Mr. Home stayed two days. During his visit he could not be
prevailed on to go out: he sat all day long by the fireside,
sometimes silent, sometimes receiving and answering Mrs. Bretton’s
chat, which was just of the proper sort for a man in his morbid
mood— not over-sympathetic, yet not too uncongenial, sensible; and
even with a touch of the motherly— she was sufficiently his senior
to be permitted this touch.
As to Paulina, the child was at once happy and mute, busy and
watchful. Her father frequently lifted her to his knee; she would
sit there till she felt or fancied he grew restless; then it was—
“Papa, put me down; I shall tire you with my weight.”
And the mighty burden slid to the rug, and establishing itself
on carpet or stool just at “papa’s” feet, the white work-box and
the scarlet-speckled handkerchief came into play. This
handkerchief, it seems, was intended as a keepsake for “papa,” and
must be finished before his departure; consequently the demand on
the sempstress’s industry (she accomplished about a score of
stitches in half-an-hour) was stringent.
The evening, by restoring Graham to the maternal roof (his days
were passed at school), brought us an accession of animation— a
quality not diminished by the nature of the scenes pretty sure to
be enacted between him and Miss Paulina.
A distant and haughty demeanour had been the result of the
indignity put upon her the first evening of his arrival: her usual
answer, when he addressed her, was— “I can’t attend to you; I have
other things to think about.” Being implored to
state what things:
Graham would endeavour to seduce her attention by opening his
desk and displaying its multifarious contents: seals, bright sticks
of wax, pen-knives, with a miscellany of engravings— some of them
gaily coloured— which he had amassed from time to time. Nor was
this powerful temptation wholly unavailing: her eyes, furtively
raised from her work, cast many a peep towards the writing-table,
rich in scattered pictures. An etching of a child playing with a
Blenheim spaniel happened to flutter to the floor.
“Pretty little dog!” said she, delighted.
Graham prudently took no notice. Ere long, stealing from her
corner, she approached to examine the treasure more closely. The
dog’s great eyes and long ears, and the child’s hat and feathers,
“Nice picture!” was her favourable criticism.
“Well— you may have it,” said Graham.
She seemed to hesitate. The wish to possess was strong, but to
accept would be a compromise of dignity. No. She put it down and
“You won’t have it, then, Polly?”
“I would rather not, thank you.”
“Shall I tell you what I will do with the picture if you refuse
She half turned to listen.
“Cut it into strips for lighting the taper.”
“But I shall.”
Graham waxed inexorable on hearing the pleading tone; he took
the scissors from his mother’s work-basket.
“Here goes!” said he, making a menacing flourish. “Right through
Fido’s head, and splitting little Harry’s nose.”
“No! No! NO!”
“Then come to me. Come quickly, or it is done.”
She hesitated, lingered, but complied.
“Now, will you have it?” he asked, as she stood before him.
“But I shall want payment.”
“Give the picture first into my hand.”
Polly, as she said this, looked rather faithless in her turn.
Graham gave it. She absconded a debtor, darted to her father, and
took refuge on his knee. Graham rose in mimic wrath and followed.
She buried her face in Mr. Home’s waistcoat.
“Papa— papa— send him away!”
“I’ll not be sent away,” said Graham.
With face still averted, she held out her hand to keep him
“Then, I shall kiss the hand,” said he; but that moment it
became a miniature fist, and dealt him payment in a small coin that
was not kisses.
Graham— not failing in his way to be as wily as his little
playmate— retreated apparently quite discomfited; he flung
himself on a sofa, and resting his head against the cushion, lay
like one in pain. Polly, finding him silent, presently peeped at
him. His eyes and face were covered with his hands. She turned on
her father’s knee, and gazed at her foe anxiously and long. Graham
“Papa, what is the matter?” she whispered.
“You had better ask him, Polly.”
“Is he hurt?” (groan second.)
“He makes a noise as if he were,” said Mr. Home.
“Mother,” suggested Graham, feebly, “I think you had better send
for the doctor. Oh my eye!” (renewed silence, broken only by sighs
“If I were to become blind——?” suggested this last.
His chastiser could not bear the suggestion. She was beside him
“Let me see your eye: I did not mean to touch it, only your
mouth; and I did not think I hit
so very hard.”
