• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: Children's band, or, The trial of Paul's faith
Title: The children's band, or, The trial of Paul's faith
CITATION PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066394/00001
 Material Information
Title: The children's band, or, The trial of Paul's faith
Alternate Title: Trial of Paul's faith
Physical Description: 114, 4 p., 4 leaves of plates : ill. ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Plunket, Isabel
Frederick Warne and Co ( Publisher )
Billing and Sons ( Printer )
Dalziel Brothers ( Publisher )
Publisher: Frederick Warne and Co.
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Manufacturer: Billing and Sons
Publication Date: [189-?]
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Violin -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Mothers and sons -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Faith -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Death -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Poverty -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Glory of God -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1895   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1895
Genre: Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Guildford
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Isabel Plunkett ; illustrated.
General Note: Date of publication based on binding indicating publication in the 1890's.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
General Note: Added title page and frontispiece printed in colors.
General Note: Illustrations engraved by Dalziel.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00066394
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002228492
notis - ALG8803
oclc - 71439500

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page i
    Front Matter
        Page ii
    Frontispiece
        Page iii
    Title Page
        Page iv
        Page v
    Chapter I
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Plate
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Chapter II
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Chapter III
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    Chapter IV
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    Chapter V
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
    Chapter VI
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    Chapter VII
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    Chapter VIII
        Page 96
        Plate
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    Advertising
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text














THE CHILDREN'S BAND.








CHILDKKS
TOW1










THE CHILDREN'S BAND;


OR,


THE TRIAL OF PAUL'S FAITH.



BY

THE HON. ISABEL PLUNKET,
AUTHOR OF "HESTER'S FORTUNE," ETC.



ctlith tIt1 III l'iIn.











LONDON AND NEW YORK:

FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
















THE CHILDREN'S BAND;

on,

THE TRIAL OF PAUL'S FAITH.



CHAPTER I.

"'Art thou weary 1 Art thou languid ?
Art thou sore distrest ?
Come to Me,' saith One, 'and, coming,
Be at rest.'"

"SING it again, mother; sing it again," Paul
Gould said, and as he spoke he laid his white
face lovingly down upon the small violin which
rested on his knee, and passed the bow with a
tender touch over the strings.
Paul loved his violin; after his mother and his






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


God he loved it best, or rather, he loved them
alone-God in heaven and them on earth. His
mother's face was white too, her breath short
and quick; soon he would have less to love,
at least on earth, but Paul did not know this
to-night, and he was happy. Mrs. Gould
sang:-

"' Art thou weary Art thou languid
Art thou sore distrest T'"


very low and sweet. Paul hushed his violin that
he might hear.
"I am tired, Paul," she said, stopping short
with a kind of sob, "I cannot sing any more to-
night."
Paul raised his head and gave a quick glance
up into his mother's face, and then the music
ceased, the violin was thrown aside, and Paul's
thin arms closed instead about his mother's
ncck.
"You will try and be a good lad, Paul, when I
am gone ?" Mrs. Gould said, as she felt the little






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


troubled heart heaving against her own; "you
will think of me at rest in God's heaven, and
when you have done God's will well and bravely
on earth, you will follow me there."
Paul said nothing; he could not, poor child,
with a sudden sorrow choking him; but Mrs.
Gould knew by the tighter pressure of the loving
arms round her neck that the words had been
understood, and drawing him still nearer to her-
self, she whispered a low blessing in his ear.
Next Sunday evening Paul sat again by the
low fire, with his poor face whiter, and his violin
hugged more closely in to his desolate arms; that
was all, all that was left to him on earth now,
for God had taken his mother to be with Him in
heaven, and Paul was alone.
The room was quite empty but for him, a little
cowering heap on the rotting boards-everything
had been carried away yesterday one by one, to
the broker's, to the pawn-office; in very charity to
the grave, and to-day no one had entered the room;
no human face had shown itself, in love or pity,







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


to the child. He might sit on there into the
dead, cold night, and then sleep if he could, and
wake again, it would be just the same; there
was no reason why any one should come to look
after him to-night, or to-morrow, or the next day.
Paul sprang up; he could not bear this lone-
liness any more-he dared not break its strange
silence with the dear voice of his violin; it had
been dumb like him, as with a great sorrow, since
his mother died; and yet he must do something;
some one must speak to him, something must
happen, or he would die.
Anywhere, for light and voice and gladness
again. Paul sped down the narrow stair, out
into the court ancle-deep in white snow, his
violin wrapped .under his torn coat, his weak
hands clenching both. On, on over the slippery
pavements, under the murky gas-lamps, dodging
a policeman here, and a knot of drunken revellers
there, running he could not have told you where,
seeking, he knew not what. Thank God! it was
at the porch of a great house open for poor and






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


rich that he first drew breath; it was the sound
of music that first chained his ear, it was the wel-
come of child-voices led him in. The soft air
that he had heard and lost again-the words for
which he had searched through the misery of
last night in vain-swept out of his memory by
the storm and terror of the past week:-

"'Art thou weary ? Art thou languid 1
Art thou sore distrest 1
Come to Me,' saith One, and, coming,
Be at rest.'"

High up under the east window in the lighted
chancel, the choristers stood, in their pure white
robes, and sang; and it seemed strange that the
children's song was of weariness and pain. But
to Paul Gould-poor little waif-standing far
down in the cathedral aisle, cold and hungry, it
was all quite plain; he heard one voice, and that
the voice of God, speaking only to him-none of
the other people were cold or tired there-mother
had been last week, but not now, for mother was
at rest.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


God was good. Yes, He was very good. Paul's
dark mood was almost charmed away, his eager
throat was swelling like the throat of a bird, but
it was with a kind of choking pain, not with the
fulness of song. His lips were open wide, but
no sound escaped them until the music ceased,
and then a low sob was the poor child's
" Amen."
Some one took him by the shoulder, shook
him, and pointed towards the door. 'Paul did
not struggle, did not even raise his eyes to see; he
felt as if he had no right to stand there, with the
snow melting down from his torn clothes in black
puddles at his feet-no right to disturb all the
people in their grand dresses up there-he did
not want to stay any longer, he did not want
anything more now, only to run back to the
desolate room which still he called his home, and
play it over-that low, sweet air, over and over
again, until he had made it quite his own-and
taught his violin to know and love it, too. And
so he turned and shot quickly out at the open







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


door, singing as he went, making straight through
the blinding snow, like a freed pigeon, for his
home.
The same empty room, the same vain search
for a loved face into its gloom, the same longing
for, and yet fear of hearing, that voice
again.
"Mother!" Just once the word did escape his
lips, as he pushed open the door, and then the
great pain and throbbing rose in his throat again,
as he slammed it quickly to and shut himself
into the darkness alone.
But Paul dared not give way now, though his
fingers trembled as he tuned the limp chords of
his violin; he dared not give way and lose all-
the song and the comfort again-he would fight
out this misery if he could. He laid his head
down with listening ear upon his violin, sought
for a moment with unsteady hand amongst the
familiar strings, and then drew the bow swiftly
across.
A low cry, almost of human pain-Paul felt as







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


if he had wounded it-and-no one saw him,
poor child-he laid his lips upon the polished
wood and kissed it. And then, true and sweet,
through the silent room the music stole, trem-
bling, swelling, sweet almost to pain, with the
clear notes of the violin and the treble voice of a
child. Men and women below stood at their
doors to hear.
"Who'd have believed it ?" said one who had
held Paul back yesterday, blind, staggering, from
the mouth of the open grave. There's Paul
Gould at his fiddle again."
"Crazed wi' the shock, poor lamb!" said
another of truer mould, taking a step up towards
the creaking stair.
But neither crossed the threshold of Paul's
home that night; though the men sat at home
and smoked their pipes, with their feet on the
cradle-rockers, and the sound of cursing and of
oaths was hushed in the crowded court. Only
in the heart of the desolate night, when the
music died away, when the bow fell noiselessly







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


through Paul's numb fingers to the floor, and his
head drooped forward on the deck.of his violin, a
woman crept stealthily in, and, unfastening her
plaid shawl, laid it in warm folds round his
shoulders and neck; and when he awoke in
the early dawn, with the edge of his violin
cutting in almost to his heart, he found a slice of
treacled bread and a tinful of pale milk standing
beside him on the floor.
Paul stared at the food strangely for a moment;
he had touched none these four and twenty hours
at least, only he had been dreaming about it now
and hunger had wakened him, whilst grief would
still have slept. Then he took it eagerly in both
hands and eat it, not knowing, scarcely wonder-
ing, who had put it there, thanking none
save God, with clasped hands, when it was
done.
Paul got up, stretched his arms wearily, and
rubbed his hands across his tired eyes; they were
stiff and paining him; he felt as if he had been
crying all night; perhaps he had, he did not






o1 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


know, he did not want to begin to think about
anything now, he heard voices, some one was
calling him, he would go and see.
Paul turned towards the door, and then, with a
harsh voice in his ear and a sudden shake, he
thoroughly awoke and stood face to face with
the landlady, the owner of all the tenements
down to the second floor. Somebody had come
to look after him then-somebody had remem-
bered him after all-and this was the way:-
"Now then, young Gould, it's going on nine,
and time you cleared out of this, fiddle and sticks
and all the rest of it; and thank your mother's
prayers that I didn't say the same sooner-
scraping and fiddling away the length of the
night there, and the room not paid since
Friday."
Paul stood aghast one moment with open
mouth; he was quite awake now, but he did not
understand, he had not looked forward to this.
Mother had paid for the room always, and now
he tried to speak, but the woman's hard face






