-

"Uncle Crannie, do you know all, all that happened on New Year's Day?"

"Yes, Dorothy; I have heard all."

"Oh, Uncle Crannie, to think of Baby Bob's taking my letter to you beginning all the trouble!"

"Nay, my little Dorothy, it was not Baby Bob who began the trouble; it was you. We must never shift the blame from our own shoulders, and say, if he had not said that, or she had not provoked me, I should not have done what I did."

"But it was tiresome to squeeze up your letter, which I had taken such pains to write."

"Yes, very tiresome; but that does not alter your fault."

"Oh, Uncle Crannie, Uncle Crannie! I wish I had not run off; but then I thought I saw Nino."

"Poor Nino!" exclaimed Canon Percival; "in all the trouble and sorrow I have found here I forgot about Nino. I have something to tell you about him, but--"

Canon Percival was interrupted by meeting Dr. Forman.

A few words were exchanged between them, and then little Dorothy, with a sad, serious face, was taken by her uncle into her mother's room.

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