TIGaE. R't L23
rg Y AC K N
...... ... .
The Baldwin library
*r~ c~, 9
? . r.
r; : < .
ij r ; * '
A DOUBTFUL PRESENT.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
"' QUALITY FOGG'S OLD LEDGER,I" CICELY BROWN'S
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
56, PATERNOSTER RO; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
TIHE UNWELCOME GUEST.
T's hard enough times,"
S said Mrs. Thacker, "with
1 nine children of our own,
and ona as has no right
I -. to be here, and shouldn't
S ----- if I was master."
SShe spoke with some
emphasis. "Thunder Bet"
she was called, as became her character,
for she was well known among her neighbours
for the sharpness and vehemence of her speech.
The curate, who was passing her cottage and
had come in, turned to the corner of the room
where Bet's scowling glances fell, and there
beheld, squatting on the ground, a child with
4 TIGER JACK.
the strangest expression he had ever seen; very
clever, very wicked, and withal triumphant.
"Isn't that a new-comer? I never saw him
before," said the curate, looking on the face which
did not shrink from his gaze.
He've been here a week-that's a week too
long. Mine's bad enough; but he's a very piece
of destruction. Get up, you Jack !--What d'ye
sit grinning there for?"
"Jack" rolled himself round, and came upon
his feet in a way quite original. He would
have put his hands in his pockets; but it was
plain that all that remained of his nether gar-
ment was confined to the outer side, and even
that, as it went down his naked legs, became a
He stood before the curate, and his eyes made
a minute survey of him, beginning with his hat,
and ending with his boots, which he examined
as if he had been an amateur shoemaker.
"While he was thus engaged, Bet poured forth
"He'd a ought to ha' been transported,'long of
his father, that he ought! I'm sure he's only
TEE UNWELCOME GUEST. 5
left behind to get ready for the gallows. His
father is son to my husband afore he married
me. He's never had nothing but trouble with
him; now he's at the hulks. Good job; hope
as they'll keep him there; and this 'ere pattern
of wickedness is put upon us to keep. But I'll
see to it; if he's not tired of it, I am. I'm not
a-going to have my young 'uns made into thieves
and the like by his bringing' in; they're bad
enough already, besides having another mouth
to fill "
Jack did not take the slightest heed to any
of this, which, with much more, came from his
step-grandmother in tones of disgust and wrath.
IHe was evidently occupied with a subject of
more interest; his eye had risen from the boots
and was now curiously examining the curate's
Well," cried that gentleman, who was much
shocked and displeased with the woman's spirit,
and also struck, painfully, with the evil aspect
of the child, "send him to school on Sunday;
that is your only hope for him."
As he left the cottage he heard h3r voice in a
6 TIGER JACK.
still higher key, and a loud scream convinced
him that she had indulged in more decided
proofs of dislike. Should he return ? If he in-
terfered and saved the child this time, it would
not be of any use for the future; it might
exasperate her, and make her even worse to-
wards him; perhaps, too, the boy deserved it.
lie certainly was the most terrible-looking child
he had ever seen; so cunning and so hard.
"A reformatory," he thought, "if he really is
so bad-a reformatory is the place. I must see
about one for him. If he were to remain here
he would do harm among the children."
A feeling of pity thrilled through his heart
as the scene he had left rose before him.
"What a miserable hole! and to be hated for
intruding into it! Unhappy child, born in sin
horn among sin, brought up in sin, and thrown
into a refuge where sin reigns, I know."
Sad and weary, he walked on. A little rattle
over the gravel stones in the road made him
look up, and he saw Barny, who was by trade a
knife and scissors grinder, chair-mender, and
tinker-in-general, trundling his wheel along.
THE UNWELCOME GUEST. 7
The curate liked the old man much; he never
turned a deaf ear to his instructions; he was a
regular attendant on all the means of grace;
every cottage lecture found him in his place;
and he really looked as if he sought for the true
end in all sacred ministrations.
Mr. Desmond (the curate) expected to see a
shade of sorrow on his face now; but the old
man, who had a meat dinner in prospect, seemed
particularly cheery and bright.
"I've just come,from your house, Thacker,"
he said. "I'm sorry to hear you have had
trouble and disgrace, too, in your family."
"It's Bet makes a trouble of it, sir, and the
disgrace can't be helped. She wants to turn
the boy out to shift as he can; but I believe
he'd soon get into a bigger house than our'n, if
I was to do that, where he'd have a taste of
bread and water, and a thrashing or two to
sweeten it; and you see, sir, I can't find in my
heart to do it."
" Thacker, how is it that your family don't do
better? You are a constant attendant on the
means of grace. Surely you should look more
8 TIGER JACK.
to your own household." And after urging on
him his duty as a father, Mr. Desmond inquired
about the child Jack."
Why, this is it," said Barny. My first wife
was a good living woman, and it was no fault of
hers that John took the wrong road. She had
hopes of him, and she made me promise, when
she died, to consarn myself about him. And I
did. I took him to meetings, and learned him
the Bible a deal, till I married again. The mis-
fortune was, Bet never saw things that way, so
I was forced to give in. And the boy, he grew
up and went off and married, and lived very loose,
I'm afeard, till he got into this last trouble, and
sent me poor little Jack to keep him safe for the
poor old mother's sake; and that came like a
call on my conscience, and I couldn't do no
other than take him in, could I, sir ?"
Oh, you must keep him, no doubt; but
you will see how he goes on. I am afraid he is
older than his years," said Mr. Desmond.
"Old ? If you believe me, sir, he's frightful
old! Why, sir, no offence, you are a baby to
him, let alone me! As to Bet, I do believe he
THE UNWELCOME GUEST. 9
turns her into fun-every mortal thing she
does and says. And mischief! he is a 'speci-
ment,' and that you may be sure of, sir!"
"Is there no good point about him, think
you?" asked the curate.
"Well, sir, I got this to say for him: he's as
hard as a stone wall for everything besides, but
he loves his father, and I believe he'd do any-
thing for him; and that looks well for the father
and him too. I take it there must have been
summat of nature in John to make him breed
up the boy to lean to him. Women, good or
bad, mostly cares for their children when they
are little; but men, when they are give up to
sin, gets terrible heart-hardened even again their
"I am glad you see this slight hope. I won't
keep you now, Thacker; but, pray remember,
that whatever you may profess about the gospel
will go for nothing if you neglect your own
They parted, the curate turning towards his
lodging; Barny, sighing as he thought how easy
it was to remind him of an authority which he
10 TIGER JACK.
did not possess, to his cottage and his dinner-
the thought of which raised his spirits a little
before he entered the door, or his wife would
have presumed on his crestfallen appearance
as a token that he was giving way, and that
she would at last prevail to banish Jack.
Mr. Desmond sat down that evening to write
a sermon. He looked steadily on the sacred
volume open before him; but, unbidden, strug-
gled against, Jack's face rose continually to his
mind, and put all thought to flight.
"I wish I had not seen his wicked eyes,", he
said, almost peevishly; "as if there were not
enough work, and too much, already! What
can I do with him at the school ? He will be
fit for no class." Suddenly he thought of the
subject of his sermon, The gospel is the power
of God unto salvation;" then his mind went on
thus :-" Salvation! To whom ? To sinners-
to respectable sinners only? Not so: to the
miserable, destitute, hardened outcasts, to those
who must be 'compelled' to come in-to all
who come to Jesus for salvation. And who
brings the sinner to Him ? God the Holy Ghost.
TIE UNWELCOME GUEST. 11
Is He not sufficient for any case ? He is all-
sufficient! Then can He not bring this boy ?
Has He not already shown good-will towards
him in bringing him where he may hear of
Christ? Surely, then, it is with Him to carry
on and perfect His work. God forbid that I
should fret against it, or be a lukewarm fellow-
helper with Him !"
And in prayer that night, studiously trying
to fix his thoughts on the glorious omnipotence
and boundless love of Him before whom he
knelt (though it was difficult to keep out the
remembrance of that evil face), he supplicated
for mercy on poor outcast Jack; and this was
most likely the first prayer that human lips had
offered in his behalf, though Barny Thacker
had doubtless had his thoughts and sighs and
ejaculations concerning him.
A WASP AMONG TIE BEES.
.IIE parish of Barkley was ungainly to
"manage. The rector, whose health had
broken down, had been compelled to give
up the charge for a season to a substitute, and a
very good one he had in Mr. Desmond, whose
youth and want of experience were more than
balanced by his honest zeal, and aptitude for
grappling with the varieties of character he had
to deal with. He worked hard and heartily all
day and every day; yet at night, though glad
to think of much done, he seldom had the satis-
faction of feeling that he could rest a few hours,
without the pressure of "arrears on his mind.
