The Baldwin Library
4A J^y i
NO, SIR, WE'RE IOT BEGGARST" CRIED RCBIN.
MARY E. ROPES,
"TILL THE SUGAR MELTS," "JACK AND SHAG," ETC.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY:
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD; AND
I. A LABOUR OF LOVE 5
II. THE WAYFARERS' STORY 14
ill. ROBIN'S TRUST .23
IV. SLANDER AT WORK 33
V. THE FALSE ACCUSATION 40
vI. ROBIN TURNED AWAY 49
vII. IN LONDON STREETS 59
vIII. THE MYSTERY SOLVED 65
SLabhour of LCIuo ,
'M afraid I can't carry you no further
Just yet, Duckie; sit down here,
and let's rest a bit. There, lay your head
on Robbie's shoulder, and wipe your eyes.
Brother will take care of his dear little sis,
and the good Lord will look after us both."
The speaker was a tall gaunt lad, with
hollow cheeks and weary eyes; eyes in
which might be seen, as in a mirror,
thoughts of past trouble and future respon-
sibility, mingled with the wistful, suffering
expression of present fatigue and want.
His little sister, a child of some six years,
was crying bitterly; but now, as Robin
6 Ragged Robin.
sat down on the grass and drew her to-
wards him, she dried her tears, and hiding
her face in the ragged folds of his jacket,
was soon asleep.
It was a long and weary tramp that
they had made that day, poor children; and
at last, as the shadows of evening began
to fall, Robin too, forgetting his sorrows
and his hunger, fell into a sound slumber.
So sound was the sleep that had come
upon the weary travellers, that they did
not hear approaching footsteps; nor did
they awake to consciousness until a hard
hand was laid upon Robin's shoulder, and
a loud voice rang in his ear.
Wake up there, lazy vagabonds don't
you know you're trespassing ? Look sharp
now, you great lubberly boy, and tell me
why you came in here. Don't you know
that trespassers will be prosecuted ?"
Robin, startled by the voice and touch,
sprang to his feet, and the little girl rolled
on to the soft grass, where she opened
A Labour of Love. 7
great eyes of wonder, and stared at the
The man was a farmer, and the owner of
the field. He kept his hand on the boy's
shoulder, and looked him sternly in the
face as he spoke. But Robin had by this
time recovered from his surprise, and
touching his tattered cap, he returned the
farmer's gaze with a quiet fearlessness,
while he replied,
I'm sorry we've been trespassing, sir;
but we'd walked about eighteen miles to-
day, and we were both so tired, that when
we couldn't go no further, we climbed
over the stile and lay down here, the grass
being so soft and not damp neither. But
we've rested now, sir, and can move on a
bit, if you please."
The farmer's face softened.
"Eighteen miles!" said he; "that's a
long pull, even for a likely lad such as you
are; but how did this little lass manage to
get over all that ground ?"
8 Ragged Robin.
Here the little girl, who had hitherto
been lying on the grass, and gazing eagerly
up in the stranger's face, suddenly sprang to
her feet, and passing one wee hand through
Robin's arm, said in sweet childish tones,
Please, sir, Robbie carried me when I
was tired, and gave me his bit of bread
when I was hungry; and then, when I was
very sleepy and couldn't help crying, he
brought me here, and we went to sleep;
and oh, please, don't scold Robbie, sir,"
added the child, her eyes filling with tears
again, "'cause I love him, and 'cause he's
such a good brother."
The farmer's heart could not have been
as hard as his hand, or as rough as his
voice, for as his eyes met those of the little
leader, his look grew kind and gentle,
and he replied, There, there, child, I won't
scold him; but tell me "--and here he
turned to the boy again-" how you come
to be on the tramp like this; you don't
look like beggars!"
A Labour of Love. 9
The colour flashed into Robin's face, and
he drew himself up proudly. No, sir,"
cried he, we're not beggars; but mother
and father died of the fever two months
ago, when it was so bad in' our village.
When they were gone I tried hard to get
work, but there was little to do, not enough
to keep us both. So, as I heard tell of
plenty of work in London or near it, I
thought we'd go there, and I'd see if I
could find a place. We've been nigh upon
two weeks getting as far as this, and to-
day my last penny had gone, and the last
bit of bread, and we're still a long .day's
journey from London; at least, so a tinker
told me, as had come from there."
Yes," said the farmer; you're a good
twenty mile from the city yet; but, my
lad, if you expect to find work easily there,
you're very much mistaken, and you'll be
disappointed. And besides, if you do get
it, it won't feed and lodge you both; a big
boy like you might get on alone in London,
io Ragged Robin.
but you would not know what to do with
Poor Robin's head drooped; the colour
faded out of his cheeks, and it was all he
could do to help crying. He did not see
that in the farmer's eyes two great tears
were glistening, and he did not notice that
when the man spoke again, his voice
sounded thick and husky; but he heard
the kind words that were spoken, and for
a moment he could hardly believe them.
Robin, my lad, don't you be cast down.
I see you're tired and hungry, and so is
this little one here. Come home with me
now, and have something to eat, and then
we'll talk about what's to be done. Who
knows but we may find some work for you
up at the farm."
The farmer did not wait for an answer.
Stooping down, he took the little girl in
his arms, and moved towards the stile,
quickly followed by Robin.
Once on the high road, they had but a
A Labour of Love. I
short distance to walk, and presently they
found themselves before the door of an
old-fashioned but comfortable farmhouse.
In strode the farmer, and was met by
his wife, a portly, motherly-looking dame,
who uttered an exclamation of surprise
when she saw her husband carrying a little
girl, and followed by a ragged boy.
"Why, father, where on earth did you
pick up these tramps ?" said she, in a voice
which was much gentler than her words.
"I found them in my field- in the
lower spring meadow. They were tres-
passing, you see," said the farmer, with a
comical smile, "so I had to take them up."
The good woman stared a moment at her
husband without speaking; then she said,
"Well, father, they're both as tired as
they can well be, and hungry too, I'll be
bound. Just hand that little lassie over
to me, and you take the boy where he
can wash himself, and I'll tell Judith to
get them some tea."
12 Raggea Roban.
"Ay, do, there's a dear!" said the
farmer, laying his great hand upon his
wife's shoulder; "trust you for taking
care of everybody and everything. You
always were a real kind-hearted creature,
and that's how I came to--"
Here the good man was suddenly
checked in his eloquence, for his wife
had apparently heard enough; and now,
taking the child by the hand, she disap-
peared with her upstairs, and the farmer
was left alone with Robin.
Now, my lad," said he, cheerily,
"come into the wash-house and have a
scrub; here's lots of hot water and soap,
and there's a clean towel hanging behind
Robin was only too glad to avail himself
of the privilege and luxury offered him;
and as soon as the farmer had left him, he
set about his washing with such vigour
that in a few minutes you would hardly
have recognized in this fresh, bright, clean
A Labour of Love. 13
face, the weary, travel-stained countenance
of the ragged sleeper in the field.
On returning to the kitchen, Robin
found the farmer and his wife there, and
also his little sister, who seemed quite
happy, and was chattering away merrily.
The tea-table was soon plentifully spread,
and the two young travellers did ample
justice to the new milk and eggs, and
sweet home-made bread and butter, which
were so hospitably set before them.
When at last their hunger was appeased,
Farmer Cooper (for that was his name)
turned to Robin and said, Now, my boy,
you shall tell my wife and me a little more
of your story, and then we must think
what can be done for you."
