`I didn't roar out a bit, you know,' Tom said, `and I daresay my foot was as bad as his. It's cowardly to roar.'

But Maggie would have it that when anything hurt you very much it was quite permissible to cry out, and it was cruel of people not to bear it. She wanted to know if Philoctetes had a sister, and why she didn't go with him on the desert island and take care of him.

One day, soon after Philip had told this story, he and Maggie were in the study alone together while Tom's foot was being dressed. Philip was at his books, and Maggie, after sauntering idly round the room, not caring to do anything in particular, because she would soon go to Tom again, went and leaned on the table near Philip to see what he was doing, for they were quite old friends now and perfectly at home with each other.

`What are you reading about in Greek?' she said. `It's poetry - I can see that, because the lines are so short.'

`It's about Philoctetes - the lame man, I was telling you of yesterday,' he answered, resting his head on his hand and looking at her, as if he were not at all sorry to be interrupted. Maggie, in her absent way, continued to lean forward, resting on her arms and moving her feet about, while her dark eyes got more and more fixed and vacant as if she had quite forgotten Philip and his book.

`Maggie,' said Philip, after a minute or two, still leaning on his elbow and looking at her, `if you had had a brother like me - do you think you should have loved him as well as Tom?'

Maggie started a little on being roused for her reverie, and said, `What?' Philip repeated his question.

`O yes, better,' she answered, immediately. `No, not better: because I don't think I could love you better than Tom. But I should be so sorry - so sorry for you.'

Philip coloured: he had meant to imply, would she love him as well in spite of his deformity, and yet when she alluded to it so plainly, he winced under her pity. Maggie, young as she was, felt her mistake. Hitherto she had instinctively behaved as if she were quite unconscious of Philip's deformity: her own keen sensitiveness and experience under family criticism sufficed to teach her this, as well as if she had been directed by the most finished breeding.

`But you are so very clever, Philip, and you can play and sing,' she added, quickly, `I wish you were my brother - I'm very fond of you, and you would stay at home with me when Tom went out, and you would teach me everything, wouldn't you? Greek and everything.'

`But you'll go away soon, and go to school, Maggie,' said Philip, `and then you'll forget all about me and not care for me any more. And then I shall see you when you're grown up, and you'll hardly take any notice of me.'

`O no, I shan't forget you, I'm sure,' said Maggie, shaking her head very seriously. `I never forget anything, and I think about everybody when I'm away from them. I think about poor Yap - he's got a lump in his throat, and Luke says he'll die. Only don't you tell Tom, because it will vex him so. You never saw Yap: he's a queer little dog - nobody cares about him but Tom and me.'

`Do you care as much about me as you do about Yap, Maggie?' said Philip, smiling rather sadly.

`O yes, I should think so,' said Maggie, laughing.

`I'am very fond of you, Maggie; I shall never forget you,' said Philip, `and when I'm very unhappy, I shall always think of you, and wish I had a sister with dark eyes just like yours.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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