BLTC Press Titles

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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The giant-killer; or, The battle which all must fight, by A.L.O.E.

by Charlotte Maria Tucker



The next morning Aleck and his sisters met their mother in the breakfast parlour before their guests had left their sleeping apartment. Mr. Roby was still engaged in his study, having as usual risen at five that he might not leave one of his various duties neglected

"Mamma," said Bertha, after having received her morning's kiss, "I am afraid that we shall not like these Probyns at all."

"It is too early to decide upon their characters," replied Mrs. Roby, "we must wait tall we know them a little better."

"I think Constantine a very disagreeable boy," said Bertha; "he has a sort of—I don't know what sort of manner; but it is not in the least like Aleck's. It is as though he despised lis for being girls; and he kicks his feet against the legs of the table, and never keeps still for a moment, and it fidgets me so,—I can't bear it!" the little girl's brow was all wrinkled over with frowns.

"And he's so naughty," said Laura, resting her arms on her mother's knee, and looking up gravely into her face. "He pulled the cow's tail, and would not leave off, and when we told him that it hurt her, he only laughed!"

"You should have seen how the boys quarrelled for the syllabub," continued Bertha, "pulling and struggling till half of it was thrown over between them."

"And they never let me have one drop!" added Laura, "I think that they are shocking bad boys!"

"So they are !" said Aleck, as he paused in his task of cutting the loaf for breakfast, "they never read their Bibles before going to bed, nor said their prayers neither, as far as I could tell." Aleck did not add,—indeed he did not consider, that although he himself had not omitted to kneel down, as he had been taught from his childhood to do, his thoughts had been so much taken up with his new companions, and drawing a contrast between their conduct and his own, that not a feeling of real devotion had given life to his heartless prayer.

"Not say their prayers!" cried Laura, looking more shocked than before, "did you ever think that there were such wicked boys!"

"And such stupid ones too," rejoined Aleck, when I spoke to them about their lessons, Adolphus said, with a great yawn, that learning was a bore." Laura raised her eyebrows with an expression of arch surprise. "I offered to lend him my account of the famous Cook. 'Oh! I know all about him already,' said he, 'his name was Soyer, and he made a capital sauce!'" Here two merry dimples appeared on the little child's cheeks, and deepened as her brother proceeded; "and when I asked him if he did not like Caesar, he thought that I was speaking of a dog, and inquired if he was one that would not bite!"

This overcame Laura's gravity altogether, she burst into such a merry ringing laugh, that neither Bertha nor Aleck could help joining her heartily, and even Mrs. Roby who was meditating a little lecture to her children on too hastily judging of others, found it difficult to keep her countenance.

The entrance of the Probyns stopped the mirth of which they had been the subject. Breakfast passed over, then came hours of study which served to strengthen Aleck in his opinion that his companions were very stupid boys. Adolphus appeared the dullest of the two; not that he naturally was so, but he had always been too lazy to learn. He stumbled at every word in his reading, spelt pheasant with an f, and thumb without a b, could not see any difference between a noun and a verb, and confused the Bed Sea with the Black. Poor Mr. Roby, accustomed to an intelligent pupil, stifled a quiet sigh; and Aleck, with a feeling of vast superiority, could not hide the mingled surprise, amusement, and contempt, which the boy's ignorance called up in his own mind The Probyns noticed the smile on his face, and it stung them more than a real injury would have done; while indulgiiig his secret pride, Aleck was sowing in the hearts of his companions bitter feelings of resentment and hate.

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