It would take too long to relate in full
Mr. Cooper's conversation with our friend
Robin; but we will, in the next chapter,
just give a summary of what was said, so
far as regards the former history of our
two young travellers,
The Wayfarer's $ior1,
SOBIN and Elsie May were the children
V of industrious and godly parents.
John May, Robin's father, was the only
carpenter in the village of Gunton, and he
had employment enough to keep his little
family in great comfort, and also to lay
by a considerable sum for the future wants
of his son and little daughter. But this
hard-earned money was destined never to
be used as John May had intended.
One evening, when the carpenter got
home from a town at some distance, where
he had been working, he found that the
man whom he employed to help him in
the workshop, had absconded, carrying
with him the cash box, and many of the
most valuable tools.
The Wayfarer's Story. 15
Poor John May did his best to trace
the thief, and to recover the stolen
property, but in vain. And now, with
failing health, advancing age, and de-
sponding heart, the poor man renewed
his efforts, toiling early and late at his
carpenter's bench, to lay by once more
some slender provision for his family.
Robin had by this time left school, and
now his father took him into the workshop
and tried to teach him his trade. Long,
however, before the lad had acquired any
proficiency in his work, new affliction came
upon the family.
A fever, which had been singularly fatal
in several of the neighboring towns, swept
over the village of Gunton.
Little Elsie took it first, and was care-
fully nursed through it by her mother,
who soon after was laid low by the same
disease. Exhausted by her previous
anxiety and watching, she made no stand
against the progress of the malady, and
16 Ragged Robin.
sank rapidly. Her husband remained by
her to the last; then, and only then, he
yielded to the fatal influence which was
creeping over him too, and lay down upon
the bed from which he was destined never
to rise again.
We pass over the parish funerals, the
misery and grief and loneliness of the
orphans. It is enough to say that Robin
did his best to obtain work of any sort,
in order to support his sister and himself;
but after trying for some time he became
convinced, that, in this fever-stricken
country village, it would be difficult for
him to maintain even himself, much less
Elsie too. Poverty and sickness had
visited many houses, and work and money
So, one day, the boy, leading his little
sister by the hand, and carrying a bundle
containing his mother's Bible and a few
things for Elsie, set out to walk to London.
He had a little money, which had come
The Wayfarer's Story. 17
to him from the sale of his father's tools,
and Robin had hoped that this sum would
be sufficient to support him and his little
charge until they reached the great city.
For a while the young travellers
managed fairly well. They could always
obtain food at the inns and farms, and
generally a night's shelter in a shed or
out-house. But at length the money was
all spent, and the last bit of bread eaten,
and it was at this point that our story
commences with the farmer's fortunate
discovery of the weary sleepers in his field.
Long after Robin and Elsie had gone
to bed and were sound asleep, (Robin in
a nice clean loft over an old stable that
was not used, Elsie in a tiny bedroom
near that of the farmer and his wife,)
Mr. and Mrs. Cooper sat together in their
little parlour, busily talking about their
new guests, and trying to arrange for
"That little lassie is wonderful like our
18 Ragged Robin.
Nan that's gone to Heaven," said the
good woman, wiping her eyes. The
child's clothes would just fit Elsie, and I'm
pretty sure, father, if our darling could tell
us what she wished, she'd ask us to take
this motherless girl. We're not poor, we
can afford it, now, can't we ?"
"Yes, wife," replied the farmer, "we can
afford it, certainly, and what you say is
true and right enough; but remember, we
know no more about these children than
what they've told us, and how can we
know that they're speaking the truth?
Mind you, wife, I don't believe but what
they are ; still, there's no proof."
Mrs. Cooper was silent a moment, then
she said, "Look here now, James, why
can't we give 'em a trial ? You want a
good strong boy to work under Sam Boyce
on the farm, and I want the little girl to
make company for me in the house; it'll do
no harm for us to try 'em, will it, father ?"
Mr. Cooper smiled. "Well, wife," said
The Wayfarer's Story. 19
he, "it shall be as you say. We'll give
them a chance; and if we find they deserve
it, they can stay on."
The next morning, after breakfast, the
farmer took Robin aside, and told him
what he meant to do for him and his sister.
While the good man spoke, tears of delight
and gratitude shone in the poor boy's eyes,
and he could hardly find words to express
"You understand, my lad," said Mr.
Cooper, "that just at first you're on trial,
and so I shall only give you your food and
a new suit of clothes in return for your
services. Then, if I find you're the sort
of chap I want, we will talk about regular
wages in a couple of months' time."
So it was finally settled; and Robin
began his duties that day, under the
direction of the young man Sam Boyce,
whom the farmer instructed to show and
teach the new boy all that he could.
Meanwhile, good Mrs. Cooper had
20 Raoged Robin.
dressed little Elsie in some of her own
child's clothes, and was now busily engaged
in her usual duties, followed by the patter-
ing feet and sweet voice of her adopted
Robin did not take a fancy at first sight
to Sam Boyce, nor as time went on did
he like him any better. Robin had been
brought up in the fear and love of God,
and the trouble and sorrow through which
he had passed, boy though he was, had
tended to deepen and establish his Christian
character. And now it made him very
unhappy when he saw Sam doing and
saying many things which Robin had been
taught to regard as sinful.
For one thing, Sam was an inveterate
swearer; and whenever he was the least
irritated or provoked, an oath seemed to
be the first exclamation that rose to his
lips. This pained Robin not a little, and
once he ventured to speak to him about it,
The Wayfarer's Story. 21
but Sam got into a passion immediately,
called Robin every bad name he could think
of, and for several days was so unkind to
him, that the lad was quite discouraged.
But Robin soon found out that swearing
was not the worst of Sam Boyce's habits.
Again and again he showed himself un-
truthful and false. Then, too, he did not
seem perfectly honest and above board in
his work. If he had to take the horses to
the farrier's, he would stay away so long
that the farmer would wonder what had
become of him, and Robin often had to do
the work that Sam had left undone at
home. Once or twice, Sam had returned
from these expeditions evidently the worse
for drink; but he had always somehow
managed to keep the fact from his master.
And Farmer Cooper did not suspect that
several of the best hours of the day were
sometimes spent at the Blue Boar, a
wretched little public house half way
between the farm and the farrier's forge.
22 Ragged Robin.
The -time of Robin's probation was
drawing to a close, and he was beginning
to understand and to enjoy his duties;
while the farmer, who during seven weeks
had narrowly watched him, was now feel-
ing that he had done a wise thing in taking
him into his service, and that Robin would
shortly become a very useful and valuable
servant. The boy's life would have been
a very happy one, had it not been for Sam.
But the more Robin saw of his companion,
the more he disliked and distrusted him.
Boyce was always ready with plausible
excuses when his conduct appeared strange,
so Robin had no choice but to go on,
silently doing his own duty, not venturing
to expostulate with Sam, but trying to
keep as much as possible on terms of
civility, without being intimate. Hoped
that some day the farmer might be able to
discover and prove what Robin himself
only feared and suspected of Sam's decep-
tion and bad habits.
" OBIN, my lad," said Mr. Cooper, one
evening, as he passed through the
poultry yard when the boy was locking up
the hen-house, "Robin, I want you to
come into the kitchen and pack the eggs
for market to-morrow; the missis is ill and
can't attend to them, and Sam is out with
the cart. There's about a hundred and
twenty eggs; pack them carefully in hay,
and get them all ready; I am going in
the morning, and will take them."
