" I remember I watched a sailor boy getting into the train (P. 80o).
PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE
COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION, APPOINTED BY
THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,
NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, CHARMING CROSS, W.C;
43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C.; 26. ST. GEORGE'S PLACE, S W.
BRIGHTON: 35, NORTH STREET.
NEW YORK : E. & J. B. YOUNG & CO.
MY DEAR LITTLE FRIENDS,
ARTHUR AND FRED MACKESON.
I. IN THE FOG ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9
II. TWO FRIENDS IN NEED ...... ... ... ... ... I8
III. WHICH WAS THE THIEF? ... ... ...... ... ... 29
IV. JOE'S CONFESSION ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 40
V. JOE'S FLIGHT ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 48
VI. WHERE WAS JOE? ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 55
VII. A LONG DAY'S MARCH ... ... ... ... ...... 63
VIII. WHAT MBR. CRAIK DID ... ... ... ... ...... 71
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
I. "I REMEMBER I WATCHED A SAILOR BOY GETTING
INTO THE TRAIN" ...... ........ Frontispiece.
2. "HE PICKED UP THE APRON, AND HANDED IT TO
HER" .. .... ... ...... .... ..... ... II
3. "WITH ONE DAINTY HAND RESTING AGAINST A
TREE" ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 27
4. "SEE HOW THE GEESE ARE STARING ...... ... 37
5. "I SAT DOWN OUTSIDE THE DOOR FIRST" ...... 44
6. "THE WORST TALKING-TO SHE HAD EVER HAD IN
HER LIFE" ... ....... ... .. .. ...... 53
7. "YES,AFTER SHE HAD BEEN NEARLY DROWNED"... 59
8. "NO, THANK YOU, MY LAD, THERE'S NO WEIGHT
IN IT WHATEVER" ... ... ... ... .... ... ... 65
IN THE FOG.
H, mother, you must let me go; it isn't so
very foggy-it was worse last week when I
was out with father, and it was such fun
Fun with father to take care of you," said Mrs.
Grey, fondly stroking her boy's hair, as he stood by
her side, pleading to.be allowed to go to the school
treat at St. Luke's Mission Room. "Fun with
father to take care of you," she repeated; "but
you would not like to be lost in such a fog as this;
why, it's thicker than ever. I shouldn't wonder if
the treat were put off. I couldn't dream of letting
you go unless teacher calls for you, which isn't likely
with so many to think for."
10 TRUST ME.
Poor Jack said no more. His mother was busy
ironing, and he hastily picked up an apron she had
dropped, and handed it to her, with a vain effort to
look as if he didn't care whether he went to the
treat or not. He never thought of rebelling, and he
did not want to make his kind mother feel how hard
it was for him to submit. If he had learnt nothing
else in his daily visits to the board school, where
he shared the instructions of three teachers with
some hundred other boys, he had learnt obedience;
but as he stood at the window of the little back
parlour of his mother's shop, gazing out at the dense
fog wrapping everything in a thick gloom, the tears
would come. Mrs. Grey, who had her own private
reasons for expecting one of the teachers to call for
Jack, took no notice of these tears, but began setting
out the tea-things as usual, and was about to sit
down, after having made everything ready for herself
and her husband, when Jack, wiping his eyes with
his sleeve, came up to the table and took his
Why, mother he suddenly said, "isn't father
Oh yes, he's coming," was the reply; but what
makes you ask ?"
"You've only put two cups and saucers," said
Jack, and only two plates."
Mrs. Grey smiled. She had betrayed herself, for
the next moment Jack's arms were round her neck,
and he was crying out, Oh, it's my cup and saucer
r') \ ''i^Y i", ..-
(( e iced p heapron, an hadd ttohr ?.1)
12 TRUST ME.
that isn't there You mean me to go, and there's a
rap at the door Oh, it's teacher! it's teacher and
I can go."
Yes, it's teacher," said a pleasant manly voice,
"and teacher without a moment to spare. Be quick,
or the buns will all be gone; they had begun tea
when I started, but I could not get away before."
As you may guess, Jack needed no second bidding,
his Sunday suit was put on in a marvellously short
space of time, and before five minutes had elapsed he
was trotting happily along beside his beloved teacher,
his hand firmly clasped in that of his guide, to whom
he chattered away as freely as if his companion had
been his own brother. The fog meanwhile grew
thicker and thicker, till it became so dense that Jack
unconsciously edged himself a little closer to Mr.
Strong, and looked wistfully up in his face. He did
not quite like to own to being afraid, yet at that
moment a strange sensation of fear shot through his
heart, for it became so dark that he could not see an
inch before him.
"Mr. Strong," he said; but his voice seemed to
die in his throat, unable to pierce the dense black
vapour about him; and as he opened his lips to
repeat his friend's name, a sudden noise made Mr.
Strong start aside, almost wrenching his hand away
What was that noise? Jack had never heard
anjihing like it before. It seemed as if the ground
beneath his feet had been torn up, and that pieces of
IN THE FOG. 13
it were flying in all directions; something struck his
face and he fell backwards, flinging his arms out
wildly in a vain effort to save himself. Then a torch
flashed close to his eyes, and he saw that a Hansom
cab had been overturned close to him. The horse
belonging to it had fallen across the gravel path, and
was now kicking and struggling to rise. In its fall
it had scattered the loose stones, and it was some of
them which had struck Jack. It was lucky for him
that they had done so, as he might otherwise have
fallen beneath the horse, and have been crushed to
death. The sudden blow in the face had made him
start back, and now the torch showed him the
danger he would be in if the horse got on to his feet
before he was out of its way. You will guess that
Jack lost no time in scrambling to his feet, and he
was just going to run off in the direction in which he
supposed Mr. Strong to have gone, when a deep
groan made him stop.
His heart stood still with fear. Could that groan
have come from Mr. Strong? Had he too been
knocked down ? Had he, perhaps, fallen under the
cab and been crushed? Oh, if the fog would but
clear away for a few minutes, what a comfort it
would be! As if in answer to this wish, a light
suddenly fell across the path. It came from a
lantern held by a boy a little older than Jack, who
had earned many a penny that terrible day by help-
ing people to their homes. The light revealed a
very sad sight. A young man of about eighteen
14 TRUST ME.
years old lay motionless upon the ground at a little
distance from the overturned cab, the driver of which
was nowhere to be seen. The groan had come from
the young man, and to him Jack now hastened, as
did the boy with the lantern.
Lift up his head, young 'un," said the new
comer, "and let's see how much damage is done."
Jack timidly obeyed this order, and rested the poor
fellow's head against his own shoulder. As he did
so the eyes opened and the lips trembled. He's
not dead!" said the lantern boy, "and he's not
much hurt either; he's trying to speak. What is it,
sir ? added the lad, kneeling down on the other
side and placing one arm beneath Jack's, whilst
with the other he held the lantern so that its light
fell full on a pale face, with finely-cut features, and
dark hair curling low on the forehead. No answer at
first, but gradually a look of consciousness crept back
into the mouth, and then the eyes opened wide, and
the young man struggled into a half sitting posture.
Move me further back," he said; that horse
will finish me off if you leave me here."
Jack, who had forgotten the horse, started so at
these words that but for the lantern boy's arm the
young man's head would have been dropped suddenly
upon the curbstone again.
Never mind the horse," said a new voice from
behind, "I'll see to him;" and there stood the
cabman, unhurt, but for a cut on the side of his
head, from which the blood was flowing fast. The
IN THE FOG. 15
horse, which had been kicking wildly before, seemed
to know and be soothed by its owner's voice, for it
now lay quite still, the man bending over it with
cheering words, such as "Good old Beauty-poor
old Beauty-art hurt, my Beauty ? "
The cabman's care was evidently all for his horse,
not for his fare, as he left the latter entirely to Jack
and the lantern boy. Help me up now," the "fare"
said presently; I don't think I'm much hurt. I
shall catch the train yet if I can get another cab."
But when on his feet the poor young fellow found
he could not stand alone, and the cabman, having
now got his horse up, condescended to pay a little
attention to the human sufferer in the accident.
We shan't get you to Waterloo to-night, sir,"
he said; my Beauty goes straight to his stable
now; I'll take you that far if you like."
No, no," muttered the young man, adding some-
thing under his breath about "mother-anxious-
Can I fetch another cab, sir ? asked Jack, or
can I go and fetch any one to you ? Mother's house
is near; come and rest there, sir."
Nay, nay," said the cabman, get you into my
cab again, and Beauty will take you safe to my home
at Ford's Mews. My missis '11 make you up a bed
there, and young master here can take a message to
your folks at home. Take my arm, or let me lift
you into the cab again. Now let's hear what the
messenger is to say and where he's to go."
16 TRUST ME.
My name is Ronaldson," said the young man,
now leaning forward and speaking to Jack, and
my mother expects me at Twickenham to-night.
Will you go down and see her, and explain how I
have been stopped? it will alarm her less than a
telegram. There's a train starts from Waterloo
Station at 7.30. You might yet catch that-any
porter will direct you right. Here's a sovereign and
my card-you are to be trusted, I suppose ?-and
you can keep the change."
"Say Mr. Ronaldson is safe with my missis at
Ford's Mews," added the cabman, as he climbed
back upon his seat and drove slowly off, leaving
Jack standing in the road in a state of bewilderment,
holding the sovereign in his hand. "Go alone to
Waterloo in this fog?" he muttered, a cold shiver
running through his body at the mere idea.
Eh! go alone to Waterloo, and without the
sovereign either," cried the lantern boy, who had
stood quietly by during the discussion between Mr.
