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seven o'clock in tones less solemn than usual, and there was the joyous church-bell following suit. And as if the sound had conjured him up, there was Joshua, dressed in his best, and looking so fresh and handsome with his holiday-face on, that Dan might well be proud of him. He had his accordion under his arm, and in one hand was a bunch of flowers which Dan was to give to the Old Sailor, and in the other a glass containing some rape-seed soaked in canary-wine for the birds. They knew as well as possible — knowing little bullfinches !- that Joshua had something nice for them; and as he approached the cage they came as close to him as they could, and, to show their appreciation of his kindness, greeted him with a gush of the sweetest melody. What better beginning could there be for a happy holiday !
When Dan was dressed the lads went into the kitchen to have breakfast. And there was Ellen, as fresh as a daisy. The breakfast things were laid; and there was a clean cloth (not damask, mind!) on the deal table, and there, absolutely, were two newlaid eggs, one for Joshua and one for Dan, which Ellen had bought and paid for with her own money the day before, without saying a word about it. Ellen stooped and kissed Dan, and as she raised her head Joshua looked at her, and felt a huge longing to take her face between his two hands and kiss her, as he used to do in the time when they played sweethearts together. But he hadn't the courage. Yet he could not help looking at Ellen again and thinking, What a pretty girl Ellen is ! and then, seeing Ellen's eyes fixed upon his, he turned away his head and blushed. And Ellen smiled at that, and, if she had been asked, really could not have told the reason why. Surely never was such a happy commencement to a holiday, and never was such a happy couple as Dan and Joshua! After all, are not simple pleasures the best ? Are not those the sweetest pleasures that cost the least ?
What put it into Joshua's head? Was it the sentiment of perfect happiness that actuated the wish? Or was it a passing shadow, lighter than the lightest cloud, that passed over Ellen's face, as the lads were talking of the coming delights of the day? It was there but a moment, but Joshua saw it, or thought he did, and thought also that there was regret in it. Or was it Ellen's pretty face, or the little piece of blue ribbon that she had put round her neck, the puss ? For Ellen was fair, and knew what colours best suited
her complexion. Whatever it was that actuated it, there was Joshua saying, just as they had sat down to breakfast and Ellen was pouring out the milk-and-water—you may imagine that there was not a great deal of tea drank in Stepney—there was Joshua saying,
· Ellen, I wish you were coming with us.'
Ellen's hand shook so that she spilt some of the milk-and-water, and a spasm rose in her throat, for she had wished the same thing fervently, but had never spoken of it. She checked the spasm, hoping that her emotion would not be noticed, and answered not a word. But she looked. Such a look!
Dan was biting into a slice of bread-and-butter, but directly he heard Joshua's wish, and saw the yearning look that sprang into Ellen's eyes, he ceased eating, and leant his head upon his hand.
'I think I am very selfish,' he said, and hot tears gushed into his eyes.
In an instant Ellen was by his side, and Ellen's face was close to his. Any one who saw that-action, any one who could understand the quick sympathy that caused her to put her face so close to Dan's, to show that she knew what he was reproaching himself for, might have been able
to comprehend the depth of unselfish tenderness that dwelt in the soul of that little maid. Ah! It was only in a kitchen, but how beautiful it was to see !
‘Don't bother about me, my dear,' she said almost in a whisper. If you are happy, I am happy.' And then she added, pretending to be comically indignant, “You stupid Dan! I've a good mind to rumple your hair! You selfish indeed !'
“I am selfish !' exclaimed Dan, looking up and thinking—just as Joshua had thought—that he had never seen her look so pretty.—'I am selfish! Joshua!' he cried, so energetically that Joshua was quite startled. • What would the Old Sailor say?'
' But, Dan—' said Ellen.
Seriously, Jo,' said Dan, putting his hand over Ellen's mouth, 'what would the Old Sailor say ?'
• The Old Sailor would be delighted.'
Now, look here,' said Dan, with a determination almost comical in its intensity when one considered what inspired it; as if it were a question of tremendous national consequence, or something in which mighty interests were involved ; ' are you sure ?
'I am sure he would be delighted, Dan,' replied Joshua without the slightest hesitation.
'It's of no use, Dan and Josh dear,' said Ellen, shaking her head. You mustn't think of it. I
• can't go. Mother wouldn't be able to spare me. Why, don't you know?'
Don't I know what, Ellen ?' asked Dan.
• Don't you know that it's washing-day ?' said Ellen with a sharp nod, as if that settled the question.
Dan's head was still resting upon his hand. He pondered for a few moments, and then raising his head, said, 'Good little Ellen ;' and kissed her. Now let us have breakfast.'
Breakfast being over, Dan said he wanted to see Susan.
* Tell her I want to speak to her most particularly,' he said to Ellen. “And, Ellen ! when Susan comes, you go out of the room, and Joshua as well. I want to speak to her quite privately.'
Ellen and Joshua left Susan with Dan, and went into the passage; which gave Joshua opportunity to ask Ellen if she remembered when he used to be pushed into the coal-cellar. Yes, Ellen remembered it very well indeed ; and they both laughed over the reminiscence.