include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for A Daughter of the King by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




About the Book


There are the usual misunderstandings in the small village of Royden, but one year they combine to cause serious friction. An elderly lady, the embodiment of kindness, is turned out of her favourite pew by the new vicar. Young and old residents start to view each other with suspicion when a banished husband returns, allegedly to harm his children again. Both Mary Grey and Elsa Knott want to marry Gordon Pyne, who lives in the White House. When Gordon's father returns, Gordon is accused of his murder. This is a very readable romance from 1900, with many twists and turns. It has been lightly abridged and edited.


A Daughter of

The King

by

Mrs Philip Barnes


White Tree Publishing

Abridged Edition


Original book first published c1900


This abridged edition ©Chris Wright 2017


e-Book ISBN: 978-0-9957594-8-0


Published by

White Tree Publishing

Bristol

UNITED KINGDOM


wtpbristol@gmail.com


Full list of books and updates on

www.whitetreepublishing.com



A Daughter of the King is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.


All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this abridged edition.


Table of Contents

Cover

About the Book

Introduction

Note

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

About White Tree Publishing

More Books from White Tree Publishing

Christian non-fiction

Christian Fiction

Books for Younger Readers


Introduction


There were many prolific Christian writers in the last part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth. The majority of these books were fairly heavy-handed moral tales and warnings to young people, rather than romances. Two writers spring to mind who wrote romantic fiction for adults -- Mrs. O. F. Walton and Margaret S. Haycraft, whose works are still popular today. Our White Tree Publishing editions from these two authors have been sensitively abridged and edited to make them much more acceptable to today's general readers, rather than publishing them for students of Victorian prose. The characters and storyline are always left intact.

Mrs. Philip Barnes was not as well known as Mrs. Walton and Margaret Haycraft, and is almost unheard of today. She wrote a temperance book about a family living in poverty (Bingle's Widow), a couple of children's books, and this romance which is surprisingly similar in style to the romances of Walton and Haycraft, and we welcome it to our catalogue. We are considering a couple of the author's other author's books from this period. We will announce them on our website if we go ahead with them. Eliza Kerr is another Victorian writer whose stories deserve to be republished, and White Tree Publishing is releasing several of her books in abridged form.

Victorian and early twentieth century books by Christian and secular writers can be over-sentimental, referring throughout, for example, to a mother as the dear, sweet mother, and a child as the darling little child. In our abridged editions overindulgent descriptions of people have been shortened to make a more robust story, but the characters and storylines are always unchanged.

These writers were published by many different publishers, most of who published both Christian and secular books for all ages. However, The Religious Tract Society (RTS) generally published the "heavy" books with an unsubtle message that would not go down well today. Although A Daughter of the King is published by RTS, it clearly missed the unrelenting hand of the RTS editor, and is a surprisingly readable story, but with more Christian references than the books of the other two authors.

A problem of Victorian writers is the tendency to insert intrusive comments concerning what is going to happen later in the story. Today we call them spoilers. They are usually along the lines of: "Little did he/she know that...." I have removed these when appropriate.

£100 in 1900 may not sound much, but in income value it is worth £12,000 pounds today (about US$15,000). I mention this in case the sums of money in this book sound insignificant!

Chris Wright

Editor


NOTE

There are 14 chapters in this book. In the second half are advertisements for our other books, so the story may end earlier than expected! The last chapter is marked as such. We aim to make our eBooks free or for a nominal cost, and cannot invest in other forms of advertising. However, word of mouth by satisfied readers will also help get our books more widely known. When the story ends, please take a look at what we publish: Christian non-fiction, Christian fiction, and books for younger readers.


Chapter 1


A Bunch of March Violets

THE sweet scent of violets filled the air. The birds sang happily because of the springtime, and all the earth looked glorious in the sunlight.

Martha Garle stood at the door of her little cottage. Her large figure filled the doorway, and she made a picture (more picturesque than beautiful) amid the bright spring scene. "I must go round to Brown's, an' see how their little lad is," she said to herself. "How them vi'lets do smell. I guess I'll pull a few for Miss Cynthy. She's real fond of such like."

Martha peered out from beneath the porch into the little garden, with its trimly kept borders and sweet, old-world flowers.

Martha Garle was the good angel of the village. All her life had been spent in working for and helping other people. Not with worldly goods, for Martha's small pittance was scarcely enough to keep life in her own gaunt body, but she gave what was of more value -- the ready help of her strong hands, and the loving sympathy of her large heart.

In illness or trouble it was always Martha who was sent for. They did not always remember to send for her in their times of rejoicing, but those who did, found her as ready to laugh with them as to weep. However, a great deal more sorrow than joy fell to Martha's lot.

It was little wonder that her face grew sterner and more rugged year by year. Strangers who came into the village were wont to remark on the exceeding plainness of Martha Garle, and were often astonished at the storm of indignation that their remark would call forth from those who knew Martha's worth and loved her accordingly.

Of all the people who knew and prized Martha, perhaps Miss Cynthia Moore, or as she was always called by the villagers, "Miss Cynthy", stood first. They had been girls together, although Cynthia Moore was in a different station of life to Martha Garle. They had both known much sorrow, and above all they loved and served the same Lord and Master. Miss Cynthy had lived all her life in the village of Royden, and her visits to the outside world had been few and brief.

The village was built on a series of natural rocky terraces, which rose from the bed of the noisy brawling stream they called "the River," right up to where the fragrant pine forest crowned the summit of the rugged hill. On the topmost ridge stood the attractive White House, wherein the Moores had dwelt for more years than the villagers could remember. As Martha Garle stood in her garden, the church bells began to ring, calling everyone around to the ivy-covered tower that nestled on the bleak hillside.

