[Illustration: “I DO FINK WHEN US IS QUITE BIG AND CAN DO AS US LIKES, US MUST HAVE A BOAT LIKE THIS, AND ALWAYS GO SAILING ALONG.”—p. 195.]
“I do fink when us is quite big and can do as us likes, us must have a boat like this, and always go sailing along,” said Pamela, when, half-tired with her play, she sat down beside the baby and its mother.
“But it isn’t always summer, or beautiful bright weather like this, missy,” said the young woman. “It’s not such a pleasant life in winter or even in wet weather. Last week even it was sadly cold. I hardly durst let baby put her nose out of the cabin.”
“Then us’d only sail in the boat in fine weather,” said Pamela philosophically, to which of course there was nothing to be said.
The next two days passed much in the same way. The sunshine fortunately continued, and the children saw no reason to change their opinion of the charms of canal life, especially as now and then Peter landed them on the banks for a good run in the fields. And through all was the delightful feeling that they were “going home.”
A SAD DILEMMA.
“Like children that
have lost their way
And know their names, but nothing more.”
It was the last night on the canal. Early the next morning they would be at Monkhaven. The children were fast asleep; so were Peter and his wife and baby. Only Tim was awake. He had asked to stay on deck, as he was quite warm with a rug which Mrs. Peter lent him, and the cabin was full enough. It was a lovely night, and the boy lay looking at the stars overhead thinking, with rather a heavy heart. The nearer they got to the children’s home the more anxious he became, not on their account but on his own. It would be so dreadful to be turned adrift again, and, in spite of all the little people’s promises, he could not feel sure that the old gentleman and lady would care to have anything to say to him.
“I’m such a rough one and I’ve been with such a bad lot,” thought the poor boy to himself while the tears came to his eyes. But he looked up at the stars again, and somehow their calm cheerful shining seemed to give him courage. He had been on the point of deciding that as soon as he was quite sure of the children’s safety he would run away, without letting himself be seen at all, though where he should run to or what would become of him he had not the least idea! But the silvery light overhead reminded him somehow of his beautiful dream, for it illumined the boat and the water and the trees as if they were painted by fairy fingers.