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


forbade him, and as the truth broke upon his
troubled mind, and he remembered all, he dashed
past her down the stairs, under the archway, and
out into the street.
No home, no mother, no friends any more!
Had God forgotten to be gracious ? Where was
this rest to which his mother was gone ? might
he not find it, too ?
Paul had been running blindly for some time,
and sank down on a doorstep to draw breath;
but an old man with a mat and broomstick came
out and swept him away. On again, poor child,
reckless, objectless, almost passionate; the fear of
life, not of death, pursuing him. He could not
hear the voice of God speaking to him now, he
could not believe in Him, he could not love Him
as he had done last night. It was too hard;
God in heaven, and mother in the light and glad-
ness there, and he on earth, in the cold, and thaw,
and weariness of life. Even the music which
had calmed him to sleep last night, seemed slow
and passionless now, as he tried to hum it out;
2






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


he wanted something to rouse, and cheer, and
kindle him-something to set the life-blood
tingling through his veins again.
And it came. As he flung himself down upon
a mound of oyster-shells, in a narrow market-
place, the sound for which he had been listening
came. The sound of flute and drum, and the
brisk tramp of feet, the clink of bones, and chil-
dren's voices pealing out a right merry air:-

"Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,
Cheer up, my comrades, and be gay,"

far off, and then near, dying off in the noise and
stir of the wakening town, and then rising noisily
above them all. Paul had often heard the "Chil-
dren's Band" playing through the town of late,
but he had been with his mother then, and had
never cared to follow them before. He had often
seen people throwing pennies and silver pieces to
them, but he had never felt the want of pennies
himself until now. But all was changed. Paul
sprang to his feet, followed the music with true






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


ear, up one street and then down another, coming
full upon the musicians as they halted a mo-
ment round a drinking-fountain in the open
square.
Six boys, about his own age; poor, too, like
himself; no uniform, except a gold tinsel band
round each cap, and a red scarf tied under the
left arm. What were they, Paul thought, that
they should be gay and happy, and making
music, when he was sad ? What was he that he
should not be happy, too, and throw in his lot
with them ? Mother had said they were poor
homeless boys, wandering from town to town.
Was he not homeless, too ?
Paul drew near and stared shyly at the group
just preparing after this moment's rest for a fresh
start; and then, encouraged by a glance at the
sweet pale face of the little musician next to
him, he drew nearer still, and, drawing out his
violin, tuned it quickly and fell into time, and
marching step with them, before they well knew
that he was there.







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching."

There was something wonderful to Paul in the
quick pleasure of that moment's march, calling
one smile and then another to his lips. He felt
a wild throbbing at his heart; knew that the
colour was mounting high on neck and cheek,
but scarcely knew that he sang-sang out high
and clear above them all-until feet and music
came to a sudden halt, and an expression of great
surprise fell upon his ear.
"Bravo, Bones, well piped !" exclaimed the
leader of the band, facing suddenly round, with
two drumsticks uplifted in his hands, and ad-
dressing the little dwarfish figure with pale face,
which had first mastered Paul's fears.
"'Twasn't me, captain,'twas he," Bones quickly
answered, his own pale cheeks suffused with
sudden red as he pointed shyly to Paul, who was
now pushed forward by one and another, until he
stood face to face with the leader of the band, a
tall boy, with coarse, swollen cheeks, and a few






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


faded streamers of blue and white floating out
from his cap.
"And who's he ?" and "Who are you?" and
"What's your name ?" and a dozen other ques-
tions were hurled at Paul, before he had time to
recover breath, or raise his brimming eyes from
the ground.
Paul answered never a word, he was in a strange
mood to-day; only when some one, the captain it
was, clutched rudely at his violin, as if to take it
from him, Paul glared fiercely up, and seizing his
instrument, held it back with the strong grip of
some wild creature stung with pain.
"Turn him out; kick him," another of the
musicians said, and Paul felt the collar of his
coat tightening and the pressure of fingers round
his neck, but the hold as suddenly relaxed, and
facing round, Paul saw that with quick zeal
Bones had tripped his antagonist, and sent him
staggering almost to the ground.
There was likely to be a fight now; already a
small crowd was gathering round the combatants,







16 tHE CHILDREN'S BAND.


and in the distance, the polished helmet of a
policeman was to be seen; but a few quick beats
on the captain's drum, called the little regiment
to order again with a power which seemed to
Paul like magic, as with muttered threats
and scowling faces, they fell into the ranks
again.
Paul almost wished that he could fight or run
away; but, to his great surprise, the tall drummer
took him by the shoulder and led him on with
them a few steps, stooping down and talking
pleasantly in his ear.
I say, small boy, you've some notion of
fiddling," he said; "if you choose to make your-
self useful, and mind orders, you can come along
with us, but keep yourself quiet at the back
there with Bones, and don't go kicking up a row
and pitching into other fellows again."
As he spoke the captain jingled some coppers
in his pocket, and the sound was welcome to
Paul's ear; dearer still the thought of music, and
march, and drum; besides, Bones sloped up






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


quietly beside him and plucked the frayed elbow
of his coat.
"Come along do," he said, and Paul's decision
was made. He had nothing else to do, nowhere
to go, he had a longing for friends and com-
panionship again, and he felt, though he could
not have explained the feeling, a sudden fellow-
ship with the little dwarf boy, who sang, and
grinned, and clinked his bones at the word of
command, and yet looked so sad and spiritless
withal.
Paul nodded his assent to the captain, and
then fell quietly into step in the rear beside his
new friend. The little band moved on, and the
crowd dispersed disappointed of their row, whilst
the policeman passed by on the other side, with
only a glance of one moment's recognition at the
tall boy, the captain of the Children's Band.


















CHAPTER II.

Hath He marks, to lead me to Him,
If He be my Guide l
In His hands and feet are wound-prints,
And His side."

PAUL walked on in silence beside his companion
for some time, as they passed with quick step
through the busy streets, into a more fashionable
part of the town where coppers were not so
scarce, and where people, if they had less heart,
had perhaps more time to pause a moment on
the pavement, and listen to their song.
Here, by some signal unknown to Paul, before
a window crowded with children' heads, the
little band came to a halt again. Trumpet,






THI CHILDPENT'S iAND.


bones, and flute were put in readiness; Paul
too, raised his violin to its old rest upon his
shoulder, and laid his bow across its strings.
What was it made him think of his mother
just then ? What was it brought her face sud-
denly so near, blotting all others out ? What
was it set him trembling, as he caught a strain
here and there of the wild air the young
musicians sang, and the shrill voice of his
violin took it up, and carried it higher and
higher still ? Paul did not know, only life was
a fever now, and this was part of its dream.
The window above was thrown up, and a
shower of bright pennies fell from the children's
hands. Bones sprang forward, turning a sum-
mersault as he went, gathered the pennies in
his hand, grinned to the children in the window,
and then returning on all fours monkey fashion,
he laid the pennies in the captain's outstretched
palm, sprang erect to his feet, and clinked his
bones merrily, with uprolled eyes and a sly
wink at Paul.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


The children laughed, and Paul laughed and
wondered why Bones did not laugh too, and
then the Captain took off his cap to the group
in the window, and the little troop moved on.
Down that street, and up the next, with a
tramp, tramp, and a quick march, and a stray
copper here and there; now a wild beat of glad-
ness in Paul's heart, and again a great darkness
before his eyes, and his mother's voice speaking
to him alone.
So the day wore on, and at dinner-time Paul
was well treated under an archway to bread and
cheese, and in the evening, when they assembled
here again, to divide the profits of the day,
Paul was surprised with the new pleasure of
money all his own-the possession of four cop-
pers, honestly earned, and a demand from the
Captain, couched in strong words enough, that
he should meet them at the drinking-fountain,
next day.
"Ten o'clock sharp, stranger; do you hear ?"
the Captain said, as Paul leaned up against the







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


wall, and stared strangely a moment at the cop-
pers in his outstretched palm.
"All right," he answered, vaguely wondering
where he should spend the dull hours and dark
night between; wondering with a more foolish
wonderment what he would have bought with
those pennies for his mother, if she had been
still here; wondering above all, with a lone
hungry feeling, where she was now, and how he
could find her again.
When he looked up, all his companions had
dispersed, except Bones, who was dodging about
the archway still, kicking up some loose stones
into an aimless mound.
"Going home, eh ?" he said shyly, as Paul's
wet eyes met his with a troubled stare.
"No," Paul answered gruffly, sinking voice and
chin in his torn shirt, and twanging needlessly
the chords of his violin, but he did not tell him
why; he did not tell him that he had no home,
until Bones edged up more closely to him, and
slipped one arm within his.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


"Come along, let's be pals. I'll see you abit
of the way home. Do."
It was a brave venture, this, for the sake of a
friend, and the heart of the child stood still as
Paul faced round and glared him almost fiercely
in the face.
"I've got none, I tell you-no home, no
friends-nothing." And then the tears which
had been kept at bay all these long hours,
leaped forth, and Bones waxed braver at the
sight of them. With his arms round Paul's neck
now, he led him on, with a muttered curse on
himself for the question he had asked, and a
word of strength and courage for Paul, which
might have done honour to more reverent
lips.
"It's not much of a home I have, or friends
either," he said, as he led Paul down some cellar-
steps into a narrow room barely furnished, with a
dusky bed in one corner, and a pile of rags and
straw in another.
"That's Bill's bed, there, and t'other's mine.







