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START IN LIFE.
SEELEY, JACKSON, & HALLIDAY, 54, FLEET STREET;
S. W. PARTRIDGE AND CO., 9, PATERNOSTER ROW.
V. M. WATTS. 8c, CRAY'S INN ROAD.
How John loses his first place through a bad Sixpence . 7
About the Oriels and the Elliots 9
Johnny Oriel, in the sunmerr-house with Mrs. Wiltshire, reais about green grass 12
How things got worse and worse at the Elliots' 14
Johnny looks out for a place 17
What is to be done for Johnny ? 21
Johnny sets off to find a friend, and meets with what nobody expected 23
Johnny has adventures 27
Johnny begins a new trade-then abandons it 32
In the hands of the police 35
Only a crossing-sweeper 41
How Mrs. Elliot went to chapel, and what came of it 44
Johnny sweeps his crossing, and encounters friends .
The police report 54
John Oriel begins to see the goal from which he will have to start 57
Qreat joy in Taylor's yard 62
John Oriel makes his start in life 65
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JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
HOW JOHN LOSES HIS FIRST PLACE THROUGH A BAD SIXPENCE.
"WELL, what are you stopping for ? Have n't you got your money ?"
demanded Mr. North, the greengrocer, from the lad whom he had hired on
Monday morning to help in the shop, and who now, having received two
shillings and sixpence for his week's wages, still lingered, with the money in
his hand, as if unsatisfied.
Mr. North was smarting under the information that his best customer had
transferred his favours to the rival greengrocer at the bottom of the street;
therefore he was out of humour, and the wistful face of the poor, meagre
lad was the last drop to the already overflowing cup of his vexation.
What are you stopping here for ?" again he demanded, with angry
If you please, sir, do look at this sixpence. I don't think it's good,"
said the lad, very anxious, and sadly afraid of displeasing the employer over
whom they had rejoiced so much, and who had been so hard to find, and he
timidly put forth the suspicious coin, which was indeed an ill-looking one.
This was another drop into the full cup of vexation, for the greengrocer
knew that he had taken a bad sixpence that week, but it could not be this
one, because he remembered showing it to his wife and seeing her put it
with the other bad money in an old teapot in the corner-cupboard. The
idea of a second bad sixpence was more than he could bear just then, and,
refusing to look at it, he pushed the lad out of the shop, telling him that he
need not come on Monday: he should have no more work for him.
This was a blow indeed. The poor fellow's heart-and he was only
twelve years old-sank down, as it were, into his very shoes. It was a
greater misfortune even than the bad sixpence.
He lingered at the door, urgently repeating, Please, sir," till, for crying,
he could not say another word.
By this time the shop-door was barred, the gas was out, and Mr. North
8 O VIIN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
seated at his comfortable Saturday supper of tripe, onion sauce, and baked
potatoes, in the warm, well-furnished kitchen behind the shop.
Never was poor lad more thoroughly cut down than our John Oriel at
this moment. And that you may understand why he was so, and who they
were that had rejoiced with him over the place which it was hoped he had
now, in the middle of November, obtained for the whole winter, I will tell
you, whilst he is going slowly homewards, as briefly as I can.
_JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
ABOUT THE ORIELS AND THE ELLIOTS.
HE was an orphan, without a relative known to himself in the world. His
home was in the pleasant suburban village of Hampstead, with people who
were excessively poor, and at the present time distressed beyond measure.
They lived in a wretched dwelling consisting of two rooms and a lean-to, in
what is called Taylor's Yard, a damp, dirty little court, into which ran
drainage from all sides, and which was choked up with old, broken, weather-
beaten carts and other dilapidated wheeled vehicles, the worthless refuse of an
adjoining wheelwright's yard. How human beings could live in such a
place it was difficult to imagine.
By name they were Elliot, the man, a bricklayer by trade, his wife and
three children. Other children there had been, but the eldest and youngest
died six years ago of typhus fever, which the father also took. This fever
was always looked back to as the beginning of their sorrows. Elliot till then
had had regular work, but he fell out of it at that time, and never afterwards
seemed to recover it, and, what was still worse, took to drinking, and thus
introduced a permanent sorrow and sure source of poverty into the family.
The wife, a clean, tidy woman, very clever with her fingers, and affec-
tionate in disposition, had lived in good places before her marriage, and was
proud of having her home not only clean, but smart, with muslin curtains in the
windows, a carpet on the floor, a looking glass and pictures on the walls.
Now and then in those prosperous days, she would take in a lodger;
hence it happened, that shortly after the birth of her second child she
received into her house a friendless stranger, a poor young woman of the
name of Oriel, who had come to London from Guernsey on her way to
Canada. A series, however, of most disastrous circumstances had fallen out
for her. They encountered a fearful storm on the passage from the Channel
Islands. Several lives were lost, some of them passengers, and most of the
luggage was lost also, amongst the rest, that of Mrs. Oriel. As it unfortu-
nately happened, her name was telegraphed to London as one who had
perished : the person, therefore, who was appointed to meet .her, made no
effort to do so, but simply reported the sorrowful news to her husband.
She, in the meantime, arrived in London, ill from the disastrous voyage,
and fortunately falling in with a kindly Samaritan, who pitied her condition,
she was directed to Mrs. Elliot, then living in a comfortable little house at
1o VOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
Mrs. Elliot had a sympathetic heart. The stranger's story was very
sad: her husband had emigrated to Canada three months before. Now, all
being ready for her, he was impatient for her to go over. He had sent her
money, and she was on her way to him. She was pleasing in countenance,
and her manners were those of a respectable, well-educated young woman of
the lower class.
Mrs. Elliot took to her at once, as though she had been her sister. There
was no time, however, for any personal knowledge, nor even for the
most needful information to be obtained from her, for two days after her
arrival she died, leaving a new-born orphan child.
As to the poor woman herself, she had been so stunned by the suddenness
of her sorrows as to lose consciousness; although she appeared, by a sad,
sweet look of intelligence, to acknowledge not only the pious labours of the
Rev. Joshua Wiltshire, a dissenting minister, whose chapel Mrs. Elliot
attended, and whom she had summoned to the dying woman as soon as she
was aware that her end was at hand; but also showed her affection to the
child, by holding it clasped to her bosom, even to the moment when the
She was now dead, and not even the name of the place whence she came,
nor of that to which she was bound in Canada, were known. Had there
been a necessity to have applied to the parish on behalf of the motherless
child, some public steps would have been taken for this purpose. As it
was, however, Mrs. Elliot, who had herself a baby not six weeks old,
declared her wish to take charge of the infant; and as money was left
belonging to the mother, after the funeral expenses were paid, besides a little
clothing, her wedding-ring and gold ear-rings, Elliot himself, who, more
than his wife, had an eye to his own advantage, made no objection; whilst
the only people of a superior class who took an interest in the affair, the Rev.
Mr. Wiltshire and his wife, approved, not doubting but that the father
would himself discover the fate of his wife and child; it being then, how-
ever, expected that the child would very soon follow the mother to the
Amongst the poor deceased woman's few possessions was found a small
Bible, on the front page of which was written in a good, clear hand,
"John Oriel to his dear Jane, on their wedding-day,"
with a date somewhat above twelve months before. Mr. Wiltshire, there-
fore, now entered the birth of the infant, which was christened John, on
the same page, together with the mother's death, and their respective dates.
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. E.
The book was then placed with the mother's clothes, her wedding-ring and
ear-rings, to be preserved as heirlooms for the identification of the child
whenever his father or others might turn up to claim him.
The Wiltshires, who thought highly of Mrs. Elliot, never lost sight of
her as long as she remained in their neighbourhood, which was till after the
sad visitation of typhus fever, when that downward career began for the
whole family, which finally brought them into Taylor's Yard.
Mrs. Elliot's second child, little Dick, was six weeks old when she took
the motherless baby to her bosom as his foster-brother. Dick was a large-
limbed, robust child, endowed with an iron constitution. Johnny, on the
contrary, was delicate and fragile. Life in him was like the feeble flame
of a new-lighted candle, which any breath of air might extinguish, and
which was only kept in by vigilant care. And it surely was this very
vigilance which made him so dear to the matronly heart of his affectionate
foster-mother. At length the little flame of life began to burn freely, and
as the child grew he became singularly beautiful, a delicate-limbed, sunny-
haired, bright-countenanced child, all intelligence and affection.
12 7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
JOHNNY ORIEL, IN THE SUMMER-HOUSE WITH MRS. WILTSHIRE, READS ABOUT GREEN GRASS.
AT the time of the fever Mrs. Wiltshire took John, then six years old, out
of danger to her own house, and such a wonderful time of enjoyment began
for him there as he never forgot.
They were not rich people, but lived in a small, pretty house in the midst
of a large garden, so that, though attached to a large and populous suburb,
it had an open and countrified look, which, to the child, represented the
Garden of Eden as shown in Mrs. Elliot's picture Bible. He had attended
the chapel-school for two years, though he was now kept away on account
of the fever, therefore he could read and sing little hymns very nicely, and
was altogether a great favourite with the teachers.
So now here he was brought into a house that looked to him beautiful,
with carpets on all the floors, and handsome mahogany furniture, rubbed
till you could see your face in it; a kitchen with bright shining ware hung
round, which looked like silver; and a large garden full of apple trees, laden
with red and yellow apples, just like those in the picture Bible, and flowers
without end, and the large cat basking in the sun under the old rosemary
bush. It was delightful! Sometimes he helped to gather beans or peas,
which he afterwards helped to shell for dinner; sometimes he helped Mrs.
Wiltshire to tie up the flowers, or to gather their now ripening seed; and
sometimes he weeded the nice gravel walks.
Now and then, also, he was allowed to sit with Mrs. Wiltshire in the
large summer-house in the garden, where she and other ladies knit stockings
and made clothing for poor children. When she was alone she would
desire him to read passages to her out of her little New Testament, which
always lay in her work-basket.
One beautiful afternoon, when he had tired himself with making a little
daisy-garden behind the summer-house, and he seemed hot and rather
fretful, she called him to her, and after she had sung to him some sweet
little hymns, which were cheerful and pleasant, she asked him to read her a
few verses from her little Testament.
All his peevishness was gone: he rose up from the step of the summer-
house, where he had sat down, and took out the little Testament.
Read just where it opens, my child," she said, for the Lord often
gives us thus the bread of his divine table according to our needs."
The boy opened the book as he was told, and began to read where his eye
first fell, at the thirty-third verse of the sixth chapter of St. Mark, where the
7011N ORIEL'S START IN LIFE 13
multitude followed the Lord into the desert place, and so on till he came to
And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the
Nay, nay, child," said the good woman, interrupting him, and without
looking up from her sewing, don't put in words of your own. Read that
last verse again."
John repeated what he had just read, ending with "sit down by com-
panies on the green grass."
No, no," said Mrs. Wiltshire, rather sharply: "attend to what you
read, Johnny. You are thinking of something else. Not green grass.
Attend to the book."
He read it a third time, thinking, of course, he must be wrong some way
or other. He read very slowly, word by word -
And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the
Mrs. Wiltshire hastily put down her work and pulled the child to her.
"Now read it again," she said, looking over him the while.
It was just the same, and now she saw that it was so in the book.
Bless me !" she said, in perfect astonishment. So often as I have read
that, and never saw it before. Yes, the green grass. You are right, my
dear. Now go on. Only when you see green grass remember how the
Lord fed the multitude in the desert, and how He will lead those that love
Him to the green pastures by the still waters."
As she thus spoke to him a deep love filled her heart. She recalled
instantly his motherless condition and the circumstances of his birth, and,
looking thus at him face to face, she saw how beautiful and tender was his
young innocent countenance, and as, at her bidding, he read on, she earnestly
prayed God to bless him and save him from sin.
From this moment a deep and affectionate solicitude took possession of
her heart for the child. She and her husband had no children of their own,
and gladly would she have taken him to her heart as her son, but they were
not wealthy, and had many poor relations, who had the first claim upon
them. But she could be a friend to him nevertheless. She heard him read
daily, instructed him carefully in his religious duties, young as he was, and
having an affectionate, winning way with her, and being a woman of sincere,
simple, child-like faith, her instructions sank deep into his youthful heart.
She intended henceforth never to lose sight of him, and, above all, to bear
him constantly in her prayers.
14 JO7HN ORUIEL'S START IN LIFE.
HOW THINGS GOT WORSE AND WORSE AT THE ELLIOTS'.
WHEN all danger of infection was over, Johnny went back to his foster-
parents. Elliot, who had been at the Fever Hospital, was now home again,
but two children were dead. It was late in the autumn, and he had no more
work the whole of that winter.
Now began the downward course of the poor family. Early in the year a
prospect of work took Elliot to the other side of London, and thither, before
long, the family followed him.
But we will not be too minute in telling this dismal part of the story.
Johnny went with Mrs. Elliot to bid the excellent minister and his wife good
bye, and received a winter supply of warm stockings and comfortable
clothing of that good woman's making; and in parting with the child she
kissed him, and enjoined him, if ever he were in want of help, to ask it of
God, his loving Father in heaven, and so always to act as to be able to go
with his trouble to God, let it be what it might.
