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CHAPTER I An Antagonist He stood in the centre of a little crowd of village boys; his golden head was bare in the blazing sun, but the crop of curls seemed thick enough to protect him from its rays, and he was far too engrossed in his occupation to heed any discomfort from the heat. A slim delicate little lad, with a finely cut face, and blue eyes that by turns would sparkle with animation, and then settle into a dreamy wistfulness, with a... more...

A Supplanter 'For troubles wrought of men,Patience is hard.'—J. Ingelow. The firelight shone upon a comfortably-furnished drawing-room in one of the quiet London squares, and upon four girlish figures grouped around a small tea-table. Agatha Dane, the eldest, sat back in her chair with a little wrinkle of perplexity upon her usually placid brow. Rather plump and short of stature, with no pretensions to beauty, there was yet something... more...

CHAPTER I. AN UNWELCOME LEGACY. "Children! They are a nuisance to everyone—my abomination, as you know, Jack. Why on earth they can not be kept out of sight altogether till they reach a sensible age is what puzzles me! And I suppose if anything could make the matter worse, it is that this is a girl." The tone of disgust with which the last word was uttered brought a laugh from Sir Edward Wentworth's companion, who replied, as he took... more...

Odd

Caged Birds It was just four o'clock on a dull grey winter afternoon. The little Stuarts' nursery looked the picture of cosiness and comfort with the blazing fire that threw flickering lights over the bright-coloured pictures on the walls, the warm carpet under foot, and the fair fresh faces of the children gathered there. Five of them there were, and they were alone, for the old nurse who had brought them all up from their infancy was at... more...

PROLOGUE. [To be skipped by children if they like.] It was a very silent old house. Outside, the front windows stared gravely down upon the tidy drive with its rhododendron shrubberies, the well-kept lawn with the triangular beds, and the belt of gloomy fir trees edging the high brick wall that ran along the public road. The windows were always draped and curtained, and opened one foot at the top with monotonous regularity. No one was ever... more...

I ON THE GARDEN WALL They were sitting astride on the top of the old garden wall. Below them on the one side stretched a sweet old-fashioned English garden lying in the blaze of an August sun. In the distance, peeping from behind a wealth of creepers and ivy was the old stone house. It was at an hour in the afternoon when everything seemed to be at a standstill: two or three dogs lay on the soft green lawn fast asleep, an old gardener smoking... more...

A NEW HOME 'Meet is it changes should controlOur being, lest we rust in ease.'—Tennyson. A golden cornfield in the still sunshine of a warm August afternoon. In one corner of it, bordering a green lane, a group of shady elms, and under their shadow a figure of a young girl, who, gazing dreamily before her, sat leaning her head against an old gnarled trunk in quiet content. A small-shaped head, with dark curly hair, and a pair of... more...