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


You may as well turn in with me; it's cold of
nights, and the rats squeal awful. Captain, he
pal'd a couple of nights here, but he didn't like
it a bit, and maybe you'll not either, but you
may as well try; anything's better than nothing ,
I think."
So saying, Bones did the honours of his poor
home as best he could. Pulling out a broken
chair from the wall, he turned it up lengthways,
so that Paul could sit on it if he would, and flung
himself down on the mound of rags which he
had pointed out as his bed, evidently awaiting a
reply.
The offer was not a tempting one it is true.
The air down here was heavy, laden with
tobacco smoke, and the smell of spirits too, as
Paul then thought, from the tavern overhead;
there was no window in the room; he was
only beginning to distinguish objects out of its
darkness now.
Mother's attic in the high lodging-house had
been as paradise to this, and yet it were better






24 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


here, with the noise of drunken revelry over-
head, with the rats, and laden air, than another
night or hour in that room, alone. It was true
what Bones said; anything was better than
nothing-nothing in the wide world to love or
care for, or call his own. Yes, and there was
something in that small pale face, fixed so
steadily now on his, that seemed to hunger too,
something that awoke a moment in Paul's mind
the thought of another's suffering rather than
his own, and with it the holier yearning to give
rather than to receive.
Still he hesitated.
"Who's Bill ?" he asked abruptly. "Who else
lives here with you ?"
"Bill does. He's my brother, worse luck, but
you needn't mind him; he's out of this all day,
and spends most nights overhead, or goes to
bed that stupid he wouldn't know you were
here."
And what about the rent ? If I stay here I
shall have to pay for it, I suppose," Paul said,






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


with the proud consciousness of his four pennies
still untouched, and some thoughts of the morn-
ing's trouble coming back upon him.
"As to that," Bones answered quickly (and
for the first time Paul observed an expression of
pain pass over the face which already he almost
loved), "as for that, it's Bill's look out, not mine;
anyway, it wasn't the rent I was thinking about
when I asked you here."
No, it was not; and Paul knew it, and felt
that in the very question he had done wrong to
the true face that was turned away from him
now, and flushed with honest red.
"Never mind," he said, getting down on the
low bed beside his new friend, and slipping one
arm in strange confidence round his neck,
"never mind-I'm a fool-I didn't mean that,
and mother died three nights ago."
"And my mother's dead, too, down in Kent,
there," broke in Bones, with the best sympathy
he knew, while the anger sank out of his face,
and the quiet sad look came back again. We'll






26 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


be pals, then ?" he added after a moment's pause,
looking frankly up.
"All right," Paul answered, laying his hand
within that of his companion.
"Done !" exclaimed Bones, with a hearty shake,
as he brought the other down. And here, in this
brotherhood of suffering, the friendship of the
boys was sealed.
Well, but what are you doing now ?" Paul
asked with some anxiety, as he saw Bones
preparing to slip off the loose, tongueless boots
which clung about his feet. You're not going
to turn in without supper, are you ?"
"Supper-why of course I am, and you, too,
I guess, unless you know where it is to come
from. You'll have to come down easy, I'm
thinking, to our way of life, and lower your
flag, my boy," he added, with a good long stare
into Paul's face, and a wink, intended to convey
to Paul's mind, as it did, a desperate knowledge
of life.
But why, why cannot we pay for it ?" Paul







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


asked, with a great belief in his pennies still, as
he took them out and spread them diamond
shape on his palm. Why cannot we buy some-
thing to eat ?"
"Every why; it's fourpence for you, because
you're a new hand and knows how to play, and
the captain knows that, and more, too-but it's
tuppence for me, that's been at it six months or
more-and three half-pence to-morrow, or none
at all-just as likely as one-and breakfast to
come out of that, for you can't play the fool long,
and whistle and tramp the length of the day,
with your throat as dry as the boards, and the
hunger gnawing your heart out; eh, do you
understand me now ?"
"Yes." Paul was beginning to understand,
and to pull off his boots, too, but with the know-
ledge came doubt-doubt of his companion, of
himself, of his new life, separated as it seemed to
him by a great gulf, from his mother and from
God. His companion was already in bed. Why,
you haven't said your prayers!" Paul exclaimed






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


with a sudden courage which a moment's hesita-
tion might have undone.
"No, of course not; I'm not such a fool as to
get my head cudgelled a second time by not
knowing what another fellow's up to, and I'd
like to make sure what you're going to do first."
Bones leaned on both elbows as he spoke, with
his chin in his hands, and winked again at Paul,
the same shrewd wink that had puckered his
childish face before. His short experience of life
had brought to him, poor dwarf boy, a dreary
doubt of many things, in earth and heaven, but
gladly he would love and trust again if he could,
gladly he would go back to the old rest of faith
and prayer.
"Captain said it was all nonsense, and pitched
into me t'other night when we pal'd here," he
added, scanning Paul's face anxiously the while.
"Then it's not nonsense," Paul added, with
more assurance now, "and you needn't have
minded him; isn't God in heaven stronger than
him, or you, or anyone else ? I shouldn't like to






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


be down in the dark here all night, I know, with-
out asking Him to take care of me, and you'd
better not either, for you don't know what
mightn't come to us."
Oh, yes, I do though rats, and fire, and Bill,
and all sorts of things; I've been wretched enough
this time back," and, as he spoke, poor little
Bones sat up in the mound of dusky clothes and
stared round him into the room. I didn't sleep
last night, nor the night before, not since Friday,
but I didn't say my prayers either this long
time."
Then get up now and say them along with
me, you'll feel much jollier afterwards, and never
you mind another time what a fellow like that
says to you. It's better to do right always, even
if you do suffer a bit for it."
"Yes," Bones answered in a low voice, slipping
out of bed now and kneeling on the flags beside
Paul, I know that, and I didn't want to be bad,
but it's very hard when everything goes on for a
long long time, and nobody says a word to you."






30 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.

Poor little fellow! in God's ear his prayer was
half begun; Paul was not listening to him now,
but he might well kneel on in the hushed room
and thank God for having taken care of him all
through this day, and delivered him from the
evil of utter loneliness and despair.
Neither he nor Paul heard Bill coming in that
night, though his step was heavy, and coarse
oaths broke freely from his unguarded lips, as he
tumbled through the darkness to his bed.



















CHAPTER III.

Hath He diadem as monarch
That His brow adorns .
Yes-a crown in very surety-
But of thorns."

BILL was sleeping heavily still, when the boys
woke cheerily in the morning, after a night of
unbroken dreamless rest, and, pulling on their
boots and torn jackets, they slipped noiselessly
upstairs without rousing him.
In answer to Paul's inquiries for soap and
water, Bones led the way, grinning, to a neigh-
bouring pump, and a splash of frosty water over
neck, and face, and hands, with a shake in the
sun afterwards, gave Paul quite a new feeling of






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


relish for his breakfast in an eating-house close
by; to which Bones introduced him, with a
caution that he was not to spend all his money
on grub now, as he'd have to buy his dinner just
as likely as not, and didn't know what might
not turn up through the day.
And so Paul resisted the sore temptation pre-
sented by a plateful of cold trotters, surmounted
by a greasy yellow ticket priced threepence, and
contented himself instead with a penny roll and
cup of coffee, flaked with blue milk, reserving
still two pennies for the unknown chances of his
new life.
Poor Bones had slaked his thirst with shrewd
economy at the pump, and indulged in bread
alone, but Paul was too eager for his own food
just now to take much note of his companion,
who seemed to understand the world so well and
how to push his way through it; so they hurried
on to the meeting-place, and found the band
already assembled round the drinking-fountain
in the square.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


To Paul's great surprise, the captain advanced
to meet him, presented him with a band of gold
paper for his cap, and bound a faded red scarf
under his arm.
"Come along," he said, "you shall be my
lieutenant to-day, and mind you sing out and
play your fiddle up as you did yesterday," the
captain added, as he led Paul on in front with
him, and Bones was left behind to his old station
in the rear.
Paul did not see the angry glances cast at him
by the other musicians, he did not see the colour
forsaking Bones' pale face with his new-born hope
of companionship through the long day, and Paul
enjoyed a moment of great happiness as he fell
into quick step with the captain, and marched
through the street side by side with him, chosen
lieutenant of" The Children's Band."
Now the signal was given to strike up, and as
Paul laid his head down upon his violin, it
seemed as if he had breathed the spirit of his






