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"AH! I'm a smart child, I am!" exclaimed the Scamp, laughing complacently, as he scrambled up the bank and through the hedge into the Nut Walk once more.

Then he turned to give Harry a hand, and as I clung on to Harry's coat behind, we were soon all three safely within bounds again, and busily occupied in doing up the gap in the hedge so as to make it appear, if not actually smaller, at any rate no larger than it did an hour ago, before our three bodies had squeezed successively through.

"Hark! there is some one calling!" cried Harry, as we emerged, at last, upon the more frequented paths.

"Is there ?" I exclaimed, hurriedly, "do you think they've found us out ? "

"No, no, don't be so silly!" said Sam, impatiently; "I don't suppose it is for any of us; the others can't have gone indoors yet, I should think. Listen!"


Bernie, Bernard Ayres, you are wanted!" came floating across the garden towards us, as we stood motionless to catch the words.

"There!" I said, with just a suspicion of triumph in my tone, though my heart seemed to rise to my mouth as I turned an appalled look upon the Scamp.

Without noticing my troubled face, and quite ignoring my little air of self-congratulation at having divined the reasons of the shouts so soon, even though they foreboded doom to us, he bawled back, as the voice came nearer and nearer,—

"He's up here, Mat; what do you want him for ?"

"I couldn't find you anywhere; where have you been hiding?"

The Scamp turned a warning look in my direction, cutting my words short abruptly as he said with affected carelessness,— "Oh, we have just been mooning about in these parts, lately. We only heard you bawling a few seconds ago."

"Well, come along, now you are found," said Mat, seizing my hand and dragging me forward towards the house.

In a paroxysm of fear, never dreaming but that my forebodings had come true, and that he was leading me down to undergo the reward of my discovered crime, I wrenched my hand away with a quick, angry jerk, and a cry of excited wrath rose to my lips and trembled there, ready to dissolve upon given notice into a storm of petulant grief.

"Why, what on earth is the matter? Whatever have I done? I'm sure I could not have hurt you!" cried Mat, surprised beyond all measure, as he saw the hot tears filling my eyes.

"What's he wanted for, Mat; why can't you tell us when you're asked?" said the Scamp, authoritatively, as he stepped up to Mat, who was still standing staring with blank amazement at my sudden, inexplicable outburst.

"Why, I'm sure I meant no harm," he said, greatly crestfallen. "Mrs. Hughes is here, and wants to see him, and she can't stay long, she says, and I'm sure I thought it would be a nice surprise for him," and Mat's trembling voice seemed to proclaim that he was on the verge of keeping me company in the matter of moist eyes.

I brightened up at this news. After all, then, our adventure

was still our own secret, and it was only a guilty conscience that had imagined the fulfilment of its fears.

"Cut along then, youngster!" Sam said, cheerfully, for he, too, was evidently relieved by this explanation of my summons; and then, dragging me momentarily back as I passed him, he added in an undertone, "and mind you keep it all dark!"

"Why," said Mrs. Hughes, kindly, after the first greetings had been duly exchanged, "you seem quite nervous and shy this evening. Have you not yet recovered from the effects of Springall Jack's apparition ?"

"Not quite, yet," I answered low, feeling guiltily conscious that my reply was a vast deal nearer the literal truth than my interrogator imagined.

Fortunately, Mrs. Royce quietly hinted, in a whispered "aside," that it might be more prudent not to revive a scene of which the recollection was still so painful; so that by-and-by my cheeks grew less hot and scarlet, and I was able to take my part in the conversation, without fearing a renewal of the dangerous topic.

"The Scamp says he may tell the bobbies about it," said Harry, confidentially whispering in my ear, as we got into bed that night, "and then, you know, we shall have to appear as witnesses!"

"Oh my!" I exclaimed, horror-stricken-" not really! You don't think he will really, do you? Oh! I do hope not."

And as I lay tossing wearily about, unable to sleep for the thoughts that came crowding into my head, the picture of my speedy appearance before such judges as those awful-looking persons in scarlet robes and long, curly, flowing wigs, whose portraits adorned the school-room walls, rose in my mind, and so filled me with terror, that tears came welling to my eyes, gathered gradually under the tight-closed lids, and squeezing slowly through, trickled down my cheeks upon the pillow, through the darkness and the silence of the night.

A week rolled swiftly by, and, to our infinite relief, the Scamp had announced to us his decision that he had resolved not to inform the police of our discovery; still, we were to preserve implicit silence, and keep our own counsel on the subject.

So for the last few days, things had returned to a condition of such calmness, that we might have almost forgotten that we were possessors of so important a secret, had it not formed the theme of our private conversation, whenever either two of us contrived to obtain a few minutes alone together in which to discuss the all-absorbing subject.

This afternoon, however, every one had turned out to take part in a great undertaking which had been in gradual process of formation in our minds for some time past. This was nothing more nor less than the construction, round the playground, of a miniature, artificial railway.

We had grown tired of continually playing "horses," and just when the excitement of some new amusement was required, this fresh form was suddenly suggested to Willie Knowles, by his happening to see me exhibiting a clock-work model of an engine and carriages to Rogers, one day, just as he was passing the open bed-room door.

The idea found favour with the boys at once, and only the official sanction was required before a commencement could be made.

And now Mrs. Royce, having surveyed the site, and duly satisfied herself that nothing was likely to be injured by the proposed works, had given us leave to commence operations on this Wednesday half-holiday.

The railway line along the valley to Brookford had only been opened about a year previously, and most of the boys, remembering the proceedings which enlivened the commencement of that undertaking, were determined to carry out the present affair with a similar ceremony to that which they had

then witnessed-only that the imitation was to be modelled on a grander basis than the original.

So, for some few days past, Willie Knowles, Johnnie Harris, Bob North, and Mat, having been appointed "Committee of Management" by this new "company," had been busily engaged in making all necessary arrangements for the proper conducting of the opening ceremony, and the reception of the "Princess of Brookford;" for Miss Royce had been prevailed upon to join in the forthcoming festival, and to assume, for the time being, the rank and title of a royal princess.

Accordingly, just as the clock struck two, Jack Smedley's carriage and four dashed round to the front door, the Scamp, of course, being one of the "leaders" in his team of bipeds.

As they pulled up at the porch, and the horses pranced and began to paw the ground, the sudden swing-to of the gate made every one-horses and all-look round inquiringly.

"Oh! you have just come in time!" cried Miss Royce, laughing gaily, as Mrs. Hughes and Mary came rapidly up the drive. "Don't be alarmed at my extraordinary appearance! There are grand doings here to-day, and I-'by general desire' -am transformed into a mighty princess for the occasion."

"Yes I know all about it," returned Mrs. Hughes, smiling and amused. "Bernie, here, told us what was going to take place, when we called the other evening, and Mary has been in quite a state of excitement ever since, for nothing would satisfy her short of my promising to bring her as a spectator; I knew you would have no objection."

"Oh, dear no! I am so glad you have come. It was very stupid of me not to have given you a formal invitation, but indeed it never crossed my mind, until I saw you coming in at the gate just this moment. Mother has gone into the village; and I am afraid the boys are impatient to be off, so would you mind joining us at once?"

"Not at all. We will walk on up to the scene of the cere

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