BABES IN A WOOD.
“Out of this wood do
not desire to go;
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.”
Midsummer Night’s Dream.
There was no one to be seen when they got to the back gate. The children stood and looked about—Pamela with the bits of broken crockery in her apron held up in front, Duke tightly clasping the precious money-box. They looked this way and that way, up the lane and down the lane, but could see nothing or nobody save Farmer Riggs’ very old horse turned out at the side of the hedge, and two or three ducks who had perversely chosen to wander out to grub about in a small pool of stagnant water instead of gratefully enjoying their own nice clean pond, as Grandmamma’s ducks might have been expected to do. At another time Duke and Pamela would certainly have chased the stray ducks home again, with many pertinent remarks on their naughty disobedience, but just now they had no thought or attention to give to anything but their own concerns.
A sudden feeling came over Pamela, and she turned to Duke.
“Bruvver,” she said, “those people hasn’t come. I fink they’re not good people, and they won’t come near the house. I daresay they’re somewhere down the lane, not far off—but don’t you fink perhaps us had better not look for them any more, but just go home, and when Grandmamma comes in tell her everyfing. Even if she is raver angry, wouldn’t it be better, bruvver? I’m almost sure my little voice inside is telling me so,” and Pamela stood for a moment with a look of intent listening on her face. “Yes, I’m sure that’s what it’s trying to say. Can you hear yours, bruvver?”
Duke looked undecided.
“I can’t listen just now, sister,” he replied. “I’m full of thinking how nice it would be to buy a bowl just the same, and take it in and give it to poor Biddy, and then she wouldn’t be scolded. I don’t think I’d mind telling Grandmamma once us had got the bowl. She’d be so pleased to have one the same.”
“I fink she’d be most pleased for us to tell her everyfing,” maintained Pamela stoutly.
And Duke, always impressed by her opinion, wavered, and no doubt he would have wavered back into the right way, had not, just at that moment, a low whistle been heard some way to the left down the lane; and, looking in the direction from whence it came, the little boy and girl caught sight of a head quickly poked out and as quickly drawn back again into the shade of the hedge. But not too quickly for them to have recognised the sharp black eyes and rough black hair of the gipsy pedlar.
Without replying to Pamela Duke darted off, and, though much against her will, the little girl felt she could not but follow him. Before they had quite reached the spot the head was poked out again.