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


gladness into it, as the music swelled, and rose,
and rang through the morning air.
Bravo bravo!" again and again the captain
stayed his drum-beats, that the sound of Paul's
voice and then his instrument might ring on
alone. Again and again Paul's ear caught the
word of approbation from him, the exclamation
of surprise from a busy passer-by, the hum of
praise from the idle knot that gathered round
them at every halt.
To-day he knew, he felt, it was for him, for
him and for his violin, prized above all! It was
so new and wonderful, this consciousness of suc-
cess, it inspired him, and in this inspiration he
went on playing, as he felt he had rarely played
before, calling out from the heart of his instru-
ment a power and tenderness almost unknown
to himself; leading, not following, now the train
of musicians ; ignorant of the ground over which
he trod, careless of the pennies and silver pieces
for which Bones scrambled on all fours at his
feet.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Only at dinner time, under an archway, he re-
membered Bones, when the captain having dis-
appeared a moment in search of provisions, the
young lieutenant was suddenly surrounded by all
the other boys, and assailed with threats and
hisses, in revenge for the rapid promotion which
had done them so much wrong.
"Hit him-hit him again-smash his dirty
fiddle-kick him."
Hedged in against the rough wall, there was
no hope of escape; they might do it--he did not
know, they looked furious now-for himself he
did not much care, but his fiddle-a great terror
seized Paul's heart, and he glanced despairingly
round.
Bones, Bones, where was he ? Paul had not
seen him all day, did not remember it at least;
had he forsaken him, too ?
No; it had been enough that first suspicion of
danger, that first frightened cry, in which his
own name had been breathed, to scatter the
least jealous thoughts which had gathered in






fHE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Bones' heart to-day, and recall his allegiance to
Paul.
He dared not fight, poor little dwarf fellow
that he was, but he could do better still, a short
whistle at the mouth of the archway, repeated
once, twice, in higher cadence still, and in a
moment the angry subalterns dispersed, as the
captain re-appeared amongst them.
"Well, Bones, what's up now ?" he demanded,
glancing quickly round.
Bones said nothing, only nodded towards Paul,
standing quite still with his back pressed up
against the wall, big tears of terror standing in
his eyes, and his trembling fingers closed round
his violin.
It was plain enough, and Paul trembled still
more helplessly as the captain's rage broke forth
and fell in curses upon one after another of the
offenders, as they skulked away. Then turning
round, he took Paul by the hand and clapped
him pleasantly on the back, as he led him
to the front again, but his words of praise and






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


encouragement were not as sweet to Paul's ear as
they had been an hour ago.
Through the rest of that day he kept looking
back constantly to Bones, in search of the
strengthening and help which the tall boy at his
side failed to give. The little dwarf was glad,
and his gladness was complete when, in the full
assembly of the band at the drinking-fountain,
before its dispersal, Paul, the favoured lieutenant,
refused the captain's proposal, that he should go
home to his diggings with him, and slipping his
arm instead within that of Bones, declared his
unwillingness to forsake his old pal.
The boys had a grand supper that night, justi-
fied even in Bones' cautious eyes, by the bright
sixpence which Paul carried home and the un-
wonted coppers which had fallen to his own
share. After supper, as they sat together on the
low bed, Paul told Bones, in complete confidence,
all about his mother; about that last Sunday
evening when she had sung for him, of the
terrible days which had followed, and then of







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


the cathedral porch, and of the dream of light
and comfort there. As Paul spoke his head
sunk lower and lower down on his violin, always
there, and the sad story strayed into the music
which he had heard that night, strangely blent
with the sorrow of to-day-


Hath He marks to lead me to Him
If He be my guide 1
In His hands and feet are wound-prints,
And His side."


Bones listened with upturned face, and the
attentive ear of one who has an interest, it may
be for life or death, in the story told, and for
some time there was silence in the room.
I should like to go there some day," he said,
at length, as he saw Paul pulling off his jacket
and boots. I should like to hear the little boys
singing it myself. I wish we could go net
Sunday."
Well, and why shouldn't we ?" Paul askA(,
in the spirit of independence, which was growing






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


upon him; it's quite close here, and we might
dodge about the cloisters and hear the music,
even if we could not get in."
"But the band !" Bones exclaimed, anxiously;
we dare not leave it; captain counts Sunday
among his market-days. There do be shoals of
people out country ways, and there's never so
much made as on Sundays."
I don't care if he made his pockets full,"
Paul answered, hastily, "I'm not going to do
what's wrong, for him or anyone else. I mean,"
he added, a little more calmly, answering the
wonder in Bones' face, "it's just as bad to go
singing and playing about the streets making
money on Sundays, as if you hawked apples or
kept your shop open. I don't know what you
think, but mother would not have let me do it,
and I'm not going to do it now."
That's all very fine," Bones answered, quietly,
"and easy said; but wait awhile until Sunday
comes, or Saturday night, and you'll have to
change your tune; that sort of thing don't go







40 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


down with the captain, and it's better to give in
easy than kick up another row, and have all the
fellows down upon you."
"I don't know about that," Paul answered,
more doubtfully, as a remembrance of his danger
to-day and the range of scowling faces flashed
back upon him; "I don't want to kick up a row,
but I'm not going to stay away from church nor
you either," he added, putting his arm confidently
round Bones' neck, and looking full into the
child's face.
I haven't been in church these three months,"
Bones answered, thickly, his cheeks flushing with
almost a guilty red under Paul's eye, "but I
don't mind trying again," he added, lowering his
voice still more, "if you'll stick up for me this
time, and promise-promise not to leave me," he
added, grasping Paul's arm as the ghost of some
old terror shook him with sudden fear.
Poor little Bones! God only knew of that
other time, when, under the dark bridge down by
the river's edge, for the sake of dear life, he had






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


given in, with the sound of water and angry
voices gurgling in his ear; God only know how
miserable that life, in its downward course, had
been, day by day, since then, and God alone
could rightly estimate his fear and courage now.
Paul met his entreaty only with a laugh:-
Of course I'll stick up for you, and for myself
too," he answered, pleasantly; "but there's no
use thinking about it now, it's not Saturday yet,
and it's high time you and I were in bed-that's
somebody on the stairs!"
Oh, yes, that's Bill, I know Quick make
haste! into bed, just as you are!" Bones seized
Paul by the shoulders and dragged him in, boots
and all, under the mound of ragged bed-clothes,
scarcely in time, for the door was flung noisily
open, and a tall, heavy figure came lurching in.
Holding their breath with closed lips, their
arms tight about each other's necks, the children
lay, but though Bill stared long at them in the
ray of murky gas-light, that fell down the cellar
steps with a gust of snow-laden air, he could







42 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.
not make it all out, he could not quite under-
stand. He fancied, in some foolish way, that the
face pillowed upon his brother's shoulder, half
hidden in fair hair, was that of his little sister
Lilian, whom they said he had killed long ago,
and he had not killed her, he knew he had not
killed her, he had been very fond of his sister
Lilian.
Bill stooped; ignorant of the wild beating of
Paul's heart, he laid his cheek close to Paul's
cheek, cold enough even for death under his own.
Paul would have screamed if it had not been for
the helplessness of fear; he would have sprung
up face to face with the strong man whose
breath was in his ear, if it had not been for the
vice-like hold with which Bones held him
down.
But there was no knife, no blow, no cruel
strangling touch, only a kiss, such as a mother
might have left upon his white lips at night, and
Bill crept away, sobbing like a child, to his
bed.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND. 43

"Poor Bill! poor Bill!" Bones muttered under
his breath, as he relaxed his hold upon Paul's
wrists and turned towards the wall. Paul drew
still nearer to him, and again under their breath,
the boys prayers that night were said, and in both
Bill's name was linked closely with their own.











j. -~C



















CHAPTER IV.

"If I find Him, if I follow,
What His guerdon here
Many a sorrow, many a labour,
Many a tear."

THE next day began for Paul with the same
friendly greeting beside the drinking-fountain in
the square, the same thrill of pride and happi-
ness, recalling the joy of yesterday, without its
pain, making him forget, or even to doubt the
keenness of the trial that lay before him still.
What matter if the boys did stare and scowl
at him; he did not care. What matter if they
hated him, and called him low names between
their closed teeth ; he did not care-they dared





THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


not touch him-he was lieutenant over them all;
he was the captain's favourite, and marched at
his right hand.
Paul hugged his violin and laughed in to him-
self as the day went on, it was very dear to him,
this old violin-dearer day by day-and with
the old love there was something else growing up
in his heart, a strange perilous love for this new
life of his, and the bewilderment of its suc-
cess.
Only he wanted Bones to share it all; he
wanted Bones to march in front with him, and
to be happy and successful, too. He could not
bear to leave him behind and hear the boys
venting their disappointment in angry words on
him. Paul did not know that Bones was happier
-aye, and safer, too, in the humble place that
God had chosen for him-than Paul, in his fore-
most rank and sudden prosperity. Paul did not
know that he stood in greater danger himself
this day, than in the dark night of wretchedness
after his mother's death.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


