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From Anyhow stories by Lucy Lane Clifford.
Start of Story
was the clock all broken and spoilt, the little picture
upon its face could be seen no more ; and though it
sometimes struck a stray hour, it was with the tone
of a clock whose hours are numbered. And there
was the baby's high chair, but no little baby to sit in
it ; there was the cupboard on the wall, and never a
sweet loaf on its shelf ; and there were the broken
mugs, and the bits of bread tossed about, and the
greasy boards which the mother had knelt down to
scrub until they were white as snow. In the midst
of all stood the children, looking at the wreck they
had made, their hearts aching, their eyes blinded
with tears, and their poor little hands clasped to-
gether in their misery.
" Oh, what shall we do?" cried Blue-Eyes. " I wish
we had never seen the village girl and the nasty,
" Surely mother will come back," sobbed the
Turkey. " I am sure we shall die if she doesn't come
" I don't know what we shall do if the new mother
comes," cried Blue-Eyes. " I shall never, never like
any other mother. I don't know what we shall do if
that dreadful mother comes."
" We won't let her in," said the Turkey.
" But perhaps she'll walk in," sobbed Blue-Eyes.
Then Turkey stopped crying for a minute, to
think what should be done.
" We will bolt the door," she said, " and shut the
window ; and we won't take any notice when she
So they bolted the door, and shut the window, and
fastened it. And then, in spite of all they had said,
they felt naughty again, and longed after the little
man and woman they had never seen, far more than
after the mother who had loved them all their lives.
But then they did not really believe that their own
mother would not come back, or that any new mother
would take her place.
When it was dinner-time, they were very hungry,
but they could only find some stale bread, and they
had to be content with it.
" Oh, I wish we had heard the little woman's
secret," cried the Turkey ; " I wouldn't have cared
All through the afternoon they sat watching and
listening for fear of the new mother ; but they saw
and heard nothing of her, and gradually they became
less and less afraid lest she should come. Then they
thought that perhaps when it was dark their own
dear mother would come home ; and perhaps if they
asked her to forgive them she would. And then Blue-
Eyes thought that if their mother did come she would
be very cold, so they crept out at the back door
and gathered in some wood, and at last, for the
grate was wet, and it was a great deal of trouble to
manage it, they made a fire. When they saw the
bright fire burning, and the little flames leaping and
playing among the wood and coal, they began to be
happy again, and to feel certain that their own mother
would return; and the sight of the pleasant fire re-
minded them of all the times she had waited for
them to come from the post-office, and of how she
had welcomed them, and comforted them, and given
them nice warm tea and sweet bread, and talked to
them. Oh, how sorry they were they had been
naughty, and all for that nasty village girl! They
did not care a bit about the little man and woman
now, or want to hear the secret.
They fetched a pail of water and washed the floor;
they found some rag, and rubbed the tins till they
looked bright again, and, putting a footstool on a chair,
they got up on it very carefully and hung up the
things in their places ; and then they picked up the
broken mugs and made the room as neat as they
could, till it looked more and more as if the dear
mother's hands had been busy about it. They felt
more and more certain she would return, she and
the dear little baby together, and they thought they
would set the tea-things for her, just as she had so
often set them for her naughty children.
down the tea-tray, and got out the cups, and put the
kettle on the fire to boil, and made everything look
as home-like as they could. There was no sweet loaf
to put on the table, but perhaps the mother would
bring something from the village, they thought.
At last all was ready, and Blue-Eyes and the Turkey
washed their faces and their hands, and then sat and
waited, for of course they did not believe what the
village girl had said about their mother sailing
Suddenly, while they were sitting by the fire, they
heard a sound as of something heavy being dragged
along the ground outside, and then there was a loud
and terrible knocking at the door. The children felt
their hearts stand still. They knew it could not be
their own mother, for she would have turned the
handle and tried to come in without any knocking
" Oh, Turkey ! " whispered Blue-Eyes, " if it
should be the new mother, what shall we do ? "
" We won't let her in," whispered the Turkey, for
she was afraid to speak aloud, and again there came
a long and loud and terrible knocking at the door.
"What shall we do? oh, what shall we do?"
cried the children, in despair. " Oh, go away ! " they
called out. " Go away ; we won't let you in ; we will
never be naughty any more ; go away, go away ! "
But again there came a loud and terrible knocking.
"She'll break the door if she knocks so hard,"
" Go and put your back to it," whispered the
Turkey, " and I'll peep out of the window and try
to see if it is really the new mother."
So in fear and trembling Blue-Eyes put her back
against the door, and the Turkey went to the window,
and, pressing her face against one side of the frame,
She could just see a black satin poke
bonnet with a frill round the edge, and a long bony
arm carrying a black leather bag. From beneath
the bonnet there flashed a strange bright light, and
Turkey's heart sank and her cheeks turned pale, for
she knew it was the flashing of two glass eyes.
She crept up to Blue-Eyes. " It is it is it is !" she
whispered, her voice shaking with fear, "it is the
new mother ! She has come, and brought her luggage
in a black leather bag that is hanging on her arm !"
" Oh, what shall we do ? " wept Blue-Eyes ; and
again there was the terrible knocking.
" Come and put your back against the door too,
Turkey," cried Blue-Eyes ; " I am afraid it will break."
So together they stood with their two little backs
against the door. There was a long pause. They
thought perhaps the new mother had made up her
mind that there was no one at home to let her in,
and would go away, but presently the two children
heard through the thin wooden door the new mother
move a little, and then say to herself " I must
break open the door with my tail."
For one terrible moment all was still, but in it
the children could almost hear her lift up her tail,
and then, with a fearful blow, the little painted
door was cracked and splintered.
With a shriek the children darted from the spot
and fled through the cottage, and out at the back
door into the forest beyond. All night long they
stayed in the darkness and the cold, and all the next
day and the next, and all through the cold, dreary
days and the long dark nights that followed.
They are there still, my children. All through
the long weeks and months have they been there,
with only green rushes for their pillows and only
the brown dead leaves to cover them, feeding on the
wild strawberries in the summer, or on the nuts when
they hang green ; on the blackberries when they are
no longer sour in the autumn, and in the winter on the
little red berries that ripen in the snow.
about among the tall dark firs or beneath the great
trees beyond. Sometimes they stay to rest beside
the little pool near the copse where the ferns grow
thickest, and they long and long, with a longing that
is greater than words can say, to see their own dear
mother again, just once again, to tell her that they'll
be good for evermore just once again.
And still the new mother stays in the little
cottage, but the windows are closed and the doors
are shut, and no one knows what the inside looks like.
Now and then, when the darkness has fallen and
the night is still, hand in hand Blue-Eyes and the
Turkey creep up near to the home in which they
once were so happy, and with beating hearts they
watch and listen ; sometimes a blinding flash comes
through the window, and they know it is the light
from the new mother's glass eyes, or they hear a
strange muffled noise, and they know it is the sound
of her wooden tail as she drags it along the floor.