Read CHAPTER IV of Daybreak A Story for Girls , free online book, by Florence A. Sitwell, on

In A third-class carriage.

“Kate I can’t sing any more I’m just tired out with happiness.”

“Cuddle up against me, darling, and try and go to sleep then.”

“Then, dear Kate,” said Frances, earnestly, “will you promise to tell me all about the next stations, and the green fields, and the sheep, and the cows, and the people hay-making, and the dear little white houses. And I will dream about the sea. Oh, I am so glad that you and I are going to the sea.”

So the little head with its mass of golden brown hair found a resting-place on Kate’s shoulder, and silence reigned for a time. And Kate, her arm round the sleeping child, watched those green fields flooded with summer sunlight with thoughts so new and strange that often the tears would come into her eyes. She could not quite understand this new life yet, but somehow, since the day when the fast-closed door was unlocked, and the Friend admitted, she had found all her old restlessness and her hard thoughts of life vanish, and deep peace and love had come in their place.

“Is it a station?” said a little dreamy voice at length, and the brown head moved uneasily. “Please tell me when there’s something to be seen besides ‘Colman’s Mustard.’”

“There is something!” cried Kate, breathlessly, “there is, Oh, Frances, such a beautiful face!”

Little Frances was on her feet in a moment, and rushed to the farther window. Before the train had quite stopped, her head was such a long way out that an old German from the next window shouted to her, “If you do not take care, Miss, some fine morning you vill get up vidout your head.”

“I see her,” said Frances, turning round to Kate, “all in grey, with a very, very large bunch of roses in her hands. Now she is talking to three big brothers. Now the big brothers are carrying all her things; books, and a bag, and a basket, and a cloak, and a parasol, and a funny stick with wires in it.”

“Lawn-tennis racket,” suggested Kate, who knew country ways.

“There is a funny old woman with a hook nose walking with them, and now the big brothers are laughing and talking to her.”

“Maybe she’s the old nurse,” remarked Kate.

“They are coming our way; oh, do you think she will get into our carriage?”

“No, she’ll travel first-class,” said Kate, with a little sigh.

“No, no, I can hear them speak of travelling third. Kate, put your old hat straight on your head. Tie my blue tie quick, please!”

The arrangements were scarcely completed when a young man’s face appeared at the window, and soon after they heard a voice: “I say, Violet, if you really mean to travel third, you and Nanny had better get in there. There’s only a poor girl with crutches and one other child.”

“All right, Dick; help Nanny up first, and give her a corner seat with my cloak behind her. Now Nanny, darling, lean on his arm.”

“Put Nanny facing the engine, or she’ll think she’s going the wrong way,” shouted another voice, and a peal of laughter followed.. The old woman after some difficulty was safely landed inside the carriage. The brothers, carrying the things, followed. Violet with her great bunch of roses came last.

It was quite new to poor Kate to hear brothers and sisters laughing and joking together. She could not half understand the little jokes that passed, but she liked to listen. The musical voices and the ringing laughter seemed to do her good.

And Violet all the time was conscious of a great pair of wistful eyes fixed on hers. As soon as the final good-bye to the brothers had been said, and the train was really off, she whispered something to Nanny, and began unfastening her bunch of roses. Nanny, meanwhile, bent forward towards Kate: “You’ve been ill, my dears,” she said.

“We’ve both been run over,” said Kate.

“Eh, dearie me, now! to think of that!” said the old woman, sympathisingly. “And you were hurt a great deal, I daresay.”

“I lost my leg,” said Kate.

“Well, now, I can feel for you there, not as I ever lost one of mine, as is as good as ever, but I as good as lost one in Mr. Fred. You remember, Miss Violet, my dear, that summer when he fell from the apple tree, and the doctor said as he’d never seen such a leg. Dearie me, what a sight of trouble we had with him to be sure!”

Violet had risen from her seat, and came towards the two poor girls.

“I want you to let me pin some of these roses in your dresses,” she said, brightly. “They are so sweet. Do you care for flowers?”

“I do. Thank you, Miss, very much.” Kate lifted her head, and for a moment the two girls looked each other full in the face. Such a contrast they were! Violet all glowing with life and happiness and beauty; and Kate with her old, sad face, and pathetic, dark eyes.

“Nanny, dear,” said Violet, turning to the old nurse; “don’t you think my other cloak would make quite a nice soft cushion? Do reach it over,” and in one moment more poor Kate, who, truth to say, was getting very weary with her journey, found something that she could lean her tired back against with comfort.

Violet went back to her seat, and for some little time sat still, with a book in her hand but her eyes kept wandering off to the two poor girls in the farther corner. After old Nanny had fallen asleep, Violet at length came and sat next the girls.

“Do you mind my asking, are you sisters?” she asked, in her soft voice.

“No, Miss,” said Kate. “It pleased God to take my little sister. And this is a little girl He sent me instead, when my heart was pretty nigh broken.”

“You’ve had great trouble,” said Violet.

“It’s not so long ago that I was near drowning myself,” said Kate.

A look of great compassion came into Violet’s face as these words were said. She only answered quietly: “Shall I tell you a true story? A lady one evening who was walking over a bridge in London, saw a poor man leaning over a parapet, and he had such a sad look in his face that she felt sure he meant to drown himself. She didn’t like to speak to him; but, as she passed by, she said these words out loud, ’There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.’ And long after they met, and he recognised her and said, ‘You saved my life,’ and told her that that night he had had the fullest intention of drowning himself. I think her words had made him suddenly remember another city besides London, and another river besides the dark, gloomy Thames rolling away beneath his feet.”

She waited a moment to see if Kate had taken in the little story, and what effect it was having upon her. Kate’s head was bent down, and she had fast hold of little Frances’ hand.

“Like enough the city and the river made him think of Christ,” she said. “I couldn’t drown myself now, Miss, not if it was ever so, for His sake I couldn’t. And if I had to be miserable all the rest of my life, it seems to me it would be worth while to have lived to have known the love of Christ even for five minutes.”

“And it isn’t only for five minutes,” said Violet, in a low voice, her eyes glowing, “but for ever and for ever. This is only the beginning.”

They were silent for some moments, and then Violet’s gentle questions called out much of the history of Kate’s sad life. They were learning from each other, those two girls. Kate learned what sympathy may do, and a deep desire to minister to others sprang up within her. Violet learned how dull and sad and surrounded with dangers the lives of many girls in our great cities are, and the knowledge gave rise to new prayers and plans and work in her future life.

A cathedral town came in sight. Violet, starting up, woke old Nanny, and then began quickly putting together books and cloaks. Only a few minutes more, and she was standing with outstretched hand at the door of the railway carriage.

“Good-bye, good-bye,” she said. “Do write and tell me how you and little Frances like the sea-side. I hope it will do you good,” and she was gone. Kate and Frances watched with eager eyes till the tall graceful figure of the girl and the bent figure of the old woman were lost to sight in the crowded station.

“Do you think we shall ever see her again?” said little Frances.

“Perhaps,” said Kate, “we shall have to wait till we reach the Golden City.”