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the thickest part of the shrubbery, where I flung
myself sobbing on the grass, and hugged my
rescued treasure.

More than sixty years have passed since
that day when I so unsuccessfully emulated
Annafor I cannot have been much over seven
years oldand yet every incident of it is far
more vividly present to my mind than when I
was five-and-twenty. I can recal the bitter
pungent taste of a spiky leaf from the old cedar-
tree under which I lay; and the half-unconscious
way in which I put it between my teeth, and
pricked my lips with its sharp point. Ah, Lucy!
Since that day I have dreamed day-dreams in
other enchanted caves, and have been bound by
stronger spells than the fairy Malevola’s, and I
have waited for Prince Goldenheart, as you
will wait for him some day; and instead of
the handsomest youth in all the world, with a
fragrant green bough in his hand, there has
hobbled up old Stock with his spade, to
crumble the whole beautiful vision into dust!
But then too, Lucy, I have never had the warmth
of love and pity, and sympathy with suffering,
quenched out of my heart, and, after all, I ought
to be a happy old woman. And so I am, my
dear. So I am.

We were happy in those days, if ever children
were happy. As time went on, and we ceased
to be mere babies, we were not allowed to run
wild about the grounds from morning to night.
But such tasks as were set us had no terrors,
and few difficulties. I fear that you of the rising
generation will have but a mean opinion of Aunt
Gough’s educational powers, when I confess that
I was turned eight years old, before I could read
with ease. But I had already worked several
samplers, and could even stitch a shirt very
creditably by that time. Anna’s education began
somewhat earlier, as was natural; for the two
yearsdifference between our ages, enabled me
to help her at first, in deciphering the mysteries
of Great A and little b. Aunt Gough was a
staunch church-woman. Every Sunday morning
we were taken to the great family pew, and were
perched up side by side on two crimson hassocks
placed on the seat; and thus elevated, the brim
of my hat just reached to the top of the pew.
Anna, being smaller, was altogether invisible to
the outside world, except when she stood up on
her cushion during the psalms. There are
scarcely any pews now-a-days. Everybody sits
on a hard bench in full view of his or her
neighbours. As it is certainly a much more
uncomfortable state of things than the old fashion, let
us hope it has some compensating spiritual

Anna and I liked going to church. It was not
made terrible to our young imaginations, nor
were we taught to think of religion as of a stern
Medusa, whose contemplation turns the gazer
into stone. As to giving us any portion of the
Scriptures to learn by way of punishment, Aunt
Gough would have been shocked at the notion of
such a thing. She did, indeed, consider it her
duty to make us learn the Church Catechism,—
which we didn’t understand; and she told us
stories from the New Testamentwhich we did
understand, and, moreover, delighted in. One
great source of Sunday pleasure was the music.
Our church possessed a very fine old organ; and
though our organist would not be considered very
scientific in these days, he contrived to elicit
from it its mellowest tones and richest harmonies.
He loved the grand old instrument, and thought
more of his organ than of himself: which feeling
the self-forgetfulness of a true artist
communicated itself irresistibly to his hearers.
Even we children were conscious of a beauty in
the psalms and voluntaries, beyond the mere
sound. And I remember once saying to our
guardian, “I do like to listen to Mr. Dixon, he
plays so kindly.”

As we grew older, and were thought to have
got beyond the range of dear Aunt Gough’s
simple teaching, we were sent to a day-school in
the town. Our schoolmistress, Miss Wokenham,
was one of the tiniest women I ever saw.
There was more than one child of eleven or
twelve years old, in the school, who could look
down on her from a superior height; and our
plump rosy cheeks, and round arms, would seem
quite coarse and clumsyrustic as her phrase
was then, for everything redolent of health and
vigour, as well as for what was in itself rough
and unpolishedbeside Miss Wokenham’s fragile
elfish form. She was not old as I now reckon
ageperhaps forty-fivebut her antiquity was
very venerable in my eyes then. Her hair was
snowy white, but soft and shining, and wavy
with natural curls; she had bright dark eyes,
and an immensely wide mouth, filled, however,
with a faultless set of teeth. Perhaps Miss
Wokenham’s attainments were really nothing
very marvellous, but we all thought her a
prodigy of learning. And, indeed, making all due
allowance for the march of intellect in these
days, I am inclined to believe that Miss Wokenham
was mistress of some solid acquirements
that one might seek for, vainly, among more
showily accomplished governesses. She had a
competent knowledge of history and geography,
and a turn for arithmetic that was quite
surprising; she had even, it was whispered, dabbled
a little in the mathematics; and our parish
clergyman, who had graduated at Cambridge, was
wont to declare, that if Miss Wokenham had
been a man, she would have made the wranglers
of her year look to their laurels. But perhaps
this was a figure of speech. At all events, Miss
Wokenham herself used to declare it was; and she
was a most absolutely and uncompromisingly
truthful human being. If, as sometimes
happened, a scholar thirsting for knowledge pushed
her beyond her depth, she never hesitated for an
instant to confess her ignorance. “I don’t know,
my dear,” she would say, fixing her brave black
eyes earnestly on the interrogator: “I don’t