’You shall have tea in the sweet little French tea-cups Madame d’Ermont gave me,’ said she joyfully. ’They are a little bigger than my doll ones long ago.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Biddy, ’that reminds me of the time I invited myself to tea to your house, and Alie was so shocked at me. I was a horrid little girl.’
‘No, you weren’t’, said both the others. ‘And any way,’ added Alie fondly, ‘isn’t she nice now, Celestina?’
‘I’ve never had any friends, if I may call you so,’ was Celestina’s indirect reply, ‘that I have cared for as for you two,’ and there was a dewy look in her gentle eyes which said even more than her words.
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A real friendship—a friendship to last through the changes that must come; a friendship too firmly based to be influenced by the fact that none of us, not even the sweetest and truest, are ‘perfect,’ that we must ‘bear and forbear,’ and gently judge each other while in this world—such friendships are very rare. We are not bound to our friends, not obliged to make the best of them, as with relations, and so, too often, we throw each other off hastily, take offence in some foolish way, and the dear old friendship is a thing of the past, one of those ‘used to be’s’ that are so sad to come across in our memory. But it is not always so. Some friendships wear well, sending down their roots ever deeper and more firmly as the years go on, spreading out their gracious branches ever more widely overhead for us to find shelter and rest beneath them in the stormy as in the sunny days of life. And oh, dear children, such friendship is something to thank God for!
My little girls, whose friendship began in the old back parlour at Seacove, are not even young women now—they are getting down into the afternoon of life—but they are still friends, true and tried. Friends whom sorrow and trials only join together still more closely; whose love for and trust in each other even death cannot destroy.
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh.
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Punctuation errors have been repaired.
The original text had a frontispiece that the list of illustrations recorded as being on page 89. It has been moved from the front to the text it refers to.
Page 180, “springlike” changed to “spring-like”.
Page 169, “beggings” changed to “begging”.
Illustration that begins “——carrying” original read P. 162. Actual text is on page 161 and the table of illustrations reads 161.
All illustration captions but one were mixed case. This was retained.