The Hawthorns; a Story about Children

by Amy Walton


This is a nice little book, which would certainly appeal to

its intended audience of eleven- or twelve-year-old little

girls. Its background is distinctly late Victorian, but

nevertheless a modern child would find nothing it could not

relate to other than the more pleasant general atmosphere

of those days.

Amy Walton has written a sequel to this book, "Penelope and

the Others," also published on the Athelstane website.







Quite close to the nursery window at Easney Vicarage there grew a very

old pear-tree. It was so old that the ivy had had time to hug its trunk

with strong rough arms, and even to stretch them out nearly to the top,

and hang dark green wreaths on every bough. Some day, the children had

been told, this would choke the life out of the tree and kill it; that

would be a pity, but there seemed no danger of it yet, for every spring

the pear-tree still showed its head crowned with white blossoms, and

every summer the pears grew yellow and juicy, and fell with a soft

"splosh!" on the gravel path beneath. It was interesting to watch that,

and it happened so often, that it was hard to imagine a windsor pear

without a great gash where the sharp stones had cut into it; it was also

natural to expect when you picked it up that there would be a cunning

yellow wasp hidden somewhere about it, for all the little Hawthorns had

always found it so except the baby, and she was too small to have any

experience. Five little Hawthorns, without counting the baby, had

looked out of the nursery window and watched the pear-tree blossom, and

the sparrows build their nests, and the pears fall; but by the time this

story begins, four of them, whose names were Penelope, Ambrose, Nancy,

and David, were schoolroom children, and learnt lessons of Miss Grey

down-stairs. They had no longer much time for looking out of the

window, and the nursery was left in the possession of Dickie and Cicely

the baby. Dickie, whose real name was Delicia, was three years old--a

great girl now she thought--but she was still fond of kneeling up in the

window seat and flattening her little nose against the glass. She could

not see very much. Through the branches of the pear-tree a little to

the left appeared the church tower, and a glimpse here and there of grey

and white tombstones in the churchyard. Straight in front of her there

was a broad lawn sloping down to a sunk fence, and beyond that a meadow

with tall elms in it, and after that another meadow where cows were

feeding, and that was all. In the spring the meadows turned to gold and

silver with the buttercups and daisies, and the rooks cawed noisily in

the elms; but in the summer it was all very green and very quiet.

Particularly at lesson time, when the "others" were busy with Miss Grey,

and Dickie must not make a noise because baby was asleep. Then there

was only Andrew to be seen in the distance, bending over his barrow or

rake or spade; but he never looked up to the nursery window, and this

was not surprising, for Andrew had a great deal to do. He worked in the

garden, and fed the chickens, and took care of Ruby the horse, and

sometimes drove the wagonette into Nearminster; he also rang the church

bell, and was parish clerk. Perhaps it was because he had so much on

his mind that he was of a melancholy disposition, and seldom disposed

for conversation with the children.

They thought it a pity sometimes that neither the nursery nor the

schoolroom window looked out to the front of the house, for it was only

a little way back from the street; not that there was much going on in

the village, but still you could hear the "clink, clink" from the

blacksmith's forge opposite, and see anyone passing the white gate which

led out into the road. The vicarage was an old house; many and many a

vicar had lived in it, and altered or added to it according to his

liking, so that it was full of twists and turns, inside and out, and had

wonderful nooks and corners, and strange cupboards under the stairs.

Pennie, who was eleven years old, and a great hand at "making up,"

thought a good deal about those old bygone vicars, and founded some of

her choicest romances upon them. There was one particular vicar, a

tablet to whose memory was placed in the chancel just opposite the

Hawthorns' seat in church.

"Godfrey Ablewhite, sometime vicar of this parish," etcetera.

