The Project Gutenberg eBook of Kitty's enemy

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Title: Kitty's enemy

or, the boy next door.

Author: Eleanora H. Stooke

Release date: September 9, 2023 [eBook #71599]

Language: English

Original publication: London: S. W. Partridge & Co, 1911


Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.
















The Boy Next Door.
















First published September, 1911
Frequently reprinted






























"KITTY, fetch the rake from the tool-house, will you?"

"All right," responded Kitty; and dropping the fork with which she had been at work moving up the earth in her garden-plot, she hastened to do her brother's bidding.

Kitty and Bob Glanville were "putting in a morning gardening," as Bob would have expressed it. They were both enthusiastic gardeners, and had been allotted a few yards each in the long strip of ground which stretched at the back of the semi-detached villa in the small provincial town where they lived. And it being the Easter holidays—it was at the end of April—they had plenty of time to devote to tilling their respective garden-plots, and were enjoying their labours in anticipation of the fine show of flowers they would have later on from the seeds which they were now sowing. Kitty, who was a nice-looking little girl of ten years old, with blue eyes and fair, curly hair, was two years her brother's junior, and being extremely good-natured she allowed him to order her about, and rarely thought of refusing to do his will. Bob was very fond of his sister; but he presumed on his seniority in many ways and expected always to take the lead.

Kitty having procured the rake returned with it to her brother. "Bob," she said, "there's a boy next door—at Mr. Shuttleworth's."

"I know," Bob answered laconically. "I saw him arrive yesterday with a big portmanteau. He came in a cab with Mr. Shuttleworth."

"Then you may depend Mr. Shuttleworth met him at the station."

Mr. Shuttleworth was an elderly bachelor of studious habits, who lived next door. Being of a reserved disposition he had little to do with his neighbours, though sometimes he exchanged a few words with Mr. and Mrs. Glanville if they happened to be in their front garden when he was in his, and he always nodded to the children when he met them. Neither Kitty nor Bob remembered Mr. Shuttleworth ever having had a visitor before, and they had lived next door to him for several years now.

"Bob, I wonder who the boy can be," said Kitty, as her brother took the rake from her hand. "I saw him watching us from Mr. Shuttleworth's dining-room window. Such a very ugly-looking boy he is, with red hair, and green goggly eyes, and a snub nose, and a big mouth. He grinned at me."

"And did you grin back at him?" asked Bob with a laugh.

"No, certainly not," Kitty responded loftily; "as though I should do that! He's gone now," she added, with a furtive glance at their neighbour's house. "Oh," she exclaimed in accents of intense astonishment, a moment later, "why, there he is, staring at us over the wall! He must be standing on a ladder, I suppose."

Bob paused in the midst of raking his flower-bed smooth and looked at the wall which divided the two back gardens of the semi-detached villas. It was a brick wall of about six feet in height, and at the present minute the head and shoulders of a boy were visible above it. He had been watching the two young gardeners intently; but when he perceived they noticed him he looked a trifle embarrassed, and his freckled countenance deepened in colour.

"Yes, he must be on a ladder," Bob agreed. "The idea of his spying on us like that! I shall take no notice of him!"

"Nor I," said Kitty; and she turned her attention to her garden again; but she could not refrain from glancing at the partition wall frequently, and every time she did so there was still the ugly boy watching them.

"Do you think he wishes to speak to us?" she suggested to her brother at length. "Shall we ask him if he wants anything?"

"Most certainly not," Bob responded. "I call it cheek his perching himself there; if I spoke to him I should tell him so."

Meanwhile the boy next door—Tim Shuttleworth—who had come out in hopes of picking an acquaintance with his neighbours, saw that, though they had observed him, they had no intention of speaking to him, and was consequently disappointed. Although he had only arrived on a visit to his uncle, Mr. Shuttleworth, on the preceding day, time was hanging heavily on his hands already. At breakfast his uncle had told him he might go where he pleased and do exactly as he liked, and had remarked that no doubt he would find his own amusements—adding that there were young folks in the next house he could play with, but he had evidently not thought of introducing him to them. And then he had shut himself up in his study, leaving his nephew to his own devices.

From the dining-room window Tim had taken stock of the next door garden, and of Kitty and of Bob Glanville with their lemon-and-white fox-terrier, Snip, in close attendance upon them; and seeing that Bob was about his age and that Kitty looked a merry, nice little girl, he had thought how pleasant it would be for him to know them. Accordingly he had procured a short ladder, which he had found hanging against the tool-house wall, and had taken up a position where he could overlook the next door garden. He had seen Kitty call her brother's attention to him, and had observed them whispering together, and he deemed it almost unsociable for them not to speak.

By-and-by Snip trotted up the garden path nearest the partition wall, and suddenly paused, sniffing the air in a suspicious manner. Then he looked up and caught sight of the stranger; but instead of barking at him, he seated himself on his haunches and contemplated him with a world of perplexity in his brown eyes, into which there gradually crept the loveliest possible canine smile.

"Good doggie," Tim murmured. "You're a jolly, friendly little chap." And Snip wagged his tail and wriggled with excitement, every nerve in his body on the twitch, for he liked the voice which addressed him, and he liked the countenance of the next door boy, which did not seem ugly to him at all.

"Look at Snip," said Kitty in an undertone. "The boy's speaking to him, and he's quite pleased."

"Little sniveller!" exclaimed Bob. He immediately called to the dog to come away; whereupon Tim made a grimace at him and descended the ladder in haste.

"What an impertinent boy!" cried Kitty. "But I don't think it was nice of you to call Snip away like that; he was doing no harm, and it seemed rather rude, I thought. I know you didn't mean it to be so," she added hastily, noticing that her brother's colour had risen.

"The fellow had no right there at all," Bob replied. "If any one was rude, he was. He is evidently full of cheek. Did you see what a face he made at me?"

"Yes, and didn't he look ugly?" cried Kitty, smiling at the remembrance of the distorted countenance which had disappeared so suddenly on the other side of the wall. "I wonder if he is a relation of Mr. Shuttleworth's, and if he will stay long?"

"You'd like to know all about him, wouldn't you, Kitty?" her brother said, laughing. "You wouldn't be a girl if you weren't curious."

"Boys are curious, too, only they never will own it," Kitty retorted.

"Some are," Bob admitted. "That red-headed chap is, I should think, or he wouldn't have looked at us over the wall like that."

Tim Shuttleworth watched the young folk next door constantly during the next day or two, for they spent much time in the back garden; but he always kept behind the lace curtains in the dining-room, and did not try to attract their notice again. Their doings interested him exceedingly. Sometimes they would place Snip on the wall to watch for cats, and on one occasion the little dog hunted one of his natural enemies all about Mr. Shuttleworth's garden, around the house, and out into the road. No one would have been more shocked and horrified than the two young Glanvilles had Snip really caught a cat; but he had never done so, and it was most unlikely he ever would, so his mistress and master saw no harm in permitting him to enjoy his little game, though they had several times been told by their father not to encourage him in his favourite pursuit.

Tim knew his visit to his uncle was to be of long duration. He was the eldest of several children, and as his father was only a clerk in a bank in Dublin, his home was a comparatively poor one. During the winter he had had a serious attack of pneumonia, and when his uncle had written and suggested that he should spend the summer with him in England, at the small country town where Mr. Shuttleworth had lived for many years, his parents had promptly accepted the invitation; for the doctor who had attended him during his illness had declared that a thorough change of air and scene, and an absence from school for a few months, would be to his ultimate benefit. Tim had known but little of his uncle up to the present, having only seen him on the rare occasions when he had come on a visit to Dublin, and when he found out how thoroughly engrossed his relative was in his books and his studies, he was dismayed at the prospect of the months of loneliness, he feared he must look forward to. If only the children next door would seek to know him! But he realized that they were not prepossessed with his appearance, and he was too shy and too proud to make any overtures of friendship to them, and determined to find his own amusements, as his uncle expected him to do.

Accordingly, he selected a sunny spot in the back garden—which was almost a wilderness, for Mr. Shuttleworth did not care for flowers, and bought his vegetables—and began to turn up the soil. It was hard work, for the ground had long been neglected, and the tools he found in the tool-house were blunt and heavy; but he persevered. He would have a garden of his own, he decided, which should rival those of the children next door; and at length he succeeded in getting the earth in fairly good condition, and planted it with the seeds of nasturtiums and mignonette and other hardy annuals which he purchased with his own pocket-money.

There came a night when Tim went to bed greatly pleased with the result of his finished labours; but the next morning he found they had been all in vain, for on going into the back garden after breakfast, he discovered that some animal—a dog, presumably—had been scratching and digging holes in the ground he had prepared so carefully for the reception of the seeds.

His indignation was intense; and fetching the ladder from the tool-house, he placed it against the partition wall, climbed it, and looked into the next garden. There were the sister and brother, their attention fixed on the contents of a big box which they had placed against the wall, and near them was Snip, his nose covered with earth.

Tim's wrath burst bounds as he regarded the trio, and he poured forth a volume of angry words, his Irish accent growing more and more pronounced as he proceeded, in which he accused Kitty and Bob of having deliberately put Snip in over the wall to destroy his garden. He vowed vengeance upon them, and at last, overcome with rage, he shook his fist at them and then abruptly quitted the scene.

"What a dreadful boy!" cried Kitty, who had turned quite pale. "What can he mean by speaking to us like that? What can Snip have done?"

"Destroyed his garden, he said," responded Bob. "I didn't put Snip over the wall, though. If he's been in there, he went by himself. My, what a temper that fellow has! I believe, as you say, he's a dreadful boy."







A SECOND survey of his garden did not lessen Tim Shuttleworth's indignation in the least; and too angry to endeavour to repair the mischief done, he marched into the house and took up his position behind the lace curtains in the dining-room, through which he kept a watchful eye on the Glanvilles' back garden, his mind full of wild plans for revenge.

What could there be in the box which had been placed against the partition wall, Tim pondered? It had not been there yesterday; but that it contained something very attractive was evident, for Mr. and Mrs. Glanville, and the cook, and housemaid, and later the boot boy, all visited it one by one.

"I expect they've been given some potting plants," Tim decided at length. "Yes, that must be it, for they've put the box against the sunny wall. How would they like it, I wonder, if someone else's dog came into their garden and dug big holes in their flower-beds? I've a great mind to make a complaint against them to uncle; but no, I won't be a sneak. I'll find some way of paying them out myself."

Later in the morning—which was cold and windy for the end of April—Tim went for a stroll in the town, and as he walked up the main street feeling very lonely, and longing for congenial society, he encountered Kitty and Bob coming out of a sweet shop, followed by Snip. He gave them one swift glance in passing, and noticed that Kitty, who had turned rosy red, was pretending not to see him, and that Bob was regarding him with eyes which twinkled humorously. It flashed upon him that his exhibition of temper had caused the other boy amusement, and the knowledge only made him more angry. He felt it was adding insult to injury to laugh at him; and when Snip, evidently recognising him, obtruded himself on his notice by jumping against him, he gruffly told him to get away.

"Come here, Snip," commanded Bob, in a voice which betrayed merriment. "Come here, sir, im—mediately!"

So Snip, looking decidedly crestfallen, turned his attention once more to his young mistress and master; and Tim went on, his head held haughtily, his hands thrust deep into his trousers' pockets.

"Don't you think we ought to have told him that it was not our fault that Snip did harm to his garden?" asked Kitty of her brother, glancing over her shoulder at Tim's retreating form. She spoke rather indistinctly, because her mouth was full of sweets.

"What! After the way he spoke to us?" cried Bob. "Not likely. Let the fellow think what he likes."

"It doesn't seem right to let him think what isn't true, though, does it?"

"I don't see that it matters."

"No, I don't know that it does." Kitty agreed, as usual coming round to her brother's way of reasoning. "How crossly he spoke to Snip, didn't he? Poor little Snip, he meant no harm."

Meanwhile, Tim having reached the corner of the street, looked back and saw that the Glanvilles were not going home, but had turned down a side road leading in the opposite direction. A sudden, malicious thought flashed through his mind, which caused him to turn and hastily retrace his footsteps. On his arrival at his uncle's house he went immediately to the back garden, and, armed with a spade, he mounted the ladder, which he had left against the wall, and peered cautiously around the Glanville's garden. No one was in sight, and, being assured that he was unobserved, Tim leaned over the wall, the better to view the box beneath; and then, with the aid of the spade, he tried to lift the lid, but failed in the attempt. However, it did not matter what was inside, he told himself; if it was something breakable so much the better.

For a few minutes Tim hesitated, his conscience telling him he was about to act very wrongly; but the remembrance of the grievance, he believed he had every right to cherish against Kitty and Bob nerved him to do that which he afterwards bitterly repented having done. And, with a vigorous shove from the spade, he overturned the box with a jerk, descended the ladder hastily, and hurried back to the house, his feelings those of mingled fear and exultation—fear lest he might have been seen after all, and exultation because he believed he had now scored off the next door children.

When uncle and nephew met at the mid-day meal that day, it occurred to Mr. Shuttleworth to ask Tim how he had spent the morning.

"Oh, I've been in town," Tim answered, flushing, "and—and in the garden. I don't think much of the shops here, Uncle John; they're not to be compared with ours in Dublin."

"No, of course not. You must remember this is only a small country town—not to be compared in any way to 'Dublin's fair city,'" Mr. Shuttleworth replied with a smile. He was a tall man with stooping shoulders, and near-sighted eyes which peered at Tim very kindly through spectacles, and he was very clever; but with all his cleverness, he did not understand children, which was a pity for Tim. "Have you spoken to the young folks next door yet?" he inquired.

"Oh, yes," assented Tim, trying to respond in a careless tone. "I've spoken to them; but I don't think much of them, Uncle John."

"Dear me. Why not?" There was surprise in Mr. Shuttleworth's voice.

"They're stuck-up," Tim asserted, after a moment's reflection.

"Stuck-up? You astonish me. I don't know much of my neighbours, but Mr. and Mrs. Glanville seem pleasant people to talk to, and the children—though I have never spoken to them—always struck me as being well behaved. They go to school, I believe; but I suppose it is holiday-time now. Don't you think you'll be friendly with them, then?"

Tim shook his head decidedly, and his uncle dropped the subject, telling himself that perhaps his nephew, like himself, preferred his own company.

As soon as Mr. Shuttleworth had returned to his study, and the servant had cleared the table, Tim took up his post at the window, on the alert to see what would happen when Kitty and Bob paid their next visit to the back garden. It was less cold than it had been earlier in the day, and the wind had gone down, so he opened the window, and it was not long before he heard voices, and the sister and brother appeared, the former carrying something very carefully in a saucer.

Tim's heart beat unevenly as he watched the children. As he had anticipated, they made straight for the box, and great was the consternation depicted on their faces when they found it had been overturned.

"Oh, Bob, what can have happened?" cried Kitty; and the listener at the window caught a note of alarm in her voice. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"

"Don't be frightened," Bob answered reassuringly. "It's only upset; I'll soon put it right. I hope a dog hasn't been here; it wouldn't have been Snip, anyway, for we warned him off, and he quite understood. Oh, be careful, Kitty! You're spilling the bread and milk all over your frock."

"Never mind," broke in Kitty hastily. "It's an old frock, and—oh, Bob, do be quick and see it's not hurt."

Bob had set the box right side up by this time, and was trying to open the lid; but it had become jammed, and it took him a few minutes to prise it open with his pocket-knife.

Tim now saw that the front of the box had been knocked out and a piece of wire netting put in its place, and that he had not been able to see from the top of the wall. He began to feel anxiety as well as curiosity to ascertain what the box contained. Was it something living—some animal? It might be a pet of some kind, and that would account for Kitty's saucer of bread and milk.

Bob had succeeded in opening the box now, and he and his sister were bending over it, their fair, curly heads close together. A strange quietude seemed to have fallen upon them, and when a minute later they stood upright and looked at each other, Tim observed that the colour had fled from both young faces, and that the tears were rolling down Kitty's cheeks. At length Bob spoke in a voice which sounded rather husky.

"I say, don't cry like that, old girl!" he said kindly. "I'll go in and ask father to come out and look at it." And he rushed off into the house.

