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“Yes,” said Daisy, “but not nicer than the trees, Lily?"
“Of course not; but don't you know how sunny that walk through the fields to the village was, at Aunt Mary's ?”
"Yes,” responded Daisy, thoughtfully, "there were no trees there."
“That's it!” pursued Lily, smoothing back her hair in a business like way, “in the country, sometimes there are no trees; now in London, there are always houses—tall, shady houses."
"Tall, shady houses !” said Mrs Morton, with an amused look, as she came to see if the children were ready, “I am glad to hear a good word for poor, useful London !"
Then, under the grand old trees near the Round Pond they found a quiet corner-beautiful in its sylvan shade, and only needing that one should try to fancy that the distant roar was not the ceaseless traffic of a busy city, and that the fair surroundings were not limited by iron railings, to make it solitude.
The children had carried a comfortable camp chair for their mother, and when she was seated, and leant back refreshed, in the deep shade—Daisy and Lily placed themselves on the soft turf at her feet; and then two pairs of blue eyes so earnestly express, “Now, begin !” that with half a smile, and half a sigh, Mrs Morton prepared to go over the events that you will find recorded in the next chapter.
MRS MORTON TELLS A STORY, AND SOLVES A
WHEN I first married your father, dear children, he had only moderate means; and directly after our marriage we start
ed for Australia, intending to make our home there. We landed at Sydney, and after a few weeks a suitable tract of land
a was heard of, and a temporary dwelling being erected, we left the city and travelled into the wild, beautiful country. It was only a little log house we lived in at first-furnished chiefly with things we had brought from England ; and we remained one year there, and you, my dear children, were born in that little, and ever dear home. While you were babies, your father entered into partnership with a man of the name of Cogan, a rich, uneducated man, who advanced considerable money to make the large piece of land profitable, and to build our beautiful Australian home, which you both remember, and where we all lived until you were eight years old—and your dear father was killed.
Well, now comes the saddest part of my story. I knew that the borrowed money had been paid back, and that the beautiful home was ours by right-yours and mine: but the great shock of
your father's death and my illness which followed it deprived me of memory, and I could not remember when the money had been paid, or where the receipt for it could be found. Cogan was an unprincipled man, and claimed everything as his own. In vain I searched the bundles of papers—no receipt could I produce; and in deep sorrow I left our home in the hands of the man who had robbed us.”
“Oh! mama, what a wicked man!” exclaimed Lily, with a face full of anger.
“But, mama,” asked Daisy, more gently, “how do you think it possible that we can ever be rich again ?"
"Because I have faith, Daisy dear; faith that God who permitted the loss of my memory on this one important matter will some day as suddenly restore it. And now about being poor, I have enough for us to live more comfortably than we do—but I am saving! Shall I tell you why?”
"Do, do, mama!” eagerly replied the children.
“Because I think that I shall remember suddenly some day where that receipt is, and I am saving
money so that I may be able at once to go to Australia and get it.”
“Then, now I don't mind being poor," said Lily, gravely, “not one bit.”
“ But, should we go too, mother dear?” asked Daisy.
"I fear not, dear, but it would not be for long; and if you knew that mama was seeking a rest and peace of mind which she has not known for years, you would both be very good at school for a few months, wouldn't
The children were silent a minute, and something bright was shining in their mother's eyes as she watched them. At last Lily spoke.
“We would do anything for you, mama! and it would not be long, not very long, would it ?”
As short a time as I can make it, love." "Then,” said Daisy, “we would get as clever as we could, and you would be astonished at us when you came back.”
“That is right. Now, let us hope that the dawnings of recollection I sometimes feel may brighten, and that it will please God to tell me soon what I want to remember, for I have saved nearly enough for the journey already."
After this it was a daily question whether “ Mama remembered yet?” But a constant shake of the head was the reply throughout a whole month—and such a hot month! when many of you were wading after sea-weed and picking shells on the shore amidst bracing breezes, our little friends were tired of seeing the blinds down, and the shutters done up in newspaper in the grand houses which, certainly, were “tall and shady!”
It was the end of August, and a very hot night. Not a breath of air could the children feel as they lay in their little bed, their window wide open, and the bright moon shining full into the room. They had been in bed since nine, and had only just dozed off as a neighbouring church clock struck twelve! The sound of the slow heavy strokes awoke them, and they started up, for their mother was standing in the flood of moonlight by their bed, her hands clasped, her face radiant with happiness. “Mother, have you
began the twins. “Yes, thank God, children, I have remembered ! and now if He pleases, I will go at once—in the next ship, and see justice done to my husband's memory and to you.”
And then the eager children were told that a short time before his death their father had purchased a writing table of foreign workmanship—and that in one compartment there was a secret place of which no one knew but the foreigner who made it and the purchaser. Mr Morton had explained the secret to his wife, telling her that he was placing there the papers connected with his property.
“This was left in the house—in your father's library, dear children, and I trust, oh! I trust it is there still. Many difficulties lie before me, but I feel all will come right. Now, let us thank God, and try to sleep."