Grandmother Dear Part 2

But as she was only _in fun_, Sylvia took it in good part, and, after kissing each other good night, both little sisters fell asleep without loss of time.



"Oh how I wish that I had lived In the ages that are gone!"


It was--did I say so before? the children's first visit to Paris. They had travelled a good deal, for such small people quite "a _very_ good deal," as Molly used to maintain for the benefit of their less experienced companions. They knew England, "of course," Ralph would say in his lordly, big-boy fashion, Scotland too, and Wales, and they had spent some time in Germany. But they had never been in Paris, and the excitement on finding the journey safely past and themselves really there was very considerable.

"And, Molly," said Sylvia, on their way from the railway station to the hotel where rooms had been engaged for them, "remember you've _promised_ not to awake me in the middle of the night if you begin thinking about the top of the bed coming down."

"And, oh, Sylvia! I _wish_ you hadn't reminded me of it just now," said Molly pathetically, for which all the satisfaction she received was a somewhat curt observation from Sylvia, that she shouldn't be so silly.

For Sylvia, though in reality the kindest of little elder sisters, was sometimes inclined to be "short" with poor Molly. Sylvia was clever and quick, and very "capable," remarkably ready at putting herself, as it were, in the place of another and seeing for the time being, through his or her spectacles. While Molly had not got further than opening wide her eyes, and not unfrequently her mouth too, Sylvia, practical in the way that only people of lively imagination can be so, had taken in the whole case, whatever it might be, and set her ready wits to work as to the best thing to be said or done. And Molly would wonderingly admire, and wish she could manage to "think of things" the way Sylvia did.

They loved each other dearly, these two--but to-night they were tired, and when people, not children only, big people too, very often--are tried, it is only a very little step to being cross and snappish. And when aunty, tired too, and annoyed by the unamiable tones, turned round to beg them to "_try_ to leave off squabbling; it was so thoughtless of them to disturb their grandmother," two or three big tears welled up in Molly's eyes, though it was too dark in the omnibus, which was taking them and their luggage from the station, for any one to see, and she thought to herself what a terrible disappointment it would be if, after all, this delightful, long-talked-of visit to Paris, were to turn out not delightful at all. And through Sylvia's honest little heart there darted a quick sting of pain and regret for her sharpness to Molly. How was it that she could not manage to keep the resolutions so often and so conscientiously made? How was it that she could not succeed in remembering at the time, the very moment at which she was tempted to be snappish and supercilious, her never-_really_-forgotten motive for peculiar gentleness and patience with her younger sister, the promise she had made, now so many years ago, to the mother Molly could scarcely even remember, to be kind, _very_ kind, and gentle to the little, flaxen-haired, toddling thing, the "baby" whom that dear mother had loved so piteously.

"Eight years ago," said Sylvia to herself. "I was five and Molly only three and a half then. Poor little Molly, how funny she was!"

And a hand crept in under Molly's sleeve, and a whisper reached her ear.

"I don't mean to be cross or to tease you, Molly."

And Molly in a moment was her own queer, happy, muddle-headed little self again.

"Dear Sylvia," she whispered in return, "of course you don't. You never do, and if the top of the bed _did_ come down, I'm sure I'd pull you out first, however sleepy I was. Only of course I know it _won't_, and it's just my silly way, but when I'm as big as you, Sylvia, I'll get out of it, I'm sure."

"You're as big as me now, you silly girl," said Sylvia laughingly, which was true. Molly was tall and well-grown for her age, while Sylvia was small, so that very often, to Molly's delight, they were taken for twins.

"In my body, but not in my mind," rejoined Molly, with a little sigh. "I wish the growing would go into my mind for a little, though I wouldn't like to be _much_ smaller than you, Sylvia. Perhaps we shouldn't be dressed alike, then."

"Do be quiet, Molly, you are such an awful chatterbox," growled Ralph from his corner. "I was just having a nice little nap."