Meanwhile Kitty stooped over the box again, and took therefrom something white, which she cuddled in her arms and wept over in bitterest grief.

The onlooker at the window watched her in consternation, a choking sensation in his throat. Although he had not yet fully realized the cause of her trouble, he sympathized with her, for he owned a very warm heart, and the sight of the little girl's tears touched him immeasurably. What had he done to cause this grief?

He was soon to know, for in a very short while Bob returned, followed by his parents, and the two servants, who all congregated around Kitty, and presently Tim heard Mr. Glanville say, "No dog did it, so Snip is guiltless, at any rate, although of course he might have overturned the box, but I don't think he could have done that. It must have been instantaneous death for the poor thing. You can be sure it did not suffer at all, Kitty, and that thought is very comforting, so dry your eyes, there's a good girl. Doubtless, when the box was turned over the little creature was thrown against the side, and received a blow on the head. It takes but a small knock to kill a rabbit, especially a young one like this."

Tim knew what he had done at last, and he was both shocked and frightened. He was anything but a cruel boy, and he was exceedingly fond of all animals, and now that he realized that the white, fluffy object poor Kitty held so tenderly in her arms was a little baby rabbit, which he in his wicked, revengeful temper had killed, he felt like a murderer. His first impulse was to push back the lace curtain, and shout out to the group in the next garden that he was responsible for the rabbit's death; but a minute's reflection made him change his mind, and determine to keep his secret. In an agony of contrition, he watched Bob get a spade and dig a hole under the big apple tree which grew at the bottom of the garden, whilst one of the servants fetched a shoebox, into which Kitty placed the rabbit, and then followed the funeral. Afterwards Bob made a little mound over the grave, and planted a forget-me-not root upon it. And he told Kitty he would try to get her another rabbit very soon.

Mr. and Mrs. Glanville and the servants had returned to the house, but the sister and brother lingered in the garden. They were conversing in low tones, so Tim could not hear what they were saying; but his guilty conscience suggested to him that they might be discussing by what means the rabbit's hutch had been overturned, and perhaps arriving at the truth.

Suddenly Kitty looked up and saw the curtains in Mr. Shuttleworth's dining-room window move, and it flashed upon her that Tim was behind them.

"That boy next door—he is watching us again!" she whispered excitedly to her brother. "Oh, Bob, I wonder if he knows who killed my dear, dear little rabbit. You don't think he could have thrown over the hutch to spite us, do you?" she suggested with a condemning glance in Tim's direction.

Bob shook his head—he thought the idea most unlikely; and a few minutes later he and Kitty went indoors, little dreaming how uneasy Tim was feeling, for he had known they had guessed he was at the window, and Kitty's incriminating glances had not been lost upon him.

Poor Tim! He was utterly miserable for the remainder of the day, and so dispirited and dejected did he look that even Mr. Shuttleworth noticed it, and asked him if he was ill.

Ill? No, he was not ill, he declared; and oh, how he longed to unburden his heart to his uncle! But he shrank from doing so. And, saying he was tired, remarked he thought he would go to bed early, which he accordingly did.

The clocks in the house struck many times before he was able to get any sleep, so tormented was he by his guilty conscience and the fear that the sharp-looking children next door were beginning to have suspicions respecting him. And when at last slumber overcame him, and he fell into a troubled doze, he was confronted in his dream by a vision of Kitty Glanville, her blue eyes full of angry tears, whilst in a voice shrill with accusation, she cried, "Ah, I've found you out now! It is you who killed my rabbit."







"I'VE spoken to Tom Hatch about getting you another rabbit," Bob informed his sister on the afternoon subsequent to the one on which they had found her late pet dead. "And he says he believes his brother will be able to let you have one, for his doe had young a few weeks back, and he wants to get rid of them all before leaving the place."

The Hatch boys were schoolfellows of Bob's, who were about to leave the place with their parents to take up their abode in a neighbouring town. Kitty had purchased the rabbit, which had come to such an untimely end, from Tom for a shilling, and was very desirous to replace it.

"Will he be willing to sell me another for the same price?" she inquired practically.

"Oh, yes," was the response. "You may be sure of that."

"And will it be a white Angora like the other?"

"I suppose so; he didn't say; you needn't have it if you don't fancy it, you know. I think we had better move the hutch closer to the house, near to the back door."

"Yes, then the servants will be able to keep their eyes on it, and see it is not interfered with. Oh, Bob, I cannot help thinking that the boy next door may know how the hutch got overturned yesterday, for he's always watching us! At any rate, I shall ask him; there can be no harm in doing that."

"I should not have anything to say to him, if I were you," advised Bob; "but please yourself, of course."

Thus it came about that whilst Tim, who was feeling much bored with his own company and was very dispirited, was doing a little gardening by way of passing the time after tea that evening, he heard himself addressed by Kitty's now familiar voice:

"Hi, you boy—I don't know your name—I want to speak to you."

The hoe with which he was working dropped from Tim's hands, so startled was he, and the expression of his face was one of alarm as he looked around hastily; but he could not see the little girl, though he ran his eyes from end to end of the partition wall.

"Here I am," she said, with a merry laugh as she observed his bewilderment. "Why, you seem quite scared," she continued. "Don't you see me? I'm in the apple tree."

There she was sure enough, perched high on a branch of the big apple tree at the bottom of her own garden, from which position she could overlook Mr. Shuttleworth's domain.

"Oh," exclaimed Tim, "now I see you. I couldn't think where your voice came from."

A smile, which was rather embarrassed, though certainly not unfriendly, flickered over his plain, freckled countenance as he spoke.

"I want to speak to you for a minute about something important," said Kitty.

"Oh!" He wondered uneasily what "something important" might be.

"You remember meeting us—my brother and me—in the town yesterday morning?"

"Yes," assented Tim. "So you did see me. I was positive of it at the time, though you kept your head turned aside."

"That was because I was eating sweets, and there was a big caramel in my mouth," she said hastily, looking somewhat abashed. "Not that I should have spoken to you, anyway," she went on truthfully. "You couldn't have expected either of us to do that after—but never mind that now! What I want to know is, where did you go afterwards?"

"Where did I go afterwards? I—I—why do you ask? What does it matter to you?"

What a rude boy he was, Kitty thought. She flushed with annoyance; but she was so anxious to ascertain if he could throw any light on the matter which weighed upon her mind that she answered pacifically:

"It doesn't matter to me, except that I thought, if you came straight home, you might have noticed if there was any one prowling about our garden. The fact is," speaking in a confidential tone, "I had a dear little rabbit in a big box against the wall, and some one upset the box and killed the rabbit. Perhaps you know that?"

"I—I—yes," Tim admitted; "I saw you all in the garden when—when you found it dead, and—and—I was sorry—"

He paused in confusion, whilst Kitty regarded him more favourably, for he really did look sorry, quite distressed, in fact.

"It was a sweet little creature," she said with a sigh, "and it was so sad to find it killed. I daresay you thought me silly and babyish to cry, but really I couldn't help it. I had only bought it the night before; I gave a shilling for it. That wasn't what made me cry, though; it was because it was such a dear, so soft and as white as snow." She paused and blinked away a tear, then proceeded more briskly: "Well, what I want to know is, did you see any one interfering with the rabbit hutch?"

"No," Tim answered, so hesitatingly, that Kitty shot a glance full of suspicion at him. "Perhaps some strange dog got into your garden," he suggested, feeling himself to be very mean-spirited as he spoke, "or perhaps the wind—"

"Oh, it couldn't have been the wind," she interrupted impatiently, "although there was a strong breeze blowing, but not strong enough to upset a heavy box like that. Bob thinks a big dog must have pushed the hutch over in trying to get it open, but I don't know what to think, except that you know something about it," she declared with a ring of decision in her tone.

Tim was so taken aback at this sudden and direct charge that he had no answer ready. The colour rushed to his face in a flood of crimson, then, receding, left him quite pale.

"What do you mean?" he gasped at length, assuming anger to hide his dismay. "How dare you say that I know something about it?"

"You said you'd pay us out because Snip had spoilt your garden—we didn't know he'd done it, so it wasn't our fault—and I thought you might have killed my rabbit out of spite."

"I never knew your rabbit was dead till I saw it in your arms," declared Tim solemnly. "I hadn't the faintest idea there was a rabbit in the box, I didn't know what was there."

"But did you overturn the box?" persisted Kitty.

For a moment Tim hesitated. He still craved for the friendship of Kitty and her brother, and he thought if he acknowledged his guilt they would never have anything to do with him, so, though he was usually truthful, on this occasion he gave way to the temptation of the moment, and answered:

"No, certainly not."

He did not look at Kitty as he spoke; and when several minutes had elapsed without her having addressed him again, he plucked up courage to glance furtively towards the apple tree, he found the little girl had gone. He did not know that he had lied in vain, or guess that Kitty, who was very keen of discernment, believed he held the key of the mystery which surrounded her rabbit's death.

"If that boy next door didn't throw over the box himself, he knows who did it," Kitty declared to her brother after she had given him an account of her interview with Tim.

"Perhaps he was only pretending to know, just to make himself seem important," suggested Bob. "Some fellows are like that. What good have you done by speaking to him, Kitty?"

"None at all," she was bound to admit; "and I wish I had let him be. He seemed sorry my rabbit was dead; but he's a very odd boy, he hardly had a word to say for himself."

"He had plenty of words yesterday when he was in a passion," Bob rejoined with a laugh. "Cook hears that he is Mr. Shuttleworth's nephew, and that he's going to stay here all the summer," he proceeded to explain. "He will have rather a dull time, I should say, for Mr. Shuttleworth doesn't appear to take much notice of him, does he?"

"No, indeed," agreed Kitty. "If he was a nicer boy, he might be friendly with us; but he's a dreadful temper and I believe he tells lies."

"To whom are you giving such a bad character, Kitty?" asked Mrs. Glanville, coming into the room where her children were talking at that moment, holding an open letter in her hand.

"The boy next door, mother," the little girl answered promptly.

"What do you know against him, my dear?"

Kitty told all she knew—of the exhibition of temper Tim had given them on the previous day, and of her suspicion against him, which she was obliged to admit her brother did not share.

"I don't think you ought to jump to the conclusion that the boy has told you an untruth, Kitty," Mrs. Glanville said gravely. "If you have a doubt—well, give him the benefit of the doubt, my dear. Strangely enough I was coming to speak to you about the boy next door. I find Mr. Shuttleworth is his uncle, and that he has come to pay him a long visit because he was very ill a month or so ago, and the doctor has advised his not returning to school for the summer term. His home is in Dublin—"

"That accounts for his accent then," Bob broke in. "I knew he was a Paddy the minute I heard him speak."

"It would be wonderful if he had no touch of brogue, considering he has lived all his life in Ireland," Mrs. Glanville remarked smilingly.

"How do you know that, mother?" inquired Kitty. "Have you been talking to Mr. Shuttleworth?"

"No; but I've had a letter from Mr. Shuttleworth's sister-in-law, telling me her eldest boy—Tim, she calls him, short for Timothy, I suppose—is staying with his uncle here, and asking me to be kind to him."

"How extraordinary!" exclaimed Kitty, whilst her brother gave a soft whistle of surprise.

"Not so extraordinary as you think, my dear, seeing that Tim's mother was once a school-friend of mine. She was an Irish girl, and I knew she had married some one called Shuttleworth, but it never occurred to me that her husband might be in any way connected with our neighbour. Tim's mother does not know we are living next door to her brother-in-law; she simply addressed her letter to this town hoping that I should get it, and as we are the only Glanvilles in the place, it came direct."

"And now, what do you mean to do, mother?" Kitty asked eagerly, as Mrs. Glanville paused and glanced through her letter once more.

"I shall call next door to see my old friend's son to-morrow," was the response, "and most probably bring him back with me to tea. You must not be prejudiced against him, children; if he is anything like his mother in disposition, you will be sure to get on with him, and there will be no difficulty in your making friends with him, for she was one of the kindest-hearted girls I ever knew. Don't you think, when he perched himself on the ladder and stared at you over the wall, he might have been wishful of making your acquaintance? That is my opinion. Had I been in your place, Bob, I fancy I should have spoken to him; he must be about your age—a trifle younger perhaps, but not much. You must try to be friends with him—a stranger in a strange land. I daresay he has been home-sick, poor child!"

"What a nuisance!" exclaimed Bob, as soon as his mother had left the room. "You will see that boy will spoil our holidays—or what is left of them. We shall have to be civil to him—which he certainly has not been to us!"







WHEN Mrs. Glanville called at her neighbour's house on the following afternoon, she found that Tim was not at home; but she saw Mr. Shuttleworth and explained her mission to him. He had not the faintest idea where his nephew had gone, he informed her, and greatly regretted his absence. "For I should like him to be friendly with your young people," he said cordially.

"I thought perhaps I should have persuaded him to return with me, and make their acquaintance now," Mrs. Glanville replied. "But, since he is not here and you do not know what time he will be back, will you let him come to tea with us to-morrow? Please let him come early so as to spend a long afternoon with us."

"Certainly," Mr. Shuttleworth agreed readily. "You are very kind and I have much pleasure in accepting your invitation for Tim." And thus it was settled.

Meanwhile Tim had gone on a secret errand. Since his interview with Kitty, he had been possessed with a strong desire to make good the bad turn he had done her, as far as lay in his power, by giving her another rabbit. With that idea he had asked the butcher boy, at the back door earlier in the day, if he knew any one who had rabbits for sale, and the butcher boy had told him of a shop, kept by an old man named Jacob Dottin, in a back street of the town, where all sorts of animals and birds might be purchased. So whilst Mrs. Glanville was interviewing his uncle, Tim was making for the abode of Mr. Dottin. An obliging policeman had shown the little boy the way to go; and, at length, after traversing several narrow, dirty streets, he found himself before the shop he wanted.

Tom stood for a few minutes gazing into the window at rows of cages containing birds of all sorts and descriptions, and, so engrossed was he in watching them that he did not notice the shop door open, and he started when a voice at his side addressed him:—

"Would you like to come and have a look at my little family, young gentleman."

Tim turned quickly and looked at the speaker—a spare, bent-shouldered old man, with grizzled hair which was so thick, as was his beard, that, with a cap drawn far over his forehead, but little of his face was visible except a pair of sharp, black eyes and a hook nose. Tim smiled involuntarily, for he thought the old man was like an animal himself, an animal that was a mixture of a baboon and a parrot with his hairy face, and hook nose, and claw-like fingers, which he twisted together as he blinked and smiled in what he evidently intended to be an amiable manner.

"Mr. Tottin?" said Tim, inquiringly.

"Aye—Jacob Dottin, young gentleman, at your service," was the response.

"I wanted to see you, so I will come in," and Tim followed the old man into the shop.

His first impulse was to retrace his footsteps, for the air in the shop was close and unpleasant, and he felt he could not breathe there; he did not retreat, however, as, on glancing around him, he was fascinated by the sight of a big monkey asleep in a corner with a small, terrier puppy cuddled in its arms, and various other animals such as guinea-pigs, rabbits, mice and rats, ranged in hutches around the walls. Several parrots screamed in cages suspended from the ceiling, and a raven croaked on a shelf over the door. Tim grew accustomed to the babel of sounds in a few minutes, and did not so much notice the offensive atmosphere, and, as the old man desired him politely to look around, he did so at his leisure, finally drawing up before a hutch in which were several young rabbits with beautifully thick, white hair.

"Ah, those are worth looking at," remarked Mr. Dottin; "pure-bred Angoras, they are. Maybe you're a rabbit fancier?" he questioned, regarding his visitor shrewdly.

"No," Tim answered, "but I want to buy a rabbit for a—a—some one I know. What would be the price of one of those, now?"

"Five shillings," was the unhesitating response.

"Five shillings!" echoed Tim, his face clouding over. "Oh dear, so much as that? Then it's out of the question my buying one to-day, thank you."

He turned towards the door as he spoke, but the old man stopped his exit by saying hastily:

"Wait a minute, sir; don't be in such a hurry; perhaps we may be able to come to terms."

"I'm afraid not," Tim replied regretfully. "For I haven't five shillings in the world; that is the truth."

"Well, well, you're frank, and I like you for it. They're beautiful creatures and pure-bred, as I said just now," Mr. Dottin observed thoughtfully, surveying the rabbits and then Tim with his head on one side.

