Obrázky na stránke


[ocr errors]


But Minnie set her teeth close, and said between them, 'It was wicked at first, but it wasn't wicked afterwards, was it, shell ?—She listened with a coaxing air to the shell's reply. The shell says it wasn't. Besides, I did it for you; Dan wouldn't have done it.'

No, that he wouldn't.'

Shows he doesn't love you as much as I do,' muttered Minnie with jealous intonation. If he did, he would have thought of a shell, and would have got it somehow. If he did, he would go with you, and would never, never leave you !'

Now, Minnie, listen to me.' 'I am listening, Joshua.' She would have

, taken his hand; but he put it behind his back, and motioned her to be still. She knew by his voice that something unpleasant was coming, and she set her teeth close.

"You know that it is wrong to steal, and you stole the shell.'

* I did it for you,' she said doggedly.

• That does not make it right, Minnie. I want you to give me a promise.'

'I will promise you anything but one thing,' she said.

• What is that?'

[ocr errors]


• Never mind. You would never guess, so you will never ask me. What am I to promise ?'

* That you will never steal anything again.'

Do you think I ever stole anything but the shell, then ?' she asked, with an air that would have been stern in its pride if she had not been a child.

It was on the tip of Joshua's tongue to say, "I don't know what to think;' but her manner of putting the question gave the answer to it. “No,' he said instead, 'I don't think you ever did, Minnie.'

Her head was stubbornly bent; and she had enough to do to keep back her tears. She would not have succeeded had his answer been different. “No, I never stole anything else. Stole is the

I proper word, I know; but it is a nasty one, and makes me ashamed.'

. That is your punishment, Minnie,' said Joshua, wondering at himself for his tenaciousness.

• That is my punishment, then,' said Minnie not less doggedly than before ; 'but I did it for you’-nothing would drive her from that standpoint-‘and I promise you, Joshua, that I will never steal anything again-never, never !'


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

He gave her his hand, and she took it and caressed it.

And now, Minnie, about Dan,' he said. “You must not say or think anything ill of him. He is the best-hearted and the dearest friend in the world; and I cannot tell you how much I love him, or how much he loves me.'

Why doesn't he go to sea with you, then ?' Joshua looked at her reproachfully.

Your memory is not good, Minnie. He is lame, as I told you.'

'I forgot. He can't go because he is lame. Would he go if his legs were sound ?'

I think he would.'

Don't think,' Minnie said, with a sly look at him ; be sure.'

'I am sure he would then.'

Caught ! cried Minnie, clapping her hands, the sly look, in which there was simplicity, changing to a cunning one, in which there was craft. Caught, caught, caught !

'I should like to know how,' said Joshua. • How ridiculous of you, Minnie, to cry“Caught!" as if I was a fox !'

“No, I am the fox,' she cried, shaking her hair over her face with enchanting grace. “I am in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


hiding—just peeping round the corner.' She made an opening in her thick hair, and flashed a look at him; a look that was saucy, and cunning, and charming, and wilful, all at once. • Am I a good fox ?

* You are a goose. Tell me how I am caught.'

Listen, then,' throwing her hair back, and becoming logical. “Dan loves you as well as any man or woman could love another, you said.'

‘Did I say as well ? I thought I said better. I meant better.'

That's no matter. Dan loves you,' — she held up her left hand, and checked off the items on her fingers-that is one finger. And Dan would go to sea with you; and it would be right, because he loves you — that is two fingers. But Dan can't go, because he is lamethat is three fingers. Now I love you, and I am not lame—that is four fingers. And it would not be wrong in me to follow you—and that is my thumb, the largest reason of all. So you are caught, caught, caught, you see.'

'I do not see,' said Joshua in a very decided voice. “Dan is a boy, and you are a girl ; and what is right for a boy to do is often wrong for a girl. I do not see that I am caught.'


But Minnie had relinquished the argument. She was satisfied that she was right.

* And you would really be very angry with me if I did it ?' she asked.

'I should be very angry with you now, Minnie, if it were not that you were a stupid little girl, just a trifle too fond of talking nonsense. Such nonsense, too! Why, there's Ellen, Dan's sister, she wouldn't talk so.'

All the brightness went out of Minnie's face, and a dark cloud was there instead.

Joshua noticed it with surprise. He took her hand gently; but she snatched it away.

Ellen would not behave like that,' he said ; She is too mild and gentle.' (There came into his mind what he had said to Dan of the two girls—that Ellen was like a lake, and Minnie like the sea ; and he thought how true it was.) “It would do you good to know her.'

'I don't want to know her,' said Minnie sullenly, and I don't want to be done good to.'

'I didn't think you would be cross-tempered on my last day at home,' said Joshua in a grave and gentle voice. He paused, as if expecting her to speak; but she remained silent. "Ah, well,'



« PredošláPokračovať »