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THE OTHER MAN.*

BY MARY GAUNT

(MRS. H. LINDSAY MILLER).

CHAPTER I.

A NEW HOME.

It had been raining all the morning--dull, dreary, cold, penetrating rain, as it does rain in the west of Victoria in the winter time, and though it had ceased towards the after- noon the heavy clouds still hung low and threatening. Now, about 5 o'clock, just as   the sun was setting he had made a final struggle, and pierced the cloud bank in the west in long level lines, allowing the blue sky   beyond edged with clouds golden and rosy red. It was watery sunshine, though, that gleamed hopelessly in the shallow pools on the roadway, without much promise of warmth in it, and the road was only a stock   route, bounded on either hand by ugly wire   fences, which stretched away in parallel lines across the stony plain far as the eye could see. A lonely, dreary prospect--the stony plain and the ugly fences; there were hardly any trees, only a clump here and there which had been planted for shelter for the stock; and the grass was short, brown,   and dingy, for it was the middle of June, the depth of winter, and in the south-west   of Victoria the new grass does not begin to   spring till August. Away in the distance the dim hills bounded the horizon; here an isolated bald hill rising abruptly from the plain, indeed part and parcel of the plain itself forced upwards by some primeval up- heaval, and there a rugged forest-clad range, its rough outlines softened by distance and the damp, foggy atmosphere. Not a bird or beast was visible, sheep there must have been, of course, but these were all huddled together for warmth wherever a scanty shelter might be found from the bitter cold wind. The only sign of life on all the dreary landscape was a two seated buggy slowly drawn along a somewhat zig-zag course, to   avoid the irregularities of the road, by a pair   of rough, grey, grass-fed ponies. It was a   somewhat dilapidated turnout. The harness      

was brown and cracked with age, the ponies     were unkempt and ungroomed; and the buggy, underneath the coating of mud, to which it was momentarily adding, showed yet other layers, which spoke only too plainly of economy in the matter of cleansing. It was a light, low   buggy, without a hood, certainly not built to   carry luggage; yet at the present moment it       contained, greatly to the inconvenience of its occupants, a portmanteau and two or three bags, which required all their attention to keep from jolting out. They were four in   number--three women and a lad about seventeen. Two of the women seemed some-     what out of place, wrapped up as they were   in sealskins and furs, with heavy veils drawn     over their faces to keep off the cutting wind;   but the driver, who handled the ribbons as  

if she knew what she was about, as indeed she     did, went in for no such feminine additions.   Her figure was square and thick-set, and her    

face, hard and weather beaten, might have be-

longed to any woman between the ages of 20 and 40; and though most people might have  

been inclined to lean rather towards the latter, Ann Grant was in reality but little over five-and-twenty. As she herself would have     said, she had no time to give to vanities, and so made her plain hard face plainer and harder by crowning it with a knitted black cap, while she kept out the cold by enveloping herself in a black and purple woollen shawl, which was crossed in front and tied behind in a firm knot, which as yet it had defied the efforts of the wind to undo. The daintily clad girl beside her thought the whole cos-   tume unbecoming, not to say hideous, and had been mentally wondering ever since they had met at the railway station at Gaffer's   Flat whether she was not making some mis-     take--this surely could not be her cousin, the daughter of the rich squatter who was lord over a hundred square miles of pasture land,   and worth they said at least £7,000 a

year.

Ann Grant made some efforts to entertain her and play the hostess, and pointed out the hills in the distance with the end of her broken whip.

"There's old Saddleback--dear old Saddle-   back," she said in hard aggressive tones-- tones meant to be friendly but which only   succeeded in being affected, not to say patronising. "I always know when I see the hollow of his saddle that we're near

home.

"Oh," sighed the other girl wearily, "are    

we near home?"    

"Yes, only two more miles Gaffer's Flats       twenty miles from Kooringa--just a pleasant

drive I call it."  

"Do you? Well, yes, I daresay it is in       the summer," said her cousin politely--   every bone in her body was aching; "but-- but--the weather is rather cold and wet for driving just at present, don't you think so?" And she shivered, and drew her cloak more closely round her.