"But I'd wish to oblige you and make a new customer, who'd no doubt recommend me to his friends. Would three shillings be nearer your prize? Well, then," as the little boy shook his head, "say half-a-crown? Half-a-crown for a pure-bred Angora rabbit, why, it's absurd; nevertheless, you shall have that little one for half-a-crown. What do you say?"

Tim reflected. He was a shrewd boy, and it struck him that Mr. Dottin had lowered his price very quickly. He also remembered that Kitty had said she had given a shilling for the rabbit he had killed, so, though half-a-crown was the exact amount of money he had in his pocket, he determined to try to get what he wanted for less.

"I'll give you eighteen-pence for that little rabbit, it's the smallest of the lot, I see," he said. "I don't believe it's worth more."

"Not worth more. Eighteen-pence for a pure-bred Angora! Why, you can't know what you're talking about, young gentleman!" Mr. Dottin cried, in shrill accents of protestation.

"Oh, yes I do," Tim returned, confidently. "I price the rabbit at eighteen-pence."

"And I price it at half-a-crown," the old man retorted. "Stop, stop," he proceeded, as Tim again moved toward the door. "You are too impetuous, sir, too impetuous by half. I'll tell you how we'll settle the matter, we'll split the difference."

"Split the difference?" echoed Tim doubtfully. "I don't understand. You mean—"

"That you shall have the rabbit for two shillings—ready money, of course. You price the rabbit at eighteen-pence, I price it at half-a-crown. Eighteen-pence from a half-a-crown leaves a shilling—split that shilling and the price of the rabbit is two shillings. See? There now, that's fair, isn't it?"

"Yes, I think it is," Tim answered, smiling. "I'll give you two shillings for the rabbit."

"You've a business head on your shoulders. I perceive," observed Mr. Dottin, as he proceeded to open the hutch, "and I like you the better for it. Have you anything to put the rabbit in?"

"No; but I can easily carry it inside my coat, it will be quiet there, won't it?"

"Quiet enough, but mind not to squeeze it—these white rabbits are delicate creatures. Well, I'm pleased to have done business with you and I shall hope to see you again. You're a stranger in the town, I take it? Ah, I thought as much; if you'd lived long in the place you'd have found me out before. Any time you find yourself this way come in and have a look round, I shall be glad to see you, and bring your friends."

"Thank you," Tim replied; "I have no friends in the town, though I may have some later on. Perhaps I may call in again on another occasion as you've been so kind as to ask me."

The little boy paid his money, and unfastening a couple of buttons of his double-breasted coat, he put the rabbit inside, where it appeared quite comfortable and happy. Then he said good-bye to Mr. Dottin, who parted from him most affably, and set out for home. As he went, he turned over in his mind ways and means of conveying the rabbit to Kitty. He wanted the little girl to have it without knowing, in the first place, whom it came from. And, later on, he intended to tell her that he was the donor. After which, he assured himself sanguinely, she and her brother would gladly—and gratefully—allow him to be their friend.

Tim planned everything very carefully. That night, he meant to get over the partition wall, by means of the ladder, and put the rabbit in the hutch, which he had perceived had been placed near the back door of the house. No one would see him do it after dark; and to-morrow morning Kitty and Bob would discover the rabbit; then, on the first favourable opportunity, he would confess that he had bought the rabbit to replace their dead pet. How surprised they would be and how kind they would consider him, whilst he would have salved his conscience to a very great extent.

It was nearly tea-time when Tim arrived at home, so he ran straight upstairs and put the rabbit into one of the drawers in the set in his bedroom, leaving the drawer a little open to admit the air. Then, after washing his hands and brushing his hair, he went downstairs and joined his uncle, who immediately told him of Mrs. Glanville's visit and the purport of it.

"Mrs. Glanville knew mother years ago, and she has asked me to tea to-morrow!" he exclaimed delightedly, his eyes sparkling with excitement, after he had listened to Mr. Shuttleworth's tale. "Oh, Uncle John, how jolly of her!"

"But I thought you didn't think much of the next door children," remarked Mr. Shuttleworth, with an amused smile. "If I remember rightly you said you considered them stuck-up."

"That was because they wouldn't have anything to do with me; but now it will be all right. We shall soon be good friends, you will see."

"I hope so," Mr. Shuttleworth replied. "You are to go early to-morrow afternoon, remember."

"Oh, I will not forget," Tim returned. "No fear of that!"

After tea, he waited impatiently for darkness. The evenings were light until seven o'clock now, consequently it was nearly eight before he ventured to fetch the rabbit from the drawer and steal out of doors with it. In the tool-house he found a basket with a cover, into which he placed the little animal with some bits of bread he had smuggled from the tea-table, remembering it would require food during the night. And then, he procured the ladder, and a minute later, basket in hand, he was sitting astride the partition wall. It was the work of another minute only to transfer the light ladder from one side of the wall to the other, and to descend in the Glanville's garden.

For a few seconds Tim stood quite still listening intently. No one was about; the servants were in the kitchen, for he could see the reflections of two figures on the kitchen blind, and the rest of the household, he guessed, would be in the front part of the house. Very slowly and cautiously the little boy felt his way to the spot where he knew the rabbit hutch to be, and, having found it, he removed the rabbit and its supper from the basket to the hutch in safety, and closed down the lid. His errand thus accomplished, he was startled to hear Snip begin to bark furiously close inside the back door. Not a second was now to be lost, he told himself; and, with a wildly beating heart, he was making a hasty retreat towards the ladder when, to his dismay, the back door was flung suddenly open, and out flew Snip with the series of angry "yaps" to which he never failed to give utterance when in a hot pursuit of a cat.

Tim's dash for the ladder was favoured by success, and he had reached it and placed his right foot on the first rung of it before the little dog could scent him and discover his whereabouts in the darkness. But if the boy's movements were quick, master Snip's were quicker, and, springing at the intruder, he caught him by one of the legs of his trousers, fastening his teeth into it with so firm a grip that Tim knew no amount of kicking and shaking would induce him to drop off.







ALTHOUGH startled, Tim was not frightened by Snip's attack upon him. The servants did not follow the dog to discover the cause of his excitement, no doubt taking it for granted that he was hunting a cat; and, relieved upon that point, Tim began to hope he might succeed in disabusing Snip's mind of the idea that he was there for an evil purpose, so he spoke to him in a conciliatory tone:

"Hulloa, Snip, old man! What's the matter with you, eh? Why, you know me right enough, don't you?"

Snip immediately recognised the voice as that of the boy next door, and his firm grip relaxed. Tim stooped and patted him gently, whereupon he gave a little wriggle of pleased surprise and dropped his hold of Tim altogether, realizing he had made a mistake and feeling rather foolish; and after that he stood quietly by whilst Tim mounted the ladder, pulled it up after him, and disappeared on the other side of the wall.

Tim did not linger in the garden; but, having put away the ladder, he entered the house, satisfied that he had carried out his plan as he had intended, and congratulating himself on the way in which he had conciliated Snip.

Meanwhile Snip, who was very curious even for a dog, was exceedingly puzzled by the behaviour of the boy next door, and was taking a stroll round to see what he had been doing. Apparently all was as usual; but, on returning to the back door, Snip's sharp nose made him suspect that there was a rabbit in the hutch, and having satisfied himself that he was not mistaken, he gave one sharp, imperative bark, which the servants knew meant that he desired to call their attention to something.

"What's the matter, Snip?" asked cook, opening the back door.

Snip barked again, more imperatively; and cook came out, a lighted candle in her hand.

"Why, some one's left a rabbit here!" she exclaimed, greatly astonished. "I wonder if Miss Kitty and Master Bob were expecting it. I suppose I'd best call them out."

She accordingly did so, and a short while later the sister and brother arrived upon the scene, the former full of excitement.

"Who brought it, cook?" she inquired, as Bob took the rabbit out of the hutch and they examined it by the light of the candle. "Oh, isn't it a love?" she cried, her face aglow with delight.

"I don't know who brought it, miss," cook answered. "We didn't hear any one, although Mary and I were both in the kitchen; but Snip barked to be let out and, as we fancied he heard a cat about, we opened the back door and he rushed out in a fury. I suppose there must have been somebody here."

"Most likely," agreed Bob. "And that somebody was frightened away."

"But who could it have been, Master Bob?" asked Mary, the housemaid, who had come out too.

"I don't know, I'm sure," replied Bob. "I expect it was an errand-boy, or some one like that, sent by Tom Hatch. I saw Tom this morning, and he said his brother had given him a couple of his young rabbits, and you were to have one of them, Kitty; he told me he didn't want to be paid for it."

"Then it's a present, Bob?" asked Kitty.

"Yes. Tom said he would bring it if he had time—you know the Hatches are leaving B-to-morrow. I suppose he hadn't time, so he sent it. Yes, here's the basket it came in." He picked up the basket which Tim had dropped and forgotten, and examined it. "Snip must have given some one a fine scare," he proceeded, chuckling with amusement. "I say, Kitty, it's a jolly little rabbit, isn't it?"

"It's a beauty!" declared Kitty. "I shall keep it combed, and its coat will soon be lovely. How very kind of Tom Hatch to give it to me! I shan't be able to thank him, shall I?"

"Oh, don't let that weigh upon your mind. I thanked him for you, so that's all right," Bob responded carelessly. "I didn't say anything about it to you before because I thought I'd wait and see if Tom really meant to give you the rabbit," he proceeded to explain. "The fact is, he's such a chap for making promises he never carries out. He's been as good as his word in this case, though. I wonder whom he sent with the rabbit."

"I am afraid whoever it was must have been dreadfully frightened by Snip," said cook regretfully. "I'm sure we wouldn't have let him out if we guessed any one had been here. I'll hang up the basket in the scullery, for I suppose it will be fetched by someone to-morrow."

Bob replaced the rabbit in the hutch, remarking upon the pieces of bread which Kitty collected and soaked in milk for her new pet.

The little girl's heart was full of gratitude towards Tom Hatch, who had, as she naturally believed, from all her brother had said, made her this most welcome gift.

"I shall call the dear little thing 'Fluffy,'" she confided to her brother. "I don't think I shall show it to the boy next door, as I feel so certain he had something to do with the death of the other."

Bob merely shrugged his shoulders on hearing this, and made no reply, for he and his sister could not agree upon the point. Kitty was absurdly suspicious, he told himself.

The following afternoon when Tim Shuttleworth—his countenance shining with the recent application of soap and water—rang the front door bell of the Glanvilles' house, his heart beat fast with excitement. He was shown into the dining-room, where the whole family were assembled, and received a cordial welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Glanville. The latter, in particular, greeted him very kindly, and kissed him for his mother's sake, she said—a remark which made him feel a little choky for a minute, as he was deeply attached to his mother, and he had greatly missed her since he had been away from her—and then she introduced him to Kitty and Bob, who shook hands with him and looked as though they had never seen him in their lives before. At first, Tim felt a trifle embarrassed; but, as Mrs. Glanville talked to him and asked him questions, he soon lost all traces of self-consciousness, and found himself chatting quite easily of his own people—his mother and father, and his two brothers and three sisters, all younger than himself.

Then Snip scraped at the door, and, on being admitted, evinced much delight at the sight of the visitor.

"You are fond of animals," remarked Mrs. Glanville, as Snip promptly accepted an invitation to sit on Tim's knees, where he settled himself comfortably with a flattered expression on his face. "I suppose you keep pets at home, do you not?"

"No," Tim answered, "we have no room for them. Ours is a small house, and we have no garden. Mother had a canary once, but a neighbour's cat came in one day when no one was about and killed it."

"How dreadful!" exclaimed Kitty with a shudder. "What a horrid cat it must have been! I should hate a cat that killed birds!"

"Should you hate Snip if he killed a cat?" asked Bob, laughing.

"I don't think I should ever like him again," Kitty answered seriously; "but Snip wouldn't do it."

"I'm not so sure of that," said Mr. Glanville, "and that is why I make it a rule to scold Snip when I catch him chasing a cat, and I wish you children to do the same."

A short silence followed this remark, during which Kitty and Bob looked somewhat guilty. Kitty, who was engaged in hemming a duster, kept her head bent over her work until her father spoke again.

"I thought perhaps you boys would like a walk before tea," he said, suggestively, "and if so we had better start at once."

"Can't I go too, father?" inquired Kitty eagerly.

Mr. Glanville glanced at his wife, who shook her head. Kitty had been in disgrace that morning, having left her bedroom untidy and been impertinent to Mary, who had remonstrated with her about it; consequently she had been given some sewing to do by her mother for a punishment, and the duster she was hemming was not half done yet, though she might have finished it before if she had liked.

"It's miserable being a girl," she murmured dolefully, as the boys followed her father from the room. "I do so hate sewing—nothing makes me so hot."

Tim enjoyed his walk exceedingly, and, before it was at an end, he had found out a great deal about his companions—that Mr. Glanville was a retired tea-planter, and that both Bob and Kitty had been born in Ceylon; that Bob now attended the B— Grammar School, and that Kitty went to a private school for girls. In return, he told what a very dull time he was having with his uncle, who kept him all day by himself.

"What do you think of him, Bob?" whispered Kitty to her brother when Tim was talking to her mother after tea.

"I don't fancy he's a bad sort," was the unexpected reply.

"Don't you?" she questioned dubiously.

"No. He improves upon acquaintance. I say, you might show him your rabbit, I think."

"Have you told him about it?"

"No. I'll ask him to come into the garden; shall I?"

"If you like."

Kitty's manner was not gracious. She considered her brother fickle because he seemed inclined to like Tim Shuttleworth, and she marched off into the garden by herself. She was watching her new pet contentedly munching a tender young lettuce when the boys joined her.

"Isn't she a beauty?" she said, addressing Tim, who had been rather surprised he had not been told of the rabbit before.

"Yes," he answered, colouring; adding, somewhat awkwardly, "I'm glad you like it."

"Of course I like it. I've called it Fluffy. I hope I shall be able to keep this one safer than the last."

"I—I hope so," Tim faltered. "I don't think it can come to any harm here. Fluffy is a very good name for it."

"By the way, Kitty, the Hatches are gone," said Bob. "We passed their house this afternoon, and it was shut up; they must have gone early this morning. Tom told me he should come to B— for the Grammar School Sports next month, though; so perhaps you'll be able to speak to him about the rabbit then."

"Oh, yes," agreed Kitty; "that will do very well. No one has come for the basket, Bob; it's still hanging up in the scullery; I noticed it just now."

Tim started, suddenly remembering the covered basket, which, until this moment, he had entirely forgotten he had left behind him the night before when Snip had startled him into flight. Could that be the basket to which Kitty referred? Yes, it must be. He stood pondering, turning over in his mind the best way of letting his companions know that this new pet was his present, and at length, by way of leading up to the point, he asked, with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes:

"When did you get the rabbit?"

"Last night," Kitty responded. "It's a present from one of Bob's school friends."

"Oh!" gasped Tim, utterly astounded at this statement.

"Yes. I was going to buy it from Tom Hatch, but he has given it to me instead," the little girl explained. "He sent it last night."

"And we don't in the least know who brought it," said Bob with a laugh; "for Snip scared whoever it was off the premises."

"But—are you sure it was Tom Hatch who sent it?" Tim inquired.

"Of course," answered Kitty, a trifle impatiently. "Who else could it have been?"

"Oh, yes; it was Tom right enough," Bob agreed.

For a minute Tim was tempted to tell them they were wrong; but would they believe him if he did? He doubted if they would; and, upon reflection, he decided to hold his tongue and let them think the donor of the rabbit had been Tom Hatch. How different his plan for ingratiating himself with his companions had turned out from what he had expected, and how vexed and disappointed he felt!







AFTER Tim Shuttleworth's formal introduction to the Glanville family his time no longer hung on his hands, for he was now always sure of a welcome next door; and, during the remainder of Bob's holidays, the two boys were constantly together. Bob, who had certainly been prejudiced against Tim at first, soon grew to like him, for he proved a congenial companion, being very good-natured; and, although he owned a passionate temper, it could not be called a bad one, as Bob was not long in finding out.

