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A Girl in Spring-Time   By: (1857-1917)

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A Girl in Spring Time By Jessie Mansergh Illustrations by Gertrude Demain Hammond Published by Blackie and Son Limited, London. This edition dated 1897. A Girl in Spring Time, by Jessie Mansergh.




It was the day before the midsummer holidays, and the girls of the first form were sitting together in the upstairs school room at Milvern House, discussing the events of the term, and the prospective pleasures of the next few weeks. Lessons had been finished in the morning, the afternoon had been given up to packing, and now they were enjoying a delightfully unsupervised hour of rest.

A tall, slim girl was standing by the table, turning out the contents of a desk, and filling the waste paper basket with fragments of paper. The other pupils watched the movements of the small hands, and the sleek, dark head with unconscious fascination. There was something delightfully trim and dainty about Bertha Faucit. Her hair was always neat, her actions deliberate and graceful; she reminded one irresistibly of a sleek, well nurtured pigeon pluming its wings in the sunshine, with a very happy sense of its own importance.

By the window stood another girl, who was evidently a sister, for she wore a dress of the same pattern, and held herself with a like air of dignified composure. Bertha and Lois Faucit were the daughters of a dean who lived in an old cathedral town, and their school fellows were accustomed to account for every peculiarity on this score. "Dean's daughters, you know!" It was ridiculous to expect that the children of such a dignitary would indulge in pillow fights, and bedroom supper, like ordinary frivolous mortals.

Bertha was talking all the while she worked, dropping out her words with the same delicate distinctness which characterised her actions.

"Picnics? Oh, dear me, yes! We have a picnic almost every week. We take the pony carriage and carry our own provisions, and make a fire of sticks. Have you ever tried to boil a kettle in the open air? It is a terrible experience. First of all the wood is so damp that it won't light, and you get all smoked and dirty; then when it does begin to burn, and you put the kettle on the top, the whole thing collapses to the ground, and you have to begin again from the beginning. You prop it up with stones, and get everything started for the second time, and then the others come back from laying the table and say, `What! isn't the water boiling yet? Oh, you don't know how to light a fire! It is not properly laid. Let me show you!' and down comes the whole thing again. At the end of an hour the kettle boils, and the water is smoked! We always use it to wash our hands, and drink milk instead. This year I intend to use fire lighters."

"We have a proper tea basket for taking about with us," said one of the other girls. "The kettle hangs over a lamp which is protected from the draught, and you can have boiling water in ten minutes without any trouble. We always take it when we go on the river. I like boating picnics best of any."

"We go to the sea side for the whole of the holidays," said Ella Bennet, a big girl with rosy cheeks and long, brown hair; "Mother thinks the bathing does us so much good. I learnt to swim last year. An old fisherman rowed out in a boat. I had a strap fastened round my waist, and he held me up with a pole while I went puffing round and round. He tried to teach me to dive as well, but I was too nervous. One day I vowed I really would try. I climbed on to the edge of the boat six times over, while he held me, and showed me how to put out my hands, and each time I began to squeal, and jumped down again at the last moment. It was band day, so there were hundreds of people sitting on the shore, and they roared with laughter... Continue reading book >>

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