"Cold, Ruth!" said Miss Grant, severely,     "when you've been with us a little you'll   soon learn not to pay attention to the weather.   Heat or cold, I let nothing interfere with my

duty."  

"I'm sure it's very good of you," murmured   Ruth, trying to settle the portmanteau, which   a heavy jolt had flung against her knees. "I'm afraid I shouldn't see many duties that     called me out on a day like this."    

"The Lord sends the duties," said Ann,   smugly. "It's our blessed privilege to per-

form His will."  

"I'd call it anything but a blessed privi-   lege to time forty miles on a day like this. I've been thinking all along, Ann, how very   kind it was of you to come for us yourself,

and not to send a man."

"There are no idle men at Kooringa," said     Ann; "each has his appointed work." And   for the moment Ruth subsided, feeling horribly snubbed, and more sure than ever that between her and her cousin there was and never could be anything in common.  

They drove on in silence; the sun sank   beneath the horizon, the golden glory died out of the skies, a heavy mist crept up, driven by the chill north wind, and Ruth   drew her cloak more closely round her in the darkness and sighed audibly--a sigh which her sister behind her echoed wearily.  

The road was getting worse; the horses   splashed through shallow pools of water in- visible in the darkness, and the wheels sank deeper and deeper in the mire. "Willie" was ordered by his sister to get down and open another gate, and then she turned to her guests and remarked curtly--

"Were on Kooringa now--dear Koo-    

ringa."  

"Dear Kooringa" Ruth thought must be   principally remarkable for stones to judge by the way in which the unfortunate occupants of the buggy were being jolted about.

A few moments later the horses drew up of their own accord opposite a long, low building surrounded by a wide verandah. There were lights in two of the windows, but most of the house was wrapped in dark-

ness.  

"This is the house," said Ann; "jump   out." And she proceeded to give vent to a     series of wild war-whoops, at first producing   no effect whatever, but which at last re- sulted in the door being flung open by a swarm of tumultuous children, who seemed to Ruth in the darkness to be all about the same age and size. They made straight for   the buggy, out of which she and her sister with the assistance of Willie were engaged   in taking out their various wraps and parcels, and, regardless of their pinafores, began        

climbing up over the muddy wheels.  

"Ah, children," said Ann Grant, "you're   glad to see sister back, aren't you? Come Ethel, come Rosy. Where's my little brother       Teddy; and Vera--where's Vera darling?"      

None of them paid the least attention to   her blandishments, nor did they take any notion of the newcomers. The hall was but dimly lighted by a flat candlestick, in which   a tallow candle was guttering in the wind, and the two girls stepped inside to shelter a   little from the chilly night air.

"Dolly, dear," whispered the elder, taking   off her veil and giving her sister's hand a re-   assuring little squeeze. They were so cold, so miserable, so tired, that the younger girl was on the verge of tears. Outside Ann's

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voice could still be heard playing the kindly

elder sister.

"How many of you are coming down to the   stable with me? All? Take care, then, Teddy; Rosy must not tumble out; Vera must sit on sister's knee; Willie hold"----    

The little display of domestic affection   was suddenly cut short by the appearance of a tall, thin, angular woman in a huge kitchen apron wielding a long gravy-spoon. Ruth thought at first she was the cook, but a second glance showed her it was Mrs. Grant, her cousin's wife and the mother of Ann and, she supposed, of these children.

"Oh, my dears," she said, advancing and   kissing them kindly, "you've arrived, have you? I'm glad to see you, very glad. You'd   like to go to your room now, wouldn't you?   Now, what are those children doing out there? Ann, Ann," she called at the top of her voice. "I won't have those children out  

in the cold. Rosy's got chilblains, and you know I was up all last night with Vera with the croup. Como in, you children, this

minute."

"It isn't cold, mother," said Ann ag- gressively. " I told them to come."      

"And I tell them to come in," said Mrs. Grant. "It's raining, and I won't have them   down in that muddy yard."

"It's not raining," shouted her daughter out of the darkness. "Come, children."  

"Children," persisted Mrs. Grant in the   same tone, "come in this minute."    