Kitty watched the growing friendship between her brother and Tim with anything but approval. She could not overcome her prejudice against the plain-faced, red-headed boy, and, perhaps, she was a little jealous of him, too, for monopolising so much of Bob's society; besides which, she still believed he was not guiltless concerning the death of her first rabbit—for, though two years the junior of her brother, she was far more observant than he was, and she had noticed something strange in Tim's manner when he had been shown Fluffy on the night when he had first seen their guest. Tim could not help perceiving that Kitty was not altogether well-disposed towards him, so he tried to propitiate her, and frequently with such success that she forgot her suspicion against him and treated him with the same good-comradeship she exhibited towards her brother.

It made Tim very happy to be on friendly terms with the family next door, and before the time came for Kitty and Bob to return to school, he was as much at home in their house as in his uncle's. On several occasions he had noticed the covered basket he had dropped by the rabbit hutch hanging on a peg behind the scullery door, and had heard Kitty and Bob wondering why it had not been fetched; but, of course, he could not lay claim to it, and it was not until, one day, he heard Deborah—his uncle's elderly servant, who was housekeeper as well—grumbling because she could not find it, that the thought occurred to him that he ought to try to get it back.

"I suppose you've not seen my basket by any chance, Master Tim," Deborah said, coming out of the tool-house, where she had been searching for the missing article. "It's a covered basket—the one I take to market every Saturday." It was Saturday afternoon, and Deborah, wearing her bonnet and cloak, was ready to start to make her weekly purchases.

"I believe I did see it a few days ago," Tim replied evasively, turning red as he spoke. "Do you want it particularly now, Deborah?"

"Why, yes, Master Tim, I do. I always keep it in one place—on the shelf just inside the tool-house door—so someone must have moved it." She regarded Tim accusingly, noting his heightened colour.

"Perhaps I did," he admitted. "I—I tidied the tool-house yesterday."

"Didn't you see it then?" she inquired.

"No; but I'll promise to have a look for it and try to find it by-and-by. I—I can't stay now, for I'm going in town with Bob Glanville, Can't you manage to do without it for once, Deborah?"

"I suppose I've no choice, Master Tim, as it can't be found; but I haven't another basket so suitable for carrying butter and eggs in. However, I must do the best I can." And Deborah went into the house muttering something about boys being always meddlesome.

"I believe she thinks I've had the basket—and, of course, I have," thought Tim, uneasily. "I'm glad she didn't ask me what I'd done with it. Somehow or other I'll have to get it back."

But how? That was the question occupying his mind all that afternoon which he spent in company with Bob Glanville. He could not ask for the basket, he did not like to take it, and he was sorely puzzled what to do. He was aware that Kitty still suspected him of knowing how her first rabbit had met with its death; and now he was friendly with the Glanvilles, he was more than ever anxious that they should not learn the truth, which, he believed, if they knew, they would never speak to him again. He was appeased to see how fond Kitty was growing of her new pet, and thought regretfully of the circumstances which had prevented his acknowledging that he had bought it for her. But he still hesitated to set the matter on a right footing, doubting if his word would be taken against that of Tom Hatch, of whom Kitty now always spoke with the deepest gratitude, which made it all the more difficult for Tim to undeceive her and declare that Bob's school-fellow, on whose kindness and generosity she was continually harping, had gone from his promise.

Saturday was always the busiest day of the week at B—, and on this afternoon the streets were thronged with farmers who jostled good-naturedly against each other as they discussed cattle and crops, whilst their wives and daughters stood behind the long rows of stalls, in the butter and poultry market, gossiping and doing business by turns.

"I always like the town best on a market day," remarked Bob to Tim, as they stood watching a cheap-jack selling umbrellas, and marvelling at his flow of words, which never seemed to fail. "It's fun watching the country people; they seem to be having such a good time. Oh, I say, Shuttleworth, do look at that old chap over there with those white rats. You haven't seen him, have you? Let us go and watch what he is doing. He's here every week."

They elbowed their way through the crowd until they found themselves close to a stall, behind which a hook-nosed old man, whom Tim recognised at once as Mr. Jacob Dottin, was haranguing several young farmers who were listening and laughing. Out of a box he had taken several white rats, one of which had perched itself on his shoulder, whilst another had hidden in his sleeve and the head of a third peeped out of the breast pocket of his coat; and ranged before him on the stall were scores of little blue paper packets.

"Isn't he a queer old chap?" whispered Bob. "His name is Dottin, and he has a shop in the place—in a back street it is."

"I know," Tim responded. "I've seen it. I suppose he is trying to see those rats?"

"Yes; and he sells rat poison, too—some patent stuff he makes himself. See, that farmer is going to have several packets. I'm not afraid of rats, but I shouldn't care to let them run over me like that, should you?"

Tim was about to reply when Mr. Dottin caught sight of him and recognised him with a most affable nod.

"You know him?" Bob exclaimed in surprise, as Tim, colouring, returned the old man's salutation.

"Yes," Tim answered, moving away from the stall, for he did not wish to give Mr. Dottin an opportunity of speaking to him, fearing he might refer, in Bob's presence, to the purchase of the rabbit. "I was standing outside his shop one day last week when he came out and invited me to look at his 'little family,' as he called his animals."

"That was really very jolly of him! He has quite a menagerie, I've heard."

"Yes, he has."

"Some of the Grammar School boys buy pets from him, but they say he's a regular old sweep—will take them in if he can, you know. What an oddity he looks, doesn't he?"

"Yes; but I don't think he's a bad sort of old fellow."

"I dare say not; he must be good-natured or he wouldn't have had you in to look at his stock. Wouldn't Kitty have liked to have been in your shoes! She's just crazed about animals."

"Mr. Dottin said I was welcome to have a look round his shop any time, and bring my friends," Tim explained, "so perhaps you and Kitty would like to pay the old fellow a visit with me, would you?" As he made this suggestion, he reflected that he could easily make a point of seeing Mr. Dottin beforehand, and ask him not to mention that there had been a business transaction between them.

"We should both like to have a good look at his animals, I'm sure," Bob rejoined eagerly, "but it can't be for a bit. You know the schools reopen next week—the Grammar School on Monday and Kitty's school on Thursday. We might go and see Mr. Dottin one Saturday afternoon."

"All right," agreed Tim.

Accordingly the plan was left in abeyance.

"I wish I was going to have a term's holiday, like you," said Bob a short while later, as they left the market-place and turned homewards. "It's so jolly to be able to do just what one likes, and Mr. Shuttleworth doesn't interfere with you in any way, does he?"

"Oh, no," Tim rejoined. "Sometimes I wish he did. He spends most of his days shut up in his study. He's writing a book—a tremendously clever book it is, I expect—but what about I haven't the least notion. He was always very learned even when he was a boy, I've heard father say. And he hasn't got to work for his living, so he can please himself how he spends his time."

"Is he better off than your father, then?" asked Bob, somewhat diffidently, for he did not know how his companion would take the question.

"Yes," Tim answered calmly, "he has money which an uncle left him. It was very kind of Uncle John to ask me here, but I wish he was more like father," he concluded with a regretful sigh.

"You are to have tea with us," announced Bob, as they came within sight of home. "Mother said I was to bring you in. You'll come, won't you?"

"But I had tea with you yesterday," demurred Tim, his face flushing with pleasure, "I seem to be half my time in your house now."

Nevertheless he was easily persuaded to enter the Glanvilles' door instead of his uncle's. Kitty met the two boys in the hall, curious to ascertain where they had spent the afternoon; she herself had been shopping with her mother. Bob explained where they had been, and told her that Tim was acquainted with the vendor of rat poison who attended the weekly market, and that she was to be taken to see the old man's collection of animals and birds one Saturday afternoon "if she was a good girl, and behaved herself."

"If I behave myself, indeed!" she cried, with a toss of her fair head. "I dare say he would show them to me if I went alone."

"Mother wouldn't like you to do that," returned Bob, "for he lives in a very poor part of the town, in a back street."

The children were obliged to content themselves in the house after tea, for a drizzling rain came on; they managed to enjoy themselves, however, and at eight o'clock Tim went home.

Half an hour later, when Kitty ran upstairs to tidy herself before supper, she opened her bedroom window—her room was at the back of the house—and leaned out to ascertain if it still rained. It was dry now, and the moon, a silver crescent, was shining between the clouds. The little girl was about to draw in her head when a faint movement below caused her to pause and listen attentively. Some one was close to the back door, apparently leaning into the scullery window, which had been left open.

"Why, it's a boy!" thought Kitty; "I wonder what he can be doing here? Perhaps it's Bob. No, Bob's in the dining-room. Why, goodness, I believe it's Tim! And yet, I suppose it cannot be, for he went home ages ago."

At that instant the figure began to move stealthily away, carrying something which looked, Kitty thought, like a basket. Fascinated, she watched it as it cautiously hurried round the side of the house; then, rushing downstairs, she passed like a whirlwind through the kitchen and into the scullery beyond.

Yes, the idea which had flashed upon her had been right—it was the unclaimed basket which had gone, and that horrid, cheeky boy next door, she felt certain, was the thief.

Full of indignation at his daring and dishonesty, she dashed into the dining-room to her parents and Bob, and amazed them by a panting and excited account of the discovery she had made.







KITTY'S statement that Tim Shuttleworth had stolen the covered basket was received with incredulity by the family generally; but she led the way to the scullery, and pointed triumphantly to the empty peg behind the door as witness to the proof of her tale.

"There!" she cried. "See for yourselves! What do you think now?"

"That the basket has certainly been taken," her father rejoined. "But calm yourself, Kitty, and don't jump to a conclusion which may be quite wrong. You say you saw a boy reaching into the scullery window, and afterwards carry away a basket. Are you sure it was Tim? May it not have been another boy of about his height and size? Moonlight is very deceptive, remember."

In her own mind the little girl was confident that it had been Tim whom she had seen, though she had caught no glimpse of his face.

But whilst she momentarily hesitated over her reply, Bob exclaimed impatiently: "Of course she's not sure; she's made a mistake, I'm positive of it! Tim Shuttleworth wouldn't steal the basket! Why should he? What good would it be to him? Depend upon it the rabbit was brought the other evening by the same boy who fetched the basket to-night; he merely helped himself to his own property, and, being afraid of Snip, did it as quietly as possible."

"But how could he tell the basket was behind the scullery door, Master Bob?" asked Cook, dubiously.

"Perhaps he's an errand-boy who comes to the house, and noticed it there," suggested Mary.

"Very likely," agreed Mrs. Glanville; "but if so, he might have asked for it in a proper manner instead of helping himself to it after dark. I wish, Kitty dear," she continued, addressing her little daughter with a note of reproach in her voice, "you would not be so ready to think evil of Tim Shuttleworth. He strikes me as a particularly nice boy, certainly not one who would do a dishonest action. Depend upon it, you have made a mistake."

"I don't believe I have," declared Kitty. "I didn't see his face, but I am sure—that is, almost sure—it was Tim."

"Absurd!" Bob cried. "What will you accuse him of doing next, I wonder? First you thought he killed your rabbit, and now you believe him to a thief. You're utterly silly."

"I'm not," retorted Kitty, looking deeply mortified and vexed that she could get no one to credit the charge she had brought against the boy next door. "I think he's a horrid boy," she declared hotly, "and I believe he'd do anything—so there! I shall tell him the next time I see him that I was watching him to-night, and hear what he has to say."

"You will do nothing of the kind, Kitty," her father admonished her; "for that would be tantamount to accusing him of having stolen the basket. I forbid you to mention the matter to him; it would naturally make him feel most uncomfortable if you did. We have not known the boy many days, it is true, but quite long enough to know that he is not a thief."

"Yes, indeed, father," agreed Bob. "I believe he's the sort of boy who wouldn't do anything dishonourable or mean for the world. Since I've known him I've liked him—though I admit before that I'd rather taken sides against him. I suppose Kitty, you've no objection to my changing my mind?"

Kitty made no response, but her eyes flashed resentfully at her brother, and she was conscious of a jealous feeling against Tim which did not soften her heart towards him. She had not calculated that Bob would become so friendly with the enemy next door.

"I don't see why you need persist in thinking of Shuttleworth so suspiciously," Bob proceeded. "I'm sure he's as nice as possible to you now; and he told me only yesterday how sorry he was that he spoke to us so rudely over the wall that day Snip ruined his garden; but he thought we had made Snip do it on purpose, so it was no wonder he was mad."

"Oh, you may try to make excuses for him now," Kitty said, scornfully; "but I don't forget all he said and how he looked (ugh! he is an ugly boy!); and I believe he meant every word he spoke."

"I dare say he did at the time," admitted Bob; "but I'm sure he didn't afterwards."

"Come, children, don't wrangle," said their mother. "I am sure, Kitty, when you were playing with your brother and Tim this evening you all seemed the best of friends. Come and have supper, and don't trouble about the basket. It's gone, and I've no doubt the rightful owner has it. I am glad Snip did not frighten him to-night."

"Snip was in the dining-room," said Bob. "By the way, Kitty, had you not better see that your rabbit is all right? Perhaps your enemy next door has stolen Fluffy too."

Although quite aware that her brother was laughing at her, Kitty took his advice, and assured herself that her pet was safe before she joined the others at supper, during which meal she was unusually silent and preoccupied, by no means convinced that she had mistaken another boy for Tim. And, as a matter of fact, the little girl was quite right in her belief that Tim had taken the covered basket; for, after returning to his uncle's house, he had waited until the rain had ceased, and then had quietly gone out again and stolen round to the Glanvilles' back door and purloined the basket through the scullery window. He had been unable to think of any better way of regaining Deborah's property; and having placed it on the shelf inside the tool-house door, he went to bed with an easy mind, little guessing that Kitty had seen and recognised him.

On Monday Bob went to school at nine o'clock. It was a beautiful morning in the first week in May; the air was fragrant with the scent of lilac and hawthorn, and the big apple tree at the bottom of the Glanvilles' garden was one mass of bloom.

Kitty, as soon as she had seen her brother depart and had attended to the needs of Fluffy, strolled down to the apple tree, and perched herself on her favourite branch in the midst of a mass of blossoms. She wondered what Tim would do now Bob had gone to school, and if he would be very dull; she had been congratulating herself upon the fact that she had three days more holiday than her brother, but she scarcely knew how she would pass the time without a companion. By-and-by, when Tim appeared in Mr. Shuttleworth's garden, her face brightened, and she half hoped he would speak to her, so that she was rather pleased than otherwise when he came closer and suddenly glanced up. He caught sight of her immediately, and a friendly smile crossed his countenance.

"Hullo!" he cried by way of greeting. "I say you're in a regular nest of flowers," he proceeded. "Even Uncle John noticed that tree this morning—he said he had never seen it so full of bloom before. You will have a fine crop of apples later on."

"Yes, if all's well," Kitty responded; "and they are such nice apples—Blenheim oranges; we gather them early in October, and hoard them—they don't get properly ripe till nearly Christmas."

"Then I shan't taste them," said Tim. "What a pity!" He was looking up at Kitty with rather a wistful expression on his face, wishing she would invite him to join her in the tree; but as that was evidently not her intention, he fetched the ladder and perched himself on the wall close by. "Do you remember the first time I looked at you and Bob over the wall?" he asked.

"Yes," nodded Kitty.

"I was hoping you would speak to me, and you didn't."

"We thought it rather a cheek of you to stare at us," she informed him.

"I didn't mean it for cheek," he replied. "Really, I didn't."

"You made an ugly face at Bob; you couldn't call that good manners."

"I did it because he called Snip away; that wasn't very nice of him, was it?"

"No-o-o," she admitted, for that had been her opinion at the time. "Bob's gone to school," she observed presently.

"I know; I saw him start. I shall miss him. But your father says I may join him in his walks: isn't that kind of him? And he's going to take me fishing; I haven't a rod, but Bob says I can use his. Do you get a whole holiday on Saturday, like Bob?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then we must make the most of Saturdays," said Tim, regarding the little girl with a smile. "Are there many girls at your school?" he inquired.

"About twenty—none over twelve years old, and some are as young as five. There's a kindergarten class."

Tim nodded. He had heard Bob speak of the school Kitty attended somewhat disparagingly, as "a school for kids."

"I'm ten years old, you know," she proceeded to explain, "and I've been at school since I was six."

