For a while it made a great deal of sport, but at length little feeble Gracie grew frightened and nervous, and running to “Mamma Vi” hid her head in her lap with a burst of tears and sobs.
That put an end to the fun and frolic, everybody sobered down instantly and kept very quiet, while Grandpa Dinsmore carefully explained to the little weeper that Cousin Ronald had made all the sounds which had so excited and alarmed her, and that there was really nothing in the room that could hurt or annoy her.
She lifted her head at last, wiped away her tears, and with a laugh that was half a sob, said, “I’ll stop crying, then; but I’m afraid everybody thinks I’m a great baby.”
“Oh no, dear!” said Grandma Elsie, “we all know that if our little girlie is easily troubled, it is because she is not well and strong like the rest of us.”
“And I must beg your pardon for frightening you so, my wee bit bonny lassie,” said Mr. Lilburn, stroking her hair. “I’ll try to atone for it, one o’ these days, by telling you and the other bairns the finest stories I know.”
The promise called forth from the young folks a chorus of thanks and exclamations of delight, Walter adding, “Won’t you please tell one now, Cousin Ronald, to comfort Gracie?”
“A very disinterested request, no doubt, my little son,” Elsie said laughingly, as she rose and took his hand to lead him from the room; “but it is high time both you and Gracie were in your nests. So bid good-night, and we will go.”
“At Christmas play, and make
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
It was the day before Christmas.
“When do our holidays begin, mamma?” asked Rosie, as she put her books neatly away in her desk after the last morning recitation.
“Now, my child; we will have no tasks this afternoon. Instead, I give my five little folks an invitation to drive into the city with me. How many will accept?”
“I, thank you, ma’am,” “and I,” “and I,” came in joyous tones from one and another, for all were in the room, and not one indifferent to the delight of a visit to the city, especially just at this time when the stores were so full of pretty things. Besides, who could fail to enjoy a drive with the kind, sweet lady some of them called mamma, others Grandma Elsie?
“Then you may all be ready to start immediately after dinner,” she said, glancing around upon them with a benign smile.
It was a still, bright day, mild for the season, no snow on the ground to make a sleigh-ride possible, but the roads were good, they had fine horses, plenty of wraps, and the ride in the softly-cushioned, easy-rolling carriage, whose large plate-glass windows gave them a good view of the country first, then of the streets and shop windows of the city, was found very enjoyable.
They were not afraid to jest, laugh, and be as merry as health, freedom from care, youthful spirits, and pleasing anticipations for the morrow inclined them to be.