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who would be only too grateful for a chance of coming here once or twice in the year even. And you say these people can visit it now and always, when they like?”
"If they desire it, yes."
“ But if it does not make them happy or contented, why do they come, dearie ? they could surely stop away." (Miss Dot was very persevering in her inquiries when she wanted to find out anything.)
"True, they could, yet they do not choose. It is their life by day."
« Their life!” re-echoed the child in amazement.
“ Yes, little one; that which to them constitutes it. At night they lead another, though a similar one in many respects; except that here they have the fresh air, the green trees, in much it is the same, —always gaiety, always excitement. It is their world, their Life of Fashion.” “ But they must surely sicken of it soon ? "
Some do; many more apparently not, for you see the same faces by day and by 'night. If they do tire, they rarely give it up. They know not where to turn for another. Besides, the life often suits them.”
“ It draws their thoughts away from other things; lulls those consciences they think rest and repose would only lay bare to them, and that they do not want."
"But is it not very sad to think that amidst all these beautiful surroundings there should be so many as you say, dear Great-heart?"
“ It is sad, indeed, love ; but I fear it will be so always, until the end of time.”
There was a long pause. Presently Dot said,
“ Is there no one to step in and rescue them, to make them think?"
“ That is it, little one; if they would but think," replied the man, and his face became more grave
and thoughtful. “But they will not, cannot, dare not.”
Dot mused, in sadness and pity for these people.
“I am very sorry for this, very. Yet, tell me, dear, they are not all as you say."
“I do tell you so, with all my heart. They are not. There are many very good and true; but sitting here to show these people to you, knowing so well the lives they lead, I cannot do otherwise than say that the good are the smaller proportion. I grieve to tell it, yet it is the truth.”
“What makes you so sure, Great-heart? “That which alone can—the trial, experience of it.” So
you have tried this life of fashion ? " “ Yes, for a time. To find it, alas! a hollow mockery, delusion, snare. Yes, I have plunged into it, clutched at the fruit of pleasure, sought in dissipation and luxury the cure for sorrow and remorse, to find the antidote a worthless one. You may have noticed many here this day who have recognized me?" (The child had done so, and called to mind now how many had seemed surprised to see Greatheart there, in that place.) “They were my friends, acquaintances then ; yet hardly now.”
After a while, Dot resumed,
“ Yours seem bitter words to use against so seeming fair a world as this."
“They are bitter, my child. Yet can I find no others to speak to you truly of it. Reckon these around you up—both sexes. Strip them of their earthly vanity, beauty,—call it what you may ; look into their hearts and read them as they are : humbugs, hypocrites. How do they appear before you ? Beautiful to look upon, decked in glorious apparel, gay, happy, careless. But what would you say if I told you many were mere beggars, paupers ; that the charms with which they entice are filched from art, the clothes upon their backs unpaid for, ever will be; that others you do not see here, toil and suffer to keep these beings going thus, in this world perchance never to find comfort or reward. Yet, alas ! with most, not all, of them this is the case. Not hypocrites alone, but liars too, to themselves and
others. For it is a lie, child, to appear before the world as one is not,-a deceit, a fraud. It is imposture to so poison the mind with would-be pleasure, so drug its senses that it hardly knows what it is. Mark you well, they are but human beings, as you for the time being, I for always, here. Why then all this senseless stifling of what is natural ? why this hollow pretence of so many? Why, indeed! How can I justify it to you? Ah! if people would but pause and think!”
“ As you did, Great-heart?"
The man started. He laid his hand on the child's flaxen head as he answered sadly,—
As I did, little one.” “And gave up this folly ?” “ And gave it up.
But I may say that as a part excuse for
trial of it I had tried all other means for quiet and failed, that I plunged into it from a dire necessity, as I thought. But that is something I do not care to talk of.”
The poor man's face here became so troubled and careworn, so much as if some old, buried memory had been re-awakened within him, that good-natured little Dot saw, with childish perception, that it would be unkind to ask him to go on, at any rate then. So she only pressed his hand and said,
"Perhaps some day you will tell me more, dear?”
He sighed and answered, “ Perhaps.”
She was sitting dumfounded, bewildered at all she saw ; almost too excited to speak even, with eyes, mouth, ears all open, taking in those wonderful sights and sounds. Presently she turned her head, and clapping her hands, cried eagerly,
"Is it not all lovely, lovely? What have you two been talking about all this while ? You have missed no end of sights.” "No, sister dear," replied Dot, with a tinge of
in her voice, we have seen all worth seeing.”
“All worth seeing !” scornfully re-echoed the elder child. Why, there is loads more further on. Will you not take us along the path further, Greatheart ?”
"I think there is no need, dear Trixie. You will see and hear little more than you do here.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the child disappointed, “I did think we should go as far as the water which sparkles yonder."
“ We thought of coming here this evening, you know, when the Park is fuller.”
"Fuller, that will do !” she cried out with glee, From which Great-heart augured that he would have a greater difficulty in directing this elder child's