We had come home from school much earlier than usual, on account of illness having broken out there; but as none of the boys were dangerously ill, and those in the infirmary were very comfortable, we were not excessively unhappy. I suspect that some of us wished that fever or some other sickness would appear two or three weeks before all the holidays.
"Oh! Jack, Ellen, come here this instant!" cried Jane Pellew in so excited a manner that the mail rider almost fell out of his jumper in his effort to see what it was that made Miss Jane "take on so." She was dancing around the broad old veranda waving one of the letters he had just handed her. "Too hot, Sis, and we are too comfortable," came Jack's lazy voice from under the big ash tree that shaded one side of the porch. "You have enough energy for all of us, so s'pose you come to us," Ellen called. "You won't be hot for long, but you are going to be very uncomfortable in a minute." With the warning, Jane jumped off the porch and landed in Ellen's lap, then pulled herself up quickly by means of one hand entwined in Jack's thick chestnut hair. "Shut up and listen!" commanded Jane. "Nobody has a chance to do anything else with you around," Jack reminded his sister.
I believe the old Italian proverb says, that every man, before he dies, should do three things: "Get a son, build a house, and write a book." Now, whether or not I am desirous, by beginning at the end, to end at the beginning of this quaint axiom, I leave the reader to conjecture. My book may afford amusement to him who will smile when I am glad, and sympathise with the impressions I have caught in other moods of mind; but I have little affinity of feeling, and less companionship with him who expects to see pictures of life coloured differently from those I have beheld. At three o'clock on the boisterous afternoon of the 1st of May, 1847, I left Greenwich with my friend Lord R----, in his yacht, to cruise round the coasts of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; and, although the period of the year at which I quitted London was the one I most desired to remain in it, and join, as far as I was able, in the pomps and gaieties of Old Babylon, I did not like to miss this opportunity, offered under such favourable circumstances, of seeing countries so rarely visited by Englishmen, more particularly as the invitation had been pressed upon me so unaffectedly and kindly, that I could not, with any reason, decline it.