"Then I suppose you're the head in class by this time?" he suggested.

"No," Kitty answered sharply, with a slight show of confusion in her manner; for, truth to tell, she was rather a dunce. Meeting the glance of Tim's eyes, she saw they were twinkling humorously. "I suppose Bob's been telling tales of me, saying that I'm at the bottom of the third class?" she cried, with sudden wrath.

"No, no; indeed he hasn't," he assured her. "Don't be cross! I expect you're like me, and don't care for lessons much."

She nodded, mollified at once. After that there was silence for some minutes. Tim kicked his heels against the wall and whistled light-heartedly whilst Kitty longed to speak to him of the covered basket; but remembering what her father had said in reference to the suggestion she had made of doing so, she kept silent upon the subject.

"Are any of the seeds you planted in your garden coming up?" she asked by-and-by.

"Oh, yes, I think so," he answered. "There's something springing—mignonette, I expect; I sowed a lot of that. How do you manage to keep Snip off your flower-beds? I see he doesn't do any damage in your garden."

"No, because he knows it's ours; and that's why he doesn't interfere with Fluffy. If he saw a rabbit anywhere else he'd kill it in an instant. Snip's very sharp; he always was, even as a tiny puppy. I believe he knows all we say to him; and see how excited he gets if we ask him if he's going walking. I'm afraid he has rather a dull time when we're at school, though father takes him out in the afternoons; but he likes going with Bob and me better than with father, because we let him do as he likes," Kitty confessed ingenuously.

Tim laughed. "Do you know that your mother has asked me to go to the grammar school sports with her next week?" he asked. "Yes, she has," he continued, as the little girl shook her head. "Isn't it jolly and thoughtful of her? Bob said he could get a card of invitation for Uncle John; but sports aren't in his line, he says; and I'm glad they're not, for I'd far rather go with Mrs. Glanville. I suppose you'll be there too, won't you?"

"Oh, yes, and father. You know Bob's going in for several races besides the high jump. I wouldn't miss the sports for anything. Oh, I must go in, for there's mother at the back door beckoning to me. I expect she wants to send me on an errand," and Kitty began to descend the apple tree as she spoke.

"Take care!" cried Tim warningly, as the little girl, eager to impress him with her agility, swung herself somewhat recklessly from one branch to another.

"All right," she replied. "I shan't fall. I could climb this tree when I was six years old."

The words were scarcely out of her mouth when her foot slipped, and her whole weight was thrown upon the slight bough to which she was clinging. A moment later the bough snapped off, and Kitty, with a terrified shriek, fell heavily to the ground.







TIM'S first idea on witnessing Kitty's accident was that she had killed herself; but before he had time to move the ladder from one side of the wall to the other and descend to her assistance, which he set about doing at once, she had struggled into a sitting posture, and as he reached her side she was trying to get up. That, however, she found she could not do, for she had injured her right foot in her fall; and her face was colourless and drawn with pain, and her blue eyes full of frightened tears as she raised them to Tim's scared countenance.

"Oh, Kitty, are you hurt much?" he inquired anxiously, extending a hand to help her to rise.

"Don't touch me," she almost shrieked. "I believe I'm bruised all over, and my foot is hurting me dreadfully—I think all the bones in it are broken! Oh, dear, what shall I do? Please fetch father—fetch him at once!" And the little girl burst into a storm of tears and sobs.

Tim, pale as a sheet himself, rushed to the house to do Kitty's bidding; and a few minutes later he returned, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Glanville and the two servants. Mr. Glanville carried his little daughter indoors, and laid her on the sofa in the dining-room; then he suggested sending for a doctor.

"Yes," assented his wife, who was carefully withdrawing the shoe from poor Kitty's injured foot. "There, dear, it's off," she said, soothingly, as Kitty moaned with pain.

"Let me go," said Tim, who was hovering about the doorway, deeply concerned. "Ah! Do let me go; I'll run all the way."

"There's no need for such hurry as that—" said Mr. Glanville "at least, I think not. But if you will go and ask Dr. Richards to come round and see Kitty, I shall be very glad. I dare say you'll catch him before he starts on his morning round. You know where he lives?"

"Oh, yes—just round the corner," Tim replied. "Bob pointed out the house to me, and said your doctor lived there. I'll be back in a jiffy."

In spite of what Mr. Glanville had said Tim ran all the way, for he thought most seriously of Kitty's condition; and, as it happened, it was fortunate he did, for Dr. Richards was on the point of stepping into his gig when the little boy rushed up to him—a moment later he would have been gone.

"Oh, please," panted Tim excitedly, "will you go to Mr. Glanville's first of all? There's been a dreadful accident. Kitty's fallen from a tree, and is so injured! She's bruised all over, and has broken every bone in her right foot. I'm afraid she's very bad."

"I'll go and see her at once," the doctor replied, not looking nearly so impressed as Tim had expected he would; and, getting into his gig, he drove away.

The little boy retraced his footsteps soberly, and found the doctor's gig outside the Glanvilles' house on his return. He went round to the back of the house and discussed Kitty's accident with Cook in the kitchen; and when he heard Mary opening the front door for the doctor to depart, he begged Cook to go and ascertain what was the medical opinion of the patient, which she was very willing to do.

"She's more frightened than hurt, Master Tim," Cook told him reassuringly, coming back after a short absence from the kitchen. "Dr. Richards has bandaged her sprained foot, and he says she must be kept quiet; but there's no need to be alarmed about her—she'll soon be all right again."

"Oh, how glad I am to hear that!" cried Tim thankfully; "I quite thought she had killed herself!" he added, with a shudder.

"Young bones fall light," remarked Cook. "I hope this will be a lesson to Miss Kitty not to be so hoydenish in future; why she hasn't fallen from that apple tree before I really don't know."

Meanwhile, Kitty, according to the doctor's order, was being put to bed by her mother and Mary. She was bruised and shaken, and her foot was giving her a great deal of pain, so that altogether she was feeling very low-spirited and unwell.

Bob, on his return from school at mid-day, was greatly concerned on hearing of his sister's accident; but she would not tell him how it had happened. Accordingly, he sought Tim, and learnt from him that the little girl had been climbing down from the tree very carelessly, when she lost her footing, and thus brought about the mishap.

"I suppose she was showing off because you were watching her," observed Bob, jumping at once to the right conclusion.

"Yes," nodded Tim, "that was it; but please don't tell her I said so," he added hastily.

"All right," agreed Bob, "I won't. Poor Kitty, she'll be tied by the leg for a bit, I suppose. I wonder if she'll be well enough to come to the sports?"

That was the thought which troubled Kitty herself. Dr. Richards kept her in bed only two days, after which she lay on the sofa in the dining-room. Of course there was no question of her returning to school on Thursday. She did not mind that in the least; but it worried her to think she might not be well by Saturday week, which was the day fixed for the grammar school sports. Dr. Richards would not say she would be able to go, and when questioned upon the point merely answered evasively, "Oh, we'll see."

"I suppose Bob is taking good care of Fluffy?" the little girl remarked to her mother one morning after she was comfortably settled on the sofa, with Snip on the rug at her feet.

"Oh, Tim's seeing to Fluffy," Mrs. Glanville replied. "He cleans out the hutch every day, I believe. He offered to take charge of your pet, and we were glad he could do so; for, you know, Bob has little spare time, what with his lessons and practising for the sports."

"It's very kind of Tim," admitted Kitty, rather grudgingly.

"Tim is kind," said Mrs. Glanville, in a tone of decision; "and he has been greatly concerned about you, my dear; he continually calls to know how you are. I hear his voice at the door now. Wouldn't you like to see him?"

"Yes, I think I should," Kitty answered. "It was very good of him to fetch Dr. Richards so quickly the other morning—I thought so at the time. Please, mother, ask him to come in."

So Tim came in, his plain, freckled face very bright, and told Kitty how very glad he was she was better, and reported that Fluffy was doing well under his care. Kitty thanked him for looking after her pet; and then, as she expressed a desire to see Fluffy, Tim fetched the rabbit, and she kissed its pink nose and fondled it, until Snip, watching her from the corners of his eyes, began to show symptoms of jealousy, and it was deemed advisable to restore Fluffy to the hutch.

Tim's visit did much to cheer Kitty, and she asked him to come again, which he accordingly did very willingly. She began to think that she had been mistaken in believing it had been he who had stolen the covered basket; but she could not entirely rid her mind of the suspicion that he had had something to do with the mysterious death of the first rabbit, though she would gladly have done so.

And Tim, when he met the gaze of Kitty's honest blue eyes, was often conscience-stricken, remembering how she had asked him point blank if he had overturned the box which had held her rabbit, and he had answered, "No, certainly not." What would be her opinion of him if she ever found out his untruthfulness? He was beginning to think less of the impetuous act which he had done in his temper than of the denial he had uttered; and now he knew the Glanvilles, he saw that they would more easily understand and overlook the revengeful deed than the deliberate falsehood, for both Kitty and Bob were particularly honourable children. How difficult it would be to make them believe that he did not tell stories as a rule, but that he had succumbed to temptation because he had been lonely and desired their friendship, which he had feared he would never gain if he confessed the truth.

It was nearly a week before Kitty was fit to stand on her injured foot again, and then she was only able to limp about—"a lame duck," her brother called her. Nevertheless, she declared her intention of attending the grammar school sports. And, much to her joy, Dr. Richards gave it as his opinion that it would do her no harm to go, if she was driven to the ground where the sports were to be held, and sat down as much as she could whilst she was there. Accordingly, when the long-looked-forward-to afternoon arrived, she drove off in a cab with her mother and father and Tim Shuttleworth in the best of possible spirits.

The ground belonging to the grammar school was a short distance out of the town. And as the cab drew up at the entrance gate, Bob, wearing his colours—pale blue and silver, which his sister had chosen—left the group of boys with whom he had been chatting, and ran up to it.

"You'd better come and sit on one of the seats near the hedge, Kitty," he said, as he assisted the little girl to alight. "They're going to run off the heats first of all, and you'll have a good sight from there. See, there's an empty seat with room for all of you; and there's a board for you to put your feet upon, so you can't possibly catch cold."

Bob led the way with his sister, and the others followed. It was a beautiful May afternoon, warm and sunshiny, and there were a lot of visitors present, for the grammar school at B— numbered many pupils, who had brought their relations and friends to witness the sports. By-and-by the town band arrived to play selections of music between the various performances.

"Have you seen Tom Hatch?" inquired Kitty of her brother.

"No; but one of the masters told me he was here with his people," Bob replied. "I expect I shall run against him presently. Shall I tell him you want to speak to him, Kitty?"

"Yes, do," she said, eagerly.

At that moment her brother was called away, and she turned to Tim, who was seated next to her, and entered into conversation with him. He had not heard what she and her brother had been saying, for he had been talking to Mrs. Glanville, who was on his other side. Very shortly after that the sports commenced, and Kitty had no eyes but for those engaged in them, all of whom she knew by sight, if not to speak to.

Much to his sister's delight, Bob distinguished himself on several occasions that afternoon, more especially in the high jump, in which he easily beat the other competitors of his age.

"He will get the first prize," Kitty whispered to Tim, a thrill of intense gratification in her voice. "I'm so glad."

"So am I," returned Tim heartily, and he rose and went with Mr. Glanville to offer Bob his congratulations.

"Your father is going to get us some tea presently," remarked Mrs. Glanville to her little daughter. "It will be nicer to have it here than in the refreshment tent."

"Yes," agreed Kitty. "Oh, mother, there's Tom Hatch!" she cried a moment later, as a boy of about Bob's age passed the seat, and took off his cap to them. "Oh, Tom, stop a minute!"

There was nothing for Tom to do but to come back and shake hands with Mrs. Glanville and Kitty. He was a shy-looking boy, and his manner was rather embarrassed.

"I wanted to see you to speak to you about that rabbit—" Kitty was commencing, when he interrupted her hastily.

"Oh, yes!" he exclaimed, growing very red. "I was so sorry I couldn't let you have it after all. The truth is, I—I sold it, and made a good price of it. I ought to have let you know, of course; but I was so rushed for time, and—I hope you didn't mind?"

"But you did send the rabbit!" said Kitty, looking bewildered. "At least, I suppose it was you who sent it, for I found a dear little rabbit had been put in my hutch, and as you had told Bob you meant to give me one I guessed it had come from you."

"Yes, yes, I did tell him you should have one," Tom admitted. "But I—well, I broke my word, I'm afraid. In fact," the boy added in greater confusion than before, "I—I acted awfully shabbily about it."

"Then you didn't send the rabbit?" the little girl gasped. "Oh, please understand I'm not a bit angry, but—" her eyes opening in a wide stare of incredulity, "I should like to be quite certain."

Tom shook his head. "No," he said emphatically, "I give you my word I didn't send it. Somebody else must have done it as a surprise. At any rate, the rabbit wasn't mine."







WHEN Mr. Glanville returned to his wife and little daughter, as he did ten minutes after he had left them, bearing a tray which held their tea, Kitty inquired eagerly where her brother was, and received the reply that, at the present moment, he was engaged in eating sponge-cakes and ices in the refreshment tent, in company with Tim Shuttleworth.

"You don't want him, do you, my dear?" asked Mr. Glanville, noticing she was looking excited, and hoping he and her mother had not acted unwisely in bringing her to the sports.

"No," Kitty responded; "but I have seen Tom Hatch. And, oh, father, what do you think? He never sent me that rabbit he told Bob he was going to give me, after all! And now I can't imagine where Fluffy came from. You may well look surprised. I consider Tom served me very shabbily. He ought not to have made a promise and then have broken it."

"I could not help pitying him when Kitty spoke to him about the rabbit," Mrs. Glanville said, smiling at the remembrance of the boy's embarrassed countenance. "It must have been very awkward for him."

"Very," agreed Mr. Glanville. "I don't wonder that you are astonished, Kitty; I confess I am."

"And I was so grateful to Tom!" exclaimed Kitty. "I thought he had been so very kind. Dear me, how puzzled I do feel!"

"The mystery now is, who made you a present of your rabbit?" Mr. Glanville said. "But, come, my dear, drink your tea, and eat something. Don't let this surprise spoil your appetite."

Kitty did not, but enjoyed her tea immensely. The junior high jump had been the last item on the programme, and after a short interval, during which most of the visitors sought the refreshment tent, it was followed by the distribution of the prizes, which were given away by the head master's wife.

It was a proud moment for Kitty when she saw her brother presented with the cup he had won for the high jump, and a prouder still when he made his way through the crowd of spectators, who cheered him heartily. He placed his prize into her hands, with the request that she would take it home for him.

"I've introduced Shuttleworth to Jack Richards, and Jack's asked us both to go back to his house to high tea with a lot of other fellows, so we shan't be going home with you," he explained. "I've father's permission to go, and he's promised to tell Mr. Shuttleworth, Tim's with me, so that will be all right."

"Oh, yes," answered Kitty, in rather a disappointed tone, for she was longing for a talk with her brother, to tell him about her interview with Tom Hatch, as well as to discuss the events of the afternoon.

"I'm glad you're having a good time, Bob," she continued more brightly, "and I'm so very proud you've won this beautiful prize."

"So am I," said Mrs. Glanville. "It is a very handsome cup, and it shall have a prominent place on the sideboard, I promise you. Go back to your friends, my boy; your father will see to us."

As soon as the prize-giving was over, Mr. and Mrs. Glanville and Kitty drove home. Mr. Shuttleworth, when informed that his nephew would not return till later, as he was going to take tea with Bob and several other Grammar School boys at Dr. Richards's, was quite satisfied, and expressed himself very pleased at Tim's having increased his number of acquaintances in the place.

Kitty, who was very tired after the excitement of the afternoon, went to bed somewhat early. But she knew she would not be able to sleep until she had seen her brother, and desired that the moment he came home he might be sent upstairs. When at last he returned, it was nearly nine o'clock, and Kitty had grown impatient.