"I must hurry," she said to herself, "or I shall scarce have time to see Miss Cynthy."

Martha's cottage stood lower down the hillside, but every morning, rain or fine, when she was not tending some sick person, Martha climbed the steep slope to the White House. She had done so for years.

"We are two lone women, Miss Cynthy and I," she said one day. "We were not always lonely, but her folk an' mine lie yonder in the same graveyard."

That was long ago. Miss Cynthia no longer dwelt on her own in the White House, but Martha never failed to put in an appearance. Had she ever failed to appear, the little old maid, "Miss Cynthy", would have put on her spotless crepe shawl and picked her way down over the rough stones to Martha's humble abode.

Ten years ago, Miss Cynthy had returned from one of her brief visits to London, and to the astonishment of all Royden, except Martha Garle, she had brought with her two children, a boy of about thirteen and a disabled girl of ten.

"My sister's children," explained Miss Cynthia quietly to her elderly maid-of-all-work, knowing full well that Rhoda would save her the trouble of further explanation to the neighbours, who, as in most small places, made their neighbours' concerns their own.

It was supposed that the children had come to their aunt's on a long visit, but as time went on, and no mention was ever made of their going away, the village realized that Miss Cynthy had brought them home with her so that she, who had so long lived a solitary life, had undertaken the permanent charge of a boy, and his young sister, a disabled girl.

Great was the wonder and consternation of the good people of Royden at what they did not hesitate to call "Miss Cynthy's folly." Only once did anyone venture to openly remonstrate with the old lady. Hester Green, who undertook the task, was more than astonished at the dignity the slight, fragile form possessed, as Miss Cynthia drew herself up and replied, "The home of my dear sister's children is of course with me. It has pleased God to call their mother to Himself, and now they are mine."

Hester Green turned away without another word, but everyone decided that sooner or later Miss Cynthy would repent of having burdened herself in such a foolish way.


The years passed on. Not yet had Miss Cynthia seen cause to regret taking the orphan children to her heart and home. True, the girl Hilary Payne was a helpless invalid, and needed constant, watchful care, but Miss Cynthia was ever ready to give it. Her gentle, loving heart had long ago won the highest reverence and love from both the poor invalid and her brother Douglas Payne. No one in the world was to them half as beautiful as their Aunt Cynthy.

Martha Garle climbed up the hill slowly that lovely morning, for she had been up most of the previous night nursing a sick child, and was feeling more than usually tired.

"Oh Martha, how sweet those violets are!" cried young Hilary Pyne, as the old woman followed Miss Cynthy into the room where Hilary lay, her couch drawn up to the window so she was able to enjoy the bright spring sunshine as it danced and glistened over the great black rocks which abound on those rugged North Country hills.

"Yes, Miss Hilary, they are the first. I thought that you and Miss Cynthy would like the scent of them."

"We do, Martha, and it is very good of you to remember and bring them. Are you going down to church?" asked Miss Cynthia.

"Yes, Miss Cynthy. I haven't been for three weeks. I couldn't leave old Betty, but her daughter has come now from London and she will look after her. You'll not know Ellen now, Miss Cynthy, she has altered so."

"How long is it since she married and left the village?" asked Miss Cynthia.

"She was saying last night that it were just twelve years, and she has never been home even for a visit since. She were saying that she saw you once in London, Miss Cynthy."

"Yes, Martha, I remember, but it is a long time ago," replied Miss Cynthia quietly; but Martha, who was looking at her keenly, saw her lips quiver, and a pained, scared look come into her eyes.

Young Hilary saw it too, and her eyes grew large and dark with fear. "You must go, Martha, or you will be late for church."

"Come in after the service and have some dinner with us," said Miss Cynthia, as Martha hurried off.

As the door closed behind the good-natured woman, little Hilary turned to her aunt and held out a trembling hand. "Auntie!" she said, in a low, hoarse voice, "why are you looking like that? Was it ... that time ... when you saw that ... woman?"

"Yes, dear; but, Hilary, there is nothing to make you tremble like that. You see, he has known all the time where you were, and your father has never sought you. This woman coming from the same neighbourhood cannot make any difference. It is the memory of that dreadful time that was a little too much for me. I am getting old and foolish, dear. You must not take any notice of me."

"Auntie, if my father should come, I think I should die. We have dreaded his coming all these years, Douglas and I. Douglas used to say that if he ever came, he would kill him."

Hilary hid her face in the cool, soft cushions of the couch, and Miss Cynthia saw the thin form shaking in fear. The old lady got up and went over to her niece.

"Hilary, it is you who are being foolish now. There is no more reason to suppose that your father will come now than there has been all the ten years that you have been with me. And even if he did come, he could do no great harm. Neither you nor Douglas are children anymore. He would be powerless; and remember how God has guarded you in the past, and with what loving-kindness He has led you."

Hilary raised her tear-stained face to her aunt. "Forgive me, Auntie; but even you can never know the horrible time it was when Douglas and I were little, before...."

Miss Cynthia interrupted her almost fiercely. "Child, I do know. Did I not watch my loved, sister grow paler and thinner every time I saw her? Did I not know of the misery and shame she bore in silence so long? The misery that made even the death she died a blessed release. Oh, Hilary, I know only too well. When you and Douglas have slept the happy sleep of childhood, I have lain awake listening for the footstep I dreaded to hear, coming to carry away from me all that was left me of my dead sister whom he as good as murdered with his violent behaviour. Child, child, would to God I did not know!"

