Churchman's Shilling Degerzing




"All common things- each day's events,
That with the home begin and end;

Our pleasures and our discontents,

Are sounds by which we may ascend."



"HERBERT'S come, Clara; and mamma says you are to be sure to go in to the drawing-room tea;" and Janie Winton popped her head into the schoolroom to deliver the message dictatorially, and retreated.

"Very well," said Clara, meekly; " and I thought I should get a whole long evening at this, Miss Griffiths." She held up a long strip of tatting. "I am so stupid! I cannot make it look like the pattern. I wish I might stay and get it right. It is so comfortable in here, isn't it?"

It was a pleasant room-the pleasantest in the rather uglylooking country house that was known by the dignified title of Winton Lodge--a large, unevenly shaped room, with cupboards in the corners, and a wide bow-window, cheerful at all hours, but particularly comfortable at such times as the present, when the light from a wood fire under the old-fashioned mantel-piece



flickered on the crimson-covered sofa and chairs, the high bookcases, and heavy curtains that were still undrawn.

Very comfortable, dear," returned the governess, "but not quite good for your eyes. No wonder your tatting will not come right if you attempt it by firelight."

"It's not the firelight's fault," said Clara, in the simple way in which she always appropriated any amount of blame to herself as a matter of course; "it's only that I am stupid. And the firelight is very bright, and the moonlight too; don't you like the moonlight when it comes in just as it does now, with the fir trees and the church spire before it? I do."

"So do I; but I think you must go, dear, your cousin will be wondering where you are."


Herbert? oh, he knows I always like the schoolroom; he won't care."

Clara left her low seat as she spoke an old-fashioned box ottoman by the fireside that was looked upon as her particular property, and put her work-things together. She was a short, rather stout girl, with nothing noticeable in her round goodhumoured face, and smooth brown hair, and simple, schoolgirlish dress of greenish brown that was exactly in character with the unpretending childishness of look and manner.

"You will come in soon," she said, leaning over her governess as she passed; "do!" and walked off, with the regretful exclamation, "I wish I wasn't so much grown up!"

It was rather a grievance with Clara that she was really past seventeen; the thought of giving up her schoolroom life for the visits and amusements of young ladyhood was terribly formidable to her quiet, retiring disposition, and she looked upon the permission to keep Janie company at early dinners as the greatest favour imaginable, much to Janie's astonishment. The drawing-room party was in a little excitement when she walked slowly in; Herbert's visits were important events at the Lodge, and this was the first return since his regiment had been ordered to Malta.

He looked up from his seat by the fire as Clara walked up to him rather timidly; she could never get over a little awe of the good-looking young soldier, who patronized her carelessly from the elevation of his ten years' seniority and handsome uniform. "All right, Clara," was his short greeting.

"Ah, Clara, my dear! here he is, you see, and looking so well, isn't he?"

"And how do you think Clara looks, my dear?" said Mrs. Winton, with a little motherly pride in her tall eldest son, and an interest in Clara that made the poor girl colour with confusion at the supposition that Herbert could think of noticing her. The lieutenant answered with a laugh as he criticised Clara's troubled face.

"Exactly the same, mother; not a day older, and not an inch taller than the very day she came. How many years ago that may be I have not an idea."

"Don't you remember, dear?" asked Mrs. Winton; "five. She was twelve then. It was just after that sad, sad business, when her poor dear father and mother--"

"I say, mother!" interrupted Herbert, "I don't quite see the use of bringing up all that."

"I don't mind, thank you, Herbert," said Clara, simply; "it wasn't a trouble to me, as it would be to most people, you know, because I never knew papa and mamma; they were in India. So please don't mind talking about it, aunt Mary."

"I was only going to say, my dear, I hoped we had made. you a happy home after your trouble,-that was all."

"You have been very kind, all of you," said Clara; and Mr. Winton, from his arm-chair opposite, muttered, "I hope so, indeed, I hope so;" and Clara got more confused than ever at being brought into notice.

"Well, what have you been doing, Clara?" began Herbert, in a voice of careless amusement; "the old performances? -lessons from morning till night, and Mrs. Pardiggle the rest of the time? Is that wonderful basket still in existence, with a saucepan or something inside it ?-the thing, you know, like a conjuror's dodge for making a pudding in his hat?"

"Just the same!" burst out Janie; "she's never happy unless she's in the schoolroom." And Janie, a tall, gipsylooking girl of fourteen, with a mass of jet-black hair on her shoulders, gave a look of wondering disdain at the idea; " and she is more devoted than ever to those dirty Higginses, takes soup to them, and reads, and all that sort of thing, you know. She's been there all the afternoon; she would go instead of playing croquet. I had to play by myself."

"Which beat?" asked Herbert.

"Pink and yellow," said Janie, sharply; while Clara made a meek excuse,-" No, I went to the rectory."

"It's all the same," retorted Janie.

"And I put some fresh chrysanthemums into the church. But they don't look very nice somehow."

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'No wonder, after your putting in," said Janie, chattering even faster than usual in the little excitement of Herbert's return. "Her flowers always look as if they were stuck on wire, like regular stiff bouquets, or else they're dropping all over the aisle."

"Never mind Janie and her absurdity; come here," said another voice; and Clara walked away from the talkative group round the fire to the large table at the end of the room, Willie's especial property. The lad looked up from his work as she took her usual place at his side.

"Look, I have got on to-day, I do think, a little."

There was a plaintive, dissatisfied tone in his voice that exactly corresponded with his delicate, unhealthy-looking appearance. Willie would never submit to be looked upon quite as an invalid, but was too conscious for his own happiness that his white face and weak limbs were different from his eldest brother's fine six-foot figure; and that while Frank was taking honours at the university, he-eighteen though he was -was never likely to know anything of the school and college life that he had dreamed of years ago. Clara Bellingham was his great resource in the quiet of his home life, weary as it was at times to the sickly lad. And she had been, as he sometimes condescended to say, "a first-rate sister" to him; always ready to devote her spare time to his exactions, and toiling hard to be competent to take an inferior part in the various employments with which he amused himself when his reading hours were over.

Wood-carving was his present mania, and Clara's arms ached not very seldom with the amount of mechanical sawing-work that was her share of the labour. Willie had got past that stage, and was toiling ambitiously at severe designs of flowers and figures that were Clara's great admiration. She took up the last piece of work with one of her genuine expressions of pleasure.

"It looks as good as the drawing, Willie; it couldn't be better!"

"Couldn't it? much you know about it, then," he returned, examining the parcel with a discontented criticism that would not let him appropriate her simple admiration; and a little cross with her for her incapability of giving a reliable opinion. The lad had a natural taste for the new amusement, with just

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