Silence answered her. Her features worked,— “I am sorry; I am
Then succeeded emotion, faltering; weeping.
“Have done trying that child, Graham,” said Mrs. Bretton.
“It is all nonsense, my pet,” cried Mr. Home.
And Graham once more snatched her aloft, and she again punished
him; and while she pulled his lion’s locks, termed him— “The
naughtiest, rudest, worst, untruest person that ever was.”
* * * * *
On the morning of Mr. Home’s departure, he and his daughter had
some conversation in a window-recess by themselves; I heard part of
“Couldn’t I pack my box and go with you, papa?” she whispered
He shook his head.
“Should I be a trouble to you?”
“Because I am little?”
“Because you are little and tender. It is only great, strong
people that should travel. But don’t look sad, my little girl; it
breaks my heart. Papa, will soon come back to his Polly.”
“Indeed, indeed, I am not sad, scarcely at all.”
“Polly would be sorry to give papa pain; would she not?”
“Sorrier than sorry.”
“Then Polly must be cheerful: not cry at parting; not fret
She must look forward to meeting again, and try to be happy
Can she do this?”
“She will try.”
“I see she will. Farewell, then. It is time to go.”
“Now?— just now?
She held up quivering lips. Her father sobbed, but she, I
remarked, did not. Having put her down, he shook hands with the
rest present, and departed.
When the street-door closed, she dropped on her knees at a chair
with a cry— “Papa!”
It was low and long; a sort of “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
During an ensuing space of some minutes, I perceived she endured
agony. She went through, in that brief interval of her infant life,
emotions such as some never feel; it was in her constitution: she
would have more of such instants if she lived. Nobody spoke. Mrs.
Bretton, being a mother, shed a tear or two. Graham, who was
writing, lifted up his eyes and gazed at her. I, Lucy Snowe, was
The little creature, thus left unharassed, did for herself what
none other could do— contended with an intolerable feeling; and,
ere long, in some degree, repressed it. That day she would accept
solace from none; nor the next day: she grew more passive
On the third evening, as she sat on the floor, worn and quiet,
Graham, coming in, took her up gently, without a word. She did not
resist: she rather nestled in his arms, as if weary. When he sat
down, she laid her head against him; in a few minutes she slept; he
carried her upstairs to bed. I was not surprised that, the next
morning, the first thing she demanded was, “Where is Mr.
It happened that Graham was not coming to the breakfast-table;
he had some exercises to write for that morning’s class, and had
requested his mother to send a cup of tea into the study. Polly
volunteered to carry it: she must be busy about something, look
after somebody. The cup was entrusted to her; for, if restless, she
was also careful. As the study was opposite the breakfast-room, the
doors facing across the passage, my eye followed her.
“What are you doing?” she asked, pausing on the threshold.
“Writing,” said Graham.
“Why don’t you come to take breakfast with your mamma?”
“Do you want any breakfast?”
And she deposited the cup on the carpet, like a jailor putting a
prisoner’s pitcher of water through his cell-door, and retreated.
Presently she returned.
“What will you have besides tea— what to eat?”
“Anything good. Bring me something particularly nice; that’s a
kind little woman.”
She came back to Mrs. Bretton.
“Please, ma’am, send your boy something good.”
“You shall choose for him, Polly; what shall my boy have?”
She selected a portion of whatever was best on the table; and,
ere long, came back with a whispered request for some marmalade,
which was not there. Having got it, however, (for Mrs. Bretton
refused the pair nothing), Graham was shortly after heard lauding
her to the skies; promising that, when he had a house of his own,
she should be his housekeeper, and perhaps— if she showed any
culinary genius— his cook; and, as she did not return, and I went
to look after her, I found Graham and her
breakfasting tete-a-tete— she standing at his elbow,
and sharing his fare: excepting the marmalade, which she delicately
refused to touch, lest, I suppose, it should appear that she had
procured it as much on her own account as his. She constantly
evinced these nice perceptions and delicate instincts.
