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to them than the idea that any sunshine was lacking to their life because they were a poor lady's children. Not to desire things which only money could buy she must have taught them, for they never did; and yet it was not by any dull admonition, but by her own exquisite example of sweet and gentle contentment.
This I must say I have never known any children whose home seemed quite so happy as ours, and I have never known any, of anything like our social class, whose childhood was so poor, as far as money goes. We always had a home; though for all the years I can remember, till I was a boy of twelve, it was not a house nor a cottage, but only a cheap lodging: nor had she many things, then, such as the poorest gentry often have, wherewith to give the little rooms an air of refinement. Her own refinement made any place in which she had to live what no treasured heirloom could have made it; and her gentle dignity and cheerfulness never let any want of convenience or even comfort appear. The one room that for a long time had to serve for day-nursery and dining-room and sitting-room, no one could ever enter without knowing that it was a lady's home,
where she was happy and made her boys happy, and was ready to make her visitors happy, too.
Nor do I think her guests ever complained to themselves if Mrs. Burscough's children were present, as often they had to be; not that she had preached us into good manners and pretty behaviour; she was her own sermon, and idiotic indeed must have been the child who failed to learn its lesson.
Just as she never talked to us of money, and yet made us cheerful and contented without it, so did she never speak of high birth, and say that it gave us something that wealth could not, apart from it of pedigree and heraldry she could hardly think with patience, and still we learned, somehow, from her that nothing we must go without could make the slightest difference to the fact that we were gentlefolk and would, of course, behave accordingly.
That she was very clever I have said already; but she showed it in a hundred ways of which you might have less patience to hear than I should have pleasure in recalling.
Of some I will speak, as briefly as I can. She spent very little, nothing for long times together, on clothes; but she dressed herself
to perfection, and her boys, too. Of course kind friends helped; but of the old garments she made quite new ones, with deft industry and taste; and for years and years she was her sons' tailor. I remember quite well the first pair of trousers a real tailor ever made for me; my knickerbockers before that had been, I fancy, a lady's cloak or a gentleman's overcoat till she cut out and sewed them together into their new form. To make and mend for three people who were never allowed to be meanly dressed means time enough; yet when her little boys had been put to bed, after saying their prayers aloud at her knee, to all the Father they had, she would write, write, write far into the night.
Once, I remember, Fernando, about six years old then, had a nightmare, and, waking in terror, he went across in his nightgown to the parlour to ask his mother to soothe him back to sense and courage: he found her writing, and perhaps he interrupted the flow of inspiration, the climax of a plot; but he was not scolded or driven away to bed. Eh, dear! how well I remember how young she looked, as she lifted her pretty face from her task, and smiled down into the frightened eyes of her baby; and how lonely, too, in
sleeping hours, with one candle to light her, as she worked and worked to earn bread for her boys to eat. It was then that Fernando, forgetting his nightmare, resolved, for good and all, to write, too, and determined that what he wrote should pay her back a little, and earn some ease and comfort for her in return. It took him nearly half a century to keep his promise to himself; but still, out of that far-away past, he can hear the slashing of the windy rain against the one window of that lodging parlour, and feel against his own the loving pulse of that great, great heart, all motherhood and love and trust in the Mighty Father of fatherless children, as the widowed creature lifted her baby into her arms and soothed and confronted him, patting him, and whispering: And I was here, all the time, and your Father there! Oh, Fernando .
TEARS AND TEMPER
Of course, I can remember many things long before the night on which Fernando found his mother writing; and her writing had begun long before that, too, though that was the first Fernando actually saw of it.
That was in a little English town, not far from the Welsh border, which we may call here Gracechurch, where we had been living then about a year. Before that we had lived among the mountains of Wales itself, in much pleasanter lodgings, in what seems to my memory quite a good-sized house, on the outskirts of a village much smaller than Gracechurch. Llanberwyn, I think, consisted mostly of one long and straggling street of not very pretty houses, at the backs of which on one side ran the lovely river Dee, and all around were hills and higher mountains. There was an hotel called "The Hand," and there it was I saw my grandmother