LOVEDAY could scarcely sleep at all that night, she was so afraid that they would not wake up early enough to start. In fact, she was so afraid of oversleeping that after Bessie had seen her to bed and said “Good-night,” she slipped out again and put on some of her clothes, partly that she might be so far dressed when morning came, and partly that the discomfort of them might prevent her sleeping too soundly.

Her plan answered well. All night she was constantly turning and waking, and she was glad enough when daylight came at last. She did not know what the time was, but she got up, and, tiptoeing out, called Aaron. It was not very easy to wake him; he had not troubled to sleep in his clothes, or to do anything else to make him wake early. Loveday, afraid to shout at him, or to make any noise at all, took the water-bottle, thinking that a drop or two of water on his face might answer better than anything, but the water, unfortunately, did not drop—it poured all down his face and neck in a cold stream, and Aaron started up with a howl which filled Loveday with dismay and vexation.

“Oh, you silly, you!” she cried crossly; “do be quiet, and don’t be so stupid. Don’t you remember what we are going to do?”

“Yes,” said Aaron, cross enough himself now, “but I want to go to sleep.” He did not feel at all in the mood for playing at being a pisky. Loveday, though, was determined, and after a moment the sleepiness and crossness passed, and he began to feel the excitement of their plan.

“Make haste and dress,” said Loveday firmly. “I shan’t be long.”

And in a remarkably short space of time they had dressed and crept out of her window, and were scrambling hurriedly up the steep cliff-path.

“Oh, how lovely!”

Young as she was, Loveday had to keep on stopping to admire the beauty of the scene; the sea, and sky, and land, all radiant in the glorious glow of sunrise, the sparkling heavy sea, the towering cliffs, and over all the singing of happy birds. More than once they had to pause on their way and gaze about them.

“I wish we could always get up as early as this,” sighed Loveday. “I think I shall, and I’ll try and make Priscilla and Geoffrey get up too; the other parts of the day are never so pretty. I wish Prissy could see it now.”

“I’ve seen it like this scores of times,” said Aaron, in a tone that implied: “This is nothing to me; I am used to it.”

“And yet you wanted to stay on in bed and sleep,” flashed Loveday scornfully.

But with so much before them to be done, they could not linger long to gaze, and presently making up their minds not to stop again, they hurried on as fast as they could, and by the time they reached Mr. Winter’s gate they were too full of their own daring to have any thoughts to spare for anything else.

“I can’t think why people have such horrid noisy stuff put on their paths,” said Loveday, after they had made several vain attempts to creep over the loose pebbles without making a sound. She was glancing up at the windows all the time, for it really seemed to her that their attempts must have roused every one in the house.

“What shall we do first?” she whispered to Aaron. “I think the flower-beds look the worst of all, but if they never draw up the blinds they won’t see how nice we’ve made them.”

And if this was not quite the real reason, and if Loveday’s courage did fail at the thought of setting things right there, who could wonder when one looked at the state of the place? It was a task which would have taken two or three men many days of hard work.

“Shall we begin by weeding the steps and the path before the door?” she suggested, and, Aaron agreeing, they fell to work busily.

“Does Mr. Winter ever come out of this door and walk here?” she asked.

She was very full of curiosity as to Mr. Winter and his doings.

“Yes,” said Aaron; “he comes out this way to go to that garden over there, where they grow fruit and vegetables. He takes a brave bit of interest in that garden.”

Loveday sat back on her heels, and looked in the direction Aaron was pointing.

“He built a high wall all round it, so’s he shouldn’t see the sea and nobody shouldn’t see him.”

“I think we’ve done enough here for one day, don’t you?” sighed Loveday, who detested weeding.

“That I do,” declared Aaron emphatically.

“Can’t we do something in that garden now, where Mr. Winter would see it, and be glad, and wonder who did it?”

Aaron nodded, and rose stiffly to his feet. “I wish ’twas breakfast-time,” he sighed.

Loveday thought the kitchen-garden by far the nicest bit that she had seen yet of Mr. Winter’s grounds. She felt safer there, too, for she could not be seen from the house, nor heard, and the place itself did not seem so hopeless of improvement. There was plenty to be done, or so they thought, but what they did, did make some show.