The league of acquaintanceship thus struck up was not hastily
dissolved; on the contrary, it appeared that time and circumstances
served rather to cement than loosen it. Ill-assimilated as the two
were in age, sex, pursuits, &c., they somehow found a great
deal to say to each other. As to Paulina, I observed that her
little character never properly came out, except with young
Bretton. As she got settled, and accustomed to the house, she
proved tractable enough with Mrs. Bretton; but she would sit on a
stool at that lady’s feet all day long, learning her task, or
sewing, or drawing figures with a pencil on a slate, and never
kindling once to originality, or showing a single gleam of the
peculiarities of her nature. I ceased to watch her under such
circumstances: she was not interesting. But the moment Graham’s
knock sounded of an evening, a change occurred; she was instantly
at the head of the staircase. Usually her welcome was a reprimand
or a threat.
“You have not wiped your shoes properly on the mat. I shall tell
“Little busybody! Are you there?”
“Yes— and you can’t reach me: I am higher up than you” (peeping
between the rails of the banister; she could not look over
“My dear boy!” (such was one of her terms for him, adopted in
imitation of his mother.)
“I am fit to faint with fatigue,” declared Graham, leaning
against the passage-wall in seeming exhaustion. “Dr. Digby” (the
headmaster) “has quite knocked me up with overwork. Just come down
and help me to carry up my books.”
“Ah! you’re cunning!”
“Not at all, Polly— it is positive fact. I’m as weak as a rush.
“Your eyes are quiet like the cat’s, but you’ll spring.”
“Spring? Nothing of the kind: it isn’t in me. Come down.”
“Perhaps I may— if you’ll promise not to touch— not to snatch me
up, and not to whirl me round.”
“I? I couldn’t do it!” (sinking into a chair.)
“Then put the books down on the first step, and go three yards
This being done, she descended warily, and not taking her eyes
from the feeble Graham. Of course her approach always galvanized
him to new and spasmodic life: the game of romps was sure to be
exacted. Sometimes she would be angry; sometimes the matter was
allowed to pass smoothly, and we could hear her say as she led him
up-stairs: “Now, my dear boy, come and take your tea— I am sure you
must want something.”
It was sufficiently comical to observe her as she sat beside
Graham, while he took that meal. In his absence she was a still
personage, but with him the most officious, fidgety little body
possible. I often wished she would mind herself and be tranquil;
but no— herself was forgotten in him: he could not be sufficiently
well waited on, nor carefully enough looked after; he was more than
the Grand Turk in her estimation. She would gradually assemble the
various plates before him, and, when one would suppose all he could
possibly desire was within his reach, she would find out something
else: “Ma’am,” she would whisper to Mrs. Bretton,— “perhaps your
son would like a little cake— sweet cake, you know— there is some
in there” (pointing to the sideboard cupboard). Mrs. Bretton, as a
rule, disapproved of sweet cake at tea, but still the request was
urged,— “One little piece— only for him— as he goes to school:
girls— such as me and Miss Snowe— don’t need treats,
but hewould like it.”
Graham did like it very well, and almost always got it. To do
him justice, he would have shared his prize with her to whom he
owed it; but that was never allowed: to insist, was to ruffle her
for the evening. To stand by his knee, and monopolize his talk and
notice, was the reward she wanted— not a share of the cake.
With curious readiness did she adapt herself to such themes as
interested him. One would have thought the child had no mind or
life of her own, but must necessarily live, move, and have her
being in another: now that her father was taken from her, she
nestled to Graham, and seemed to feel by his feelings: to exist in
his existence. She learned the names of all his schoolfellows in a
trice: she got by heart their characters as given from his lips: a
single description of an individual seemed to suffice. She never
forgot, or confused identities: she would talk with him the whole
evening about people she had never seen, and appear completely to
realise their aspect, manners, and dispositions. Some she learned
to mimic: an under-master, who was an aversion of young Bretton’s,
had, it seems, some peculiarities, which she caught up in a moment
from Graham’s representation, and rehearsed for his amusement;
this, however, Mrs. Bretton disapproved and forbade.
The pair seldom quarrelled; yet once a rupture occurred, in
which her feelings received a severe shock.
