• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Under an archway
 My little wee
 Babs
 Wily Will
 A father found
 A prayer for help
 The tempter again
 The tempter prevails
 The courage of love
 Saved
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine














Title: Bel's baby
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082115/00001
 Material Information
Title: Bel's baby
Physical Description: 96, 16 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ropes, Mary E ( Mary Emily ), b. 1842
S. W. Partridge & Co. (London, England) ( Publisher )
Gilbert & Rivington ( Printer )
Publisher: S.W. Partridge & Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Gilbert and Rivington
Publication Date: [1893?]
Edition: 2nd ed.
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Boys -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Poor children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Infants -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Orphans -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adopted children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kindness -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Abandoned children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Prayer -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fathers and sons -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Pets -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1893   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1893
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Mary E. Ropes.
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00082115
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002236745
notis - ALH7223
oclc - 213098667

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
    Frontispiece
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Under an archway
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    My little wee
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Babs
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Wily Will
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    A father found
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    A prayer for help
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    The tempter again
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    The tempter prevails
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    The courage of love
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    Saved
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    Advertising
        Advertising 1
        Advertising 2
        Advertising 3
        Advertising 4
        Advertising 5
        Advertising 6
        Advertising 7
        Advertising 8
        Advertising 9
        Advertising 10
        Advertising 11
        Advertising 12
        Advertising 13
        Advertising 14
        Advertising 15
        Advertising 16
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text








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The Baldwin Library
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1 111 11 I I I II I










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HERE'S SOME VISITORS COME TO SUPPER." [p. 37.


II










BEL'S BABY.





BY
MARY E. ROPES,
AUTHOR OF "THE FORTUNES OF THE FREJHALDTS," "OUT OF
CABBAGE COURT," "TALKATIVE FRIENDS," ETC.












SECOND EDITION



aon'fon:
S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO.,
9, PATERNOSTER ROW.











































LONDON]
PRINTED BY GILBERT AND..RIVINGTON, LD.,
ST. JOHN'S HOUSE. CLERKENWELL ROAD, E.G.





















CONTENTS.





CHAPTER I.
PAGE
UNDER AN ARCHWAY 7

CHAPTER II.
MY LITTLE WEE 15

CHAPTER III.
BABS 25

CHAPTER IV.
WILY WILL 34

CHAPTER V.
A FATHER FOUND. 43







6 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VI.
PAGE
A PRAYER FOR HELP 53

CHAPTER VII.
THE TEMPTER AGAIN 63


CHAPTER VIII.
THE TEMPTER PREVAILS 69


CHAPTER IX.
THE COURAGE OF LOVE 76

CHAPTER X.
SAVED .84


















BEL'S BABY.




CHAPTER I.

UNDER AN ARCHWAY.
In and out of the crowded alleys,
Up and down through our thoroughfares,
Many a city arab wanders;
Nobody heeds, and nobody cares.
Reckless, and sinned against, and sinning,
Driven the busy streets to roam;-
Pity, 0 Lord, Thy straying children !
Feed them, teach them, and lead them home.

" YOU ain't got your penny, Bel ? Then get out
of this I don't keep no lodgin's for folks as has
nothing' in their pockets."
"But it's so late, Mother Gruff; I can't get no
coppers guy me at this time of night. You might
let a feller sleep here on tick-just for once. You
know I've callers paid you faithful."
know I've allers paid you faithful."






BEL'S BABY.


"And small thanks to your imperence. I'd
never have been paid at all if.I'd been easy with you,
and let you do what you want to be a doin' now.
Supposin' I was to let all the lads in my place pay
only just when they'd a mind to, why I shouldn't
never have a penny to bless myself with. No,
Belshazzar Smith (and God forgive whoever guy
you such a barbarious name), I'm a poor widder,
with a livin' to make, and I ain't agoin' to go off of
what I've said. Now then March! Out you go! "
Then the weary, dirty, slouching, ragged form
of Belshazzar Smith, scrambling up from the
corner where he had thrown himself, without
another word shuffled through the narrow, dark
passage and the open door into the alley beyond.
It was a fine night, moon and star-lit, but oh, so
cold, and Bel (as he was commonly called) wrapped
his rags closer about him as he limped down the
street looking hither and thither for some sheltered
corner where he could spend the night without fear
of being took up," which was the greatest horror
of his life.
Bel was one of those waifs and strays only too
common in our great Metropolis. His mother had
died some five or six years ago, and as for his
father, he had no recollection of him whatever.
But he had learned that James Smith had deserted





















































"NOW THEN 1 MARCH OUT YOU GO I"


[p. 8.









