FIRST WALK IN JANUARYThe Four RamblesIt WAS a cold winter’s day at the beginning of January. In the village of Greenwoods the smoke rose up from every cottage in straight spires of blue, for most people had big fires on that cold day.Round one big fire, in a cosy little play-room, sat three children. One was a big boy of eleven, frowning over a book about aeroplanes. Next to him was his sister, a little younger, but so like him that everyone took them for twins. The third was a small boy of about six, chalking in a book, his tongue out as he worked.“Look at John,” said Janet. “John, do put your tongue in. It looks so silly, stuck out like that when you are working.”John went on chalking, his tongue stuck out a little further. His big brother looked up.“You’re going over the lines,” he said to John. “Can’t you keep inside the lines? You are a baby!”Don’t bother me, Pat,” said John, putting his tongue in a talk, and at once putting it out again as he worked away with his chalks.I shall bother you all I like!” said Pat. He looked at the window.”I wish it would snow or something. I hate this nasty, cold, shivery weather. Nothing to do out-of-doors. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. I wish it was summer-time.”There came the click of a garden-gate. The children jumped up to see who was coming in. “It’s the man who has come to live next door,” said Pat. “You know, the man who writes books. He looks rather nice, I think--not a bit learned or fierce. I wonder what he writes books about.”“Why has he come here?” wondered Janet. “I suppose he’s come to ask Mother about something.”He had. He had come to ask if he might borrow the paper, as his had not come that day. He stayed talking to Mrs. Thomson, the children’s mother.The children forgot about him after a while. They were bored with staying indoors so long. They would not go out because they said there was nothing to do out-of-doors, and nothing to see. Very soon they began to quarrel.