One day Graham, on the occasion of his birthday, had some
friends— lads of his own age— to dine with him. Paulina took
much interest in the coming of these friends; she had frequently
heard of them; they were amongst those of whom Graham oftenest
spoke. After dinner, the young gentlemen were left by themselves in
the dining-room, where they soon became very merry and made a good
deal of noise. Chancing to pass through the hall, I found Paulina
sitting alone on the lowest step of the staircase, her eyes fixed
on the glossy panels of the dining-room door, where the reflection
of the hall-lamp was shining; her little brow knit in anxious,
“What are you thinking about, Polly?”
“Nothing particular; only I wish that door was clear glass— that
I might see through it. The boys seem very cheerful, and I want to
go to them: I want to be with Graham, and watch his friends.”
“What hinders you from going?”
“I feel afraid: but may I try, do you think? May I knock at the
door, and ask to be let in?”
I thought perhaps they might not object to have her as a
playmate, and therefore encouraged the attempt.
She knocked— too faintly at first to be heard, but on a second
essay the door unclosed; Graham’s head appeared; he looked in high
spirits, but impatient.
“What do you want, you little monkey?”
“To come to you.”
“Do you indeed? As if I would be troubled with you! Away to
mamma and Mistress Snowe, and tell them to put you to bed.” The
auburn head and bright flushed face vanished,— the door shut
peremptorily. She was stunned.
“Why does he speak so? He never spoke so before,” she said in
consternation. “What have I done?”
“Nothing, Polly; but Graham is busy with his
“And he likes them better than me! He turns me away now they are
I had some thoughts of consoling her, and of improving the
occasion by inculcating some of those maxims of philosophy whereof
I had ever a tolerable stock ready for application. She stopped me,
however, by putting her fingers in her ears at the first words I
uttered, and then lying down on the mat with her face against the
flags; nor could either Warren or the cook root her from that
position: she was allowed to lie, therefore, till she chose to rise
of her own accord.
Graham forgot his impatience the same evening, and would have
accosted her as usual when his friends were gone, but she wrenched
herself from his hand; her eye quite flashed; she would not bid him
good-night; she would not look in his face. The next day he treated
her with indifference, and she grew like a bit of marble. The day
after, he teased her to know what was the matter; her lips would
not unclose. Of course he could not feel real anger on his side:
the match was too unequal in every way; he tried soothing and
coaxing. “Why was she so angry? What had he done?” By-and-by tears
answered him; he petted her, and they were friends. But she was one
on whom such incidents were not lost: I remarked that never after
this rebuff did she seek him, or follow him, or in any way solicit
his notice. I told her once to carry a book or some other article
to Graham when he was shut up in his study.
“I shall wait till he comes out,” said she, proudly; “I don’t
choose to give him the trouble of rising to open the door.”
Young Bretton had a favourite pony on which he often rode out;
from the window she always watched his departure and return. It was
her ambition to be permitted to have a ride round the courtyard on
this pony; but far be it from her to ask such a favour. One day she
descended to the yard to watch him dismount; as she leaned against
the gate, the longing wish for the indulgence of a ride glittered
in her eye.
“Come, Polly, will you have a canter?” asked Graham, half
I suppose she thought he
was too careless.
“No, thank you,” said she, turning away with the utmost
“You’d better,” pursued he. “You will like it, I am sure.”
“Don’t think I should care a fig about it,” was the
“That is not true. You told Lucy Snowe you longed to have a
“Lucy Snowe is a tatter-box,” I heard her say (her
imperfect articulation was the least precocious thing she had about
her); and with this; she walked into the house.
Graham, coming in soon after, observed to his mother,— “Mamma, I
believe that creature is a changeling: she is a perfect cabinet of
oddities; but I should be dull without her: she amuses me a great
deal more than you or Lucy Snowe.”
* * * * *
“Miss Snowe,” said Paulina to me (she had now got into the habit
of occasionally chatting with me when we were alone in our room at
night), “do you know on what day in the week I like Graham
“How can I possibly know anything so strange? Is there one day
out of the seven when he is otherwise than on the other six?”
“To be sure! Can’t you see? Don’t you know? I find him the most
excellent on a Sunday; then we have him the whole day, and he is
quiet, and, in the evening, sokind.”
This observation was not altogether groundless: going to church,
&c., kept Graham quiet on the Sunday, and the evening he
generally dedicated to a serene, though rather indolent sort of
enjoyment by the parlour fireside. He would take possession of the
couch, and then he would call Polly.