“I think we will tidy away all that straw first of all,” she said; “it makes that bed look so untidy, and I expect all the slugs and snails go to sleep in it. We can’t burn it to-day, so we’ll put it in a heap here for the time, and perhaps to-morrow we’ll bring some matches. If we’re very early nobody will see the smoke.”

But Aaron was doubtful of that.

“Porthcallis folks gets up early,” he said, “and father might see it as he brought the boat in. The smoke would show for miles round.”

They found a supply of tools in a shed in the garden, but they were rather big and heavy, so they gathered up the straw in their arms, and carried it away, which caused a good deal of running over the bed, and left many footprints.

“I think we ought to rake it over before we go,” said Loveday, looking at it rather anxiously; “nobody would think piskies’ feet had left marks like that.”

Aaron agreed, and between them they used the long rake, until the bed looked really quite nice and tidy.

“Oh dear,” sighed Loveday, as they put away the tools at last, “I think piskies must get very tired.”

“And hungry, too!” sighed Aaron, who felt famished.

“I am starving,” said Loveday, “but I think it must be nearly breakfast-time.”

“It isn’t five yet, I believe,” said Aaron dolefully; “and breakfast won’t be ready till past seven.”

“More than two hours to wait!” gasped Loveday; “I can’t, I simply can’t. Don’t you think we’ve done enough for one day?” she asked, after a moment’s pause.

“Don’t I!” said Aaron, in a tone which said plainly that on this matter he had no doubt.

Very, very carefully the pair crept out of the kitchen-garden, past the house, and over the pebbled path.

“I wish we had made that part look a little nicer,” said Loveday, glancing with tired, wistful eyes over the desolate bit of ground around the house, “but I s’pose even piskies couldn’t do it all at once, could they?”

“No, not unless there are hundreds of ’em,” said Aaron, “and we’m only two.”

The glorious hues were fading fast from the sky now, and the sun shone with the pale clear light of early morning. The sea still sparkled, and the birds sang, but the children paid little heed to either; they were too hungry and tired. The walk home was rather a silent one, and they got into the house so easily that there was no excitement there to arouse them. With scarcely a word they quietly separated, slipped off their things and crept into their beds again, and, fortunately for them, soon fell asleep and forgot their hunger.

“Well, I never! What a sleepy-head!” cried Bessie some time later. “What’s the matter with you both, I wonder? I had to strip the bed-clothes off Aaron and pull away his pillows before I could rouse him, and here are you, Miss Loveday, pretty nearly as bad. Come along, jump up! Here’s your bath, and breakfast will be ready in half-an-hour. You won’t go to sleep again, will you, dear?”

“No-o,” said Loveday, in a very, very drowsy voice, “but I—I think you’d better lift me out, Bessie, or—p’r’aps—I may——”

And Bessie took her at her word, and lifted her right out of her snug little bed and stood her on the floor.

But more than once that day Bessie looked at them both with a puzzled face. “I don’t know when I’ve seen them look so tired,” she said to herself. “I s’pose it’s the weather.” And later in the day, when she went to call them in to tea, and found Loveday curled up on the sand, sound asleep, her spade and bucket lying beside her—and Aaron fast asleep too, his book fallen out of his hand—she looked puzzled again, and rather troubled. “It can’t be anything but the weather, I should think,” she murmured; “I don’t think they can be sickening for anything, they ain’t a bit feverish, and their appetites are good.” And after their nap and their tea they were so bright and lively again, that Bessie’s fears all vanished, and the weather was, as usual, blamed unjustly.

“I wonder,” Loveday whispered many times during the day—“I wonder what Mr. Winter thought when he saw what we’d done? I wonder if he saw it, and if he was very, very glad? Do you think he would think about piskies, and guess that they did it?”

“I dunno,” said Aaron stolidly. “I reckon he don’t put down nothing for fairies and such-like; but there isn’t nobody else that could do it.”

