’That did not trouble Jem! He picked us up, and ordered us into arrest under the bed for breach of discipline.’
‘I fear Jem was a martinet,’ said Mrs. Frost.
’That he was! A general formed on the model of him who, not contented with assaulting a demi-lune, had taken une lune toute entiere. We had a siege of the Fort Bombadero, inaccessible, and with mortars firing double-hand grenades. They were dandelion clocks, and there were nettles to act the part of poisoned spikes on the breach.’
‘I remember the nettles,’ said Mary, ’and Jem’s driving you to gather them; you standing with your bare legs in the nettle-bed, when he would make me dig, and I could not come to help you!’
’On duty in the trenches. Your sense of duty was exemplary. I remember your digging on, like a very Casablanca, all alone, in the midst of a thunder-storm, because Jem had forgotten to call you in, crying all the time with fear of the lightning!’
‘You came to help me,’ said Mary. ’You came rushing out from the nursery to my rescue!’
’I could not make you stir. We were taken prisoners by a sally from the nursery. For once in your life, you were in disgrace!’
‘I quite thought I ought to mind Jem,’ said Mary, ’and never knew whether it was play or earnest.’
‘Only so could you transgress,’ said Louis,—’you who never cried, except as my amateur Mungo Malagrowther. Poor Mary! what an amazement it was to me to find you breaking your heart over the utmost penalties of the nursery law, when to me they only afforded agreeable occasions of showing that I did not care! I must have been intolerable till you and Mrs. Ponsonby took me in hand!’
‘I am glad you own your obligations,’ said Lord Ormersfield.
’I own myself as much obliged to Mary for making me wise, as to Jem for making me foolish.’
‘It is not the cause of gratitude I should have expected,’ said his father.
‘Alas! if he and Clara were but here!’ sighed Louis. ’I entreated him in terms that might have moved a pyramid from its base, but the Frost was arctic. An iceberg will move, but he is past all melting!’
‘I respect his steadiness of purpose,’ said the Earl; ’I know no young man whom I honour more than James.’
His aunt and his son were looking towards each other with glistening eyes of triumph and congratulation, and Mrs. Frost cleared her voice to say that he was making far too much of her Jemmy; a very good boy, to be sure, but if he said so much of him, the Marys would be disappointed to see nothing but a little fiery Welshman.
Lightly soars the thistle-down,
Lightly does it float—,
Lightly seeds of care are sown,
Little do we note.
Watch life’s thistles bud and blow,
Oh, ’tis pleasant folly;
But when all life’s paths they strew,
Then comes melancholy.
Poetry Past and Present.