Graham was a boy not quite as other boys are; all his delight
did not lie in action: he was capable of some intervals of
contemplation; he could take a pleasure too in reading, nor was his
selection of books wholly indiscriminate: there were glimmerings of
characteristic preference, and even of instinctive taste in the
choice. He rarely, it is true, remarked on what he read, but I have
seen him sit and think of it.
Polly, being near him, kneeling on a little cushion or the
carpet, a conversation would begin in murmurs, not inaudible,
though subdued. I caught a snatch of their tenor now and then; and,
in truth, some influence better and finer than that of every day,
seemed to soothe Graham at such times into no ungentle mood.
“Have you learned any hymns this week, Polly?”
“I have learned a very pretty one, four verses long. Shall I say
“Speak nicely, then: don’t be in a hurry.”
The hymn being rehearsed, or rather half-chanted, in a little
singing voice, Graham would take exceptions at the manner, and
proceed to give a lesson in recitation. She was quick in learning,
apt in imitating; and, besides, her pleasure was to please Graham:
she proved a ready scholar. To the hymn would succeed some reading—
perhaps a chapter in the Bible; correction was seldom required
here, for the child could read any simple narrative chapter very
well; and, when the subject was such as she could understand and
take an interest in, her expression and emphasis were something
remarkable. Joseph cast into the pit; the calling of Samuel; Daniel
in the lions’ den;— these were favourite passages: of the first
especially she seemed perfectly to feel the pathos.
“Poor Jacob!” she would sometimes say, with quivering lips. “How
he loved his son Joseph! As much,” she once added— “as much,
Graham, as I love you: if you were to die” (and she re-opened the
book, sought the verse, and read), “I should refuse to be
comforted, and go down into the grave to you mourning.”
With these words she gathered Graham in her little arms, drawing
his long-tressed head towards her. The action, I remember, struck
me as strangely rash; exciting the feeling one might experience on
seeing an animal dangerous by nature, and but half-tamed by art,
too heedlessly fondled. Not that I feared Graham would hurt, or
very roughly check her; but I thought she ran risk of incurring
such a careless, impatient repulse, as would be worse almost to her
than a blow. On: the whole, however, these demonstrations were
borne passively: sometimes even a sort of complacent wonder at her
earnest partiality would smile not unkindly in his eyes. Once he
said:— “You like me almost as well as if you were my little sister,
“Oh! I do like you,” said she;
“I do like you very much.”
I was not long allowed the amusement of this study of character.
She had scarcely been at Bretton two months, when a letter came
from Mr. Home, signifying that he was now settled amongst his
maternal kinsfolk on the Continent; that, as England was become
wholly distasteful to him, he had no thoughts of returning hither,
perhaps, for years; and that he wished his little girl to join him
“I wonder how she will take this news?” said Mrs. Bretton, when
she had read the letter. I wondered, too, and I
took upon myself to communicate it.
Repairing to the drawing-room— in which calm and decorated
apartment she was fond of being alone, and where she could be
implicitly trusted, for she fingered nothing, or rather soiled
nothing she fingered— I found her seated, like a little Odalisque,
on a couch, half shaded by the drooping draperies of the window
near. She seemed happy; all her appliances for occupation were
about her; the white wood workbox, a shred or two of muslin, an end
or two of ribbon collected for conversion into doll-millinery. The
doll, duly night-capped and night-gowned, lay in its cradle; she
was rocking it to sleep, with an air of the most perfect faith in
its possession of sentient and somnolent faculties; her eyes, at
the same time, being engaged with a picture-book, which lay open on
“Miss Snowe,” said she in a whisper, “this is a wonderful book.
