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hastened afterwards to her own room, it was with a mind so attuned to rational enjoyment, that she scarcely noticed the sweet golden rays which with a fitful brilliancy began now to stream forth over the landscape.
Lilian and Mabel were the children of their uncle's dearly-loved and only sister, who died after a short illness when the first-born was just twelve years old, and the fair laughing infant scarcely three. The nearest relative then spared to them was Mr. Harland, at that time Incumbent of a church in Cornwall, and absorbed in ministering to the wants of a large mining population. More than a quarter of a century was consecrated to this charge, but at its close enfeebled health warned him that for the spiritual interests of his people it was needful that they should be transferred to a more vigorous guardian. Forced to resign Penjenick, he felt thankful to accept the living of S. Mary in the Scilly Islands, where the work was easier, and comprised within a
He was not ignorant that it would be an isolated life for his young nieces, but he resolved their exile should be softened by all loving expedients within his power. They should have frequent guests, every indulgence he could possibly desire for them, and a long visit to the main land every year. Still at the best it must be a dull change for those accustomed to the genial hospitality of Cornwall, and the multiplied resources of so populous a neighbourhood. This difficulty had caused Mr. Harland many anxious musings, but it seemed the sole objection to a plan otherwise excellent, so after mature thought, and not without sundry misgivings, the Vicar and his household left Penjenick, then arrayed in its spring verdure, and removed to their more primitive abode at Hugh Town, towards the close of April.
You seem so busy, May Bird, that I should not have disturbed you had the evening been less beautiful. But, my dear child !” and Lilian's tone betrayed amusement, “here is enough employment for Midsummer day, and now the afternoons close in so early.”
The remark was not uncalled for, as a glance at the round table near which Mabel sat, sufficed to show. At one end was an open
workbox, but its tidy contents would have proved to any one acquainted with the owner that it had on this occasion served as the incentive and reminder, rather than the actual handmaiden of industry. A Latin Missal and a Spanish Testament lay side by side, while the profusion
of blank books of every size and hue, was only less bewildering than the piles of MSS. scattered about after a fashion which might have set even the wand of Fairy Order at defiance. Mabel looked
up with a bright flush into her sister's face. “You have come just in time to help me, Lilla, for I have been puzzling over this sentence till my brain is weary.”
“ And, as usual, trying to hold fast the truant thoughts by fixing them on paper,” rejoined Lilian smiling. “Well, I believe you are right there; but tell me what is this perplexity ?”
“It occurs in a sermon which I have just finished reading,” answered Mabel. “ The preacher, taking for his text, “Redeem the time,' declares God has not given to any man a moment more than is required for his appointed task, and hence when people waste a minute of their lives, some fraction of their work must be for ever left undone."
“The truth is clearly stated, but the idea that it embodies is not new to me,” said Lilian.
“I am not sure it is true, that is just the point !” cried Mabel eagerly. “I think that every year the busiest people lose much time, through no fault of their own."
I presume they really are responsible in most cases, although the fact may not be plain at first sight,” replied Lilian. you spend a minute now in putting on your bonnet, then we can watch the sunset from Penninis Head.”
Mabel would have liked better to remain within doors, and pursue her task. She chanced that evening to be in a writing vein, and knew but too well from experience that if the ideas now within her grasp were once set free, she might for ever lose the power of recalling them. But Mabel's character with all its failings was unselfish, and where her sister was concerned, few sacrifices seemed too great, or, what is yet more rare, too small. Perhaps the struggle might have been less easy had she known that Lilian felt as much averse to the proposed walk as herself, being already overtired, and induced to make the effort only lest her young sister's health should suffer from too close confinement.
“How much time might be saved by keeping things in order, my dear little moralist ?” asked Lilian, as she began to classify the scattered MSS.
“ Please lock them all together in that desk,” said Mabel, “and we can assort them the next rainy afternoon.”
“ But suppose
“There will be quite enough to occupy us then,” said Lilian. “I may wish to profit by this Essay on the Eastern Church,'' and she collected the stray slips of paper whereon Mabel's private views had been outpoured with small regard to style, or choice of language.
“Well, you have never lost a link of any subject yet,” pursued the latter, as she seized her pencils. “No one else should be trusted at my secretary, Lilla, but I will lend you the key whenever you desire it.”
May Bird looked quite magnanimous as she conferred this privilege, but the licence granted was a safe one, judging from the care with which Lilian pressed out the blotted“ links,” smoothing their margins with a touch as gentle as her hand could have bestowed upon the shining tresses of the writer.
“There lies a sheet you had forgotten,” exclaimed Mabel, when the sketch-book was at last found, and she could invent no more excuses for delay.
Lilian stooped to take up the crumpled fragment, and read out its headings with a running commentary.
“ Hints on Parochial Work, compiled from Catholic sources ; Sisterhoods, Choirs, Home Missions, and School Festivals ; Use of Pictorial Instruction for the Young; at this rate we may hope Scillonia will be reformed! By the way, May Bird, put some picture cards into your basket : they will be useful if we should return through Old Town.” Mabel blushed at this very natural
“ You ask what is impossible, Lilla,” she said at last. “The cards are not ready for distribution; I have had no time to arrange them since we landed.”