And Mrs. Grant dashed out into the dark- ness, and presently returned driving before her with the aid of the gravy-spoon the little flock. Once having seen them safe inside she banged the door and ordered them back into the schoolroom.

They filed off, shy little bush children, their fingers and the corners of their dirty pinafores in their mouths, looking shyly and furtively out of the corners of their eyes at the strangers. The smallest went last, a fair-haired, waxen-complexioned little girl, with glorious deep grey eyes and long dark   lashes, a marked contrast to the rest of the children, who, ruddy and rosy as they looked, were perhaps somewhat too rudely healthy for beauty. This small girl's coarse holland pinafore was deeply marked where she had leaned against the muddy spokes of the wheel, and her heavy leather boots looked as if she had sounded unknown depths of liquid mud. Mrs. Grant caught sight of her as she passed close under the candle, and laying violent hands on her she drew her back by her short skirts.

"Vera, you naughty child, wherever have   you been?"  

"In the mud," said the little maiden,   raising one extremely muddy boot with the toe of the other and contemplating it calmly.

"In the mud, indeed? Yes, and what-     ever will become of you if you go on like this?" And Mrs. Grant emphasised her re- marks with a little shake.

Vera transferred her attention from her muddy boots to her mother's face with the same air of calmly contemplating someone else's misdoings.

" 'Spects God won't love me and I'll go to hell," she remarked, twisting her skirts out of the detaining hand and walking off with childish dignity in the wake of the others.

"Was there ever such a child!" said Mrs.       Grant perplexedly. "Now, my dears," she   added, turning to the two tired girls, "you'd   like to go to your room, wouldn't you? Do you think you and I can curry your port- manteau between us, eh, Ruth? Ah, that's   right, Dorothy, you carry the basket, and we can come back for the hat-box. Now, this way."

She led them down narrow passages, un- lighted save for the guttering tallow candle she had brought from the from hall, up half   a dozen steps, down four more, through a room where were two unmade beds, until finally she dropped her end of the portmanteau and, flinging open a door, said--

"Here we are, girls. I put you both toge-   ther in the spare room. I thought you'd be happier. The boys sleep in this room, but they're not often in it, and if they arc you've only got to knock and they'll let you through."            

She put the candle down on the chest of drawers and dragged in the trunk which Ruth had wearily let drop.

"Now, girls, tea'll be ready in half an   hour, but you'll hear the bell. You've got everything, I think. Well, my scones 'll burn if I stop any longer," and she bustled out and banged the door behind her.

Ruth began slowly to take off her wraps. She was a tall slender girl, whose Jewish name would more fitly have become her dark-   haired, dark-complexioned younger sister, for though she had dark eyes and eyelashes she had the fairest of com- plexions and golden hair. Dorothy, on the other hand, much as she resembled her sister, was a decided brunette. They were pretty girls both of them, but which bore off the palm it was difficult to say. Ruth's beauty was certainly of a rarer, more refined type than her sister's, and yet many people were to be found who thought she was not to be compared to Dorothy.

At the present moment that young lady was slowly unwinding her veil, and when that was accomplished began with stiff, cold fingers to unbutton her sealskin, apparently lost in such deep thought that she paid no attention to surrounding objects.

"Oh, Dolly, dear'," said Ruth, kneeling   down and beginning to unstrap their trunk, "how do you think we'll like it?"    

For all answer Dorothy flung herself down on the bed and buried her face in the pil-

lows.

"Oh, Ruth, Ruth," she cried, "if we've got to live here for the rest of our lives I'd just as soon be dead.

CHAPTER II.

THE GRANTS OP KOORINGA.

All their lives Ruth and Dorothy Grant had been accustomed to comfort, not to say luxury, for their father had been in the Government service, had received a good in- come, and had spent it lavishly, and the girls had wanted for nothing. Unfortunately, Thomas Grant had made very little provision for his daughters' future, and when he died, a month before my story opens, the two girls found that all they had in the world only amounted to £60 a year. Sixty pounds a year is hardly enough for two young ladies accustomed to every luxury to live upon, and the two Miss Grants begun to look about them, and to wonder if they could not possibly turn their expensive education to good account. Then came Mr. Grant, of Kooringa's offer, a kindly offer, couched in the kindliest terms. Wood was thicker than water, he wrote; his cousin Tom had been   his nearest of kin, and he would be only too delighted to give his children a home. His household was a large one. They would find brothers and sisters in his children, a mother and father, he hoped, in his wife and him- self. Two lonely girls could not live in Melbourne by themselves; would they    

come?  