They never heard the door open, nor saw the tall form of Douglas standing just inside the room until he spoke. "Aunt Cynthia," he said, gently laying his firm, strong hand on her quivering shoulders, "I don't know what is distressing you so much, but it is not like my brave little aunt."

"Indeed there is nothing, Doug. Only a woman has come to the village who used to live near us in London, and it made us think of other days, and the old fear came back for a moment."

"Is that all? Well, you are two foolish little women who will make me late for church if I don't take care. Cheer up, both of you. There is no possibility now of the old situation returning, and the dread is just an ugly nightmare."

Douglas went off to church, and the two women were left alone once more.

"You forgive me, Auntie?" whispered Hilary as she lay back on her couch, still holding Miss Cynthia's wrinkled hand in her own.

"Forgive you, Hilary? There is nothing for me to forgive. I am a foolish old woman."

"The dearest, best old woman in the world, and not so very old either," said Hilary softly.

They sat in silence a long time after this. Presently the sweet scent of the violets reached the invalid, and she stretched out her hand for the vase, which stood near. "Auntie, don't you think that Martha is like these violets?"

"I don't quite see the resemblance, Hilary," replied Miss Cynthia, looking a little puzzled.

"No? Well, you see Martha is not very beautiful when you first look at her, but when you get to know her you find how sweet and true she is. The violets grow hidden under big ugly leaves, but you can smell them, and when you lift the leaves they are nestling in the shade."

Miss Cynthia smiled as she replaced the flowers upon the table. "You are right, dear," she replied. "Martha's life is indeed fragrant with love and good deeds."

But Martha, all unconscious of their praise, had gone to church with a pain in her honest heart, for as she descended the steps from Miss Cynthia's garden into the white road which ran across the hill to the adjacent town of Colworth, she encountered a party of strangers, one of whom, in a loud, thoughtless whisper, exclaimed, "Look at that ugly woman! Who could love her?"


Chapter 2


A King's Daughter

"WHO could love her?" The cruel words rang in Martha's ears so loudly that they almost drowned the sound of the Sabbath bells. She heard them as she took her seat in the pew where the Garle family had sat for generations, and which to Martha was full of tender memories of the mother whom God had taken to Himself so long ago.

"Aye, she loved me, though I was ugly, and God loves me too. It pleased Him to make me as I am, and maybe He will make it up to me when I get yonder," said Martha softly to herself, as she sat waiting for the bells to cease and service to begin.

Her gaze wandered wistfully over the old building, and as she noticed Elsa Knott sitting beside her aged grandfather, she smiled. If the thoughtless girl who had called the poor woman ugly had seen that smile, she would most likely have changed her mind about Martha's appearance. Elsa Knott was one of Martha's favourites. She was a quiet, gentle girl, who lived with her grandparents near Martha's little cottage.

Elsa's own parents had both died when she was a baby, and so she had known no mother but Grannie. Miss Cynthia and her niece Hilary were very fond of Elsa also, and although she was only a village dressmaker's apprentice, she was always welcome at the White House. Hilary had learned to look eagerly for her coming. Often when work was over, and Grannie could spare her, Elsa used to go and sit with Hilary, cheering the invalid to whom the days were too often long and weary. Douglas, also, was wont to listen, as he entered the little porch when his day's work was over, to the gentle voice reading aloud to his sister, or recounting for her amusement some of the little occurrences in the village.

"It is like being in a fresh breeze when one talks to Elsa," Hilary said one day. "She always does me good. I wish she could come every day."

And Miss Cynthia had answered, "Perhaps she will come here to stay some day, Hilary. I think Douglas sees her sweetness as well as we do, dear."

Hilary had looked puzzled for a second, then a light broke over her and she laughed softly. "Oh, Auntie! Do you really think that? It would be delightful."

Miss Cynthia smiled. "It would be very nice, Hilary," she replied. "Elsa is a good, true girl;. One the King's daughters. But you and I must hold our peace, or we may spoil everything. They are both young, and can afford to wait."

This conversation had taken place about Christmas. Now it was almost Eastertide, and Hilary was looking anxiously for a further development of the friendship between her brother and her friend.

Martha Garle had watched the young folks too. She had loved and nursed Elsa when she was a tiny child, and had taken pride in the girl's growing sweetness and loveliness. "They couldn't call Elsa ugly," Martha said, with grim satisfaction as she looked at the girl in church. "She is really pretty, and as good as she is pretty."

After church, old Mr. Knott and Elsa overtook Martha as she was going up the hill.

"Are you going to Miss Cynthy's, Martha?" asked Elsa.

"Yes, lass. Miss Cynthy asked me to go back to dinner, knowing I was at home and alone today."

"Then you must come to us next Sunday, Martha, woman," said old Mr. Knott. "The missis told us we were to take you back with us today. It is an age since we saw you. We are missing you this great while."

"I've been busy lately, Mr. Knott," answered Martha, "but I will come to you next Sunday, God willing -- and thank you all very much," she added gratefully.

"Tell Hilary that I will come this evening, Martha; then Miss Cynthy can come down to church whilst I take care of Hilary," cried Elsa, as Martha turned to go up the higher road. "Don't forget you are to keep next Sunday for us. I am getting quite jealous of the poor sick folk who keep you away from us. We love to have you, Martha."

Once more the tears rose into Martha's odd eyes; tears of joy this time. "Thank God! Someone does love me after all. They don't mind my ugliness."

Martha's honest heart was full, as once more she entered the White House where Miss Cynthia waited with her smiling welcome.

"I wonder what makes folks so kind?" she said to herself, as she took off her simple bonnet. "But there, I needn't wonder. It is because He puts the love into their hearts, and they love His creatures."