"Yes, sir," replied Robin, promptly,
" I'll do it at once; and walking towards
the house, and hanging up the key of the
hen-house where it was usually kept, be-
hind the door, he went into the back
kitchen, and was soon busy packing the
24 Ragged Robin.
eggs. He was just putting in the last
layer of hay, when Sam came in, and stood
"What's that you've been doing ?" said
Sam, roughly; "you're always up to some-
thing fresh while I'm out of the way!"
"I'm only packing the eggs for to-
morrow," said Robin, pleasantly; "master
thought I'd better do it as missis is ill, and
you were out with the cart."
"Oh, I daresay !" muttered Sam; I
can see well enough what it all means;
you're willing to do anything and every-
thing, whether it's your own work or not,
just to get into master's good graces; well,
I don't believe you'll stay in 'em so very
I hope I shall," said Robin, somewhat
indignantly, while the hot blood flashed
into his cheeks. I want to do right, and
I mean to try to; and if I can ever show
Mr. Cooper that I'm grateful for all his
kindness, I certainly will."
Robin's Trust. 25
"Yes, I shouldn't wonder," sneered Sam,
and putting his hands in his pockets, he
was moving off, when suddenly a thought
appeared to strike him, and he said, Have
you counted them eggs, Robin ? Do you
know how many there are ? "
Yes," replied the boy ; master counted
them first, and told me there were ten
dozen, and I counted them again and found
"Very well," said Sam; "now good
night. I'm off home, as I've got to be up
early to-morrow; I'm going to market
Robin also was up early next morning;
but, for a wonder, Sam Boyce was before
I've just been getting things ready
a bit for market," said he, in answer to
Robin's exclamation of surprise when they
met. "You'd better go and fetch your
egg hamper, and I'll pack it into the
cart with the other things, so as to have
26 Ragged Robiz.
all snug for starting directly after break-
Robin obeyed, brought the big round
basket carefully out of the house, and fol-
lowed Sam out into the stable-yard. He
looked at the cover of the hamper just as
he was handing it to Sam in the cart, and
to his surprise he saw that some of the
fastenings of the lid were loose.
"Why, look here, Sam," cried he,
"here's the cover of the hamper coming
off, and yet I'm sure I fastened it securely
enough last night. How in the world has
it got unfastened ?"
How should I know ?" said Sam, im
patiently. "I daresay you didn't tie it
up as safe as you thought-you're not so
used to packing eggs but what you can
make a mistake, I suppose."
Robin saw that Sam was in one of his
irritable moods, and that it would be best
to say no more ; so he fastened the hamper,
and then went back to his other work.
Robin's Trust. 27
After an early breakfast, the farmer and
Sam set off to the market, which was held
at Simtonville, the nearest town, seven
Robin watched them drive away, then
applied himself industriously to his tasks
again, determined to have all in first-rate
order for his master's return. He went
about his work singing or whistling cheerily.
To tell the truth, it was a great relief to
him to get rid for a while of Sam Boyce,
in whose society he always felt uncomfort-
able, and with whose tastes and habits he
had no sympathy.
Then, too, he was happy to think of his
present lot, so much better and more
hopeful than he had dared to expect; and
as he thought of God's goodness to him
and his little sister, his heart seemed filled
to overflowing with thankfulness and
The day passed pleasantly enough. He
helped Mrs. Cooper in the dairy, attended
28 Ragged Robin.
to Sam's work as well as his own, and at
last, having finished all, took Elsie out for
a walk in the fresh green fields.
They had just come in when the farmer's
cart drove up, and Mr. Cooper and Sam
In a moment Robin saw that something
was wrong, for the farmer, instead of
greeting him with his usual hearty, "Well,
Robin, my lad, how's all at home ? now
merely threw him the reins, and without
saying a word, walked into the house.
Perhaps things haven't gone well at
the market," thought the boy, as he led
the horse round to the yard: "'or maybe
he isn't feeling well." But he said nothing
to Sam, who was slowly following him, to
assist in putting away the horse and cart.
Sam, for his part, seemed quite as re-
luctant to speak; but his face wore an
unpleasant expression of satisfaction and
ill-concealed triumph, which puzzled Robin
even more than it annoyed him.
Roin's Trust. 29
After locking the stable door, Sam went
home, for he lived in the village about a
mile off; and Robin, having gone his usual
rounds to see that all was safe, was just
entering the house, when he heard the
farmer's voice calling him from the little
sitting-room or parlour. Robin went in
at once, and found Mr. Cooper alone. He
was sitting with his elbows on the table,
and his head in his hands, and he did not
move for a moment or two after the boy
Then he looked up, and fixing a searching
eye upon Robin, said, "Tell me, my lad,
how many eggs did I tell you I counted
yesterday before they were packed in the
hamper ? "
"A hundred and twenty, sir," replied
Robin, unhesitatingly, and looking straight
into his master's face.
"And how many did you make them
when you counted them again ?" said Mr.
30 Ragged Robin.
"I made them just the same, sir,-a
hundred and twenty; I am quite sure of
this, for I packed them in ten layers of
Did you fasten up the hamper last
night or this morning ?" asked the farmer,
his grave face softening a little as he
looked into the frank honest eyes of the boy.
Well, sir, the strange part of it is that
I did both. I fastened it as I thought very
securely last evening; and yet when I came
to put it into the cart this morning, part of
the cord was loose, and the cover quite
open on one side. I noticed it, and spoke
of it to Sam."
My reason for asking all these ques-
tions," said Mr. Cooper, more gently, "is
this. When I got to market, I found that
the basket contained only a hundred eggs,
instead of the number I had thought; and
I am at a loss as to how they could have
disappeared. Did anyone touch the hamper
but yourself ? "
Robin's TrustY 31
"No, sir," replied Robin, "not that I
know of, for I did not leave it last evening
until I had closed and fastened it, and I
myself carried it to the cart this morning."
"Strange!" said the farmer, thought-
fully, and again he buried his face in his
hands; presently, however, he looked up,
and seeing Robin's troubled expression,
"Don't you fret, my lad,-I don't sus-
pect you of anything underhand; I am
only puzzled and worried. Go to the
kitchen now and get your supper; and
yet, stop a moment !" exclaimed the
farmer. "Tell me, were any of the
labourers about while you were packing
the hamper, or when you first came out
this morning ?"
"No, sir; Sam Boyce was the only
person I saw last evening, and the first
this morning, and I don't believe anyone
else knew about the eggs."
So saying, Robin left the room with a
32 Ragged Robi1n.
heavy heart. Mrs. Cooper was in the
kitchen, and was greatly surprised and
somewhat distressed, too, that he was not
as hungry as usual for his supper; and
when she asked him what was the matter
he told her the whole story.
Never mind, Robin," said she, in her
kind motherly way, "it'll all be made
right yet. Go on steadily with what you
think is duty, and the rest'll be managed
So Robin went to bed somewhat com-
forted, but not before he had committed
himself in prayer to his Heavenly Father,
asking Him to order all things for good.
' ~~1 11t -~wIf y
Slander at Wor.
OBIN was busy in the poultry yard
one morning, a few days after the
memorable market-day, when Elsie rushed
up to him, her cheeks scarlet with passion,
her chest heaving with indignant sobs.