But it was not night now, with its welcome,
needed rest, it was morning; bright, sharp, clear,
and glittering with cold sunshine, which, like a
sarcastic laugh, put on a pleasant semblance, not
to hide severity, but to heighten it.
A WASP AMONG THE BEES. 13
"Half-past eight!" he cried, as the little
clock in the corner chimed the half-hour, and
he hurried downstairs.
It was a fair walk to the school, which lay
near the rectory, where he might have domiciled
if he had chosen so to do; but it suited his
pocket better to live in a small lodging, and
receive the rent for which the rectory-a large
family house-was let to others.
Sunday! What a day for work Sunday was !
Was Sunday a "rest day," then-a "Sabbath to
Mr. Desmond ? Yes, it was, and of great refresh-
ment. Preaching to others brought home truth
to his own heart; teaching the children kindled
in him earnest desires to promote the kingdom
of the Saviour; and so it was with all other
Early as he was this Sunday morning, he
found the children buzzing round the school
porch like bees before a hive. They were always
busy, and generally made the most noise when
they saw him, for they loved him, as well they
might, seeing how truly he cared for them. He
never enforced discipline out of its place, so, till
14 TIGER JACK.
the clock struck nine, there was a vast deal of
business going on as the various classes drifted
into their places and made their arrangements,
the monitors, in exerting themselves to obtain
order, adding considerably to the BabeL But
the clock struck nine. Mr. Desmond held up
his hand from the master's rostrum, and there
was a deep calm. Then came the opening
prayer-simple, earnest, distinct. On rising, he
looked round on the children, while his heart
made a final appeal for help that his work might
The first thing he saw, and it put all other things
for the moment out of his head, was the convict's
child, whom his grandmother had with some
discrimination prophetically devoted to the
gallows. He was sitting on a form alone, look-
ing fixedly at him; his strange eyes shining
beneath a thick mat of hair ; a shapeless bundle
of clothes on his body. It was well that he had
not seen him sooner; if he had, he might have
found it difficult to collect thoughts-even words
He called his most efficient monitor and said.
A WASP AMONG THE BEES. 13
"That new child is grandchild to Barny Thacker.
Take him by you; I will see about him presently;
but you will have to be careful that he doesn't
Having thus for the present disposed of his
perplexing charge, he went to work, and was
deep in examining a class, when the monitor
declared, "he could do nothing if Barny
Thacker's boy was to be put upon him."
Send him here," said Mr. Desmond, in some
vexation, for he saw the dial going steadily on
while the work was still in arrears.
A very considerable clearance was made in
the road from the monitor's place to Mr. Des-
mond's corner, through which the offender
advanced in serene dignity, as if he were
making a royal progress, every one shrinking
from contact with him as he passed, which
was a thing not to be surprised at.
When Barny Thacker had had his dinner on
the day on which Mr. Desmond had charged him
with neglect of his family, he thought over the
reproof, and he felt in his conscience that,
although through his own incapacity and his
16 TIGER JACK.
wife's resolute will he was unable to do all he
ought, yet that he might do more than he did if
he exerted himself. He was ashamed when
he reflected on the misrule and misdoings that
were fairly to be laid to his indolence, and
he determined, God helping him, to strive
against his easy-going nature, and do his duty
The first step in this direction was his declara-
tion that Jack should go to Sunday school next
Him a lump o' dirt and no clothes to cover
him!" exclaimed Bet, in derision.
"I'll see to that; he shall go," said Barny.
Bet vowed he shouldn't wear any of her lads'
clothes, so Barny was forced to see to it," and
attire him from his own resources. Accordingly,
when Sunday morning came, he put him into
his own old jacket, turning in the sleeves and
tying it round the waist, and fitted him up from
head to foot, in corresponding attire, as well as
he could. Meantime Jack, who had been used
to a very simple wardrobe, and felt his grand-
father's improvements to be incumbrances,
A WASP AMONG TIE BEES. 17
departed, and was nowhere to be found when
the young Thackers staitel for school.
He might have been seen under a hedge at no
great distance, waiting till his young relations
had passed ; for he preferred an entrance on his
own account when he should make his appear-
ance at the school. As soon as he was secure
from interruption from them he followed, and
sidled in during the confusion that preceded the
And now his head, a bush of tangled curls,
that but for dust would have been black, coming
out of the top of his extempore dress, and his
feet in shoes much too large, he shuffled along
the avenue so willingly made for him, and stood
wholly self-possessed before the curate.
Had it not been for his face, his strange
figure must have provoked a smile; but Mr.
Desmond looked gravely at him, and said,-
"What have you been doing ?"
To which he replied calmly, "Nothing."
"Do you know what you are sent here for ?"
"What is your name ?"
18 TIGER JACK.
Which on 'em ?"
"How many have you ?"
"Why, there's 'Jack,' and 'Needles,' and
STiger,' and- "
That will do. Your proper name is John
Thacker. You know that, I suppose ?"
"Father's that," said Jack, looking down for
the first time.
Stand on one side for a few minutes-there,
behind that form-while I finish with this class.
I will speak to you presently," said Mr. Desmond,
seeing that he was beginning to cause distrac-
tion and diversion among the pupils.
Jack shuffled to the appointed spot, but not
to remain there long. He delivered himself
from his shoes, and glided from class to class, as
if to listen to what was going on, and suddenly,
seeming tired of the whole affair, he vanished,
so quietly that none heard him go, though
many whose attention he had wholly distracted
saw him slip out.
"Now where is that boy-John Thacker?"
said Mr. Desmond, closing an examination so
satisfactory that he was quite in spirits.
A WASP AMONG THE BEES. 19
Gone, sir !" answered several voices in con-
"All! well, you should have kept him; he
wanted watching," said the curate to the head
monitor, but relieved in his heart that for that
day, at any rate, they were free from him; and
now the work went on
Please, sir, Jemmy Green, he's got my slate
pencil; I'm sure he has," said one boy, pointing
Jemmy stoutly declared he was as sure he had
not, and that, moreover, he had lost his own.
Where's my hymn-book ?" Have you seen
my ticket bag ?" What's come of my text-paper?"
"Who's seenmy handkicher ? These and similar
inquiries grew into a hum that resounded from
all parts of the room.
"It's that young Thacker, sir; I'm sure it
is!" said a monitor; "he's up to all manner
of mischief I never saw anything like him."
"HIe's a terrible child, I'm afraid,' said Mr.
Desmond; "but we must do what we can."
However, so many losses in a small way were
sustained that the work could not properly pro-
20 TIGER JACK.
ceed, and the school closed before the usual
When the door was opened, a shout filled the
air. On the stone benches of the porch lay all
the missing articles, spread out in the greatest
order; not one was kept back.
He is only fit for a reformatory," cried the
curate. "He must not come here again."
TIHE TERRIBLE 'FORMATORY.
ITE young Thackers, when they got home,
informed their mother in Jack's presence
of all that had passed; and after relating all his
exploits, they assailed their unwelcome com-
panion Jack with the threat, "Parson's going
to put you into a 'formitory." But what a re-
formatory was they did not know. "Is it a
very bad place ? they asked, appealing to Bet.
"It's a sort of a prison," she replied, looking
at Jack; "and the right place for him; and
I'm glad he's been to school to show himself
off; for now he'll be got to the 'formitory, and
we shall be rid of him."
"'Formitory's wuss than prison," said Jack,
calmly, as if he, for the interests of useful
knowledge, wished to set his grandmother right
on the subject.
"It can't be too bad for you !" she replied.
22 TIGEU JACK.
"It's where they makes people good agin
their wills," said Jack, with the same philoso-
phical air, as if he were not at all personally
concerned in the matter.
Barny was very angry when his wife de-
scribed, in glowing colours, what had happened.
"There's nothing for him but a 'formitory,"
she wound up with. "Parson knows what's
for the boy's good, and you may be sure he'll
do it. You'll see; he'll have him in the 'formi-
tory before many days is gone."
Jack glanced up into his grandfather's face.
"Ah, my boy there's nothing else for you,
I believe," said the old man, sorrowfully; "and
if the parson's good enough to do it, and says it's
the best thing, you shall go !"
Jack's face lowered for a moment; but soon
the hard, cold brightness returned, and he took
the food his grandmother so grudgingly bestowed
on him, and went off out of doors to eat it alone,
in the old shed, saying in his heart, Me go to
the 'formitory ? No, not this time, not if I
knows it !"
Mr. Desmond had sincerely prayed for Jack
THE TERRIBLE 'FORMATORY. 23
that night; and he thought, when he rose from
his knees, he was glad, and would be glad of
another work, hard and trying, in doing which
he might serve his Master. "It is easy to do
easy and promising work," he thought; "but
such as this, which is at once a tax on spirit
and inclination, this is work which must be
done well, for it will need his special help; and
when Hie helps, how light the labour grows! "
Yet while he thus felt, the vision of that face so
accomplished in sin, so hardened against all
effort to reform, rose before him, and put to
flight the happy frame he had gained.