Ronaldson and the cabman, feeling, perhaps not
unnaturally, a little hurt at being ignored, when but
for his lantern the accident might have been so much
Oh! give it me back, give it me back,' said
poor Jack, clutching wildly at the arm of the lantern
boy; but he was too late; with a scornful laugh the
thief darted off with his prize, leaving Jack alone in
the dark, with nothing to prove the truth of all that
had passed but the card Mr. Ronaldson had given
IN THE FOG. 17
him. The agony of that moment Jack never forgot
to his dying day; but, to his credit be it spoken, his
first trouble was that he could not now let the poor
anxious mother at Twickenham know about her
son. Then came the thought of Mr. Strong; he
would help him-he would give him the money to go
down to Twickenham; best of all, Mr. Strong would
believe his word and help him to find the thief. But
where was Mr. Strong? At that moment, though
Jack did not know it, the kind teacher was standing
opposite to Mrs. Grey, telling her of his unfortunate
separation from Jack, for whom he had sought in vain;
and Mrs. Grey was listening with an anxious face.
A little later and she had started up to fetch Jack's
father from the shop, which he was closing early
on account of the fog; and long before the
troubled child had made up his mind what he should
do next, the father and his assistant were aiding Mr.
Strong in a search for Jack, each provided with a
flaring torch. If only the boy had stayed where the
accident had happened, he would very soon have
been comforted, and all his perplexities cleared up;
but he took the worst course he could, by starting
off, as he thought, in the direction of his teacher's
house, just as that teacher was guiding his father to
the scene of the catastrophe.
IS TRUST ME.
TWO FRIENDS IN NEED.
T was now about seven o'clock in the evening,
and the fog instead of clearing away seemed
to be growing denser and denser. Rarely
in the annals of Hampstead, generally so free from
fogs, had such deep darkness shrouded everything.
The streets, well provided though they were with
gas, could now hardly be distinguished from the
roads; and though Jack thought he was on his way
to Ornan Road, where his teacher lived, he was
really making for Finchley Road, that most hope-
lessly confusing thoroughfare at any time, and about
the worst of any to be chosen on such a night. In-
tending to turn out of the main Hampstead road, and
feeling his way along the wall, that wall came to
a sudden end, and Jack rolled over and over down
the sudden descent of the unbuilt-over portion of
Arkwright Road. Covered with the red mud dis-
tinctive of the half-finished roads of Hampstead,
he struggled to his feet, utterly at a loss as to his
whereabouts. What should he do? Retreat or ad-
vance were equally impossible. As he stood shiver-
ing with cold and fear, a fog signal rung out, as it
seemed, close beside him; then another and another,
-boom, boom, boom; signals to the right of him,
TWO FRIENDS IN NEED. 19
signals to the left of him, signals before him. He
was, as it seemed to him, surrounded on all sides by
trains; and much the same sensation has troubled
many a poor steed, when compelled even in broad
daylight to pass the three stations in a row on
If he could but find some safe corner, he would
wait in it till the morning, and then go to Mr. Strong's
house. But it was only seven o'clock in the evening
now, and it would not be light till the same time the
next morning. What should he do? Oh! what should
The tears were beginning to come. Jack, a boy
of ten years old, was going to cry because he had
lost his way in the dark. For shame, Jack! a
voice seemed to say in his ear. Have you forgotten
what Mr. Craik said in the Mission-room last Sun-
day at the children's service ? 'Boys and girls are
sometimes suddenly called on to show their courage,
and to prove themselves true soldiers of the Cross,
at a moment's notice. It is easy, is it not, to screw
up our fortitude to bear suffering when we know it is
coming; but it is when we are taken unawares that
the true strength of our character comes out. If we
are accustomed day by day to refer everything to
Him who is ever near us, we shall remember His
nearness when trouble comes upon us, or any diffi-
culty assails us.'"
Yes, those were the very words Mr. Craik had
used. How distinctly Jack remembered them now !
20 TRUST ME.
And at the eid of that address Mr. Craik had said-
oh, how earnestly!-" Never be ashamed to kneel
down, no matter where, to ask God's counsel; or if
you can't kneel-and kneeling, though desirable, is
not necessary in prayer-lift up your heart to God:
nothing is too small to tell Him about; nothing is
beneath His notice."
In the lonely darkness which seemed to shut the
poor child in from all possibility of human help, there
was nothing to prevent Jack from kneeling down,
and he did kneel in the soft red mud, and whispered,
" 0 God, help me to find my way; let the light come
back From force of habit he covered his eyes with
his hand as he said this little prayer, and though
it occupied only a minute, when he moved his hand
it seemed as if an answer had come direct. For
straight before him gleamed a light, and a white line
seemed to lead from his very feet down to that light.
The fact of the matter was that in kneeling down
Jack had turned round, and was now facing a shed,
outside which a watchman had hung a lantern. The
white line leading to it was only a quantity of crushed
white stone, which had been spilled from a cart on
its way to the unfinished houses at the top of Ark-
wright Road; and Jack would never have noticed it
in the day-time. Now it was indeed a trusty guide
and friend in need. He followed it carefully, and it
soon brought him to the shed. Oh, how comforting
it was to touch one of the planks forming this rough
shelter! And when Jack peeped in at the door, and
TWO FRIENDS IN NEED. 21
saw the watchman leaning back in a corner sound
asleep, what a yet greater comfort that was This
man might, it is true, be rough and cross; he might
order Jack away, especially as he was so covered
with mud; but at present he was safe; it was some-
thing to be again near a human creature, though a
sleeping human creature. It was really but two
hours since Jack had left the shelter of his mother's
home, but it seemed like a year. He crept into the
shed, and sat down in the corner furthest away from
the other occupant. It was warm and snug, for a
fire was burning near the watchman, and there was
a delicious smell of cooking going on, for a small pot
hung over the fire. The watchman evidently knew
how to make himself comfortable. When would he
wake ? He was not settled for the night yet, or his
supper would have been eaten, not cooking only.
This must be a little extra nap from which he might
rouse up at any minute.
Half an hour passed--an hour-and still the
watchman slept. The supper, whatever it was,
would be over-cooked if its owner did not wake soon.
Jack wondered if he might venture to go a little
nearer to the fire. He would-no, he wouldn't-yes,
he would, the pot was boiling over. What a hissing
the water in it was making; it was a great pity for
the watchman's supper to be spoiled. Jack got up
and drew nearer. It would be quite easy to lift the
pot off and place it on a little pile of bricks close by.
Should he or should he not-or should he wake the
22 TRUST ME.
watchman and tell him? Yes, that would be best.
He would pull his sleeve a little.
The watchman certainly did sleep soundly, or else
Jack's touch was a very light one, for he did not
stir when his sleeve was pulled, and the water boiled
right over, dulling the fire. Whatever there was in
the pot would be burnt now, Jack knew enough of
cooking to tell that, and he had better move it on to
the bricks as the watchman would not wake. He
turned to do so, when boom, boom, went the fog
signals, doing what Jack's efforts had failed to ac-
complish, for the watchman started up and was on
his feet in an instant.
Holloa, you leave that alone he cried, seizing
Jack's arm and roughly pushing him away. What
business have you here ? "
It was boiling over," said Jack, and I tried to
wake you. Don't make me go," he added tremulously,
looking up in the watchman's face with pleading eyes.
Who talked of making you go ? said the watch-
man, who, if the truth is to be told, was a kindly
man enough, though not unnaturally suspicious of a
boy caught in the very act of touching his supper.
Reassured by the tone and words of this last
remark, Jack explained his presence by telling how
he had lost his way in the fog. When his hearer
further inquired, Who in the world sent a little
chap like you out alone in such a fog ? he explained
that he had not been alone, telling how he had been
separated from Mr. Strong, and had helped Mr.
TWO FRIENDS IN NEED. 23
Ronaldson, and had the sovereign stolen. A likely
story that," said the watchman, who whilst -Jack had
been speaking had turned his supper into a broken
plate, and was now eating it with relish, speaking
with his mouth full too, which gave a gruffness to
the hard words. A likely story that," he repeated.
"Who do you expect to believe it, now? "
Any one who knows me or mother would believe
it," said Jack; and so would Mr. Strong, or Mr.
Mr. who ?"
What, him at the Mission-room? "
Yes, our Mr. Craik, of course."
"So you know Mr. Craik, and he's 'our Mr.
Craik' to you, is he? Well, now I begin to think
there's something in your tale. Sit you down there
and share a poor man's supper; it's rough, but it's
good, my missis sees to that; and it's done enough,
to be sure."
Jack laughed, for the supper certainly was done
enough," but he was too hungry to care much about
that, and too relieved at the watchman's change of
tone to feel any further fear. He could ask his new
friend's advice now, for the thought of the anxious
mother was still present with him, though his own
mother's possible fears had not yet occurred to him.
The watchman listened very attentively as Jack,
at his request, told the whole story over again. When
it was done he said, laying his rough weather-beaten
24 TRUST ME.
hand kindly on the boy's shoulder, "What you'd
best do is to bide here to-night, and first thing to-
morrow morning you go down to Twickenham. I'll
find the money for you, and Mr. Craik '11 see me paid,
I know, bless him My boy comes at seven to bring
me my breakfast, and he'll take a message home to
your mother. It's no use your trying to find your
way anywhere to-night, and I'm on duty, else I'd go
for you. Your mother '11 be in a fine state of mind
when you don't come back from the treat, but she'll
have to get over that."
So it was settled, and a little later Jack, in spite
of all his troubles, was sound asleep in one corner of
the hut, rolled up in an old coat lent to him by the
kind watchman. The next morning dawned fair and
bright, and at half-past six the weary child was roused
by his new friend, who gave him the means to wash
his face and hands, brushed the mud off his coat and
trousers, and started him in the right direction for
Waterloo, with a couple of shillings and a crust of
bread in his pocket.