Mrs. Elliott cried in bidding the minister's wife good bye, and said how
sorry she was to leave the chapel and all her friends; but she did not say a
word about what was saddest of all to her-that her husband, since the fever,
and things had begun to go so sadly with them, showed an increasing love of
drink, and that when under its influence he was a different man, and seemed
to have taken a dislike to Johnny; that he had even threatened to send him
to the parish, or turn him out of doors, if he were not owned by somebody;
and that it was all she could do to keep him from selling or pawning the
mother's clothes and trinkets. She would like to have told her all this, but
true, wifely affection, and unwillingness to disgrace her husband in the eyes
of those who had respected him, kept her silent. But in the fulness of her
heart she cried, and good Mrs. Wiltshire, ready to sympathize with any in
sorrow, spoke comfortable words to her, which she thought of afterwards.
Six years went on. Dick and his foster-brother were twelve.
Johnny had never been to see the Wiltshires again, and if they had desired
to see him he would have been hard to find. The Elliots had gone on from
bad to worse. He was one of those who find it harder to do right and to
keep right in adversity than prosperity. He could not stand up against un-
success. Once down and always down with him. His first discouragement had
been the difficulty of getting work, and his character was now so indifferent,
that as long as steadier men were to be had he had no chance of employment.
JOHN ORIAL'S START INV LIFE 15
Yet, if he succeeded in getting any, he was sure to spend most of his wages
In the meantime the family must live, and, as is mostly the case, the dete-
riorated character of the husband operates on the wife and children, so it was
here. The once clean and tidy, and even well-dressed Mrs. Elliot, looked
now forlorn, and sometimes dirty. She was disheartened and hopeless, and
had often not a penny to call her own, much less to provide decent clothing
for herself and the children, to say nothing to keeping the house decently
They had, besides, been of late years like rolling stones, moving from
one dwelling to another, each worse than the last, and with much less to
put in it, for now every thing had been parted with but the barest neces-
sities; and having bought a second-hand mangle, which was not yet fully
paid for, were living, as I said before, in the miserable dwelling in Taylor's
Yard, the mangle so crowding up the space that there was scarcely room to
move about the house.
It was now the beginning of November. Again Elliot has no work.
Often he is at the public-house. When he is at home he sits sullenly by the
fire, with his chair so placed between the mangle and the cupboard in the
chimney-nook, which is the general depository of every thing, eatables
included, that the door is forced to be kept open to prevent the anger which
always ensues if he has to move his seat.
The only comfort poor Mrs. Elliot had was when employed to do
charing-work in other people's houses, and thus have something to make
clean and wholesome, which was still sweetly natural to her, though her own
dwelling was so comfortless.
Dick, Johnny's foster-brother, now a big, strong lad, had been since
Michaelmas in service at a cow-keeper's. He was no longer a burden at
home, and he seldom came near them. The last time Johnny saw him he
had new boots on, and leather leggings, and looked quite like a man. He
was with a drover, bringing a couple of cows from market, and seemed
as if he would hardly notice his foster-brother. Harriet, the girl who
came next to Dick, looked after the house and the mangle when her
mother was out. Johnny turned the mangle, and found it dreadfully
hard work, for he was far from strong. They did not now go to school,
not even Stephen, the youngest. The pride of the mother would not
let them go, because they were so ragged, and more or less neglected;
besides which they were too poor to spare regularly two-pence a week
16 JOHN ORIEL'S START' IN LIFE.
Poor Johnny had long since ccme to know that he was properly not one
of the family, and the threat of being turned cut of doors, to say nothing
of blows, which were often dealt him by Elliot in the brutal frenzy of his
drunkenness, made his young life miserable. His foster-mother, however,
was still true to him, and stood between him and the brutality of her
husband; but though she could do thus much at home for the boy, she
could not prevent his evil drinking-and-skittle-playing associates from
strengthening more and more his ill will to the lad, which, though fed
and housed by him, had no natural claim upon him. It was in vain that
she pleaded on his behalf the blessing which Mr. Wiltshire had assured
them God would send down upon them for befriending the orphan. Elliot
had ceased to have any faith in such promises or prospects. He had lost
faith both in God and man.
In all this miserable shipwreck of life, nothing could abate the foster-
mother's fidelity to the child. Hence, though she had parted with every
thing of value belonging to herself, the little property of clothes and trinkets
which remained as a precious heirloom to the child were still safe. But she
had saved them as from the fire. The clothes, which otherwise Elliot
might have pawned or sold, were now sewn into the covering of a
mattress, and the wedding-ring and ear-rings she always carried about her in
a little nutmeg-grater. Elliot had been deceived by some means into the idea
that all had been pawned or turned wholly into money long ago; and, to do
him justice, in his better moments the belief of this wrong done to the lad
caused him regret, for otherwise he might fail of the means of identification,
should his father or friends ever turn up.
ki ll, i| ,r
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 17
JOHNNY LOOKS OUT FOR A PLACE.
NOVEMBER this year was cold, raw and damp. Johnny's clothes were thin;
he had not strong boots and leggings like Dick, and his feet were miserably
tormented with chilblains. His bed was on the mangle, and not so un-
comfortable either, in comparison with the cold, damp lean-to, on the floor
of which he must otherwise have slept. He had a little old bolster, a little
old blanket, and the old piece of Brussels carpet as a coverlet, over which
he laid his clothes.
It was Saturday night. Elliot had had a job of work that week, and was
now drinking by the public-house fire. Mrs. Elliot, who had been out all
day, came home rather late, and then had her washing to do. People had
been mangling all the afternoon, and Johnny was so tired he knew not how
to keep his eyes open. At half-past ten, Mrs. Elliot's work being done, she
went to bed. Harriet and little Stephen, who slept in the same chamber, had
been gone some time; but poor Johnny must sit up till Elliot came home, a
match-box and candle being set on the mangle-foot to light him to bed.
The door was locked, and he must let him in.
Johnny's feet were a perfect torment to him. His foster-mother told
him, therefore, to sit down on a low wooden stool by the fire, which she
would leave in the grate for him, and rub his feet with salt, which she had
heard was good for them. Johnny rubbed his smarting, tingling feet.
The fire was warm, and soon he was fast asleep, sitting there with his foot
in his hand; how long I cannot say, but long enough for Elliot to come
home, who, trying the door, and finding it locked, began to knock, and
make a great riot outside. Mrs. Elliot, who was not asleep, came down
instantly, with her cloak over her head and her bare feet, surmising instantly
what the fact was-that Johnny had dropped fast asleep.
Poor lad He was speedily roused up by a heavy blow on the side of his
head, which knocked him from the stool to the floor. Elliot was not so
drunk but that he could see whose neglect it was that had kept him waiting
at the door.
What a miserable night that was Johnny, sleepy as he had been, lay
now for hours crying in his bed on the mangle. He had no idea that he
should ever be as unhappy as he then was. He began to think that he
would run away-go to sea or anywhere. At length he fell asleep-and
18 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
woke. The dreadful night had at last come to an end; but that it was not
a dream he knew too well, because he felt so sore all over.
Elliot got up very late, and was silent and sullen. In the afternoon
he went out, and came back about nine. But he said not a word to
Next morning his foster-mother told him-for Elliot, whose work was not
yet finished, left as soon as it was light-that he must try and get a place.
She talked very cheerfully to him, gave him a better breakfast than usual,
and was evidently preparing to send him off at once. She cut some slices of
bread and a nice little piece of broiled bacon-a portion of some broken
victuals which had been given her on Saturday, but none of which had made
their appearance on Sunday-together with a piece of cold rice pudding, all of
which she laid temptingly together and wrapped in a bit of paper for his
dinner. She smiled and seemed so good-tempered, and all the while her
heart was as heavy as lead, and it was all she could do to keep from
Johnny smiled too, for he felt how kind it was. Stephen wanted some
pudding. Give him a bit, mother," he said, and took the knife out of her
hand, and, dividing it, gave half to Stephen. Then he burst out crying
himself as if his heart would break.
My poor, dear lad, don't cry so," exclaimed Mrs. Elliot, clasping him in
her arms, and now crying in her turn.
Then, brightening up again, for she thought it never would do to be so
softhearted, and thinking perhaps that the lad was daunted about going to
a place, because," she said to herself, he hasn't half the spirit of Dick,"
she again began to talk cheerfully about getting a nice place, and having a
good dinner every day. She knew lots of lads younger than Johnny that
got their half-a-crown or three shillings a week. Then, giving him the food
in the paper, she said she would go out that morning and mention it at all
the houses where she worked, and she was sure between them they should
manage to get a nice place for him.
Johnny could not help the cheering influence of his foster-mother's words.
He took the food she had prepared, which he put in his pocket, while she
combed his hair and brushed his clothes and his old cap with a very ancient
brush, which had belonged to them in better days.
She walked with him to the door, and then to the end of the yard;
so did Harriet, who had been wiping her eyes with her pinafore all the
Johnny had a brave heart, and if he had not felt sore with the ill usage of
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 19
Saturday night, and if his swollen feet had not hurt him so, he would have
set out on this hunt for good fortune as cheerfully as any lad in London.
As it was, he felt downhearted, when all at once, as if by contrast to his
present condition, he thought of that summer's day when he read about the
green grass to Mrs. Wiltshire, and then her words came back to him-
"Always pray to the blessed Saviour when you are in trouble." He thought
that certainly now was the time if ever, and he was sure that the Lord
could help him. And as he went along he said inwardly, as if speaking to
his Saviour, Oh, Lord do please to give me a place. Let somebody want
a lad like me !" He thought that God must hear him. The unquestioning
child's faith gave him wonderful courage. His feet seemed no longer to
torment him, and he went on unconscious of his still sore limbs.
Do you please to want a boy ?" asked he at almost every shop which he
passed, walking on towards London. Nobody wanted one, and the truth
was, that he looked so poor and shabby, so half starved and wistful, that the
first thought of every one was, that he was not strong enough for work.
Some said so, more or less kindly; others answered him sharply, and sent
At length he had gone two miles, and began again to be sadly disheart-
ened and weary, when he came to the corner shop of a greengrocer, over
which, in large blue and gold letters, was the name NORTH. Mr. North, a
man in a dark blue woollen apron, was taking in a quantity of fine
turnips, carrots, and other winter vegetables, from a cart, and Mrs. North
was placing very lemon-coloured oranges on a slanting stage in the
Johnny stopped. Please, sir, do you want a lad ?" he asked, as usual.
Mr. North looked down as from an immense height, and said, in a rather
kindly voice, But you are not good for any thing."
Yes, sir, please I am," replied Johnny briskly, for he instantly detected
encouragement in the greengrocer's disparaging words.
Mrs. North looked up from her oranges, and saw the thin, anxious young
face. She had lost a little son about Johnny's age some years before, and
some fancied resemblance brought his dying expression back to her heart, and
she said, speaking very cheerfully-
"I'll be bound to say he'll do. Come in and have a bit of breakfast.
He'll do, never fear, Sammy," said she, addressing her husband, and then,
coming forward and motioning with her hand for the boy to follow her, led
him into a warm, comfortable kitchen, where a girl was washing up the
20 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
She was a stout woman, with a rosy face and double chin, and seemed to
fill the doorways as she went in and out. Johnny watched her movements.
There seemed to him something grand and large about her. If she had been
a little woman he would have thanked her, and said that he had his dinner
with him; but as it was he was silent, sitting on the comfortable cushioned
chair which she offered him, and then ate with the liveliest relish a piece of
cold kidney pudding and some bread and cheese which she gave him. He
thought he had never eaten any thing so good in his life, and now he could
carry back the delicious food he had in his pocket for Stephen.
He was to have his dinner every day and half-a-crown a week. This was
what they offered him, and he thought it would make him quite rich.
True, he would have two miles to walk morning and evening there and
back and a good deal of running.about in the day. But nothing daunted
him, and he returned home joyfully at night with the good news, and his
foster-mother, and Harriet and little Stephen rejoiced greatly with him.
Elliot himself, as usual, who was very low after his drunken bout, and still
sullen, grumbled also his satisfaction.
The week went on. Elliot's job of work was finished, and he was again
either at home smoking in the chimney corner or at the skittle-ground, where.
if he were not treated, he obtained drink on trust.
Johnny had a. good dinner every day, and very happy he was, spite of his
insufficient clothing and poor chilblainy feet, until Saturday night came.
The very nature of Mr. North seemed changed by a bad sixpence, and the
poor lad went home half broken-hearted.
-s_. ~ _
YOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 21
WHAT IS TO BE DONE FOR JOHNNY, AND WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF HE HAD GONE
BACK ABOUT THE BAD SIXPENCE.
