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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER IX. "THE ADVENT OF THE GUIDE."
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 Cecile crept upstairs again very, very slowly, and sat down by Maurice's side.  
"Maurice, dear," she said to her little brother, "I ha' no good news for you. Aunt Lydia won't allow no fire, and you must just get right into bed, and I'll lie down and put my arms round you, and Toby shall lie at your feet. You'll soon be warm then, and maybe if you're a very good boy, and don't cry, I'll make up a little fairy tale for you, Maurice."
But Maurice was sick and very miserable, and he was in no humor even to be comforted by what at most times he considered the nicest treat in the world—a story made up by Cecile.
"I hate Aunt Lydia Purcell," he said; "I hate her, Cecile."
"Oh, don't! Maurice, darling. Father often said it was wrong to hate anyone, and maybe Aunt Lydia does find us very expensive. Do you know, Maurice, she told me just now that our cousin in France has never sent her any money all this time? And you know how reliable our cousin always was; and Aunt Lydia says if the money does not come soon, she will send us away, quite away to another home. We are to go to a place called 'The union.' She says it is not very far away, and that it won't be a bad home. At least, you will have a fire to warm yourself by there, Maurice."
"Oh!" said Maurice excitedly, "don't you hope our cousin in France won't send the money, Cecile? Couldn't you write, or get someone to write to him, telling him not to send the money?"
"I don't know writing well enough to put it in a letter, Maurice, and, besides, it would not be fair to Aunt Lydia, after her having such expense with us all these months. Don't you remember that delicious apple pie, Maurice, and the red, red apples to eat with bread in the fields? 'Tis only the last few days Aunt Lydia has got really unkind, and perhaps we are very expensive little children. Besides, Maurice, darling, I did not like to tell you at first, but there is one dreadful, dreadful thing about the union. However nice a home it might be for you and me, we could not take Toby with us, Maurice. Aunt Lydia said Toby would not be taken in."
"Then what would become of our dog?" asked Maurice, opening his velvety brown eyes very wide.
"Ah! that I don't understand. Aunt Lydia just laughed, and said Toby should have a yard of rope, and 'twould be cheaper than the union. I can't in the least find out what she meant."
But here Maurice got very red, so red, down below his chin, and into his neck, and even up to the roots of his hair, that Cecile gazed at him in alarm, and feared he had been taken seriously ill.
"Oh, Cecile!" he gasped. "Oh! oh! oh!" and here he buried his head on his sister's breast.
"What is it, Maurice? Maurice, speak to me," implored his sister. "Maurice, are very ill? Do speak to me, darling?"
"No, Cecile, I'm not ill," said the little boy, when he could find voice after his agitation. "But, oh! Cecile, you must never be angry with me for hating Aunt Lydia again. Cecile, Aunt Lydia is the dreadfullest woman in all the world. Do you know what she meant by a yard of rope?"
"No, Maurice; tell me," asked Cecile, her face growing white.
"It means, Cecile, that our dog—our darling, darling Toby—is to be hung, hung till he dies. Our Toby is to be murdered, Cecile, and Aunt Lydia is to be his murderer. That's what it means."
"But, Maurice, how do you know? Maurice, how can you tell?"
"It was last week," continued the little boy, "last week, the day you would not come out, Toby and me were in the wood, and we came on a dog hanging to one of the trees by a bit of rope, and the poor dog was dead, and a big boy stood by. Toby howled when he saw the dog, and the big boy laughed; and I said to him, 'What is the matter with the poor dog?' And the dreadful boy laughed again, Cecile, and he said, 'I've been giving him a yard of rope.'
"And I said, 'But he's dead.'
"And the boy said, 'Yes, that was what I gave it him for.' That boy was a murderer, and I would not stay in the wood all day, and that is what Aunt Lydia will be; and I hate Aunt Lydia, so I do."
Here Maurice went into almost hysterical crying, and Ce............
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