With fresh courage and hope in his heart, our
small hero set forth down the Finchley Road. He
had never, it is true, been so far from home before
alone, but he had often gone into London with his
father, and knew the way to Charing Cross quite
well. There the watchman had instructed him to
ask his way across the railway bridge to Waterloo,"
and he arrived at the latter station before nine without
any further adventures. After the terrors of the
TWO FRIENDS IN NEED. 25
darkness the night before, the very fact of being in
the broad, restful, safe daylight gave him confidence.
He had forgotten all about the thief and the loss of
the sovereign, and happily pocketed the change out
of his two shillings when he had got his third class
return ticket to Twickenham.
The train he caught happened to be a fast one,
and it was not half-past nine when he arrived at the
Twickenham station. Mr. Ronaldson was evidently
well known in those parts, for the first porter he
asked directed him to the house at once. He could
either go up the road past the church, or he could
take a short cut across the fields. Jack chose the
latter, which, however, as short cuts often do to those
who try them for the first time, took him considerably
out of his way. Having unconsciously turned to*
the right instead of to the left on entering the fields,
he presently found that he was leaving Twickenham
far behind him. He must surely have made some
mistake. He looked back. Yes, there was a path
leading to the town in the very opposite direction.
He must retrace his steps, and it was getting so late.
Poor Mrs. Ronaldson! The post would be in by
this time, bringing no letter from her boy to account
for his absence, and she would never believe but that
Jack might have reached her with the message
The path could be seen far away, ending near the
church. Jack thought he could reach the town
quicker by cutting right across the field. Yes, he
26 TRUST ME.
would try that, though of course he would get very
muddy. He started at a brisk run, and was half across
when, alas! his way was barred by a broad, deep
ditch. He had gained nothing by his extra haste, for
the ditch was too broad for him to jump over it, and
it would never do to wade across it. He was turning
back in despair when he heard some one cry out
How that cry made him jump! But he need not
have started, for it came from no one more formid-
able than a little girl, who was standing the other
side of the ditch holding out one hand towards him.
"You can easily jump it," she cried, when she
saw that Jack had heard her shout. "Why, I've
often done it, and I'm only a girl. You must take
a long run first, and then over you go. You should
see our Harry do it! "
Jack hesitated. It would be dreadful not to be
able to do what a girl-a young lady too-had done
often; but he was too thoroughly town-bred a child
to be a good jumper. He who hesitates is lost,"
they say, and never was the truth of this proverb
more fully proved than now; for Jack first hesitated
to try the jump, and then when he did try it he
hesitated in the midst of his run, just as he ought
to have made the spring. Every child who knows
how to jump will guess the consequences. He went
into the ditch instead of over it, and would have
been wet through but for the timely help of the
good-natured little lady, who, with one dainty hand
"With one ca"ty hand resting against a ree (. 26).
" Wt oedany adretngaais ue "(. ;)
28 TRUST ME
resting against a tree, held out the other to Jack.
How the touch of that little hand comforted the
poor boy, who little dreamt how much that short
delay in crossing the fields was to cost him; for,
though he did not know it, the next train to Twicken-
ham brought down the lantern boy who had stolen
his sovereign, and who was after all the first to bring
to Mrs. Ronaldson the news of her boy's safety.
WHICH WAS THE THIEF? 29
WHICH WAS THE THIEF?
AFE at the other side of the ditch, Jack
looked ruefully down at his wet and muddy
boots and trousers. He was in no fit state
now to go to a gentleman's house! His little friend
in need saw his dismay, however, and with greater
zeal than discretion she produced a white handker-
chief from her pocket, with which she tried to
remedy the evil. Such condescension from the
little lady was indeed balm to the boy's wounded
feelings, and, taking heart again, Jack inquired the
way to Mr. Ronaldson's once more.
"," Ronaldson's? Oh, that's my uncle's house, I'll
take you there. What's the message for him ? I'll
take it for you, if you like, and you can go back and
get dry ? "
This was indeed a lucky meeting, quite worth wet
feet and muddy trousers; and, delighted at the turn
things had taken, Jack hastily told his story.
"Oh, hurry, hurry," cried Alice Ronaldson, when
the whole truth had been heard. Aunt will be in
a dreadful state of mind Oh, why didn't you get
to her sooner? the fog wasn't bad last night at all.
I don't like you for waiting all night. Poor cousin
Arthur.! perhaps he is dead by now. Oh, you are
30 TRUST ME.
a cruel boy; I shan't show you the way now. You
can go back to your mother. I wish I hadn't helped
you over the ditch. I wish- But here Jack
Oh, miss," he cried, I tried all I could to get
down here, but I had no money; you forget the
sovereign was taken away. Oh, don't go on without
me now! "
Well, come along, then," said Alice, who was
rather a spoilt young lady; "it's only a few steps
further; and even as she spoke she opened a little
gate leading into the garden of a large private house.
Jack followed her, too sad to notice the beauty of
the grounds through which he was passing, or the
surprise of the two or three gardeners at work, at
the appearance of Miss Alice" followed by a
muddy boy with a very miserable downcast face.
The gardeners, however, took no notice. Miss
Alice was a privileged person at the Manor House,
and though Jack would quickly enough have been
ordered off if he had come alone, he was allowed to
pass unchallenged now.
Straight through the grounds, then, Alice led,
and up the steps of a conservatory, Jack still close
behind. At the glass door leading into a glory of
flowers," as Jack afterwards told his mother, Alice
"Wait here," she said, "and I'll bring aunt to
you. Or stay, you can just come in here if you like.
Sit down there," she added, pointing to a pretty
WHICH WAS THE THIEF? 31
little iron chair amongst the flowers, "and wait till
Jack meekly sat down and waited. His first
feeling was one of intense delight at the beauty
around him. Never in all his life had he been
amongst such beautiful flowers, except, perhaps, on
Easter Sunday at the Mission-room; only the
flowers there were not growing as they were here,
bursting into bloom on every side as if there were
no such things as cold November nights or dreary
November fogs. As the minutes went on, however,
and Alice did not return, Jack began to feel a little
uneasy both in mind and body. He had had no
breakfast yet-the watchman's crust of bread was
still uneaten in his pocket, and the scent of the flowers
in the warm conservatory was almost overwhelming.
Suppose Miss Alice had told the story and forgotten
to say how she heard it ? Suppose-but as he was
thus thinking he caught the sound of voices not far
off. Alice had left the door of the conservatory lead-
ing into a beautiful drawing-room open, and could
it be ?-yes, there in that room stood the lantern
boy, with Alice beside him; whilst a tall, elderly
lady stood listening eagerly to what the thief was
saying. In a moment Jack understood the whole.
The lantern boy had brought the news-the boy
who had stolen his sovereign and caused all his
terrible troubles. It was too dreadful, and without
a moment's hesitation Jack pushed open the glass
door, rushed into the beautiful room, and going up
32 TRUST ME.
to the lantern boy cried, "Give me my sovereign,
give me my sovereign "
Go away, you wicked, wicked boy! screamed
Alice, and the tall lady turned and looked at Jack.
Oh what a beautiful face that lady had Jack had
opened his lips to speak, but when the lady's large
sad grey eyes looked into his angry brown ones, the
words died on his lips; he could not speak, but
neither could he take his eyes away from the
fascinating vision. Even so had a lady in the dear
St. Luke's Mission-room once looked at him; a
lady whom he had never since seen, but whose face
had often haunted him. This long, steady look
between little mud-stained Jack and the beautiful
lady of the Manor lasted but a moment, yet it saved
Jack from giving way to his passion, and from many
sad things which might have grown out of that
giving way. He felt that the owner of those eyes
would not condemn him unheard; and the selfish
wish to justify himself and get back his sovereign
was changed into a longing to serve the beautiful
woman who looked at him so sweetly and trustfully.
Lady," he faltered, "he is only a little hurt, and
he sent his love to you-he gave me this card," and
from his pocket Jack produced the now crumpled
card, on which was written, Mr. Arthur Ronaldson,
the Manor House, Twickenham."
He took it from me," cried the lantern boy, "as
well as the sovereign; and he tried to snatch the
card away from Jack. But the lady laid one hand
WHICH WAS THE THIEF? 33
on Jack's shoulder, and with the other motioned the
lantern boy back without touching him, as she said,
"Alice, go and tell John to put the horses in the
brougham at once, as quickly as possible, and then
find your uncle-he is probably in his study-and ask
him to come to me here immediately."
Alice obeyed, turning at the door, however, to
shake her small fist at Jack, and mutter, You are
a wicked, wicked boy; I wish I had left you in the
Left thus face to face, with the lady standing
between them, the two boys looked at each other,
and the eyes of the lantern boy fell. He wished
now that he had not taken the sovereign, or that he
had got possession of the card too. If he had had it
he would not have had such a hunt for the house,
and he would have got safely off before Jack arrived.
Instinctively he avoided looking at Mrs. Ronaldson,
for he too felt the strange power of her eyes; he knew
that if he let her look into his own she would read the
truth-she would know that he was wicked. Poor Joe
Smith! he had much to learn before he could meet
those eyes unmoved. He had to dread being wicked,
instead of only fearing that his wickedness would be
found out. If he had only known that the other
boy would get down to Twickenham, he thought he
would have been content with the sovereign, instead
of hoping to gain a reward by being the first to bring
the news of the young man's accident. It was all
very unfortunate for him Little did he dream that
34, TRUST ME.
what seemed so unfortunate would be the turning-
point in his life, and lead to such happiness as he
had never hitherto imagined possible.
It seemed an hour to the two boys, though it was
in reality but five minutes, before the door opened
again and Mr. Ronaldson entered, leading Alice by
the hand. Somehow Jack had expected Mr. Ronald-
Sson to be very tall and stern, but he was quite the
reverse. A short, stout' man, with a round, good-
natured face, no whiskers, and very little hair, he
looked more like a boy than the lord of the manor,
and it seemed almost disrespectful of him when he
addressed the tall dark lady as Mary."
