“But you kin spell the hull of it?” asked the boy anxiously.
“Yes, certainly!” Bubble’s eager look subsided into one of mingled awe and admiration.
“Reckon ye must know a heap,” he said, rather wistfully. “Wish’t I did!”
Hilda looked at him for a moment without speaking. Her old self was whispering to her. “Take care what you do!” it said. “This is a coarse, common, dirty boy. He smells of the stable; his hair is full of hay; his hands are beyond description. What have you in common with such a creature? He has not even the sense to know that he is your inferior.” “I don’t care!” said the new Hilda. “I know what mamma would do if she were here, and I shall do it,—or try to do it, at least. Hold your tongue, you supercilious minx!”
“Bubble,” she said aloud, “would you like me to teach you a little, while I am here? I think perhaps I could help you with your lessons.”
The boy looked up with a sudden flash in his blue eyes, while his face grew crimson with pleasure.
“Would I like it?” he cried eagerly. But the next moment the glow faded, and he looked awkwardly down at his ragged book and still more ragged clothes. “Guess I ain’t no time to l’arn that way,” he muttered in confusion.
“Nonsense!” said Hilda, decidedly. “There must be some hour in the day when you can be spared. I shall speak to Farmer Hartley about it. Don’t look at your clothes, you foolish boy,” she continued, with a touch of Queen Hildegardis’ quality, yet with a kindly intonation which was new to that potentate. “I am not going to teach your clothes. You are not your clothes!” cried Her Majesty, wondering at herself, and a little flushed with her recent victory over the “minx.” The boy’s face brightened again.
“That’s so!” he said, joyously; “that’s what Pink says. But I didn’t s’pose you’d think so,” he added, glancing bashfully at the delicate, high-bred face, with its flashing eyes and imperial air.
“I do think so!” said Hilda. “So that is settled, and we will have our first lesson to-morrow. What would you—”
“Hilda! Hilda! where are you, dear?” called Dame Hartley’s voice from the other side of the currant-bush-hedge. And catching up her basket, and bidding a hasty good-by to her new acquaintance and future scholar, Hildegarde darted back through the bushes.
Zerubbabel Chirk looked after her a few moments, with kindling eyes and open mouth of wonder and admiration.
“Wall!” he said finally, after a pause of silent meditation, “I swan! I reelly do! I swan to man!” and fell to weeding again as if his life depended on it.
THE BLUE PLATTER.
“Merry it is in
the green forest,
Among the leaves green!”