A SECOND outbreak of brutal violence on the part of Elliot, and her own
inability to obtain a place for the boy amongst her employers, determined
Mrs. Elliot to take a step which she had long meditated. This was to
apply to Mr. Wiltshire on his behalf, and, if possible, to get him placed
under that good man's care. She would, in all probability, have carried out
this plan long ago, but more than six years had elapsed since she left the
neighbourhood where those kind people had known her under such
different circumstances. She had sadly gone down in the world since then,
and was so ashamed of her present abject circumstances, that nothing but the
well-being, and, it might be, the very life of the child, whom she loved as her
own, would have induced her to act upon it.
The question, however, in the first place, was, should she go with him on
Monday morning down to the greengrocer, induce Mr. North to look at
the bad sixpence, and so, as was only right, get him reinstated; or should
she send him to Mr. Wiltshire, to whom Johnny himself could tell his own
story. Finally, this last step was decided on, the good foster-mother hoping
that in this way his interests would be most effectually served.
Had they gone down to the greengrocer's, however, I must just tell you
what kind of reception they would have had. And to do so, we must go
back to the Saturday night when Mr. and Mrs. North were seated com-
fortably at their savoury supper. No sooner had the cheery warmth of the
fireside and the food of which he was so fond began to circulate through the
strong frame of Mr. North, than his ill humour subsided. The more com-
fortable he felt, the more universally charitable he became.
"Well, I must say I'm sorry for one thing I've done to-night," said he,
slapping his knee; I hate laying up vexation for Sunday."
"Why, what has ta gone and done, Sammy," asked his wife, who was a
midland-county woman, and still adhered to her native dialect when in the
kitchen with her husband.
"Why, I've sent that little chap away for good. He came bothering me
about his money just when they told me Evans's were gone to those new
folks. But I did give you that bad sixpence I took on Thursday, did n't
I, Sarah?" added he, wishful to justify himself.
"No, that ta didn't. I never saw it," said Mrs. North. Thou said
thou'd got one, and 'ud bring it to put i' th oud tea-pot; but I niver saw it."
22 7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
S"Well, I declare !" exclaimed the conscience-stricken man. "c Then I do
believe that poor lad was right! Why, I never did such a thing before;"
and again he slapped his knee, and pushed his chair back from the table.
"Where does he live ?"
Eh, I don't know," said Mrs. North. But he'll be here o' Monday,
and then we '11 ma' it all right."
The greengrocer pushed himself and his chair still farther back, as if he
felt himself unworthy to sit at the table. Nay but," he exclaimed, I told
him I wouldn't have him again."
"Thou art so over hasty, Sammy. That's just thy way! Thou goes
and makes a mess because thou won't think for a minute, and then thou has
to repent iver so long! I know na where he lives; somewhere in Hampstead.
He was the best lad we've iver had, and I'd got two or three things together
for him, if he was good over next week. And then to give him bad money,
and send him off! I didn't think thou could ha' done such a thing, Sammy."
Oh, well, well," said the greengrocer, feeling every word his wife said
like a little stab to his conscience, and very anxious to comfort himself,
" Lads are not so blate. He'll be coming again. I'11 keep a sharp look-out
on Monday. I shall be seeing him one of these days, never fear."
Mrs. North thought, as her husband did, that Johnny would come and
try to get into the place again ; so she went to bed, and slept comfortably.
But she thought of the poor lad in church, and on Monday both she and
her husband kept a sharp look-out. But they never saw him; nor could
they learn anything about him from the neighbours. Towards the middle
of the week, therefore, they hired another lad; but neither Mr. nor Mrs.
North could forget the wrong which had been done him.
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 23
JOHNNY SETS OFF TO FIND A FRIEND, AND MEETS WITH WHAT NOBODY EXPECTED.
A WEEK of ineffectual effort on the part of Johnny and his foster-mother
to find a place for him, and that second drunken outbreak of her husband's,
determined the poor woman that her foster-son should not remain another
night in the house.
A friendly neighbour therefore took him in till she had got a few things
ready. She said nothing to her husband of her intentions, fearing lest he
should put some impediment in the way, rather than have his downward
course and the present abject condition of the family known to those who
were acquainted with him in his better days. When, however, the lad was
once safely under the protection of those good people she felt as if she would
care for nothing.
On Monday, therefore, she washed his few poor things, afterwards mending
them, and even cutting up some of her own garments, which she could very
ill spare, that Mrs. Wiltshire might not surmise the extreme poverty to
which they were reduced. On Thursday the little preparations were com-
plete. He was well washed, his hair carefully brushed, his shoes had been
patched, and with a new scarlet and white comforter round his neck, and a
pair of warm woollen gloves on his hands, the gift of the good woman who
had housed him, for she was several degrees better off than Mrs. Elliot, he
was ready for his departure.
Elliot fortunately was at work; and leaving little Stephen and the key of
the house, in case the mangle should be wanted, in charge of the friendly
neighbour, Harriet and poor Mrs. Elliot, carrying Johnny's little bundle
pinned up in an old blue handkerchief under her shawl, walked a mile or so
with him, to set him on his way in this, which seemed to her such a mo-
mentous step in life. Johnny did not look at it half as seriously as she did.
A little bashful he might be when he got there, perhaps; but as yet it was
all a joyful anticipation to him, and he smiled and looked as beautiful in his
foster-mother's eyes as a May morning.
She, on the other hand, was very sad and anxious. Now that the time
was come to ask those good people, who were mountains high, as it were,
above her in prosperity, to befriend her in her need, to make known to
them her poverty and her helplessness, seemed such a sad humiliation, that, but
for the true mother-love that warmed her heart for the lad, and the hope
that some good might come to him out of it, she would have been inclined
to give up the enterprise.
24 YOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE..
And now, Johnny," she said, after they had walked a little way in
silence, "mind that you don't tell Mrs. Wiltshire more than you can help
about father: he is not himself when he's in drink; and he's never been the
strong man he was since he had the fever. Remember to give my duty to
Mrs. Wiltshire, and tell her I'd have gone myself long ago to see her and ask
her advice, for eh! I've wanted a friend this many a year;" and then Mrs.
Elliot began to cry. Presently, however, she wiped her eyes with the
corner of her shawl, and taking Johnny's hand, said, "And you '11 be sure
and let me know how you go on. If they keep you a bit, as I dare say
they will, or get you a place, you '11 be sure to write. Mrs. Wiltshire will
understand how I shall want to know what they say, and what they can
do for you. You're ready to work, John; you'll do any manner of work
they set you; and I'll be bound they know somebody in the chapel that
wants a lad. A word from Mr. Wiltshire can do any thing. And you'll
be very pretty-behaved, Johnny, and make your bow, and wipe your shoes
before you go in, for Mrs. Wiltshire's very particular. What a pretty
kitchen she has Eh I do hope they'll let you stop a bit," said the poor
woman with a terrible anxiety lest by any chance this beautiful scheme should
fail them. Then again she went on, You know exactly the way Johnny;
you won't lose yourself. But it's a long way. You can take a twopenny
'bus, as'll set you down pretty near, and then, which way do you go,
He had learned this lesson off by heart, for she had examined him over
and over again in it; and as he answered satisfactorily, and remembered the
house so well, with its white gate in front and pretty garden, her mind
was easy. "I wish I could give you more money, Johnny, but I've only
sevenpence halfpenny, and Harriet, she's put fourpence to it, so it makes
elevenpence halfpenny. That'll take you there, and bring you back, if so
must be. But, please God, I hope not."
Johnny was very unwilling to take the money, but they forced it upon him.
" But I'll bring it back," said he: if I don't stop, I can walk all the way."
And you've got your mother's things safe, haven't you ?" again began
the anxious woman.
Johnny laid his hand on his side-pocket, into which his foster-mother had
stitched the little nutmeg-grater.
All right," said John.
And ask Mrs. Wiltshire to keep them for you; they'll be safer with
her than with me," continued she; "and your Bible's in your bundle; and
don't forget your prayers, Johnny."
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.. 25
"I have not been to chapel for three years, I do believe," continued she,
" and Mrs. Wiltshire would be grieved to know it. But unless she asks,
you need n't tell her that."
Johnny said, Oh, no;" for he knew that neither she nor any of them
had for long had clothes which were thought good enough to go to
After this they fell into silence. Then Mrs. Elliot stopped: she kissed
Johnny, and so did Harriet. They were both ready to cry, but they kept
up. He was still brave-hearted; but nevertheless a very little would have
made him cry outright. However, he did n't; and, after looking back
endless times, they were out of each other's sight.
Johnny walked on and on. Now and then he asked his way; but he
was a sharp, clear-headed lad, and never went very far wrong.
It was two o'clock in the afternoon when he began to feel himself approach-
ing suburban London, on the Surrey side. It was in the London road,
Clapham, that the goal of all his hopes lay. He began to remember
familiar objects of his childish days, for his foster-mother lived in a little
street that opened into the London road, and Mr. Wiltshire's chapel,
" Ebenezer," as it was called, was somewhere near at hand. Yes, there it
was! But it was some way different: there was a new wall in front, and
a deodara planted in the grass on each side of the broad middle walk up to
the middle door. He stopped and read the announcement, printed in gold
letters on the board which stood before the left-hand deodora-" Services at
I I A.M. and at 6 P.M. Minister, the Rev. Thoms Baxter."
This struck through his heart like a knife. Was Mr. Wiltshire dead?
That was his first idea. He felt sorely troubled. The minister's house
was half-a-mile further up the road, just on the edge of the common.
Presently he came to it. It was the same, and yet different. A young
woman, with a child in a perambulator, was just turning in at the gate.
Please Miss," said the lad very timidly, and afraid to hear the answer,
" does Mr. Wiltshire live here ?"
"Oh, no," said the housemaid; "it's Mr. Lowndes, the lawyer."
"And where, then, does Mr. Wiltshire live ?" demanded Johnny.
I never heard of such a person," she said; but we've only lived here
He was minister at the Ebenezer chapel," explained Johnny, his heart
Oh, that chapel's down the road," said the young woman. "I'm sure I
don't know. We go to church. You'd better inquire at some of the shops."
26 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
He walked slowly away, feeling as if every thing in the world had become
very dark. He went down the road till he came near the chapel, and here
shops began on the opposite side of the road. He saw a stout, good-natured
looking butcher at his door, and crossed over to make the inquiry.
Please, sir," asked he, "can you tell me where Mr. Wiltshire lives ?"
Wiltshire ?" replied the man, "I don't know such a person, my lad."
There was a woman inside the shop buying a mutton-chop from the
butcher's wife. "Do you know anybody named Wiltshire, Mrs. Shaw,"
asked he, turning in.
"Not as lives here now," she replied; "but Mr. Wiltshire used to preach
at the chapel over the way."
I mean him, please mem," said Johnny eagerly.
Oh, aye; but he does n't live here now. It's three years, I should think,
since he left."
It must be that," put in the butcher, "for I've been here two years, and
Mr. Baxter's been the minister ever since I knowed the place."
Boys don't faint, but of a truth our poor lad felt ready to drop. He had
not been prepared for such a chance as this.
His mouth all at once seemed very dry, but he said, with as much power
as he could command, Please, mem, where is he now ?"
Oh, he went to Manchester or Birmingham, or one of those big towns.
He was a very good preacher, by all I've heard say, for I didn't go to chapel
myself, and I heard he could do better for himself there."
Johnny turned away. His heart seemed to have died within him. He
had not power to think what he was to do next, but mechanically walked up
the long London Road again till he was in sight of that paradise of his child-
hood, and so on to the common, where he sat down, cold and dreary as it
was-for now it was between three and four o'clock-and cried as if his heart
O7HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 27
JOHNNY HAS ADVENTURES.
As he began to feel very cold and desolate, he got up and walked on, not
across the common, but down the side of it, where building was going on,
and where were a few stray shops. He bought a refuse twopenny loaf at a
baker's for a penny, and began to eat, for he was hungry. He had not the
faintest idea what was best for him to do. He felt as if he had not a friend
in the world, so he rambled on and on. Just as night was coming down, and
he could see the lines of gas shining in the distant streets,Fhe found himself at
the edge of open fields, but the fences of which were cut down and new roads
laid out, and, farther on, brown fields and great red heaps of clay burning for
ballast or for material for roads, the blue smoke of which ascended into the
grey twilight, and a thick, choky smell filled the atmosphere.
He went on, following a little path which led amongst the smoking heaps,
for he now thought he would pass the night here; and accordingly, coming
upon a little wooden shed, in which the brickmakers took their meals,
entered it, and to his satisfaction found a quantity of hay on the floor. It
was very nearly dark, but still light enough for him to make this discovery.
But scarcely had he done so when he was aware that he was not alone. An
old man, with very long white hair on his shoulders and a snow-white beard,
which shone out distinctly in the darkness, was at the door, having, as it
appeared, come up from the opposite side. He had a quantity of tin-ware
in his hand, which also looked white, like his hair and beard.
Could one sleep here for a night, please master ?" asked Johnny,
thinking it civil to say something.
Oh aye, if you've no better lodging," said the old man, entering, and it
we can agree about it;" and so saying, he set down his tin wares in a corner
of the shed, and, taking out a match-box, lighted a candle, which he stuck in
a piece of wet clay on the wall.