Very pleasant were the Sundays spent at the White House on the hill. It was indeed a Sabbath, a rest day, and a day of joy and thankfulness. As Martha sat in the little room listening to the words Miss Cynthy read out of the Bible, a sense of restfulness stole over her, and the memory of the cruel words she had heard in the morning passed away.

The girl who had spoken those careless words had forgotten them as soon as they were uttered. She never dreamt that they had pierced or wounded anyone. So our careless words fall from our lips and do (God forgive us!) untold harm, of which perhaps all our lives we remain in ignorance. Well have we need to pray, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).

As the day wore on, clouds hid the face of the sun, and a cold, bleak wind arose. It seemed as if winter had returned, and was all the more dismal because of the sunshine of the early morning. True to her promise, Elsa had come to sit with Hilary, and Miss Cynthia had gone to church with Douglas and Martha. Hilary had her couch drawn near the window, that she might watch the people on the hills around wending their way to church.

"How gloomy it all looks now!" she said to Elsa, who sat beside her. "This morning the sun shone over the rocks, and some of them glistened like diamonds. Now they look dark and angry, as though they expected something dreadful to happen."

"We will light the lamp and draw the curtains, dear, if you like."

"No, not just yet. I like to see the lights on the other hills twinkling one by one, and the lights in the church, then I can imagine what people are doing; some staying at home with the children, or sick, helpless folk like me, and others at church joining in the music, and praising God."

"I think we can praise God here," said Elsa gently. "Grannie often says that some folks please Him more by staying at home and doing their duty, than by leaving it and going to church."

Hilary sighed a little. "You see I have no duty. I can do nothing. I must just lie here and be a burden to everyone, because I am keeping you from church."

Elsa looked pained. "I don't think you must think of it like that, Hilary. I think everyone has some duty, even those who are laid aside. Grannie says He will always show us what our duty is, if we ask Him, and He will help us to do it. You do not need me to tell you this, dear, you know it."

Hilary put out her hand, and drew Elsa closer to her side. "I do know," she said, in a low voice, "but I need reminding very often."

"I think it is doing a great deal, Hilary, when you lie here suffering day after day, and can be sweet and patient," said Elsa.

"Ah, but I am not patient. You do not know how cross I get sometimes, and how I speak to Douglas, who is so good to me, and to poor Aunt Cynthia, who is always sweet and kind. She has done wonderful things for us, Elsa, and it seems hard that she should have such hard work on our behalf."

"I know Miss Cynthy just loves to look after you, and I don't believe your brother minds your being cross. He knows you are often suffering, and he is sorry for you.'

"Ah, but that is not doing my duty, you see."

For some time the girls remained silent, each busy with her own thoughts while watching the lights being slowly kindled on the adjoining hills. Suddenly Hilary gave a little gasping cry.

"What is it?" cried Elsa anxiously.

"See!" gasped Hilary, pointing down to where the little garden descended to the road. A tall figure was slowly and painfully mounting the steps.

"It is only some poor man seeking shelter from the storm. The rain is falling fast. He would be wet through if he went on down to the village. He need come no further than the porch, Hilary. Do not tremble so, and look like that. We are quite safe; I locked the door when Miss Cynthia went out."

"It is my father!" cried Hilary. "You must not let him in. Promise me, Elsa, or I shall die!"

"Your father? And you want him kept out in the rain? Oh, Hilary!"

Hilary burst into tears as Elsa stood irresolute, and the tall figure came nearer and nearer.

"Oh hush, dear Hilary, hush! I will stay here with you, and not let anyone in, although I do not understand why you should not be glad to see your father."

Hilary drew Elsa's face down close to her own and whispered four words in her ear. Elsa grew pale, and her grasp round the form of the invalid grew tighter.

"My poor, poor Hilary, do not cry. He shall not come near you. I will close the shutters, and then we shall be all right until your aunt and Douglas comes."

"Yes, yes," sobbed Hilary.

A loud knocking was now heard at the front door, and Hilary trembled violently.

"Elsa," she cried, "what can we do? Douglas said that if ... he ... came here he would kill him; and ... and ... they will be home from church directly, and Douglas may get hurt."

Elsa stood for a moment white and trembling, then she said hurriedly, "If I lock this door and the back door, do you dare to be left? If you could manage, I would slip down and meet your brother as he came out of church, and warn him and your aunt."

For a brief second Hilary hesitated, then her love triumphed over her fears and she bade Elsa go.

"Go," she cried. "Tell Douglas from me not to come home, and take Aunt Cynthy to your house. Ask Martha Garle to come back here with you if you are afraid. Perhaps after a time he will think the house is empty and will go away; but go, Elsa dear, quickly! Quickly!"

Elsa hurriedly put on her hat, and throwing a large shawl around her, ran off. There was a path which led into the road from the back door which she locked behind her and put the key in her pocket. As she entered the road lower down, where there was a bend in the bank, she could not have been seen from the front of the house, even had it been daylight.

The rain was falling in torrents, and the road rough and slippery. They would be out of church directly, and unless she could meet them at the end of the lane they would be up to the White House before she could prevent them. She trembled to think what the consequences might be.

At last she was in sight of the turning that led to the church. No one could now pass up the hill without her seeing them from that point.

A moment more and she saw a tall figure whom she knew well, striding hastily onward. It was Douglas. Would he pass before she could reach him? She hastened on, panting and exhausted.

He passed the corner and she gave a gasp of despair. "Douglas! Douglas!"

He heard her and turned.

"Douglas!" she cried again.

"Elsa! What is wrong?"

Hurriedly and brokenly, because of her want of breath, Elsa told her tale. Just then the rain ceased and the silver moon shone out, showing how white and drawn Douglas's face had grown.

