[Illustration: Front cover art]
[Frontispiece: "'Oh, Ruth,' she said, 'The foreign gentleman has
_THE RED NURSERY SERIES_
THE GAP IN THE FENCE
FREDERICA J. TURLE
"The Squire's Grandchildren," "Jerry O'Shassenagh," etc., etc.
_WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY WATSON CHARLTON_
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION
57 AND 59 LUDGATE HILL, E.C.
II.--A QUEER VISITOR
III.--THE LITTLE FOREIGN GIRL
VI.--UNA ASKS A QUESTION
VIII.--THE GYPSIES ON THE COMMON
X.--WHAT THE YOUNG MAN SAID
XII.--HER FATHER'S SECRET
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Front cover art
"'OH, RUTH,' SHE SAID, 'THE FOREIGN GENTLEMAN
HAS COME!'" . . . . . . _Frontispiece_
"YOU MUSTN'T LAUGH, ANY OF YOU--PROMISE!"
SHE RAISED HER HEAD AND LOOKED AT NORAH GRAVELY.
"'FAIRIES! FAIRIES!' SHE CRIED, CLAPPING HER HANDS."
"THERE, IN THE OLD BRICK WALL, WAS A TINY OAK DOOR!"
"SHE WAS STILL BENDING OVER THE BASIN WHEN SHE HEARD
A TAP, TAP, TAP."
"SHE CAME ACROSS TOM SEATED ON THE GROUND."
"'THERE THEY ARE!' TOM SAID SUDDENLY."
"'OH, TOM, IT'S ALIVE!' CRIED UNA."
"THE CHILDREN FOLLOWED HIM OUT INTO THE SUNSHINE."
"UNA SAT BESIDE HIM, FANNING HIM."
"'I WAS JUST WONDERING IF I SHOULD TELL YOU,' SAID UNA."
Back cover art
THE GAP IN THE FENCE.
Think of the prettiest garden you have ever seen: a dear,
old-fashioned, sunny garden, with masses of snapdragon and white lilies
and carnations, and big yellow sunflowers; and damask
roses, and white
cluster roses, and sweet-smelling pink cabbage
roses, and tiny yellow
Scotch roses--in fact, every kind of rose you can think of, except
modern ones. Then you can imagine the Vicarage garden at Haversham.
Not that all these flowers were out in August; indeed, the best of the
roses and all the carnations were over by then, but the garden was
still gay with lots of other kinds of flowers; and dear little twisting
paths led the way under shady nut-trees to the kitchen garden and
orchard, where apricots and plums turned golden and red in the
sunshine, and the apple-trees were so laden that it seemed quite
wonderful to think the branches did not break with the weight of the
The summer holidays were half over now, and already Mother had begun to
look over the boys' socks and shirts for the next term at school, and
the girls had begun to talk seriously
of the holiday
tasks, which had
been lightheartedly put on one side when they first came home from
school with eight long weeks of idleness
They were all having tea under the big ash-tree on the lawn one very
hot afternoon, when Philip announced a rather important piece of news.
"Haver Grange is let," he said.
"_Is_ it? Oh, Philip, how do you know? Who told you? Who has taken
it, and when are they coming?" asked the others.
For over twelve years now the old Grange had been empty--except for a
very deaf old man and his wife who lived there as caretakers. The
present owner liked better to travel about the world than to live
quietly in England, and his sons generally spent their holidays with
But although the same old board had stood beside the big iron gates
with "This House to be Let Furnished" written upon it in large white
letters, no one had come to live in it, and the children had grown to
look upon the Grange garden, with its moss-grown walks and weedy flower
beds, as their especial
"Mrs. Mills told me when I went to buy mother's stamps just now," said
the boy. "She said an Italian gentleman had taken it, or an Austrian
or a Frenchman--she didn't know which," and Philip laughed as he helped
himself to a piece of cake.
Just then the vicar turned in at the gate and crossed the lawn towards
father with questions until he has had a cup of tea,"
said Mrs. Carew, and six eager faces were turned towards the vicar as,
with a sigh of relief, he seated himself under the shade of the tree.