Mary," he said, "what is this I hear? Arthur
hurt and at a cabman's house ? What next ?-what
next ? That boy will never learn- but whom have
we here ? "
These are the boys who brought the news," said
Mrs. Ronaldson quietly, again laying her hand on
Jack's shoulder, "and there is a little conflict of
testimony between them. It seems- "
"Ah yes," interrupted Mr. Ronaldson, so Alice
said. The little fellow stole a sovereign, and the
other received it from him; part of a gang, I have no
doubt. I'll send John for a policeman. But, my
dear, what do you intend doing? Arthur must be
I intend driving to the station to catch the 10.40
express to Waterloo, and taking these boys with me.
Arthur is not much hurt, or he could not have given
"WHICH WAS THE THIEF? 35
his address, or have got into the cab again. I shall
soon discover the truth from him, and learn which of
these boys is the true and which the false witness."
You'll do no such thing, my dear. I'll not have
you driving through the town with two dirty vaga-
bonds. Alice, ring the bell."
A slight flush on Mrs. Ronaldson's cheek was the
only sign that she resented this unceremonious
address from her husband. She seemed a woman of
few words indeed, for she did not answer him at all.
She simply turned and looked at him, not, angrily,
but very quietly and sadly. The little man seemed
to feel the look, and to know that his cause would be
lost if he met it, for he fidgeted with the chairs,
stroked Alice's hair, and with an uneasy laugh, said,
" Well, no, don't ring the bell, run home and play.
What are you doing out of schoolroom at this time
of day ? "
Alice laughed; such a clear, ringing, infectious
laugh, showing how entirely at ease she was with
her little uncle. Oh! she said, "it's a holiday,
and I want to go the station with auntie. Do let
me, auntie," she added; "there's the carriage How
quick John has been, and oh, how lovely Alice and
Annie do look! "
Mrs. Ronaldson smiled,. and then bending down
she whispered something to Alice. Alice nodded,
and ran out of the room, returning almost imme-
diately with a solemn-looking man in uniform, who
came and stood quietly by the two boys.
36 TRUST ME.
"Now, Henry," said Mrs. Ronaldson, "you will
give me five minutes in your study, and tell me what
"Henry," looking a little uncomfortable, led the
way to the study, and the footman kept guard over
the boys, whilst Alice passed the time in dancing
from the hall to the drawing-room window, chattering
away all the time about the horses, the thief, her
own wonderful skill in arriving just in time, &c.,
making the footman smile, though the two boys saw
nothing in the situation to laugh at.
The five minutes lengthened into ten before Mrs.
Ronaldson returned, without her husband. She had
evidently made him look at the matter from her point
of view, and no policeman was to be fetched.
See those two boys into the carriage," she sa:d
to the footman; and Alice, you are to come too;
put on your gloves at once-I am sending a message
to your mother."
How eagerly the lantern boy listened to these in-
structions! Now, he thought, would be the time to
escape. Surely Mrs. Ronaldson did not mean to
take him and Jack up to town with her alone. He
could easily run off at one of the stations. So
thinking, he made no resistance when the footman
led him to the carriage, and showed him where he
was to sit. He looked so triumphant, in fact, and
poor innocent Jack so crestfallen, that the footman
quite made up his mind that the smaller of the two
boys was the thief, and gave Jack a very contemptuous
shove as he pointed to the place he was to occupy.
"See how the geese are staring" ( 3
" See how the geese are staring (P. 38).
i8 TRUST' ME.
Yes, Mrs. Ronaldson did mean to take the boys
-up to town with no one but Alice to help her The
footman did not get on to the box, and the lantern
boy thought as the carriage drove off that he need
not wait to reach the station to make his escape.
He looked out of the window, meaning to wait till
the houses were passed, and then fling the door open
and jump out. He had noticed how easily the doors
opened and shut; by suddenly leaning forward he
could push the handle back, and then-
They were near the end of the houses now, and in
those days there was quite a stretch of lonely country
between the town and the station. The lantern boy
looked out once more, and laid his hand on the handle
of the carriage door. No one was in sight but an old
woman and a few geese; when the carriage turned
the corner he would jump out, and be gone before
the horses could be stopped.
"There goes old Jeannie!" cried Alice; "she
looks as funny as ever. See how the geese are staring
at her. I don't wonder when she wears such a queer
hat. Auntie, do look at her "
But auntie did not answer; her eyes were fixed
on the face of the lantern boy, and, though he did
not know why, he was beginning to feel uneasy under
her steady gaze. As Alice spoke he started, not at
her words, for he had not heard them, but at the
touch of the lady's gloved hand on his own, just as
his was about to turn the handle for his desperate
effort to escape.
WHICH WAS THE THIEF? 39
How gentle that touch was! It seemed to thrill
through every nerve of the thief's body. If the
lantern boy had been a man, he would have wondered
why he felt that strange thrill; but he was not a
man, only a boy-a naughty boy, but not yet a hope-
lessly wicked one. He tried to draw his hand away,
but it was held fast. He tried to avoid looking into
the lady's eyes, but he could not help it. He had to
look into them, and as he did so he wished as he had
not yet done, that he had not taken the sovereign;
that he and Jack could change places; that he could
even now give back the money, and never, never
As these new strange thoughts passed through his
mind, the station came in sight; another moment
and the carriage would draw up. Oh, what would
Mrs. Ronaldson do then ? Would she send him, the
thief-with the sense of his guilt now for the first
time making his cheeks burn, and his heart beat fast-
away from her with a guard or porter to watch him,
and take Jack-happy, innocent Jack-with her and
Alice ? He longed to speak, and if he had been alone
with the lady he would perhaps then and there have
owned his sin; but Jack and Alice would hear too,
and besides there was not time. The station was
reached, two or three porters were rushing to open
the carriage door for the well-loved lady of the
Manor. He would be roughly dragged away from
40 TRUST ME.
ND was the lantern boy roughly dragged
away? No indeed! As the carriage drew
up Mrs. Ronaldson made a sign to one of
the porters, an old man with grey hair, and when he
came to the door she said something to him in a low
voice, which none of the children heard. Then
looking at Alice and Jack, she laid her hand gently
on Joe's arm, and said, "You two go with this
porter to the carriage he will show you; and you
stay with me."
Alice and Jack did as they were bid, and were
shown into a second-class carriage containing several
other passengers, whilst Mrs. Ronaldson and the
lantern boy were left in the brougham. Now would
have been the time to escape. The train was just
starting, passengers were hurrying in at the door of
the station; but somehow Joe's wish to get away
was gone. That gentle touch on his arm had a
strange power over him; it seemed to thrill through
him, and he longed to look up into the lady's face.
Only the remembrance of his sin prevented him.
Another time he would have wondered if Mrs. Ron-
aldson meant to lose the train; but his whole mind
was full of wonder at her treatment of him. Never
JOE'S CONFESSION. 41
since he was a little fellow of three years old had any
one touched him so gently, or looked at him with
such sad, kind eyes. It only took a minute for these
thoughts to pass through his mind, and just as the
last passenger was rushing on to the platform the
grey-haired porter came back.
All right, madam," he said, holding out some
tickets; and Mrs. Ronaldson got out, still keeping
her hand on Joe's arm. "Meet every train after
twelve," she said to John; and to Joe, "You are
coming with me."
Joe's feelings may be imagined when the porter
led the way to a couipe-as the small end carriage of
a train is called. Was he, a poor ragged boy, to
share this beautiful carriage with Mrs. Ronaldson ?
It could not, could not be But it was to be! Mrs.
Ronaldson knew that the boy beside her was not
altogether depraved; she had seen from his inability
to meet her eyes that he was not hardened in guilt;
and, in the midst of her anxiety about her own boy,
she had determined if she could to win this poor lad
from his evil ways.
As the train moved out of the station she again
laid her hand on Joe's arm, and said, Now, my
boy, tell me your name."
But poor Joe could not speak, could not look up;
he leant his head upon his arms against the ledge of
the window, and burst into a fit of weeping. Oh,
what would he not have given for it all to have been
a mistake ? If only he had been falsely accused, as
47 TRUST ME.
he had accused Jack As he sobbed, he remembered
with sharp remorse that he too had once been good
and true, that he had once scorned a lie. But as
these sad thoughts chased each other through his
mind, Mrs. Ronaldson spoke again.
Suppose I guess your name ? she said. Isn't
it Joe ? "
How could she know? She did not know; it was
a mere guess, though a very happy one; for Joe was
so surprised that he looked up, and meeting the kind
eyes fully for the first time, he answered, Yes,
ma'am, that's my name; how did you know it ? No
one ain't told you about me."
I didn't know it, I only guessed it, for you looked
like a "Joe." Now I want you to stop crying and
tell me all about it; how you came to steal the
sovereign, and what you have done with it. Is it
the first time you have taken what did not belong
to you ? "
Then Joe did tell the whole, with many a pause,
and many an encouraging word from Mrs. Ronaldson.
He gave a perfectly true account of the matter, how
he had not meant to take the money, but that a
sudden temptation had seized him when he saw Jack
standing looking so bewildered with the sovereign in
his hand. The journey to Twickenham was an after-
thought, for he had nothing to guide him but the
young man's name and that of the town, which he
had overheard him telling Jack. What he had done
with tho sovereign he was very reluctant to own, but
JOE'S CONFESSION. 43
by degrees Mrs. Ronaldson learnt that he had shared
it with a pal." I had no money left after I paid
for my ticket," he said, "but I thought you'd give
me something for the news, not knowing I stole the
And now," said Mrs. Ronaldson, tell me some-
thing of your past life. What is your other name,
and how is it you are all alone in London? "
More and more surprised at the lady's gentle re-
ception of his confession, Joe now with less hesitation
told how his parents had lived in a country village
in the Midlands, but had both died when he was
quite a little chap; after that he had lived with an
aunt. He did not remember much about her, he
said. He was still quite young when he was sent
away from her to be errand boy in Liverpool. I
remember I cried a little when I started on the
journey. I sat down outside the door first, and said
as I wouldn't go; but aunt said if I didn't make
myself scarce she'd make me repent it, so I was
forced to tramp off. I had to walk a good bit of the
way; but I didn't really mind leaving aunt, she used
to cuff me often."