"My father!" he exclaimed. "And Hilary? Have you left her alone?"

"Yes, she is locked in the sitting room. She begs that you will not go home, but take Miss Cynthia to our house. Martha Garle will go back with me."

"I must go on, Elsa. Aunt Cynthia has gone with Martha to see old Betty. I must get rid of my father before she comes home. I will try and spare her that at least."

"But... but...." stammered Elsa. "Hilary says if you see him again you----"

"Yes, yes, I know; but you need not be afraid. I was only a child then. I know now how impossible it would be to punish him except in one way," he added gloomily.

"I will go back with you to Hilary," said Elsa.

"Will you? Come, then, and do not tell her that I have come until I have sent him away."

"Will you be able to do so?" asked Elsa.

"I will," replied Douglas firmly.

Quickly and silently they walked up the hill. Twice Douglas turned, and holding out his hand helped Elsa up a steep path in the bank.

"You go round to the back, Elsa. I will go and take him away."

Elsa hastened round, and entered the house as quietly as she could. Hilary looked up as she entered. "Have you seen him?" she asked quickly.

"Yes, dear; it is all right. Miss Cynthy has gone with Martha to see old Betty, and someone has come to take that man away."

"I thank God he will have gone before poor Auntie comes home! Hark! Someone is speaking to him, and now they are going away."

They both listened intently, and heard the sound of receding footsteps.

"It is true! They have taken him away!"

"Quite true, dear. Now I must put on the kettle. It is so wet, Miss Cynthia will be sure to want a cup of hot tea when she gets in."

"Yes, she will; but oh, Elsa, how wet you are!"

"Never mind that. I will soon run home and get some dry things on. Miss Cynthy will be here directly."

"If they let my father come back, Elsa, what shall we do?"

"I do not think that he will come back, Hilary. Try and dry your eyes, or your aunt will be so troubled."

"If you had not been here, Elsa, it would have been terrible! If I had been here with our maid Rhoda....!"

"Well, it is over now, dear, and God will be sure to send help in time of need if we only ask Him."

In a few minutes Miss Cynthia came in with Rhoda, whom she had met coming up the hill. One glance at Hilary's face told her aunt that something had occurred to ruffle the calm in which she had left her niece earlier in the evening. Going into the little kitchen, she called Elsa to her. Rhoda had gone up to take off her things, so they were alone.

"What has been wrong?" Cynthia asked anxiously.

Elsa told her aunt as gently and quickly as she could. The poor lady sank back into a chair.

"I thought so!" she exclaimed. "Betty Clark's daughter told me tonight that she thought she saw him -- that wretched man-- last night."

Elsa stood looking pityingly at the old lady's distress, until suddenly Miss Cynthia caught sight of the girl's wet dress. "Why, child, how wet you are! Take off that skirt at once. You must either stay here all night or put one of my skirts on."

"I must go home, Miss Cynthy, thank you. Grannie will be so anxious; but I will borrow a skirt, if you will be so kind as to lend me an old one."

Just then Elsa's uncle, Joe Knott, came to see if she was ready to go home.

As they went through the lower end of the village, they saw Douglas Pyne talking earnestly to a ragged, disreputable-looking man.

"Who is that Douglas has with him, Elsa?" asked her uncle.

"I believe it is his father."

As Elsa told her Uncle Joe what had happened, Joe Knott listened gravely and with many exclamations of wonder.

"I doubt Miss Cynthy will have cause to rue her goodness to those poor things. Say nothing to anyone except Grannie and grandfather, Elsa. We must not hurt their feelings by talking of their trouble and shame."

Elsa wondered to see gruff Uncle Joe in such a gentle, considerate mood. "I should not think of talking about other people's business," answered Elsa, rather indignantly.

"No, no, you are a good lass, Elsa. But I feel for those folks, I do indeed, having a man like that in the family."


Chapter 3


Elsa's Work-a-day

THE next morning rose bright and fine, as though no such things as storm and sorrow were in existence. Elsa Knott arose with a sense of some trouble around her, in spite of the bright sunshine and the singing birds.

Old Mr. Knott, who had been ailing some time, had been very ill in the night, and Uncle Joe was going off for the doctor as soon as breakfast was over. It was, therefore, a very anxious heart and a sorrowful little face that Elsa carried with her to work that morning.

Mrs. Knott watched her granddaughter up the street, and then as she turned indoors she gave a great sigh.

"Why, Mother," cried Joe, "whatever is the matter? Please God, Father will get better when he gets some doctor's stuff."

"Aye, lad, it wasn't that, though that is worse than anything else, having him laid up and you out of work too. I sometimes wonder whether we have done right in putting Elsa to the dressmaking instead of service."

To this Joe made no answer. He had always maintained that there was no need for his pretty niece to go out to service, and it always rather vexed him to hear his mother suggest it.

On this particular morning Elsa was not in her usual spirits. Her grandfather's illness troubled her, and she was unable to shake off the memory of the previous night when she had left her friends in sorrow. She wondered how Douglas got rid of his father, and how poor Hilary was after all the news.

The girls in Miss Smith's workroom kept up a constant chatter about the new clothes they meant to have at Easter; for it was the custom of Royden folks to appear in "high feather" at that season of the year.

"What are you going to have, Elsa?" asked Alice Grey.

"I don't know," replied Elsa, rather shortly.

"Don't know, and Easter Sunday in a fortnight? My patience, you will have to be quick! I am going to have green. I shall go and buy it tonight, if I can get off in good time."

"I think it is real stupid to make such a fuss about new clothes at Easter. It is too late to buy new winter clothes, and too early to buy thin summer ones," remarked a pale, dark girl, without looking up from her work.