"Tired, old girl?" he asked, as he entered his sister's room, and having turned up the gas, sat down on the edge of the bed. "We've had such a splendid time," continued he, without waiting for a reply. "Mrs. Richards had got us a first-rate tea—ham and pickles, and jams and cake; and the doctor was there, and was ever so jolly. Jack Richards has taken quite a fancy to Tim; they're the same age—that is, Jack was eleven last October, and Tim was eleven in January; and—"

"Oh, Bob, let me tell you about Tom Hatch," interposed Kitty. "I hadn't the chance of speaking to you about him this afternoon. Do you know he never sent me that rabbit he told you he'd give me? He sold it instead. It was very mean of him, wasn't it? Did you ever hear of anything meaner? I don't think I ever did, and father says the same. It makes me so cross to remember how kind I've been thinking him, and how grateful I've felt. Fancy promising to make a present and then not doing it! I can't imagine how anyone can behave like that!"

"But—but—he didn't send the rabbit, you say?" questioned Bob, every whit as astonished as Kitty and his parents had been a short while previously. "Then who did send it? What about Fluffy?"

"Ah! that's what I want to know!" exclaimed Kitty. "Isn't it puzzling? Some one must have put Fluffy in the hutch; but who?"

"Well, I am amazed, simply amazed!" declared Bob. "I should think it is puzzling! Of course I thought Hatch had sent the rabbit, as he had told me about it. I didn't speak of it till we found it in the hutch, because I knew Hatch's word wasn't to be relied on. What a muddle the whole affair is!"

"Yes," agreed Kitty. "Mother and father say the same. I've been lying here thinking of it, and the more I think the more bewildered I get. If only Fluffy could speak!"

"Or Snip," said Bob, with a laugh. "He knows as much as any one, for I expect he saw the person who brought the rabbit. Don't you remember what a row he kicked up?"

"Yes, of course, Bob," said Kitty, dropping her voice to a solemn whisper and speaking hesitatingly. "You don't think that—that it could have been Tim Shuttleworth, do you?"

"Why, no, Kitty. What could have put such an idea into your head? It's not in the least likely. If Tim had wanted to make you a present, he needn't have done it in that way."

"I suppose it's an absurd idea; but—but we hardly knew Tim then—"

"Which makes it all the more unlikely that he would think of giving you a rabbit," Bob interposed decidedly.

"You know I thought it was he who took the covered basket from behind the scullery door," the little girl reminded her brother, after a brief silence, during which they had both been pondering deeply.

"So you did. I had forgotten that for the minute." Bob paused, and after a little further reflection continued gravely, "I tell you what, we won't say a word to Tim about Tom Hatch's not having sent the rabbit; but I'll make a few inquiries and try to find out where Fluffy came from. I dare say I shall get at the truth. Lots of the Grammar School boys keep rabbits, and they'll be sure to know who keeps Angoras."

"I believe Fluffy is pure-bred," observed Kitty complacently. "The butcher's boy said so, and I expect he knows."

"I dare say. Perhaps it was foolish of me to take it for granted that Tom Hatch had kept his word; but when I saw the rabbit I never dreamt of suspecting it came from anyone else. Not a word to Tim, mind."

"Oh, no, and we must tell mother and father not to mention the matter to him! Oh, Bob, if it should have been Tim—"

"Well, what then?"

"I—haven't been always nice to him," the little girl admitted, "and I've thought that he was spiteful and untruthful. Suppose I should have been quite wrong? He has been very kind to me since I fell off the apple tree—often I should have been dreadfully dull if he hadn't come in and talked to me. And if I find out that he gave me my dear Fluffy, I shall feel so bad about having been against him."

"Oh, well, I wouldn't worry about that," was the careless response. "You know I took against him at first, but I soon found out he was a jolly nice fellow, and he's very generous. His uncle tipped him half-a-crown before he started for the sports this afternoon, and he stood Richards and me sponge-cakes and ices—fourpenny ices, too. He would do it."

Kitty sighed. Hearing this made her more than ever inclined to believe that she had greatly misjudged the boy next door.

Meanwhile, Tim was being questioned by Mr. Shuttleworth as to how he had spent the afternoon and evening; and, finding his uncle appeared really interested in his doings, he gave him a glowing account of the athletic sports, which told how much he had enjoyed them.

"I should like you to see Bob Glanville's cup which he won for the high jump, Uncle John," he said. "I am sure he would be pleased to show it to you. Don't you think his people must be very proud of him?"

"I dare say they are," Mr. Shuttleworth replied. "He is a fine, handsome boy. So the girl has quite recovered from the results of her accident?"

"Oh, yes; she went with us this afternoon, you know. She's still a bit lame, but she's nearly all right; and she's going back to school on Monday—she isn't keen to go, but Mrs. Glanville says, as she was well enough to go to the sports, she must be well enough to go to school. Bob introduced me to a lot of boys, uncle, but I think I like Jack Richards the best. Wasn't it jolly of him to ask me to his house to tea? His father said he might. Do you know Dr. Richards, uncle?"

"Merely by sight. I am thankful to say I have never needed his professional services. But I have heard him well spoken of as a clever doctor, and I believe he is very popular in the town. How would you like to be a pupil at the B— Grammar School, Tim?"

"As a boarder, do you mean, Uncle John? Father is always talking of sending me to boarding-school, but I don't believe he can afford it. How I wish he could send me to the Grammar School here!"

"You would like that?"

"Rather! But it's so far away from home—my journey money to and from for the holidays would be so much, wouldn't it?"

"I think B— suits you," Mr. Shuttleworth observed, regarding his nephew thoughtfully. "You are looking much better than when you arrived."

"And I am feeling better," Tim rejoined brightly. "I used to get so shaky sometimes, but now I never do."

Mr. Shuttleworth nodded, well pleased. "Tim," he began seriously by-and-by, "I've been considering that I do not altogether like your receiving so much hospitality from our neighbours next door without your making some return."

"Oh, Uncle John!" cried Tim, fearing he was going to be told that he must not continue to run in and out of the Glanvilles' home.

"What do you say to asking the Glanville children to spend next Saturday afternoon with you here?" suggested Mr. Shuttleworth. "Deborah would do her best to get you a nice tea, I'm certain."

"Oh!" Tim's tone had changed to one of surprise and pleasure, whilst his face was one broad beam of delight. "I am sure Kitty and Bob will be very pleased to come; Kitty was saying the other day she had never seen the inside of your house."







"I'VE accepted an invitation for you, children," Mrs. Glanville said to Kitty and Bob during the dinner hour on the Monday following the athletic sports. "Tim came in this morning and asked my permission for you to take tea with him next Saturday afternoon."

"How nice!" exclaimed Kitty. "Of course, his uncle told him to ask us, mother?"

"Yes," Mrs. Glanville assented. "He brought a polite message from Mr. Shuttleworth."

"I rather wanted to play cricket on Saturday afternoon," said Bob, who was not so elated at the prospect of spending an hour or so next door as his sister. "But I suppose if you accepted the invitation, mother, we must go."

"Of course we must go," interposed Kitty. "Oh, please Bob, don't try to back out of going."

"I won't," Bob answered, laughing. "Come outdoors, Kitty; I've something to say to you privately," he added in a lower tone.

"I say, Kitty," Bob commenced, when the garden was reached, "do you know I'm beginning to think Fluffy may have come from Tim Shuttleworth, after all, and I'll tell you why I think so. When I got home from school half an hour ago, I thought I'd come in by the back door, and there, standing watching your rabbit, was the butcher boy—he delivers meat at Mr. Shuttleworth's too, it seems."

"Yes, he's been with Mudge, the butcher, for a long while," remarked Kitty. "His name's Dick Dart, and his mother's a widow who takes in washing—I've heard him tell cook so. Last year he received nearly five pounds in Christmas-boxes, and he's going to save his money to start for himself."

"Oh, never mind that," broke in Bob, who was not interested in the ambitions of the butcher boy, like his sister, whose nature it was to concern herself in other people's business. "But listen to me. There was the fellow watching your rabbit, as I said before."

"'That rabbit is getting as fat as butter,' he said, 'and its coat improves every day. Old Dottin would hardly know it.' I stared at that. 'Isn't it one of old Jacob Dottin's?' he went on, seeing, I suppose, that I was very surprised. 'I don't know,' I answered, 'someone made a present of it to my sister.' He laughed and winked. 'I understand,' he said, it's a secret who that someone is, but I expect it's the same person I recommended to go to old Dottin when he asked me if I knew anyone who had rabbits to sell.' 'Who was that?' I inquired. He's an aggravating boy, Kitty, he wouldn't tell me; but putting two and two together I think he may have meant Tim Shuttleworth, for Tim knows Jacob Dottin."

"Why, of course he does!" cried Kitty, excitedly. "He promised to take us to see the old man's animals and birds; we must remind him of that—no, we won't, though! I'll tell you what, Bob, you and I will go and see Jacob Dottin without Tim, and find out if he ever sold Tim a rabbit. I feel I shall never rest till I know, for certain, where Fluffy came from. If we learnt our lessons in the dinner hour to-morrow, couldn't we go to the old man's shop in the evening? I don't suppose he closes it very early."

It was easy for Kitty and Boy to slip off quietly the following evening, for Tim did not seek their society, believing they would be engaged in the preparation of their lessons for the next day, and Mr. and Mrs. Glanville were out, having gone to call on some friends. But one pair of sharp eyes kept watch on their movements, and they had not gone far from home before they became aware that Snip was following. The little dog appeared to know instinctively that they did not wish him to accompany them, for he persistently lurked behind only just keeping his mistress and master in sight.

When Kitty and Bob looked behind, he dawdled, pretending not to see them, as though he was taking a walk on his own account; but the minute they turned their heads, he hastened after them again. When Jacob Dottin's shop was reached Snip was just turning the corner of the street. So Bob opened the shop door quickly, and, pushing his sister in before him, entered himself, and shut the door behind him.

"What can I do for the pretty little lady?" Mr. Dottin proceeded to inquire amiably. "Sell her a singing bird, eh? I've a wonderful collection of canaries, varying in price from five to fifteen shillings. There's one now—a young one—singing as though he'd split his throat. Too noisy? Well, well, that's a matter of taste, of course. There's another whose song is not quite so shrill."

"I don't want to buy a canary, thank you." Kitty returned politely.

"Then what do you think of these love-birds, missie? You shall have the pair cheap."

"The fact is we don't want to buy anything to-night," said Bob frankly. "But we wish to ask you a few questions, if you'll be so good as to answer them."

"Indeed?" The old man's smiling countenance changed somewhat. "And suppose I decline to answer your questions, what then?" he inquired.

"Then we shall be as wise as we are now, no wiser," Bob said, with a laugh. "Oh, I say, Kitty, look at those white rabbits," he cried, turning to his sister, who followed the direction of his pointing finger. "They're just like your Fluffy."

"Yes," agreed Kitty, "so they are. But their coats are not so well kept as Fluffy's is now. I suppose you haven't time to comb them?" she questioned of Mr. Dottin.

"They're Angoras," he remarked. "No, missie, I haven't time to comb them. Have you a fancy for rabbits?"

"I love them," the little girl declared. "Not to eat, I don't mean that, but as pets, you know. I've a sweet little white rabbit called Fluffy, and it's exactly like those of yours."

"What we want to know is whether you sold a young Angora rabbit to a boy called Tim Shuttleworth," broke in Bob, coming abruptly to the real business of their visit.

"Tim Shuttleworth?" repeated Mr. Dottin. "I never, as far as I can remember, heard that name before!"

"You might not know the name, but you might know the boy," said Bob eagerly. "A boy about my height, but thinner, and about my age, with red hair, a turn up nose, a wide mouth, and a freckled face."

"A very plain boy, perhaps you'd call him ugly," supplemented Kitty.

A gleam of comprehension flitted across the old man's countenance, but it passed instantly, and his answer was evasive and disappointing. "I have several customers answering to the description you have given me of—your friend, is he?" he said, gravely. "Plain people are more plentiful than handsome ones, you know. When folks do business with me I don't take much notice of their looks. Why are you so anxious to discover if this Tim Shuttleworth has purchased a rabbit from me? Come now, tell me that."

The children were quite willing to do so, and Kitty commenced a rambling account of all that had led to their visit, beginning with the sudden demise of her first rabbit, and going on to explain the mysterious advent of Fluffy; but before she had brought her story to an end, the shop door opened and a customer came in with a request to be supplied with a particular mixture of bird seed, for which Mr. Dottin was, as a ticket in the window informed passers-by, the agent. Neither Kitty nor Bob noticed that Snip entered close on the heels of the customer, and the little dog, fearful that he would be seen and summarily ejected, stole silently into a corner, and hid behind a box.

All would have gone well if Snip had remained in his corner. But as soon as the customer had gone and Mr. Dottin again turned his attention to the children, Snip crept from behind the box, and sniffing the ground as he went, with a puzzled expression on his sharp little face, as though his sensitive nostrils had scented a smell he did not understand, as indeed was the case, he stealthily passed into the parlour beyond.

A few minutes later a series of barks—sharp and aggressive—broke upon the ears of the trio in the shop; and Kitty, who was concluding her tale, stopped suddenly, and exchanged a dismayed glance with her brother.

"That's our dog," Bob explained to Mr. Dottin. "I know his voice. We shut him out, but—"

The boy broke off. He was given no chance of finishing his sentence; for at that instant the air was rent by a great disturbance—blood-curdling yells, snaps, snarls, and guttural growls which sounded, as Kitty afterwards declared, worse than the most awful dog-fight she had ever heard. Then followed such piteous howls from Snip that the little girl wrung her hands in terror, and Mr. Dottin, seizing a large stick, rushed into the parlour in front of Bob, whose face was as white as death.

"Oh, Snip! He's been caught by something!" shrieked the boy. "Oh!" starting back. "How terrible! What a brute!"

"What is it? What is it?" cried Kitty, shocked beyond measure. "Oh, Snip, poor Snip! He's being killed, Bob! I can see it by your face!"







IT appeared ages to Kitty before the horrifying noise in the parlour ceased; but, in reality, in about three minutes after old Jacob Dottin and Bob had left her, the piercing yells stopped, and silence followed save for the angry voice of the master of the establishment, who was scolding and threatening in a tone which made her tremble, so harsh was it.

"I'll break every bone in your body if you move from that corner, you Bimbo—ill-conditioned beast that you are! I'll give you something you won't forget easily!" Kitty heard him say; and then he proceeded, evidently addressing Bob: "Take that mongrel of yours away at once, do you hear, at once!"

"All right," Bob answered; and the next moment he appeared in the shop, bearing Snip, who had been badly injured, in his arms, and followed by the old man, who cautiously shut the parlour door behind him.

"Oh, is he much hurt?" gasped Kitty, shocked at the sight of the blood, which looked a great deal more than it really was, on Snip's white coat.

"He's scratched and bitten, I believe," Bob returned in a voice which trembled slightly; he was looking pale and frightened, as his sister noticed. "I wonder you keep such a savage brute about the place," he remarked unwisely to Mr. Dottin. "He would have killed our dog if you hadn't interfered and driven him off."

"Of course he would have, and he wouldn't have been to blame, either," was the retort, sharply spoken. "What business had you to bring your dog here, I should like to know? Take him away immediately, or perhaps he'll be up to some fresh mischief. He got what he deserved for interfering with Bimbo. Come, clear out, you and your sister, too. I've wasted too much time on you already."

"But, Mr. Dottin—" Bob was beginning, when, much to his amazement and indignation, he was seized roughly by the collar, dragged to the door, and sent spinning into the street.

Seeing her brother thus forcibly ejected, Kitty did not linger to be similarly treated, but hurriedly followed him, whereupon Mr. Dottin shook his fist at his late visitors, and shut the door upon them.

"Come along, Kitty," said Bob, who was choking with rage. "Let us get out of this. That's a horrible old man; I'm sorry we went to see him." And he started homewards at a great rate, still carrying Snip.

"Don't go quite so fast," pleaded Kitty, when they were out of sight of the shop. "My foot's beginning to pain me. Poor Snip, dear old boy," she continued caressingly, as her brother slackened speed, and she stroked the little dog's head. "His ears are torn, Bob, and he has a bad bite in the neck. Was it a big dog he was fighting with?"

"It wasn't a dog at all," Bob answered. "It was an awful brute of a monkey, which, I suppose Snip was foolish enough to interfere with."

"A monkey!" exclaimed Kitty in astonishment.