"After all," he said to himself, I am sure
that to allow such an adept in sin to remain
among the children will not do; besides, I am
not initiated enough in town wickedness and
the character it shapes to be a good, efficient
trainer for him. I must get him into some re-
formatory or industrial school; the very dread
I have of his remaining, though with hope of
good in the end I would willingly submit to
the task, convinces me that my duty is not to
take the case in hand, but to place it where the
24 TIGER JACK.
cure is most promising. Yes; I will see about
it to-morrow, I hope, and get him out of the
To-morrow, and the next day, and other days
came and went; but Jack kept out of Mr.
"When Jack's father had taken leave of him,
after his sentence of two years' imprisonment,
he had made him promise that he would stay
with his grandfather till the time was up, and
he was at liberty; then he told him he would
take him with him over the sea, and they would
live different lives, and do better than they had
Jack had no definite notion of what he would
find over the sea; but as life had not been alto-
gether a bed of roses on this side of it, the plan
commended itself to him strongly, hope being
as lively in him as it generally is in young
So, bound by the one-and only one-moral
restraint of keeping his word to his father, he
had resolved to stay at Barny Thacker's till the
two years had expired, though it was much
THE TERRIBLE 'FORMATOEY. 25
against his will, and equally contrary to his
judgment and his tastes, for he was sure he
could have got a living much more prosperous
and pleasant in his professional career of thiev-
ing, on which he had entered at a very early
John Thacker, the father, had a due estimate
of his sharpness and dexterity, and was afraid,
as it was coupled with excessive daring, it
might lead him beyond the bounds of safety.
He had also compunctious visitings-memories
that would come up of his mother's teaching
in his early days; and he hoped to be a dif-
ferent man, and bring poor Jack out of the
grievous ways in which he had so wickedly
suffered and even led him, if he lived to get
out of prison. Thus it was that he insisted
on the promise which he knew nothing would
tempt the boy to break.
Jack sat under the hedge behind the shed,
for greater privacy, eating his morsel, and
an extra bit, the prime of the whole dinner,
which Mrs. Thacker had set aside for herself,
but which, considering it much too good for
26 TIGER JACK.
her, he had dexterously purloined. He would
not have taken it from his grandfather; but
with the rest of the family, and Bet in especial,
he looked on himself as at open war, therefore
felt free to treat them with martial law when it
was in his power.
By the time his meal was finished he had
formed a plan by which he calculated on escap-
ing the 'formatory, which he dreaded for more
reasons than one. Being made good again his
will" was a very strong reason; but detention
beyond the time when his father would be ready
to take him over the sea, which he thought
might be the case, was stronger still. There
was a clear understanding in a definite sentence
to gaol; but to go to a "'formitory" till he was
made good, seemed a thing in the clouds, and
the end nowhere to be seen.
His plan was to propitiate Bet. He disliked
her so heartily that he had some trouble to
master his secret inclinations; but he saw no
other way. He was sure she entirely governed
the razor-grinder, and however well he might
be disposed towards his son's child, he had no
THE TERRIBLE 'FORMATOIrY. 27
confidence in his being able to protect him
against her determination to get rid of him.
When he returned to the house he found her
beating the cat for stealing her dinner, and bear-
ing in mind that she must be rather the worse
for so lively a disappointment, he was quiet
under her abuse and kicks and cuffs; and in the
evening, when the razor-grinder and his children
were at church, where she never appeared, he
sidled in and emptied the pockets of his grand-
father's jacket, which he was still wearing, of
"Where did you get them eggs?" she ex-
Found 'em !" he answered, innocently; but
looking at her to convey the offer of peace on
terms advantageous to herself.
"You mustn't go a-thieving," she said, very
mildly, considering her usual style.
"If I finds anything, I'll bring it to you," he
replied, with a peculiar expression easily under-
"Ah! but don't you see, things got that way
may come to cost more than they're worth I"
28 TIGER JACK.
she remarked, divided between a keen apprecia-
tion of the profits and risk of the proceeding.
"That's if it's found out," said Jack, with a
"Al! to be sure; and you'll be found out,
cute as you are, if you don't mind. There's
Mrs. Hughes, of the mill-now you might as
well try to steal the sun out of the sky as to
take eggs from her without her catching you."
"Them's hern!" said Jack, nodding at the
"Oh, dear! Then we shall have the police
after 'em," cried Bet, starting up to hide them.
Jack grinned, and assured her there was no
danger; he had a gift that way, and had no
doubt, if she would like to make him useful, he
should be able to earn his board handsomely.
I believe you," she said, looking at him with
mingled fear and admiration; "but you'll be
teaching the children to do it ?"
No," said Jack, shaking his dusty curls.
"I don't hold that thieving is right, nor no
wickedness as is counted sich; but when one
person wants, and another has got more than
TIE TERRIBLE 'FORMATORY. 29
enough, it seems hard-I own to that," said Bet.
"Same time, Jack, don't you go to say I put
you to steal for me I hopes to keep a good
name-mind that "
"Mrs. Hughes has got lots of eggs, and fowls
too," said Jack, paying no attention to the end
of his grandmother's speech.
"Yes, she has," said Bet, thoughtfully.
You like fowls ?" asked Jack.
"Who doesn't? But how could I cook a fowl
and nobody find me out?" said Bet, im-
"Change it for summat 1" said Jack. "I got
a friend as buys old clothes and bones and
"Fowls isn't clothes, nor bones, nor rags,"
"That's how you look at it; he's not any
ways partickler," said Jack.
"What's his name ?" inquired Bet.
"You calls him Reeves,'" said Jack.
"Reeves! What! him, the rag-man, a friend
of your ?" cried Bet, in surprise.
Not a friend, as you may call him," said
30 TIGER JACK.
Jack, growing quite confidential; "but he's in
the trade, and did business in our line in town.
I know'd him when I see him, at once."
A wide opening for the improvement of her
circumstances appeared to Bet. After more
parley, Jack agreeing to take all the work both
of getting goods and negotiating their sale on
" :.i ..iE, as also all responsibility in case of
detection, a treaty was struck up.
But Bet enjoyed only so much of his confi-
dence as suited his purpose; he had a reserve.
The razor-grinder was quite charmed at the
alteration in his wife's manner to his outcast
"I told you the boy only wanted patience,"
said the old man- patience and teaching. I
hope we'll make a man of him yet!"
Bet could have told him he was "a man"
already; but she kept her counsel.
All the grandfather's powers were not enough
to get Jack now to the school. Bet and the boy,
being correctly agreed on the inexpediency of
the proceeding, carried their point, and week
"after week he kept securely aloof.
THE TERRIBLE 'FORMATORY. 31
Det declared, among the gossips, that he was
"a regular altered boy;" and as, in addition to
this, he let the children alone, and did no
apparent mischief, he became a dead letter, and
As time went one, the rumours thickened of
property being unsafe; eggs and fowls from
poultry-yards, geese from the common, even
butter and cheese from the dairies, clothes from
hedges, and nearly all kinds of portable articles
disappeared. The fox was charged with the
poultry, the magpies with the eggs, and the cat
or dog with the butter; but neither fox, mag-
pie, cat, nor dog would steal a whole cheese,
nor take clothes, nor rob onion-beds. There
must be a thief somewhere, and nobody won-
dered more than Bet Thacker who the thief
Meantime a little leather purse, which had
travelled from another pocket into hers through
the medium of Jack, swelled to large propor-
tions with gains which she feared to spend, lest
she should attract suspicion to the truth.
Sometimes terror would seize her at the course
32 TIGER JACK.
she had adopted; but Jack so calmly assured
her that he took nothing but what could well be
spared, and that it was a matter of conscience
with him to pay for his board, and his detection
was a thing impossible, that she was quieted,
though she thought she should be glad, on the
whole, when he was gone, and gains and fears
gone with him.
Jack, for prudential reasons, had not improved
in costume since his coming to Barkley. His
grandmother had made a parade now and then
of sewing up one slit, which generally brought
another, through the narrowing of the stuff; but
these repairs did not affect his appearance,
which made school and church impossibilities.
His object was to escape from Mr. Desmond's
observation; with him the reformatory was con-
nected, and he earnestly desired never to set
eyes on anything connected with him again-
one thing excepted-his gold watch-guard.
One day, as he was "after business," osten-
sibly gathering wool and picking up sticks, he
saw a figure advancing, which sent him with all
speed up a tree. He knew well the upright
THE TERRIBLE 'FORIMATORY. 33
carriage and measured walk, though the figure
was far distant-it was a policeman.
His heart beat; it was not the day on which
that official usually made his appearance. What
could he want ?
He had an indistinct apprehension that he
was in some way the cause of the visit. He
suffered him to pass, and saw that he took the
way to Barny's cottage.
