It is already a long time since I was a little girl. Sometimes, when I
look out upon the world and see how many changes have come about, how
different many things are from what I can remember them, I could
that a still longer time had passed since my childhood than is really
the case. Sometimes, on the contrary, the remembrance of things that
then happened comes over me so very vividly, so very _real_-ly, that I
can scarcely believe myself to be as old as I am.
I can remember things in my little girlhood more clearly than many in
later years. This makes me hope that the story of some part of it may
interest children of to-day, for I know I have not forgotten the
feelings I had as a child. And after all, I believe that in a great
ways children are very like each other in their hearts and minds, even
though their lives may seem very different and very far apart.
The first years of my childhood were very happy, though there were
things in my life which many children would not like at all. My
were not rich, and the place where we lived was not pretty or
The Carved Lions
It was a rather large town in an ugly part of the country, where great
tall chimneys giving out black smoke, and streams--once clear
brooks, no doubt--whose water was nearly as black as the smoke, made
often difficult to believe in bright blue sky or green grass, or any
the sweet pure country scenes that children love, though perhaps
children that have them do not love them as much as those who have not
got them do.
I think that was the way with me. The country was almost the same as
fairyland to me--the peeps I had of it now and then were a delight I
could not find words to express.
But what matters most to children is not _where_ their home is, but
_what_ it is. And our home was a very sweet and loving one, though it
was only a rather small and dull house in a dull street. Our father
mother did everything they possibly could to make us happy, and the
trial of living at Great Mexington must have been far worse for them
than for us. For they had both been accustomed to rich homes when they
were young, and father had never expected that he would have to work
hard or in the sort of way he had to do, after he lost nearly all his
When I say "us," I mean my brother Haddie and I. Haddie--whose real
was Haddon--was two years older than I, and we two were the whole
family. My name--_was_ I was going to say, for now there are so few
people to call me by my Christian name that it seems hardly mine--my
name is Geraldine. Somehow I never had a "short" for it, though it is
long name, and Haddie was always Haddie, and "Haddon" scarcely needs
shortening. I think it was because he nearly always called me Sister
Haddie was between ten and eleven years old and I was nine when the
great change that I am going to tell you about came over our lives.
I must go back a little farther than that, otherwise you would not
understand all about us, nor the meaning of the odd title I have
for my story.
I had no governess and I did not go to school. My mother taught me
herself, partly, I think, to save expense, and partly because she did
not like the idea of sending me to even a day-school at Great
The Carved Lions
For though many of the families there were very rich, and had large
houses and carriages and horses and beautiful gardens, they were not
always very refined. There were good and kind and unselfish people
as there are everywhere, but there were some who thought more of being
rich than of anything else--the sort of people that are called "purse
proud." And as children very often take after their parents, my father
and mother did not like the idea of my having such children as my
companions--children who would look down upon me for being poor, and
perhaps treat me unkindly on that account.
"When Geraldine is older she must go to school," my father used to
"unless by that time our ship comes in and we can afford a governess.
But when she is older it will not matter so much, as she will have
learnt to value things at their just worth."
I did not then understand what he meant, but I have never forgotten
I was a very simple child. It never entered my head that there was
anything to be ashamed of in living in a small house and having only
servants. I thought it would be _nice_ to have more money, so that
would not need to be so busy and could have more pretty dresses, and
above all that we could then live in the country, but