"Hark at Lizzie Jones!" cried Alice Grey. "Maybe the grapes are sour, Liz?"

"No, I earn my own money," said Lizzie quietly; "but I'm not going to starve myself so as I can show a bit finer than my neighbours."

Miss Smith entered the room just then, so the needles were set to work more rapidly, and no more was said about new gowns, until the time came for going home.

Elsa found her grandfather much better. He was even able to sit up in his chair.

"Aye, lass!" he exclaimed, as he saw her pleased look, "this is something like, ain't it? And please God, we'll do better in a bit."

"I am glad, Grandfather," said the girl softly, as she bent and kissed the old man. "When I have had my tea I will read to you a while, and Grannie can go out."

To this Mrs. Knott willingly agreed, for like many other old ladies she dearly loved to do her own shopping.

That evening Joe Knott overtook his mother as she stood looking in the only draper's shop the village possessed, where the new spring goods were temptingly displayed. Miss Smith's two apprentices, Alice and Mary Grey, were looking at the fine things also, and were eagerly discussing what purchases they should make. They did not notice the little old lady who stood watching them through her spectacles.

"Maybe that is what ailed Elsa," said Grannie, as the two girls passed into the shop. Grannie's keen eyes had seen that something ailed her beloved grandchild.

"Why, our Elsa has never been worrying for new clothes, surely!" cried Joe.

"She'll not worry, Joe. She's far too good for that. But I make no doubt she likes pretty things as well as most girls do."

"It has been rather hard lines for the lass lately. When I do get any luck I will see what can be done, but I fancy she is a bit upset about that Pyne man turning up last night. She has sense enough to know that it means trouble for them at the White House."

"Aye, indeed. Poor Miss Cynthy. Why, Joe, look at yon crowd. What do you suppose is amiss?" exclaimed the old lady, pointing to where a lot of people seemed to be congregated around some object of interest.

Joe ran off to see, and Mrs. Knott waited where she stood, for she dreaded being in a crowd of any sort, even a village one.

It was a pitiful sight that met Joe Knott's view. A man, whom Joe had no difficulty in recognising as the same whom he had seen with Douglas Pyne on the previous night, was rolling about helplessly drunk, while those around jeered and laughed at his vain efforts to rise to his feet. Joe's honest heart fired with indignation.

"Well," he cried, "if anyone had told me that Royden folks could make game of a sight like that, I should have knocked him down. Where is the poor wretch staying? We had better help him home, and let him come to his senses."

"He is lodging at Grey's. He is young Douglas and Hilary Pyne's father. I reckon Douglas has no cause to be proud of such a father, though he does hold his head so high above some on us," said one man who resented Joe's interference..

"Aye," called out another man, "he is the lad's father. Not as the lad can help that, but they should keep him out of harm's way."

"It takes a lot o' care to keep folks out o' harm's way when they love their drink," retorted Joe, turning the laugh against the last speaker.

Just then Douglas Pyne himself came out of the works on his homeward way. The little crowd turned instinctively toward him, and waited. The young man's face flushed hotly as he looked at the prostrate form, and then to the wondering people around.

"Yes, it is my father," he said, in a hard voice. "My father who killed my mother, and made my sister the invalid she is. Now you know why we cannot welcome him to the White House. Still," he went on, "he is my father. Will any of you help me to take him to his lodgings?"

Two or three volunteered at once, and a murmur of sympathy with the young fellow who had a murderer for a father ran through the crowd. Joe Knott was one of those who helped Douglas take the wretched man to the lodgings. Then he went back to his mother, who was still waiting for him.

"What is it, Joe?" she asked. "Is anyone hurt?"

"Aye, hurt by drink," he cried, and he told her all that had passed.

"Dearie, dearie, what a trouble to come on poor Cynthy Moore after all these years. I mind well her sister, the one yon scamp married. She was as bonnie a lass as ever trod shoe-leather. Poor girl!"

They did not tell Elsa what they had heard and seen that night. It would do no good, Grannie said, and would trouble the lass still more. But Elsa heard all about it the next morning when she got to work, for Alice and Mary Grey made merry over the fate of their new lodger, and they were accustomed in their home to seeing drunkenness.

Elsa listened with white, troubled face as her heart bled for poor Hilary and Douglas. It was better to have never known her father than to have had such a one as theirs.

"I reckon it'll take Douglas Pyne down an inch or two, having his father come to live in the village," said Mary. "He is mighty civil to us already."

"I should think he feels grateful to you for taking such a lodger in. It is not everyone who would care to have a drunkard live in their house," said Lizzie Jones.

"Law, we don't mind. We are used to it. As long as he keeps civil to us, he may get as much drink as he likes for all we care. Douglas pays his board, and it is a good help to mother."

"Have you settled what you are going to wear this Easter, Elsa?" asked Alice Grey.

"I am not going to have anything new," said Elsa. "Grandad is ill, and Uncle Joe has been out of work this great while. You see, I am not earning anything yet."

"Oh, I say, what a shame. Nearly all the girls are having something new except Lizzie yonder, and she is too mean for anything. Can't you coax your grandmother to give you something?"

"She will if she can, I am sure," answered Elsa; "but, after all, I don't mind much. It is rather early to get new things, as Lizzie says."

"Oh, that is her meanness. I tell you, Elsa, you will have to look out if you mean to keep your beau. Our Mary has set her mind on getting him from you. You need not look so angry;. You know you are fond of Douglas Pyne, and all the village knows what a fuss they make of you at the White House."