Johnny now saw that he had a withered leg, supported at the knee by a
crutch, and that his appearance was very venerable and picturesque.
"Let's look at you, lad," said the old man, taking hold of his arm and
pulling him towards the candle. Then, having satisfied his curiosity, he
pushed him back, asked him if he wanted his supper, and told him he might
stop there, and that he would find hay enough for his bed besides what he
The old man seated himself on a few bricks which had evidently served
28 7yOIN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
the purpose of a seat before then, and slinging a dirty canvas bag from his
shoulder, began to look over his victuals, besides which a small bottle made
its appearance, from which he took a draught every now and then. In the
meantime he pressed his companion to partake with him; but Johnny, who
was so distressed in his mind, had no appetite, none at least beyond his dry
bread; besides, the old man's victuals looked to him so unsightly that he
could not have eaten them if he would.
The old man laughed and was merry. I'm better off than you, anyhow,
my lad," said he, for I can eat my supper."
Johnny made no reply, but, unable longer to control his feelings, began to
cry as if his heart would break.
"Well, what is it ?" asked the old man, not unkindly, when the agony of
the boy's grief seemed a little over.
It was a relief to have somebody to tell his troubles to, so he said he was
an orphan, and that he had gone that day to see some good people, who he
thought would be kind to him, but they were gone a long way off, and now
he did not know what to do; and again he was ready to cry.
The old man, whose supper was now ended, shook up his bed, and telling
his companion to do the same by his, blew out the candle, saying, if any-
body had seen the light he should have got into trouble; but they could
talk just as well in the dark.
Johnny did not quite like it, and he felt half afraid, especially when the
old man asked him if he had any money, and what he had in his bundle.
He told him that he had tenpence-halfpenny, and these were his two or three
things; and he kept his hand on the nutmeg-grater, as if to hold it fast,
but said not a word about it. The old man then said he was sorry for him,
and, he thought he could help him nicely. He went up and down the
suburbs with tin-ware, toasting-forks and skewers, and such things, and
made a nice little trade of it. Folks gave him broken victuals: he was well
known up and down, and often made as much as two shillings a-day. Now
if Johnny would join him-as a grandchild, say, an orphan, his father had
died at sea, for folks liked a touching story-he would n't mind paying
him sixpence a-day. He could n't get as good a place as that. If he went
out to service, half-a-crown a-week was as much as he'd get anywhere.
Johnny said he would n't mind trying, only he would n't tell any stories.
He would n't mind trying it for a day or a week.
The old man said, "A bargain!" took another draught from his bottle,
and lay down in the hay.
He was soon asleep. Johnny could hear his heavy breathing. For
' , __-=.- - _
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7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 31
himself, he felt too unhappy, and the circumstances in which he was placed
were too perplexing for him to go to sleep, tired though he was.
He lay down in the hay, however, as far away from the old man as he
could, and in thought went back to the heavenly time when he was a child,
and sat with Mrs. Wiltshire in the summer-house, and read to her about
the blessed Saviour feeding the multitude in the desert. He tried to bring
into his mind the miserable fact that this kind friend of his was gone, was
miles and miles away, and what would his poor foster-mother say ? and
what was to become of him ? He tried to think of all this, and realize to
himself how unhappy he was, and how desolate. But there always came
up a large and beautiful image into his mind, which shut out all the misery
and the disappointment; and it was the benignant Saviour, in a flowing
rose-coloured garment down to the feet, and his wavy golden hair, like
sunlight round his gracious countenance, dispensing bread to the famishing
multitudes. It was just as if a beautiful picture which hung on the walls
of the last school he had attended, and which he had often looked at, had
come to life, and now stood before him. He roused himself up, thought
to himself that he was dropping asleep and dreaming; then he tried to
remember again how very unhappy he was, and seemed to be lost again in
the image of the benignant Saviour, and so at last, with this in his mind, he
dropped fast asleep.
32. JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE,..
JOHNNY BEGINS A NEW TRADE-THEN ABANDONS IT.
ALMOST before it was daylight the old man summoned Johnny. It was
time to be off, he said; and the boy rose from amongst the hay out of the
deep sleep in which he had lain, and remembering the compact of the night
before, felt the utmost disinclination to act upon it. But he did not dare to
refuse. Besides, what else was there for him to do ?
The old man had a greasy, unwholesome look by daylight, spite of his snow-
white hair and beard. He had little sharp ferret eyes, that seemed to prick
into the lad like pins; and, after all, it was not an old face : there were no
fitting wrinkles to match with the snowy, venerable hair and beard.
Johnny felt an instinctive dislike to him, and thought he would run away.
And so he would have done, if he had known where to run to. Whilst he
was meditating thus with regard to his companion, the old man, who told
him to carry the bundle of skewers and toasting-forks, was taking him to
an early eating-house somewhere near Chelsea, where he ordered for both of
them a tolerable breakfast of hot coffee and muffins. The charge was
tenpence, and this the old man desired Johnny to pay, saying he would give
it him again as soon as they had taken any money.
As soon as breakfast was finished they began their tramp. Johnny carried
the lighter wares made of wire, and the old man those of tin. They walked
for an hour before they offered anything for sale, the old man saying he was
known in those parts. At length they were at Kensington, and began their
trade. They always went to back doors-to the kitchen door if possible.
Johnny was sent in first, and readily sold some of his skewers and a couple
of toasting-forks. Generally speaking, however, the fat, comfortable cooks
in the large, well-furnished kitchens, sent him away with angry words,
calling him beggar and tramp, or threatening him with the dog. But now
and then it was different: he was called a pretty lad; the old man's story
was listened to; and if the remains of breakfast or luncheon were standing
about, probably the leg of a fowl, a piece of cold bacon or cold toast
would be given him, some little of which he ate, but the greater part
went into the old man's bag. He felt he was a pauper. He never knew
what it was to be humiliated before. He could not bear it; and if it had
not been for the remembrance that the old man had his money, he would
certainly have thrown the undertaking up at once. The old man was in
capital spirits. Johnny had told him in the beginning that he would not
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 33
be called his grandson, nor should he say that his father had died at sea,
nor yet in the Crimea, fighting for the honour of England; but that he
should make it known to all that he was a friendless orphan whom he had
picked up, and who was going half-shares in his trade, he could not help
his saying, however much he might dislike it.
The old man had his bag by his side; Johnny's scraps had gone into it.
At length the lad saw the shape of a pair of shoe-soles making themselves
visible through the bag, which was now becoming pretty well filled; and
remembering that, at one of the houses where they had called, and where
they had been kindly treated, a great number of boots, gentlemen's and
ladies', stood on a table in the back kitchen, against the door of which the
old man had stood, whilst the friendly cook and another servant were choosing
a bottle-brush, a suspicion crossed his mind that one pair of those boots
was now in the old man's bag. He stopped short, and said so; threw down
the remaining toasting-fork and bottle-brush, and declared he would not go
another step with him, for that he was a wicked old man and a thief; and
demanding the money which he had paid for breakfast, and which he had
promised him back, said they would part company, for he himself was an
honest lad, and belonged to honest parents, and so their bargain was now at
In the first instance the old man seemed fairly staggered: he had not a
word to say. Then he broke forth into the most violent and fearful
threatening to give Johnny into the hands of the police for the very offence
which he had charged upon himself. He snatched up the toasting-fork
and bottle-brush, and stamped away with his lame leg, and face pallid with
rage, in search, as he said, of the police. The people on the road looked
after the furious old man; and as Johnny stood on the path where he had
left him, a horrible fear struck him lest he really should be taken up; and
afraid to run in the sight of people who had met the horrible old man,
and might have heard his threat, he all at once, from the depths of his
young soul, exclaimed "Oh Lord and Saviour, help me !" and walked
quietly on in the opposite direction to that in which the old man had gone,
turned round the next corner, and ran with all his might, he knew not whither.
The first thing that stopped him was the remembrance that he had only
one halfpenny in the world. His few clothes he had, it is true, and the
contents of the nutmeg-grater, but he would have parted with his life
sooner than with them.
Again he groaned forth, "Oh Lord, help me! Oh blessed Saviour,
34 70HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
He felt a strange sentiment in his soul, as of an unspeakable pity for
himself, he was so utterly friendless, penniless, and forlorn. And now,
suddenly, another of those beautiful school-pictures stood up, as it were,
before his memory, and seemed for the moment to shut out the blackness
of his misery. It was the Lord walking on the stormy sea, and putting
forth his hand to save the despairing Peter; and instinctively the cry rose
up in his soul, in the words of the text under the picture, "Lord save me,
or I perish."
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 35
IN THE HANDS 01' THE POLICE.
AT length, late in the afternoon, he found himself in one of the large
West-end squares. All was quiet; no throng of jostling people on the
pavement, nor rattle and rush of omnibuses or tradesmen's vehicles along
the smoothly macadamized road, upon which the softly-rolling wheels of
home-returning carriages made scarcely a sound.
In this general hush, poor weary Johnny became aware of a measured step,
which could be no other than a policeman's, behind him. A policeman was
just then a bugbear to him, for he had not yet lost the terror inspired by the
wicked old man. He therefore somewhat quickened his pace, that he might,
without running, escape from sight by the first street opening out of the
square. But the square was so large, and the lad so tired, that he was long
in reaching it, and, when he did so, and was about to relax his speed, the
measured step was still behind him. The policeman had made the turn
Johny hurried on, and came to one of those great thoroughfare crossings
by which hundreds of gentlemen daily pass to and from their wealthy
residences to take the omnibuses to their city places of business.
This crossing was held by an old man, who, having kept it for many
years, was not only considered to have a settled right in it, but who, being
one of the established characters of the neighbourhood, was patronized by all,
especially by the gentlemen.
He was just now standing on the edge of the pavement under a new-
lighted gas-lamp, leaning on his besom and meditating a retreat, when Johnny
passed him, and at the same time heard the awful voice of the policeman
behind him, saying-
Leaving off work, uncle ?"
"Aye, James," drawled out the old man, and at the very instant Johnny
felt the strong grip of the police on his shoulder.
His heart seemed to die within him, and, turning hastily round, in a spasm
of terror, he faced the tall policeman under the gas-lamp.
Oh, please, sir !" he exclaimed in piteous accents.
"Don't be frightened, my lad," said the kindly voice of the man; "I only
want to know where you're going."
Oh, please sir !" again gasped Johnny.
36 7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE,
I've been following you for the last quarter of an hour," said he, rather
peremptorily, "and I want to know where you're going."
I don't know," replied Johnny. "I have nowhere to go to, sir."
Well, where do you come from, then ?"
Johnny told him of his disappointment at Clapham the day before, adding,
It is all true that I tell you, sir, and now I don't know where to go."
"Well, you come along with me," said the man, who, with an unusual
degree of police acuteness, was convinced that the lad's artless story was true.
I'm off duty for to-day. I'm going home to my tea, and my missis'll give
you a cup, so come along."
The man went on with his solemn, measured step, like a piece of machinery
at work, and Johnny, greatly comforted by the turn affairs had taken, walked
by his side.
They were now in a street of shops and flaring gaslight, and the policeman,
turning into a pork-butcher's, bought a pound of nice-looking sausages,
which, wrapped in a paper, he carried in his hand.
Presently they turned into a somewhat dark mews, and, going up a
wooden flight of steps, the door at the top suddenly opened from within, and
a bright light flashed forth, which seemed almost blinding.
A remarkably pretty and neatly-dressed young woman stood there with
a baby in her arms. She had heard her husband coming, and now met him
with a smiling welcome. He kissed her, and, snatching the baby out of her
arms, began kissing it and tossing it about, the baby crowing and laughing in
Johnny was forgotten, so were the sausages, which, however, he had given
to his wife, who, opening the paper, said-
These are for tea, are they ?"
Lor! I forgot," said he, settling the tumbled baby straight in his arms.
" I've brought you some company, Emma Look here, mother, this little
chap's to have some tea with us. Sit you down, my lad," said he, turning
to Johnny, and when he's got a bit of something comfortable inside
of him, I'm going to catechize him, and see what prison I must send
Don't be frightened, my dear," said the neat-looking young wife. He's
so fond of his jokes. He'll do you no harm," added she, seeing the scared
look in the poor lad's face, and noticing at the. same time what a sorrowful
yet beautiful young face it was. Here's a nice low seat; come and sit
down, my dear."
Johnny sat down, comforted and very grateful.
7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 37
It was the prettiest room that Johnny had seen for many a long day, with
pictures on the walls and flowering plants in the window, and the furniture
brightly rubbed and in its place. He looked round and thought how nice it
The kettle was singing on the hob, the sausages were merrily frying in the
pan, the tea-tray stood ready on the table, a third cup being now added; tea
was brewing in a metal pot as bright as silver within the fender, in company
with three plates, which were set to get hot. Bread and butter and milk
were all ready.
The happy father, in the meantime, was still busy with the child, now
rolling it about till it screamed with delight, and now nestling it in his arms
and pretending to sing it to sleep.
