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Bert Lloyd's Boyhood
Chapter III. No. Five Fort Street

CUTHBERT LLOYD’S home was a happy one in every way. The house was so situated that the sunshine might have free play upon it all day, pouring in at the back windows in the morning and flooding the front ones with rich and rare splendour at evening. A quiet little street passed by the door, the gardens opposite being filled with noble trees that cast a grateful shade during the dog days. At the back of the house was the old fort, its turfed casemates sloping down to a sandy beach, from whose centre a stone wharf projected out into the plashing water. Looking over the casemates, one could see clear out to the lighthouse which kept watch at the entrance to the harbour, and could follow the ships as they rose slowly on the horizon or sped away with favouring breeze.

A right pleasant house to live in was No. Five Fort Street, and right pleasant were the people who lived in it. Cuthbert certainly had no doubt upon either point, and who had a better opportunity of forming an opinion? Mr. Lloyd, the head of the household, was also the head of one of the leading legal firms in Halifax. His son, and perhaps his wife and daughter, too, thought him the finest-looking man in the city. That was no doubt an extravagant estimate, yet it was not without excuse; for tall, erect, and stalwart, with regular features, large brown eyes that looked straight at you, fine whiskers and moustache, and a kindly cordial expression, Mr. Lloyd made a very good appearance in the world. Especially did he, since he never forgot the neatness and good taste in dress of his bachelor days, as so many married men are apt to do.

Cuthbert’s mother was of quite a different type. Her husband used to joke her about her being good for a standard of measurement because she stood just five feet in height, and weighed precisely one hundred pounds. Bert, one day, seemed to realise what a mite of a woman she was ; for, after looking her all over, he said, very gravely:

“What a little mother you are! I will soon be as big as you, won’t I?”

Brown of hair and eyes, like Mr. Lloyd, her face was a rare combination of sweetness and strength. Bert thought it lovelier than any angel’s he had ever seen in a picture. Indeed, there was much of the angelic in his mother’s nature. She had marvellous control over her feelings, and never by any chance gave way to temper openly, so that in all his young life her boy had no remembrance of receiving from her a harsh word, or a hasty, angry blow. Not that she was weak or indulgent. On the contrary, not only Bert, but Bert’s playmates, and some of their mothers, too, thought her quite too strict at times, for she was a firm believer in discipline, and Master Bert was taught to abide by rules from the outset.

The third member of the household was the only daughter, Mary, a tall, graceful girl, who had inherited many of her father’s qualities, together with her mother’s sweetness. In Bert’s eyes she was just simply perfect. She was twice as old as he when he had six years to his credit, and the difference in age made her seem like a second mother to him, except that he felt free to take more liberties with her than with his mother. But she did not mind this much, for she was passionately fond of her little brother, and was inclined to spoil him, if anything.

As for Bert himself—well, he was just a stout, sturdy, hearty boy, with nothing very remarkable about him, unless, perhaps, it was his superabundant health and spirits. Nobody, unless it was that most partial judge, Mary, thought him handsome, but everybody admitted that he was good-looking in every sense of the term. He promised to be neither tall, like his father, nor short, like his mother, but of a handy, serviceable medium height, with plenty of strength and endurance in his tough little frame. Not only were both eyes and hair brown, as might be expected, but his face, too, as might also be expected, seeing that no bounds were placed upon his being out of doors, so long as the day was fine, and he himself was keeping out of mischief.

Father, mother, daughter, and son, these four made up a very affectionate and happy family, pulling well together; and, so far as the three older ones were concerned, with their faces and hearts set toward Jerusalem, and of one mind as to taking Bert along with them. Mr. Lloyd and his wife were thoroughly in accord with Dr. Austin Phelps as to this:—That the children of Christians should be Christian from the cradle. They accordingly saw no reason why the only son that God had given them should ever go out into sin, and then be brought back from a far off land. Surely, if they did their duty, he need never stray far away. That was the way they reasoned; and although, of course, little Bert knew nothing about it, that was the plan upon which they sought to bring him up. The task was not altogether an easy one, as succeeding chapters of Bert’s history will make plain. But the plan was adhered to, and the result justified its wisdom.

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