But through all-the wretchedness and the
present joy-he remembered her, and the God
whom she had taught him to love; and more than
once the music died away under his touch; the
captain's question was left unheeded, step and
voice faltered alike as Paul's heart sprang back, in
a moment's agony, to the thought of his mother,
or rose in sudden prayer that God would guide
him in this new life, which was so wonderful
and far from her, and deliver him from the evil,
which he only guessed at now.
And so in a strange whirl of thought and feel-
ing, the next few days passed swiftly away, and
before Paul almost knew that they were gone, it
was Saturday night again, and the hour of his
trial had come.
The music had been kept up to a later hour
than usual, as it was marketing night with many,
and the streets were full. The captain stood now
just at the mouth of the archway, counting the
day's earnings under the uncertain glare from a
gas-lamp over his head.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Here's threepence halfpenny, full pay, to
Cornet Bones," he said, chucking the coppers dis-
dainfully over his shoulder to the poor dwarf
child, who stood, as usual, somewhere in the
background; "and sixpence, lieutenant, for you,"
he added, addressing Paul with quite a gracious
intonation in his voice; "you'll double it to-
morrow if we have any sort of luck, and have
your fortune soon made, my boy; remember we
shall have to make an early start of it, we're
going out countryways on a long beat."
Paul hesitated. He was determined, he knew,
not to go, but he doubted if this were the right
moment to speak, and the terror in Bones' face
seemed to implore him to put off, if possible, the
evil day.
Still he did not much like taking the money
from the captain under false pretences, it seemed
almost the price of sin, and he held it doubtfully
in his hand, while his heart beat fast under his
torn coat and his lips trembled to speak.
Bones saw the danger. Not now, not now,"







48 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


he whispered, dodging round behind the other.
figures and laying a cold hand upon Paul's wrist.
But he could not save him, there were jealous
eyes on the watch for their rival's fall, there
were evil hearts thirsting to do him wrong.
Going to cut up rough, eh ?" demanded one
of the musicians, addressing Paul in a loud voice,
intended also for the captain's ear. Strike for
early hours and higher wages, I'd advise you,
whilst the iron's hot, my boy."
"What's up now ?" exclaimed the captain,
suspicious of some mischief on hand; what's
the meaning of all this ?" he added, turning
round with a threatening face upon the boy who
had spoken.
"I don't know, I'm sure," the boy answered,
with a shrug of his coarse shoulders, "ask him,
and him," he added, jerking his thumb in the
direction where Paul and Bones stood beside
each other, with guilty faces enough, and the six-
pence still lying upon Paul's outstretched palm.
"Not enough, eh, is that it ?" the captain






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


asked, speaking to Paul now, and jingling
some coppers together, after old fashion, in his
pockets.
"Plenty!" Paul answered, simply, whilst a
coarse laugh broke from all his hearers except
Bones, who felt the coils tightening round his
friend, and trembled for him.
"Then what is it you want ?" the captain
asked again, puzzled, almost provoked, with the
guilelessness of the child; "you're not tired are
you V?
"No, but I'm not coming here to-morrow !"
Paul suddenly exclaimed, betrayed into the very
confession which he had been struggling to keep
back.
There was a chuckle of merriment and content
hardly suppressed amongst Paul's enemies: the
captain turned fiercely on them and then back to
Paul, who was instinctively hiding away his
violin under his torn coat.
"Not coming here to-morrow What do you
mean ?" he asked, scanning Paul's face with






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


a mixture of passion and alarm; you don't
mean you're going to give up the band, do
you ?"
Yes-no-not that; I didn't say that; but
I'm not coming to-morrow," Paul answered, with
a fast sinking heart, whilst all trace of colour for-
sook the face of his friend.
"And why not, may I inquire ?" the captain
asked, with a strange effort at calm, whilst the
colour seethed up to his hair.
"Because it's Sunday and I'm going to
church--"
"Going to mischief!" was the hot retort;
" that fool, Bones, has been putting some of his
confounded nonsense into your head, but we'll
knock it out of his pretty soon."
"It's not nonsense, and it isn't Bones," Paul
answered quickly, with a courage born now of
love rather than fear, as the attack swerved from
him to his faith, and friend: and the captain,
seizing Bones by the ragged collar of his coat,
turned him ignominiously round, and with






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


one kick, sent the poor little dwarf figure reeling
down into the darkness, which stretched away
under the bridge.
How dare you-how dare you ?" Paul cried,
springing cat-like at the captain's neck, and
driving his long fingers into him, with more of
brute instinct than Christian charity.
To-night, to-morrow, he would be ashamed of
himself for this, but now he was blinded with
anger and maddened with sight of wrong.
" Coward-bully-brute !" He did not know
what he was doing, he did not hear his violin
clattering upon the rounded stones at his feet,
did not recall his utter helplessness, until he felt
himself laid flat upon the ground, his arms
tightly pinioned by the captain's hands, and his
violin waved a moment triumphantly over his
head by one of the other boys.
Then passion yielded to weak tears. He
could not even cry or scream out for love of it as
he would have done, the captain's knee was
planted almost to stifling on his chest, and only






52 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


great suffering tears welled up to tell of. that
moment's pain.
"Here, let his fiddle alone, can't you ?" the
captain said, relaxing his hold of Paul's left arm,
that he might secure the violin in his own hand,
rightly esteeming it the surest weapon against
the child.
"Now then," he said, easing his pressure a
moment upon Paul's chest, and changing his
voice to one of persuasion rather than threat,
"don't make a little fool of yourself any more, I
didn't hurt him a bit, and I'm not going to hurt
you either, if you'll promise not to kick up a
row, and do as I tell you. I could not get on
without my lieutenant, you know," he added in
subtle tones, meant only for Paul's ear; "you
will come to-morrow, won't you ?"
"No, no I will not never, never again Go
away, I hate you, I do."
There, take that, and that, and that again !"
the captain cried, maddened with defeat, and






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


swinging Paul's violin-great coward as he was-
against the boy's head.
Paul did not feel the pain then, did not hear
the howl of anger from Bones' lips, as the poor
boy tried to force his way to the rescue through
the crowd of other boys, he did not feel the blood
trickling down from either temple, he only knew
that it was in danger-his own, his fiddle, his
loved violin-already the chords had snapped;
another rude blow like that, and the delicate
wood would break, and there would be no more
music-no more sound any more.
Give it to me-give it to me!" he cried,
springing up towards the captain, who was stand-
ing erect over him now, wiping the edges of the
violin with his handkerchief; "give it back to
me, it is my own."
Here then," answered the captain, stretching
it forward just beyond Paul's reach, promise to
meet me at the drinking-fountain to-morrow at
nine o'clock, and I will give it to you. Promise,"
he repeated, lowering it still nearer to Paul's head






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


"No, no." Shaking from head to foot, Paul
could not utter another word, durst not look, he
could only cover his face up in trembling hands
and call for help to his God.
No sound-no word, no cry of dying hope-
only such a moment of silence and prayer as may
have been in John Baptist's prison, when the
murderous sword was raised. "It is better to da
right, even if you do suffer a bit for it," these
words thumped in Paul's ear now. For himself,
for Bones, it was a moment of terrible import,
standing together, steadied by each other's faith,
on the brink of misery and wrong; one false
step, one downward glance, one word of faltering
strength, and both must fall, dragging each other
down.
"Now or never," the captain shouted, thwarted
almost to madness, as he brought the violin again
down about Paul's ears.
Another moment of silence; who, even in that
rude crew, would have dared to break it ? did






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


not even the angels of God themselves stand still
to see the issue of it ?"
Now by one word, Paul might redeem his
fiddle, with all its worth, and sweetness, and
hidden power again.
Give it to me-give it to me !"
Paul's right hand went out as Cranmer's did of
old, but Cranmer's martyr spirit lived too within
the boy, and some look from dying eyes, some
vision of opened heaven, or pale brow crowned
with thorns, recalled his wavering faith.
Now or never! the captain's words took
another meaning. God whispered in his ear,
now or never must the choice be made, the
answer given for right or wrong, for time or for
eternity, for God or man.
"You will-will you ?" a shout of triumph
rose on every side.
"No, no ; take it away, take it away; never."
Paul thrust it from him, now within touch; the
thing on earth most loved; and drove his empty
hands into his bosom again.






56 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


And now it was over, the furnace heated seven
times had power to harm no more; the captain's
oath thundered upon a deaf ear, his cruel, un-
manly blows provoked no word or cry, recalled
no sign of consciousness to Paul's face, it had
sunk back colourless upon the hard stone, the
guilty captain and his crew waited to see no
more, they had done their work, and fled with
quick steps from the archway, pursued for ever
by the murderer's fear, and Bones was left to
watch alone by the motionless form of his friend.



















CHAPTER V.

"If I still hold closely to Him,
What hath He at last ?
Sorrow vanquished-labour ended,
Jordan pass'd."