"Yes, a monkey nearly as big as you," her brother declared, exaggerating without any intention of doing so, for to his frightened gaze Bimbo had seemed of huge dimensions.

"Oh!" Kitty cried, immeasurably horrified. "What an escape Snip has had! Don't you think he might walk, Bob, or are his legs hurt?"

"We'll see," Bob, replied, setting the little dog down upon the ground, and patting him encouragingly.

Snip gave himself a shake. Evidently no bones were broken and his injuries were superficial, for when his mistress and master moved on he followed them, looking a most dejected object, with his tail tucked tightly between his legs, and his whole bearing spiritless and crestfallen. Kitty's foot, by this time, was growing extremely painful, and she limped as she walked, so that when home was reached she was not far from tears.

"We shall have to tell where we've been," she said, sighing, as she followed her brother into the house. "And we've done no good—I mean, we haven't found out what we wanted to know."

"We'll tackle Tim himself on Saturday about the rabbit," her brother replied. "We'll ask him point blank if it was his present; but it would have been a joke if we could have found out where it came from ourselves. I suspect old Dottin could have told us something about it if he had liked. It was most unfortunate that Snip behaved as he did. My, wasn't there a row!"

The children found their parents had not returned, so they went into the kitchen and explained what had happened to cook and Mary. Mary procured warm water and a sponge, and bathed Snip's injured ears, and bound up the wound in his neck. When the kind-hearted girl had finished her ministrations, the little dog crept into the box where he always slept under the kitchen table, and curled himself up to rest.

"I expect he feels done up, poor thing," said cook. "I'll be bound to say he'll think twice before he attacks a monkey again."

"Miss Kitty is done up, too," observed Mary. "You'd best have your supper and go to bed, miss; you oughtn't to have walked so far with that weak foot of yours."

The little girl took Mary's advice, and left her brother to relate their evening's adventures to Mr. and Mrs. Glanville, who expressed their opinion that they all ought to be thankful that poor Snip was not more seriously hurt.

"The monkey might indeed have killed him," Mr. Glanville said, "and I am not surprised that old Dottin was angry with you for taking the dog in his shop. No doubt he is as much attached to his monkey as you are to Snip. By the way, I suppose the monkey was not injured?"

"Not in the least, father," Bob replied. "Snip got much the worst of the battle."

"I think you should have told us at tea-time where you intended going this evening," Mrs. Glanville remarked. "The walk was too long for Kitty. If you really suspect that Tim Shuttleworth purchased the rabbit from old Dottin, ask the boy himself and no doubt he will tell you."

"That is what we mean to do, mother; but please don't you or father speak to him about it. Let us do it ourselves."

Mr. and Mrs. Glanville promised they would not interfere in the matter; and though Tim accompanied Mr. Glanville for a walk on the following morning, and exclaimed at the sight of Snip with his torn ears and bandaged neck, he was merely told that the dog had been fighting, and that he must ask Kitty and Bob to tell him all about it. That same day, in the evening, he found an opportunity of doing so, when, having learnt their lessons, the sister and brother strolled out into the back garden as usual.

"Hulloa, Kitty, you're quite lame again," called out Tim, who, mounted on the ladder, was looking over the partition wall. "How is that?"

"Because I walked too far last night," answered Kitty. Then she whispered to her brother, "Let us find out what we want to know now, instead of waiting till Saturday."

"All right," agreed Bob promptly.

"It was last night Snip got so badly mauled, wasn't it?" questioned Tim. "He must have had an awful fight. How did it happen? Was it a big dog he fought with? I suppose it must have been."

"No," Bob replied. "It was old Dottin's monkey—Bimbo."

"Oh!" exclaimed Tim. "I've seen that monkey, but I thought it was very quiet. What made you go to see old Dottin without me? Don't you remember I promised to take you?" There was a tinge of reproach in his tone, and an expression of anxiety had crept into his eyes.

"Yes," assented Kitty, "but we went on private business and wished to go alone."

Tim looked snubbed, and his colour rose. He made a movement to descend the ladder; but on second thoughts, he decided to remain where he was. Bob began to explain.

"The fact is, we've been very puzzled since the day of the athletic sports, when Kitty found out that Tom Hatch never sent her the rabbit he, had promised me he would give her," he said. "We didn't tell you about it at the time, because—well, we thought we wouldn't. We've been trying to find out where Fluffy really came from, and now we think we know."

"Did you find out from Mr. Dottin?" asked Tim, confusedly.

"No, we didn't," Kitty replied. "But we guess that you got Fluffy from Mr. Dottin for us. Did you, Tim?"

Tim nodded, his face growing redder still.

"Oh, how kind of you!" cried Kitty, earnestly. "Thank you ever so much—"

"But why did you make such a mystery about it?" Bob burst in excitedly. "Why did you put the rabbit in the hutch after dark?"

"So that you should both be surprised, and wonder whose present it was," Tim answered. "And when I found out you weren't very surprised—that you believed Torn Hatch had sent the rabbit—I didn't like to own up, for fear you wouldn't believe me."

"Of course we should have believed you," declared Bob. "We should have known you wouldn't tell a lie."

Tim winced on hearing this, remembering the deliberate untruth he had once told Kitty. The little girl was regarding him with wondering blue eyes.

"I shall never be able to thank you properly," she said gravely. "You are the kindest boy I ever knew, and I haven't deserved that you should be kind to me—indeed I haven't. Bob knows that don't you, Bob? I ought to tell you, Tim, that, until quite lately, I believed you had had to do with the death of my rabbit, and I hope you'll forgive me for thinking it. I had no right to think so badly of you as that, and now I'm dreadfully ashamed to remember that I did. Do forgive me, won't you?"

"I—I've nothing to forgive," gasped Tim, utterly taken aback by the little girl's words and the remorseful expression of her face. "I—I wish you wouldn't speak like that, and—"

"Just say you forgive her, Shuttleworth, and she'll be satisfied," interposed Bob. "It's been on her mind that she's thought worse of you than you deserve," he added with a smile.

"Yes, I ought to have taken your word, Tim," said Kitty distressfully. "I know now that you wouldn't tell a story for the world. Why, what's the matter?"

Well might she inquire, for Tim's plain, freckled countenance was quivering with strong emotion. The next moment he disappeared from view on the other side of the wall, leaving the brother and sister staring at each other in blank amazement.

"He could hardly keep from crying," said Bob, "that's why he's gone. I should never have thought he was such a moody-hearted chap as that."

"I didn't say anything to hurt him, did I?" asked Kitty anxiously. Then, as Bob shook his head, she proceeded, "Fancy his keeping the secret about Fluffy all this time! If father had allowed me to tell him that I saw him take away the covered basket, we should have found out the truth before. I was right about that, you see. Perhaps he'll come back in a few minutes and talk to us again."

But Tim did not return. He had rushed indoors and upstairs to his own room; and whilst Kitty and Bob lingered in the garden, waiting and hoping to see his red head appear over the wall he was sobbing by his bedside and shedding the bitterest, most repentant tears that had ever dimmed his eyes in his short life, as he recalled the words Kitty had spoken in such a tone of conviction—"I know now that you wouldn't tell a story for the world."







"TIM, there's a letter from your father by this evening's post," said Mr. Shuttleworth, opening his nephew's bedroom door, "and it contains news which will interest you. Why, dear me, what's amiss?" he inquired, as Tim rose hastily from his knees by the bedside and turned his tear-stained face towards him.

Receiving no response, Mr. Shuttleworth entered the room, and, seating himself on a chair by the window, surveyed the little boy through his spectacles, his expression one of deep concern.

"You are not home-sick?" he asked dubiously. Then, as Tim shook his head, he continued: "That's well. Cannot you tell me what troubles you? Perhaps I can help you."

Tim hesitated. His uncle's voice was very kind, and the near-sighted eyes which met his were full of sympathy. A great longing possessed Tim to confide in some one, and, obeying the impulse of the moment, he opened his heart to his uncle, and told him how he had killed Kitty's rabbit and subsequently denied having overturned the hutch, how he had tried to make amends, and how Kitty's humble request for forgiveness for her suspicion of him and her assurance that she knew he would not tell a lie for the world had made him feel the falsity and cowardice of his past conduct. Mr. Shuttleworth listened without remark until his nephew had finished his confession; then he said:

"It seems to me, Tim, there's only one course to be taken—to make a clean breast of everything to the people next door."

"I should like them to know, but I can't tell them—I can't!" cried Tim in great distress. "Think what a bad opinion they'll have of me, and they've all been so kind. I never meant to kill the rabbit, Uncle John; I didn't know what was in the box."

"It was a spiteful trick anyway, Tim, and I don't wonder you were ashamed afterwards when your temper had cooled down; but I don't comprehend why, instead of owning to the truth, you were led to tell a lie."

"It was because I was afraid the Glanvilles wouldn't have anything to do with me if they knew what I'd done, and I did so want to be friendly with them, Uncle John."

Mr. Shuttleworth was puzzled. He found himself incapable of entering into the workings of his nephew's mind; but he saw he was very conscience-stricken, and in great trouble, and longed to comfort him. "I wish I could set matters on a right footing for you, Tim," he said thoughtfully. "Would you like me to repeat to the Glanvilles all you have imparted to me to-night?"

"Oh, Uncle John, if you only would I should be so glad! I expect they will all despise me, but I can't have Kitty asking me to forgive her, when—Oh, I don't think I ever before told such a big lie as the one I told her, and it's worried me ever since."

"I'm glad to hear it, my boy; it shows me you're not in the habit of uttering falsehoods, It's a grand thing to be truthful, for it takes a deal of courage to be that."

"Yes, indeed it does," Tim rejoined with a sigh.

"The path of truth is difficult to walk because it's steep at times," Mr. Shuttleworth said gravely, "but you know the old adage about putting a stout heart to a steep hill, don't you? And the path of falsehood seems easy travelling at first, because it's all down hill, and we don't see the obstacles that are sure to rise before us as we go on. Take my advice and don't turn from the uphill path in the future, my boy."

"I will try not to," Tim responded earnestly, much touched by his uncle's little sermon. "It is very good of you not to be harder on me, Uncle John. Did you not say you had heard from father?"

"Dear me, I had forgotten that. Yes, I heard from your father by to-night's post; he is going to have his holiday from the bank next month, and proposes to come and fetch you home. What do you think of his plan?"

"I call it a capital one," said Tim, his face brightening.

"Your father will spend his holidays—a fortnight—here. It will be a great pleasure to me to have his society. I shall be sorry to lose you, Tim; and I have been thinking—"

But what Mr. Shuttleworth had been thinking he did not inform his nephew then, for he broke off in the middle of his sentence, and a few minutes later he went downstairs.

That night, after Tim had gone to bed, Mr. Shuttleworth made his call next door. He saw Mr. and Mrs. Glanville, and repeated Tim's confession to them. Needless to say they were greatly surprised; but much to Mr. Shuttleworth's relief, Mrs. Glanville seemed to understand Tim in the matter.

"I see he has a very passionate temper," she said, "and I can quite believe he did not know it was a rabbit's hutch he was overturning, for I am sure he would not wilfully injure a living creature. If only he had owned the truth and not told Kitty that lie!"

"To me that seems the worst part of the business," said Mr. Shuttleworth gravely. "But I think the lie brought its punishment, judging by the distress of mind I found Tim in to-night; I do not believe he will so easily give way to temptation again. I am afraid he has exhibited himself to you all in a very bad light in this matter, but I assure you he is sincerely repentant, and if your little girl and boy can find it in their hearts to forgive him and continue to be his friends, I shall be truly glad."

"I shall explain everything to Kitty and Bob," Mrs. Glanville replied, "and I am sure they will not be harsh in their judgment of Tim. Poor Tim! I must have a little talk to him myself."

Mrs. Glanville kept her word, and the following morning, whilst her children were at school, she made a point of seeing Tim and speaking to him as gently and sympathetically as his own mother would have done under such circumstances, pointing out to him that the fact of his having given way to his passionate temper and having sought revenge had brought about the death of an innocent creature, and had thus led him into further sin. No more was to be said on the subject, she told him, but she hoped he had learnt a lesson he would never forget.

"And Kitty and Bob?" Tim asked falteringly. "I suppose they won't be friends with me any longer now?"

"Oh, yes, indeed I hope they will," Mrs. Glanville replied. "You are going to entertain them on Saturday, you know. Had you forgotten that?"

"No," Tim answered in a low tone. "But I thought—I was afraid that they might not care to come. What did they say, Mrs. Glanville, when they heard it was I who overturned the hutch?" he inquired with considerable anxiety.

"Of course they were greatly astonished, but neither of them believe you meant to injure the rabbit; they know you are not in the least cruel. Kitty was hurt because you had told her a falsehood and Bob was incredulous at first—it seems he had formed a very high opinion of your sense of honour and truth."

Tim's cheeks burnt with shame on hearing this, and he wondered if he would ever be able to restore Bob's faith in him again. Well was it for him that he had not heard the words in which Bob had remarked on his conduct; he would have greeted his visitors on Saturday even more nervously than he did, had he known that it was to their mother he owed their having kept their appointment. For they had been justly indignant against the boy next door, who, as Kitty had taken care to point out, had acted the enemy's part, at least on one occasion, and by his own confession had proved that she had not been far from the truth after all.

But Kitty and Bob were kind-hearted children, and it was not in their natures to harbour resentment against any one for long; so that when Tim, rather falteringly, put forward the plan for making a tent in the back garden, they agreed to it cordially, and set to work with a will, and by the aid of a clothes' prop for a centre pole and several old wrappers, they managed to erect a kind of awning under which they decided they would have their tea.

"Won't Mr. Shuttleworth have tea with us?" asked Kitty, when Deborah arrived with the tea-things, which were placed on a small gipsy table inside the tent. "There's only room for two chairs, but he can have one, can't he?"

"And you must have the other, Kitty," said Tim. "For, of course, you'll pour out the tea."

"If you wish it, I will," the little girl replied, a look of extreme gratification settling on her face.

"I'll tell master you're beginning tea," remarked Deborah. "Then he can join you or not as he likes."

A few minutes later Mr. Shuttleworth appeared upon the scene. He thought it would have been more comfortable to have had the meal in the house; but as the children assured him it was much nicer to have it outdoors, he good-humouredly took the second chair in the tent, whilst Kitty poured out the tea, and the boys sat cross-legged on the ground. They were all very friendly and merry, and by-and-by a glad bark was heard, and Snip, who had been waiting for an opportunity of joining his young mistress and master all the afternoon, and had just gained admittance into the garden, jumped into Kitty's lap.

"Oh, Snip, you weren't invited, sir!" she cried reproachfully, kissing him on the top of his head.

"Nevertheless, he must have some tea," Mr. Shuttleworth said with a smile, as he poured out a saucer of milk for the little dog. "Dear me, he has been in the wars, has he not?"

Kitty immediately explained how Snip had come by his wounds, and went on to give Mr. Shuttleworth a graphic description of old Jacob Dottin and his shop, finally telling him that Fluffy had come from there.

"Who is Fluffy?" Mr. Shuttleworth inquired.

"The beautiful white rabbit Tim gave me in place of the one he killed," she replied. Whereat Tim turned crimson and looked terribly abashed, and Bob changed the conversation.

It was not until shortly before his visitors left that Tim plucked up sufficient courage to speak to them about the bad turn he had served them at the commencement of his acquaintance with them, and to beg their forgiveness, which was willingly granted.

"It was an unneighbourly trick, and we didn't deserve you should have done it," Bob said frankly, "but, of course, you never dreamt it was something living we had in the box. We'll never mention it more."

"And the lie I told," faltered Tim, looking at Kitty.

"Why didn't you own up to me?" she questioned.

"Because I was so afraid if I did you and Bob would never let me be your friend, that was my reason," he rejoined. "I bitterly repented afterwards that I hadn't told the truth."

"Well, you can be our friend still, if you like," Bob remarked, glancing at his sister, who nodded her head assentingly. "I'm sure we'd both of us much rather have a friend than an enemy next door."







"KITTY! Kitty!" called Bob. "Oh, there you are! Keep Snip here with you, will you, till I'm gone? Don't let him get away and follow me!"

"Why not?" demanded Kitty.