Speedily, when he was out of sight, he
descended, and, unloading his wool-bag and
stick-bundle of things that would not bear
public inspection, he hid them in the tree, and
The policeman, who had had words on the
subject of the robberies with Bet, was standing
at the door, and eyed him keenly as he ad-
What have we here? he cried, seizing the
wool-bag, which Jack, with a silent laugh, gave
"Got good sticks ?" cried the policeman,
finding nothing but wool in the bag, to Bet's
34 TIGEE JACKc.
Jack let down the fagot with an indifference
that assured her, and she assailed the man with
reproaches, in a tone of injured virtue, for com-
ing to search honest people.
" This young fellow is no stranger to us," he
answered. His father, more shame for him !
sharpened his wits to some purpose; and the
only wonders tltIva. 1,, i 1.. : t ,,t ,oft' tr.,il .l? I ::
long ; but now, I give you warning, we're on the
: ,:-,llt, ,1 th filt ti l, .': ::th youin,off
Bet railed on him as he stalked away for
taking away honest people's characters, and for
trying to ruin a poor orphan because his father
was bad; but he only laughed satirically, re-
peated his warning, and walked on.
Jack described his escape to his grandmother,
and told her that now he was suspected he must
give up business for the present; and Bet,
though vexed at the interruption, saw the
necessity of it, and submitted.
A STRANGE QUESTION.
..-EANTIME Jack felt a misgiving that
I r:,;e\. had, while intoxicated, let some-
thing escape concerning him, which had
put the police after him, and knew well, if it
were so, he had no prospect of more work in
Barkley, so he resolved on providing another
home for himself. He foresaw that, with the
profits he had brought to Bet, her forbearance
and civility would vanish; she was unfriendly
to him for other reasons besides his being a
burden; she disliked his being a match, and,
she sometimes suspected, more than a match
for herself; she was jealous, too, of his supe-
riority to her boys in sharpness. A home with
her, therefore, even if she consented to keep
him, would be anything but pleasant; yet he
was determined to stand firm to his promise to
his father, at least to the spirit of it: he would
keep clear of the police, and find a home where
?6 TIGER JACK.
lhe might remain in safety until the two years
But what home could he get? Where was
he to look for friends ? and he had but little
money. True, in his sales with Reeves, who
had always taken the lion's share of the profits
in purchasing, he had kept back as much as he
dared for himself from the price given before
handing it over to his grandmother; but would
this suffice to buy him a home ? Certainly not.
While he thought matters over, the glittering
vision of Mr. Desmond's watch-chain rose
before his mind. That would be more than
enough for him. He would not sell it to
Reeves; he would get away to London, to
dealers who would be more generous than the
hard old rag-man. He had never entirely for-
gotten that gold chain; now it came with the
strong prompting, "I am what you want; take
me !" and he answered, "I will."
In the evening, as twilight was setting in, he
made his way to the curate's lodgings. The
mistress of the house started back as if she had
seen an adder.
A STRANGE QUESTION. 37.
"Please, is parson at home ?" he asked, fixing
his glittering eyes on her.
"Mr. Desmond ? There! off the step! we
don't want you so close!" she cried, with evi-
Jack despised her for her fear of him, and
hated her for her scorn. He knew what she
meant: "You are the convict's boy, and will
thieve, like your father!" But he seemed to
feel nothing of the kind, as he repeated his
inquiry in submissive tone.
"What do you want with Mr. Desmond at
this time of day ?" she asked, half shutting the
"I wanted to ax him summat," he answered,
"He's busy over his books, and can't be hin-
dered," she said, no way propitiated by his
Jack did not speak; but stepping back into
the street, looked up at the window, and saw the
curate's face. "He's a-lookin' out o' winder," he
said; "he've done his books. Please say as
Jack wants to ax him summat."
38 TIGER JACK.
Very reluctantly the landlady went to the
stairs, from the top of which the curate was
inquiring who wanted him, for he had over-
heard voices below.
" It's that boy of Thacker's-the grandson,
you know. I've told him you're busy, and
closed the door. He'll be off now; he's only
come begging-or thieving more likely."
"Did he beg ?" asked Mr. Desmond.
"No, sir; he said he wanted to 'ax' you
'summat,'" said the landlady.
"I think I had better-I must just speak to
him. Call him back, and let him in," said
"In, sir ? What, that heap of dirt, and a born
thief, up my carpets, and in your room!" cried
the landlady, in dismay.
"Yes, he is dirty; but I must see him. Let
him come up," said the curate, who had heard
reports of an evil kind concerning Jack that
very day, and was sorely conscience-stricken
that his carelessness had left him without
teaching all this time. He had resolved that
evening to look him up on the morrow, "And
A STRANGE QUESTION. 39
now my work is brought to my very door," he
thought. Yet he did not know what to say to
him. Stern words would have no effect, and
the lad was so thoroughly hardened that there
seemed no possibility of softening him by kind-
ness. Mr. Desmond shrank even from the
semblance of harsh measures, and could but
breathe a prayer that wisdom might be given
him to deal aright with this case that appeared
humanly so hopeless.
The landlady submitted with a very bad
grace, and reopened the door and called Jack
in. IHe was not far off; he had waited for the
issue, which was what he had anticipated.
Triumph gleamed in his eyes as he passed her.
A little revenge would have been sweet; but
that would not have suited his present purpose,
even if he could have taken it.
" Keep in the middle-on the drugget-don't
touch the paint!" she cried, as with outraged
feelings she followed him up the stairs; but
when he chose it, he was as light and agile as a
cat, and seemed to leave no marks of contact
40 TIGER JACK.
He stood in the dim light before the curate,
who was at his table, and who, after a few
seconds, asked, "What is it you want?"
"Iwt- ti.:. .. a .lu.:.r," said Jack, fixing
his eyes on him.
"The way to do that is to deserve one. You
have, I hear, gained a bad one."
"What must I do, please ?" demanded Jack,
whose eyes, while Mr. Desmond was speaking,
had taken a rapid survey of the room.
"You must do many things-you must come
to school to learn what to do. Your grand-
father told me to-day that he couldn't persuade
you to come to the school," said Mr. Desmond.
"'Twarn't noways possible," said Jack, im-
What! the old story, I suppose-no clothes ?"
asked the curate.
No," replied Jack; "didn't mind the clothes
a deal; but you said as you'd send me to the
"I did; and from what I have seen and heard
of you, I think it would be the best and kindest
thing I could do," said Mr. Desmond.
A STRANGE QUESTION. 41
"Don't-don't send me there! I'll go to school,
and do all as you tells me," said Jack.
His tone was affectingly earnest; but there
was s',, evil a 1. :il Ili ,I,.: t1 t lr'. D, iemnd
was at once drawn to and repelled from him.
Jack did not contradict him.
"If I try and teach you what is for your good
in this life and the nrext-teach you to leave off
bad ways, and take to good ones, will you try toc
learn? You know how you behaved when last
you came to the school ?"
Jack very deliberately told him he did all he
did to avoid having to go again, expecting to be
turned out on account of it.
"And why do you want to get a character ?"
Jack was silent.
"I am afraid you have led a very bad life,
young as you are," said the curate.
Jack seemed to think this was irrelevant
matter, and looked everywhere but at the
"You are much older in sharpness than in
42 TIGER JACK.
Jack thought he could have supplied him
" I am afraid your father's sad fate has not
earned you from following his example, as it
should have done," said the curate.
A dark cloud passed over the child's face, not
of sorrow so much as of bitter anger. Mr.
Desmond thought he discerned it through the
"You are fond of your father?" he said,
remembering what Barny had told him of the
one hopeful point.
The dark cloud passed; for a moment a vivid
light succeeded it.
"You would be glad to help your father ?"
"Can't-can't get nearest 1im for two years!"
exclaimed Jack, eagerly.
" But you may help him for all that," said
Mr. Desmond; then added, replying to the sur-
prised curiosity of the boy's face, I cannot tell
you now how you may help him; but if you
will come to school steadily, and follow my
advice, I will show you the way to be the best
friend he ever had."
A STRANGE QUESTION. 43
"And you won't send me to 'formitory ?"
"No; if you keep your word, I will keep
mine; and to show you I mean it, I will give
you some clothes to take to your grandmother,
that you may come to school decently." So
saying, the curate went into the adjoining bed-
Jack's eyes were instantly on the watch and
chain which hung on the stand before the
writing-book; but he was divided about this
prime object of his visit. It would not be pos-
sible to escape with it now; besides, what was
parson going to tell him that would help his
father? He would wait a bit and see.
"It's to be hoped your grandmother will putyou
under the pump before she sets you out in those
good clothes," cried the landlady, grudgingly
beholding the bundle as he went downstairs.