"PAUL, Paul," Bones whispered tenderly in the
boy's ear, when they were left alone, and all
sound of footsteps had died away, "they have
gone, Paul: speak to me. Paul, Paul!" he cried
again, with almost a bitter cry, as no answer
came, and Paul's closed eyes returned no look of
love or tenderness to his.
Was it ? Could it be ? Bones shook Paul in
his nervousness. Had they done it ? had they
killed him in their heartlessness then, with no





THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


one to stand up, or say a word, or fight for
him ?
No. Paul was not dead. There had been
One with him in his fiery trial, strong to save,
whom Bones had not seen; there was life flick-
ering still in the bruised body, over which
Bones knelt; there was a great store of love and
tenderness sealed up in those hidden eyes for
him.
But Bones did not know-could not see, for
the great tears blinding his own eyes; could
not hear for the loud beating of his heart.
Slipping both arms under Paul, he tried to
raise him, but the weight was too much for
him; he could only drag him a few steps nearer
to the entrance, and leave him there, whilst he
struck out through the snow, now blowing in a
thick white gust, in search of help.
It must have lasted a full half hour-the
struggle and misery under the archway. Al-
ready the streets were thick and muffled with
almost an inch of snow; down this untrodden






THE CHILDREN BAND.


lane leading only to the river and a deserted
wharf, it lay pure and white; and yet, even here
Bones knew that a cry of Help," or Murder !"
would have quickly summoned a crowd of idle
starers, ready to talk or swear, or carry him, if
they did anything, to the nearest tavern or lock-
up, and then a prison or union, or inquest after
that. Bones shuddered, and hurried on; he
wanted to get him home. Yes, home-to the
cellar-room which his presence had made almost
dear.
It was only ten minutes walk away-not five
with the speed at which Bones was running now.
He might find Bill there, God grant it, in one of
his gentler moods, smoking his pipe over the fire,
which was kindled on most Saturday nights in
the low grate; or, if not, some of the men or boys
who were always there, would help him, and
bring Paul home.
But winged as Bones' footsteps were with love
and fear, they were not swift enough to spare
Paul the misery of waking up to life and suffer-
5






60 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


ing again, under the gloomy archway alone.
Almost as soon as Bones had left him, conscious-
ness returned to Paul, with a long sobbing breath,
for which there was none present to thank God,-
with a sense of loneliness which seemed almost
greater than he could bear.
What had happened ? Paul did not know.
It seemed to him as if he had been lying there
for a long time; he had been down in the rapid,
silent river, he thought, near-very near to his
mother and to rest. Why had they turned him
back just in sight, almost within reach ? He
did not care to come. They might have left
him there. Why was he lying in the cold,
alone, on the hard stones, with the snow flakes
drifting in, drifting so thick and silently ? Soon
they would cover him. This was not his bed so
pure and white to-night. Bones was not here-
it was very cold. Paul stretched out his hands
into the darkness, and shaddered as he drew them
back empty again.
There was a nasty crunching sound quite close






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


to his ear; the rats, perhaps, or some hungry
dog gnawing a lean bone. Paul did not like it;
he would have run away, but could not; he
sought under his coat, as of old, in moments of
trouble or alarm, for his violin.
Gone-yes, Paul remembered it all now, with
a terrible sinking at heart that was worse than
pain. Mother, violin, all, the old life and the
new, even Bones had deserted him, and left
him to live or die, which was the worst ?-in the
darkness, here alone.
No wonder a cry escaped Paul's lips at last;
no wonder the dark fainting came on again.
He had not heard eager footsteps hurrying
down the lane, or the angry snarl of the strange
dog as it skulked away, but Bones thanked God,
as he caught that sad cry from Paul's lips, that
lhe had not come too late, and the last image
that swam before Paul's dizzy eyes was that of
Bill's face, full of a strange kind of tenderness
looking into his as before.






63 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Paul was not afraid now. Bill was bad, they
said, but he had not been bad to Paul. He had
sat at home only last night, listening to soft airs
on the violin, which he had known in old times,
but forgotten since. Paul liked the feeling of
those strong arms round him now, felt as if
they were lifting him higher and higher up
above the weariness and pain, and then he did
not know or feel anything more after that, until
towards midnight he awoke suddenly with the
bitter cry, "Give it to me-give it back to
me !"
He was sitting up straight in Bill's bed, where
they had first laid him down; fire-light was
flooding the little room with an unwonted
glare, and both brothers were keeping beside
him. But Paul did not see them, his eyes were
wide opened, with a worse terror than had ever
startled Bones' mind at dead of night, and his
hands were stretched eagerly out.
"Here-what is it ? Bones, you know the
child's ways better than I do-give it to him,"






tHiE ChILDREASS BAND.


Bill said, holding a cup of cold water, with his
big awkward fingers to Paul's mouth.
No, no, it's not that," Bones answered sadly,
as after one hasty gulp, Paul pushed the cup from
him, and broke out with the same cry again.
"It's not that," he added under his breath;
"it's his fiddle he wants, I'm sure it is; he's kept
it day and night with him since ever I knew
him, and they took it from him last night, you
know."
"And you stood by to see them do it!" Bill
exclaimed fiercely.
No, no, I did not," Bones answered, trembling
under the look in Bill's face. "I tried, but they
would not let me go near him; they held me
back, and struck me with their great fists on my
head and ears."
"Then God forgive me, if I don't pay them
out for it, every one." Bill spoke with passion,
striking his pipe so that it flew in two pieces,
against the rough wall, and Paul sank back
sobbing in the bed.






64 H1i-E CHILDREN'S BAND.


"No, no, Bill, don't say that; but stay," Bones
added, "look at Paul now--what is he doing ?"
He's out of himself, poor child! God help
him, he thinks he has it now."
Yes, Paul thought he had it now; he was sit-
ting up in bed again, hugging the small hard
bolster, round which his arms had closed. He
thought it was his violin; he thought, in his
feverish dreaming that he had found it-there
in its old place, close beside his head, and a wan
smile moved the white lips of the child, as he
laid his chin down upon it, and moved his right
hand backwards and forwards, as though he
handled the bow.
The two brothers looked first at each other
and then at him, and after that there was
silence in the room for a few moments, whilst
Paul's voice broke out into a kind of low thril-
ling song, sweet and plaintive, sobbing now and
then, Home, sweet home," a few trembling bars,
breaking loud and strong into the old refrain,
"Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,"






FHE CHILDREN'S BAND.


then a complete break down, and Bones drew
near, and tried to draw away with noiseless
touch the mock instrument from his hand. But
Paul clutched it with only a more desperate
hold.
Give it back to me," he cried. "Promise me
that you won't--"
Bill took Bones by the shoulder, and swung
him angrily away, kneeling himself beside Paul
now, propping up the coarse bedding under the
boy's head.
Sing it again, lad, sing it again, if you've got
a mind to it," he said.
Paul smiled a sad foolish smile, and again his
weak voice trembled into song.


"Hath Hle diadem as monarch
That His brow adorns 1
Yes, a crown in very surety-
But of thorns."


Bones knew it well, the cathedral hymn, only
it had never sounded half so sweet as now. No






66 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


wonder Bill listened with rapt ear as Bones had
done before. It was all new, words and harmony
to him, and the old story heard and slighted so
often seemed new too.
Long after the music had sobbed and died
away, and sleep had fallen in great blessedness
on Paul's tired eyes, the strong man knelt still
on the damp flags beside his bed. It may have
been with his hand supporting the child's head,
he feared to waken him, it may have been those
words had kindled some longing after prayer.
Paul woke next morning from his sleep of ex-
haustion, hot and restless.
Send him to the hospital," was the doctor's
short decree, when summoned by Bones from the
dispensary at hand.
"No, I won't," Bill answered more curtly still,
and cursed the doctor in his heart as he left the
room.
Take care of him, poor fellow, and do your
best for him," said another, who had come more
than once before down these cellar steps, to seek





THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


his old scholar, Bill, and save him, if it were pos-
sible, from the evil life he had chosen.
God had sent another minister to Bill's heart
to-day, and the good man saw it and left the
room without another word, well satisfied that a
little child should lead back the wanderer to his
home, leaving this corner of his field with right
good-will to the poor and the stranger to glean.
Bill followed Mr. Ainsworth up the steps.
"You think he'll do, sir ? You think we shall
be able to mind him between us, Bones and I ?"
"Yes, Bill, I do," Mr. Ainsworth said, looking
him kindly in the face, "and I will call in for a
minute each day, to see how he does."
"Then God bless you, sir!" Bill exclaimed,
shaking him warmly by the hand, with some-
thing of the old look of love and honesty in his
face, and then he hurried back to his station
beside Paul, and told Bones he might go to church,
or meeting, or school, as he liked, for that he was
going to mind Paul himself for that day. But
Bones did not go either to church or school this






68 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


morning; he left the house it is true, in obedience
to Bill, whom, from long habit, he feared to dis-
obey, but sank down in jealous thought on the
first pile of cabbage-stalks to which he came.
Paul was his friend; Bill had no right to him;
he wanted to have sat beside Paul's bed and
talked to him himself. It was too bad to be
turned out in this kind of way, with nothing to
do, with no way of proving his skill, or power to
love. Was there nothing to do ? A sudden
inspiration lit up Bones' face with hope, a sudden
courage fired his vexed heart with joy.
He would do something Bill could not do, he
would get back Paul's violin; whilst Bill sat
down there smoking his lazy pipe, he would go out
through court and lane, through all the dangerous
well-known haunts, and search, at risk of pain or
death, for Paul's violin.
Bones started full of hope, confident almost of
success; he knew the long Sunday rounds only
too well, the weary mile-stones and taverns at
every turn. In some of these, or out in the open






iHE CHILDREN'S BAND.