Yet you would have that large box uncorded the first evening, though we felt so weary," observed Lilian in a tone of very mild remonstrance.
but whilst so engaged I came across a book of Helmore's Carols, and forgot the pictures in deciding whether we should teach the children 'Earthly Friends' or 'Gabriel's Message,' for next Christmas."
"Well, are you coming now?” asked Lilian, wistfully, for Mabel stood quite still, absorbed in thought. “That question can be settled in our ramble. We will try both airs when we get far away upon the
“Far from Scillonia, I suppose you mean," said Mabel, laughingly, “for we could walk around the Island before tea-time.”
“Scarcely, I think,” objected Lilian, who was noted for the accuracy of her statements.
“We have, however, made the circuit more than once,” persisted Mabel, “though it certainly took up the best part of a July day. Just fancy being only able to walk nine miles! Yet S. Mary is the largest island of the group.”
“Everything is comparative," said Lilian. “ When we return from a cruise among the off-isles our own territory seems quite vast, and Hugh Town such a grand Metropolis that I am filled with admiration."
“I presume by its civilized and luxurious aspect,” observed Mabel rather scornfully, as turning from the primitive and quaint little parade with its grey houses, they went onward through what seemed a dirty suburb, but which was in fact the High Street, where a few shops corresponding to the country “stores,” so common in America, were to be found.
“One comfort is, that we shall not be tempted to extravagance," said Lilian, cheerfully, “and I have not yet learned how to economize as we should do with Uncle's reduced income. Do you know, May Bird, I miss Lawson in a way I never should have believed possible. Yet she was an expensive housekeeper, and it is well she did not care to follow us. Even at the same cost I had much rather learn now to be independent."
“Lawson showed her good sense by keeping out of Scilly," began Mabel, but a glance at Lilian's sweet colourless face checked the repining words. Affection triumphing over impatience, she commenced a recital of her late discovery that Hugh Town owes its name to the lookout, or“ huer,” who is yearly stationed on a tall cliff to announce the shoal of pilchards, a small fish which, in these regions, furnishes one of the chief sources of wealth. Lilian was really interested, chiefly because the welcome visitants are no less eagerly expected annually on the Cornish coast. The same power of association made her the last shop to inspect the "foggin," a peculiarly coarse sea-biscuit, which forms the staple diet of the hardy fishers of West Cornwall. There too were golden blocks of saffron-cake, unsweetened and halfbaked, but with a sprinkling of raisins over the moist dough. This tasteless and unwholesome compound, owing perhaps to its bright yellow hue, enjoys unbounded popularity among the Cornish fisher children.
Lilian and Mabel had now left the village, and though they still pur
pause before sued their
way it was with slow steps, and a secret wish that the ordeal of exercise were ended. Such an aversion often follows a week's sojourn in the house, above all if there be no especial object in the walk proposed. Every nook of their small domain had been explored, and they did not yet feel at home among the islanders, who indeed seemed a distinct race from the simple-minded people of Penjenick. Here was no library where they might choose fresh books; no friendly neighbours
upon whom to call; no hope at every turn of meeting well-known faces, and exchanging those frank words of cordial kindliness for which we pine with heart-sick yearning, when far severed from the scenes of youth. Then, too, the want of space was now attended by a sense of almost physical discomfort. Even Lilian sometimes felt like an imprisoned bird, and quite agreed in Mabel's declaration that S. Mary's seemed like a huge vessel drifting in mid-ocean.
Wrapt each in her reflections they proceeded silently, mounting a steep hill by the tangled footpath which led to a windmill lately planted on its summit. The view thence commanded was extensive, and Lilian as she gazed over the rocky isles could not help wondering what would be its winter aspect, since the colouring was so subdued even amid the richest glow of August. The track next wound through a chain of miniature enclosures, some of which formed green pasture lands, others a natural mosaic, where the ripening grain mingled in sheets of gold and silver, or a patch of bearded barley nodded in the breeze. All was, however, on a scale which might have suited the renowned kingdom of Liliput. Beyond these elfin boundaries, the sisters entered on a peat moss, with dark granite boulders thickly strewn over its surface. The most lofty seaward point of this strange region is known as Penninis Head, and a scene more essentially Druidic can be scarcely found in Britain. Making a bold curve from this central promontory,
eastward to Blue Cam, the intervening space marked by a line of castellated rocks, which seem as the out-lying fortresses upreared by giant architects to guard the entrance of some grim antediluvian citadel. The cavern and cliffs are nowhere very elevated, yet the coast line appears more impressive from this very circumstance. Here are no precipices around which the white waves boil and surge hundreds of feet beneath the gazer, who shrinks back with giddy brain from their last verge. But at Penninis one may descend to the water's edge, and wander in the very midst of these colossal fragments, forcing a way through narrow crevices, plunging into deep stony valleys and
the moor sweeps