It seemed to Pennie, as she sat staring up at this during her father's

sermons, that she saw plainly what sort of man this Godfrey Ablewhite

had been. He was broad and strong, and rode a tall white horse, and had

doubtless built those large stables at the vicarage, because he was fond

of hunting. From this she would go on to adorn his character with many

daring feats of horsemanship, and by the time the sermon was over there

was another story ready to be eagerly listened to by the other

children--and, indeed, believed also, for they had an infinite trust in

Pennie. This was partly because she was the eldest, and partly because

she "made up" so well, and had such good ideas about games and plans.

No one could make a better plan than Pennie if she put her mind to it,

and this was a valuable faculty, for toys were not plentiful at Easney

Vicarage, and the children had to find their own amusements. These,

fortunately, did not depend upon anything to be bought in shops, for

there was only one in the village, and that was the post-office too.

There you could get bacon, and peppermint drops, and coarse grey

stockings; but for anything more interesting you had to drive to

Nearminster, ten miles away. Mother went over there sometimes, and took

each child with her in turn, but even then there was a serious drawback

to buying much, and that was want of money.

Some children would doubtless think living at Easney a very dull affair.

No shops, nothing new to play with, and very little new to wear.

Pennie _did_ get a little tired sometimes of always wearing serge in

winter and holland in summer; but neither she nor her brothers and

sisters ever found their lives dull. They would have been astonished at

the idea. There were so many interesting things to do. For instance,

there was a large family of pet beasts and birds, some living in the

barn in cages, and some free. Snuff the terrier was the most intimate

and friendly of these last, and Methuselah the tortoise the greatest

stranger. The children regarded him with respectful awe, for he passed

so much of his life hidden away in the cold dark earth, that he must

know many strange and wonderful things which went on there; but, like

all people of really wide experience, he was singularly modest and

retiring in his behaviour, and appeared on the border the first mild day

in spring after his disappearance, with no fuss at all, and as if he had

done nothing remarkable.

Pennie's jackdaw, a forward bird, who hopped about with an air of

understanding everything, was one day found perched on the tortoise's

shell with the evidentintention of making some searching inquiries.

Methuselah, however, had very prudently drawn in his head, and Jack was

both baffled and disgraced.

Next to the animals in point of interest came the Wilderness. This was

a part of the garden shut off from the rest by a shrubbery, and given up

to the children as their very own. Here they messed and muddled to

their hearts' content, carried out a great many interesting designs, and

reared quantities of mustard and cress; once they each had a garden, but

Nancy, Ambrose, and David had lately struck out the bold idea of joining

their plots of ground and digging a well. It was a delightful

occupation, and when the hole got deep it was pleasant to see how the

small frogs and other slimy reptiles crawled about at the bottom; but,

after much heated labour, there were no signs of water. Interest

flagged then, and the well was deserted, until the ever-ready Pennie

suggested the game of Joseph and his brethren, and it became a favourite

amusement to lower Dickie down in a basket amongst the frogs and newts.

Dickie was both small and brave, two very necessary qualities for her

part, for the basket was narrow, and wobbled about a good deal in its

descent; but she was used to perilous positions, and had a soul above


The Wilderness was certainly very interesting; nevertheless at a certain

time in the summer it was completely forsaken, and that was when the hay

was down. Then everyone must help to get it in; and there could be no

lessons done, for even Miss Grey was in the hay-field. Then the excited

children, with flushed faces, worked as hard as though the whole matter

depended on them alone, and even Dickie, with tiny rake and sturdy legs

planted wide apart, did brave service. Then the maids, with sun-bonnets

tilted well forward on their foreheads, came out to toss a little hay,

and giggle a great deal, and say how hot it was; then the surly Andrew

threw sour looks of scorn at them, and the vicar, casting aside his

black coat, did more real work than anyone. Then mother came into the

field with Cicely in her arms, and was welcomed with acclamations, and

forthwith seated on a royal throne of hay; then, under her watchful

eyes, the ambitious Ambrose worked feverishly, and threw his arms and

legs about like an excited spider. Then Nancy laughed at him, and David

pushed him down, and Pennie covered him with hay; and it got into his

eyes and down his throat and he choked and kicked, and mother said:

"That will do, children!" Then tea was brought out and laid under the

great oak-tree, and everyone's face was very red, and everyone was very

thirsty. And then the cool evening came stealing on, and a tiny breeze

blew, and the hay smelt sweet, and the shadows lengthened, and it was

bed-time just as things were getting pleasant.