It was again a Saturday afternoon, several weeks having passed since the sister and brother had been entertained next door. The little girl, who had been watching Fluffy eating a sprig of parsley, turned away from the rabbit hutch as she spoke, and joined Bob, who, fishing rod in hand, and accompanied by Snip, had addressed her from the back door.

"Because I'm going to Lang's pond, with Shuttleworth," he explained, "and if Snip went with us he'd for certain spoil our sport by hunting for water-rats and disturbing the fish. He seems to have an idea that I want to get rid of him, for he's keeping as near me as he can, and—"

"Oh, do let me go with you this afternoon!" interposed Kitty, eagerly. "Why can't I?" she asked, as her brother shook his head.

"Well," he said, "it's possible that we may meet Richards, and that he may ask us to his house to tea—that is, if you're not there."

"Then you'd better go your own way!" snapped Kitty, adding under her breath, "Such selfishness!"

"But will you keep Snip with you?" questioned Bob.

Kitty assented. She took Snip into the house, and shut herself into the dining-room with him, feeling deeply aggrieved. Mr. and Mrs. Glanville had gone away for the day, therefore it was exceedingly unkind of Bob, she considered, to go off with Tim Shuttleworth and leave her.

"He makes a great deal too much of Tim," she reflected. "It's all very well to let bygones be bygones, but Bob seems to have forgotten altogether how disgusted he was with Tim at one time, and is making him his chief friend. I haven't such a short memory as Bob."

This was true. Bob had a happy knack of putting anything he wished to forget away from him. But Kitty, though she had agreed never again to mention the ill-turn Tim had done her, often allowed her mind to dwell on it, and the consequence was that she was considerably less genial to him than was her brother.

By-and-bye, when she judged the boys must have taken their departure, she decided to go out with Snip. It had rained earlier in the day, but the weather had cleared about noon, and now the sun was shining brilliantly. It was a really perfect May afternoon.

"I'll get some wild hyacinths for mother," the little girl thought, remembering that she had heard Mrs. Glanville remark at breakfast that they must now be in bloom and she would like some. "And on my way home, I'll pass by Lang's pond and pay the boys a surprise visit. I'll see Snip doesn't interfere with them."

Accordingly she sallied forth, with a basket on her arm, and accompanied by the faithful Snip. First she went to a confectioner's, where she purchased some chocolate creams, then left the town by a side street, and a quarter of an hour later found her in a pretty wood, carpeted with masses of wild blue hyacinths. She filled her basket with the fragrant flowers, after which she sat down on the moss-covered trunk of a fallen tree, and ate her chocolates, sharing them with Snip.

"There!" she cried, as she popped the last chocolate into her mouth, and rose. "Now we'll go to Lang's pond—we've as much right there as anyone, eh, Snip? Still, I think I'd better lead you. Bob can't complain if I do that."

Nevertheless Bob was not altogether pleased when, ten minutes later, standing by the side of Tim Shuttleworth, on the edge of Lang's pond, his eyes fixed on the float of his fishing rod, he heard a shout and recognised his sister's voice.

"It's Kitty," Tim informed him. "She's brought Snip with her, but she has him on the leash."

"Well, boys, what sport?" Kitty questioned, as she joined them. "The fish are biting well, I suppose, after the rain? Let me see what you've caught!"

She opened a fishing-basket which lay on the ground, and gave a little laugh as she viewed its contents.

"Three dace, two roach, and an eel!" she cried. "The dace are the smallest I ever saw. You ought to have put them back into the water again, they aren't worth cooking. The roach are not so bad, but—"

"I daresay you think you could catch bigger ones!" Bob broke in, sarcastically. He was disappointed that they had not had better sport, and his sister's candid comments had vexed him.

"Richards is not here, I see," observed Kitty, after a few minutes' silence.

"No, he has not turned up," Tim answered. "He did not promise to come—only said that he might. What lovely hyacinths you have there!"

"Yes, haven't I?" said Kitty.

She placed her basket on the ground, and stood watching the boys for some while, but she soon tired of inactivity, and strolled around the edge of the pond, still leading Snip. By-and-bye she caught sight of some fine forget-me-nots growing close to the water, and stooped to gather them. At that exact moment Snip spied a water-rat, and, jerking the leash out of his mistress' hand, sprang Into the water in pursuit of it.

"There!" cried Bob. "I knew what it would be!" He threw aside his rod as he spoke, and glared angrily at his sister. "You must have let him go on purpose, Kitty!" he asserted.

"I did not!" the little girl declared. "Indeed I did not! Oh, Bob, I'm so sorry! Come here, Snip! Come here, sir!"

But Snip paid not the least attention to her. He was now swimming around the edge of the pond, and sniffing into the rat-runs which undermined the bank. Tim was secretly as vexed with Kitty as was Bob, but out of pity for her he did not show his feelings, and stood listening in silence to the hot words which were now passing between the sister and brother.

"Well," Bob said at length, his anger beginning to cool, "of course, if you say you didn't let him go on purpose, I believe you, and we'll drop the subject. We'd better go home to tea now, I suppose."

"I'm sorry I came," murmured Kitty, almost tearfully. "I know you didn't want me. Oh, oh!" she cried, her tone suddenly changing to one of great excitement. "Look at Snip, boys! Oh! Do look! What's the matter with him? Oh, see how he's struggling! Oh, Bob! Oh, Tim! He'll drown—he'll drown!"

Snip had turned a rat out of its lair in the bank, and had been swimming across the pond, which was very deep in the centre, after it, when something had become entwined about his hind legs, and he was now struggling in vain to get them free.

"Don't be silly, Kitty!" Bob said, speaking sharply, because he was frightened and could not think what had happened to the dog. "How can Snip drown when he can swim like—"

"Oh, you don't understand!" broke in Kitty, wringing her hands in her distress. "It's the leash! It's got around his legs, and—Oh, Bob, go to him, go to him!"

It was all very well to say "Go to him!" But Bob could not swim, and knowing that he would be out of his depth in the water before he could reach Snip, he naturally hesitated. At that minute, evidently realizing the peril of his situation, the little dog uttered a piteous cry, which nearly drove his mistress frantic; she would have dashed into the pond herself if her brother had not prevented her.

"Oh, what can we do?" she wailed. "Oh, this is awful—awful! Oh, Bob, can't you do anything? Oh, Tim!—where's Tim?"

"Here!" answered Tim, behind her. "It'll be all right, Kitty! Don't you be frightened! I'll get him!"

Kitty now perceived that Tim had divested himself of his coat and waistcoat, and was hurriedly unlacing his boots.

"I can swim—a little," he told her. "I think I shall be able to reach him. There!"—As he pulled off his last boot. "Now I'm ready!"

He waded into the pond till the water reached his chin, Kitty and Bob watching him with deepest anxiety, then swam a few strokes which brought him within reach of Snip. He grasped the little dog by the back of the neck, and, turning, essayed to swim back with him, but Snip continued to struggle, and no progress was made.

"Can you get off the leash?" shouted Bob. "Try! Try!"

Tim did try, and, after several vain attempts, succeeded in disentangling the leash, and setting the dog free. That done Snip swam ashore of his own accord, and his rescuer followed him, to be greeted with tearful thanks from Kitty as he waded out of the pond, and a warm hand-clasp from Bob, who told him that he was "a brave chap, and no mistake!"

"Yes, indeed," agreed Kitty. "But for you, Tim, poor Snip would certainly have been drowned. Oh! I wonder what mother and father will say when they hear about this? Oh, dear me, how dreadfully wet you are, to be sure!"

"It would be a miracle if he was not!" Bob exclaimed, with a laugh, which hid deep feeling. "What silly remarks you do make, Kitty! We must get you home as quick as we can, Tim, or you'll catch cold!"

Tim had pulled on his boots over his wet stockings with some difficulty by this time, and was now kneeling to lace them up.

"Oh, I shan't catch cold!" he declared cheerfully.

"I hope not," said Kitty, her voice full of concern, "because if you did you might get pneumonia again. Oh, Tim, I haven't thanked you for what you've done."

"Please don't!" Tim interposed, adding—"I'm so glad I could swim!"

He rose from his knees as he spoke, and, meeting Kitty's eyes, still rather tearful, smiled at her.

"Oh," the little girl cried, "you don't know how grateful I feel to you."

"You're a brick, Tim—yes, a regular brick!"







"YOU'LL find me in the garden when you've finished your lessons," said Kitty, one evening, a few weeks later, as she poked her fair head around the dining-room door to address her brother, who was seated at the table, at work on his French translation. "I want to consult you about something," she added impressively.

"All right," Bob answered. "I'll be with you before long."

Kitty went into the garden, and took up her position on a seat under the apple tree. There, in a very few minutes, Bob joined her.

"Well?" he said interrogatively.

"Tim has gone out with his uncle," Kitty informed him. "I saw them start together; so I thought this would be a good opportunity to consult you about something—Tim not being about, you know."

"The 'something' has to do with Shuttleworth, then?" questioned Bob.

Kitty nodded. "He'll be going home soon now," she observed. "Dear me, it's quite remarkable we should both of us be so friendly with him after—"

"Not remarkable at all," her brother broke in, rather impatiently. "He's a jolly nice fellow—he's proved it. Speak out! What is it you want to consult me about?"

"Well, I've been thinking that before Tim leaves we ought to give him a present," Kitty said eagerly. "You know, he really did save Snip's life. Father says that the poor little thing would certainly have drowned if Tim hadn't gone to him and freed him from the leash."

"And you think he should have a testimonial as a reward?" suggested Bob, with a teasing smile.

"I think nothing of the kind," the little girl answered, flushing. "You are pretending to misunderstand me. I meant this—that we may never see Tim again, and I should like to give him a present for a keepsake, something that will put him in mind of us when he looks at it."

"Well, I don't think that's a bad idea," Bob said, now speaking seriously. "Let me consider. What could we give him? How much money have you by you?"

"One shilling and two-pence, but I shall be having my sixpence pocket-money on Saturday, of course."

"So you'll be good for one shilling and eight-pence. If I put a couple of shillings to that, what could we buy? I know! A pocket-knife! We could get a beauty, with three blades, the best that's made, for three shillings and sixpence or four shillings."

"Oh, Bob, that would be the very thing! Tim has only an old bone-handled pocket-knife with one blade, and that blade is broken! When shall we get it! The new one, I mean? On Saturday?"

"Yes, if you like."

"And how shall we give it to him? I mean, will you, or shall I? You are the elder, but it was my idea that we should make him a present. Still, if you'd like to give it to him—" Kitty broke off, and looked at her brother inquiringly.

"We can draw lots to decide that point," he answered, "then everything will be fair."

Thus it came to pass that the following Saturday, shortly before one o'clock, when Tim spoke to Kitty over the garden wall, and inquired how she and Bob were going to spend the afternoon, she replied, with an air of reserve, which puzzled him and rather aroused his curiosity, that they were going into the town on private business.

"But we shall not be away very long," she added. "And I daresay we shall see you as soon as we get back."

"I don't know about that," he answered, rather piqued because the little girl seemed afraid that he might suggest accompanying her and her brother. "I may not be at home then."

After the mid-day meal Tim had half a mind to go for a walk in the country by himself, for his uncle betook himself as usual to his study. But, as Kitty had spoken of seeing him on her return from the town, he decided to remain at home, write to his mother, and afterwards stroll out into the garden, so that the young folks next door could hail him if they wanted him. Accordingly, he settled himself in the dining-room, and had barely finished his letter, when, to his great amazement, Deborah opened the door, and announced:

"Miss and Master Glanville!"

"Kitty! Bob!" he exclaimed, rising from his seat at the table, and looking quickly from one to the other of his visitors. "Why didn't you call to me from the garden as you usually do? I should have heard you."

"If you're writing to your people perhaps you don't want to be disturbed, and we'd better not stay?" suggested Bob. "Hurry up, Kitty!" he whispered to his sister.

"Oh, do stay!" cried Tim. "Sit down, won't you? Here, Kitty, have this easy chair?"

Kitty sank into the chair indicated, but not before she had put her hand in her pocket, and drawn therefrom a small package. It had fallen to her lot to present the pocket-knife.

"I daresay you thought it was rather odd of me not to tell you where Bob and I were going this afternoon," she commenced, addressing Tim. "Now, didn't you?"

"Well, yes, I did," he admitted, candidly. "Of course, I saw you didn't want me to go with you—"

"That was just it," Kitty broke in. "We didn't want you to go with us because we were thinking of buying you a present. We've bought it! Bob chose it! It's a pocket-knife, and, oh, I do hope you'll like it! There was one with a tortoiseshell handle I rather fancied, but Bob said he was sure you'd prefer this one—if not, the man in the shop won't mind changing it. This one has three blades, all of the very best steel, they cut like lances, and it has a buck-horn handle. Oh, look at it, do!" She thrust the little package into Tim's hands as she spoke.

Tim, who had become quite red in his surprise, opened the package with fingers which trembled with eagerness, and a very handsome pocket-knife was revealed to view.

"You have bought this for me?" he cried, glancing first at Kitty, who was watching him anxiously, trying to read from the expression of his countenance if he approved of her brother's choice, and then at Bob, who nodded assent. "Oh, how kind—how very, very kind of you both! Oh, thank you—thank you! Oh, it's a grand knife! Three blades! Oh, I say, I shall never be able to thank you half enough for this!" His eyes were sparkling with delight.

"Do you prefer it to one with a tortoiseshell handle?" questioned Kitty.

"Of course he does!" Bob exclaimed, without giving Tim time to answer for himself, "Any boy would! That tortoiseshell handled knife wasn't half as strong as this one; it was nice enough in its way, but it was only fit for a girl."

"You couldn't have given me one I should have liked better than this," Tim said earnestly, "I'm quite sure of that."

Kitty was satisfied. "That's all right then!" she said.

"Mother told us to ask you to tea with us, Shuttleworth," remarked Bob, a few minutes later, after Tim had tried all three blades of his new pocket-knife on a lead pencil. "Will you come?"

"Oh, thank you, I should like to—you know that," Tim replied. "Just wait whilst I put away my writing things and tell uncle where I'm going. I say, whatever made you think of giving me a present?"

"It was Kitty who thought of it," said Bob. "And when she mentioned it to me, I considered it a very good idea and wondered I hadn't thought of it myself. We're awfully pleased you like the knife—it's a keepsake, you know—something for you to remember us by."

Tim was much touched—so touched, indeed, that he could find no words to answer, but his face was eloquent of all the feelings in his warm Irish heart.

"We shall be very sorry when you're gone," said Kitty, looking at him with friendly blue eyes. "We shall miss you, oh, ever so much! You'll think of us all, and of Snip—oh, I shall never forget that you saved Snip's life! But, come, I'm sure it's near tea-time. I'm getting so hungry!"

The three young people were very happy and merry together during the hour or so which followed. After tea they repaired to the garden, and on the trunk of the big apple tree Tim carved Kitty's initials, and then Bob's, and then his own, with the big blade of his new treasure.

"There!" he cried, as he surveyed his finished handiwork, "How's that!"

"Beautifully done!" answered Kitty, admiringly.

"Ah," said Tim, "I've a good tool—I never before handled such a splendid knife." He shut it with a snap, and returned it to his pocket.

"Glad it suits you, old fellow!" said Bob, whilst Kitty looked very gratified. "Yes, the initials look all right—they're very well done indeed."


* * * * *


Shortly before midsummer, Tim's father arrived at B—, and, after his fortnight's holiday, returned to Dublin, taking his son with him. Tim had been quite low-spirited at parting with his friends next door although he had been going home; he had been sorry to say good-bye to his uncle, too. But, as it happened, he was not to be absent from B— long; for his uncle had offered to take him to live with him and to send him to the B— Grammar School. And as he was to go to his own people for the Christmas and the summer holidays, he was simply delighted with this arrangement. So the end of September found him once more a resident beneath his uncle's roof; and at the beginning of the autumn term he was entered as a pupil at B— Grammar School, where he was introduced to the boys by Bob Glanville as "my friend, Shuttleworth."

Kitty and Bob scarcely ever think of the old days now when they were so prejudiced against Tim Shuttleworth, and there is no one for whom Kitty has a greater liking and regard than the boy whom she once looked upon as her enemy.