Poor Joe! said Mrs. Ronaldson. I'm afraid
you've had a good deal of cuffing, as you call it.
Now tell me how it was you left Liverpool."
Joe again hung his head, and muttered something
about the other chaps at the warehouse," and a
lark;" and it was only with difficulty that Mrs.
Ronaldson learnt that he had lost his place in Liver-'
"I sat down outside the door first (p. 43)*
JOE'S CONFESSION. 45
pool through losing an important letter containing
money. Some boy in the same house had hidden it
"for a lark," not knowing its value, and Joe had
No one couldn't prove I hadn't took it, and no
one couldn't prove I had, so I only got sent away.
It seemed no good speaking the truth, when the
governor didn't believe me."
Poor Joe! said Mrs. Ronaldson again. "And
when you were sent away what did you do ?"
Well, I tried to get another berth, but master he
wouldn't give me no character, and I should ha'
starved, but for one o' the pals I shared my sovereign
with. He were a-going up to London on-on-on
what he called business, lady, and he took me with
him. He said'I were a 'cute un, and he have been
good to me since. You won't get him into trouble
about the sovereign, lady, will you ? "
Mrs. Ronaldson smiled. "No," she said, "I
won't get either of you into trouble, as you call it.
Now, Joe, tell me as quickly as you can, for we are
close to the station, what your 'pal's' 'business'
Joe coloured and fidgeted. Then with look which
quite transformed his plain and downcast features
he said, Don't ask me, lady. Ask me all about
myself and I'll not hide nothing ; but don't ask me
about Ro. He's give me his dinner many a time,
and clemmed hisself."
Ro," repeated Mrs. Ronaldson, "that's a funny
46 TRUST ME.
name. I suppose it's short for Ronald or something
like that ? "
It's just his name," said Joe, and it just fits
Well, never mind about Ro now," said Mrs.
Ronaldson, but listen to me. We are going now
to see my son, and I don't wish to take you there as
a thief. Now will you promise me not to run away ?
I am sure I can trust you if you promise, and you
will trust me when I say I shall make no attempt to
punish you for what you have done. I shall leave
you and Alice and Jack, and go in to see my boy
Joe promised, and a strange sense of peace came
over his heart as he did so. He could not have
explained why, but he felt like a child again as he
followed Mrs. Ronaldson out of the coup on to the
platform of Waterloo Station, where Alice and Jack
joined them at once. Evidently they too had had
some little talk on the journey, for Alioe no longer
shrank from Jack, or looked at him with abhorrence.
It was Joe she avoided now, looking at him with
the lofty scorn of a child who has always lived in a
sheltered home, and never felt the force of tempta-
Any one who has driven in a four-wheeled cab
from Waterloo Station to the heights of Hampstead
will not need to be told that much conversation was
impossible. Mrs. Ronaldson, too, had asked the
cabman to drive quickly, and as they rattled over
JOE'S CONFESSION. 47
the stones scarcely a word was exchanged; though
Alice, who seemed unable to hold her tongue under
any circumstances, chattered away, making com-
ments on all she saw from the window.
Arrived at the mews, Mrs. Ronaldson left the
three children in the cab, merely saying to Joe as
she got out, Remember, I trust you." Joe nodded;
his heart was too full to speak; but he pulled his
cap over his eyes and turned away his head. How
determined he was to keep his word, yet how soon
he was tempted to break it!
48 TRUST ME.
HE three children had not been left alone
long when Alice began to question Joe.
The young lady had been a good deal disap-
pointed at the turn things had taken. She had
expected to be called upon to play the heroine and
give her evidence against Jack in the presence of her
cousin Arthur, who was one of the very few people
for whom this giddy little chatterbox had any
reverence. Instead of that she had been sent to sit
in the same carriage with Jack, who had not after
all stolen the money; and she could not help feeling
a little ashamed of herself for the way she had
spoken to and of him. Unfortunately, this feeling of
shame only made her anxious to shine in some other
direction, and she now roused up again all the evil
in Joe's heart by the sudden questions, You took
the sovereign, didn't you? It's you who are the
thief. Why did you take it, and what have you
done with it ? "
Now it was one thing to reply to Mrs. Ronaldson,
with her tender, calm, grey eyes looking into his face
with the wonderful sweet compelling power which
Joe had felt without being able to understand it: it
was quite another to be spoken to as Alice, a child
JOE'S FLIGHT. 49
much younger than himself, was now speaking. He
clenched his fist and looked angrily into her face; if
she had been a boy he would have struck her.
"And if I did take the sovereign, what's that to
you ? he said. It weren't your sovereign; 't'aint
no business o' yourn! "
Yes, it is," said naughty Alice, "for it was
Jack's sovereign, and my cousin gave it him. Give
it back to him, and perhaps Arthur will forgive you."
Yes, give it me back," cried Jack, then they'll
know I didn't steal it. It's not for the money, but
for them not to say I'm a thief! "
'T'aint no worse for you nor for me," said Joe
angrily; and then, before Alice or Jack knew what
he was doing, he had burst open the door of the cab,
and was gone !
Oh, Jack cried Alice, run after him and catch
him and make him come back Oh, what will aunt
say? I wish I had left him alone; I wish I had
held my tongue-perhaps you are the thief after all.
Oh, I must go to aunt. Let me out, let me out !" she
almost screamed, for the cabman, surprised at one
of the occupants of his cab rushing off as Joe had
done, was now standing at the door, and resisted
Alice's efforts to open it. Two or three men at work
in the yard of the mews came up to see what all the
shouting was about, and had not Mrs. Ronaldson at
that moment returned, with Arthur leaning on her
arm, there would. soon have been a crowd round the
-sab. As it was the party was attracting a good deal
50 TRUST ME.
more notice than was at all desirable, and for the
first time Mrs. Ronaldson wished she had not at-
tempted bringing the children with her, or that she
had taken them into the house. Mr. Johnson, the
owner and driver of the cab to which the accident
had happened, owned no less than two parlours, in
one of which the witnesses might have waited. A
fly had been prepared, at Mr. Johnson's suggestion,
for taking the patient to the station, and the first
thing to be done was to settle him comfortably
amongst the pillows provided by Mrs. Johnson.
This was easily accomplished, for Arthur inherited
something of his mother's calmness, and was not
likely to add to her difficulties by making any fuss.
He had heard the whole story from her, satisfied her
as to Jack's innocence, and the probable truth of
Joe's story, and was now as eager as herself to rescue
the lantern boy from bad ways.
I feel nearly all right, mother," he said, "and
quite equal to Joe's company, if you like to divide
the party; but I think one of us had better keep an
eye on Firefly." This was Arthur's not inappro-
priate name for Alice. I think I heard her voice
in rather a high key just now. There's no knowing
what she may have been doing or saying in your
Arthur was right in his caution, though it came,
as cautions are apt to do, a little too late. Alice
had already achieved all the mischief she could, and
Joe being gone, Mrs. Ronaldson saw nothing to be
JOE'S FLIGHT. 51
done but to dismiss the cab, send Jack to his home,
and drive back to Waterloo with her son and niece.
Before parting from Jack, however, she made him
give her his address, with a view to making inquiry
later into the whole matter. She had also taken the
precaution to note the number of the cab, in the
hope that the driver might be of use in her search
Alice, as may be imagined, did not altogether
enjoy the journey back to Twickenham. It is true
her cousin only shook his head at her with a half-
reproachful, half-amused expression in his eyes, and
Mrs. Ronaldson also refrained from any scolding;
but the child's own conscience condemned her, and
she longed to be back at her own home, where she
could confide the whole story to her special "chum"
amongst her brothers, a boy a year younger than
herself, who was always called Alice's echo," on
account of the unqualified admiration with which he
looked upon all she did or said, imitating her to the
best of his rather limited abilities. This harbour of
refuge, home, and the comfort of Mark's sympathy
were not to be had yet, however. Mrs. Ronaldson
only stopped at the Rectory long enough to send up
a message to the effect that Miss Alice would
spend the rest of the day at the Manor House-a
decision Miss Alice never dreamt of contesting.
Poor Alice As the brougham sped quickly over
the ground, she would gladly have changed places
with any of the village children playing in the
52 TRUST ME.
streets. She even envied her namesake, Alice
Hughes, the poor half-witted child of a half-witted
father, who was standing hand in hand with him,
looking vacantly into the water of the village pond.
That Alice never talked too much-that Alice was
never scolded, and if she were she would only smile
an unmeaning smile, for all words were much alike
to her-as she thought this, Alice Ronaldson-started
at her own ingratitude. How could she, with her
happy, happy home, be envying poor unfortunate
Alice Hughes? With quick compunction, and one
of those sudden changes of feeling characteristic of
her peculiar temperament, she suddenly laid her
hand on her aunt's knee, and as the tears rose in
her eyes she said, "Oh, Auntie, do forgive me! I
am so sorry; it was all my fault that Joe ran away."
I was afraid so," said Mrs. Ronaldson. "You
must come and tell me all about it when Arthur is
comfortably settled at home."
Oh, let me tell you now," cried Alice.
No, not now; you are in too great a hurry again.
I shall be more disposed to believe in your sorrow if
you go and wait quietly in the dining-room till I
As Mrs. Ronaldson spoke, the carriage drew up at
the gates of the Manor House. In a moment those
gates were thrown open, and, in the eager inquiries
from the servants who hurried forward to help Mr.
