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Project Gutenberg's When the Birds Begin to Sing, by Winifred Graham This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: When the Birds Begin to Sing Author: Winifred Graham Illustrator: Harold Piffard Release Date: August 4, 2008 [EBook #26186] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WHEN THE BIRDS BEGIN TO SING *** Produced by Al Haines "The vicar's wife would have a fit if I lounged like this." See page 4 WHEN THE BIRDS BEGIN TO SING. A Novel BY WINIFRED GRAHAM, AUTHOR OF "ON THE DOWN GRADE," &c., &c. WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS BY HAROLD PIFFARD. LONDON: C. ARTHUR PEARSON LTD., HENRIETTA STREET, W.C. 1897 CONTENTS. CHAP. I. AND WHEN LOVE SPEAKS II. "IMPARADIS'D IN ONE ANOTHER'S ARMS."—Milton III. "GOD MADE THE WOMAN FOR THE MAN."—Tennyson IV. LIFE IS A JEST V. "THE FLY THAT SIPS TREACLE IS LOST IN THE SWEETS" VI. LIKE ONE THAT ON A LONESOME ROAD DOST WALK IN FEAR AND DREAD VII. THE SHADOWS RISE AND FALL VIII. KIND HEARTS ARE MORE THAN CORONETS. IX. HEART SICK AND WEARY WITH THE JOURNEY'S FRET X. FALSER THAN ALL FANCY FATHOMS XI. IF WE ONLY KNOW! IF WE ONLY KNOW! XII. "TO-MORROW, AND TO-MORROW, AND TO-MORROW."—Shakespeare XIII. "IF NEED, TO DIE—NOT LIVE."—Charles Kingsley XIV. IN CLOUDS OF SILENCE FOLDED OUT OF SIGHT XV. "AH, FOR SOME RETREAT DEEP IN YONDER SHINING ORIENT."—Tennyson XVI. OH, LOVE! IN SUCH A WILDERNESS AS THIS XVII. "WHERE THERE AIN'T NO TEN COMMANDMENTS."—Rudyard Kipling XVIII. LET US BE OPEN AS THE DAY XIX. THE IDEAL! DIM VANITIES OF DREAMS BY NIGHT XX. LIFE IS THORNY, AND YOUTH IS VAIN XXI. "BY A ROUTE OBSCURE AND LONELY, HAUNTED BY ILL ANGELS ONLY."—E. A. Poe. XXII. "NO FOOTSTEP STIRRED—THE HATED WORLD ALL SLEPT, SAVE ONLY THEE AND ME. (OH, HEAVEN! OH, GOD!)" XXIII. "OH, I DEFY THEE, HELL, TO SHOW, ON BEDS OF FIRE THAT BURN BELOW, A DEEPER WOE."—E. A. Poe LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. "THE VICAR'S WIFE WOULD HAVE A FIT IF I LOUNGED LIKE THIS" . . . Frontispiece "LOOK! THERE IT GOES." SALUTING THE OLD PICTURES ON THE WALL WITH MOCK COURTESY THE DINING-ROOM DOOR OPENS, AND PHILIP ROCHE STANDS BEFORE THEM "MR. AND MRS. GREBBY!" SHE COVERS HER FACE WITH HER HANDS "MAY I SEE THAT PHOTOGRAPH?" "WHY, IT'S NEVER MR. ROCHE!" SHE EXCLAIMS SHE RUSHES TO THE DOOR WITH A WILD CRY ELEANOR STAGGERS ON BREATHLESSLY UP THE HILL THE CRUEL FINGERS PRESS WITH DEADLY FORCE BIG TOMBO BOWS ASSENT BEARING TENDERLY THE LIMP BODY OF THE TERRIER "WHAT VILLAIN HAS KILLED MY HORSE?" SHE STEALS INTO THE VERANDAH AND WATCHES PHILIP THROWS BACK HIS COAT, AND SHE SEES THE SHIRT BENEATH IT IS SPLASHED WITH BLOOD WHEN THE BIRDS BEGIN TO SING. CHAPTER I. AND WHEN LOVE SPEAKS. She was certainly very pretty, and just then she looked prettier than usual, for the sharp run had brought a more vivid colour to the cheek, and an added sparkle to the eye. She was laughing, too—the rogue—as well she might, for had she not brought her right hand swiftly down upon his left ear when he had chased her, caught her, and deliberately and maliciously kissed her, and did he not now look red and foolish, and apparently repentant? But let me start from the beginning, and tell you how it all came about. Eleanor, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, is as fresh and beautiful in the eyes of Philip Roche as the field flowers whose heads fall fading beneath his tread while he follows her through the long grass. He has watched her playing with the innocent school children—little more than a child herself—and then, with the calm assurance that to him is second nature, joins the merry throng unasked. The children greet him eagerly, after scrambling for a handful of silver from the stranger's pocket, for is it not the great, grand treat of all the year? "Come and play wif us," lisps a little maiden of five summers, whom Philip tosses on his shoulder with good-natured ease. He has a way of winning the confidence of children. "What is the game?" "Kiss in the ring!" cries a small boyish voice at his elbow. The stranger's eyes twinkle as he watches the lovely unknown Eleanor arranging a circle. Placing his tiny friend again on her feet, and taking her brother's grimy hand, Philip Roche joins the hilarious pastime. Eleanor glances across the ring well-pleasedly, guessing that her dainty figure and deep-fringed eyes have attracted him thither. A moment later she trips lightly round the chain of children, her heart beating higher as her feet approach the man's tall figure. Shall she? Shall she? No time to consider, as the handkerchief falls from her hand upon Philip's shoulder. Quick as lightning she flies away—faster—faster—through the buttercups, while he pursues, nearer—nearer—and then the strong arms arrest her career, and the inevitable kiss occurs. Eleanor, her cheeks aflame, frees herself from his audacious caress, and half laughing, half indignant, walks hastily away. But after their unconventional introduction Philip is not easily to be foiled. "You are offended," he cries penitently. "It was only the game; won't you forgive me, Miss——?" "Grebby," raising her eyes and pausing. "Eleanor Grebby," she continues with a prim little air that is quite unnatural, then laughing spontaneously: "You see, I was rather taken aback at first, Mr.——" "Roche—Philip Roche, at your service." "So now we know each other," holding out her hand. He grasps it eagerly—such a warm slim hand! "It was rather a nice introduction, wasn't it?" Philip thinks how amazingly pretty Eleanor is, as she assents with deepening colour. "There! I knew it would come!" she cries, with a thought for her new poppy-bedizened hat. "What?" asks Philip, still feasting his eyes on the girl's fair physique, and unobservant of the gathering darkness overhead. "Why, the rain, of course. We shall get wet." "Only a summer shower." "Yes, but as disastrous in its effects as any other downpour. I shall make for that barn in the next field; the children have all mysteriously vanished." "I am dreadfully afraid of the wet," declares Philip, pretending to shiver. "May I accompany you?" He is still retaining her hand as they run together towards the haven of "shelter. "How nice of it to rain!" he gasps, applauding the accommodating skies. "Let me make you comfortable," heaping together a pile of hay for her to sit upon. "Now tell me all about yourself." Eleanor sinks down on the soft couch, looking somewhat wistfully through the open door of the barn. "I am easily explained. I live here always. My father is a farmer, and I feed the chickens, dust the house, and teach in the Sunday-school. Only fancy what an exciting life, Mr. Roche. Doesn't it take your breath away?" At the thought of her own humdrum existence Eleanor laughs again with a return of that superabundant vitality which is hers by nature. "Then once or perhaps twice a year I am invited to tea at the Vicarage, and I sit up straight in a high-backed
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