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something lovely sooner than he could ; for he was of those in whom a phantasm of self-culture is one of the forms taken by their selfishness. They regard this culture in relation to others with an eye to superiority, and do not desire it purely for its own sake. “Those trees are much more to my mind now.”
“Ah, but I do not love the trees less. Come into the park, and then we can see them from all sides."
“The snow is too deep. There is no path there." “I don't mind it. My boots are very thick.”
"No, no; come along. We shall get to Madame Tussaud's before there are many people there. It will be so much nicer."
“I should like much better to stay here a while,” said Lucy, half vexed and a little offended.
But Thomas did not heed her. He led the way up Oxford Street. She had dropped his arm, and now walked by his side.
“A nice lover to have !" I think I hear some of my girl-readers say. But he was not so bad as this always, or even gentle-tempered Lucy would have quarrelled with him, if it had been only for the sake of getting rid of him: the weight of yesterday was upon him. And while they were walking up the street, as handsome and fresh a couple as you would find in all London, Mary was lying in her bed talking wildly about Thomas.
Alas for the loving thoughts of youths and maidens that go forth like the dove from the ark, and find no room on the face of the desired world to fold their wings and alight! Olive leaves they will gather in plenty, even when they are destined never to build a nest in the branches of the olive tree. Let such be strong notwithstanding, even when there are no more olive leaves to gather, for God will have mercy upon his youths and maidens, and they shall grow men and women. Let who can, understand me.
While they were thus leaving the truths of nature behind them for the horrible mockery of art at Madame Tussaud's, Thomas became aware from Lucy's silence, that he had not been behaving well to her. He therefore set about being more agreeable, and before they reached Baker Street she had his arm again, and they were talking and laughing gaily enough. Behind them, at some distance, trotted a small apparition, which I must now describe.
It was a little girl, perhaps ten years old, looking as wild as any savage in Canadian forest. Her face was pretty, as far as could be judged through the dirt that variegated its surface. Her eyes were black and restless. Her dress was a frock, of what stuff it would have been impossible to determine, scarcely reaching below her knees, and rent upwards into an irregular fringe of ribbons that frostily fanned her little legs as she followed the happy couple, and a pair of shoes much too large for her, and already worn into such holes as to afford more refuge for the snow than for her feet. Her little knees were very black, and oh! those poor legs, caked and streaked with dirt, and the delicate skin of them thickened and cracked with frost, and east winds, and neglect! They could carry her through the
snow satisfactorily, however—with considerable suffering to themselves, no doubt. But Poppie was not bound to be miserable because Poppie's legs were anything but comfortable: there is no selfishness in not being sorry for one's own legs. Her hair, which might have been expected to be quite black, was mingled with a reddish tinge from exposure to the hot sun of the preceding summer. It hung in tangled locks about her, without protection of any sort. How strange the snow must have looked upon it: no doubt she had been abroad in the storm! Her face peeped out from amongst it with the wild innocence of a gentle and shy but brave little animal of the forest. Purposeless she followed Lucy's red cloak. But this was not the first time she had followed her: like a lost pup she would go after this one or that one-generally a lady—for a whole day from place to place, obedient to some hidden drawing of the heart. She had often seen Lucy start from Guild Court, and had followed her to the railway; and, at length, by watching first one station and then another, had found out where she went every morning. Knowing then that she could find her when she pleased, she did not follow her more than twice a week or so, sometimes not once-just as the appetite awoke for a little of her society. She had never seen Lucy with a gentleman before. I wonder if she had ever in her little life walked side by side with anybody herself: she was always trotting behind. But my reader must see more of the child before he or she will be interested enough in her either to please me or to care to hear more about the habits of this little wild animal of the stone forest of London. This was the little girl whom Miss Matilda Kitely, her father's princess, called Poppie, and patronized, although she was at least two years older than herself, as near as could be guessed. Nor had she any other name; for no one knew where she had come from, or who were her parents, and she herself cared as little about the matter as anybody.