Arthur to alight, Alice was forgotten. How glad
she would have been to run away as Joe had done!
"' The worst talkiingi-to she had ever had in her life (p 54.)
54 TRUST ME.
It was hard to turn into the large little-used dining-
room, the room she liked least at the Manor House,
and there wait for her aunt's return, without a word
or look of sympathy from any one. She waited a
long time, but Mrs. Ronaldson had many things to
see about, and the afternoon closing in obliged Alice
to return home without the expected talk after all.
The next morning, however, Arthur strolled over to
the Rectory with a message, asking her to come back
with him. She had just put on her oldest frock, and
given herself up to a nice two hours' grubbing in her
own special plot of garden; but there was no help
for it, go she must. Poor Alice! It seemed hard
enough to give up the delights of gardening for any
cause, but to exchange those delights for a solemn
lecture was too hard A most woebegone figure she
looked half an hour later as she stood beside her
aunt, receiving, as she afterwards confided to Mark,
"the worst talking-to she had ever had in her life."
Remember, Alice," Mrs. Ronaldson concluded,
after hearing the whole story, "this might have
been, but for you, a turning-point in the poor boy's
life; now there is no knowing what may become of
WHERE WAS JOE?
HEN Jack arrived at home after all his
adventures and wanderings, he was of course
received with the greatest enthusiasm by
both mother and father, who, relieved of their terrible
anxiety of the night before, by the message sent to
them by Jack's first friend, the watchman, had
resumed their usual duties.
The first thing to do now," said Mrs. Grey, when
she had heard Jack's story from beginning to end,
"is to set the police after that boy and get the
sovereign back. Suppose you run round to Mr.
Strong's and ask his advice. He's been taking on
finely about you, I can tell you, and how you came
to miss each other like that passes my compre-
It was the fog, mother," said Jack, and if it
hadn't been for Joe-oh, mother, don't set the police
after him I do believe he was sorry, and he did
look so miserable when Miss Alice spoke to him like
that. If she hadn't done it, I believe he would have
given me back the money. Let me go and tell
Mr. Craik about it first; he might even know where
r Joe is."
"Mr. Craik, Mr. Craik; it's always Mr. Craik,"
56 TRUST ME.
said Mrs. Grey; your heads are all turned about
Mr. Craik. I'm sure I don't envy him having to
settle every one's affairs for them, and him the father
of a family too. Why, only the other day your
But I may go and tell him, mother ? pleaded
Jack. You know you told him yourself when you
lost that other money, and he got it back for you
without the police."
Well, go along, then," said Mrs. Grey with a
smile, but don't say I sent you; I won't have him
say I presume on his kindness, I- "
But Jack was gone at the first words of this half-
grudging permission, and a few minutes later he was
closeted with Mr. Craik in the well-known study,
where the reader of St. Luke's Mission-room had un-
ravelled so many mysteries and soothed so many
woes, thanks to the wonderful power of sympathy
which made old and young, rich and poor, flock to
his door. As Jack knew from many an experience,
there was no need to fear that Mr. Craik would be
too busy to see a poor boy from the back streets of
Hampstead. He knew he might have to wait, but
never had any one who came for help to that home
of mercy waited in vain. No matter that since
seven o'clock that morning Mr. Craik had been hard
at work, and that he had spent half the previous
night by the bedside of a poor woman dying of cancer;
he was as ready to hear Jack's tale as if that and
that only were of interest and importance. As it
WHERE WAS JOE? 57
happened, he was alone when the boy arrived, and
laying down his pen in the very middle of a sentence
of a review, he came forward with the words, "Well,
Jack, what's to be done for you to-day? You were
not at the treat last night, how was that ? "
Then Jack poured out his tale, and Mr. Craik
listened to the end without putting a single question.
"And won't you find Joe, sir?" the boy added,
when all had been told. "He'd mind you, sir, if you
asked for the money back."
Mr. Craik smiled, and ran his fingers through his
hair with a gesture peculiar to him when any puzzling
case was put before him. We'll see what can be
done. What colour did you say Joe's eyes were?
and his hair, was it curly or straight ? "
Oh, very curly, and his eyes were blue."
Very well, I'll see what can be done and let you
know; but stay a minute, you said Mrs. Ronaldson
lived at the Manor House, Twickenham. Is it far
from the station ? "
It'seemed a long way by the short cut," said
Jack, "but we were only a little while driving back.
Are you going to see Mrs. Ronaldson, sir? "
Never mind what I am going to do," was the
reply, a kind smile taking out the sting of the words;
" and now run home-or rather, just sit down a
minute and wait to post my letters as you go back."
Jack obeyed. How wonderfully quickly Mr. Craik
did write to be sure First he finished what he had
been doing when Jack interrupted him; then he
58 TRUST ME.
wrote two or three notes; and then, as he addressed
them, he said to Jack, "I suppose you'd think it
beneath your dignity to come to the infants' treat
to-night, but you may if you like, as you missed the
"Yes, sir, thank you, I should like "
Well, then, be at the door at five; I'll say a word
about you to the teachers. I shall expect you to
help, you know."
Oh yes, sir, thank you, sir," said Jack delighted,
and taking the letters from Mr. Craik's hand he was
soon on his way home again. As he put the letters
into the pillar-box, he caught the name of Mrs.
Ronaldson on one, and the word "Police" on another
of the envelopes; but his trust in Mr. Craik was too
entire for any misgiving as to what would happen to
Joe to trouble him. Mr. Craik said so," was quite
a final settling of any matter, and his decision was
never questioned, by the junior members at least of
Meanwhile Alice, subdued by her aunt's words
and grave face, had returned to the Rectory, deter-
mined if ever she saw Joe again to tell him how
sorry she was. Every one looked severely at her, or
at any rate so she fancied.
Oh, Alice, I wish you hadn't driven him away,"
even faithful, admiring Mark had said. Couldn't we
find him and bring him back? You know in my
book that I had on my last birthday, the girl who
was lost was found again."
"Yes aftr sb badbeenneary drwned 6o)
60 TRUST ME.
"Yes, after she had been nearly drowned. You
know what a dreadful picture that is of her. If that
man and the lady and the little girl hadn't come
by just then, she would never have been found at
The rats would have eaten her perhaps," sug-
gested Mark. Fancy being eaten by water-rats "
What nonsense you talk, Mark!" said Alice.
"Water-rats don't eat people, and by-the-by, the
water didn't look deep at all; I believe she could have
scrambled out alone, I know I would have. Boys
always are silly, I can't think why they are made
at all! "
Oh, Alice!" cried poor Mark, who was really
more girlish and soft-hearted than his sister, "don't
say that. I'll go with you to look for Joe now, if you
like. Which way did he go ? "
Alice shrugged her shoulders. The old domineer-
ing spirit was coming back at this ready submission
to her will, and if nurse had not happened to come
in at that moment she would probably have got
herself and her brother with her into further trouble.
As it was she left the nursery without making any
plan for a search for Joe; and before another oppor-
tunity occurred of starting any wild scheme, Joe had
It is a strange fact that those who have done
wrong are often drawn back by an irresistible
impulse to the scene of their fault. Something of
this strange attraction made Joe pause and look
WHERE WAS JOE ? 6
back when he had run some little distance from the
mews where he had left Jack and Alice; but it was
more than this feeling which led him to begin to
retrace his steps. The thought of Mrs. Ronaldson's
words, I can trust you, and you can trust me,"
sent a sharp pain through his heart: a warm enough
heart by nature, though the hard discipline which
the poor wandering boy had gone through had a
little chilled it. Should he go back and loiter about
till Mrs. Ronaldson came out of the mews, and tell
her he was sorry he had run away ? Was there any
chance that she would trust him again? Yes, he
thought she would. He knew only too well that if
he once returned to Ro," the dear Ro, who had
been good to him, though Ro was a professional
thief, that he should himself lead a similar life; and
at this moment he felt as if he could not do so.
Perhaps if he went back to Mrs. Ronaldson she
would help him to help Ro. Yes, he would go back;
and if he had come to this resolution only five
minutes sooner, he would have been in time to see
Mrs. Ronaldson and Arthur come out of the mews,
he would have seen Alice's downcast face, and he
would probably have forgiven her her share in the
matter. As it was, he got back to the mews to find
the cab which had brought him there gone, and the
men at work grooming their horses and washing
their cabs, as if no such struggle as that Joe had gone
through had any existence. Perhaps there is nothing
so hard, in the experience of the suffering children
62 TRUST ME.
of the streets, as the utter indifference of passers-by
to what they are feeling. It was nothing unusual
at Ford's Mews for a ragged boy to look wistfully in-
it was, alas a matter of almost daily occurrence-
and Joe's heart was sore with a nameless envy of
the carefully tended horses, and of the little children
playing happily in the long balcony running along
the whole of the upper story of the mews. It seemed
as if he, and he only, were homeless. He tried to
ask one of the men a question about the cab which
had been waiting, but he was only told to be off,
and not come bothering here." He was half tempted
to ask for the man whose horse was called Beauty;"
but he was afraid of being given into custody for
taking the sovereign. No, he had better be off,"
and he turned away again. Slowly and with droop-
ing head he walked along down Haverstock Hill,
through Camden Town, straight on into Tottenham
Court Road. He would soon be with Ro again now.
Ro's haunt was in one of the courts of a street off
Tottenham Court Road-not a very savoury locality,
and not one much visited by the well-dressed ladies
and gentlemen who constantly flock to shop at
Shoolbred's or at Maple's.
A LONG DAY'S MARCH.