Oh, Robbie! Robbie !" cried she, as she
threw herself into her brother's arms, It
isn't true I know it isn't true. You are
my good Robbie, I know you are !"
Hush! Elsie dear," said the boy,
tenderly folding his arms round his little
sister, and kissing her wet cheek; "try
and tell brother quietly what it all means;
stop crying now, there's a good child."
Elsie choked back some more sobs, and
managed to say,
It's Sam Boyce, and he's been saying
34 Ragged Robin.
that I oughtn't to care for you 'cause
you're not a good boy, 'cause you're a
thief! But, oh Robbie, you're not a thief!
you're not, are you ?" and the little arms
tightened round Robin's neck, and the
sobs broke forth again.
Halloa, what's all this about ? Elsie,
little woman, what's the matter ?"
It was the farmer who had just come
into the yard, and now stopped in astonish-
ment before the brother and sister.
Robin looked up with a flushed face, and
tried to say quietly,
"It's nothing much, sir; Elsie was in
trouble and came to me; she'll be all right
presently, thank you, sir."
Mr. Cooper, at this, was turning away;
but Elsie darted from her brother's arms,
caught hold of the farmer's hand, and said,
impetuously stamping her little foot:
I will tell you, 'cause it's so wicked, and
'cause it isn't true. Robbie isn't a thief, is
he?" and in her eagerness the child clasped
Slander at Work. 35
both her hands upon the good man's arm,
and looked anxiously into his face.
"What!" said the farmer, "a thief, did you
say ? and, pray, who called Robin a thief ?"
It was Sam, that wicked wicked Sam !"
cried Elsie, once more sobbing with passion.
"And I hate him ever so ; I do, I do."
Hush, Elsie, that is very wrong, very
wrong indeed," whispered Robin. It is
wicked to hate any one, and God will not
love us if we do."
Fairly exhausted with passion and sobs,
Elsie said no more; leaned her head on
her brother's shoulder, still shedding a few
tears, and listening to his soothing words.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cooper strode away to
the stable to find Sam Boyce. Calling him
out, he said, Boyce, I won't have such
things said about any one in my service,
as you've been saying about Robin May.
A man's always innocent to my mind, till
he's proved guilty; and I've proved nothing
yet, and what's more I don't believe I
36 Ragged Rotin.
shall. You've put that poor little girl into
a fine state of mind, with your foolish
words, and I warn you not to say anything
of the sort again."
Sam looked up sullenly and said, "Well,
sir, if your faith ain't shook by them eggs,
mine is. Of course I won't say nothing'
more about it as you don't wish it; but
mark my words, there'll be proof yet that
that there vagabond is a liar and a thief."
"Hold your tongue, and go to your
work!" said the farmer, impatiently; and
without another word he walked away.
Sam followed him with his eyes, and
then muttering to himself, I'll work it
yet!" he returned to the stable.
The two months of probation were at
length past, and Robin May began to
receive regular wages. He ever worked
conscientiously and intelligently, and as
Farmer Cooper marked the boy's industry
and steady habits, he became more and more
attached to him. As for little Elsie, she
Slander at Work. 37
was like an own child to good Mrs. Cooper,
who was never so happy as when she
heard the merry voice ringing through the
house, or the nimble feet running in and out.
Meanwhile, out of sympathy and out of
humour with everyone, Sam Boyce went
about his duties from day to day. The
lowering look on his surly face never lifted
now, and no mark of favour shown by the
farmer to Robin ever escaped him.
The boy did not know it, but Sam rarely
lost sight of him for long during the day,
and thus had made himself thoroughly
acquainted with all Robin's ways, and his
methods of doing the work appointed him.
It will be remembered that at first Robin
had been put under Sam to learn his duties;
but now the farmer felt that the intelligent
youth might well be trusted to take a posi-
tion of his own, and accordingly he suffered
him to do his work in his own way, being
responsible only to his master.
The little mystery of the disappearance
38 Ragged Robin.
of the eggs had never been cleared up; but
the farmer had ceased to trouble himself
about it, and nothing now interfered with
the confidence he placed in his young ser-
vant's honesty and truthfulness.
Robin had always felt a great wish to
acquire a good education; at school he
had learned to read and write, and had
become familiar with the rudiments of
arithmetic; but these did not satisfy him,
and he had often sighed for the advantages
which so many youths have, and care
nothing about. It was not very wonderful,
therefore, feeling as he did, that when
Farmer Cooper paid him his first month's
wages, he said to himself joyfully, Now
I can have some books." And as soon as
possible he went to the market town, and
bought a few books, among which were a
grammar, a book of arithmetic, and a
couple of volumes of English history.
How rich Robin felt, to be sure, when
he carried his treasures up to the loft which
Slander at Work. 39
was still his bedroom, and hid them away
in a little deal box that in his odd minutes
he had knocked together for the purpose.
Every evening before Robin went to
bed he gave himself an hour's hard study,
and very precious to him was the quiet of
his own room,-humble though it was,-
and the opportunity thus given him for
getting some useful knowledge.
Sam Boyce looked upon these little ar-
rangements with an observant, but scarcely
a kindly eye. Once when Robin was out
he had clambered up to the loft, had peered
round the room, and had even gone so far
as to open the deal box in the corner.
Only half full!" said he to himself, as
he raised the lid; "plenty of room if I can
only manage it!"
He did not trouble himself to take out
the books, but quietly shut the box again,
and stole softly down the ladder, betaking
himself to his work once more, with an un-
pleasantly thoughtful face.
The False 4=ccusatin,
T was about three weeks after Sam's
solitary visit to Robin's room, and
Robin was coming in to his breakfast one
morning, when Mr. Cooper called him into
"Can you tell me, my lad," said he,
"how it is that the number of eggs we get
from the poultry now is so small ? I find
on looking into my book for this time last
year, that we had a great many more. But
you have the entire charge of the hen-house;
do you know of anything to prevent the
hens laying? Do you ever catch them
straying away ?"
No, sir," replied Robin; "I've been
puzzled myself, and don't know what to
make of it. We get such a good price for
The False Accusation. 41
eggs now, that it seems a pity we shouldn't
have more to sell."
The farmer looked up quickly: Robin's
evident appreciation of the money part of
the question struck him unpleasantly, he
hardly knew why; and somehow-though
in the same moment he took himself to
task for the thought-Sam Boyce's words
came back to his recollection with painful
suddenness, Mark my words, sir, there'll
be proof yet that that there vagabond is a
liar and a thief!"
Something of this may have shown itself
in the farmer's face for an instant, for as
Robin met his master's eyes, his colour
rose, and drawing himself proudly up, he
If you think it is owing to any fault
of mine, sir, that there's such a falling off
in the eggs, I'll willingly give up the charge
of the poultry. I've done my best, but
perhaps my best hasn't been much. I
daresay Sam would do better."
42 ragged Robin.
"Nonsense, Robin !" exclaimed Mr.
Cooper; I don't want you to give up the
hen-house; I was only asking you about
the eggs, hoping you might be able to give
me some reason for there being so few."
I wish I could, sir," rejoined Robin,
gravely. And here the conversation ended.
"Sam, my man, leave whatever you're
doing here for Robin to finish. The missis
is well nigh mad with toothache; so just
put the old chestnut into the light cart,
and drive her over to Simtonville to the
dentist." The farmer had walked round
to the stable-yard where Sam was at work.
