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   Chapter 12 THE LOST FOUND.

A Flight with the Swallows; Or, Little Dorothy's Dream By Emma Marshall Characters: 12511

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Many days of deep anxiety followed, and poor little Dorothy's heart was sad and troubled. Irene proved a true and loving friend, and, with wisdom far beyond her years, encouraged Dorothy to go on with her little lessons, and learn to knit and crochet. "To make a shawl for mother by the time she gets well" became an object of ambition; and Irene helped her out of difficulties, and turned the troublesome corners at the four parts of the square, and would read to her and Ella while she pulled the soft Pyrenean wool in and out the long treble stitches.

They were very busy one morning a week after Canon Percival's arrival, when they saw his tall figure coming up the garden. He looked happier than he had done for some time, and when Dorothy ran to meet him, he said,-

"Good news to-day; mother is really better; and Dr. Forman thinks she may soon be as well as she was before this last attack of illness."

Good news indeed! If any little girl who reads Dorothy's story has ever had to feel the weight upon her heart which a dear father's or mother's illness has caused, she will know how, when the burden is lifted, and the welcome words are spoken, like Canon Percival's, all the world seems bright and joyful, and hope springs up like a fountain within.

"Yes," Canon Percival said, as Dorothy threw her arms round his neck, "we may be very thankful and glad; and now, while I go and see Lady Burnside, will you get ready to take me to visit the old town, and--"

"Giulia, and the old woman, and Anton!" exclaimed Dorothy.

Oh yes! the children were soon ready, and they all set off towards the old town, all except Willy, who had to wait for Mr. Martyn, and who looked with longing eyes at the party as they walked away.

"Bother this horrid sum!" he said; "it won't come right. What's the use of asking such ridiculous questions? Who cares about the answer?"

But Willy got the answer right in spite of his grumbling, and had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Martyn tell his grandmother that he had improved very much of late, and that he would take a good place at a school when he was sent to one.

It was a lovely spring morning, that beautiful spring of the sunny South, which comes early in the year with a sudden burst of flowers of all colours. All the acacias and mimosas in the gardens before the villas were waving their golden tassels in the breeze, and the scarlet anemones and the yellow narcissi were making a carpet under foot.

Dorothy danced along in the gladness of her heart, and Canon Percival, when he thought of what might have been, felt thankful and glad also. As they climbed the steep street leading to the square before the big church, a little white dog with brown ears toddled out.

"Oh, that is the dog I thought was Nino! How could I think so?" Dorothy exclaimed; "his legs are so ugly, and he has such a mean little tail. Ah! my poor Nino was beautiful when compared with you," she said, stooping down to pat the little dog. "And, Uncle Crannie," she said, "do you remember that sad, dreadful day, when you took me to see mother, you said you had something to tell me about Nino, and then you left off."

"Ah!" Canon Percival said, "I believe I did say so, but, Dorothy, can you wait to hear what it is?"

"I don't know," Dorothy said, doubtfully, "I don't know; it can't be anything very happy."

"Well, I advise you to wait," Canon Percival said.

Dorothy looked up at her uncle, and said,-

"Is it that his dear dead little body has been found?"

But Canon Percival only repeated, "I advise you to wait."

"How long?"

"Till we all go back to England."

They were at Giulia's house now. She was sitting on the doorstep, netting so fast, and such a big brown net lay in a heap behind her. Anton was the first to see the visitors, and exclaimed,-

"Madre! madre mia! la signorina!"

Giulia flung down her netting, and starting up, to Dorothy's surprise, caught her in her strong arms once more, and kissed her.

And now, what seemed to the children very wonderful, Canon Percival began to talk to Giulia as fast in Italian as he did in English. And such a history was poured forth by Giulia, and then followed such gestures, and such exclamations! and Anton was caught by the arm, and shaken by his mother, and then she pointed to Canon Percival, and when Dorothy caught the word "Grazia," she knew that her uncle was promising to do some kind thing. Ella, who from long habit could understand a great deal of what passed, told Irene and Dorothy that Canon Percival was promising to pay the money for Anton's apprenticeship to the master boatman, and that he was writing the name in his pocket-book, and that he said he would go down to the quay and harbour to find him, and if he gave a good character of mother and son, he would have an agreement made, and the boy should be made an apprentice, without touching that store of silver pieces in the old pipkin in the cupboard.

Then they all went into the house, and Dorothy showed the bed where she had been placed, and Ella and Irene quite agreed with her that it was very stuffy in the little low room, and the smell of tar and smoke anything but nice.

Then there was the old crone by the chimney-corner, who muttered and murmured, and beckoned Dorothy to her side.

Poor little Dorothy bore the kiss which was given her with great composure, but she could not help giving a little shudder, and told Ella afterwards the smell of garlic and tobacco was "dreadful."

Canon Percival said a few words which were not intelligible to Dorothy, but Irene whispered to her-

"He is speaking to them all about the Lord Jesus; that's why Giulia is crossing herself. That is her way of showing reverence."

Poor Giulia's eyes were full of tears as Canon Percival went on. He was telling the story of the Cross, simply and earnestly, to these poor people, as they seldom, if ever, heard it, in their own tongue, the soft Italian tongue, which is so musical.