OE'S own corner was reached. Another
moment and he would be in the dreary attic
he shared with Ro, and Ro would be laugh-
ing at the discomfiture of the swells"-laughing at
Mrs. Ronaldson There was no knowing what he
might say of her-Joe shuddered. No, he could not
go back to Ro. He could not bear to be laughed at
about Mrs. Ronaldson. Her tender, calm grey eyes
seemed to be looking at him again; again her gentle
voice was saying, "I can trust you, and you can
trust me." He would go back-yes, he would go
back to Twickenham, to the Manor House; he
would go boldly to the door and ask for her. He
turned back yet again. He knew a short cut to
Waterloo; but he had no money, should he go and
ask Ro for some? No, though it was his own
money, at least part of the money he had stolen, he
could not ask Ro for it. Ro would want to know
what he wanted it for. He would loiter about the
streets and try for a job or two. He wished it were
a foggy day, then he might do as he had done two
days before, light people to their homes. A shilling
64 TRUST ME.
would be enough to take him to Twickenham, but
how was a shilling to be honestly earned ?
As Joe pondered over this problem, he wandered
slowly back again up Tottenham Court Road, glad,
though he scarcely realized it, to have his face turned
towards the place where he had parted from his
heroine. It was now noon, and Joe was beginning
to get very hungry, for h had eaten nothing since
seven that morning. He paused at the corner of
Hampstead Road, and looked about him. No chance
of a job or of food there. Every one was in too
great a hurry at that much-frequented part to have
even a look to spare for Joe. He would have been
wiser, if he wanted a job, to get away from the traffic
into Finchley Road. He had often held a horse
there for some doctor or lawyer who had ridden out
from town. He would walk up the hill again, till
he came to one of the turnings off it leading to the
less frequented of the northern heights of London.
But it would fill a book to tell of all poor Joe's
thoughts and wanderings on that winter day. He
had walked all down Finchley Road in vain, right
away beyond the houses, seeing no one who would
help him, though he accosted more than one passer-
by. An old man getting brushwood, with his
barefooted and bareheaded little grandchild helping
him, was the only person who had given him a kind
word. This old man had told him to "keep a
good heart, God is where He was"-a sentence
Joe sometimes remembered afterwards, though it
No, thank you, my lad, there's no weight in it whatever 66)
" No, thank you, my lad, there's no weight in it whatever" (I. 66),
66 TRUST ME.
afforded him scant comfort at the time. Then he
had sauntered back into Hampstead High Street,
but still no job had come in his way. He had begged
a kind-looking old gentleman to let him carry his
bag; but the old gentleman had only smiled and
said, No thank you, my lad, there's no weight in it
whatever." Footsore and hungry, and utterly sick
at heart from repeated disappointments, Joe at last
gave up hope. He would go back to Ro, who would
give him supper and a corner to sleep in, however
much he laughed at his adventures and wild goose
chase," as he was sure to call the poor boy's effort to
earn a shilling honestly.
As Joe came to this resolution, and set his white
weary face once more Londonwards, many of the
more favoured children of St. Luke's district were
assembling in the Mission -room, Jack amongst
them : Jack, with a face shining alike from the effects
of soap and water and with happiness, for was he
not to help Mr. Craik? The treat had begun, and
the united lungs of three hundred "infants" were
greeting every arrival, whether of a teacher or a fresh
plate of cake, with ear-splitting shouts. A bright
line of light starting from the Mission-room stretched
right across the road, and tired Joe paused to watch
it, wondering at first what it was. As he stood
leaning wearily against the wall, the signal for grace
to be sung was given, and the clear baby voices could
be distinctly heard as they returned thanks for
"what they had received." Then ensued a moment's
A LONG DAY'S MARCH. 67
silence; then a rush to the doors. Orders had been
given to run outside a minute, whilst the chairs were
re-arranged for the entertainment to follow. Prize-
giving, with the stripping of a Christmas-tree, were to
form parts of this entertainment, which might cer-
tainly justly have been called a treat of an ideal
Joe was quite fascinated by the sight of the happy
children skipping and dancing with glee in the yard
and road outside the Mission-room; he thought he
would wait to see the end. Did a wish that he were
one of these happy infants" pass through his mind?
No, not exactly that, but he did long to be one of
those older boys in whom the tiny ones seemed to
place such confidence. That boy there near the
door, rather like Jack he was, with a baby clinging
to each hand, and another leaning against him looking
up into his face It was long since Joe had felt the
touch of baby fingers. He crossed the road, treading
in the line of light which seemed to draw him on,
and, leaning against the bars of the yard attached to
the Mission-room, tried to peep in. Just then the
order to return was given to the surging mass of
infants. There was a rush to the door, and as the
crowd parted to make for Mr. Craik, who suddenly
appeared shouting "Silence!" Joe caught sight of
the inside of the room. Rows and rows of chairs
faced a platform. In the centre of this platform was
a Christmas-tree, surrounded by chairs, the back sof
which alone were visible, the seats and legs being
68 TRUST ME.
covered with a sheet. On one side of the tree was a
piano, on the other a table piled with books. Eager
to look more closely at all this brightness, Joe crept
through the gate of the yard, into the midst of the
children waiting, in silence now, for their turn to come
to go in.
As he stood thus, expecting every moment to be
ordered back, and feeling painfully the contrast
between his ragged clothes and the "Sunday suits"
of the invited guests, a little girl pressed up against
him and said imperiously, Dib me your hand."
Joe looked down. The small morsel of humanity
must have taken him for some one else, she could
not want his hand He expected her to shrink away
from him when she saw his face. Not a bit of it!
She only smiled up into his eyes and tried to squeeze
her tiny fingers into his hand. Joe would have liked
to lift her in his arms and kiss her; but as he stooped
down to speak to her she was swept away from him
by the last of the waiting children rushing into the
Mission-room. The door would be shut now, and
he might resume his lonely walk to London. He
turned to go, but looked back as he reached the gate.
The door was not shut, and two or three other ragged
boys were hanging about it; Joe wondered if they
were thieves, or only poor fellows attracted as he
had been by the light and noise. He sauntered up
to them, but they took no notice of him; they were
whispering together, and drew a little back behind
the wall, as their confidences became more and more
A LONG DAY'S MARCH. 69
Joe turned from them and peeped once more into
the bright Mission-room. The scene had changed
a little, for the back part of the room was now lined
with the parents and elder brothers and sisters of
the infants, forming a confused mass in the midst of
which a boy like himself might easily pass unnoticed.
This thought shot like an inspiration through Joe's
mind, and in a moment he had crept in, hiding him-
self behind a burly butcher-the father, truth to tell,
of the little maiden who had touched Joe's hand. A
minute afterwards another ragged boy slipped in,
and then another and another. Joe saw them, but
no one else did, for all eyes were fixed upon the plat-
form, where Mr. Craik now stood, and with uplifted
hand was crying, Silence, silence "
I can stop here and see everything," thought Joe,
"and then get out again. I'm glad I waited. This
will be a lark to tell Ro. Wish I'd had some grub
first, though." But how did he feel when in the dead
silence which now reigned in the room Mr. Craik
said, Shut that door; there are people without
tickets coming in."
How gladly Joe would have got out then But it
was impossible. The burly butcher and several other
fathers were between him and the door. He could
only hope that he would escape unnoticed when it
was opened again, and that no one would see him
till it was.
Who shall describe the astonishment of this unin-
vited guest at all he saw that evening? How many
70 TRUST ME.
of the words spoken by Mr. Craik to the winners ot
the prizes sunk into the hearts of the listeners who
had no business there The boys who had come in
in the hope of plunder looked at each other; Joe, who
had had no thought of fresh wrong-doing, remembered
with keen remorse the stolen sovereign. None of
them suspected that Mr. Craik had noticed their
presence, and seen in it a possible opportunity of
sowing good seed in their hearts. He had ordered
the door to be shut, not with a view to convicting
these poor waifs and strays of the crime of coming
in uninvited, but in the hope of touching them by
his forbearance, and so winning them to seek the
Mission-room again at the time of service or instruc-
tion. How far he succeeded, with Joe at least, the
life Joe is living now must tell.
WHAT MR. CRAIK DID.
0 the children who read this book a school
treat is of course quite an ordinary affair.
It was a very different matter to Joe, who,
except in shop windows, had never before seen such
an array of beautiful toys as were given away after
the distribution of the prizes. Not only was the
Christmas-tree stripped of its treasures, the chairs
round about it turned out to be covered with presents,
one for each child. These chairs were handed down
from the platform one by .one to the teachers, who
distributed their contents each to his or her own
special scholars. Never did Joe forget the ten
minutes after that distribution, for the little people
became perfectly wild with joy. They shouted,
stamped their feet, and clapped their hands, Mr. Craik
and his band of teachers looking on with smiles of
sympathy. As soon as the uproar became too wild,
however, and a few of the elder ones in their excite-
ment trod on the toes of the little ones, or pressed
roughly up against their treasures, Mr. Craik again
shouted Silence! at first without any effect. All
were too happily absorbed to notice him, and after
72 TRUST ME.
trying in vain to enforce attention he edged his way
to the very centre of the room, and then climbing
on a chair he shouted again and again, "Silence!
Silence till at last first one and then another child
looked up into his face. Slowly the noise now
subsided, and any artist who wanted a study
of child-life might have had his choice at that
moment. Three hundred little ones all looking one
way, with eyes shining with excitement; some
pausing in the very act of blowing a trumpet, beat-
ing a drum, or flourishing a sword; some with dolls
pressed lovingly against their shoulders; others with
one hand keeping the'place in the prize book; the
attitudes natural and therefore graceful, making the
parents whisper to each other, Look at my Ben,"
or my Alice," or Jane "
Sit down, all sit down now cried Mr. Craik,
and all struggled to obey him, though the chairs had
been so much displaced in the excitement that it
was no easy task. Now," added Mr. Craik, "we
are all going to sing two hymns together-all, I say!"
and it seemed to Joe that Mr. Craik looked specially at
him. First, Praise God, from whom all blessings
flow,' and then, God save the Queen;' after that
you will all pass out one by one from the little door,
and I shall give you each an orange; for my friend
the fruiterer round the corner has sent a great
basketful of oranges for you."