That night they took care to hide some of their supper in their pockets for the morning. Aaron was not quite so excited about the pisky plan as he had been, but Loveday was full of it; the thought of what they had done and of Mr. Winter’s pleasure gave her fresh zeal and energy. She longed for the next morning to come, that she might look again on what they had done, and work more wonders. This time she determined that they really would try to make the garden near the house look neater; they would not shirk it a second time, but would really begin to work at it at once, and give all their time and attention to it. Again she slept in her clothes, and again she called Aaron very early. This morning, though, there was no glorious sunrise to cheer or delay them; the dawn was grey and chilly; a wet sea-fog hung over everything, making it damp and dull. No birds sang to-day. As the children mounted the cliff, the world below seemed cut off from them, and they themselves might have been in cloudland.

“Now it really does seem as though we had walked into the sky,” said Loveday. “I am glad Priscilla isn’t here; she would be frightened, I expect, but of course I know all about it.”

Though they had no sunshine or beauty to gaze at, they had bread to eat, and that helped to keep up their spirits and their energies.

“I wonder if real piskies come out in weather like this,” said Loveday, laughing at the white fringe of mist which outlined Aaron’s stubby head and blue cap, and her own curls and scarlet béret. “We look like Father Christmas.”

The damp made the pebbles on the garden path less noisy to walk over, so that they got up to the house more easily, but before they began their attack on the most neglected part, they decided that they must have one peep at their work of yesterday; so they crept into the kitchen-garden and down to the cleared bed. But, to their amazement and disgust, there was no cleared bed! They looked and looked, and stared at each other and back again, but there was no mistake. Some one or something had spread straw all over it again, and it was just as untidy as ever!

“That must be the wicked fairies!” cried Loveday indignantly. “The nasty, naughty, wicked things! They got here first, and this is what they have done, just to annoy us and Mr. Winter! It is too bad. I only hope he saw it yesterday as we left it for him. I think it’s dreadful of them to annoy a poor man like that, when he’s so sad. I don’t know how they can behave so!”

“Aw, it’s just like ’em,” said Aaron gravely. “They don’t care, they’m that bad.”

He was looking very solemn and rather nervous; he really did not like having to do with any place or thing that the wicked fairies had been near; for if they were vexed they did not care, as he said, what they did to the person who vexed them. He was for hurrying away to another part of the garden, and was actually starting, when, to his horror, he saw Loveday collecting the straw from the bed again.

“Don’t; you’d better not touch it!” he cried. “If the bad ones put it there, they’ll pay you out fine for meddling.”

“I don’t care,” said Loveday. “It’s poor Mr. Winter I’m thinking about, and I don’t care what they do. I am going to make his garden nice for him, poor man!”

And she went to work again in a way that showed that she meant it.

“Come along, Aaron,” she cried. “You needn’t leave me to do it all. Do help.”

Aaron was divided. He did not much like the idea of working by himself in another part of the garden, and he did not relish the task before him, but in the end he stood by Loveday very pluckily, and soon they had once more collected all the straw and raked up the bed as before.

“I wish I had brought a box of matches,” said Loveday hotly; “then I’d burn the straw, and they wouldn’t be able to play such a trick again.”

“You needn’t burn it,” said Aaron; “we’ll carry it away and heave it to cliff. If they gets it and brings it back from there—well, they’m welcome to.”

Loveday agreed with delight, and both of them chuckled many times over their cleverness in out-witting the “little people” as they struggled to pack the straw into two bundles bound round by Loveday’s over-all and Aaron’s tunic. It was not a very easy task, and the garden and the path over which they dragged their loads were not quite as neat and speckless as fairy fingers would have left them. But the pair did not see that; all their thoughts were bent on “heaving” the straw over the cliff into the sea. And perhaps it was well for their parents and those who loved them, that they did not see those two as they leaned over the edge of the steep cliff-top and shook out their pinafores over the dizzy heights, then watched the straw as it whirled down and down to those awful depths below, where the sea dashed and foamed like a caldron, lashed to anger by the sharp rocks on which it flung itself. An inch or so farther, the least slip, the merest over-balancing as they shook out their loads, and they too would have gone whirling down through the mist, to the jagged rocks, and the hungry waves all those feet below, and no earthly power could have saved them from a fearful death.

“They shook out their pinafores over the dizzy heights.”

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