Candace” (the doll, christened by Graham; for, indeed, its begrimed
complexion gave it much of an Ethiopian aspect)— “Candace is asleep
now, and I may tell you about it; only we must both speak low, lest
she should waken. This book was given me by Graham; it tells about
distant countries, a long, long way from England, which no
traveller can reach without sailing thousands of miles over the
sea. Wild men live in these countries, Miss Snowe, who wear clothes
different from ours: indeed, some of them wear scarcely any
clothes, for the sake of being cool, you know; for they have very
hot weather. Here is a picture of thousands gathered in a desolate
place— a plain, spread with sand— round a man in black,— a
good, good Englishman— a missionary, who is
preaching to them under a palm-tree.” (She showed a little coloured
cut to that effect.) “And here are pictures” (she went on) “more
stranger” (grammar was occasionally forgotten) “than that. There is
the wonderful Great Wall of China; here is a Chinese lady, with a
foot littler than mine. There is a wild horse of Tartary; and here,
most strange of all— is a land of ice and snow, without green
fields, woods, or gardens. In this land, they found some mammoth
bones: there are no mammoths now. You don’t know what it was; but I
can tell you, because Graham told me. A mighty, goblin creature, as
high as this room, and as long as the hall; but not a fierce,
flesh-eating thing, Graham thinks. He believes, if I met one in a
forest, it would not kill me, unless I came quite in its way; when
it would trample me down amongst the bushes, as I might tread on a
grasshopper in a hayfield without knowing it.”
Thus she rambled on.
“Polly,” I interrupted, “should you like to travel?”
“Not just yet,” was the prudent answer; “but perhaps in twenty
years, when I am grown a woman, as tall as Mrs. Bretton, I may
travel with Graham. We intend going to Switzerland, and climbing
Mount Blanck; and some day we shall sail over to South America, and
walk to the top of Kim-kim-borazo.”
“But how would you like to travel now, if your papa was with
Her reply— not given till after a pause— evinced one of those
unexpected turns of temper peculiar to her.
“Where is the good of talking in that silly way?” said she. “Why
do you mention papa? What is papa to you? I was just beginning to
be happy, and not think about him so much; and there it will be all
to do over again!”
Her lip trembled. I hastened to disclose the fact of a letter
having been received, and to mention the directions given that she
and Harriet should immediately rejoin this dear papa. “Now, Polly,
are you not glad?” I added.
She made no answer. She dropped her book and ceased to rock her
doll; she gazed at me with gravity and earnestness.
“Shall not you like to go to papa?”
“Of course,” she said at last in that trenchant manner she
usually employed in speaking to me; and which was quite different
from that she used with Mrs. Bretton, and different again from the
one dedicated to Graham. I wished to ascertain more of what she
thought but no: she would converse no more. Hastening to Mrs.
Bretton, she questioned her, and received the confirmation of my
news. The weight and importance of these tidings kept her perfectly
serious the whole day. In the evening, at the moment Graham’s
entrance was heard below, I found her at my side. She began to
arrange a locket-ribbon about my neck, she displaced and replaced
the comb in my hair; while thus busied, Graham entered.
“Tell him by-and-by,” she whispered; “tell him I am going.”
In the course of tea-time I made the desired communication.
Graham, it chanced, was at that time greatly preoccupied about some
school-prize, for which he was competing. The news had to be told
twice before it took proper hold of his attention, and even then he
dwelt on it but momently.
“Polly going? What a pity! Dear little Mousie, I shall be sorry
to lose her: she must come to us again, mamma.”
And hastily swallowing his tea, he took a candle and a small
table to himself and his books, and was soon buried in study.
“Little Mousie” crept to his side, and lay down on the carpet at
his feet, her face to the floor; mute and motionless she kept that
post and position till bed-time. Once I saw Graham— wholly
unconscious of her proximity— push her with his restless foot. She
receded an inch or two. A minute after one little hand stole out
from beneath her face, to which it had been pressed, and softly
caressed the heedless foot. When summoned by her nurse she rose and
departed very obediently, having bid us all a subdued
I will not say that I dreaded going to bed, an hour later; yet I
certainly went with an unquiet anticipation that I should find that
child in no peaceful sleep. The forewarning of my instinct was but
fulfilled, when I discovered her, all cold and vigilant, perched
like a white bird on the outside of the bed. I scarcely knew how to
accost her; she was not to be managed like another child. She,
however, accosted me. As I closed the door, and put the light on
the dressing-table, she turned tome with these words:— “I
cannot—cannot sleep; and in this way I
I asked what ailed her.
“Dedful miz-er-y!” said she, with her piteous lisp.
“Shall I call Mrs. Bretton?”