At these words uprose a great shout, Hurrah!
Hurrah! Hurrah a shout in which poor Joe did
WHAT MR. CRAIK DID. 73
not join. One by one all in the room must pass Mr.
Craik, and what would he say to a ragged, dirty boy
who had come in uninvited? A vague recollection
of some story about a man who went to a wedding
feast without a wedding garment came into the
poor boy's mind, and he tried to creep to the door.
It was of no use; the burly butcher presented an
impassable obstacle, and if the door could have been
reached Joe could not have opened it. He must
brave it out, but his heart sank, and he wished him-
self safe back with Ro.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," led
Mr. Craik; and "Praise God, from whom all
blessings flow," repeated the children; Joe's fears
growing worse and worse as the fatal moment
approached. The two hymns were very soon sung,
and the instant they were over, Mr. Craik left his
chair in the centre of the room for the platform, on
which a huge basket of oranges now stood. Oh,
what a scene of confusion ensued For some rushed
to one door, others to another; and the children, the
little ones half asleep, the older ones overwrought
with excitement, pushed each other in a pitiless way.
If only that big door had been opened, Joe could
have got away; but "keep that door shut," Mr.
Craik shouted, and nothing but force would have
induced any of his own people to disobey him. "All
to go out at the little door; all to pass the foot of
Then the crowd swayed towards the platform, the
74 TRUST ME.
parents and elders beckoning to their own special
little ones, until by degrees something like order
was restored. In vain Joe backed as the crowd
swayed him forwards; towards that fatal platform
he had to move. He saw the other boys caught as
he was whispering together; they too felt uneasy
at their position, with better reason than Joe, for
since they came into the room they had taken one
or two things from the pockets of the poor mothers.
A wise instinct made Joe keep away from them.
The room was now beginning to clear, and several
ladies came in at the little door from the ante-room,
where they had been superintending the retreat, to
sit down and wait for Mr. Craik. These ladies were
his wife, sister, and two or three of the teachers, a
loyal band who seconded the superintendent in all his
work. As Joe with lingering feet and downcast eyes
approached the platform, he heard one of these
ladies say to Mr. Craik, Some of the women are
complaining of losses; boys have come in who had
no business here; they ought all to be taken up. I
wish, Mr. Craik, you would let me send for the
"Police? Nonsense!" said Mr. Craik; "the women
should take better care of their things. I dare say
nothing of any value has been lost."
At this moment the three boys who had come in
after Joe were compelled by the pressure from behind
to pass the platform. Linked arm in arm they had
meant to make a rush for it, and get out at the
WHAT MR. CRAIK DID. 75
little door.' But there stood Mr. Craik, the basket
of oranges beside him; and there was the group of
ladies, who all turned to look at the trio as they
approached. Mr. Craik stepped down from his
platform, and, as if by accident, stood in the narrow
passage between it and the first row of chairs.
"I don't think I know your faces," he said; "what
classes are you in? No answer. The boys
nudged each other and looked down. "Well, I
dare say you like oranges ? "
At this very unexpected speech the boys looked at
each other. Could this man be laughing at them ?
No, he was not laughing. He held out two oranges
to the boy nearest him, and said, Here are two
oranges for you. You have no business here to-night,
but come to me on Sundays, and you shall have a
proper invitation and a right to come next time. So
you had better all come."
Then as he handed two oranges to each of the
other boys, Mr. Craik stood aside and let them pass.
"They slunk out through the little door, more
thoroughly ashamed of themselves than they would
have been if the police had dragged them out; and
o when the little room was tidied the next morning,
the things stolen from the women were found in
a little heap on the floor.
But how did Joe, whose only crime had been
curiosity, pass the dreaded platform? With his
eyes on the ground and his hands tightly locked
together, he came up and paused. He might have
76 TRUST ME.
got through the little door unnoticed, for the ladies
were whispering together, and Mr. Craik's attention
was called off for a moment by a lad coming up and
pulling his sleeve. That lad was Jack, who had
recognized Joe, and was eager for Mr. Craik to see
him. Surprised at no notice being taken of him, Joe
looked up. His eyes met those of Jack! The colour
rushed into his dirty face, and he turned to run.
"Stop thief, stop thief!" Jack would cry, the
ladies would call for the police, Mrs. Ronaldson
would hear of it-oh that he had joined the other
boys, and with them escaped from this fatal room!
And "Stop, stop," Mr. Craik did cry, but not
"Stop thief! No; Stop, my boy !" And Do
stop, Joe," added Jack, pressing up to him and
taking his hand. Surely it must be all a dream !
Here was Jack whom he had robbed calling him
"Joe," and Mr. Craik, into whose room he had
intruded without invitation, saying my boy," in
tones as kind as if he had known him all his life. It
was too much. Joe, who had scarcely shed a tear
since that day so long ago of which he had spoken
to Mrs. Ronaldson, when he had cried a little as he
started on his journey," now burst out sobbing, much
to the astonishment of the few people still left in
Here, Mrs. Mason," said Mr. Craik to a rosy-
cheeked goodnatured-looking woman standing by,
"take this lad across to the club, and give him some
tea and cake; there's plenty there if you won't mind
WHAT MR. CRAIK DID. 77
just making the water boil once more. You go with
him, Jack, and I'll come as soon as I can get away."
Still sobbing, for in his weakened state-he had
eaten nothing that day, remember-he could not
easily stop the tears now they had once begun, Joe
was led across the road to the Working Men's Club,
where a truly royal feast of cakes and buns, left from
the "teachers' tea," was soon spread before him.
He was too faint and sick to eat much, but the hot
tea which Mrs. Mason very quickly brewed put new
life into him. The kindly old lady, content to obey
Mr. Craik without asking questions, pressed this and
that upon him; but seeing that he could not eat, she
did the best thing she could for the exhausted boy,
left him alone with Jack, and returned to the Mission-
room, lest "any other poor chaps" should be
Left alone with Jack, Joe's first words were, I'll
earn back that 'ere money somehow You give me a
bit o' time, and you shall 'ave it back. It's gone
from me now, worse luck."
Oh, never mind about the sovereign," said Jack,
who had been greatly touched by poor Joe's sobs,
and could now think of nothing but how to help him.
" You tell Mr. Craik all about everything, and he'll
set it all right. Here he is."
Run home, Jack," said Mr. Craik as he came
into the room, and tell your mother she may rely
Jack looked very wistful at this order. He did so
78 TRUST ME.
want to hear what Mr. Craik would say to Joe; but
he never dreamt of lingering, and with a Good-bye,
Joe," he was gone.
Not only did Jack never know what passed between
Mr. Craik and Joe; to no human ear did either
party in the interview confide it. God only knew
the tenderness with which the man, experienced in
every form of human sorrow and frailty, won from
the poor boy the whole truth; not alone about the
one piece of wrong-doing which had led to this
meeting, but of everything in Joe's short suffering
life. The results of that interview, however, were
patent to all the world, at least to all in the world
with whom Joe had to do in his after-life. For the
next three years no one except Mr. Craik, and
perhaps Mrs. Ronaldson, knew what had become of
Joe; the sovereign was returned to Jack by an un-
known hand, and even he had almost forgotten the
incidents of those three wonderful days, when all was
recalled to him again by the stopping at his mother's
shop of a carriage. Who was the footman who
jumped down from behind, and gave a thundering
rap at the side door? Could it be Joe? Yes, it
was Joe! And when Jack rushed to open the door
in wild excitement, Joe's hand was outstretched with-
out hesitation. Jack need not be ashamed to touch
that hand now, for it was clean, in every sense of the
"There's no one in the carriage, Jack!" said
Joe. We've just taken mistress to the station ; and
WHAT MR. CRAII DID. 79
who do you think mistress is ? Why, Mrs. Ronald-
son; I'm her footman now! And she's let me call
to take you to see my quarters, so you just jump up
and be took down in style."
Did Jack and Joe ever forget that drive ? For of
course Jack needed no second invitation. Breath-
lessly his mother was told, breathlessly he brushed
himself up," and breathlessly he listened to Joe's
story, as he sat on the box between the footman
and the spruce-looking coachman. The story was
scarcely told when Twickenham was reached, and
when the carriage stopped at the side entrance of the
Manor House, Joe was still telling how Mr. Craik
had gone to Ro's attic, and sat on the broken bed-
stead; how he had looked, how he had spoken, how
Mrs. Ronaldson had come when Mr. Craik couldn't
do no good with Ro," how she had won where even
Mr. Craik had failed, and how Ro was now working
hard in the colonies to win a character for himself.
"Fine letters he do write me too," added Joe as
the carriage drew up at the Manor House, the stable
boy who flung the big gates open touching his cap to
the footman with a broad grin.
There's Miss Alice, bless her!" said Joe, pointing
to a pretty girl leaning against the wall of the kitchen
garden adjoining the stable yard. "She and Mr.
Arthur and Mr. Mark are always at the fruit-trees.
Miss Alice almost lives here now."
"And I've given back the sovereign to Mr. Craik
out of my wages long ago," Joe went on, as he and
go TRUST ME.
Jack watched the unharnessing of the horses; "and
I say, these clothes are better than what I had on
the first time I clapped eyes on you, aren't they?
I remember I watched a sailor boy getting into the
train that day at the station, and I wished I'd got a
suit like him! But these are worth twenty of 'em;
and I seem as I've got respectable in myself, too, as
well as in my things. Oh, Jack, I'll never say I'm
glad I stole your sovereign; but I'm right down glad
I was found out! "
UNWIN BROTHERS, THE GRESHAM PRESS, CHILWORTH AND LONDON.
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