Jack did not heed her; he had a new feeling
in his heart. Parson had said in parting, "Now,
remember, you are able to help your poor
father, who loves you." So parson did not count
"poor father" a wild beast, though he was a
44 TIGER JACK.
convict. Hi gr'i.imithier I:.l tolerated him
for gain's sake; in her heart he knew that she,
with all the world, hated and scorned his father
and him as vagabonds and thieves. He repaid
hate and scorn with hate and scorn. His grand-
father he looked on as a sort of shadow of his
father; but parson, he did not hate them. He
said "poor father." He was strangely moved
"What game are you up to now ?" exclaimed
Bet, as Jack demurely produced the bundle and
unfolded the articles Mr. Desmond had given
"Going to turn good," he answered, with a
gravity in which his grandmother put no con-
"Much of that!" she cried. "I think if
Parson Desmond has so much clothes to give
away, he might have give 'em to my boys, as
has always been so good, before giving 'em to
you, as is only going to begin."
Jack, whose heart was noways weak on the
subject of outward adornment, immediately
proposed that his uncles should have the benefit
A STRANGE QUESTION. 45
of Mr. Desmond's liberality, and he would be
content with some of their clothes in exchange.
"Well, that 'ud be a good convenient bargain
for you, being as they'd fit off-hand, and these
'ud cost a power for tailoring, afore you could
wear one on 'em," remarked Bet, chuckling
inwardly over the superior "cast-offs" for her
eldest and favourite boy.
Jack expressed himself perfectly satisfied with
the arrangement, and having received such
garments as Mrs. Thacker thought sufficient,
departed to the pump, which he drew upon
largely, and took off some shades of extraneous
complexion. He preferred the dark for this
operation, as he had less interruption, and a
chance of getting dry in the night.
TACK looked as if walking and every other
movement was a restraint to him. The
fetters of decent clothes that fitted were
more confining than Barny's loose attire had
been; but whatever he felt, the change in his
appearance created quite a sensation in the
family. He I:, sri.i.y d: ii;4l tli t.th '
the family comb, which lay for general use in
the window, by trying to tug through the
tangles of black curls; but the effects of his
labour were more apparent on the comb than
on the curls, which could not reasonably be
expected to submit immediately to such entirely
His entrance into the school was not flatter-
ing to his feelings, if he had any on the subject.
The children shrank from him; his improved
exterior did not remove their prejudice against
him. The whisper went round, "Take care of
rooR JACK. 47
your pencils, your bags, your pockets," &c. But
he seemed to see and know nothing of all this.
He took a place on a vacant form waiting for
Mr. Desmond's orders.
He was there for a special end-to know
how I, ..... l L.1 1, r
nences as the scorn and dislike of thc.i ';.1..
went over his head,-not, however, 1;..,:, -it
,.l lg -, 1.T t.,t ,. k..,h h ,yin his heart,
As the work of the school advanced, he sat
silently watching. At length Mr. Desmond
backoned him to his seat, and again said, "You
can't read ?"
Jack not replying, he turned him over to an
alphabet class, saying in a low voice, Take
pains; that will be the first step towards help-
ing your father !
Now, as he knew the alphabet quite as well
as the curate himself, lie felt inclined to ask
what the "second step" might i., C,; ,: t, J;:t
was already accomplished; but as reserve on
that point might ..: c:. i ,li. nt. h:- ,:ii; ly :, i, iit
to the class and seemed sedulously engaged in
48 TIGER JACK.
While his eyes were bent on the A B C card,
he was de1istii '.vitlinli hLim :lIf what his being
so employed, or being there at all, could have to
do with his father; but he trusted Mr. Desmond,
and having learned the art of patience under
more trying circumstances, and for very inferior
ends, he was content to wait.
But, as it would not do to learn too fast, he
sat sideways, that while he seemed studying
lul, : miShilt v.hile c.:y thi tinm': b.y glancing
at what went on around him.
" How do you find him ?" asked Mr.
Desmond of the monitor.
"Very dull, sir; he doesn't know any-
" Ignorant, no doubt, not 'dull.' Send him
Jack could not resist saying the alphabet
straight through when the curate held the card,
and then looked up in his face as much to say,
" But about father ?"
Mr. Desmond commended him, and bid him
stand by and listen while he questioned a class
on the chapter they had read; and though
POOR JACK. 49
father disgusted and very tired of what seemed
to him such aimless work, he obeyed, being
somewhat struck with the lively interest the
children took in answering the questions. As
to the questions themselves, he paid no heed to
them: they were on subjects of which he was
as ignorant as he professed to be, and he was
heartily glad when that was over, and he was
alone by the curate.
" Now, Jack, we shall go to church in a few
minutes. I have not seen you there yet; I
hope your grandfather has taken you to some-
"where in the evening."
Jack had no wish to go to church, and while
the curate was trying to teach him what his
conduct ought to be in a place of worship, his
eyes were fixed on the watch-guard with an
expression which, though Mr. Desmond had
no suspicion of its origin, distressed him, for it
showed he was not taking in any of his lecture.
"If I see you misconducting yourself, or
setting on others to ill-behaviour, I shall have
no hope of being able to help either you or your
father," he added, a little sternly.
50 TIGER JACK.
Help his father! That was the key-note.
His spirit was charmed by it, as a better look
"When the procession of twos and threes to
the church was formed, no one was found will-
ing to walk with Jack. He was a convict's
son, also he was a suspected character, and
altogether an admitted danger and disgrace.
The young Thackers had decamped foremost,
to avoid being identified with him. No one
remained but a small boy, who could not find
his cap; but having found it, was fast following
the last couple.
"David," said the curate, "Jack has no
companion:' David's colour rose, his eyes
opened very wide, and he said nothing. Run
on," cried the curate; "Jack and I will walk
There was n stru.le l.etwven Ull .it an-l 1.1:-
ness, love and hatred, in Jack's breast, such as
he had never known. To be shunned by
urchins from whom he could have got nothing
worth having by his cleverest feats, stung and
exasperated him; but that a grown man. a
POOR JACK. 51
man unlike any human being he had ever seen,
that he should take his hand (on which the
pump had made little impression), speak kindly
to him as they walked along, show openly
that he did not look on him as a thing
accursed-this penetrated his heart, and fairly
"Now, Jack," said Mr. Desmond, who saw
the light that glanced through his darkening
face, and the quiver that it trembled with-
"now, Jack, you want to serve your father; we
are going to 'our Father's' house; his, and
yours, and mine; and it is He only who can
help him, and help you to help him."
"Grandfather's?" cried Jack, amazed and
"No," said Mr, Desmond, smiling; "we are
going to 'Our Father which art in heaven'
Do you know the Lord's Prayer. Jack ?"
"Grandfather taught me summat of ''Chart
in heaven;' but I can't say it off, not all on
it," replied Jack.
" God, our Father, will be in His house to-day.
Listen to the prayers as they are offered; and
52 TIGER JACK.
when you hear one for prisoners and captives,
think of your father in prison, and remember,
God, who will be there, will hear that prayer
for him, if in your heart you say Amen'to it."
Jack's utter ignorance prevented him from
taking in much of this and more that I r.
Desmond said; but he resolved on one thing-
he would be all right in his conduct; he had an
important business in hand, which was worth
the trial of two hours' confinement with good
behaviour; a sentence, to his restless tempera-
ment, almost as bad as imprisonment for a much
longer period with hard labour.
His ready wit enabled him to do as others
did, so that no one seeing him would have
guessed he was a stranger there. For a long
time he listened to what went on; but he
heard nothing that related specially to his
father, so he grew very tired of it all, and when
he thought it safe to do so, looked about with a
vague expectation of seeing something more
than merely human beings.
What did Mr. Desmond mean by saying,
'God would be there? When would God
POOR JACK. 53
come? How should he get to Him ? or was
God there now, in some one of those tall pews
he couldn't see into ?"
These speculations helped to pass the time
till the sermon began. In that Mr. Desmond
said many things meant for his special good;
but the arrows slid beside him. He thought
he would never have done talking, and not a
word had he heard nor a thing had he seen
which consoled him for the wearisomeness of
being there. At last the service ended, and
Mr. Desmond returned to his lodging. He had
fields to walk through, and was crossing the
last stile when he spied Jack, who had out-
walked him, sitting under the hedge.
"Didn't see nothing of God A'mighty," he
"said, somewhat reproachfully. "Couldn't ask
Him nothing about father."
"God is a Spirit," said the curate, startled,
"We cannot see Him: but He was there, and
is here at this moment.
Jack looked sharply round, and asked,
"Please, how do you know He is here, if you
can't see Him?"
54 TIGER JACK.
"Because He has told me so," said the
"Wish as I know'd how to ax Him for
father to get free-so I do," said Jack, wist-
"Very well; only He can see us here.
