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The children thanked the captain very much for his story, and all expressed a wish to see little Lily when the yacht arrived at Cowes.

CHAPTER XXII.

THE RETURN HOME.

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HE last night in the dear little yacht,' sighed

Millicent, as she walked up and down the deck before going to bed, on the evening after

leaving Cowes. “What a happy time we have had-nearly ten weeks! I am so glad you and Herbert are coming to stay at Elworthy. I am sure you will like Aunt Mary so much.'

“Yes, I'm sure I shall; and I want to see Mr. Russell and the children. I hope they'll think that you and Hilda look all the better for your trip. We must have another cruise next year if all's well, Milly.'

Oh! I should like it so much. I sent mamma such a long letter to-day—oh dear!'

• What's the matter, Milly?'

'Nothing, only I want so to see mamma and papa again. Of course I'm very happy, but—I can't help thinking of them and wishing for them, and—oh dear! I wish there was no such place in the world as India !' Mrs. Grant put her arm round her, and gave

her

a kiss and Milly, comforted by speaking out her troubles, went on

"I can't bear it when people tell me that I've grown, and

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a

old were you

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all that kind of thing, because I'm so afraid mamma won't know me again when she comes home. I wish I could have stayed just as I was when I left her, except that I'm glad I'm a little tamer. Just fancy if she met me by accident in the street and didn't know me! Oh Agnes, how horrid it would be ! what should I do?'

‘As if it would make the least difference a minute after,' laughed Agnes. You mustn't make yourself miserable, darling, about such nonsense ; you forget that mamma has a new photograph of you every six months, so she's not likely not to know you when she sees you.

Let me see—how when

you

left India ?' * Eleven. I was twelve, you know, last January.' So you were ; well, don't distress yourself, dear; I think

; I can promise you that mamma will know you again.'

'Oh yes, if she comes home next year, as they used to talk of doing. How delicious it would be! But I'm afraid there's no such luck as that for me.'

“Ah well, who knows? Go to bed and dream about it at all events.'

'Yes, go to bed,' chimed in Mr. Grant, hearing the last sentence through the open window of the cabin. I'm sure it's too damp for you to be on deck any longer.'

Sailing all night with a fair wind, they were able to reach S--- between four and five o'clock on the following day. Here they found Mr. Russell waiting with the carriage to take them on to Elworthy. Question after question was heaped upon him by the two girls as they drove along, until at last he declared he would answer no more, and that they must find out all the news for themselves.

What brown gipsies they are,' he said, turning to Mrs.

The Return of the Yachting Party.

233

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Grant, "and how they've grown! You all look better for the trip.'

“Yes, I think it has done us all good; but I, for one, am not sorry to be on land again. I'm not so devoted to the sea as the others are, and since Harry's accident I've been quite fidgety to get back.'

His foot is much better, though, is it not?'

“Yes, I think so; but I should like it to be looked at again, and it must be quite well before I can send him back to school.'

"Oh! I see them all coming to meet us,' cried Milly, who was standing up in the carriage. “True and Violet running along as fast as their little feet can carry them. Let's get out, Hilda, and go to them; may we, Uncle Frank ?'

'Stop a moment,' said Mr. Russell to the coachman. 'Now then, you monkeys, jump out; I'll tell mamma you'll be there very soon.

The children have been in such a state of excitement the last two or three days,' he continued after they had gone, I've been walked off my legs to and fro from the rectory to the coastguard station, to see if the yacht was coming in. Ah, here we are, and there's Mary at the door. I've brought back some of them, you see; Milly and Hilda have joined the children. Now, Master Harry, let me carry you in and put you on the sofa.'

There was a grand noise a few minutes later, when all the children came rushing in in the wildest state of excitement, each trying to talk faster and louder than the other.

'Why, the boys at school couldn't make much more noise,' said Harry; which speech Sibbie took as a great compliment, and, darting up to him, she began asking a string of questions as to school life, going on to tell him about her own amusements, descanting on her cats and her wonderful Fid, to whom she had already taught a great many tricks.

Some days passed away, and in the excitement and pleasure of returning home, Milly almost forgot to think about the secret; until one morning it was recalled to her mind by Mrs. Russell saying to her after breakfast

Milly, dear, don't go up to the schoolroom with the others. I want you in the library.'

Then it flashed across her mind that her aunt was about to explain the mystery, and her little heart beat very fast as she followed her into the room, for she felt she was about to hear something important, although, from her aunt's smiling face, she knew it was something pleasant. Mrs. Russell shut the door, and put her hand on Milly's shoulder, saying, with a smile

‘ I have some very good news for you, darling.'

'Oh, Aunt Mary, it must be about papa and mamma! Are they coming home sooner? Do tell me.'

Not papa; but, Milly, only think—mamma may be here this week!'

"This week!' repeated Milly mechanically.

“Yes, this week, I hope and trust. Mamma has had a great deal of property left her by her godfather, and it is necessary for her to come home and see about it; and as papa can't leave till next year, she thought she would take the opportunity of coming over with some friends. When mamma wrote to me first, her plans were still uncertain,

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