Mrs. Cooper had caught cold in her face,
and was suffering so much that she had at
length resolved to have the offending tooth
out, and her husband was anxious she
should go at once, so as to get home
Sam looked up: "I would go, sir," said
he, "but somehow or other this morning
I wrenched my left wrist, and I'm afear'd
The False Accusation. 43
I can't drive. Won't you send Robin, sir?
he can handle the reins as well as I can."
A word of praise from Sam for Robin
was so unusual, that Mr. Cooper stared
for a moment in surprise, then he said,
"Well, my lad, if your hand is painful
I'm sure I don't want you to go; I'll give
the order to Robin." And away went the
farmer; while Sam, with wonderful rapidity,
considering the sprain in his wrist, began to
harness the sleek chestnut cob into the cart.
Robin was sorry to hear of Sam's sprained
wrist, but very glad of the opportunity of
going with kind Mrs. Cooper anywhere.
The good woman had shown so much
motherly feeling to little Elsie, and indeed
to Robin too, that the boy loved her dearly,
and was always trying to show his affection
Off went the cart, the old cob trotting
merrily down the hill, guided by careful
Robin, who was never so happy as when
he had the reins in his hands.
44 Ragged Robin.
Farmer Cooper stood at the door till
the vehicle was out of sight; then he turned
back into the house, where he was soon
busy with accounts. He might have been
sitting over them about half an hour, when
a knock came at the door.
"Come in," said the farmer, and Sam
Boyce entered, carefully shutting the door
Well, Sam, what is it ?" asked Mr.
Cooper, looking up; make haste, man, for
I'm very busy."
If you please, sir," said Sam, with a look
of mystery and grave concern, "do you
remember what I said to you once about
Robin May ? That you'd find out some day
that he was no better nor he should be ?"
"Yes, I remember very well-too well!"
replied the farmer, with a pang of self-
Well, sir," continued Sam, "you said
you would never believe anything bad of
Robin May until there was proof."
The False Accusation. 45
"I know; I recollect; but what has
that to do with the present ?"
Only that I've got proof at last," said
Sam. I've felt sure he was up to some-
thing for long enough, but I never could
catch him at anything; now I think I can
be sure !" 'And Sam could hardly conceal
the satisfaction he felt at being able to say
"What makes you think so, Sam ?"
asked the farmer.
"Well, sir," replied the young man, I
happened to go into the poultry yard, as
Robin had been cleaning out the hen-
house; and when he see me coming, he
snatches up his cap which was full of
something heavy, and away he goes up
the ladder into the loft, with a face as red
as my hankercher! And Sam drew forth
a flaming specimen from his pocket, and
held it out, as if it were an important part
of the accusation.
Mr. Cooper did not reply, and Sam went
46 Ragged Robin.
on triumphantly: It's my belief, sir, that
if we goes up into that loft, we shall find
proof enough that Robin's a thief and a
liar, and a precious clever one too."
The farmer started to his feet with a
sudden movement which made Sam jump.
Let's go at once! said he, in a hoarse
voice, and without another word he stepped
out into the yard, followed by Sam.
Up the ladder, and into the loft they
went, and the farmer stood amazed (in
spite of his painful feelings) at the neatness
and comfortable appearance of the room.
The odds and ends of the furniture which
he had found for Robin in the old lumber
shed, had been arranged most carefully,
and with an eye to making the best of
them; and in one corner stood the deal
box with which Sam Boyce had made
acquaintance not long before.
You'd better make a little search round,
sir," suggested Sam; I'm certain as that
there cap full is hid here somewheres"
The False Accusation. 47
Then, as you're so sure, you'd better
do the searching yourself," said the farmer,
sharply. Upon my word, you look as if
you would like it." So saying, he sat down
on a stool at the foot of the bed, and Sam,
nothing loth, began to hunt about in every
cranny and corner, purposely commencing
at the part farthest from the deal box.
As he proceeded in his search, and found
nothing, he pretended to be glad, and said
once or twice, Dear me, sir, I'm sorry I
give you the trouble of coming up here:
there don't seem much use in it after all!
Perhaps I was mistook, and the lad may
be honest yet."
"Hold your tongue," said the farmer,
at last, and go on with what you're doing.
God knows, I'd give a great deal to prove
After this, Sam said no more until in his
search the deal box was reached. Lifting
the lid, he uttered an exclamation, and
Mr. Cooper rose from his seat.
48 Ragged Robinz.
"Here they are!" cried Sam, "eggs!
all the biggest out of the nests-one, two,
four, six, eight, ten, twelve! oh my! what a
heap Now, sir, is this proof, or ain't it ?"
Take out the eggs, shut up the box,
and come down !" said the farmer, sharply ;
"and then go about your business!"
"All right, sir replied Sam; then
wrapping up the eggs in a towel that hung
over a chair near, he followed the farmer
down the ladder, and having deposited his
burden on the kitchen table, he went to the
stable-yard, and set lazily to work again.
Now," muttered he, stopping to remove
his cap, and mop his face, "now, I've
about finished my part of the job ; the note
that's coming to-night will settle it, and
vagabond Robin '1 go packing to-morrow,
or my name ain't Samuel Boyce! And
sarve him right too for getting round the
master's blind side, and preaching to those
as is better than himself! "
obiun Turund twag,
BOUT seven o'clock in the evening the
light cart rattled up to the door, and
Mrs. Cooper alighted, happy in having
paid a successful visit to the dentist, and
in having got rid of her troublesome tooth.
She greeted her husband with a hearty
kiss, then suddenly sobered down, as she
looked into his face.
"What's the matter, James ? what has
happened ? Is anything wrong ?"
"Yes, wife, very wrong!" replied the
farmer, gravely; and leading the good
woman into the parlour, he told her of the
discovery in the loft, and of Sam's evidence
which had led to the search.
Mrs. Cooper was greatly shocked, and
was still talking over the matter with her
50 Ragged Robin.
husband, when Elsie ran in with a note in
Judith told me to give you this," she
said, putting it into Mrs. Cooper's hand:
" she says it has just come, a little boy
"Very good, dear, run away now," said
the farmer, his voice and face softening as
he looked at the child; "mother and I
want to talk."
Elsie did as she was told, and was gone
in a moment; then Mrs. Cooper opened
Oh, James," cried she, after reading a
few lines, "do look here, this is dreadful!"
The farmer looked over his wife's shoulder
and read the following note,
DEAR MRS. COOPER,
"You will be surprised to receive a
letter from one who is a stranger to you; but I cannot
walk so far as your house, and just now my one horse
is lame, and I cannot drive; else I should have called
upon you to say what I am now obliged to write,
Robin Turned Away. 51
"Some time ago, a young man, by name Robin
May, came to my house with a basket of fresh eggs
which he said he had for sale. I keep no hens of my
own, so bought the eggs, which were cheaper than
they are in the market. From this time he came
every week, sometimes bringing a dozen, sometimes
as many as twenty eggs, but always at a low price.
At last I became a little suspicious, and asked him a
few questions, which however he answered readily; he
said he worked for Mr. Cooper, who was very kind
to him, and among other things, allowed him to
sell a few eggs on his own account, towards the pur-
chase of books, of which he was very fond.
"Still I was not quite easy, and reproached myself
for dealing with him so long, when perhaps I had
been encouraging dishonesty. This feeling grew
upon me, and when he last called, I said to him,
'Robin May, I am not quite satisfied with your story,
and so to-morrow I shall write to Mrs. Cooper, and
thus ascertain the truth.'