Elsa's indignation was almost too great for her to trust herself to speak. At last she said, "I don't exactly know what you mean, Alice. It is true that I often go to the White House, but it is to sit with poor Hilary, and I do not often see Douglas then. He is nothing to me more than any other friend. I never thought of anything else."

"Oh, well, that is all right then. I am glad that you do not care."

Miss Smith came in just then, and they worked busily until dinnertime; but Elsa's face burned, and she longed to go away and have a good cry. But she must work on, and choke down the too-ready tears. Did she really think no more of Douglas Pyne than of any other friend? She dare hardly ask herself the question. True, he had never spoken to her save as a friend. As Hilary's brother, Elsa knew Douglas had been grateful to her for her attention to his disabled sister, although he had seldom mentioned it.

And now she knew that Mary Grey had made up her mind to steal Douglas's friendship for her away! Well, if he preferred Mary's friendship to her own, she had nothing to say about it. Mary was a good-looking girl, and she did what it was impossible for Elsa to do -- dressed brightly and well.

"How is Grandad this morning?" she asked, as she entered the cottage at noon.

"He seems so weak and low that I hardly know what to do. I don't know what I can get for him. The doctor says, 'Get him plenty of nourishment,' but he does not say where we are to get it from, does he, my girl? Go in and speak to him while I dish up the breakfast. He's been asking after you."

"Good morning, Grandad," said Elsa cheerfully, as she went up to the old man's bedside. "How do you feel now?"

"Hello, my little lass, is that you? The old man is better this morning, only so weak, so terribly weak."

"You are sure to be weak, Grandad. You have been so ill, and only able to get out that once to church. But the weather will get brighter and brighter now, and you will soon be quite well."

"Aye, aye, lass. I hope so, I hope so."

"There is not much of a breakfast, Elsa, this morning," said Mrs. Knott. "But I wanted to get some eggs and beef tea for Grandad, so I thought we could manage."

"Of course, Grannie, this will do beautifully. Oh, is that for me?" as the old lady took down a letter from the shelf.

"Yes; the postman brought it soon after you went out this morning. It is from your Aunt Sarah, I think, but I didn't look at it."

"Oh, Grannie, you should have opened it. Yes, it is from Aunt Sarah, and she sends me a postal order for a pound to get a new dress. See, I will read it aloud to you, and you can read it to Grandad after I have gone back to work."


"Yare Street, York,

March 22,

My dear Elsa,

I have been thinking a good deal about you lately, and wondering how you are. I know you have not much time to spare, but I should like you to write me just a few lines, telling me how you are all getting on. I hope, dear Elsa, you are trying to be a help and comfort to your dear grandmother, and that you are walking in the right road, loving and serving the Lord.

I know nearly all the girls in Royden have new clothes at Easter, and I suppose you like to do the same, so I enclose a postal order for one pound, which will buy you a new dress. I expect by this time you will be able to make it yourself. Give my love to father and mother and Uncle Joe. Be a good girl, and the comfort to them that your dear mother used to be.

Uncle Ben has got a nice business together, and perhaps in the summer we may come over and see you all.

Your affectionate aunt,

Sarah Sharp."


"Well, well, just think, it is the first time I ever knew your aunt to send anyone a farthing. A whole pound! Well, my girl, you can buy some finery now! You had better change the order as you go to work. It will be too late when you come home tonight."

"Very well, Grannie," replied Elsa. She hurried over her breakfast and ran off, calling at the post office and exchanging the order for a bright golden sovereign.

"My word, Elsa, you are in luck after all," exclaimed Alice Grey, as she came into the workroom a few minutes after Elsa. "I called at your house for you, and Mrs. Knott told me about your letter. Now you can make up your mind what you are going to have."

"No, I can't," laughed Elsa. "I must think it over."

"I brought a piece of my dress to show you. See, isn't it a sweet pretty green?"

"Very pretty, but isn't it rather pale?"

"Not it. That is the fashionable shade," explained Alice. "And I am having a hat with a feather to match."

"It will cost a lot of money," said Elsa doubtfully.

"Rather, but it can't be helped. I must have them. Mother complains, but Aunt Susan says, if girls do not have pretty things while they are young they never get them."

Lizzie Jones was sitting next to Elsa, so when the rest of the girls were busy talking, Elsa whispered, "Lizzie, you have had a lot of experience with sick people, haven't you?"

"I should think I have," said Lizzie. "A sight more than my share. Why, Elsa?"

"When the doctor says they must have nourishing food, what does he mean?"

"Mean? Why, chicken, wine, eggs, soup, jellies, and all such like. It depends what they can take, and who they are."

"Grandfather, for instance."

"H'm, well, I can hardly say. Your grandmother , I know is a clever old body."

"Yes," said Elsa, "but Aunt Sarah sent me some money today. Because Uncle Joe is out of work, and Grandad ill, I want to spend it on them, and I am afraid Grannie won't take it."

"Elsa Knott, you are a good sort."

"Nonsense, Lizzie. You would have done the same yourself."

"I am not so sure of that. Anyway, Elsa, you must make the old lady take it, or you will be wasting it, not knowing what to get. You will have to talk her round."

With this Elsa was obliged to be content. She felt that it was true, Grannie would spend the money to much better advantage than she could.

There was a great deal of work to finish that night so it was late before Elsa got home to her tea.

"Come, my lass," cried Grannie. "I thought you would have been home to your tea before you went shopping."

"I have not been shopping, Grannie. We have had to work late. Grandfather is up now! That is better; I am glad."

"Aye, lass, he's up, though he feels but sadly. But come and get your tea, and then tell us what you're going to buy with that money. Your uncle is fine and pleased about it, I can tell you."