And Ruth had accepted gratefully. She had never seen this cousin, did not know any of the Kooringa Grants, but she accepted his offer gratefully, and this bitter dreary day in June saw them arrive at their new home.

It was depressing, certainly. Put as brave a face upon it as she would she could not but sympathise with her sister's tears. If this evening was to be taken as a sample of their future life she wondered how indeed they were to manage to exist. She looked round the room, dimly illumined by the one candle. It was not badly furnished, and yet over the whole there was a comfortlessness that was painfully evident. To begin with, the floor was covered with Indian matting, which, though it is perhaps better than the bare boards, is certainly cold and cheerless in the depth of winter; the bed was hung   with most funereal curtains; the looking     glass, perched high on a chest of drawers-- for there was no dressing-table--had lost one of ¡ts supports, and was propped up on that side by a pile.of tracts and a hair-brush that had seen better days; a hard sofa stood in       the window, and in the opposite corner was a broken-down child's cot, which had apparently seen good service and was now passing a serene old age as a receptacle for the superfluous family bedding. The f¡re- place was filled with faded bracken which crumbled at a touch, and the walls were adorned in lieu of picture with familiar and

well-worn texts, picked out in all the colours

of the rainbow.

Ruth poured some water into the basin.   It was icy-cold, and she rubbed her hands hard with the still coarse towel to try and restore animation to her frozen fingers, but she only hurt them, and there was a lump in her throat as she stood gazing out of the curtainless window into the dreary night.     Away in the distance faintly gleamed a light --the light from the men's hut--and then it vanished. Was it the ruin outside that shut it out, or the tears that filled her own eyes? She put up her hand and brushed away those tears determinedly and defiantly. She waa no mere girl, she told herself, to break down and weakly cry just because she was cold and uncomfortable. Dolly might do it, but then Dolly was only a girl still, though she was but a year younger than the elder sister, who had cared for and loved and shielded her all through their motherless lives. She crossed over to the bed and put her hand on her sister's shoulder.

"Dolly, Dolly, dear, don't cry so."  

Dolly lifted up her tear-stained face. "Well, Ruth, isn't it wretched?"

"Yes, dear, but don't cry--please don't cry, or you'll make nie cry, too."

"Can we live here?" her sister asked, sit- ting up on the bed and putting the question with desperate earnestness.

"Dear, we'll have to. What else can we  

do? What in the wide world is there for two   girls like us to do?"

"Other girls earn their own livings, and   and--we have £60 a year between us."

Ruth knelt down by her sister's side, and put her arm round her waist.

"And we have spent more than that on our   clothes alone--much more. Just look at these furs. Besides, how do girls earn their living? Governessing, I suppose, is about the only thing we could do. And what sort of governesses should we make? I couldn't teach--I couldn't--I'm sure I couldn't. I wonder am I worth £20 a year to anybody. Oh, and Dolly, you don't want to part from me, do you?"  

Dolly put a caressing hand on her sister's shoulder, and lifted up her face to be kissed.

"No, dearie, no, we couldn't part, could we? We've always been such mates. Better dependence--humiliating dependence -and the Grants than to be parted altogether," and sha emphasised her decision with

another kiss.

"Yes, dear, yes."

"You know," she went on, cheering up,   as Dolly always did after she'd had a good cry and thoroughly ventilated her grievance, "after all, we always made our own happi- ness. The house was comfortable, and we had plenty of good things to eat and plenty of clothes, but there was Dad--and, well  

Dad wasn't a model father."

"Hush, Dolly."  

"I won't hush. You always hush me     when I talk about it, but was he a model father, now?"  