"Please send me a few lines to say just how the
case stands, or come over and see me about it. I
shall hope to call on you shortly, or at all events, as
soon as my pony is well.
Believe me, dear Mrs. Cooper,
"Who is this Mrs. Nettlefield ? asked
52 Ragged Robin.
Mrs. Cooper, as she folded up the letter
and put it into her pocket.
"She is the widow of a curate, and she
lives about a mile and a half from here "
replied the farmer. She's very poor, I
believe, and rents a little cottage from
Squire Harding, who, I heard say, gave
her the chaise and pony, knowing that
she was weakly and couldn't walk. I've
seen her now and then on the road, but I
never have spoken to her."
"Well, James, what's to be done about
that poor lad ? said Mrs. Cooper.
Done ?" replied the farmer. There's
only one thing to be done; he must go
to-morrow. I felt pretty sure of his
wickedness after my visit to the loft; but
this settles it, past all doubt. Yes, wife,
he must go to-morrow."
But not Elsie!" cried the good woman,
suddenly remembering that her adopted
child was Robin's sister. 0 father, not
Elsie; I must keep the child !"
Robin Turned Away. 53
"Make yourself easy, dear," said Mr.
Cooper, smiling sadly ; you shan't have to
part from the little lass. Robin couldn't
support her if he took her away, and he
loves her well enough to wish her to be
where she can be best cared for."
But what will the lad do with himself?"
said tender-hearted Mrs. Cooper. Do
you think he will go up to London and
get work there ? "
I daresay he will," replied the farmer;
"any way, I aren't keep him any longer;
it would be wrong of me to do so ; besides
I never could trust him again! However,
he shall not leave this house as destitute
as I found him, for I will give him a month's
wages, and he will have his new clothes.
If he were quite penniless, he might fall
into even worse sins than he was tempted
to commit here."
Poor Robin! It would be impossible to
describe his feelings when he learned of
what he was accused, and that he was to
54 Ragged Rob'n.
leave the next morning. In vain he
pleaded his entire ignorance of all that
had transpired, and asserted his innocence.
The farmer had made up his mind to keep
firm; and though he felt his heart aching
for the orphan whom he had so befriended,
he did not yield to his feelings.
"Go to bed now, Robin," said he, when
after the lad's interview with his master in
the parlour, he seemed fairly stricken down
with grief and misery; "go to bed and try
to sleep; I know you're having a hard
lesson, boy, but maybe it'll teach you what
nothing else would ; I shall see you in the
morning before you go."
Robin moved towards the door, then by
an irresistible impulse, he sprang back,
and with great sobs heaving his breast, he
fixed his dark eyes upon the farmer's face,
and caught hold of the great strong hand
between both of his.
Master, dear master," cried he, I can
Robin Turned Away. 55
bear all, I can bear everything, if you'll
only believe that I've not repaid your
kindness with ingratitude. Oh, won't you
and dear missis try to believe this ? Some
day, perhaps, God will make all plain; as
plain to you as it is to me now, that I am
innocent of this charge."
The farmer was deeply touched; tears
welled up in his honest eyes, and his heart
beat thick and fast; that heart, always
truest in its first impulses, misgave him,
and he felt as if, even now, the boy might
be guiltless; he leaned forward, laid his
hand upon Robin's head, and said in a
broken voice, "Robin, I do believe, and
I will believe, come what may, that even
if you have sinned, you love us still. May
God bless you, my lad, and forgive me if
I am wrong in loving you so well as I do."
Another moment and the boy was gone,
and Mr. Cooper, completely overcome,
leaned back in his chair, and for the first
time for many years cried like a child.
56 Ragged Robin,
Morning, the sad sad morning, dawned
at last. Robin had had a sleepless night;
and to judge by the farmer's face and that
of his wife, neither of them had enjoyed
Robbie," cried little Elsie, running into
the kitchen where Robin was eating his
breakfast, or rather, trying to eat it,-
" Robbie, your eyes are red to-day, and
you don't look a bit like my dear old
brother; what's the matter ?"
The poor boy took his little sister on his
knee, and pressed long kisses on her soft
hair, on her pure brow and rosy cheeks,
then he set her suddenly down, and said
There, darling, run away now; brother
can't talk to you or play with you to-day."
Elsie looked at him wistfully for a
moment, then ran out of the room, and
Robin felt thankful to think that the part-
ing from her was over.
Then came the good-bye to Mr. and
Robin Turned Away. 57
Mrs. Cooper; upon these we will not
dwell. All was over at last; and Robin
found himself on the high road to the great
city, walking away from the farmhouse
which had been such a happy home to him.
Now for the first time he began to
realise the desolation that had fallen upon
him, and he felt as if he must lie down
somewhere, and weep out his loneliness
and sense of wrong. An open gate was
on the right side of the road, and going
through, he found himself in a field. He
looked round everywhere, but saw no one
near; then throwing himself down under
a hedge, he wept long and passionately.
The tears did him good; for when his
grief had somewhat spent itself, softened
feelings began to arise in his heart, and
he remembered that he could never be
utterly outcast or forsaken while God was
his Father, and while the precious promises
of the Bible remained.
He was about to rise and continue hi-
58 Ragged Robin.
journey, when his eye was arrested by a
little pink flower, growing in the hedge.
Looking at it, he suddenly remembered
its name Ragged Robin," and a trustful
smile broke over his quivering lips. I
am nothing but a poor ragged Robin!"
he said to himself, as he plucked the
blossom and placed it in his button-hole;
"but the good God who cares for the
grass of the field, will care for me too."
And so, committing himself wholly to the
guidance and keeping, of his heavenly
Father, our traveller went on his way.
S_ "- N \-
tn Londan Strmets,
OBIN slept that night at an inn, and
the next day about twelve o'clock
he reached London.
What a great wilderness of streets it
appeared to this country lad! and how
utterly lonely he felt among the hurrying
crowds As he wandered about, trying
to find some sort of a lodging, and work
to do, he felt as if he were in a foreign
land, hundreds of miles from all whom he
knew and loved.
At last the evening shadows began to
fall, and worn out with fatigue and anxiety
he stopped before a brightly-lighted baker's
shop, and looked in. The sight of the
bread made him feel hungry, and stepping
inside he asked for a penny roll. While
60 Ragged Robin.
he was eating it, he turned to the old
baker, who stood behind the counter, and
"Could you tell me, sir, where I could
get a night's lodging ? I am a country lad,
and am in London for the first time, and
I don't know where to go for anything."
The old man gazed attentively at
Robin. The boy looked clean and re-
spectable, for he had put on his new suit
of clothes, thinking that he would be more
likely to obtain employment if he appeared
nice and tidy. After a moment or two of
close inspection, the old man said, What's
your name ? What work have you been
used to ? Where did you live last ? "
The questions succeeded each other so
rapidly, that they all seemed like one
sentence. However, Robin answered as
quickly as he could, My name's Robin
May. I've been working on a farm about
twenty miles from here,-Mr. Cooper's,
seven miles from Simtonville. Mine's a
In London Streets. 61
sad story, sir; but I'll tell it you if you've
any mind to hear it."
"Yes, I'll hear it," said the baker; "just
wait here while I see the shop shut up, and
then I'll hear what you have to say." He
then pointed to a chair by the counter, and
Robin sat down, while the old man went
outside and put up the shutters. Then he
returned, and said kindly, Now, my lad,
you can come into my back-parlour for a
little while; and then, if I'm satisfied with
your story, I'll tell you where you can find
a bed for the night."