street, before all the world, he would face the
captain himself, and accuse him in broad light of
day for the evil he had done; he would hold a
threat of prison and disgrace over him; the cruel
scars were open on Paul's temple to witness
against him, he should give up Paul's fiddle on
the instant or answer in a court of justice for
them.
Poor Bones! if he had only known! Under
this very fear of justice and pursuit, the guilty
captain had broken up his band last night, with
royal hush-money to each, and an agreement to
re-assemble in some distant town, where the story
of their cruel work would be unknown.
Under cover of snow and darkness, the boys
that night had all left the town by different
ways, taking care to avoid those very haunts
where Bones sought them in foolish zeal to-day.
Tired, hungry, disappointed, he trudged home
late in the desolate evening through the sleet and
snow. Bill, wearied of his long day's watch, had
gone out an hour ago or more, and Paul had






70 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


been looking out for Bones all day. He thought
he had lost him again, and now that Bones had
come back-now that they were alone and Bones
put his arms tenderly round him and raised him
in the bed-Paul only cried weak, pitiful tears
that went to Bones' heart to see, and which, with
all his art of comforting, he had no power to
check.
He could not tell him where he had been, he
dared not waken Paul's grief again with thoughts
of his violin, and when Bill came in after a while
excited and cross, a jealous fear forbade Bones to
whisper it even to him, though Bill scolded him
with harsh words for staying out the length of
the day and leaving the work of the house and a
sick child to him. Paul might go to hospital to-
morrow for all he cared, he wasn't going to have
the house turned upside down for a pair of young
good-for-nothings like them.
Bones answered never a word, but crept shyly
into bed beside Paul, hungry still. Paul's tears
were over, he tried to sit up and speak in defence





THE CHILDREN'S BAND. 71
of Bones, but the current of Bill's wrath turned
quickly upon him, and Bones drew him back
with a word of whispered counsel not to answer
him again.
Bones was right; Bill's angry mutterings died
unanswered away, and his heavy breathing soon
told the boys that he was asleep.








IV

















CHAPTER VI.

"If I ask Him to receive me
Will He say me nay y
Not till earth and not till heaven
Pass away."

PAUL did -not go t9 hospital next day. Bill's
manner was more than usually softened towards
him, when on waking after many hours from his
sluggish, unbroken sleep, he found the fire already
kindled and Bones sitting on the side of Paul's
bed, trying to coax him to share a cup of tea and
slices of thin brown bread with him.
Paul had not slept, but all trace of fever had
died out of his cheeks, leaving them paler than
before; the brightness had left his eyes, too, and
it was only a very white, tired little face that






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


leaned against the wall and seemed with its very
gentleness to reproach Bill for his surly mood last
night.
"I didn't scold you, did I ?" he asked, sitting
down on the bed and taking Paul's hand within
his. "You don't like it," he added without
waiting for any answer, as he saw Paul putting
away the bread and tea from him almost un-
touched. "I'm going out to work to-day, and
I'll fetch you something nice on my way home,
for a treat."
Thank you," Paul answered, raising his heavy-
lidded eyes full of gratitude to the big man's face.
He had been dreading this moment of. Bill's
waking all through the dark night, and now it
had come, bringing blessing with it.
How different life and home might be for the
brothers if Bill were always like this.
For himself he did not much care. There was
not much to look forward to now, no coming
time could restore to him all that he had lost.
Paul was glad when they both went out, Bill to






74 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


his work and Bones to his vain search again, and
left him alone, for he had no heart to speak to
them, he had no power to answer back their
words of love to-day.
He was better, and he knew it, and yet the
very knowledge seemed almost pain. He must
not lie any longer there, he might not drift quietly
away out of life's tumult into the haven where
he would be; to-morrow, or the day after, he
must get up and go back. Back to the old life?
No, no. Paul sat up straight in his bed and bowed
his head in his clasped hands. Never the old
life again, but a new life without mother or
violin, without hope or courage any more.
And yet he had done what was right. Yes,
now that he was able to think it all over calmly,
step by step, with unfevered brain, Paul knew
that he had done what was right, he knew that
if it were all to happen to-night or to-morrow,
God helping him, he would do the same. He
would give his violin again, if it had to be,
rather than dishonour his Master's name. He






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


would go through life alone rather than throw
in his lot with those who despise God's law; he
would be faithful, God helping him, unto the end.
Paul leaned back on the dark bolster, his
hands still clasped, his lips moving, not in mur-
muring now, but in the words which love and
iiff..ig had made very dear in these last days
to him-

"If I find Him; if I follow,
What His guerdon here ?
Many a sorrow, many a labour,
Many a tear."

Another voice took up the next verse, and
finished it reverently for him-

"If I still hold closely to Him,
What hath He at last ?
Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
Jordan passed !"

Paul started. With eyes closed to earth, open
only to heaven and God, he had not seen a tall
figure descending the steps to his bedside; he
had not seen the face of the good clergyman,
Bill's friend, looking down with great compas-
6






76 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


sion upon his. But now he saw it, yes, and re.
membered it too. High up in the lighted chan-
cel on that sad night, when, driven by life's
storm, he had taken refuge within the cathedral
walls, he had seen that face; he had heard that
voice joining in the hymn of rest and courage
which had sent him comforted away.
The association was too strong, too sudden; it
almost shook Paul's weak reason again.
"Oh, sir! might I go there ?" he cried, spring-
ing up in bed; "I wanted to go there with Bones,
and hear the children singing it again."
"Where ? To the cathedral, is it ?" Mr. Ains-
worth asked, sitting down on the edge of Paul's
bed, disappointed at finding the child, as he
feared, delirious still, determined to stay with
him until Bill's return.
"Do you know who I am ?" he asked, with
more confidence, as Paul, overcome with sudden
shame in his presence, covered his flushed face in
both hands and turned away. Only now he
wondered what had brought the strange gentle-







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


man there, only now he blushed at his own
freedom in addressing him.
"Never mind," Mr. Ainsworth said kindly,
raising the bedding with skilled hand under
Paul's head. "Lie back quietly, and I will talk
to you. I am Bill's friend, and I saw you the
other day here, when he carried you home sick.
Where is he, and his little brother to-day ?"
"Bill's out, and Bones is out too. Bones is
my friend, but I like Bill too," Paul answered,
plucking shyly at the tufts of the blue counter-
pane. "He's never been bad to me, and we used
to sing in the evenings, sometimes, before-before
I was sick," he added, with a kind of gulp.
Can you sing that one you were saying just
now as I came in ?"
"Yes, sir," Paul answered, looking frankly up.
" Mother taught it to me, and then-then I heard
it in the grand church, and I saw you, sir, there,
and the little boys all dressed in white, high up
under the window, singing."
As the whole scene flashed back upon Paul's







78 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


mind, it seemed to drive fear and sorrow before
it, and kindled his face with light.
"Then you have seen me before, and we may
count as old friends ?" Mr. Ainsworth said, taking
the boy's hand within his; "and you liked the
church and the music ?"
Oh yes, it was grand," Poal answered, with
enthusiasm. "Bones wanted to come too. Bones
and I were going last Sunday."
Again Paul stopped, unwilling to recall the
vivid memory of that day. Mr. Ainsworth came
to his help again.
"Can Bones sing too ?" he asked, looking

thoughtfully into Paul's face.
"Yes, sir," Paul answered readily. "Bones
sings better than I, sir, only it's other sort of
things he knows, not hymns, sir, only that one."
And now what will you do, when you get
well; I mean, and go out ?" Mr. Ainsworth asked,
abruptly.
"I don't know, sir, I don't know," Paul an-






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


swered gravely; "I was trying to think about it
this morning, but I couldn't, my head ached so."
"Then don't mind thinking about it," Mr.
Ainsworth said kindly, as the wavering sound
rose in Paul's voice again. God will go before
you, and make the rough places straight. Some
day when you are better you shall come to the
cathedral with me, and bring Bones with you,
and Bill too, if he will come. For the present,
good-bye, God bless you, and make you a blessing,
my boy."
With these words Mr. Ainsworth left him, and
Paul lay back to think, and to thank him in his
heart, though his lips had failed to do it,for thekind
words he had spoken. Pleasant thoughts strayed
into sleep, and Paul did not wake until Bill came
in at dinner-time, with a herring, and bunches of
fresh cress and radishes for him.
Bones came in too, and cooked it on the red
embers, and then they both went out again, and
turned up the street, arm-in-arm, as they had
rarely gone before; drawn together by their






So THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


common anxiety and single aim. In half despair,
Bones had told his brother to-day, of his long
fruitless search for Paul's violin, and Bill, with a
curse upon himself for having lost already so
much time, set out with Bones now, on the same
vain search again.
But, after all, there was not much that Bill
could do in this matter, and he knew it. There
was an old unpaid score at the Red Lion Inn,
just across the river, that made a coward of him;
there was an old score of petty crimes in his own
dark heart which had kept him in hiding these
many days, and made him timorous of police-
court or magistrate, and even for the sake of Paul,
he dared not risk exposure, by making inquiries
there, where alone they might have been of
avail.
And so he and Bones could only dodge about,
as Bones had dodged through many dreary days
alone, watching at the well-known haunts where
the "Children's Band" had trysted in other
days, making hopeless search, as they almost






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


knew it must be, down amongst the old barrels,
and piles of rotting timber, on the deserted
wharves, where more than once, in those old days,
the captain of the "Children's Band" had quar-
tered his little homeless regiment at night.
"It's no use, not a bit, I tell you," Bill ex-
claimed almost angrily, after a few hours spent
in this thankless work; they're no such fools as
to come this way again, of all others, or to hide
the fiddle away in a hole, when there's many a
one would pay them hard cash down, and ask no
questions about it; besides, Paul has given over
thinking about it, I'll be bound, and where's the
good of your stirring the blaze up in his poor bit
of a heart that's burnt out a'most already. Your
time would be better spent, I take it, if you'd
bide at home and mind him."
Poor Bones, he did not say anything, he knew
Bill's temper too well, to engage in argument, even
at the happiest times, with him; and now, when
Bill was wearied with failure, and vexed, like
himself, at heart, Bones affected not even to






82 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


hear the taunting words, which his big brother
kept up in a sullen scolding voice for the rest of
the way home.
Paul wondered what they had been about all
day, when they came back in the evening, tired
and out of sorts; wondered above all, what new
work Bones had found, which made him so silent
and reserved; and whether it was possible, he
could have joined himself to the cruel band
again.
Paul did not think he could have done it, and
yet the very doubt kept him also silent, and for-
bade all questioning. And Paul longed to-night,
with a great longing, for his lost violin, and the
companionship of its voice.

















