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Little Folks (Septemeber 1884) A Magazine for the Young   By:

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Transcriber's Note: Phrases printed in italics in the original version are indicated in this electronic version by (underscore). A list of amendments are given at the end of the book.


A Magazine for the Young.







By the Author of "Pen's Perplexities," "Margaret's Enemy," "Maid Marjory," &c.


When Elsie awoke in the morning, after at last falling into a dull, heavy sleep, she had not an opportunity of seeing what sort of weather it was. There was no light in their rude sleeping place, except the dim one that came through the aperture from the other room. She listened, and hearing sounds of life below, she hastily rose, and creeping down the ladder, went in search of her frock.

Mrs. Ferguson was already up, and busy. Elsie asked for her frock, but Mrs. Ferguson told her it was not dry, and she had better make what shift she could with the old gown she had given her on the previous night. As she could nowhere see her dress, she was obliged reluctantly to follow the woman's advice.

To her delight, she perceived that the morning was bright and warm after the rain, and she fully resolved, as soon as their things were decently dry, to be on their road once more.

In the meantime, however, Duncan's jacket had also disappeared. She could get nothing out of Mrs. Ferguson about it, except that it was drying, and Duncan had to put up with a cotton jacket, which Mrs. Ferguson stripped from her own boy's back to give him.

This mystery as to the whereabouts of their clothes very greatly annoyed Elsie, who tried in vain to make Mrs. Ferguson say where they were. She pretended not to understand what Elsie meant, though Elsie felt quite sure all that was feigned.

Their breakfast consisted of some thin watery porridge, without bread, sugar, or milk.

When their scanty meal was ended, Mrs. Ferguson ordered them to go out and help Sandy Ferguson, her husband, who was waiting outside for them. At first Elsie felt disposed to refuse, but on second thoughts, she obeyed. Sandy Ferguson was on the spot, his wife in the kitchen, with the cottage door open, their two boys about here, there, and everywhere.

To get away unperceived was out of the question, besides the serious matter of losing their garments, which Elsie had not yet been able to discover.

So they had to work away in company with the two ragged urchins. Elsie was boiling with rage, but she hid it as well as she could; and as for poor Duncan, he worked away without uttering a word, but with only an occasional inquiring glance at Elsie, which was infinitely touching.

Elsie soon perceived that there would be no chance of their pursuing their journey that day. Mrs. Ferguson protested that she was getting their things dried as fast as she could, and would say nothing more; but Elsie had a keen misgiving that for some reason or other she did not mean to let them go.

Was it possible that she knew anything of their mother, and was thinking to send them back? or did she only mean to keep them there, and make them work for her family?

At times Elsie felt a terrible fear creeping over her that these dreadful people meant to steal or hurt her and Duncan. "Perhaps she wants our clothes," Elsie thought, "for she knows we have no more pennies!"

So she took the first opportunity she could find to tell Mrs. Ferguson that they didn't think they could wait any longer for their things to get dry; they could easily get some more at Killochrie. She said this with an air of indifference. She would put her jacket on over her stuff petticoat, and that would do very well. Duncan could wear the cotton jacket, and leave his tweed one behind.

But all this made no impression on Mrs. Ferguson. She only laughed grimly to herself; and as their things were not forthcoming, Elsie might as well have spared her generosity... Continue reading book >>

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