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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER I. ON THE SAND HILL.
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 There is an old saying which tells us that there is a special Providence over the very young and the very old. This old-world saying was specially proved in the cases of Maurice and Cecile. How two creatures so young, so inexperienced, should ever find themselves in a foreign land, must have remained a mystery to those who did not hold this faith.  
Cecile was eight, Maurice six years old; the dog, of no age in particular, but with a vast amount of canine wisdom, was with them. He had walked with them all the way from London to Dover. He had slept curled up close to them in two or three barns, where they had passed nights free of expense. He had jumped up behind them into loaded carts or wagons when they were fortunate enough to get a lift, and when they reached Dover he had wandered with them through the streets, and had found himself by their sides on the quay, and in some way also on board the boat which was to convey them to France. And now they were in France, two miles outside Calais, on a wild, flat, and desolate plain. But neither this fact nor the weather, for it was a raw and bitter winter's day, made any difference, at least at first, to Cecile. All lesser feelings, all minor discomforts, were swallowed up in the joyful knowledge that they were in France, in the land where Lovedy was sure to be, in their beloved father's country. They were in France, their own belle France! Little she knew or recked, poor child! how far was this present desolate France from her babyhood's sunny home. Having conquered the grand difficulty of getting there, she saw no other difficulties in her path just now.
"Oh, Maurice! we are safe in our own country," she said, in a tone of ecstasy, to the little boy.
Maurice, however,—cold, tired, still seasick from his passage across the Channel,—saw nothing delightful in this fact.
"I'm very hungry, Cecile," he said, "and I'm very cold. How soon shall we find breakfast and a night's lodging?"
"Maurice, dear, it is quite early in the day; we don't want to think of a night's lodging for many hours yet."
"But we passed through a town, a great big town," objected Maurice; "why did you not look for a night's lodging there, Cecile?"
"'Twasn't in my 'greement, Maurice, darling. I promised, promised faithful when I went on this search, that we'd stay in little villages and small tiny inns, and every place looked big in that town. But we'll soon find a place, Maurice, and then you shall have breakfast. Toby will take us to a village very soon."
All Toby's temporary degeneration of character had vanished since his walk to Dover. He was as alert as ever in his care of Maurice, as anxiously solicitous for Cecile's benefit, and had also developed a remarkable and valuable faculty for finding small towns and out-of-the-way villages, where Cecile's slender store of money could be spent to the best advantage.
On board the small boat which had brought the children across the Channel, Cecile's piquant and yet pathetic face had won the captain's good favor. He had not only given all three their passage for nothing, but had got the little girl to confide sufficiently in him to find out that she carried money with her. He asked her if it was French or English money, and on her taking out her precious Russia-leather purse from its hiding-place, and producing with trembling hands an English sovereign, he had changed it into small and useful French money, and had tried to make the child comprehend the difference between the two. When they got to Calais he managed to land the children without the necessity of a passport, of which, of course, Cecile knew nothing. What more he might have done was never revealed, for Cecile, Maurice, and Toby were quickly lost sight of in the bustle on the quay.
The little trio walked off—Cecile, at least, feeling very triumphant—and never paused, until obliged to do so, owing to Maurice's weariness.
"We will find a village at once now, Maurice," said his little sister. She called Toby, whistled to him, gave him to understand what they wanted, and the dog, with a short bark and glance of intelligence, ran on in front. He sniffed the air, he ............
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