Produced by Lionel Sear
THE MAKING OF MONA
AUTHOR OF “TROUBLESOME URSULA”, “A PAIR OF RED-POLLS”
“KITTY TRENIRE,” “THE CARROLL GIRLS,” ETC., ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY E. WALLCOUSINS.
This etext prepared from a version published in 1919.
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
The kettle sat on the hob, and Mona sat on the floor, both as idle as idle could be.
“I will just wait till the kettle begins to sing,” thought Mona; and became absorbed in her book again.
After a while the kettle, at any rate, seemed to repent of its laziness, for it began to hum softly, and then to hum loudly, and then to sing, but Mona was completely lost in the story she was reading, and had no mind for repentance or anything else. She did not hear the kettle’s song, nor even the rattling of its cover when it boiled, though it seemed to be trying in every way to attract her attention. It went on trying, too, until at last it had no power to try any longer, for the fire had died low, and the kettle grew so chilly it had not even the heart to ‘hum,’ but sat on the black, gloomy-looking stove, looking black and gloomy too, and, if kettles have any power to think, it was probably thinking that poor old granny Barnes’ tea would be scarcely worth drinking when she came home presently, tired and hungry, from her walk to Milbrook, for Mona, even if she realised that the water had boiled, would never dream of emptying it away and filling the kettle afresh, as she should do.
But Mona had no thought for kettles, or tea, or granny either, for her whole mind, her eyes, her ears, and all her senses were with the heroine of the fascinating story she was absorbed in; and who could remember fires and kettles and other commonplace things when one was driving through a lovely park in a beautiful pony carriage, drawn by cream-coloured ponies, and seated beside an exquisitely dressed little lady who had more money than she could count, and insisted on sharing all with her companion?
Mona certainly could not. She never could manage to remember two things at the same time; so, as all her thoughts were absorbed by her golden-haired friend in the blue silk frock, granny in her old black merino and heavy boots was forgotten as completely as the fire, and it was not until someone came stumbling up the garden path and a tired voice said, “Well, dearie, I’m come at last, how have you got on since I’ve been gone?” that she remembered anything about either; and when she did she felt almost sorry that granny had come quite so soon, for if she had only been a few minutes later Mona might just have finished the chapter.
“Oh, I’m so tired!” groaned granny, dropping wearily into her arm-chair. “I have been longing for a nice cup of tea for this hour and more.” Then, as her eyes fell on the black grate, her voice changed to one of dismay. “Why, Mona!” she cried, “the fire’s gone clean out! Oh, dear! oh, dear!” Granny’s voice was full of disappointment. With anyone but Mona she would have been very cross indeed, but she was rarely cross with her. “I daresay it’ll catch up again quickly with a few sticks,” she added patiently.
Mona, really ashamed of herself, ran out to the little wood-rick which stood always in the back-yard. “Stupid old fire,” she muttered impatiently, “of course it must go out, just to spite me because I wanted to have a little read,” and she jerked out the sticks with such force that a whole pile of faggots came tumbling down to the ground. She did not stay, though, to pick them up again, for she really was sorry for her carelessness, and wanted to try and catch up the fire as quickly as possible. She had fully meant to have a nice fire, and the tea laid, and the kettle on the point of boiling, and everything as nice as could be by the time her grandmother got back from the town. But one never got any credit for what one meant to do, thought Mona with a feeling of self-pity.
By the time she got back to the kitchen her grandmother had taken off her bonnet and shawl and was putting on her apron. “My feet do ache,” she sighed. “The roads are so rough, and it’s a good step to Milbrook and back—leastways it seems so when you’re past sixty.”
Mona felt another pang of shame, for it was she who should have gone to the town to do the shopping; but she had not wanted to, and had complained of being tired, and so granny had gone herself, and Mona had let her.
“Let me unlace your boots, granny, and get your slippers for you.” She thought she would feel less guilty if she did something to make her grandmother more comfortable. “You sit down in your chair, I’ll do all that’s got to be done.”