Kneel down and say, 'Lord, teach me how to
" But I don't mind about being reached that,"
said Jack, impatiently; "you said as I should
be showed how to help father."
"True; God will show you when you have
learned to ask Him."
" But you said summat of 'praying,' like
what grandfather talks about," Jack expostu-
" Well, asking is praying," said the curate.
A look of awakened intelligence passed
through Jack's face; asking seemed practicable,
but praying was not for such as he was; it was
for parson and grandfather to do that.
"And is God here ?" he asked, earnestly.
"He is indeed," said the curate, affected by
the child's manner.
POR .JACK. 55
"Then I'll ask Him. What shall I say ?
Please, God A'mighty, to help poor father ?"
"Say, 'Lord, teach me to pray,'" repeated
Jack couldn't see the use of this. If asking
-, 1JAtyI I_ ,V% .: t 11', hIe ,. ,t L he knew
how to ask, so he must needs know how to pray.
le looked perplexed, and said, May be you
could ax Him better nor me; I wish as you'd
"Kneel again, and we will pray together,"
said Mr. Desmond; and he knelt on the green-
sward, and prayed that spiritual light and life
might be given to the child and his father.
His solemn and hearty outpouring touched
Jack at the moment while he listened; he
watched the face of his pleading companion, and
felt as if he must be quite sure God was there,
and could hear him. When Mr. Desmond told
him to come up to him that evening, he
assented eagerly; but when he was alone, and
following the hasty steps of his friend with wist-
ful eyes, a chill of disappointment fell on his
heart. There was nothing very understandable
56 TIGER JACK.
in the hope that had been held out to him.
"Was there anything at all in it ? Mr. Desmond
"was good; he felt strong gratitude to him; but
the respect he had entertained for his power to
help began to fade. "I can't see God. How
do I know if God was here ? When did He
tell him He was here ? He is not here now!"
He walked moodily on. Should he keep up
this wearisome experiment? School again that
aftelc .a. ,, z _lhl. th:, t esie ?
Another incident was working ill for the ful-
filment of the curate's good wishes towards
him. WI.n th- 1, L lt. l L. ith i.1. t
hedge his face had been on a level with the
watch-guard; he could have dulled it with his
breath; one snatch and it would have been his.
Side by side with his better thoughts did this
oije tl-.,1 ihri:.. : i :i tly knelt. He
did not entertain it then as a thing lie could or
even vw .tldd di.'; but a:,e.'. it ltiliti..l l.:,Li. 1.itL
terrible force that that was the true, sensible
way of helping his father. If he could get a
good sum for it, he might live hard and save a
great part for him against he got free. His
IPOOR JACK. 57
already practised eye had melted down and
weighed it, even while they were side by side
under the hedge. What might not be done
with such a prize? Perhaps, as Reeves had
once hinted, in order to induce him to return to
" the trade if he got enough to advance to the
thieves' fund, something c(:ol.I .l ni':- to: g.:t a
remission of the sentence, and his father might
be free before the time; the thought filled his
heart with exultation. A return to liberty,
escape from bondage, from dwelling among
those that hated and despised him, from the
restraints of decency and decent people, from
the it,:.lec l.,l f.tti, ,f l:l e outo.f .l show of
religion which he must wear if he continued to
look for Mr. Desmond's help-all this came
flooding into his heart, and he determined, as
the temptation rose, to give up the mockery of
goodness. He had .':.u 1 A i i: 0ui: tie uri. -
guised wicked; he was free among them; he
would return to them!
Then he thought of his grandfather; but
what did he do for him ?--fight for a morsel of
bread for him. His graud.l .cth.i '-:Le was
58 TIGER JACK
worse than the worst of his old companions.
The rest of those who shunned and upbraided
him, they were as smoke in his eyes--but Mr.
Desmond ? Yes, there was a strange move-
ment in his heart towards him; he was like no
one he had ever seen. If the yoke needful to
learn in order to please him were less galling,
if it were not for the glitter of that gold chain,
he would remain and see if anything came of
But "When the evil spirit is gone out of a
man, it walketh through dry places, seeking
rest, and findeth none;" and returning, "lie
taketh with him seven other spirits more
wicked than himself, and they enter in and
So it was with poor Jack; and every step
that he took towards his grandfather's house his
heart grew harder, and when he stood in silence
to receive his meal, his eyes brightened with
exultation in the thought that it should be his
Little suspecting the truth, Mr. Desmond
pursued his way, cheered by hope that he
POOR JACK 59
might be useful, though the evil face would rise
before him and interfere with his bright imagin-
ings. He resisted the voice that said in his
heart, What such a determined child of sin
be turned to God and holiness ? Such old wit
and wisdom in so young a brain be met by your
efforts ?" He might have said, "Get thee
behind me, Satan;" for, indeed, it is thus that
Satan tries to draw off helpers from those he
would make and keep his own. Whether it
was the natural unbelief of his heart or the
suggestions of the evil one, he went the best of
all ways to work; he wove his hopes and desires
into prayers, saying, "Lord, I believe! help
Thou mine unbelief ;" and it was a cordial to
him when he had done this to remember, after
he had gone over the promises of answer to
prayer, the words of a Christian man : I never
despair of one for whom God has put it into
my heart to make special prayer."
To return to the object of his prayer. There
was an old ruined shed in a swampy field; it
was the usual meeting-place of Jack and the
rag-man for transacting business. To this he
60 TIGER JACK.
betook himself after his dinner, intending to
remain there till evening should come, and lend
its shadows for l!i ni:.diti:t d oni-.
To his surprise, as he climbed over the broken
roof to the hole of the small cavity left by
the fragments of mud and stick, he smelt
He peered cautiously round; but the rag-
man had seen him through a crevice, and softly
" What brings you to-day ?" exclaimed Jack,
"P'raps I was a-going to church along of
you; how genteel we are!" replied the rag-
Jack was half affronted; but very soon he
had confided to this emissary of the tempter his
intentions to run 'w.lv th.t ni.lht, l.:.tt,, tf:l a
mysterious hint that he would not leave empty-
handed. Cunning as he was, and cautious,
Reeves was too much for him. By dint of
large assurances of the power of their associates
to get good help for his father's release if they
had but money to pay the expense, he so over-
POOR JACK. 61
came him, that he went from his determination
not to trust the rag-man with the secret of the
watch and chain; but told him how he had
planned to get it, if possible, that night, when
he went to see Mr. Desmond by his own desire.
Reeves highly applauded him, and told him
that he had come purposely to see if he could
get a talk with him, because he thought it such
a pity he should be losing his time there when
he might be doing a safe trade and making a
fortune. He told him his cart was in a con-
venient place, and when he had got his prey he
had only to run to the cross roads, through the
wood, and he would find him waiting to carry
him to London.
Jack would not have been surprised if he
had known the fact that the rag-man was there
on his own business without any reference to
him, for he had not, as a rule, any faith in his
word or motives.; but a strange confusion was
in his heart now; he forgot everything in his
eager desire for the gold that was to liberate his
father. They sat talking over schemes of the
future till the time came for the visit to the
62 TIGER JACK.
curate, Reeves using all his heart to strengthen
his companion in his wicked resolve.
Readers, there is a street in London, inhabited
in generations long past by some of the rank
and fashion of the metropolis. If you walk
through it now, on a Sunday morning, at the
time that Christian people are going to and fro
to their various places of worship, you see no
sign of Sabbath rest nor of Sabbath reverence,
but open shops with goods paraded from the
doors of some, and the open shutters of the
cellars where many a squalid family is hived,
covered with shoes and boots, all miraculously
polished and set forth in tempting brightness
for sale. Every here and there among them
stands a woman, or a man, or a boy, with brush
in hand, adding to their numbers. They are most
probably, many of them, stolen; many are taken
from dust-heaps; perhaps, with few exceptions,
they would scarcely hold together for a day's
pilgrimage. If you chance to wall there on
a Sunday morning, as I once did in my way to
worship, you will see these dismal Sabbath-
breakers at their labour, and you will see their,
POOR JACK. 63
surroundings, and their faces, on which godless-
ness has set its hopeless seal; and you will
understand what Jack's training was, who had
such a mother as one of these, and a father
weak, and easily won to wickedness, who, when
his wife forsook him, had the single merit of
sharing with hi- :lhil. tl i, .l i:-t w ein when he
got it, and of protecting him as he could from
injury from others; and, understanding it, you
will not wonder, with a depraved nature to
prompt him, and Satan to entice him, that Jack
was jubilant at the prospect of what he now
"We remember the martyr who used to say,
when he saw a criminal going to execution,
"But for the grace of God, there goes John
Bradford!" Let those who have been blessed
with a better childhood lay to heart their
privileges, and render to God a good increase of
his mercies; and oh! that such as know by
experience the peace and pleasantness of
wisdom's ways would do what in them lies to
rescue such as are truly "sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death "
A WISE RESOLVE, SHOWING THAT WISDOM IL
BETTER THA1N RUBIES.
