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Great Uncle Hoot-Toot   By: (1839-1921)

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Author of "The Palace in the Garden," "'Carrots': Just a Little Boy," "The Cuckoo Clock," Etc.

Illustrated by Gordon Browne, E. J. Walker, Lizzie Lawson, J. Bligh, and Maynard Brown.

Published Under the Direction of the Committee of General Literature and Education Appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Northumberland Avenue, Charing Cross, W.C.; 43, Queen Victoria Street, E.C. Brighton: 135, North Street. New York: E. & J. B. Young and Co.

[Illustration: FRANCES AND ELSA.]


"... what we have we prize not to the worth Whiles we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost, Why then we rack the value." Much Ado about Nothing.



"That's Geoff, I'm sure," said Elsa; "I always know his ring. I do hope " and she stopped and sighed a little.

"What?" said Frances, looking up quickly.

"Oh, nothing particular. Run down, Vic, dear, and get Geoff to go straight into the school room. Order his tea at once. I don't want him to come upstairs just now. Mamma is so busy and worried with those letters."

[Illustration: VICKY.]

Vic, a little girl of nine, with long fair hair and long black legs, and a pretty face with a bright, eager expression, needed no second bidding. She was off almost before Elsa had finished speaking.

"What a good child she is!" said Frances. "What a clever, nice boy she would have made! And if Geoff had been a girl, perhaps he would have been more easily managed."

"I don't know," said Elsa. "Perhaps if Vicky had been a boy she would have been spoilt and selfish too."

"Elsa," said Frances, "I think you are rather hard upon Geoff. He is like all boys. Everybody says they are more selfish than girls, and then they grow out of it."

"They grow out of showing it so plainly, perhaps," replied Elsa, rather bitterly. "But you contradict yourself, Frances. Just a moment ago you said what a much nicer boy Vic would have made. All boys aren't like Geoff. Of course, I don't mean that he is really a bad boy; but it just comes over me now and then that it is a shame he should be such a tease and worry, boy or not. When mamma is anxious, and with good reason, and we girls are doing all we can, why should Geoff be the one we have to keep away from her, and to smooth down, as it were? It's all for her sake, of course; but it makes me ashamed, all the same, to feel that we are really almost afraid of him. There now " And she started up as the sound of a door, slammed violently in the lower regions, reached her ears.

But before she had time to cross the room, Vicky reappeared.

"It's nothing, Elsa," the child began eagerly. "Geoff's all right; he's not cross. He only slammed the door at the top of the kitchen stair because I reminded him not to leave it open."

"You might have shut it yourself, rather than risk a noise to night," said Elsa. "What was he doing at the top of the kitchen stair?"

Vicky looked rather guilty.

"He was calling to Phoebe to boil two eggs for his tea. He says he is so hungry. I would have run up to tell you; but I thought it was better than his teasing mamma about letting him come in to dinner."

Elsa glanced at Frances.

"You see," her glance seemed to say.

"Yes, dear," she said aloud to the little sister, "anything is better than that. Run down again, Vicky, and keep him as quiet as you can."

"Would it not be better, perhaps," asked Frances, rather timidly, "for one of us to go and speak to him, and tell him quietly about mamma having had bad news?"

"He wouldn't rest then till he had heard all about it from herself," said Elsa. "Of course he'd be sorry for her, and all that, but he would only show it by teasing."

It was Frances's turn to sigh, for in spite of her determination to see everything and everybody in the best possible light, she knew that Elsa was only speaking the truth about Geoffrey.

Half an hour later the two sisters were sitting at dinner with their mother... Continue reading book >>

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