Robin followed the man into a comfort-
able little room, where he was told to sit
down. He did so, and beginning at the
very commencement of his history, as we
know it in the foregoing pages, he told the
exact truth, not trying to keep back even
the painful circumstances attending his
leaving the farm where he had been so
happy. As he concluded his story, he
62 Ragged Robzn.
I can hardly hope that you will believe
me, sir,-my best friends turned me away
as dishonest, and perhaps you may think I
am untruthful; but oh, sir, all I want is
opportunity to prove that I can be faithful,
that I would not tell a lie for anything, that
honest work is all that I want."
Robin's earnest face glowed while he
spoke, his eyes glistened in the lamp-
light. The old man had been listening
quietly, and had drawn his own con-
clusions from the lad's face and manner.
Now he spoke:
"I should like to help you, my boy,'
said he, "but in London people are so
constantly imposed upon, that they natu-
rally are suspicious of strangers. Still, if I
were able to get you some sort of work,
with a trifle of wages, would you be content,
think you-even if the work was hard ?"
I should only be too thankful for any-
thing, sir," replied Robin; "anything to
earn my living by."
In London Streets. 63
Very good, so much then for to-morrow!
Now take your cap, and I'll find you a
lodging for the night where you can have
a clean respectable bed."
The baker and his young companion
walked down the street in which the shop
stood, turned a corner, and then paused
before a quiet-looking place, with no public
houses or gin palaces near it.
The baker knocked at the door, said a
few words in a low tone to the person who
opened it, then bade Robin good night,
and told him to call on him next morning.
Robin was shown upstairs into a clean
though homely little room with a nice bed
in it. Here he quickly undressed, and lay
down to sleep, after reading a few verses
of his little Bible, and thanking his
Heavenly Father for His guidance and
help thus far, and for raising him up a
friend even in this great city of London.
The kind baker was as good as his
64 Ragged Robin.
word; he got Robin a situation, where,
though he could not hope to earn much at
first, he was to receive more if he gave
satisfaction ; and this, we need scarcely say,
our friend Robin was determined to do if
possible. As for lodging, he retained the
room in which his first night had been
spent; so, on the whole, he was as well
provided for as a boy without a character
could hope to be.
And here we must leave him for the
present, and go back to the good people at
The Mystery Solved.
r ow greatly, and how continually, the
farmer and his wife, and little Elsie,
missed Robin it would be hard to say. It
was not till he had gone that they found
out how much they loved him. His
gentleness, his cheerfulness, his willingness
and industrious habits, had inspired his
master and mistress with respect, and now
they would have been almost ashamed to
confess how much they felt his absence.
As for poor Elsie, she had long fits of
crying every day, refusing to be comforted,
and only sobbing out, "I want my old
Robbie, I want my brother !"
Thus three or four days passed, but one
morning, a letter came directed to Elsie;
and wild with joy she brought it to Mrs.
66 Ragged Robin.
Cooper to read. The good woman was
scarcely less delighted than the child,
when she found that the letter was from
Robin, that he had already found something
to do, and that he was well in health.
"I don't know how it is," said she to
her husband that night, when they had
been talking about the letter; I don't
know how it is, father, but it seems to me,
if that boy had done even worse things
than he did, I couldn't have helped loving
him. If we'd had anything short of proof,
we must have kept him. Well, thank
God, he's found work, and a roof over
his head, and appears to have fallen among
"Ay," replied the farmer, "I couldn't
bear to think of the poor lad wandering
about hungry and without a home perhaps,
and going from bad to worse in everything;
and yet I couldn't have seen my way clear
to keeping him here, after what he did."
So the good people exchanged their
Tne Mlystery Solved. 67
thoughts about the lad who had left them,
and Elsie in her little bed in the next
room murmured Robbie !" in her sleep ;
while, twenty miles away, in the heart of
the great city, Robin yearningly remem-
bered the loved ones from whom he had
so recently parted, praying that all blessings
might be theirs, and that he might be
permitted with his innocence proved, and
his character established, to return to them
(in God's own good time) once more in
And how was it with Sam during these
first days of Robin's banishment ? Was he
happy now that he had obtained the object
of his hopes, and displaced his rival in his
master's favour ? We say displaced, for
he had not replaced him. Sam could
never be to Mr. Cooper what Robin had
been; and now, in spite of his success, his
jealous bitter spirit resented this as a
personal insult. Then too he lived in the
68 Ragged Robin.
constant disquiet which must ever belong
to a conscience ill at ease, to a heart not at
peace with itself. When the child Elsie
shrank from him, in spite of all he could
do to make friends with her, he felt almost
as if she could look into his heart with
those pure eyes of hers, and see the con-
flicting feelings that raged there.
No, Sam Boyce was far from happy;
and to drown his misery, he drank more
and more deeply; and since he could not
often now get down to the Blue Boar, he
bought a bottle of gin, and kept it in a
corner of the loft which had been Robin's
bedroom, and which now belonged to him.
Mrs. Cooper had written to Mrs. Nettle-
field the day after Robin's departure,
explainingall the circumstances, and saying
that the young man had been punished by
being dismissed. The note was given to
Sam to take; but for reasons best known
to himself, he preferred to employ a little
boy, the son of one of the labourers, to
The Mystery Solved. 69
do his errand, though he had to give him
twopence in consequence.
Three weeks passed, and things were
going on quietly enough at the farm, when
one morning, a chaise drove up to the
door, and Judith announced Mrs. Nettle-
The farmer happened to be in, and he
and his wife received their visitor in the
parlour. Of course the subject of the eggs
was brought forward and discussed, and
after about half-an-hour's chat, Mrs. Nettle-
field was about to take her leave, when
there came a knock at the door. Come
in," said Mr. Cooper, and in walked Sam
Boyce, who had just come from the fields,
and had no idea that any stranger was
there. As Sam appeared, however, the
effect upon the widow was something
marvellous; she started from her seat
and stared at the young man, while he,
in his turn, became first red, and then
70 Ragged Robin.
white, and at last retreated, shutting the
door behind him.
The farmer and his wife looked at
each other, thoroughly puzzled, but for
a moment nothing was said; at last Mrs.
Nettlefield turned to Mr. Cooper and said
coldly, I thought you told me that you
had dismissed Robin May from your
"So we have," exclaimed the farmer;
he went three weeks ago, and we have
heard from him since he got to London."
But," responded the widow, how can
he be in London and here at one and the
same time ?"
Farmer Cooper, speechless with amaze-
ment, could only look helplessly at his
Mrs. Nettlefield went on very earnestly,
"Mr. Cooper, there is some great mystery
about this matter. You say Robin May
has left, and yet I am quite certain that
the young man who showed himself at
The Mystery Solved. 71
the door just now is the Robin May who
sold me the eggs."
"This young man," replied the farmer,
who found his tongue at last in his ex-
citement, "has been with me about two
years, and his name is Samuel Boyce.
What can be the meaning of this mystery!
Sit down again, Mrs. Nettlefield, if you
please, till I find Sam, and hear what he
has to say."