"I think to-day is the hottest day we have had this year," he said, as
he took the cup Ruth handed him and began to stir his tea, while he
chatted to his wife about the poor woman he had been to see.
"Isn't your tea nice, father?" she asked. "You have hardly drunk any
of it yet."
"Very nice, thank you, dear," said her father.
Norah got down from her seat and carried the big milk jug round to his
"Won't you have some more milk, father?" she said. "Perhaps your tea
is too hot, and you can't drink it quickly."
"But I don't want to drink it quickly," said her father.
He looked in a puzzled way at his wife, and Mrs. Carew laughed.
"I told the children to let you drink one cup of tea in peace before
they bothered you with questions," said she.
"I think I know what the questions will be about," said the vicar.
He drank the rest of his tea and handed the cup to Philip.
"Father! _Have_ you heard Haver Grange is let?" said the boy.
"And whom it's let to?" asked Ruth.
"And whether there are any children?" asked Norah.
"One question at a time!" said their father, laughing. "Yes, I heard
from Mr. Denny that the Grange had been let to a foreign gentleman, who
is coming to live there very soon, I believe, as the caretakers have
orders to have the house in readiness
before the end of this week; but
where he comes from and whether he has any children I do not know."
Dan had been opening
and shutting his mouth for the last two minutes.
"Father!" he burst out at last, "_Do_ you think he will have the gap in
the fence boarded up?"
"The gap in the fence? My dear Dan, what do you mean?" asked his
"He means the gap where we used to get through and have picnics in the
Grange grounds," said Ruth, "but we haven't been there for a long time
now. Have you and Dan been lately, Norah?"
"Yes," said Norah, "Dan and I often go and sit there. Shan't we ever
be able to go any more?" And the little girl looked quite sad.
"No," said Mr. Carew; "certainly you must not go again. Little
trespassers! I had no idea you were in the habit of going there for
picnics or anything else."
"What's trespassers?" asked Dan.
"People who break through other people's fences and get taken up and
put in prison," said Philip, as Mr. and Mrs. Carew left the tea-table
and went towards the house. "Just fancy! You and Norah might have
been quietly having a picnic
in the glen one day when some fat old
policeman would come along and take you both off to prison."
"Levick wouldn't," said Norah stoutly. "Levick's a very nice man. Dan
and I often go to see him and his wife and baby."
"Well, Levick isn't the only policeman
in the world," said Philip
teasingly. "I saw a very fat, red-faced old policeman
in Borsham the
other day, and he had a little twinkle
in his eye, which seemed to say:
'Where are the little boy and girl who have been breaking through the
"Oh, Philip, don't be silly," said Mary, seeing
that her little brother
was looking rather grave. "You know policemen wouldn't take up people
and put them in prison unless they were doing anything really wrong."
"But perhaps _some_ policemen would, Mary," said Dan. "Perhaps _all_
policemen are not nice, kind policemen like Levick, who live in dear
little white cottages like Levick's cottage, and have dear little
babies like Levick's baby, and lots of little pigs like Levick's pigs."
The other children burst out laughing.
"No, of course they are not all exactly like Levick," said Philip, who
was a little ashamed
of himself for having frightened his little
brother; "but I was only joking when I said that about the policeman
Borsham, Dan. What a little duffer you are!"
"Tell us about Jack the Giant-killer, then," said Dan coaxingly; and
Philip sat down good-naturedly and told his little brother and sister
story after story, until it was bedtime.
The next morning, when Philip went to the schoolroom
to finish the
which he meant to have done the evening before, he
found Ruth seated at the table with pen, ink and paper before her, and
a very blank look on her face.
"What are you doing?" he asked in surprise; for Ruth was a very lazy
little girl as a rule, and was seldom seen either reading, writing
"It's my holiday
task," she said dismally. "I can't think of anything
"What have you got to write about?" asked Philip.
"Alfred the Great," said Ruth. "I know about him burning the cakes;
but I can't think of anything else, and Mary has half done hers. Miss
Long has offered a prize for the one who does it best."
