A Great Emergency and Other Tales
Juliana Horatia Gatty Ewing
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It is a short story book. We were very happy—I, Rupert, Henrietta, and Baby Cecil. The only thing we found fault with in our lives was that there were so few events in them. It was particularly provoking, because we were so well prepared for events—any events. Rupert prepared us. He had found a fat old book in the garret, bound in yellow leather, at the end of which were Directions how to act with presence of mind in any emergency; and he gave lectures out of this in the kitchen garden. Rupert was twelve years old. He was the eldest. Then came Henrietta, then I, and last of all Baby Cecil, who was only four. The day I was nine years old, Rupert came into the nursery, holding up his handsome head with the dignified air which became him so well, that I had more than once tried to put it on myself before the nursery looking-glass, and said to me, 'You are quite old enough now, Charlie, to learn what to do whatever happens; so every half-holiday, when I am not playing cricket, I’ll teach you presence of mind near the cucumber frame, if you’re punctual. I’ve put up a bench.