UNDER AN ARCHWAY. 11

his wife while Bel was a baby, that he was a well-
educated man, but a notoriously bad character,
and that he had been known among the people
with whom he associated, by the name of Gentle-
man Jim, from the polished suavity of his manner,
and the refinement of his appearance and language.
Bel's mother had been a pretty, innocent, and
very ignorant country girl, and she was qufte
charmed at first with her handsome, clever hus-
band; but it was not long ere she found out his
worthless character, and after his desertion of her
and her helpless infant, her life had been one of
hardship and suffering to its close. Her little
boy's name was suggested by a very striking and
highly-coloured print which she had remarked one
day in a bookseller's window. The picture repre-
sented King Belshazzar's feast, and showed the
monarch in his royal robes and jewels, surrounded
by his courtiers, and presiding over the banquet.
As Molly Smith stood before this window, gazing
with wondering, wide-open eyes at the bright
colours of the picture, and spelling out the words
printed underneath it, the thought came to her
that Belshazzar (of whose story she knew nothing
whatever) was a very fine-sounding name; quite
uncommon too. She was sick of hearing the
neighbours screaming after their little Toms and






BEL'S BABY.


Dicks, and Jacks and Tims, and she had quite
resolved not to call her baby James after the cruel
father who had deserted him.
"This 'ere King Belshazzar," said Molly to
herself, "seems to be very rich and grand. Any
one can see as how he's enjoyin' of hisself wonder-
ful. I wouldn't mind bein' one of them women in
the picture, for they've lots to eat and drink, and
fine clothes to wear, and they're all a-smilin' at
the king, and he's a-smilin' back, as affable as you
please. Well! If I can't share in nothing' else as
belongs to them fine folks, leastways I'll have the
king's name, and my poor little boy what's
deserted by his own dad, shall be called after a
king, he shall! There ain't no tax on names yet,
thank goodness !"
Then Molly hugged her baby up under her shawl,
and walked homewards, with a sad little smile on
her face as she thought of the grand, high-sounding
name in contrast with the wee scrap of humanity in
her arms.
But simple, ignorant, loving-hearted Molly Smith
with her poor childish pride in a name, was sleeping
in her grave, and Bel had no one in the wide world
to care for him now; no one to love him, or be
loved by him.
He did not, however, mind this very much, as a






UNDER AN ARCH WAY. 13

rule. He was used to the strange life he led, and
was hardened to its loneliness and miseries to a
great extent. So long as he was not absolutely
starving; so long as he could pay his penny for a
corner in which to sleep; so long as he could keep
clear of the Bobbies'" clutches, and beg, or run
an errand, or hold a horse-to get his living, such
as it was-he was light-hearted enough.
But to-night he was really very miserable. One
solitary half-penny was all that he had received
that day, and this had gone in bread. And now,
on this cold, frosty night, he found himself with no
roof over his head but the star-spangled sky; with
no covering but his poor, worn garments ; and with
a hunger so keen that it amounted to severe pain,
a pain which doubled him up, and made him move
along with a gait something between that of an old
Sman and a monkey.
At last, in the deep shadow of an archway, out
of which opened a square, the boy paused and
looked round. No one was in sight, the streets
,were deserted. In the silence he could hear the
measured tread of a policeman on his beat in a
neighboring thoroughfare, but that was all.
Creeping well within the shadow on the side of the
archway which was protected from the wind, Bel
lay down on the ground, with his right arm under






14 BEL'S BAB Y.

his head for a pillow, and his left hand holding
together his poor torn coat. The last thing of
which he was conscious, ere he sank into a troubled
slumber, was a fit of shivering that seemed to make
his very bones rattle, and his teeth chatter. So,
this night, the poor waif was worse off than the
foxes, for they have holes; more unsheltered than
the birds of the air, for they have nests.
Like Him who was in the world, and. the world
knew Him not; like the Gentle One who came
unto His own, and His own received Him not;
like the Son of Man, of whom, as yet, he scarcely
knew even the name, this lonely, hungry, shivering
sleeper had not where to lay his head.

















CHAPTER II.

MY LITTLE WEE.

Hearts that were hard have turn'd to flesh
At the touch of an innocent hand,
As the gates of brass, in the fable of old,
Yield to the magic wand.

WHEN Bel awoke it was light, though not full
daylight. And morning brought with it a miser-
able consciousness of stiff and aching limbs, and
the sick faintness of extreme hunger.
The boy sat up and looked about him, feeling
more utterly wretched than he ever remembered
to have been before. Suddenly his eyes lighted
upon a little bundle of something dark, on the
other side of the archway. With difficulty he
rose, walked a step or two, and stopped for a
nearer inspection of the bundle. As he did so, it
emitted a cry.
"I never!" cried Bel, and pulling a corner of a






16 BEL'S BABY.

big shawl aside, he saw a little round face, and a
pair of large, wondering, dark eyes, and a baby
mouth parted and showing some wee white teeth.
As Bel bent down, gazing into the child's face,
the baby managed to get its tiny arms out. of its
wraps, and held them out and up with the gesture
of entreaty which everyone knows who has ever
had anything to do with babies. Even Bel, un-
accustomed though he was to the society of little
children, understood the pretty, trusting, coaxing
gesture.
"You want to be took up, does you ?" he said;
then with an odd mixture of tenderness and a
comical sense of his own awkwardness, he gently
raised the little one in his arms, and sat down
with it, his back against the wall, and the tiny,
closely-hooded head pressed to his ragged
shoulder.
The baby might have been about a year old, and
was as pretty, healthy a little girl as ever was ; but
how she came there, or to whom she belonged,
there was nothing to indicate.
P'raps the mother's put her down just for a
bit, and '11 come back for herioon," said the boy to
himself, as he rocked the baby to and fro. But
the time passed and no one came, and at last Bel
arrived at the conclusion that the child must have






