EASILY distinguished in
the crowd gathered to welcome the coach, whose arrival was always the
event of the evening, was Bert’s grandfather, Squire Stewart, a typical
old Scotchman, from every point of view. As the passengers got out, he
stood watching them in silent dignity, until Mrs. Lloyd, catching sight
of him, ran impulsively up, and taking his face between her two hands,
gave him a warm kiss on each cheek, saying:
“Dear father, I’m so glad to see you looking so well.” “And I’m well
pleased to see you, Kate,” responded the Squire, in a tone of deep
affection, adding: “And is this your boy?” as Bert, who in the meantime
had been lifted down from his place, came to his mother’s side.
“He’s a fine big boy, and not ill-looking, either. I trust his manners
have not been neglected.”
“You’ll have to judge of that for yourself, father,” replied Mrs. Lloyd.
“He’s by no means perfect, but he’s pretty good, upon the whole.”
“Well, daughter, I’ll go and get the carriage, if you’ll just wait here
a moment,” said Mr. Stewart, going off toward the stables.
Presently he returned, driving an elegant carriage with a fine pair of
well-matched bays, which, old man though he was, he held in complete
“We won’t mind the trunks now, Kate; I will send in for them in the
morning,” said he, as he helped them into their seats.
Maplebank, Squire Stewart’s place, was situated about four miles from
Riverton, and on the way out father and daughter had much to say to one
another. As for Bert, he sat in silence on his seat. He felt very much
awed by his grandfather. There was something so stern and severe about
his time-worn countenance, he seemed so stiff in his bearing, and his
voice had such a deep, rough tone in it, that, to tell the truth, Bert
began to feel half sorry he had come. But this feeling disappeared
entirely when, on arriving at Maplebank, he found himself in the arms of
Aunt Sarah before he had time to jump out of the carriage, and was then
passed over to his grandmother, who nearly smothered him with kisses.
If his grandfather filled him with awe, his grandmother inspired him
with love, from the very start. And no wonder, indeed, for she was the
very poetry of a grandmother. A small woman, with slender frame, already
stooping somewhat beneath the burden of years, her snow-white hair and
spotless cap framed one of the sweetest faces that ever beamed on this
earth. Bert gave her his whole heart at once, and during all the days he
spent at Maplebank she was his best loved friend.
Yet he did not fail to be very fond of his two aunts, likewise. With an
uncle, who remained at home, assisting his father in the management of
the property, they comprised the household, and the three apparently
conspired to do their best to spoil Master Bert during that summer. Bert
took very kindly to the spoiling, too, and under the circumstances it
was a wonder he did not return to Halifax quite demoralised, as regards
domestic discipline. But of this further.
They were a merry party sitting down to tea that evening, and Bert,
having appeased his hunger and found his tongue, amused them all very
much by his account of what he had seen from the coach top. The narrow
escape they had had at Brown’s Gully was of course much discussed.
Squire Stewart had nothing but censure for the driver.
“The man had no business to go out with anything likely to break. Better
for you to have waited a day than run any such risks. I shall certainly
bring the matter to the attention of Mr. Lindsay,” he said.
Nobody ventured to say anything to the contrary; but Bert, who was
sitting by his mother, turned an anxious face up to hers, and whispered:
“Grandpapa won’t hurt Mr. Davis, will he? He was so good to me, and he
asked God to save us; and He did.”
“It will be all right, dear,” his mother whispered back. “Don’t worry
yourself about it.” And Bert, reassured, said nothing more.
Bedtime for him soon came, and then, to his great delight, he found that
instead of being banished to a room somewhere away upstairs, he was to
be put in a curious bed, that filled a corner of the parlour in which
the family sat. Bert had never seen anything like that bed before. It
looked just like a closet, but when you opened the closet door, behold,
there was a bed, and a very comfortable one, too. Just behind the
parlour, with a door between, was the best bedroom, which his mother
would have, and there Bert undressed, returning in his night-gown to say
goodnight to all before tumbling into bed.
With the closet door wide open, he could see everything that went on in
the room; and it was so delightful to lie there watching the family
reading or talking, until at last, sleep came to claim him.
“Now, if you ’re a good boy, and don’t attempt to talk after your head’s
on the pillow, I’ll leave the door open, so you can see us all,” said
Aunt Sarah, as she tucked Bert snugly in; and he had sense enough to be
a good boy, so that not a sound came from him ere his brown eyes closed
for the night.
Many a night after that did he lie there luxuriously, watching his
grandfather reading the newspaper, with a candle placed between his face
and the paper, in such close proximity to both, that Bert’s constant
wonder was that one or the other of them never got burned; his
grandmother, whose eyes no longer permitted her to read at night,
knitting busily in her armchair, or nodding over her needles; Aunt
Sarah, reading in the book that always lay at hand for leisure moments;
Aunt Martha, stitching away, perhaps on some of his own torn garments;
his mother writing home to Mr. Lloyd, or to Mary; while from the
kitchen, outside, came the subdued sound of the servants’ voices, as
they chattered over their tasks. Bert thought it a lovely way to go to
sleep, and often afterward, when at home, going up alone to bed in his
own room, wished that he was back at grandfather’s again.
Bert slept late the next morning, for he was a very tired boy when he
went to bed; and for this once he was indulged. But as he entered the
dining-room, his grandfather, who had finished breakfast a full hour
before, looking at him with that stern expression which was habitual to
“City boys must keep country hours when they come to the country. Early
to bed, early to rise, is the rule of this house, my boy.”
Poor Bert was rather disconcerted by this reception, but managed to say:
“All right, grandpapa, I’ll try,” as he took his seat.
The day was full of novelty and delight to the city boy, as, under Uncle
Alec’s guidance, he went about the farm, and visited the horses in the
stable, the cattle in the pasture, the pigs in the style; and then, with
Aunt Martha, inspected the dairy, a big cool room in a small building,
well shaded by trees, where long rows of shallow pans stood filled with
rich milk or golden cream; while just before tea, Aunt Sarah claimed him
for a walk in the garden, where tiger lilies, hollyhocks, mock oranges,
peonies, and other old-fashioned flowers grew in gay profusion.
Grandmother was too much engrossed with her daughter to pay much
attention to Bert that day. Yet he had more than one token of affection
at her hands; and, taken altogether, it was a very happy day.
After tea, Mrs. Lloyd took her son off for a little chat alone, wishing
to draw him out as to his first impressions.
“Have you had a happy day, Bert?” she asked.
“Yes, indeed, mother. It has been just splendid. I think grandmamma and
uncle and my aunties are lovely, but’’—and here Bert hesitated as if
afraid to finish his remark.
“But what, Bert?” asked Mrs. Lloyd. “What were you going to say when you
“I don’t like grandpapa, mother,” said Bert, after a little pause,
bringing the words out slowly, and then adding, almost in a whisper,
“I’m afraid of grandpapa, mother.”
“Hush, Bert. You shouldn’t say that you don't like your grandfather.
But, tell me, why are you afraid of him?”
“Oh, because he seems so cross, and isn’t kind to me like the others.”
“But he isn’t really cross, Bert. He loves you quite as much as the
others do, but then he is an old man and has a great deal to think
about. Now, Bert darling, I want you to learn to love your grandpapa,
and to try and never be any bother to him. You will, won’t you?”
“I’ll try not to be a bother to him, mother, but I don’t think it’s much
use my trying to love him unless he stops looking so cross.”
“Well, try your best, at all events, Bert,” said Mrs. Lloyd, giving her
son a tender kiss. “And now come, let’s see if we can find grandmother.”