Johnny saw it all. An atmosphere of love and comfort, warmer, and
more cheering even than the warmth, was around him, and, before he was
aware of it, his overstrained and already wearied frame and faculties were
in deep sleep.
Poor little fellow, he's fast asleep," said the man when every thing was
He's so tired," said the kind-hearted wife. What a handsome lad he
is. I declare he's quite a picture. Where did you find him, James ?"
But now, with the baby tucked under his arm, he had his policeman
grip again on Johnny's shoulder. Even that did not wake him, so he shook
him rather roughly, and the poor lad, opening his eyes and at once collecting
his scattered faculties, rose up, saying-
"I think I've been asleep."
The man laughed as if he had said the merriest thing in the world, and
they all sat down to tea, Johnny thinking that neither the Lord Mayor nor
Queen Victoria herself could have had a better.
When the meal was over the policeman began his cross-questioning, but
Johnny by this time had lost all his fear. So he told his story from
beginning to end. He even produced the nutmeg-grater, which the policeman,
at his request, released from his pocket with his penknife, and showed its
sacred contents; also the little Bible, which formed as it were the very kernel
of his bundle. He told about the happy time at Mr. Wiltshire's, and that
it was he whom he had gone the day before to find at Clapham, but
discovered that he had left London. Then of the last night, in the shed
amongst the ballast-hills, and the wicked old man who had robbed him of
his money, and with whom he had had such dreadful experience that very
38 YOHN ORIEL'S START IV LIFE.
By Jove!" said the policeman, when he came to this part of the story,
"I know that old vagabond. We'll cut his walk short. Did you see
him take the boots ?"
Johnny explained exactly how it was.
Can you swear to it? And should you know the house again where
the boots were ? It was down Kensington way you say ?" asked he, in a
very official tone.
"Please, sir, I'd rather not. He's such a wicked old man," pleaded
"No, James," said the wife, who had become a warm partisan of her
young guest; "don't be in such a hurry. An old thief like that, if he
steals boots to-day will steal boots to-morrow. Just set one of your fellows
to watch him; they'll soon have him for something else, and then this
poor little lad need n't be brought up about it. I'm sure I should hate it,
if I were in his place."
"Well," said the policeman, without replying to his wife, and what
next, my lad ? He threatened to give you up to the police, and charge
you with stealing the boots, did he ? Very good!" and then he laughed,
as if it was the rarest joke. And so you ran away, and you thought I
had you when my hand was on your shoulder I dare say you did feel as if
you were all turned to stone !"
Thus they talked for half-an-hour after tea, and by that time Johnny
had so far ingratiated himself into the favour of his entertainers, that it was
proposed that he should stay there over the night. The policeman's
brother had lodged there till that very day: he could have his bed, and in
the morning they would consider what had best be done for him: he might
be sent to the Boys' Home, or entered into the Shoe-black brigade, or
Before he was admitted, however, to the honour and comfort of a proper
bed, with sheets and blankets, the young wife insisted on his being well
washed; for after a night passed in the hay with that old thief, she feared
he might be none of the cleanest.
So he had a warm bath in a large wash-tub, at which the handy police-
man officiated, and then, in a clean shirt taken from his bundle, he lay
down in such a comfortable little bed as, only a few hours ago, he could
not have formed any idea of. And, to add to its comfort, the good,
motherly young woman made it deliciously hot with a warming-pan, for,"
said she, there's nothing like warmth for resting one ; besides, after his
bath, a cold bed might give him a chill."
I i '-
Poor little fellow, lie's ast aslep," said the policeman.-Page 37.
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 41
ONLY A CROSSING-SWEEPER.
THE policeman under whose roof we left Johnny was named James Yates.
He was a right good fellow, and so well known for general good conduct,
that he was sure to be a serjeant before the year was out. He was gifted
with cool judgment and great discrimination of character, so that he could
see through any amount of subterfuge, and was as little likely to be taken
in as any man in London. With all this, he liked above everything to do
a kind action. He was really as happy as a king in giving this poor, home-
less, friendless lad a night's lodging; and his wife was just like him. So
when they had seen the young stranger comfortably in bed, they sat down
to talk over what they should do for him.
Having no question about his honesty and truth, they proposed to keep
him over Sunday, by which time he would be thoroughly rested; whilst
Yates would set on foot, through the police, inquiries both regarding the
Wiltshires at Clapham and the Elliots at Hampstead: he would also
ascertain where the old vagabond with his tin-ware was hiding, and have
him carefully looked after, for nothing would please him better than to be
the means of his capture.
His wife, who was a dressmaker, and had work to finish by Saturday
night, said that Johnny would be useful to her by nursing the baby, and
helping her in various ways, for he seemed a handy lad, and if he promised
well, and they were satisfied with him, what did her husband think of his
being a successor to uncle at the crossing ?
Yates thought that was not a bad idea. But in order that you may
understand what this means, I must explain that the old crossing-sweeper,
whom I mentioned as standing by the lamp-post when the policeman over-
took Johnny, and who was addressed by him as "uncle," stood truly in that
relationship to the young wife. He had saved a rich, deaf old gentleman
from being knocked down by a baker's cart at that crossing, and had now
a little annuity from the family; besides which he had saved nobody knew
how much money at that crossing, for it was a rich one. He had been
talking for a long time of selling it, or farming it out, if he could get a
good price for it, or meet with anyone who sufficiently took his fancy. Now,
therefore, Emma thought this boy would be just the thing: he was a
good-looking, sharp lad, whom the old man would very likely take to. At
all events, it was worth trying. Uncle was troubled this cold weather with
42 -JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
rheumatism: the lad might take the crossing just for the winter, the old
man staying with him a week or two, just till the gentlemen knew him--
over Christmas, perhaps-so as to get the Christmas-boxes, for uncle always
had an eye to the money.
Yates thought it was a good scheme, and undertook to mention it to the
old man in the morning. In the meantime she would see what he was like
through the Saturday.
Johnny was overjoyed to find that his new friends would allow him to
stay with them over Sunday, and in the meantime look out for a place for
him. But they said not a word of the plan they had in view. He nursed
the baby, and nursed it to the young mother's content, winning her heart
still more by the delight which he gave to the child; so that, by the time her
husband came home for the evening, all her work was done, and she and
Johnny had cleaned the house for Sunday.
One thing only troubled the lad, namely, that he could not write to his
foster-mother, as he had promised, and as he knew she would expect. But
he could not write to her news which he knew would distress her, until he
could counterbalance the disappointment by the good tidings that he had
got a place and was well off.
Yates made the proposal to the old crossing-sweeper, who, as the weather
was now so cold, seemed willing to entertain it. It was arranged, therefore,
that he should come in and see the lad, and talk it over with him; and
whilst they were having their tea Emma and her husband, delighted with
their plan, made Johnny acquainted with it, just as if it had been a hundred
a-year for him, and a coach to ride in.
Johnny, I am half ashamed to say, did not receive the proposal quite as
enthusiastically as they had hoped, and as they thought it deserved. They
had unwisely prepared him for something which his imagination conceived
to be very different to sweeping a crossing. He could not be in raptures:
he would gladly have been so if he could.
They told him that the old man, Emma's own uncle, had made no end
of money at that crossing: he was going to leave it all to her; and he was
so much respected!
Poor Johnny It was only sweeping a crossing, after all. And how
could he write it to his foster-mother ? Would n't she think that he indeed
was reduced to beggary ? Why did they not think of something else for
him better than that ? He could not now write to her at all. He would
wait a little while and see. They said he would get a great deal of money
-more than he could in a place-even though he was to pay the old man
YOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 43
half of what he got. He was to live with him, for he had a comfortable
room of his own, and Emma said he should come and see them now and
then, for they would always be glad to see him.
Johnny was very grateful to them for their kindness; but he was bitterly
disappointed. Put it before him in what light they might, his foster-
mother never would believe but that he had sunk down very low when he
could get nothing better to do than to sweep a crossing; and without much
stretch of imagination, he saw himself muddy, and dirty and cold, with red
fingers and a red nose, hopping about on the frozen pavement to keep
himself warm. He felt such absolute pity for himself, that, but for the fear
of seeming ungrateful, it is possible that he might have cried.
"I dare say, poor little fellow, that it does seem rather low," said Emma
to her husband, after the old man was gone, and all was arranged for beginning
the next morning, and Johnny was in bed ; "I dare say it does !"
Beggars must n't be choosers," said Yates. What could he expect ?
When he has got some better clothes he must look out for himself, if this
doesn't satisfy him."
The next morning Johnny began his new life. Emma gave him a good
breakfast, and talked cheerfully to him about the lots of money he would be
sure to get; and he must look in before going home, and tell her what sort
of day he had had. But one thing in particular she must say to him before
he began. He must not mind if uncle seemed bad-tempered, nor notice his
rough talking. It was only his way; and when once he got to know him
well he would not dislike him; but of one thing he might be sure, he would
have plenty to eat, and uncle would do honestly by him to a farthing; and
as soon as he could get a little bit of money she would buy him some warm
new things; and then, when he was nice and smart, she would go with him
up to Hampstead to see his mother (he always called her so) and Harriet;
" and wouldn't that be nice !"
Johnny thought, indeed, it would, so he made up his mind that he would
not write at present. She would think he was at Mrs. Wiltshire's, and
thus she need not know, till she saw him, that he was only a crossing-
44 YOHIN ORIEL'S START INV LIFE.
HOW MRS. ELLIOT WENT TO CHAPEL, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
LEAVING Johnny to begin his new life with such satisfaction as he could, we
must now go back to his friends in Taylor's Yard.
Mrs. Elliot, on her return from accompanying her foster-son about a
mile on his way to seek his fortune, suddenly determined, sending Harriet
direct home, to go round by Highgate, and call on a family where she had
formerly been employed. She thought it as well to keep herself in their
minds, for it used to be one of her best places. On her way thither, passing
the chapel, she saw the announcement that the Rev. Joshua Wiltshire would
preach there on Sunday evening. This was a great joy, for though it was
some years since she had been to chapel, she would now make herself as
clean and respectable as she could, and go and see this excellent man, and
hear from his own lips, after chapel, all about Johnny. She used in her
better days to have great faith in Providence. She once read the Rev.
William Huntingdon's life, which she had from the chapel library, and she
knew very well what he meant by the Bank of Faith.
The old trust in Providence seemed coming back to her, for was it not
wonderful, she thought, that, just at this moment, the very preacher she
wanted to see should be brought within her reach.
She called at the house where she used to work, was well received, invited
to dinner with the servants, asked to do a few hours' work at once, for
which she received a shilling, and then was engaged for three or four days the
following week. Every thing seemed falling out well for her.
She came home, therefore, in excellent spirits, having laid out her shilling
on her way home in a few immediate necessaries. At home all had gone
on well. An unusual amount of mangling had been done, and, for a wonder,
her husband came in before tea-time quite sober.
Under the influence, therefore, of all these good things, she told him in a
pleasant and cheerful tone that Johnny was gone to see Mr. and Mrs.
Wiltshire, and she hoped they would find him a place, for they were always
so fond of him; and how surprised and pleased she had been to see that
Mr. Wiltshire was to preach at Kentish-Town chapel on Sunday evening;
and she meant to go, and then she should hear what they could do for the
poor lad, for she dared say he would not write before then.
It was quite a surprise to Elliot to hear that Johnny was gone, and,
strange to say, he felt a little troubled about it, a little conscience-stricken;
70HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 45
and as his wife did not reproach him, nor cast it at him in any way that he
had by his brutality as good as turned him out of doors, there was no need
for him to work himself up into angry self-justification. She was so cheerful,
and seemed to look at things so contentedly, that he had not a word to say.
He sat silent, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, looking into
the fire, and a touch of real pity and tenderness towards the lad whom he
had so lately ill-treated on that very hearth, rose up in his soul and troubled
Perhaps, under its painful influence, he might have walked off to the
Chequers to be rid of it by drink: he did indeed get up with the intention
of going there, but tea was then ready; and though he said he hated tea, and
that it never agreed with him, he sat down again and took it, saying not a
word, but wishing that he had behaved rather better to the lad, and thinking
that he would be sure to tell the Wiltshires, and they'd think what a brute
he was. He did not, however, go to the Chequers that night. He grew
sleepy and went to bed early, and altogether Mrs. Elliot had not felt so
comfortable in her mind for years.
The master that Elliot was now working for paid his men at the Chequers,
so on Saturday night he came home drunk, as usual. But there was no
Johnny to abuse, and the next day he was very low and sullen, as usual. As
afternoon came on, and his wife talked of going to chapel, he grew angry.
Was she not ashamed of having sent the poor lad to Mr. Witshire's ?"
he asked. "He should have thought she would have had more pride."
She knew what he meant, and said, therefore, that Johnny would tell no
tales out of school. She was sure he would not say a bad word of any of
them, he was such a good lad.
Elliot's conscience, however, goaded him, and, impatient to silence its
pricks, he got up from his chair and went to the door, as his wife in her
bonnet and cloak came down stairs to go to chapel. For the moment she
thought he was intending to go with her, and she was overjoyed. But it
was not so, and the very suggestion enraged him.
