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Daybreak A Story for Girls   By: (1858-1930)

Book cover

First Page:

DAYBREAK

A Story for Girls

by

FLORENCE A. SITWELL

[Frontispiece: "Little night dresses rustled."]

London S. W. Partridge & Co. 9 Paternoster Row. 1888

Contents.

CHAPTER

I. LIFE IN THE ORPHANAGE II. THE FLIGHT III. IN THE HOSPITAL IV. IN A THIRD CLASS CARRIAGE V. BY THE SEA VI. CHRISTMAS DAY

Illustrations.

"Little night dresses rustled." . . . . . . Frontispiece

The Westminster clock tower.

St. Thomas' Hospital.

Kate and Frances.

DAYBREAK.

CHAPTER I.

LIFE IN THE ORPHANAGE.

Long before it was light, little feet were passing up and down those great stone stairs, little voices whispered in the corridors, little night dresses rustled by the superintendent's door. She did not think of sleeping, for though the moon still hung in the sky, it was Christmas morning five o'clock on Christmas morning at the Orphanage; and the little ones had everything their own way on Christmas Day. So she sat up in bed, with the candle lighted beside her, bending her head over a book she held in her hand, and often smiling to herself as she listened to the sounds that revealed the children's joy. She was a grey headed woman, with a face that might have been stern if the lines about the mouth had not been so gentle; a face, too, that was care worn, yet full of peace. A tall night cap surmounting her silvery grey hair gave her a quaint, even laughable appearance; but the orphan children reverenced the nightcap because they loved the head that, night after night, bent over them as a mother's might have done.

She was reading Milton's "Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity," and only laid the book aside as the little feet gathered outside her door, and clear, passionless voices blended in a Christmas hymn.

Then the sounds died away again in the distance, and she was left to follow in her thoughts.

Upstairs to the great dormitory the children crept; trying to be as noiseless as the fairies who filled their Christmas stockings. Maggie, being the gentlest, led the way, and was trusted to open creaking doors; the younger ones formed the centre of the little army, and behind them all marched Jane, the trusted Jane, who, though she had been one year only at the Orphanage, had won the confidence of all. She was the daughter of honest, industrious, working people, and had not the sad tendencies to slippery conduct which many of the little ones possessed. She was true in word and in deed; and no one could measure the good of such an example amongst the children.

The full moonlight was shining in the dormitory on many a little empty bed. Who could resist a pillow fight? The sub matron was up already trimming an extra beautiful bonnet to wear on this festive day. Jane remonstrated, but was met with a wrathful reminder that on Christmas Day Mother Agnes let them do just what they liked, a great pillow was hurled at poor Jane's head, and the fight began in real earnest.

Just when the excitement was at its highest pitch, a fierce cry rang from the end of the room. The game ceased suddenly, and the children turned to see what had happened. There was that odd little new comer, Kate Daniels, standing with hands clenched and dark eyes flashing, in front of the last small bed.

"You wicked, rough girls," she said, "you have hurt my little sister. I shall make you feel it! I shall do something dreadful to you, Mary Kitson. I hate you!"

In their excitement the children had quite forgotten that the little bed at the end of the dormitory had an occupant, a soft curly headed child of six, who slept soundly regardless of the noise, till that awkward Mary tumbled over the bed and made her cry. They understood it all now, and Jane and Maggie moved up to the bed side, hoping to soothe the sisters with kind words. But Kate stood in front of the bed glaring at them... Continue reading book >>




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