He was far too "grown-up" to own to the eagerness with which, as they went along, he had been furtively peeping out at the window beside him--or to join in Molly's screams of delight at the brilliance of the illumined shop windows, and the interminable perspective of gas lamps growing longer and longer behind them as they rapidly made their way.

A sudden slackening of their speed, a sharp turn, and a rattle over the stones, told of their arrival at their destination. And "Oh!" cried Molly, "I _am_ so glad. Aren't you awfully hungry, Sylvia?"

And grandmother, who, to tell the truth, had been indulging in a peaceful, _real_ little nap--not a sham one like Ralph's--quite woke up at this, and told Molly it was the best sign in the world to be hungry after a journey; she was delighted to find her so good a traveller.

The "dinner-tea" which, out of consideration for the children's home hours, had been ordered for them, turned out delicious. Never had they tasted such butter, such bread, such grilled chicken, and fried potatoes!

And to complete Molly's satisfaction the beds proved to have no tops to them at all.

"I told you so," said Ralph majestically, when they had made the tour of the various rooms and settled who was to have which, and though neither Sylvia nor Molly had the slightest recollection of his "telling you so,"

they were wise enough to say nothing.

"But the little doors in the walls are quite as bad, or worse,"

Ralph continued mischievously. "There's one at the head of your bed, Molly,"--Molly and Sylvia were to have two little beds in the same room, standing in a sort of alcove--"which I am almost sure opens on to a secret staircase."

Molly gave a little shiver, and looked up appealingly.

"Ralph, you are not to tease her," said aunty. "Remember all your promises to your father."

Ralph looked rather snubbed.

"Let us talk of something pleasant," continued aunty, anxious to change the subject. "What shall we do to-morrow? What shall we go to see first?"

"Yes," said grandmother. "What are your pet wishes, children?"

"Notre Dame," cried Molly.

"The Louvre," said Sylvia.

"Anything you like. I don't care much for sightseeing," said Ralph.

"That's a pity," said aunty drily. "However, as you are the only gentleman of the party, and we are all dependent on you, perhaps it is just as well that you have no special fancies of your own. So to-morrow I propose that we should go a drive in the morning, to give you a general idea of Paris, returning by Notre Dame. In the afternoon I have some calls to make, and a little shopping to do, and you three must not forget to write to your father. Then the next day we can go to the Louvre, as Sylvia wished."

"Thank you, aunty," said Sylvia. "It isn't so much for the pictures I want to go, but I do so want to see the room where poor Henry the Fourth was killed. I am _so_ fond of Henry the Fourth."

Aunty smiled, and Ralph burst out laughing.

"What a queer idea!" he said. "If you are so fond of him, I should think you would rather _not_ see the room where he was killed."

Sylvia grew scarlet, and Molly flew up in her defence.

"You've no business to laugh at Sylvia, Ralph," she cried. "_I_ understand her quite well. And she knows a great deal more history than you do--and about pictures, too. Of course we want to see the pictures, too. There's that beautiful blue and orange one of Murillo's that papa has a little copy of. _It's_ at the Louvre."

"I didn't say it wasn't," retorted Ralph. "It's Sylvia's love of horrors I was laughing at."

"She _doesn't_ love horrors," replied Molly, more and more indignant.

"_You_ needn't talk," said Ralph coolly. "Who was it that took a box of matches in her pocket to Holyrood Palace, and was going to strike one to look for the blood-stains on the floor? It was the only thing you cared to see, and yet you are such a goose--crying out if a butterfly settles on you. I think girls are----"

"Ralph, my boy," said grandmother, seeing that by this time Molly was almost in tears; "whatever you think of girls, you make me, I am sorry to say, think that boys' love of teasing is utterly incomprehensible--and oh, _so_ unmanly!"

The last touch went home.

"I was only in fun, grandmother," said Ralph with unusual meekness; "I didn't mean really to vex Molly."

So peace was restored.

To-morrow turned out fine, deliriously fine.

Chapter end

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