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Anxious Audrey   By: (1866-1924)

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Author of 'A Waif and a Welcome,' 'Troublesome Ursula,' 'Zach and Debby,' 'In Cornwall's Wonderland,' Etc.



[Illustration: When, though, it came to carrying up the chest of drawers, they all had to give a hand.]


"Lady bird, lady bird, fly away home, The field mouse has gone to her nest; The daisies have shut up their sleepy red eyes, And the birds and the bees are at rest."

Mr. Carlyle, standing outside the nursery door, stayed a moment until the sweet low voice had reached the end of the verse, then, turning the handle very gently, entered the room on tiptoe.

Faith looked up with a smile, but with a warning finger held out, while in a lower and more crooning voice she began the next verse:

"Lady bird, lady bird, fly away home, The glow worm is lighting her lamp "

"Oh, dear!" as two round blue eyes looked up at her, full of sleepy wickedness, "She is as wide awake when I began! Baby, you are not a nice little girl and I shan't be able to go on loving you if you don't go to sleep soon."

The blue eyes, wandering from Faith's reproving face, fell on her father, and with a croon of delight a pair of plump dimpled arms was held out pleadingly. "Dad! Dad!" cooed the baby voice coaxingly, and the arms were not held out in vain.

Faith handed over her heavy, lovable burden with a mingled sigh of relief and hopelessness. "This is all wrong, you know, father," with a weary little laugh, "a well brought up baby should be sound asleep by this time but how is one to make her sleep if she absolutely refuses to?"

Mr. Carlyle looked down at his little daughter snuggling so happily in his arms. "I don't know, dear," he said helplessly. "I suppose we aren't very good nurses. Perhaps we are not stern enough. I am sorry I came in just then, she might have gone off if I hadn't, but I wanted to speak to you particularly; there is a great deal I want to discuss. How is your mother? I haven't been in to see her. I saw that her room was dark, so I thought she was probably asleep."

"I expect she is. She seemed very sleepy when I gave her her cornflour at seven. I haven't been able to go to her since, baby has been so restless."

"Isn't she well?"

"Oh, yes, she is well, but while I was down making the cornflour I had to leave her with Tom and Debby, and they got playing, of course, and excited her so much she can't go to sleep."

"Couldn't Mary have made the cornflour or have looked after baby for the time?"

"No, she was ironing, and she doesn't know yet just how mother likes it."

"Oh! but can't you come down, dear, until this minx is slumbering?"

Faith looked at the grate where a few cinders only lay grey and lifeless at the bottom; then she looked at her father with a mischievous twinkle in her pretty brown eyes. "I can't unless we take baby too," she said. "Of course it is very wrong and a real nurse would faint at such behaviour, but, shall we, daddy? It is cold up here, and lonely and, oh! I am so hungry and quite hoarse with singing lullabies."

"Poor child! Come downstairs and we will not think about what real nurses would say. This little person is really so sleepy she will hardly realise what has happened."

Faith's eyes sparkled. "We mustn't let Tom and Debby know, or they will be down too. If we go very softly perhaps they won't hear, they were nearly asleep when I looked in at them just now. I hope baby won't give a yell on the stairs."

"I will try to prevent her. Now then, come along."

Baby Joan, as though she understood all about it, and what was expected of her, smiled up at them knowingly, but she did not make a sound, not even when they paused at her mother's bedroom door and looked in... Continue reading book >>

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