"I wish old Jones would offer a prize for _my_ holiday
Philip. "I can't get this stuff into my head!" and the boy turned to
his Latin with a sigh.
"It's because we've had holidays, I think," said Ruth. "My mind feels
quite empty, you know; and I think of all sorts of silly things instead
of my essay."
"Perhaps that is why we have holiday
tasks," said Philip.
Just then hasty footsteps sounded along the passage, and Norah burst
into the room like a whirlwind.
"Oh, Ruth," she said, quite out of breath
so fast, "the
foreign gentleman has come; and what do you think? He has got
children; at least, he has a little girl, and she's about my age, Mrs.
Mills says; because Mrs. Brown's son has been doing some painting
the Grange, and he saw a little girl one day, and Mrs. Brown told Mrs.
Mills that he said she looked a 'regular caution.' I wonder what that
means--not like little English girls, I expect. Oh, Ruth! don't you
_wish_ we could see her?"
"Norah, you really do talk too much," said Ruth, as her little sister
paused for breath. "You bring out all your words in a rush together,
and no one can hear half you say; and I'm sure mother wouldn't like you
like that with Mrs. Mills. What have you been to the shop
at all for, this morning?"
"To buy some string for Tom," said Norah. She was generally rather
hurt when Ruth put on her elder-sisterly air, because she tried so hard
to be "old" and sensible
during the holidays, so that Ruth might talk
to her sometimes and tell her secrets as she did to Mary, instead of
always treating her as one of the little ones. But to-day she was too
excited to pay much attention to Ruth's reproof, and turned to Philip
"Philip, isn't it lovely?" she said. "Perhaps we shall be great
friends, the little girl and I, and go to tea with each other, and do
things like that. Oh, I should _love_ to have a little girl to be
A QUEER VISITOR.
For some days nothing more was heard of the new tenants at Haver
Grange, and when Sunday came the children were quite excited at the
idea of seeing
the foreign gentleman and his little girl in church.
When Stephen said that perhaps they would not come to church this first
Sunday, the others scouted the idea with scorn, and the eyes of all the
Carews were turned towards the Grange pew as they went in.
It was a big, old-fashioned, high-walled pew, and no one had ever sat
in it as long as the children could remember; though Mrs. Jinks; the
verger's wife, dusted it well and beat up the cushions with great
energy every Thursday when she cleaned the church.
The pew was empty this morning; but it was early yet, and the children
sat in eager expectation
until the last clang of the bell sounded and
the vicar entered.
"Such a pity to be late the first morning," thought Norah, as she rose
to her feet with the others; but as the minutes passed, and still
neither the foreign gentleman nor his little girl appeared, she began
to think that perhaps Stephen was right after all.
"Oh, mother, _when_ do you think we shall see her?" said Norah, on
their way home from church that morning. "They've been here ever since
Tuesday, and we haven't seen anything of them yet. Don't you think
they will ever come to church here, mother--the little foreign girl and
"I don't know, dear," said her mother. "Perhaps they will later on;
but father is going to call on Monsieur Gen (I think that is the
foreign gentleman's name) in a few days, and perhaps, afterwards, he
will be able to tell you something about the little girl."
But when the vicar called at the Grange a few days later, the strange,
foreign-looking servant who opened the door told him that his master
did not receive visitors; and as Mr. Carew walked down the drive he
wondered what reason the foreign gentleman could have for coming to
live at Haversham.
The last few days of the holidays went by very quickly; and it was just
two days before the elder children went back to school that they saw
their new little neighbour for the first time.
"If you want to see the little Spanish girl, come quick!" cried Tom,
throwing open the schoolroom
door; and in a moment the others had flung
down their books and work and had followed him downstairs
and out into
"Hurry!" cried Tom, panting as he rushed across the lawn; and they
reached the gate just as a stout, elderly
woman and a pale-faced little
girl, dressed in a quaintly-frilled black frock, paused for one moment
The child gazed solemnly
at the group of rosy-faced, happy-looking
children on the other side of the gate; then she said something in a