T was nearly nine o'clock when Jack stood
before the curate's door.
He was sorry he was so late; but he
hoped it was the best time. He knew church
must be over, and concluded that he was sitting
down with his books.
"You can't see Mr. Desmond now," said the
landlady, looking with no good grace on him;
"he has got somebody with him."
"He bid me to come. I'll stop till that un
goes," said Jack.
It's your grandfather, and I don't know how
long he may stay; and perhaps he's come to tell
something about you-he looked very troubled;
so hadn't you better go home? and I'll tell Mr.
Desmond you came; and you can be here by
eight in the morning, and he'll be sure to see
A WISE RESOLVE. 65
The landlady had a strong objection to a
I1Lt v .t ,fr..u .T., T .. f whose evil talents and
propensities she had a natural dread; and al-
though she would have preferred his keeping
away altogether, yet daylight was better than
the dark to receive him in. But he, struck as
he was by tllhe snew- Of hip gZ 11-i l.C.11 ip-
stairs, and wondering somewhat if his errand
there involved him, was not to be turned fiom
his purpose. He declared his fixed resolve to
stay till he could see Mr. Desmond, where-
upon the door was closed on him, and he seated
himself on the step and leaned against the
.t:iii,.l, that ran all the way up to the
Waiting was never a pleasant occupation to
him. He looked at the pipe, and saw that it
went close by the little balcony before Mr.
Desmond's window; the lamp was lighted he
knew, and the shutters v.- r.. ,p:nu, 5, h.-t cIonl.
see by the soft light that came through the
muslin curtains. If hi ..t up into th,, 1,Ieony
he could see what was going on between parson
and grandfather, even if he could not hear;
66 TIGE JACK.
moreover, he could see whereabouts the watch
was, whether it was upon the stand.
In little less time than a cat would have
accomplished it, he stood among the landlady's
flower-pots in the balcony, and saw Mr. Desmond
and his grandfather on their knees. This
troubled him; the thought came immediately
that God was there, perhaps. He descended as
quickly as he got up; but not before he had seen
that the watch lay on the table, nearly hidden
by an open letter.
He had scarcely regained the stop when the
door opened, and the landlady, with evident
reluctance, invited him in. Mr. Desmond had
jut ma- L.:r iuindLan tL1:L I:,iny was wait-
ing for his grandson's arrival, and aLe tihen told
him he was outside. The prospect of seeing
them depart together very soon was her only
,r- 1 i.1' i ying I 'k orders.
Jack felt uncomfortable as he went up the
stairs, though from a different cause than that
which disturbed the landlady, and when he stood
before Mr. Desmond, he was sensible of an
I ir.:ls i .e.
A WISE RESOLVE. 67
He was not a little relieved by that gentleman's
kind look and manner, also by the affection with
which his grandfather, who was apparently in
trouble, as the landlady had said, regarded him.
Jack," said Mr. Desmond, your grandfather
and I have been talking of you." Jack was
sorry to hear it. He has received a letter, by
a friend, from your poor father. As he had not
seen you since dinner, he thought I might know
something about you, so he came to me."
It was very evident that there was grave
matter connected with the letter. A chill came
over the boy's heart; he forgot the purpose of
his being there, and looked eagerly from one
face to the other to get an explanation of the
Very tenderly Mr. Desmond broke it to him
that his father had in all probability ceased to
live. He had been seized with a fever that was
raging in the neighbourhood, of which several
prisoners had died; and in expectation of an
immediate appearance before God, he had dic-
tated a few lines to his father and tohim (Jack),
begging the forgiveness of the former for all the
8G TIGER JACK.
sorrow he had caused him, and entreating his
child to turn away from a sinful life, and to learn
the way to peace and heaven.
The remorse, the broken-heartedness, the
trembling hope expressed that even for him
there might be mercy, -.il:- e: t:i.ui:linily toll,
their reality amply atoning for all defects, that
the curate had some trouble in commanding his
voice while he read the letter to Jack, who
stood like a stone, while his gr:Ii. Alf il..r wept
I believe he'd never have gone wrong if his
poor mother had lived," sobbed Barny, whose
heart yearned over his lost son. "Oh, Jack!
can't you make up one cry for him, poor fellow ?
Didn't he love you to the end, and isn't he more
sorry for having taught you to be bad, than for
all his other sins ?" he said, somewhat reproach-
fully, to the boy, whose face seemed apathetic
The light was gone from his eyes, and he
answered merely by a vacant, heavy look.
"I think," said Mr. Desmond, who better
understood the truth," you had better leave Jack
A WISE RESOLVE. 6
with me, Thacker. Go home now; I will talk
to him: he is far more grieved than you think."
Barny was glad to leave him in such hands,
and, to the amazement and vexation of the land-
lady, went away alone.
"Now, Jack," said Mr. Desmond, "did you
quite understand the letter ? "
Tears, strange visitors there, rushed into the
"If your father is really, as I suppose, before
God, even as you now stand before me, oh, Jack ?
who can help him if God is his enemy ? "
An uncontrollable burst of passionate grief
was the answer. When it had a little subsided,
the curate went on with wise tenderness to press
home the folly of sin, the misery of its course,
and the destruction of its end. He also dwelt
on the willingness of a God of mercy to pardon
and bless the vilest sinner who asked for help
in the name of Jesus. He pointed out the
ground of his dying father's trembling hope,
which he had declared to lie in the plain pro-
mises of the Word, and that his child might be
saved and turned to righteousness while he had
*70 TIGER JACK.
life and youth to give to God. He had caused
the passages on which he had especially rested
to be copied out, that he might receive them as
his last, and, unhappily, first act of a father's
duty towards him.
The greater part of what Mr. Desmond said
was lost on Jack. He was occupied with one
tremendous thought; his father was where it
was impossible to help him ; he should never
see him again; he would not go over the sea with
him ; he was gone away for ever, and none could
Mr. Desmond was moved by the depth of
feeling he exhibited. Grief seemed entirely to
change his countenance. Suddenly he lifted up
dis head, and asked to hear the letter read again
When he had attentively listened to it, he
:said, with his usual sharpness, "Father was
.alive when that was writ, may be-may be ? "
He is alive now, perhaps-it is possible;
but tLb: fLrie:-u. who took it to your father said
he feared not."
"But he didn't know for sure," said Jack. "I
vwish-I wish you'd just ax God to cure him, if
A WISE RESOLVE 71
you will. I'll go to 'formitory; I'll promise to
try and turn good, I will; I'll never lay a
finger .e nco.ls' li t in, o
Such a pleading, earnest look accompanied
these words, that, vain as he feared the prayer
must be, the curate immediately complied,
motioning to Jack to kneel beside him. He
asked, if the man yet lived, and it was well
pleasing to God, that he might yet be spared to
glorify the name of his Saviour.
Jack understood every word of this prayer,
and whispered, when it ceased, Say as Jack
axes too, will you ?"
" Jack," said Mr. Desmond, when they rose,
" if you expect God to listen to you, you must
listen to Him."
" He never telled me nothing," remonstrated
Jack, butvery submissively. "If He was to tell
me to do anything, I'd do it the best as I could."
"HHow do you know what your father wishes
you to do ? asked the curate.
" By hearing read to me what he's had writ
in the letter," said Jack.
"True; and here is a book full of letters froi
92 TIGER JACK.
God" (laying his hand on the Bible), "which
He has had written to tell you what to do. Will
you attend to it ?"
Jack silently surveyed the Bible; it was very
large; but after a moment he answered, firmly,
" Yes, if you'll tell me plain out what Igot to do."
"I will do my best to tell you plain out.
Here is one thing; listen to it-'Cease from
evil, learn to do well.' Will you try and attend
to that ?"
Jack promised he would.
"I will fifd out the truth concerning your
father to-morrow. Come to me early in the
morning, and you shall have a job or two to do
for me. Mrs. Hornet objects to strangers in
the house, or you should sleep here; but you
shall have your dinner here to-morrow, and I
will see what I can do for you."
As Mr. Desmond spoke he lifted again the
letter which had now more than once covered
Jack looked at with deep compunction. If
he had twenty such, they could do his father no
good now; and even if they would, could he be
A WISE RESOLVE. 73
so black at heart as to take one from his kind
He did not like to go to Barny's cottage, for
two reasons: first, he thought the rag-man
might be lingering about watching for him, and
he had no desire for his company; second, he
f-lt thlt the 1.;.:l, thilo- h;:, grandmother would
be sure to say of his father and himself would
I ti up ll- h -itl., aiil t: mlp,, which were often
deadly in their nature and strength when Iris
countenance betrayed little, if any, emotion.