As she turned out of the yard to the right, on her way to the chapel, he
slunk away to the left towards the Chequers.
The chapel was crowded, and what a joy it was to Mrs. Elliott to sit and
listen to the old beloved preacher, to hear once more his peculiar prayers,
which were so unlike any one else's, and to hear him give out the once
familiar hymns It was like a bit of the good old days to be sitting there
and listening to it all. Nevertheless, she could not keep her mind disengaged
from her own heartfelt affairs. After chapel she was going to talk with
46 7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
him, and suppose he should be vexed with her for sending Johnny to him,
and think it a liberty, or suppose he could do nothing for him.
The nearer the service came to a close the more anxious and apprehensive
At length it was over, the minister came down from his pulpit, and saw
near the vestry door a poo shabby-looking woman asking to speak with
him. The deacons are with him and two or three gentlemen: she must wait
a few minutes. Poor soul! It was a momentary relief, and she felt her
heart beating violently.
At length he was at liberty to attend to her. She walked in and stood
before him, but he did not recognize her.
Oh, Mr. Wiltshire !" she exclaimed. "Pardon me, gentlemen, but oh,
sir, don't you remember me, Mrs. Elliot, a regular chapel-goer at Clapham?"
Elliot," repeated the minister, going back into his memory. To be
sure," and he offered her his hand. And how are you, and your husband
and family, and that dear little boy, whose mother died, and to whom you
were so kind. I hope he is well."
Anybody, as the saying is, might have knocked her down with a straw.
Oh, Mr. Wiltshire !" she exclaimed, "have n't you seen him ? Johnny
Oriel, I mean."
"Not that I'm aware of," said the minister.
"He went on Thursday, sir, to find you out: I sent him, that is."
"No, my good woman, I have not seen him. He has never been near
Oh, sir, sir!" cried she, and dropped down in a fainting fit.
The vestry was in confusion. The pew-openers, who were women,
rushed in; there were ladies still in the chapel, and water and smelling-
bottles in plenty.
In the meantime the minister explained to his friends that this was one of
his old Clapham hearers, though never in membership; but by her present
appearance she must have sadly gone down in the world. He said that he
had respect for her from her admirable conduct towards an orphan child
that she adopted even when she had a family of her own, and evidently it
was with reference to this boy, who must be now ten or twelve years of age,
that she was here.
By this time she had recovered her consciousness, and he returned to her.
She was now collected enough to tell what Johnny otherwise would have
told; and having already heard that Mr. Wiltshire no longer resided in
London, the most terrible anxiety took possession of her mind as to what had
7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 47
become of the poor lad. Although she said very little to implicate her
husband, still she had confessed his increasing weakness for drink and his
violence when under its influence, and when no longer master of himself;
also their unsuccess in endeavouring to find a place near home where the
boy could do something towards getting his own living: hence it was that
she had taken the liberty of sending him over to consult with Mr. and
Mrs. Wiltshire, from whom they both had formerly received so much
It was no use saying she should have written or blaming her in any way
for what, out of anxious affection for the boy, and in good faith in her
former minister, she had done, for she was so much distressed, and so bitterly
reproached herself, that neither he nor any of his friends could do other than
endeavour to find grounds of comfort and assurance for her. Most likely
he had found a place. She described him as having anxiously sought for one.
She would be hearing from him before long, or he would be coming back.
Unfortunately, said the preacher, he could do nothing himself, for he was
returning home early in the morning. He had preached at his old chapel the
Sunday before, and he trusted no harm had happened to the boy. He hoped
she attended chapel regularly, and had a minister she could go to who would
advise her better than he was able.
In the midst of her distress she could not avoid seeing that he was in a
hurry, and that several gentlemen stood outside the door waiting for him.
He shook hands with her, prayed God to bless her and her family, in his
old, cordial way, and was gone.
She stood like one confounded. The pew-openers and two or three other
women were still there, and they talked with her, and tried to comfort her,
each in her own way, all agreeing that the lad was sure to come back.
Sharp, clever lads never did get lost in London, and they shouldn't wonder
if she found him at home when she got there.
She reached home without having made up her mind what she was to say
to her husband. Stephen was in bed; Harriet, who was only ten years of
age, but a little old woman in the hard experience of life, was waiting
anxiously for her mother. Elliot was not yet returned from the Chequers.
The first comfort the poor woman knew was to pour out her anxious
troubles to Harriet. Harriet, of course, cried; but even she, like the
women at the chapel, did not believe that Johnny would come to any harm.
He had got a place somewhere, and they would have a letter to say so-
perhaps the letter would come to-morrow-and Johnny always said his
prayers and-if mother wouldn't cry so-and if father wouldn't go to the
48 .70HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
Chequers, then-and at the very thought of a comfort ;hat was not to be
hoped for, Harriet herself could not help crying.
Elliot, though not drunk, because it was Sunday night, was yet half
stupified: he did not say a word about Johnny, and went to bed. Mrs.
Elliot did not sleep a wink all night; sometimes driving herself half distracted
by conjuring up all kinds of horrors; then again agonizing her heart by
thinking of Johnny's loving, winning little ways when he was a child, and
how peculiarly hard and sorrowful his life had been of late. There was
not one thought out of which she could draw any consolation. Let her put
it in whatever light she would, she could not now see it otherwise than that
he had been turned out of doors, and if any harm came to him how could
she ever forgive herself? and when and how was that long hoped for
blessing, which Mr. Wiltshire had promised them years ago, ever to be
looked for if she had failed in her duty ?
In the morning she told her husband of the discovery she had made at
the chapel, and now, with a strange feeling of relief, as if for the first time
he could speak freely, he reproached her for sending the lad on a purposeless
errand, saying he was thankful he had no hand in it; he was never con-
sulted, and whatever came of it, whatever harm befell him, or whatever ill
courses he took, she might thank herself. It was all her doing As for
himself, he would neither lift a finger nor stir a foot in the matter; and so
saying, he left the house.
As she was not to begin her three days' work at Highgate till the morrow,
she set off as soon as breakfast was over to Clapham; for, some way or
other, she thought she might there either find or hear of the lad.
She reached Clapham, as he had done; and, walking up the London road,
passed the old familiar chapel, and so on to the former home of the preacher.
Nobody, so far, could give her the least intelligence. Johnny, she knew,
would go to this house; therefore she went straight up to the well-known
kitchen-door, rang, and asked had such a lad been there on Thursday,
inquiring for Mr. Wiltshire ?
It happened that the nursemaid had mentioned Johnny's inquiry to her
fellow-servants. She spoke of him as a very handsome lad, though so
poorly dressed, and said that he seemed cut up when she told him the
people he wanted didn't live there: she never was so sorry for any lad
It made tears come into Mrs. Elliot's eyes to hear anybody speak so of
her Johnny, and this, the first word that she heard of him, was a key
that at once unlocked her heart, and she told all her trouble. She was afraid
J JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 49
he was lost, or drowned, or something had happened to him. She couldn't
sleep at night, nor rest in the day : she thought she should lose her senses if
she didn't find him.
The cook, a comfortable, middle-aged woman, who had had children and
troubles of her own, proposed, in the warmth of her sympathy, to go and
speak to her mistress, and ask if she might come in and rest. The mistress
herself, no less kindly disposed than her cook, came into the kitchen and
heard the mournful story over again, with fuller details, and of all Johnny's
good qualities, his obedience and willingness to work, and how he wanted to
get a place. On this the lady advised that she should ask at all the shops,
beginning with those down the road, for that was the way the nursemaid
described him as going, and most likely she would hear of him, or perhaps
even find him.
Acting on this suggestion she came at length to the butcher's.
"A very nice-looking lad," said the butcher, in reply to her inquiry;
"and if I'd known he wanted a place, I wouldn't have minded giving him
a trial. But he only asked after Mr. Wiltshire, and where he was gone to.
I noticed how knocked all of a heap like he seemed, and I said to my missis
I'd never seen a lad so cut up by a word before. Which way did he go ?
Why, up the road again. Yes, I'm sure he went up the road again. But
you'd better ask the police; they're always going up and down, and noticing
of things; and their eyes catch a stranger in a minute."
Up the road again went Mrs. Elliot right to the Common, just as Johnny
had done; and here, meeting a policeman, she told him her trouble, and
made the necessary inquiry. But he was not on this beat on Thursday.
He advised her to go to the police-office, state the case, and have a search
instituted. They would be sure to hear of him before long. Yes, children
were sometimes found drowned, sometimes were murdered, but not often."
This last remark was in reply to Mrs. Elliot's anxious suggestion as to
Johnny's possible fate. After this she went to the police-office, and did as
she was advised.
Elliot, in the meantime, who had said that he would neither lift a finger,
nor stir a foot towards finding Johnny, was not as bad as his threat. He
was, truth to say, anxious about the lad; and thinking that probably he
was gone to his foster-brother, Dick, of whom he had always been very
fond, and who now lived with a cowkeeper near Barnet, thither he went,
without a word to any one. He inquired all the way whether a boy answering
Johnny's description had been seen on the road; but he could hear no
tidings. Dick had never seen him; but as he and one of the men
50 YOIHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
were again going to the cattle-market, they undertook to make further
Spite of himself, Elliot began to be uneasy, and determined next day to
continue the search, secretly from his wife, however, for he felt a strange
disinclination to let her know anything about his feelings on the subject.
He would go to the ponds and waters of the neighbourhood, lest, by any
chance, coming home late at night, now there was no moon, he had fallen in
and was drowned. And in this, and other such fruitless search, three days
7OHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 51
JOHNNY SWEEPS HIS CROSSING, AND ENCOUNTERS FRIENDS.
THE old crossing-sweeper, as Emma had forewarned Johnny, had a queer
temper of his own. He wanted to have a deputy whilst the cold weather
lasted, and he had such respect for his vocation, in his own person, that he
would not have allowed any but an efficient, and, so to speak, attractive
viceregent to reign in his stead. When, however, he saw Johnny, the
singularly handsome lad, at his post, and observed the effect which he pro-
duced on the accustomed thoroughfare crossers, and with what favour he
was received by some of his most special patrons, those who usually drove
to town in their carriages being of the number, and that some of these had
put their hands in their pockets and given him a piece of silver as an earnest
of their approbation, something like jealousy crept into the old man's mind,
and he was so hard to please, and so snappishly ill-tempered, that the poor
lad's heart began to fail him.
But he stood it out bravely, swept the cleanest, broadest possible crossing,
and by always sweeping, contrived to keep himself tolerably warm, and it
really was astonishing how the pence, and even the little silver coins, dropped
into his hand. The old man stood by the lamp-post, and did a little sweeping
himself, to show that he had not given up business, calculating up the while
and demanding to see every farthing that his deputy received.
So it went on for a week, the weather getting very bad the nearer it came
to Christmas; cold, raw frosts every night, and cold raw fog in the day, that
seemed to carry an icy chill to the very bone.
Johnny had quite enough to eat at the old man's, and a comfortable bed to
sleep upon, but no sign of favour from him. The only enjoyment he knew
was when he looked in at the policeman's before going home. By that
time Yates was there, just as on the first evening, nursing the baby whilst
Emma was preparing tea, and all as bright and cheerful as it was then.
Johnny would have liked above every thing to have stayed awhile, even
though he had no tea, but they never pressed him to do so, knowing that it
would vex the old man. So they only asked him what sort of a day he had
had, and what had happened to him. On this he would empty his pockets
and count over his receipts with them. His daily receipts were various:
there seemed no general rule, but less was given him later than at first.
This was natural, but it troubled him. The pleasantest thing that happened
to him during the second week was, that all at once he was astonished, just
52 yJOH1N ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
as he had finished a grand wavy pattern with his besom in the frost-dust of
his crossing, to behold Mr. North, the greengrocer, driving along in a
What's that you, Johnny ?" shouted he, stopping his horse at once, and
looking as glad as if he had seen a piece of gold.
Johnny was astonished, and said "Yes, sir," as he looked up.
So as my missis and me has been a-looking for you! And so you're
sweeping a crossing. Well, that's getting an honest penny. But I say, my
lad, if you want a place come to me. I've found out that was a bad
sixpence, so here's a shilling for you. You should ha' come back, and not
ha' been so hasty."
Thank you, sir, thank you," said Johnny, mounting on the step of the
spring cart to take the shilling.
"You know where I live," said the greengrocer. "You can come on
Monday, if you like."
Thank you, sir, but I must stop here," said Johnny.
Oh well, if you like it better," said he, and away went the spring-cart.
Johnny wished he could have explained why he could not go back to him;
but it was such a long story, and he was in a hurry.
This encounter with Mr. North was very pleasant to him, but it left its
anxiety: he feared lest, some way or other, the news might get to Hampstead
through him that he was only sweeping a crossing.
The old man was, as I have said, a very well-known character, and in his
way well thought of by the families of the neighbourhood, the regular
morning and evening crossing gentlemen being termed by him his patrons.
