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thousands are away.
When for some the ball rolls
most merrily, for others it is motionless."
Here Trixie broke in abruptly,—
"Look, look at that beautiful creature!"
She had turned her head round, and was staring with might and main into a brougham that crept slowly along by their side. In it sat a figure that was certainly, at first glance, and to inexperienced eyes, gorgeously attractive, until you saw its face. Dressed in the perfection of fashion, in lovely satin of delicate tint, on its head a bonnet of gauzy texture, with the plumage of some rare bird therein, the arms encased in gloves of purest white and of abnormal length, the neck of dazzling purity and much bejewelled. And the face?
"Of such, as God gave that woman, there is none," Great-heart told the children; and bade them, sternly for him, look away. She was not such an one as they must gaze at.
Trixie opened her mouth and eyes in amazement, and of course sought an explanation. But Dot whispered to her,—
"I think she must be painted, dear; she is so very brilliant.”
It was so. This creature could not be content with those charms bestowed, and not ungenerously, upon her by nature; she must needs "assist" them thus!
"But surely this cannot attract people?" persisted Trixie.
"Some it does," answered Great-heart, sadly.
"It is sickening," said Dot.
Great-heart would not talk more about it. He simply said they must not look any more, or think about it. Then he gently turned their heads aside, and showed them healthier sights amongst the riders. About this time, and when many were leaving for their dinners and subsequent engagements, there rode into the Park some it was indeed a pleasure to look at, those who came for the real enjoyment of that delightful pastime of riding, not for show; plenty of girls, not "out" yet, but would be soon; also dear little flaxen-haired children, who would not be "out" for a long while to come. How they enjoyed their scamper up and down the Row, unfettered as yet by the trammels of fashion. Sometimes they had brothers with them, at other fathers, who relished the ride as much as they did. Parents escaped from business to snatch an hour thus ere the day closed in.
But this short study of life in the Park for the children had to come to an end, like everything else does. Already the place was thinning perceptibly. Great-heart told his pupils they must be off now. He was inexorable as to early hours for
them. Besides, his dinner-time was approaching, and he had some friends coming to share it with him.
So, reluctantly on the part of Trixie and Dot, they rose and left, retracing their steps to Lowther Street. As was their wont, the three had a quiet talk before the little ones were put to rest.
Amongst much else of interest and service to them, Great-heart said,
"It is possible that in my anxiety to teach and to shape your thoughts aright, dear children, I may have seemed to you too unkindly in my censurings, too severe in my strictures, this day. Should this have been the case, it is only so by reason of my earnestness in the matter, in the fear lest your inexperienced senses might not grasp the true character of those you met, or accept as pure that which is but dross. They must forgive me, too, if at times I have been harsh to them to be kind to you."
Trixie and Dot seemed to understand this. At any rate they knew, and that was the chief thing, that all their friend had told them was for their good in all sincerity, and had come straight from his heart. Of course there was much still that was very, very strange to them. Great-heart kissed and blessed the little ones, and left them. They, tired out by the unwonted excitement, soon slipped off into the peaceful dreamland of oblivion.
THE CHILDREN PROCEED EASTWARD.
HAVING spent so long a time in the west the
day previously, Great-heart proposed on the following morning to his little visitors that they should bend their steps eastward and see whether they could find anything in that quarter for interest and study. Of course the children were delighted at the idea; all would be new to them. There was a short, friendly lecture ere starting.
"Yesterday, little ones, you endeavoured to learn something to carry back with you from the pleasureground of fashion and idleness. Was it not so?"
They said they had tried to gather as much experience as they could for their future good. Dot was quite sure she had benefited by the visit to the Park. Trixie thought she would like "another long day in that lovely place," to which Great-heart replied with a smile,—
"All in good time, my dear." Then he resumed,
kept going so
"To-day we propose exploring the work-a-day world, from which the one you saw takes in a great degree its existence. I shall hope to show you some toilers soon, without whom that merry round of pleasure and luxury you have gazed upon would hardly be Yesterday, for the most part, we saw the lazy drones; to-day you will behold the busy working bees. You will also no doubt meet a good many of the same faces, those belonging to the later comers; you will have an opportunity of studying them and seeing if they look different in these other and sterner lives they lead. I shall also hope to show you some of the humbler middle-class people you have as yet not met, but who are none the less good or worth the looking at, believe me. Perhaps some of the very poorest, too, whose lives are of the saddest, one ceaseless struggle for bread, of whose very existence, I grieve to tell it you, many of those gaudy butterflies you have seen so recently are ignorant. Will it be agreeable to you to come and pick up a few crumbs of knowledge from these sources, little ones?"
Both the children were eager to begin at once. So presently off they went, turning to the left this time, to reach in due course that part of the great "where merchants most do congregate."