Each time all this happened it was equally delightful, and it seemed a

pity when the field stood bare and desolate after the hay was carried,

shorn of its shadowy grass and pretty flowers; yet there was consolation

too in the size of the stack which the children had helped to make, and

which they always thought "bigger than last year."

Soon after this autumn came and made the orchard and woods and lanes

interesting with apples and nuts and blackberries; and then, after the

apples and nuts had been stored away, and the blackberries made into

jam, it was time to look forward to the winter.

Winter brought a great deal that was very pleasant; for sometimes he

came with snow and ice, and the children would wake up to find that in

the night he had quietly covered everything out-of-doors with a

sparkling white garment.

Then what could be more delicious than to make a snow man or a snow


Pennie, who was a great reader, and always anxious to carry out

something she had read about, inclined towards the palace; but the

others had less lofty minds. It quite contented them to make a snow

man, to put one of Andrew's pipes in his mouth and a battered hat on his

head, and stick in bits of coal for his eyes.

"Isn't he lovely?" Nancy would exclaim when all these adornments were


"Zovely!" echoed Dickie, clapping red worsted mittens ecstatically.

"I think he's rather vulgar," Pennie said doubtfully on one of these

occasions with an anxiously puckered brow; "and besides, there's nothing

to make up about him. What can you pretend?"

The snow man certainly looked hopelessly prosaic as Ambrose tilted his

hat a little more to one side.

"Guy Fawkes?" suggested David, having studied the matter solidly for

some minutes.

"No," said Pennie, "not Guy Fawkes--he's so common--we've had him heaps

of times. But I'll tell you what would be splendid; we'll make him a

martyr in Smithfield."

The boys looked doubtful, but Nancy clapped her hands.

"That's capital," she said.

"You know," continued Pennie for the general information, "they burned


"Alive?" inquired Ambrose eagerly.


"How jolly!" murmured David.

"Jolly! jolly! jolly!" repeated Dickie, jumping up and down in the snow.

"Why were they burned?" asked Ambrose, who was never tired of asking

questions, and liked to get to the bottom of a matter if possible.

"_Why_, I am not quite sure," answered Pennie cautiously, "because I've

only just got to it; but I _think_ it was something about the Bible.

I'll ask Miss Grey."

"Oh, never mind all that," interrupted the practical Nancy impatiently;

"we'll make a splendid bonfire all round him and watch him melt. Come

and get the wood."

"And we'll call him `a distinguished martyr,'" added Pennie as she moved

slowly away, "because I can't remember any of their real names."

Pennie was never satisfied to leave things as they were; she liked to

adorn them with fancies and make up stories about them, and her busy

little mind was always ready to set to work on the smallest event of the

children's lives. Nothing was too common or familiar to have mysteries

and romance woven round it; and this was sometimes a most useful

faculty, for winter was not always kind enough to bring snow and ice

with him. Very often there was nothing but rain and fog and mud, and

then mother uttered those dreadful words:

"The children must not go out."

Then when lessons were over, and all the games exhausted, and it was

still too early for lights, the schoolroom became full of dark corners,

and the flickering fire cast mysterious shadows which changed the very

furniture into something dim and awful.

Then was Pennie's time--then, watching her hearers' upturned faces by

the uncertain light of the fire, she saw surprise or pity or horror on

them as her story proceeded, and, waxing warmer, she half believed it

true herself. And this made the tales very interesting and thrilling.

Yet once Pennie's talent had an unfortunate result, as you shall hear in

the next chapter.