"Plenty of clothes, plenty of good things   to eat, and a comfortable home," repeated Ruth; "well, really, Dolly----."  

"I didn't say a comfortable home. I said   house--most emphatically house--house-- house. Home is quite another thing. I don't think we had a comfortable home. Seriously now, Ruth, do you miss father?"

Ruth hung her head.

"Well--perhaps--not as--."  

"There, I knew it," said Dolly, getting   quite cheerful and triumphant. "How could   you possibly Did he ever in his life speak a   solitary word to us if he could help himself?   Did he love us, do you think?"  

"I suppose so."  

"He had a funny sort of way of showing   it. Do other fathers shut their daughters up, I wonder, and not let them have a single friend--man, woman, or child. Do other fathers never address a word to their daughters unless it is to growl at something that has gone wrong that is as much their fault as the man in the moon's?"  

"Oh, Dolly, don't talk like that."    

"Well, but it's true. And it is cruel,   whatever you may say, to bring us up in luxury all our lives and then turn us adrift

with barely enough to keep body and soul together."      

"He was our father."  

"So he was; so I won't say anything more     about him; but, oh, Ruth! his relations are     worse than himself. However are we to live in this awful hole? At least, Dad was a gentleman; but Ann, and Mrs. Grant, and   those children--Ruth, aren't they just

awful?"  

"I wonder did we expect too much," pon-   dered Ruth. "Perhaps we have seen so   little of the world. Perhaps they wouldn't

strike other people as strangely as they do   us."  

"H'm; I don't know. They're awfully pious, aren't they? How'll you and I get on     with a pious family, Ruth, when Scripture and manners were entirely left out of our education? What do you suppose we'll be expected to do?"  

"Help in the Lord's work by teaching in   Sabbath-school," quoted Ruth. "At least,   that's what Ann told me on our way

here."

"What a prospect. But I'm hungry. What   time's dinner!"

"Dinner? Tea, you mean. It's a mov- able feast, I believe, held some time between six and eight. Come now, Dolly, since we've decided to make the best of it, suppose you take off your things, brush your hair, and let's go and be introduced to our new family."

Five minutes later the two girls stood timidly before a fast-closed door, and Ruth raised her hand and knocked.

"It mightn't be the right room after all,"  

she said. "I'd better knock."  

"Come in," said someone from the inside,   "Come in," and they pushed open the door  

and entered.

The diningroom at Kooringa was a long low room crowded with furniture. No one would have dreamt of calling it a handsome room, though some of the furniture had evidently cost money. It was not even a cosy room, for the linoleum which covered the floor was a very poor substitute for a carpet, and the blindless windows, over which it had occurred to no one to draw the curtains, let in the dreary night, and made the room seem cold and comfortless, even though there was a roaring fire on the hearth. At the first glance Ruth decided that never in all her life had she seen such an untidy room, but she had no time to look round, for a grizzled rough old man struggled up out of a shabby armchair as they entered, and greeted them kindly enough.

"Well, my girls," and it struck her at   once that his accent was not that of an educated man; it was so different from her   father's cultivated tones, "Well, my girls;   welcome to Kooringa. Take a seat now and warm yourselves till tea's ready."

They drew up two cane chairs to the fire, and while he asked Dolly questions about their journey, Ruth took stock of the room. A long dining-table ran down the middle of it, covered with a course white cloth roughly laid for tea. A common earthenware flower pot turned upside down formed a stand for a kerosene lamp, which smelt so abominably she found herself wondering if her new rela- tives could possibly have any noses, and round this were ranged tumblers of various sorts and sizes, which did duty as jam pots. The cutlery, crockery, and plate were all of the plainest, commonest description, and the table lacked those adornments in the way of flowers which she had always considered necessary additions to a meal. At the further end of the room, blocking a window, stood a handsomely curved American organ, the top of which was covered with cheap Bibles and hymn books piled up in the most hopeless disorder and overflowing on to an old horsehair sofa, out of which the stuffing was protruding. There were two bookcases in the room, but the upper halves were carefully locked, while the lower were stuffed so full of papers, principally, it seemed, tracts, that they, too, overflowed on to the floor. Indeed, the Grant family seemed to have a difficulty in stowing away their numerous possessions.   The sideboard and the dinner-waggon were so laden with entirely foreign material that they themselves were hardly distinguishable, but the mantel-shelf was first favourite. Each member of the family had apparently put something down there, till now there was not an available square inch of room.