“That is downright silly,” was her impatient reply; and, indeed,
I well knew that if she had heard Mrs. Bretton’s foot approach, she
would have nestled quiet as a mouse under the bedclothes. Whilst
lavishing her eccentricities regardlessly before me— for whom she
professed scarcely the semblance of affection— she never showed my
godmother one glimpse of her inner self: for her, she was nothing
but a docile, somewhat quaint little maiden. I examined her; her
cheek was crimson; her dilated eye was both troubled and glowing,
and painfully restless: in this state it was obvious she must not
be left till morning. I guessed how the case stood.
“Would you like to bid Graham good-night again?” I asked. “He is
not gone to his room yet.”
She at once stretched out her little arms to be lifted. Folding
a shawl round her, I carried her back to the drawing-room. Graham
was just coming out.
“She cannot sleep without seeing and speaking to you once more,”
I said. “She does not like the thought of leaving you.”
“I’ve spoilt her,” said he, taking her from me with good humour,
and kissing her little hot face and burning lips. “Polly, you care
for me more than for papa, now— ”
“I do care for you, but you care nothing for
me,” was her whisper.
She was assured to the contrary, again kissed, restored to me,
and I carried her away; but, alas! not soothed.
When I thought she could listen to me, I said— “Paulina, you
should not grieve that Graham does not care for you so much as you
care for him. It must be so.”
Her lifted and questioning eyes asked why.
“Because he is a boy and you are a girl; he is sixteen and you
are only six; his nature is strong and gay, and yours is
“But I love him so much; he should love me a
“He does. He is fond of you. You are his favourite.”
“Am I Graham’s favourite?”
“Yes, more than any little child I know.”
The assurance soothed her; she smiled in her anguish.
“But,” I continued, “don’t fret, and don’t expect too much of
him, or else he will feel you to be troublesome, and then it is all
“All over!” she echoed softly; “then I’ll be good. I’ll try to
be good, Lucy Snowe.”
I put her to bed.
“Will he forgive me this one time?” she asked, as I undressed
myself. I assured her that he would; that as yet he was by no means
alienated; that she had only to be careful for the future.
“There is no future,” said she: “I am going. Shall I ever— ever—
see him again, after I leave England?”
I returned an encouraging response. The candle being
extinguished, a still half-hour elapsed. I thought her asleep, when
the little white shape once more lifted itself in the crib, and the
small voice asked— “Do you like Graham, Miss Snowe?”
“Like him! Yes, a little.”
“Only a little! Do you like him as I do?”
“I think not. No: not as you do.”
“Do you like him much?”
“I told you I liked him a little. Where is the use of caring for
him so very much: he is full of faults.”
“All boys are.”
“More than girls?”
“Very likely. Wise people say it is folly to think anybody
perfect; and as to likes and dislikes, we should be friendly to
all, and worship none.”
“Are you a wise person?”
“I mean to try to be so. Go to sleep.”
“I cannot go to sleep. Have you no pain just
here” (laying her elfish hand on her elfish breast,) “when you
think you shall have to leave Graham;
for your home is not here?”
“Surely, Polly,” said I, “you should not feel so much pain when
you are very soon going to rejoin your father. Have you forgotten
him? Do you no longer wish to be his little companion?”
Dead silence succeeded this question.
“Child, lie down and sleep,” I urged.
“My bed is cold,” said she. “I can’t warm it.”
I saw the little thing shiver. “Come to me,” I said, wishing,
yet scarcely hoping, that she would comply: for she was a most
strange, capricious, little creature, and especially whimsical with
me. She came, however, instantly, like a small ghost gliding over
the carpet. I took her in. She was chill: I warmed her in my arms.
She trembled nervously; I soothed her. Thus tranquillized and
cherished she at last slumbered.
“A very unique child,” thought I, as I viewed her sleeping
countenance by the fitful moonlight, and cautiously and softly
wiped her glittering eyelids and her wet cheeks with my
handkerchief. “How will she get through this world, or battle with
this life? How will she bear the shocks and repulses, the
humiliations and desolations, which books, and my own reason, tell
me are prepared for all flesh?”
She departed the next day; trembling like a leaf when she took
leave, but exercising self-command.