CHAPTER VII.

THE next day, Paul got up and dressed himself
after the brothers had gone out, but his poor
strength carried him only to the top of the cellar
steps, where he sat down and watched the people
passing to and fro.
But after a time he grew faint and giddy
watching them, all so busy, talking so eagerly as
they passed him by; all intent on their own
business, all ignorant of him, and the short story
of his life. It was more lonely here than in the
dusky room downstairs, where life seemed to have
stood still awhile, at least for him; where above
and around, the changeless walls were only to be
seen.






84 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


Paul crept downstairs again, and threw himself
sobbing on his bed. After this, it was many days
before he left the cellar room, and then it was
with courage prayed for, and a fixed purpose in
his heart.
It was Saturday again; just one week since he
had been carried helpless home; one week of
weariness and pain; one week only; one week
without his violin, and life must stretch on and
on without it, for ever now. But Paul would
not allow his mind to dwell on this sad thought
any more; he had put it reverently away with
the memory of his dead mother and the past; he
felt with some strange confidence which he would
not have risked in words, that God had them
alike in holy keeping now.
It was with the future that Paul's thoughts
were busy to-day; the future in which he must
learn, and think, and decide for himself.
This was to be the last day of idleness; to-
morrow rest, and then work; running errands,
hawking bills, sweeping crossings; whatever it






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


might be, he must repay the cost of this helpless
week to Bill; he must take up life's burden
again, and it was to test his strength for this
work that Paul crept up the garret steps now.
The same noise and throng, and sickly fog-
light over all; the same faint loneliness creep-
ing over him again; but Paul would not give
way to it now; he got up, shook himself, whistled
a short tune, and then sitting down, he watched
the passers by, as he had done before, wondering
curiously how bread was earned for so many, and
whether there were any sick people, or dying, in
the garrets opposite him, or in the crowded courts
beyond.
But this would not do either; this would not
help him to work. Buttoning up his coat, he set
himself with steady heart, but wavering steps, to
walk to the nearest lamp-post, keeping far from
the gaping cellar doors at his right hand, on to
the second and third. Paul was well pleased with
himself as he reached the end of the street, and
leaned a moment for breath against the railing.






86 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


A little child, with chubby outstretched hands,
slipped on the greasy crossing, and fell on its face
in the throng of carriages there. Paul sprang
forward, as an empty coal dray came rattling
down, and lifting the child high in his arms,
above them all, he carried him safely to the other
side. Blind with fright and passion, the child
struck out angrily at him; but Paul thanked God
for the strength and courage which he felt had
been given back, and for the power to help
others which was his own still.
Coming back he met Bones at the top of the
cellar-steps, and the boy's tired gait, and hopeless
expression, seemed to tell him that here there
was help wanted too.
"You are not going out again, Bones, are you ?"
he asked, as, after their hurried meal, Bones
turned towards the door, and leaned a few mo-
ments against it, staring up at the patch of murky
sky overhead.
No, not if you had rather I stayed at home,"
Bones answered, without turning round; he was







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


very tired and disappointed, and the expression
of Paul's voice had tempted him almost to stay.
Then I would like it," Paul said; "I would
like you to sit down and talk to me," he added,
slipping his arm round Bones, and leaning his
head one moment against him; "there are ever
so many things I want to ask you and think
about-that's unless you want to go out yourself,
you know."
"No, I don't; there's no use trying any more,"
Bones answered, huskily, wriggling away in his
vexed mood from Paul.
Poor fellow, he had wanted, oh, so much, to
bring Paul's violin back to him to-day; he had
searched and searched through all these days
with silent love, in vain, longed for it, never so
dearly as now; with the touch of Paul's arm
upon his own, he had left no inch of tedious
ground untrodden, no chance despised,
Bill had given up, and gone back to his work;
he had toiled on still, and now at the end of
all, he had failed; he had come home without it,







THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


and could do nothing; not even hope any
more.
"What has gone wrong, Bones? what have
you been doing all these days ?" Paul asked, as
he drew him on to the low bed, and sat down, his
arm round him still. Anything was better than
this unhappy silence, this strange reserve, for-
bidding all sympathy between them.
Anything was better, yes, even the great burst
of sorrow from poor Bones, as he laid his head
down, sick with hope deferred, upon Paul's shoul-
der, and told him all; better, far better, they
look straight into each other's eyes, filled even
with tears, than the doubt and anxiety of the
past week with its hopes and fears.
"I have quite given up my violin, quite;"
Paul said, as Bones told him of how he had gone
over a dozen pawn-offices to-day, in search of it.
"I feel someway, as if I had laid it down before
God, you know, not as if it had been taken from
me, and I try not to think about it, only I feel
lonely-very lonely sometimes, without it-" and






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


as ha spoke, a longing, hungry look crept up into
Paul's face again.
Bones nodded; he knew what Paul meant,
though he could find no words in which to an-
swer him; he felt as if he were beginning to
understand the secret of Paul's weakness, and of
his strength. But he said nothing, only hurried on
to tell Paul of his adventures on some other day,
making the most out of each little incident to
amuse him, spreading out before him in triumph
a half-crown all in coppers and sixpences which
he had picked up by odd errands through the
week.
Paul listened at first eagerly, afterwards with
a faint changeless smile, which told Bones that
his attention had strayed away.
"What are you doing ?" he asked, as Paul
leaned his white face on both hands, and stared
with dreamy eyes towards the door.
"I am listening," Paul answered, with hushed
voice, and Bones went on.
Yes, Paul was listening, but not to him; his






go THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


ears had caught a sound far off which held them
in a curious spell; music far off, and now nearer,
nearer, and nearer still. Why did Bones rattle
on like that; why did he clink those coppers so
uselessly in his hand ? Was it only a dream, the
old, old dream, so bitter in its awaking; did not
Bones hear it too ?
Paul put out his hand one moment towards
Bones, to check him silently, but even as he did
so, the music ceased suddenly, the spell was
snapped, and only a great sigh breaking up from
Paul's heart, told how precious it had been.
What is it, can't you answer me ?" Bones
asked, almost angrily. He was frightened at
Paul's face, whiter than before, studded with cold
drops of anxiety or pain; "You're not going to
be ill again, are you ?"
"No, no, it was nothing; it is over now, only
I thought you heard it too."
"Heard what ?" Bones asked, staring with
blank terror into Paul's face, as he covered his
eyes quickly with his hand and leaned back.






THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


"Nothing, nothing," he repeated, in a weak,
sobbing voice, and then there was silence for a
moment in the room, but Bones knew, by the
heaving of Paul's breast, that the struggle was
not over yet.
It was only for a moment.
"There! there it is again !" Paul exclaimed,
springing suddenly to his feet, as the same sound
of trembling music fell upon his ear. This time
Bones heard it too, and went towards the door,
but the sound awoke in his mind only a sense of
pain; his ears were wearied with listening, his
heart wearied with disappointment; he could not
afford to hope so soon again.
It's only an old man with a broken fiddle,"
he said, in a thick voice, coming slowly down the
flagged steps to Paul.
"A fiddle! oh, Bones, are you sure; I thought
-I thought it was my own."
Paul's voice was almost choked with the ful-
ness of hope or fear; his step was wavering, and
7






92 THE CHILDREN'S BAND.


he stretched out his hand for Bones' support, as
he staggered across the floor.
Nearer and nearer, quite close now, deafening
almost to his ear, the music came; nearer and
nearer the blind fiddler; with a white dog leap-
ing at his chain, until he halted within Paul's
sight at the open door of the cellar.
Then Paul sprang forward with a cry almost
of pain, and would have fallen, had not Bones
held him with both hands back. It was his
violin; his own; he knew it. The strings were
broken and untuned, the hand that touched them
was tremulous and unskilled, but the violin was
his. He knew it; he loved it. It was his own.
Paul turned upon Bones with almost a fierce
glare. "Let go," he cried, "let go ;" trying to
wrench his hands away. Then at sight of Bones'
face, his voice changed to one of almost pitiful
entreaty. "It is, indeed it is," he stammered
out; "you don't know, I know it is my own.
Let go, please, let go."
"Yes," Bones answered, with great frmness,




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