Wild Heather




    My big thing arrived when I was eight years old. I came home with father from India. Father’s name was Major Grayson, and I was called Heather. I was petted a great deal on board ship, and made a fuss about, and, in consequence, I made a considerable fuss about myself and gave myself airs. Father used to laugh when I did this and catch me in his arms and press me close to his heart, and say:

    “My dearest little Heather, I can quite perceive that you will be a most fascinating woman when you grow up.”

    I remember even now his words, and the look on his face when he said these things, but as I did not in the least comprehend them at the time, I merely asked in my very pertest voice for the nicest sweetmeats he could procure for me, on which he laughed more than ever, and, turning to his brother officers, said:

    “Didn’t I say so? Heather will take the cake some time.”

    I suppose at that period of my life there was no one in the wide world whom I loved as I did father. There was my nurse, but I was not specially devoted to her, for she was fond of teasing me and sticking pins into my dress without being careful with regard to the points. When I wriggled and rushed away from her she used to say that I was a very naughty and troublesome child. She never praised me nor used mysterious words about me as father did, so, of course, I clung close to him.

    I very, very dimly remembered my mother. As I have just said, my first memory of all was running across the nursery floor and being caught by my father, and my mother smiling at me. I really cannot recall her after that, except that I have a very dim memory of being, on one occasion, asked to stoop down and kiss her. My father was holding me in his arms at the time, and I stooped and stooped and pressed my lips to hers and said: “Oh, how cold!” and shuddered and turned away. I did not know then that she was dead. This fact was not told me until long afterwards.

    We had a most prosperous voyage home on board the Pleiades, with never a storm nor any unpleasant sea complication, and father was in high spirits, always chatting and laughing and playing billiards and making himself agreeable all round, and I was very much petted, although one lady assured me that it was on account of father, who was such a very popular man, and not because I was little Heather Grayson myself.

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