So he betook himself to the shed, where he
could lie quiet till the morning. It was not
very cold, the shelter was good, and though he
was hungry enough, having had nothing since
dinner, he made up his mind, as in old days he
' l :f.n e1.- n it :1.i .l tI: ., tO, 1i : ,r it patiently
till the next day. He would not have taken a
loaf nor a crumb from a baker's shop in his
present state of mind. There was an indistinct
connection in his thoughts between his doing
what was right and God's helping his father;
it : mena it t.e :-o, L l ,]il- et elinge that if
he refused to hear God, God would refuse to
74 TIGER JACK.
hear him. So, making the best arrangements of
the old thatch and sticks that he could, he lay
down, but sleep was far from him till some
hours of night had passed. Once or twice he
felt a strong desire to "ax God to cure his
father" by himself ; but he was afraid of doing
it \i:liot Mr. D-:n.-ii.l ; he was unacquainted
with the sweet comfort of a Mediator between
God and man, even the blessed Jesus, whose
vely r.. 1'. :. v .-, 1;, y.-t.. tl:,lrL t,. hi lMl, ;'I Vih,:.?
work of love, when Mr. Desmond had dwelt on
it, excited in him neither gratitude nor joy.
The sunbeams streamed in upon him through
the chinks in the morning; it surely was late;
his quarters and toilet accommodations had not
been vastly inferior to those afforded him by
Bet, so that, except that he felt very hungry,
and had an undefined impression of sorrow
when he first awoke, he was in much the same
conditions l n u u:; l a- t tm .-t tit.,, .. .., .
He took a roundabout way to the curate's,
for fear of meeting any of the Thatcher tribe,
and so subdued was he by the events of the last
twenty-f..ur outs, th -it Ih almost shrunk from
A WISE RESOLVE. 75
the thought of the landlady's evident disgust
when she would open the door to him.
But Mr. Desmond and Mrs. Hornet had had
a long talk about him the night before, and he
had not spared her for her unwillingness to
o i':'1-e ;.:iythg of: "such a born thief as Jack.
He startled her, and made her ashamed and
sorry, and also convinced her that she must
alter her behaviour if she wished to regain the
good opinion of her lodger. And his words
worked well for Jack. Instead of her scowl,
there was almost a smile on her face as she told
Iim tL:, g,:0 r.:nl to t I,: b:a:k d..i. "You'll have
to wait a little," she said, and looking at his
altered face, which hunger had pinched, while
tears, as he lay on his rough bed of half-dirt,
had streaked it with their irregular channels,
she felt sorry, really sorry for him, and all that
Mr. Desmond had told her of his love for his
dying father came with force into her heart.
" You don't look as if you'd had a pleasant
breakfast, lad," he said, as he stood some paces
from the back door, humbly waiting.
"Ain't had none-nothink since dinner
76 TIGER JACKl.
yesterday," said Jack, quietly, not as if beg-
ging nor complaining, but merely as stating a
matter of fact.
"Poor fellow! that is hard; and I believe
you, for you look like it," -!i.- :-., iikl t.:!.,l
him some bread and a cup of milk, which he
received gratefully, and with evident surprise.
Mrs. Hornet caught the curate the moment
she knew by his bell he v,:1 .i: lilito. ,.i.. e:;-
pat i.t l oa .-: k'- s lt rer l: : i : i i. .:v e
in everything but dirt, but to that she made no
allusion in her speech), finishing up by saying
in a tone of affected carelessness, that the poor
boy was eating his breakfast which she had
given him, at the back door.
" Jack," said Mr. Desmond, "I shall discover
to-day the truth concerning your father. Mrs.
Hornet has kindly consented to you staying
here till evein;:, sa.l thi-n, when I can tell you
what that truth is, we will consider what is
best for you to do."
The curate was away all day on Jack's busi-
ness, though he did not know it; and Mrs.
Hornet's ingenuity was severely taxed to keep
A WISE RESOLVE. 77
up her honest desire to be kind to Jack, and at
the same time to preserve her goods from his
well-known habit of thieving. All that she
gave him to d0., IL.a t0. ._ L. it 1: .: nthi.1lye eNw
to him, he did with a cleverness and alacrity
which delighted her. When Mr. Desmond
returned, he v.., i.. : '.., IL ilt i ,i, .6 ,
he was t Zh..li, ltv :,r. home, and with childlike
as he laid down the curate's shining boots and
her own best ones :ii tle l:T .h.
"When presently Mrs. Hornet came to him
with th,. no.w, lthi Mr. D:n-,...i.l was back, and
wanted to see him, all the blood went from
Jack's face; I:: ::,t 1-,v.-.i :.sn t i -h.: -1.'.. ni..h, on
looked for a moment as if he had an ague fit.
"I'll go to him," said Jack, recovering the
culll n 1sh ck, aild t L f i..i t,. I.n..h. Oh,
what was he going to hear He hardly knew
how he got to the curate's room. It often hap-
pens that when our anticipations are of the
gloomiest kind, bright reality awaits us; so it
was with Jack; he saw by -1 ,in:i: '.-t the f.ia3
fhi g' l fli.:i.l L, t Li: f.tlh.r liv,e
78 TIGER JACK.
"I got admittance and saw him, and I think
there is good hope, if he goes on well, of his
recovery," he said, kindly, adding much as to
the details of his visit, :- n.l -: i l; ;. t.. the
comfort it was to the sick man to hear of his
son's desire to reform.
Jack listened earnestly v. i'l-.. speaking,
till Mr. Desmond asked him if he did not think
God had been very gracious in sparing him.
"May be He woon't g n a (; .io .f lih. i
I don't mind what he orders me to do ?" said
Jack, who 1-l .o:vn' .i : 1. :;. :. connection
between his prayers iznd ln f:l. 1's r, ,
w ith .1. ,r ut ,:i A i,] t],
obedience would not be heard.
Me. a e.: t ,.f t, q -
tion, and confirmed the truth involved in it
while he tried to show him that prayer to be
effectual must be made in the name of Jesus,
through whose meritorious work it would be
But you said as I was to do as He bid me ?"
Yes, certainly. No one can plead the work
A WISE RESOLVE. 79
and name of Jesus with a hope of being heard,
who is wilfully giving way to sin."
" Then-then-I'd rather go to the'formitory,"
said Jack, resolutely.
"Why ?" asked Mr. Desmond.
"'Cause as I've heard as they makes people
good there, and I can't be made good, not to
last, I'm sure, nowhere else."
Jack might have told him how that day, in
spite of all the landlady's precautions, he had
been tempted to take articles that came in his
way, and how he had had to struggle hard, fight-
ing the temptation with the remembrance that
he must "cease to do evil" if he expected God to
p f :-:- h; but he only declared more and
more firmly that 1f -1 .. n- would get him in,
.1 go to 'formitory directly, .if tt. y ',,-.idn't
keep him there after is thee te her, whose recovery
he thought this proceeding would insure, had
been discharged from prison.
Mr. Desmond was glad at heart at this plain
i: o.- .f L:f 1 dihii -t .. f himself, showing his sin-
cerity. He had a friend who, at his own cost in
a great measure, had established an industrial
80 TIGER JACK.
school where the v, I.: I:;l.1.:-, l,. all.a.-,thor
best system was followed, and here he deter-
mined, at his own expense, to place Jack; the
charge being very small, yet large considering
So to the triumph of Bet, and the joy of the
neighbours, v.h:i .-.1:.'i1.- l toi L ,i-- i -t,Lh,- w,--.:
to the asylum provided for him by the curate.
Nearly two y-:,- .t -:.r, c,- M r. D,: -.sI.: i i .v-,
had not failed to make continued inquiries re-
specting him) was sitting in the evening busy
with his Bible, uncertain what subject to take
for his next sermon, he was told that two people
wanted to see him, and Jack and his father
made their appearance.
They were going out in an emigrant ship, and
had come to pay a grateful farewell visit to their
good friend. Their words were few, but it was
plain to Mr. Desmond that there was a real
work l1.c-igut in I...th. When they had left him,
he exclaimed, "Si i i- i Lhl.t, S.iat.c is mighty;
but grace is 'almighty;' and my text shall be,
' With G.,c od( ll tlhfl; L. :.= l.l....'"
J..D W. IDER PRSINTRS, LONDON..
-'-'' '',1: F
. . . . . . .
.. ... .. ..... L .is
... ..... .. -'a lit
"EM ... ... ... .. ....
. . . . . . .
R1 h g
... . . . 1.11. Y ...... .... K 0
-njl'a' . ... ..... ..... q
-01 4 -"'Kv"-
...... ... . . .. ... .......
Mwo -a ON
"tr gi -At.m., Rog
--i.-IM, ;' -N 1, :1
MH 'iOll T. 2 1 11 '= I -W Et
SAM; moo g "MME:
.' . . . . .
ZZ.; ':!'giz4zt .1