A clock stood in the middle--a handsome  

bronze clock which ticked away busily--but something hand gone wrong with the hands, and they both hung down together, hope- lessly pointing to half-past 6. Two candle- sticks in the form of mailed warriors stood at each end, but one had been temporarily extinguished by a child's sun bonnet, and the other, being broken somewhere about his middle, leaned drunkenly against the wall in a manner hardly in keeping with the ferocious expression of his countenance. Besides these three articles it was difficult to say what there was not on that mantelpiece. Packets of letters supported the clock on  

either hand and protruded from behind it; on       top was a small white jar containing about a teaspoonful of honey and a large medicine bottle marked "Lotion" and "Poison." There were three or four other medicine bottles at intervals on the shelf, mostly half empty and corkless. There were two or three half-finished socks with knitting needles attached, an old slipper, evidently belonging to Mr. Grant and in the last stages of decrepitude, two odd children's shoes, a half-empty pot of marmalade, a crust of   bread and half a jam turnover, three candle ends, four skeins of mending cotton, a reel of thread, a slouch hat, a pair of broken shears, a rusty spur, a pot of vaseline, several crumpled newspapers, and various other odds and ends, such as broken shoelaces and dis- carded hair ribbons. Then, were no pictures on the walls, and the only pretence at adorn- ing them and breaking the monotony of the bare plaster .was a large framed text over the fireplace, "God Bless Our Home."

"Want your tea, my girl, eh?" said Mr.     Grant. "Well, hold on a bit. "We're only waiting till the others come in."

"Out on such a day as this," murmured  

Ruth.

"A prayer meeting and mothers' meeting   at Dog Leg Gully," said Mr; Grant. "We   never neglect the Lord's work. I pray we never may."

A moment later "the others" came in. Two     women wrapped up in wet woollen shawls and the very muddiest sisters Ruth had ever seen. One was a tall, strapping, buxom young woman, about her own age, and so like Ann it was hardly necessary her father should introduce her as his second daughter Lily. The other was a little shrivelled-up old maid of fifty, with an aquiline nose, and a sharp voice, whom Lily introduced as

"our Auntie."

"Just an adopted auntie, you know,"she added. "Her real name's Miss Kennedy. But we like her, and she likes us, and we're all so earnest in the same work, that she lives with us, and is our Auntie. Aren't you,

dear?"

"Yes, and yours, too," said Miss Kennedy, bestowing on each girl a frozen peck, which Dolly afterwards declared nearly turned her

to stone.

"Tea, tea, ten," said Mr. Grant, rapping with a knife-handle on the table to call attention to his wants. "We'll have tea   now you've come."

"Oh, Cousin John"----    

"Call me 'Uncle,' my girl. It sounds    

better."

"Oh, uncle," said Dolly, "I was only     going to ask you not to hurry them for us. We can easily wait while they change their  

things."

"Change," said the florid Lily, somewhat   contemptuously, "change, that's just one of your town notions. We don't spend much time on titivation here, I can tell you. We'll just slip out of our wet ulsters and we're ready. Ring the bell, Auntie."

Miss Kennedy seized an old cow bell, which was evidently past service in the field, and rang it as loud us it would ring. She and Lily slipped off their wet muddy outer garments and flung them on top of the Bibles and hymn books, just as Mrs. Grant, bearing a huge tray of scones, and followed by her numerous family, appeared on the

scene.

"I've had no end of bother with these   scones," she said somewhat fretfully. "Ann,   where's a plate for them?"  

"Oh, never mind," said Ann. "Here,     clear a space and the tray'll do as well as anything else. Now children--children-- don't make such a noise, but take your places quietly it you can. Children--children --what will your new cousins think of

you?"  