To all of these, as well as to the ladies, the children, and the nursemaids, he
had introduced his deputy, who was well received by them.
All the gentlemen noticed the lad with kindness, whilst two or three of
them thought it a pity that a lad of his appearance should have no better
calling, and felt a desire to do something for him. One of these gentlemen
was Mr. Coverdale, of the great world-famed firm of Coverdale, printers,
men of immense wealth, and of equally large benevolence and enlightenment.
Mr. Coverdale generally drove in his handsome brougham, for he was one
of the richest men there about. When, however, the roads were in that
dreadfully slippery state in which London streets are so frequently in
winter he would not allow his horses to go out. The streets had been in
this state for some days, and Mr. Coverdale therefore made use of the
On the second Saturday morning, therefore, as Mr. Coverdale was
YOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 53
seated in the omnibus, his neighbour, a lawyer, who had also felt an interest
in the young crossing-sweeper, remarked to him that it was a pity so fine
and intelligent a lad had not something better to do than sweep a crossing,
which, after all, was but an idle sort of life, a sort of refuge for the destitute.
Mr. Coverdale said he had been thinking the same.
Could you not make room for him in your place ?" asked the lawyer.
"In your business you want boys. I do not, or I would take him at once."
"We have at present, I believe, near two hundred boys in our employ-
ment," said Mr. Coverdale.
"It would be the making of the lad," said the lawyer.
"We are very particular about them," returned Mr. Coverdale. "We
require a degree of respectability; and yet," said he, correcting himself, "our
two best youths, now indeed almost men, were, so to speak, picked up out of
the streets. I'11 see what we can do for this lad. I am glad you mentioned
him. But I must speak to my brother: the boys are in his department."
I '0 1t "
54 O7HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
THE POLICE REPORT.
WE must again return to Johnny's friends in Taylor's Yard.
There had come a letter for Mrs. Elliot, but not from her foster-son. It
was from good Mrs. Wiltshire, who, distressed by the news which her
husband brought of the missing boy, and the sad change in Mrs. Elliot's
circumstances, now sent her a post-office order for twenty shillings, to
purchase such articles of warmth and comfort as were most needed by
herself and her children, Johnny included, for of course she hoped he
was found by this time, and to whom she wished to be affectionately
The promptitude and kindness of this letter justified Mrs. Elliot in
having sent the lad to her. Had they been still at Clapham, so she inter-
preted it, Johnny would not have been, as now, an outcast on the face of
the earth. Elliot himself never confessed this, and, strange to say, his
anxiety about the boy, which he now confessed, was producing a singular
change in him. He still went to the Chequers, but he had kept sober for
the last week. The disappearance of their foster-child had become a
common ground of anxiety on which the husband and wife now stood side
She had the good sense not to reproach him for his ill-treatment of the
lad, and he, his conscience not being quite slain, and not being called upon
to justify himself to his wife, let the inward voice speak, and listened to it. I
believe that his mental suffering during this time was very great, and it did
him much good. He was influenced, too, in another way. By this time it
was generally known that a boy was missing. Some of the more respectable
inhabitants heard of it, and, supposing it to be his own son, spoke to Elliot
on the subject, and then, hearing that he was an orphan whom they had
brought up as one of the family, he gained commendation and commiseration,
and even work, from quarters where he would not have ventured to apply,
was offered to him. It was not to be expected that he should confess the
little share of credit which was justly his due ; but it must be acknowledged
that even this undue commendation and consideration wrought a wonderful
change in him.
His wife had often said truly, that if it would only please God to bless
him with a little prosperity, to lift him up, poor, weak, drink-deluded man
as he often was, out of the mud into which he had sunk, he would have a
yOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 55
chance to rise. He was easily depressed: he was one of those who, when
once down, cannot rise again of themselves.
His wife saw, even amidst her sorrowful and still increasing anxiety on
account of the boy, a spark of comfort springing out of this very sorrow as
regarded her husband : he had not been as kind and considerate for her and
the children for years as he was now. Thus the anxiety of the present
moment was not without its blessing.
The police were on the track of Johnny : a little thread here and there
had been picked up. He had been seen incidentally at Clapham on the
Thursday: on the Friday he was conspicuous, not so much for himself as
his companion, a notorious vagabond, who was variously known as a tramp;
now as a model for artists, to whom his silver hair and beard were worth a
shilling an hour; now as a dealer in small tin wares, and a suspected petty
thief. Johnny had breakfasted with him at Chelsea, and had been seen with
him about Kensington at various houses during the day. Here a dark
suspicion arose: various small articles, amongst others, a pair of ladies'
boots, had been missed from the premises where they had been, the boy
being suspected as his accomplice, a sort of decoy, who diverted the attention
of the servants whilst the old man picked up any light articles he could lay
his hand on.
Poor Johnny If this were true, he stood under very suspicious circum-
stances. The police, it was understood, would take up the old man and his
artful young companion wherever they might be found.
The poor Elliots, who, through the police, were made acquainted with
the progress of the search, were in an agony of distress when they heard this
report, which, however, did not reach them till towards the beginning of the
third week. But this could not be their Johnny!
Well, no, perhaps not. There was no proof who it was as yet," said
the police sergeant, but it would soon be known."
Elliot was indignant at the idea outwardly, even more so than his wife.
She was so frightened lest the poor lad had been forced into temptation by
distress, yet she never confessed this fear to any one, for in truth her heart
rejected it, and in an agony of silent suffering she incesssantly prayed God
to deliver him from evil. In the meantime the suspense was terrible.
Should, by any sad possibility, this be true, then Elliot would drink again,
and their misery and shame would be greater than ever, and how could she
forgive herself for having sent the boy out into the world, which was so
wicked and so full of temptation !
The poor woman wrestled, as it were, with God in prayer both for
56 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
the boy and for her husband. Her trouble seemed more than she could
The police system is, as we know, an immense network all woven
together, so that one touch on the remotest link can vibrate to the centre;
but, strange to say, it often needs gold to make the movement rapid and
effective. Touch it anywhere with a lump of gold, and it is vitalized in a
wonderful way. No gold, however, touched it in this case. It had vibrated
as far as Johnny was in company with the thief, as far as the thief stole the
ladies' boots from the wealthy house, and there it stopped, for the people of
the wealthy house did not think the boots worth the trouble of searching
after the thief, and there might have been an end of the whole thing, if it
had not so happened that Johnny himself had been caught by chance, like a
little innocent fly, in the great police net.
The inquiry after the white-haired thief and his young accomplice came
to the knowledge of Yates about ten days after it was set going, and by
that time there was no urgency in it. To good James Yates, however, it
suggested an importance much beyond hunting up the old vagabond, or the
worth of twenty pairs of boots. He knew that it would reach, if it had not
already done so, the poor family to whom the boy he had made his protege
belonged. Now, therefore, not an hour must be lost in making their minds
easy; for that they knew of the boy's disappointment and unsuccess at
Clapham was proved by Mrs. Elliot, as he immediately ascertained through
the police, having there originated the inquiry herself.
This was on Tuesday morning; and, singular to say, a great change was
just then taking place in Johnny's fortunes, which I will relate in the following
C Tl v
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE, 57
JOHN ORIEL BEGINS TO SEE THE GOAL FROM WHICH HE WILL HAVE TO START.
MR. COVERDALE, who had taken a whole day to think over his kind inten-
tions towards the deputy crossing-sweeper, and who, after that, had con-
sulted satisfactorily with his brother on the same subject, desired the lad to
come to his house in the evening, as he wished to speak with him.
"What was Mr. Coverdale saying to you ?" asked the old man, as soon
as that gentleman had passed on.
John told him, and all that day he was so short-tempered that it was
miserable to be near him.
About four o'clock, therefore, when they usually left their stand, Johnny
went to Yates's, not only with the intention of washing himself there, but
of inquiring whether Emma had been able to buy him the new cap which
it was decided should be the first purchase with his first money; also to tell
them about Mr. Coverdale desiring to see him; and, if they asked him, to
say also how very disagreeable the old man was making himself.
Emma, who wished nothing better than good fortune for the lad, let it
come from what quarter it might, and who very well knew what a queer,
awkward temper was that of her uncle, was delighted to hear that Mr.
Coverdale wished to see him, and now did everything in her power to make
him look his best. She had bought the new cloth cap, which set off his
head to great advantage, though, of course, that would not do much for
him in the presence of the gentleman to whom he was summoned.
He was not to go till seven o'clock; and, as it happened, Yates was not
back to tea, for he was detained at the police office; so Johnny did not learn
the bad news about himself just then; and he and Emma had tea together,
she making him promise to come back the next day, and tell her the result
of the interview; for as the old uncle always went to bed before nine, it
would not do to call again that night.
Mr. Coverdale ordered John (I feel as if I must now cease to call him
Johnny) to be taken to his library, the grandest place he had ever set his foot
in, whilst the sight of Mr. Coverdale sitting there, in his handsome, large
green morocco chair, with his luxuriantly slippered feet on a large warm rug,
which felt like a bed of moss before the fire, seemed almost to take the poor
lad's breath away. All was so grand and rich, so soft and still-grander by
far, and very different, to anything he ever saw at the Wiltshires.
But Mr. Coverdale was kind in his manner, and led the boy, in the easiest
58 70HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE,
way possible, to tell him everything about himself and his present circum-
stances. He did so, even to his disappointment at Clapham, his temporary
association with the venerable thief, and his fortunate encounter with the
kind-hearted policeman. Yet, as regarded his life with his foster-parents
he was careful, remembering his foster-mother's warning, with regard to
the hoped-for interview with Mr. Wiltshire, not to represent Elliot as bad
as other men under the influence of drink.
Mr. Coverdale was one of the most strenuous advocates of Temperance
in London, and knew very well how even natures, kind and noble in them-
selves, may be transformed by drunkenness; therefore he understood everything.
At Mrs. Yates's suggestion, John took with him his Bible, which he had
left in her care, and which was the only record he had of his father. Mr.
Coverdale looked at it with deep interest, and a sentiment stronger than
ordinary sympathy touched his heart for the boy who, while he seemed more
than commonly gifted by nature, yet had been cast as a waif on life,
dependent on people who were themselves, so to speak, suffering shipwreck.
By degrees, and not slowly either, John felt at his ease, for Mr. Coverdale's
manners were unassuming and kind; therefore, when that gentleman placed
pen, ink and paper before him, desiring him to write his name and any
little sentence that occurred to him, that he might judge of his ability so
far, he did it without difficulty, though he certainly did not write his
best. Again, when he was desired to read a few passages from a volume
which Mr. Coverdale opened for that purpose, he complied without hesi-
tation, though he felt his heart thumping violently, and his voice seemed
strange to himself.
It was a long interview; but he saw that it was all tending to his good,
and he thought if Mr. Coverdale did employ him in his great printing-office,
what a letter he should be able to write his dear foster-mother. He then
would not even mind telling her about anything.
When the boy had passed through a severe examination-how severe it
was he hardly knew, because he strove neither to conceal not to disguise any-
thing-Mr. Coverdale told him that he would take him into the printing-
office, where he and his brother employed a great number of boys, and
where, at the same time, he would have to attend evening school and chapel
on Sunday, and be regularly trained, not only as a good printer, but, with
the blessing of God, as a good man and a Christian.
John knew already all about the Messrs. Coverdale's wonderful printing
establishment, for both Yates and the old crossing-sweeper had told him;
and now his joy knew no mode ofexpression. To think that he was really
.'. ' I
.'I I '
II lii II
I ll, l ,, :ltt l iItl ",.. !,,, ,' i, ,, :',
4Z ," '. i l: ;' '' ...f ,-
I "i tI .
Mr Covdal's lnl'taton to Johnny Page '
'iillt~f . _-_--o-
p-:, ,! ..
!! "" iB' "
---_ _.._. : _.
"i---- - -'-
_- ... - r J_-. ...
= .,,:..z,,"/_ -
Mr. Covcrdale's invitation to Johnny.--Page 57,
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 6r
and truly to be one of those privileged boys brought up not only to the
utmost perfection in their noble trade, but who, as Yates said, need never
look back as men, if they were only steady, after such a start in life.
John did not say much, for he really could not; but his beaming coun-
tenance showed both his joy and his gratitude, and that was enough. One
little trouble he had, which he ventured to mention to Mr. Coverdale.
He was bound to the old crossing-sweeper through the winter months.
Mr. Coverdale smiled, and promised to make all right. He said he would
have some talk with the old man the next morning, and also that he would
see the policeman's wife, because he must have decent clothing. Clean and
wholesome and sufficient clothing, he said, were necessary for health, as well
as for self-respect; therefore he must have those things; and he com-
missioned John to tell Mrs. Yates that he would look in and have some
talk with her in the morning, for the sooner it was done the better.
John again was a little troubled; for he had no idea of having new clothes
till he had worked for them, and he ventured to say so.
"We'll see about that," said Mr. Coverdale, smiling: "I do not wish to
make a pauper of you; therefore, if I find you money for some decent
clothing, you shall pay me back again."
"Oh, thank you, sir!" exclaimed the happy boy. Now, please, sir, may I go ?"
