Grandmother Dear Part 5

Boys are aggravating creatures, are they not?



"They have no school, no governess, and do just what they please, No little worries vex the birds that live up in the trees."


Not many days after this thrilling adventure of Sylvia's, the little party of travellers reached their destination, grandmother's pretty house at Chalet. They were of course delighted to be there, everything was so bright, and fresh, and comfortable, and grandmother herself was glad to be again settled down at what to her now represented home. But yet, at the bottom of their hearts, the children were a little sorry that the travelling was over. True, Molly declared that, though their passage across the Channel had really been a very good one as these dreadful experiences go, nothing would _ever_ induce her to repeat the experiment; whatever came of it, there was no help for it, live and die in France, at least on this side of the water, she _must_.

"I am never going to marry, you know," she observed to Sylvia, "so for that it doesn't matter, as of course I _couldn't_ marry a Frenchman. But you will come over to see me sometimes and bring your children, and when I get very old, as I shall have no one to be kind to me you see, I daresay I shall get some one to let me be their concierge like the old woman in our lodge. I shall be very poor of course, but _anything_ is better than crossing the sea again."

It sounded very melancholy. Sylvia's mind misgave her that perhaps she should offer to stay with Molly "for always" on this side of the channel, but she did not feel quite sure about it. And the odd thing was that of them all Molly had most relished the travelling, and was most eager to set off again. She liked the fuss and bustle of it, she said; she liked the feeling of not being obliged to do any special thing at any special hour, for regularity and method were sore crosses to Molly.

"It is so nice," she said, "to feel when we get up in the morning that we shall be out of one bustle into another all day, and nobody to say 'You will be late for your music,' or, 'Have you finished your geography, Molly?'"

"Well," said Sylvia, "I am sure you haven't much of that kind of thing just now, Molly. We have _far_ less lessons than we had at home. It is almost like holidays."

This was quite true. It had been settled between grandmother and their father that for the first two or three months the children should not have many lessons. They had been working pretty hard for a year or two with a very good, but rather strict, governess, and Sylvia, at no time exceedingly strong, had begun to look a little fagged.

"They will have plenty to use their brains upon at first," said their father. "The novelty of everything, the different manners and customs, and the complete change of life, all that will be enough to occupy and interest them, and I don't want to overwork them. Let them run wild for a little."

It sounded very reasonable, but grandmother had her doubts about it all the same. "Running wild" in her experience had never tended to making little people happier or more contented.

"They are always better and more able to enjoy play-time when they feel that they have done some work well and thoroughly," she said to aunty.

"However, we must wait a little. If I am not much mistaken, the children themselves will be the first to tire of being too much at their own disposal."

For a few weeks it seemed as if Mr. Heriott had been right. The children were so interested and amused by all they saw that it really seemed as if there would not be room in their minds for anything else. Every time they went out a walk they returned, Molly especially, in raptures with some new marvel. The bullocks who drew the carts, soft-eyed, clumsy creatures, looking, she declared, so "sweet and patient;" the endless varieties of "sisters," with the wonderful diversity of caps; the chatter, and bustle, and clatter on the market-days; the queer, quaint figures that passed their gates on horse and pony back, jogging along with their butter and cheese and eggs from the mountain farms--all and everything was interesting and marvellous and entertaining to the last degree.

"I don't know how other children find time to do lessons here," she said to Sylvia one day. "It is quite difficult to remember just practising and French, and think what lots of other lessons we did at home, and we seemed to have much more time."

"Yes," said Sylvia, "and do you know, Molly, I think I liked it better.

Just now at the end of the day I never feel as if I had done anything nicely and settledly, and I think Ralph feels so too. _He_ is going to school regularly next month, every day. I wish we were too."

"_I_ don't," said Molly, "and it will be very horrid of you, Sylvia, if you go putting anything like that into grandmother's head. There now, she is calling us, and I am not _nearly_ ready. Where _are_ my gloves? Oh, I cannot find them."

"What did you do with them yesterday when you came in?" said Sylvia. "You ran down to the lodge to see the soldiers passing; don't you remember, just when you had half taken off your things?"

"Oh yes, and I believe I left them in my other jacket pocket. Yes, here they are. There is grandmother calling again. Do run, Sylvia, and tell her I'm just coming."

Molly was going out alone with grandmother to-day, and having known all the morning at what time she was to be ready, there was no excuse for her tardiness.

"My dear child," said grandmother, who, tired of waiting, just then made her appearance in their room, "what have you been doing? And you don't look half dressed now. See, your collar is tumbling off. I must really tell Marcelline never to let you go out without looking you all over."

"It wasn't Marcelline's fault, grandmother dear," said Molly. "I'm so sorry. I dressed in such a hurry."

"And why in such a hurry?" asked grandmother. "This is not a day on which you have any lessons."

"No-o," began Molly; but a new thought struck grandmother. "Oh, by the by, children, where are your letters for your father? I told you I should take them to the post myself, you remember, as I wasn't sure how many stamps to put on for Cairo."

Sylvia looked at Molly, Molly looked at Sylvia. Neither dared look at grandmother. Both grew very red. At last,

"I am _so_ sorry, grandmother dear."

"I am _so_ sorry, dear grandmother."

"We are both _so_ sorry; we _quite_ forgot we were to write them this morning."

Grandmother looked at them both with a somewhat curious expression.

"You both forgot?" she said. "Have you so much to do, my dear little girls, that you haven't room in your minds to remember even this one thing?"

"No, grandmother, it isn't that. I should have remembered," said Sylvia in a low voice.

"I don't know, grandmother dear," replied Molly, briskly. "My mind does seem very full. I don't know how it is, I'm sure."

Grandmother quietly opened a drawer in a chest of drawers near to which she was standing. It was very neat. The different articles it contained were arranged in little heaps; there were a good many things in it--gloves, scarfs, handkerchiefs, ribbons, collars, but there seemed plenty of room for all.

"Whose drawer is this?" she asked.

[Illustration: 'WHOSE DRAWER IS THIS?']

"Mine," said Sylvia.

"Sylvia's," answered Molly in the same breath, but growing very red as she saw grandmother's hand and eyes turning in the direction of the neighbour drawer to the one she had opened.

"I am so sorry, grandmother dear," she exclaimed; "I wish you wouldn't look at mine to-day. I was going to put it tidy, but I hadn't time."

It was too late. Grandmother had already opened the drawer. Ah, dear!

what a revelation! Gloves, handkerchiefs, scarfs, ribbons, collars; collars ribbons, scarfs, handkerchiefs, gloves, in a sort of _pot-pourri_ all together, or as if waiting to be beaten up into some wonderful new kind of pudding! Molly grew redder and redder.

"Dear me!" said grandmother. "This is your drawer, I suppose, Molly. How is it it is so much smaller than Sylvia's?"

"It isn't, grandmother dear," said Molly, rather surprised at the turn of the conversation. "It is just the same size exactly."

"Then how is it you have so many more things to keep in it than Sylvia?"

"I haven't, grandmother dear," said Molly. "We have just exactly the same of everything."

"And yet yours looks crowded to the last degree--far too full--and in hers there seems plenty of room for everything."

"Because, grandmother dear," said Molly, opening wide her eyes, "hers is neat and mine isn't."

"Ah," said grandmother. "See what comes of order. Suppose you try a little of it with that mind of yours, Molly, which you say seems always too full. Do you know I strongly suspect that if everything in it were very neatly arranged, you would find a very great deal of room in it; you would be surprised to find how little, not how much, it contains."

Chapter end

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