So Mrs. Nettlefield sat down again, and
the farmer bent his steps towards the
stable yard, where he thought that Sam was
most likely to be. But as he was passing
the door of the old stable under the loft
he fancied he heard groans. He paused a
moment, and heard distinctly the voice of
a man moaning with pain. A few steps
brought him to the foot of the ladder
leading up to the loft; and there, to his
horror, lay Sam Boyce, his leg doubled
under him in an unnatural manner, and his
cheeks and lips blanched. In a moment
72 Ragged Robin.
the farmer saw how the accident had
happened. Up near the top of the ladder
which first Robin, and then Sam, had so
often safely mounted, a rung had given
way, and Sam must have fallen with con-
siderable violence to the ground. From
the position of his foot and leg, which were
twisted and doubled up, Mr. Cooper had
no doubt that the limb was broken, and
stooping down, he lifted Sam in his strong
arms as if he had been a child, and re-
turning with him to the house, laid him
down on the horsehair sofa in the front
parlour, and then left him to his wife's
care, while he sent a man to the market-
town for the doctor.
Sam had fainted with the pain of being
moved; but presently he opened his eyes,
and saw the kind face of Mrs. Cooper
bending over him, while Mrs. Nettlefield
was standing a little way off. He gazed
for a minute into the tearful, compassionate
The Mystery Solved. 73
eyes of the good woman who was waiting
on him, then, feeling how undeserving he
was of her kindness, he groaned again,
and covered his face with his hands.
Poor lad," said Mrs. Cooper, gently,
"poor lad, I know how bad the pain is;
cry if you've a mind to, and don't mind us."
Oh ma'am, it isn't the pain, though
that's bad enough!" moaned Sam; "it's
other things wuss nor pain! 0 God, for-
give me, if there's forgiveness for the likes
of me!" and once more the death-like
pallor crept over the young man's face,
and he fainted quite away.
The surgeon came at length, and set
the broken leg; Mrs. Nettlefield took her
leave. Mrs. Cooper, with Judith's help,
had hastily made up a bed in the front
room, to avoid giving Sam the pain of
removal upstairs; and there he was com-
fortably laid. All that could be done for
him was done; and at last, thinking he
slept, Mr. Cooper, who had been sitting by
74 Ragged Robin.
him for some time, was about to leave the
room, when Sam opened his eyes and said,
" Please stay, sir, and hear all the truth."
"My dear fellow," replied the farmer,
kindly, "you had better not talk now;
some other day, when you are stronger, I
will listen to you."
Nay, sir," said Sam, earnestly, I can
have no peace till you know, and I'd rather
tell you at once."
Mr. Cooper said no more, but sat down
again by the bedside, and Sam, in broken
sentences, and with many bitter tears, told
"It was me, sir," moaned Sam, "that
took those eggs out of the hamper after
Robin had packed them for market; you
know you missed them, and couldn't think
where they were, but you wouldn't charge
Robin with the theft as I hoped you would.
Then, after you scolded me for saying what
I did to Elsie, I hated him worse than ever,
and tried what I could do to hurt him.
The M/ystery Solved. 75
"At last I made up my mind to rob the
hen-house; but I found I couldn't do this
unless I had a key of my own, as Robin
was very careful of his, and only hung it
up at night behind the door. Well, one
evening, I brought a bit of wax in my
pocket, and took the impression of the key;
and my friend the farrier's son, who is a
locksmith, made me a key like the old one,
and with this I was able to open the hen-
house whenever Robin was out of the
"Well, sir, when I'd got the eggs, I
thought I might just as well sell them and
have the money, and I bethought me of
Mrs. Nettlefield, who didn't know any of
us, and would be safe enough to deal with.
But to make it safer still, I gave Robin's
name when she asked me for mine, and
then, thinks I, nothing can be proved
against me; and if anything's found out,
I shall have my wish, and Robin will be
76 Ragged Robin.
That sprained wrist the day you wanted
me to go with the cart, was a lie, sir; and
when Robin was gone with the missis, I
got them eggs and put them myself into
Robin's box in the loft, and then came
down to you with that story, and begging
you to go up and search the room; but, oh
sir, what I've suffered I couldn't tell you,
ever since. Just now, when I saw Mrs.
Nettlefield in the room, and knew I must
be found out, I thought I should have gone
mad. I was rushing up the ladder into
poor Robin's room that was, for I thought I
could get ready perhaps and make off; but
the ladder broke, and down I come; and
if I'm lamed for life, I'm only rightly pun-
ished. Oh, sir, do you think Robin'll ever
forgive me ? Please write to him, and tell
him how sorry I am; and please, sir, I
robbed ynu of your eggs, as well as him of
his good uame; will you forgive me too ?"
Here Sam fairly broke down, and hiding
his face in his pillow, sobbed aloud. The
T/e I. J., >y Solved. 77
farmer soothed him as well as he could,
promised to write at once to Robin, and
left the room.
For a while Sam was alone; then he
heard a light step, and Elsie stole softly
in, and laid her little cool hand on his
"I'm so sorry you've gone and hurt
yourself, poor Sam," said she; if Robbie
was here, he'd be sure to do something to
help you, and you know "
Oh, Elsie, Elsie! don't come near me !
don't touch me!" sobbed the lad: I've
been so wicked, so very wicked! You'd
hate me worse than ever, if you did but
"But you're sorry, ain't you, Sam ?"
asked the child, her own eyes brimming
over with tears of sympathy.
"Sorry! Ay, sorry indeed !" replied
Sam; "but being sorry can't undo the
But God can, you know," said Elsie,
78 Ragged Robin.
earnestly; and when we're real sorry,
He's always ready to forgive us. Robbie's
often told me how dearly Jesus loves us;
so dearly that He was even willing to come
down from His beautiful heaven, and die
to save us. And then when He went back
to heaven again, He sent His Holy Spirit,
that no one who loves Jesus should ever
feel alone, but might have help and com-
fort. And so, Sam, if you ask God to
undo the harm you think you've done,
I'm sure He will, or maybe He will bring
good out of it. Robbie told me that
Samson one day, you know, killed a lion;
and afterwards, when he came back along
the same road, he found that bees had
made a home in the lion's body, and had
got some honey there. And Robbie said,
that of course a dead lion wasn't a very
nice thing, and yet Samson found sweet
honey there ; and just the same, God brings
all sorts of good things out of what seems
bad and dreadful"
The Mifystery Solved. 79
"Then ask Him, oh, do ask Him, Elsie
dear! Pray a little prayer for me, please !"
And the child knelt by Sam's bedside, and
pleaded for his forgiveness, though she
knew not the wrong he had done.
And even as she prayed, the wisdom
and love of the Eternal Father brought
good out of Sam's pain and repentant
sorrow, and gave him a heart humble and
tender as the heart of this little one who
ministered to him.
Good Farmer Cooper wrote to Robin
that very day, and the next morning the
letter reached London.
What effect that letter had upon our
friend Robin; how he rushed into the
baker's shop, and spread the letter on the
counter before the astonished old man.
How he explained everything to his kind
employers, and how they congratulated
him, and bade him go back to the country
with all speed.
80 Ragged Robizn.
This, and a great deal more, can be
imagined better than described. We need
only say that a night or two after, as Elsie
was saying her prayers by her bedside, and
had just got to the words, Please, dear
God, bless my Robbie, and bring him safe
back again," she suddenly felt herself
snatched up in two big strong arms, and
a familiar voice said in her ear, God has
heard your prayer, my little darling, and
He's sent brother with the answer. Look
up, Elsie-Robbie has come safe back
LONDON: KNIGHT, PRINTER, MIDDLE STREET, E.C.
~ia'i~ i s E~c(7