By all means," said Mr. Coverdale. "But remember, my lad, no more
John rushed out : he almost flew. He never felt so wild with joy before
in his life. He would have liked to have set off at once to Hampstead, to
carry the good news to his dear foster-mother. He would have liked to
call at the Yates's, and tell them; but the church clock struck nine, and
he did not dare, for the old man would be sitting up for him, and it would
give him just cause of anger. Therefore he went home direct, and found the
old man at his supper of black-puddings. From some cause he too was later
than usual. John's portion stood within the fender, with an old basin
turned over by way of cover.
In reply to the old man's questions he told him what Mr. Coverdale
proposed, and the information was received much better than he expected.
The truth was, he could not bear to see how great a favourite the lad was
becoming, the very children even bringing him mince-pies. He thought he
would be getting all the Christmas boxes by the way in which he was going
on; therefore it was a relief to know that he should thus honourably get
rid of the boy; and yet Mr. Coverdale, one of his best patrons, would think
it right to make up this loss to him some way.
62 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
GREAT JOY IN TAYLOR'S YARD.
THE next morning Mr. Coverdale called on Mrs. Yates, and left with her
two sovereigns, to buy John Oriel some new clothes. He also gave the old
crossing-sweeper ten shillings, as a compensation for the loss of his deputy.
Never was the old fellow better pleased since the day of his annuity, espe-
cially as Mr. Coverdale said this was independently of a Christmas-box.
John himself had gone early with his good news to the Yates's; and here
he would have heard the bad police news about himself, had not Yates ordered
his wife to keep silence till he returned from the police-office, where he
went early, intending to obtain a day's leave of absence, and go at once with
Johnny to Hampstead, and so set the mind of his foster-mother at rest, and
also clear him from any possible implication with this charge at the police-
Yates, who was known in his police district as one of its keenest and
cleverest detectors, could not be suspected of being imposed on in this affair.
He was to be a sergeant directly, as they were well aware; he therefore
knew what he was about. There could not be the shadow of a suspicion
that the lad was other than he believed him to be. All his brother police
therefore took quite an interest in the affair, and were ready at once to raise
a little subscription amongst themselves to get the lad an outfit. Yates
said that they might do so and welcome, for at that time he did not know
of the money which Mr. Coverdale had provided. Thus John Oriel had
new friends in all those blue-coated sturdy fellows who had, not so very
long since, been terrible bugbears to him.
When Yates came back with his leave of absence, about an hour after-
wards, and learned that Mr. Coverdale had not only taken Johnny into his
employment, but had left money with Emma to buy him new clothes, and
also found the boy there, he told him the terrible police suspicion, which they
had every reason to suppose had reached Hampstead, and that therefore
they must now both go there at once, so as to set the mind of his dear
foster-mother at ease, as well as to convey to her the joyful tidings.
John was, of course, half mad with impatience to be off; but Yates
insisted on doing the thing handsomely, and presenting him to his friends,
not only safe and sound, but in a proper suit of new clothes, so that there
should be no doubt about it.
It was now about seven o'clock in the evening, and the weather very
JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 63
dismal; nor could anything much more cheerless and comfortless than the
house in Taylor's Yard be conceived. Harriet and Stephen had been its
occupants all day, with nothing but potatoes and salt for dinner. The
mother, solely troubled lest the police news should get abroad, had gone
out charming. She was just come back, and had heard from the children
the sad news that their father had never been in, not even to dinner; and
the only woman who had brought clothes to mangle said he was at the
Chequers. The poor woman's heart seemed almost broken. Johnny, of a
truth, she believed would never turn up again; he was either drowned, or
murdered, or had gone to sea. Nothing more had been heard from the
police-office, and she had not the heart to inquire.
She had just taken off her bonnet and cloak, stirred up the fire, and
divided between the two children some broken victuals that had been given
her, when the door suddenly opened, and in rushed Johnny, and behind
him a tall policeman. Johnny had his arms round his foster-mother's neck,
and was kissing her, when down she went in a fainting fit. She had seen
the policeman, and she thought only that the boy was in his custody.
Yates, who had had all sorts of experience, knew what was necessary to
do in such a case. Restoratives there were none in the house ; but Harriet,
who in every emergency had her wits about her, supplied plenty of cold
The next moment, having seen her mother restored and Johnny in all
the bravery of his new attire, off she rushed to the Chequers, shouting to
the drinking men, amongst whom was her father,
"Johnny's come back, and he's a gentleman!"
The best remedy for all maladies of the heart is good news-is the fulfil-
ment of our hopes.
As soon as Mrs. Elliot came to again she saw it. There was no delusion
-no occasion for fear or shame. The real, living Johnny was there,
looking, as Harriet said, like a gentleman, and as happy as a king. She
hardly wanted to know how all this had come about. It was just what
she had expected; what she sent the boy away for; what she had
fondly pictured to herself over and over again. She had seen him over and
over again, in her mind's eye, just like this; so she sat quietly, holding
his hand, and looking into his face, and now and then giving him a kiss,
whilst he was telling her all that had happened to him, to which she never
replied, and hardly seemed listening.
Presently Elliot came in, and then she got up and busied herself about
household things. Elliot was not drunk, but elevated; and talked a great
64 JOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
deal, and asked questions without end. He was, in his foolish way, very
grateful, and wanted to give Yates a glass at the Chequers. In the mean-
time poor Mrs. Elliot, impelled by the same sentiment, had sent Harriet
to make astonishing purchases-bread and cheese, and a pound of cooked
ham; whilst Johnny, well knowing the poverty of the house, could not
understand how it was managed; but he was too good-mannered, before
his new friend the policeman, to shame, even by a. question, the astounding
hospitality of his dear foster-mother.
The truth was, that Mrs. Wiltshire's sovereign had been kept sacredly
unbroken for Johnny's needs, whatever they might be. And now here he
was, not as the prodigal son; and if, thought she to herself, the fatted calf
was killed for the prodigal, and there was dancing and feasting, and great
rejoicing on his account, how much more should not I rejoice for my Johnny,
who never gave me an hour's grief in all his life ?
Therefore Harriet, the little, old, experienced woman of eleven, was
privately called aside and sent out to provide these things, and everywhere
that she went her face beamed like the sun, and she told with tears of joy in
"Johnny is come back safe and sound, and quite a gentleman !"
701HN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 65
JOHN ORIEL MAKES HIS START IN LIFE.
AFTER all his troubles, "John Oriel's Start in Life" was made under the
most favourable auspices. He entered into the Messrs. Coverdale's
employment the Monday after Christmas. He lived in the large, well-
regulated home provided for such boys as were either without a natural
home, or to whom it was most convenient to be housed there.
There were eighty of this class. They had a master and matron in the
house, who stood in the position of parents to the boys. The work
was graduated according to their ability. All had to attend school, and
there the opportunity was afforded of studying many branches of knowledge.
They had occasional lectures on scientific or popular subjects given to them
by able men, besides music and entertaining evening-readings and other
amusements, during the winter, and, in summer, holidays and excursions.
All were made useful in the great printing establishment, and such as desired
to remain printers as they became more skilled were so employed, whilst
others emigrated, or were drafted into other employment connected with
the printing business-as paper-making, type-founding, &c.
As James Yates had said, no man who was steady and capable need ever
look back if he only started in life with the Messrs. Coverdale.
Mr. Bernard Coverdale, under whose care the boys especially were, and
who took a never-ceasing interest in their welfare, did not satisfy himself
alone with establishing John, but extended his kind, saving influence also to
From the day when he learned all necessary particulars regarding Elliot,
and a very little talk with the wife effected this, he determined to attempt
his reformation, the first step towards which was by removing him from h's
evil associates and enabling him to begin life again under more favourable
I am so down in the mud, so up to the neck in it, as I may say," said
Elliot himself when good Mr. Bernard Coverdale talked with him; and the
poor man, really touched by this gentleman's kindness and sympathy, felt
such a desire to make a new start in life as he had never felt before.
It was speedily determined, therefore, that the Elliots should leave
Taylor's Yard and remove into one of Mr. Bernard Coverdale's houses,
mangle and all. Employment of an uninterrupted kind was obtained for
him, and as there was no mangle in the immediate neighbourhood, Mrs.
66 wOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
Elliot had soon so much to do as would have paid for her mangle over and
over again. In this new home they had plenty of good air, light and water.
It was like being in Paradise after Taylor's Yard.
Harriet and Stephen now went to school regularly, and when Dick, who
had been out of place several times of late, came home till he found some-
thing else, he declared he should not have known any of them, they
looked so well, and always better every time he saw them.
As sobriety was the law with Mr. Coverdale, Elliot had to keep a strict
guard over himself, and at first it was not an easy matter for him to resist
temptation, especially now, when he had mostly money in his pocket.
Fortunately, however, the master with whom he worked paid his men on
the Friday night at the builder's office, and not at the public house, for he
was as staunch an upholder of temperance as the Coverdales themselves.
All his fellow-workmen, too, were sober men, some of them pledged tee-
totallers, therefore he was not met at every turn by a tempter. When he
was betrayed into the old course-and this, at first, happened now and then
-his repentance was bitter and sincere, and every time he was able to resist
temptation the less power it had over him afterwards. Thus he gradually
became master of himself, and being so, gained self-respect and the respect
of his fellow-men.
Long before this time, indeed immediately after entering Messrs. Co-
verdale's employment, Johnny wrote to Mrs. Wiltshire to tell her all the
good fortune that had befallen him, and, later, on that of his friends. In
reply she said she rejoiced, for that now assuredly his foster-father would see
that God is not a man that He should lie. Hath He not promised, and
shall He not make it good ?"
Elliot did not need to be reminded of this. He himself had already
acknowledged it, and this it was which first awoke in his heart a real trust
in God, for he saw of a truth that His promises did not fail.
One of the annual holidays or vacations, of about a week's duration, which
the Messrs. Coverdale allowed to such' of their youths as had friends at a
distance, and to whom a visit of this kind would be acceptable and conve-
nient, was spent by John at his friend's, Mr. Wiltshire, by invitation. It
seemed to him that this was indeed a realization of being fed by the Saviour.
It was in every respect a happy time: and, to his surprise, he found himself
not treated as an inferior by these good Christian people; but taking his
meals with them, and walking by their side, as a son might have done, as
they went to chapel, or made with him little walks of pleasure into the town
or the surrounding neighbourhood.
YOHIN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE. 67
This visit produced a very marked and beneficial effect on the lad, in so
far as it called forth his own self-respect; and modest and unassuming as he
naturally was, he returned to his employers and his associates, strengthened in
his growing manhood, and with a still higher sense of moral responsibility, as
well as of Christian duty.
A few more words, and I have done.
John Oriel had a great desire to discover his own father, and, the name
being peculiar, his friend, Mr. Bernard Coverdale, endeavoured by this
means to make the discovery.
All that was known to begin with was, that in a certain year a certain
John Oriel emigrated to Canada. With this little thread in his hand, Mr.
Bernard Coverdale began the inquiry. But it was upwards of four years
before it led him to the true John Oriel, the solitary settler near London,
in West Canada, a man who was prosperous and well thought of, but who,
to the surprise of all his friendly, hospitable neighbours, all of whom had
comfortable large families, never married, having lost his wife years ago in
some melancholy way.
Our John was then in his seventeenth year, a tall, handsome youth,
apprenticed to the printing business. He, however, wrote at once a letter
of deep affection to his father, which Mr. Bernard Coverdale accompanied
by one from himself, giving such a report of the youth as would gladden
any father's heart. A very correct photograph of his son was also inclosed
Instead of replying to this letter by post, the overjoyed solitary man, who
now had received an answer to the prayer of many years, came himself to
take the blessing and to embrace the son whom God had given him.
It was such a meeting as can hardly be imagined for joy and thanks-
giving; the father in the son recognizing the young beloved wife of his
youth, and the son finding in the father a tender-spirited man of many
sorrows, but at the same time cheerful hearted, coming as it were fresh
out of the woods, and bringing a strong, wholesome atmosphere of life
He took lodgings near the Elliots, to whom he was unbounded in his
kindness, and his son lived with him. But he loved Canada and his free
life there, and his desire was to return and there to establish his son.
John, however, wished to remain out his time with the Coverdales; but
poor Dick, his foster-brother, who had no taste for a town life, and had been
sadly knocked about, as the phrase is, for the last few years, and who of
late had had nothing but bad and profitless places, accepted joyfully the offer
68 YOHN ORIEL'S START IN LIFE.
which Oriel made him to return with him to Canada, where they would clear
land and build a good house against the time when John came out to them.
In some respects Dick was better suited to the Canadian farmer than his
own son, and Dick himself was perfectly wild with delight in the prospect of
emigration, whilst Oriel was happy in thinking that he should return to his
beloved Canada enriched with two sons instead of one.
Need I say more than that the foster-brothers are now both prospering
there, and Oriel the elder says on that side of the Atlantic, as Mrs. Elliot
on this, God will never fail us if we only put our trust in Him."
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