There were such an array of them--twelve in all--ranging from Will, a great hulking fellow of seventeen, who thought himself a man, down to the fairy-like little Vera, whom they had before noticed. Seven girls and five boys. Ruth wondered if she should be ever able to remember them all. All, with the exception of Vera, were like their two elder sisters, stolid, healthy-looking country children, two or three of whom were curiously unlike in features to their brothers and

sisters.

"You see you have plenty of cousins, Ruth," said Mrs. Grant, smiling as her family shhuffled into their seats, not without much wrangling and bickering.

"Yes, I had no idea, Aunt, you had so  

many children."

"Well, they're not all mine. You see,   your uncle, he has views, and he don't ap- prove of orphans. He thinks when all the world's true Christians there'll be none. They'll all be adopted into other families that can afford to keep them."

"And you----, how good of you," mur-   mured Ruth, hardly knowing what to say, and wondering if the adopted orphans minded being spoken about thus publicly.

"Good, oh, not at all," said Mrs. Grant, "four of these are adopted, and they're very   good children, too, ar'n't you, Teddy?" and she laid her hand on the shoulder of a smiling, good-humoured black-eyed boy of thirteen.

Mr. Grant rapped the table again with his

knife-handle.

"Mother, mother," he called out, as if his   wife were somewhere out on the run and not at the opposite end of the table, "mother, mother, we want a blessing."

"Vera," said Mrs. Grant, "say grace."  

This child, too, was evidently one of the adopted orphans, so different was she in face and figure from her brothers and sisters. As the youngest there she was called upon to say grace; but there was a mutinous ex- pression upon the pretty little face, and she  

did not at once obey.

"Vera," repeated Mrs. Grant, "say    

grace."

"Don't like my tea," said Vera.  

"What's that got to do with it, Sis?" asked Willie, bending over her kindly.

The child turned her face away.    

"Don't like veal,"she said again; "shan't     say no grace," and though Mrs. Grant ad- ministered what she called a "good sound smack," Vera adhered to her determination. The principal dish on the table was a fore- quarter of cold boiled salt veal, and Dolly kicked her sister under the table in token that she was in perfect accord with her little cousin, and didn't like veal in that form

either.

"Vera, you get no tea till you say your grace," said her mother.

"Don't want no tea--don't like it," pro-  

tested.    

"Vera," said Ann, solemnly, unctuously Ruth though, "the Lord will never love little girls who are so wicked as not to thank     Him for their good food."

" 'Tain't good," protested Vera. "The Lord wouldn't like that veal for tea, I

know."

Ruth and Dolly, trying to be grateful to their earthly benefactors for the unsavoury delicacies on their plates, thoroughly sympa- thised with the child, but it was evident no one else did, for "Vera" came in tones of varying degrees of horror from all round the table, and Mrs. Grant promptly swooped down on the offender, laid her across her knees, and administered condign punishment there and then with a very substantial slip- per, taken off for the purpose. Then she   placed the child on a chair, with her face to   the window curtain, and returned to the table with the virtuous air of a woman who has done her duty.

"Vera is very strange just at present," she     said, half-apologetically to Ruth, after she   had poured out tea all round. "She has only   been with us two months, and her father was a curiously careless man about some matters. However, in time I trust we shall bring her into the fold and make her one of the Lord's own little lambs."

"Shan't be a little lamb," said Vera, from   her place of punishment;"I'se goin' to be a  

pwincess."      

"Vera!"  

"I is. My muvver was a pwincess, an' I'll     be one, an' wear a white wilk dwess wif goldie thweads on it, an'----."  

Vera's imagination was apparently good   for another half-hour had no1 Ann left her   seat and shaken her with truly Puritan  

vigour.

Mrs. Grant looked at her eldest daughter.   The family might be very pious and given over to Christian works, but it was evident to   the strangers that mother and daughter were  

not in accord.

"Come here, Vera," she said.   Ann let her go reluctantly. "Vera, will you be good?"      

The little maid pursed up her mouth and  

nodded.

Mrs. Grant lifted her up on to the high

chair.

"Now, say your grace."  

"Thank God, for all his mercies," said Vera, and accepted the cold veal without

another word.

(To be Continued Next Saturday.)

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