The children all thought that Pennie's best stories were about a certain

lumber-room in the vicarage which was called the "Garret." They were

also the most dreadful and thrilling, for there was something about the

garret which lent itself readily to tales of mystery and horror. The

very air there was always murky and dim, and no sunlight could steal

through the tiny lattice window which came poking out from the roof like

a half-shut eyelid. Dust and cobwebs had covered the small leaded panes

so thickly that a dusky gloom always dwelt there, and gave an unnatural

and rather awful look to the various objects. And what a strange

collection it was! Broken spindle-legged chairs, rickety boxes, piles

of yellow old music-books and manuscripts, and in one corner an ancient

harp in a tarnished gilt frame. Poor deserted dusty old things! They

had had their day in the busy world once, but that was over now, and

they must stay shut up in the silent garret with no one to see them but

the spiders and the children. For these last came there often; treading

on tiptoe they climbed the steep stairs and unlatched the creaky door

and entered, bold but breathless, and casting anxious glances over their

shoulders for strange things that might be lurking in the corners. They

never saw any, but still they came half hoping, half fearing; and they

had, besides, another object in their visits, which was a great great

secret, and only known to Pennie, Nancy, and Ambrose. It was indeed a

daring adventure, scarcely to be spoken of above a whisper, and

requiring a great deal of courage. This was the secret:

  • audience [´ɔ:diəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.听众;观众;接见   (初中英语单词)
  • background [´bækgraund] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.背景;经历;幕后   (初中英语单词)
  • distinctly [di´stiŋktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.清楚地,明晰地   (初中英语单词)
  • hidden [´hid(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  hide 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • blossom [´blɔsəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.花;开花期 vi.开花   (初中英语单词)
  • learnt [lə:nt] 移动到这儿单词发声  learn 的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • glimpse [glimps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.瞥见   (初中英语单词)
  • meadow [´medəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.草地;牧场   (初中英语单词)
  • surprising [sə´praiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的;意外的   (初中英语单词)
  • disposition [,dispə´ziʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安排;性情;倾向   (初中英语单词)
  • sometime [´sʌmtaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.曾经 a.从前的   (初中英语单词)
  • plainly [´pleinli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.平坦地;简单地   (初中英语单词)
  • character [´kæriktə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.特性;性质;人物;字   (初中英语单词)
  • eagerly [´i:gəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.渴望地,急切地   (初中英语单词)
  • partly [´pɑ:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.部分地;不完全地   (初中英语单词)
  • valuable [´væljuəbəl, -jubəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有价值的,贵重的   (初中英语单词)
  • faculty [´fækəlti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.才干;天赋;院,系   (初中英语单词)
  • coarse [kɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗(糙)的;粗鲁的   (初中英语单词)
  • doubtless [´dautlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.无疑地;大概,多半   (初中英语单词)
  • holland [´hɔlənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荷兰   (初中英语单词)
  • modest [´mɔdist] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.谦虚的;朴素的   (初中英语单词)
  • evident [´evidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的,明白的   (初中英语单词)
  • intention [in´tenʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.意图;打算;意义   (初中英语单词)
  • wilderness [´wildənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荒地,荒野   (初中英语单词)
  • lately [´leitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.近来,不久前   (初中英语单词)
  • nevertheless [,nevəðə´les] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.然而;不过   (初中英语单词)
  • everyone [´evriwʌn] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.=everybody 每人   (初中英语单词)
  • ambitious [æm´biʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有雄心的;热望的   (初中英语单词)
  • spider [´spaidə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蜘蛛;三角架   (初中英语单词)
  • throat [θrəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.咽喉;嗓子;出入口   (初中英语单词)
  • equally [´i:kwəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.相等地;平等地   (初中英语单词)
  • delightful [di´laitful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.讨人喜欢的   (初中英语单词)
  • orchard [´ɔ:tʃəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.果园   (初中英语单词)
  • delicious [di´liʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.美味的,可口的   (初中英语单词)
  • anxious [´æŋkʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.担忧的;渴望的   (初中英语单词)
  • romance [rəu´mæns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.中世纪骑士小说   (初中英语单词)
  • dreadful [´dredful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可怕的;讨厌的   (初中英语单词)
  • mysterious [mi´stiəriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神秘的;难以理解的   (初中英语单词)
  • uncertain [ʌn´sə:tn] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不定的;不可靠的   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • talent [´tælənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天才;才干;天资   (初中英语单词)
  • unfortunate [ʌn´fɔ:tʃunit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不幸的,运气差的   (初中英语单词)
  • readily [´redili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.乐意地;容易地   (初中英语单词)
  • mystery [´mistəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.神秘;秘密;故弄玄虚   (初中英语单词)
  • sunlight [´sʌnlait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光   (初中英语单词)
  • spoken [´spəukən] 移动到这儿单词发声  speak的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • whisper [´wispə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.耳语 n.低语;沙沙声   (初中英语单词)
  • appeal [ə´pi:l] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.请求;呼吁;上诉   (高中英语单词)
  • nursery [´nə:səri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.托儿所;苗床;养鱼场   (高中英语单词)
  • gravel [´grævəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.砾石 vt.铺砾石   (高中英语单词)
  • parish [´pæriʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.教区(的全体居民)   (高中英语单词)
  • melancholy [´melənkəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.忧郁 a.忧郁的   (高中英语单词)
  • sermon [´sə:mən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说教;训诫;讲道   (高中英语单词)
  • infinite [´infinit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无限的,无穷的   (高中英语单词)
  • eldest [´eldist] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.最年长的   (高中英语单词)
  • plentiful [´plentifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.丰富的;多的   (高中英语单词)
  • post-office [´pəust-´ɔfis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.邮政的   (高中英语单词)
  • amongst [ə´mʌŋst] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.其中之一 =among   (高中英语单词)
  • perilous [´periləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.危险的;冒险的   (高中英语单词)
  • sturdy [´stə:di] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.坚强的;坚定的   (高中英语单词)
  • throne [θrəun] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.宝座;王位   (高中英语单词)
  • desolate [´desəleit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.荒凉的;孤独的   (高中英语单词)
  • shadowy [´ʃædəui] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有阴影的;模糊的   (高中英语单词)
  • contented [kən´tentid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.满足的;心满意足的   (高中英语单词)
  • anxiously [´æŋkʃəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.挂念地;渴望地   (高中英语单词)
  • studied [´stʌdid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.故意的;有计划的   (高中英语单词)
  • doubtful [´dautful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.怀疑的,可疑的   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • cautiously [´kɔ:ʃəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.小心地;谨慎地   (高中英语单词)
  • distinguished [di´stiŋgwiʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.卓越的,著名的   (高中英语单词)
  • thickly [´θikli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.厚厚地;密密地   (高中英语单词)
  • breathless [´breθlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.屏息的   (高中英语单词)
  • schoolroom [´sku:lru:m, -rum] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.教室   (英语四级单词)
  • churchyard [´tʃə:tʃjɑ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.教堂院子   (英语四级单词)
  • tortoise [´tɔ:təs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(乌)龟   (英语四级单词)
  • mustard [´mʌstəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.芥菜;芥末(色)   (英语四级单词)
  • hopelessly [´həuplisli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.无希望地,绝望地   (英语四级单词)
  • eyelid [´ai,lid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.眼睑;眼皮   (英语四级单词)
  • garret [´gærit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.阁楼,顶楼   (英语四级单词)
  • tiptoe [´tiptəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.脚尖 vi.踮着脚走   (英语四级单词)
  • victorian [vik´tɔ:riən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.维多利亚女王时代的   (英语六级单词)
  • hunting [´hʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打猎   (英语六级单词)
  • respectful [ri´spektfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.恭敬的;尊敬人的   (英语六级单词)
  • disappearance [,disə´piərəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.消失;失踪   (英语六级单词)
  • forsaken [fə´seik] 移动到这儿单词发声  forsake的过去分词   (英语六级单词)
  • giggle [´gigəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.傻笑   (英语六级单词)
  • doubtfully [´dautfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.怀疑地,可疑地   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:45:52
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