When they left the house they were all very quiet, and could Dorothy have understood what Giulia was saying as she stood on the large stone step, watching them down the narrow street, she would have known she was praying in her own fashion that blessings mi

ght follow them.

Canon Percival next went down to the harbour, and there, from the pier, is a most beautiful view of the old town, rising up, higher and higher, to the crest of the hill till it reaches the large church which belongs to the lepers' hospital. Canon Percival inquired for Angelo Battista, the master fisherman; and a fine sailor, with a face as brown as a chestnut, and big dark eyes, smiled when Canon Percival disclosed his errand.

"Yes, Anton was a good boy; his mother had a long tongue, but she was very industrious-industrious with tongue and fingers alike," he said, and then he laughed heartily, and two or three men standing near joined in.

At last all was settled, and Angelo Battista was to bring up a written document that evening to the Villa Firenze, and bring little Anton with him, to make the needful declaration required in such cases by the notary, that he agreed to the terms proposed.

Canon Percival left San Remo the next day, saying that Coldchester Cathedral could not get on without him. He was so cheery and so kind, the children all lamented his loss.

But now golden days came for them all, as Mrs. Acheson got, as Ingleby expressed it, "nearer well" than she had been for years. She took long drives in the neighbourhood, and they visited several old Italian towns, such as Taggia and Poggio.

The road to them led along the busy shore of the blue Mediterranean, and then through silvery olive groves, where flowers of every brilliant colour were springing.

And when May came, and the swallows twittered on the roofs of the villas, and were seen consulting for their flight northward, the whole party set off with them, homewards.

Canon Percival met them at Paris, and they stayed there a week, and saw many of its wonders-the beautiful pictures in the Louvre, and the noble galleries at Versailles, where the fountains play, and the long, smooth avenues which lead to La Petite Trianon, which are full of memories of poor Marie Antoinette.

Nothing made more impression on the children than the sight of her boudoir in the palace at Versailles, where whoever looks up at the glass panels sees, by their peculiar arrangement in one corner, the whole figure without the head. It is said the young girl Dauphiness glanced up at this, and starting back with horror, said-"Ah! J'ai perdu ma tête!" A strange coincidence, certainly, when one remembers how her head was taken off by the cruel guillotine in later years-the bright hair grey, the head bowed with sorrow, and the heart torn with grief for her husband, who had preceded her, and still more for the children she left behind.

At last the time came to cross the Channel once more, and the passage was calm, and the children enjoyed the short voyage.

At Folkestone a very great surprise awaited Dorothy. She hardly knew whether she was dreaming or awake when in the waiting-room at the station she saw a man in a fisherman's blouse with a white dog in his arms.

"Nino! Nino! Oh, it must be my Nino!"

There could be no doubt of it this time, for the little dog grew frantic and excited, and leaped whining out of the fisherman's arms, and was in ecstasies at again meeting his mistress.

This, then, was Canon Percival's secret. And he told the story of Nino's discovery in a few words.

The day when he was at Folkestone, on his way to San Remo-summoned there by Mrs. Acheson's illness-he saw a fisherman on the pier with a little white dog by his side. It seemed hardly possible, but the fisherman explained that, near one of the Channel steamers, in his smack, he had seen a little white dog fall over the side, that he had looked out for him as they crossed the precise place, and found his little black nose just above the water, making a gallant fight for life. They lowered a little boat and picked him up, and read the name on his collar, "Nino."

That collar he still wore, and it was evident that the sovereign Canon Percival gave him did not quite reconcile the man to the parting. "His children had grown so fond of the little beast," he said.

But Nino, though he gave the fisherman a parting lick of gratitude, showed his old love was the stronger; and I do think it would be hard to say which was the happier at the renewal of affection-Dorothy or her dog Nino.

Certain it is, we always value anything more highly when we recover possession of it, and Nino went back to Coldchester full of honours; and the story of his adventures made a hero of him in the eyes of the vergers of the Cathedral, who in past times had been wont to declare this little white dog was a deal of trouble, rushing about on the flower-beds of the Cathedral gardens.

With the homeward flight of the swallows we must say good-bye to Dorothy. A very happy summer was passed in the Canon's house, brightened by the companionship of Irene, and sometimes of Ella and Willy and Baby Bob. For Lady Burnside took a house for a few months in the neighbourhood of Coldchester, and the children continually met. But it was by Mrs. Acheson's express desire that Irene did not return to Mrs. Baker's school. She pleaded with Colonel Packingham that she might have her as a companion for her only child; and they shared a governess and lessons together.

Irene had the influence over Dorothy which could not fail to be noticed in its effects-the influence which a child who has a simple desire to follow in the right way must have over those with whom she is associated.

Dorothy's flight with the swallows had taught her many things, and with Irene for a friend, she had long ceased to say she did not care for playmates. She was even known to devote herself for an hour at a time to share some rioting game with Baby Bob, while Nino raced and barked at their heels.


* * *


Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been retained. The picture of the YOUNG CANON, which faces the contents page in the printed book, has been moved to the appropriate place in the text. The following additional change was made:

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

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