“What is this strange new life, this finer sense,
Which lifts me out of self, and bids me
… rise to glorious thought
High hopes, and inarticulate fantasies?”
“Voices.”—Songs of Two Worlds After tea Fergus’s mother turned to the two boys.
“Shall I play to you now?” she said, “or shall we first show Gratian the pictures?”
“Play the last thing, please,” said Fergus. “I like to keep it in my mind when I go to bed—it makes me sleep better. We can go into the gallery now and show Gratian the pictures; it would be too dark if we waited.”
“It is rather dark already,” said the lady, “still Gratian can see some, and the next time he comes he can look at them again.”
She rang the bell, and when Andrew came, she told him to wheel Fergus’s couch into the picture-gallery, which opened into the library where they were.
Andrew opened a double door at the other end of the room from that by which they had come in, and then he gently wheeled forward the couch on which Fergus was lying, and pushed it through the doorway. The gallery was scarcely large enough to deserve the name, but to Gratian’s eyes it looked a very wonderful place. It was long and rather narrow, and the light came from the top, and along the sides and ends were hung a good many pictures. All down one side were portraits—gentlemen with wigs, and ladies with powder, and some in queer, fancy dresses, mostly looking stiff and unnatural, though among them were some beautiful faces, and two or three portraits of children, which caught Gratian’s eye.
“What do you think of them?” asked Fergus.
“I don’t think people long ago could have been as pretty as they are now,” he said at last, “except that lady in the long black dress—oh, she is very pretty, and so is the red little boy with the dog, and the two girls blowing soap-bubbles. The big one has got eyes like—like the lady’s,” he added half-timidly.
The lady looked pleased.
“You have a quick eye, Gratian,” she said. “The pictures you admire are the best here, and that little girl is my great-grandmother. Now, look at the other side. These are pictures of all kinds—not family ones.”
Read more from the PDF above…
For other interesting stories for kids, browse though our huge collection of short stories here.