When Elsa had finished tea she called her grandmother into the little back kitchen. "Grannie," she said softly "I want you to do something for me."

"What is it, my girl?"

"I want you to take that pound, and buy all kinds of nourishment for Grandad."

"No, my girl, the money is yours."

"And because it is mine I can do what I like with it. If I don't need a new dress yet, and don't mean to have one, why must I? And oh, Grannie, you've done for me all these long years, and I've never earned anything yet for you. You don't know how I think about it. Do take it, Grannie dear, do! It will maybe help to make Grandad well." Elsa knelt down beside the old lady and looked up into her furrowed face, down which the tears were slowly trickling.

"Let the bairn have her way, mother," said a husky voice.

Looking up, Elsa saw her Uncle Joe, who had come in from the garden and heard the conversation.

"But her dress and hat?"

"Never mind that, Gran; I'll fix it," cried Elsa, jumping up. "Now you put on your bonnet, and go and buy a lot of things for Grandad."

Grannie looked up in a bewildered sort of way at Uncle Joe, but he said, "She is right, Mother. Trot along."

So Mrs. Knott went shopping again, not without kissing Elsa, and saying heartily, "God bless you, my bairn! You are a real comfort to us."


Chapter 4


The White House

A shadow lay over the White House and its inmates. For years they had been dreading what had now come to pass -- the coming of Bertram Pyne. Only those who knew what his wife and children had suffered through his violent drinking habits in the past could realize what a terror his presence in the village was to his disabled daughter. All Douglas's powers of persuasion had failed to induce his father to leave the town. As yet they had managed to keep him away from Hilary, but she lived in constant dread, and grew so weak and nervous that it became plain to all that a very short time must elapse before they said farewell to her.

Douglas did his best to cheer and comfort her, and Elsa came more constantly than ever, only choosing such times as Douglas would be out. Since her conversation with Alice Grey, Elsa had felt that it was better to avoid meeting him more than she could help. Her friendship with him had been very sweet, and she missed it now, but it was impossible to share his favour with a girl like Mary Grey.

Hilary was distressed about that also. The friendship they had hoped to see develop into love seemed likely to die away altogether. Only once since the night of the storm had Douglas seen Elsa to speak to. Then he had thanked her for her services on that wet night, and he had been pained by her avoidance of him afterwards.

On the night that Mrs. Knott had gone out to spend Elsa's sovereign, she had met Miss Cynthia, and had told her all about Elsa's generosity. Miss Cynthia was much pleased and touched, and even in the midst of her own anxiety did not forget to tell Hilary and Douglas of Elsa's self-denial.

Hilary said, "Yes, we know Elsa is good, don't we, Doug?"

Twice in his drunken state already had Bertram Pyne come up to the White House, and Douglas dreaded to leave them alone, even while he went to work. Douglas had a good position at the ironworks, and was much respected both by the masters and men. Miss Cynthia had used a big portion of her little savings to apprentice her well-loved nephew in those works, and she heard with pardonable pride of his steadiness and success. But how would it be now that his disreputable, drunken father had appeared upon the scene? Sometimes the little lady trembled with sorrow and indignation for her boy.

Then, too, the father had to have lodgings provided for him. They could not let him lie about in the roads, as he certainly would have done if they had refused to admit him into the White House, and there had been no other door open to him.

One afternoon Hilary lay with her eyes shut for some time, and her aunt, who was knitting beside her, thought that she had gone to sleep, when suddenly the girl spoke.

"Auntie," she said, "do you think if we were to bring Father here, and be kind to him, he would change? I have been wondering whether God would like us to do that. Or perhaps Douglas and I ought to go to him, and leave you here in peace."

To say that Miss Cynthia was startled would be saying little. She was horrified. "You must not think of such a thing, Hilary! You could not bear to see him, dear. It would kill you, and me too, I think," the old lady added.

"But, Auntie, if we ought to do it, I must."

"Hilary, your poor mother thought that she could lead your father to better ways, and for many years she tried. He caused the accident which killed her and crippled you. He made the life of his little lad a burden so heavy that he would often have been glad to lie down and die. But your father never repented, never turned from his evil ways, although he knew the sorrow and suffering he had caused. Now he is in this village, a burden and a disgrace upon the son he treated so brutally years ago. Do you think that he would change now? No, dear, nothing can change those who refuse to listen to the voice of warning that God sends to speak to them."

Hilary sighed. "I wish I could give over thinking about it," she said sorrowfully.

But Hilary could not give over thinking about it, and Miss Cynthia, once having her own thoughts led in that direction, was obliged to think of it also.

Bring Bertram Pyne to that peaceful homestead? It seemed like sacrilege! He had wrecked the life of her dearly-loved sister, and done his best to wreck the lives of her children also. And now, here was the thought come to haunt her -- that perhaps, if they held out a loving hand to him, he might be won from his evil ways, and by God's help become a changed creature. Was it needful for them to make this sacrifice?

All that night the little lady lay awake, and when dawn came she was still asking the question, "What ought we to do?"

The battle went on fiercely for some time, but at last came the cry from that faithful heart, "Lord, not my will, but Thine be done." She would do even this for His sake.

Douglas had grown strangely silent lately, and his aunt thought it was not to be wondered at, for his was a heavy burden to carry.

Hilary looked anxiously at her aunt as she took her cup of tea from her hand. "Is anything worrying you more than usual, Auntie?" she asked.

"No, dear. We will have a talk together after breakfast," said Miss Cynthia, rather hurriedly.

When Douglas had gone out, and Rhoda was busy in the little kitchen, Miss Cynthia went into Hilary's room again. She went close up to the bed, and bent lovingly over the wasted form which lay there.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-38 show above.)