MY LITTLE WEE. 17

been left there on purpose, deserted by someone
who wished to be rid of her.
After waiting for what seemed to him a very
long while, the lad's hunger grew insupportable,
and he determined to leave the archway and go
into the more frequented streets in order to earn
or beg a breakfast.
And now, my pretty wee," said he to the baby,
who was lying contentedly in his arms, staring up
at him with big, solemn eyes-" Now, my pretty
wee, me and you must part. I ain't got that far
as I oughter set up for a family man just yet; so
good-bye. The next party what takes you up
p'raps '11 be the Bobby ; he's used to takin' folks up,
and if he don't pop you into the lock-up, and bring
you up on a charge of wagrancy, my dear, why
he'll see that you're royally perwided for in the
wuck-us."
So saying, Bel put the baby down gently on the
ground again, and was moving away, looking over
his shoulder at the little creature, when the great
solemn eyes suddenly filled with tears, and out
came the poor little entreating arms once more,
with a cry-a mournful, desolate cry, that went
straight to Bel's heart. He could not resist the
appeal. Hastily he retraced his steps, and picking
up the baby, left the court, and carrying the little






BEL'S BABY.


girl on his arm, with her face pressed against his
cheek, he soon found himself in a great thorough-
fare, one of the arteries through which the life-
blood of the mighty city flows on for ever.
"Now what I had oughter do," mused Bel, "is
to give up the baby to the fust Bobby as come
along, but I've never been used to doin' as I
oughter, and I ain't a-goin' to begin at my time of
life! It's my 'pinion that what a chap finds he's a
right to keep; and as I've found a baby, and she's
took to me as though I was her nat'ral pertecter-
I mean to keep her. She won't cost much to keep
neither, yet a while; and anyway a beggar with a
baby makes more by begin' than a beggar with-
out; so, my pretty" (and here Bel kissed the little
cheek so close to his), you shall earn your own
livin', and maybe mine too."
The art of telling touching stories is part of the
true -beggar's trade, and Belshazzar Smith was
wonderfully clever in this way. He really enjoyed
making up and relating a thrilling tale, and his
invention was such a fertile one, that he never told
the same story twice. The possession of this baby
gave him fresh ideas, and taking up his station in
a place where he thought it unlikely that he should
be seen by his natural enemies the policemen, he
put on a pitiful face, and began to tell, to any one






















































" BEL PUT THE BABY DOWN GENTLY ON THE GROUND AGAIN." [p. 17.








































































































Ir







MY LITTLE WEE.


who would listen, a harrowing work of fiction
about a father (who was in the hospital suffering
from two broken legs, and many other compounded
fractions, to say nothing' of bruises and severe
confusions of the spinal columbine,") and a mother
who was in hy-strikes at home; which grievous
state of things had obliged him to bring his little
sister out with him, to try and beg a penny or two
to keep them from starving.
"Dear heart alive, then! If that ain't a movin'
state of things! said a fat, good-natured looking
country woman, pausing in wonder at the lad's
story. "Dearie me! And this is London, is it?
Thank the Lord I don't live in a place where
there's such misery I" And she dived into the
recesses of a cavernous pocket, pulled out a six-
pence, and put it into Bel's hand. Then with a
pitying smile and a kind nod she hurried panting
on, and was lost in the crowd.
Altogether the baby made the begging quite a
success that day, and Bel took more money than
he had ever done before. When the child became
hungry, he bought her a pennyworth of milk, and
dipping a bit of stale bread in it, fed her with sop.
She was very good, only whimpering softly a little
now and then; and at dusk Bel bent his steps
towards Mother Gruft's lodging-house, but with







EEL'S BABY.


some misgivings as to what she might say to the
baby.
The first words that greeted him did not tend to
set him at ease.
Here, you young imp of mischief, what may
you have got in that there bundle?" asked she,
as Bel walked into the room, and across it to his
corner.
"A baby," replied the boy.
"And pray where did the likes of you get a
baby ?"
"Why, ain't a feller got the right to bring his
little sister along, but you must go yellin' at me,
Mother Gruff ?"
It's the first I've ever heard about any sister of
yourn, Belshazzar Smith."
"Like enough !" rejoined the lad, saucily;
"there may be a good few things beside that, as
you never heard on. Folks doesn't travel round
with all their family history wrote on their backs
as I knows of."
But how comes it, I wonder, that a baby sister
of yourn should be away from home at night ? If
you've got a mother, what's she about? "
Bel turned round upon her in a burst of virtuous
indignation.
And s'posin' mother's had a accident and been






MY LI7TZE WEE. 23

took off to Guy's And s'posin' stepfather(which
he's the cause of my not livin' at home) come home
drunk as he 'most allers generally do; and s'posin'
baby's life ain't worth a farden if so be she were
left in the place along o' him-ain't them reasons
enough for me bringing' of her here? Cos if all
that ain't enough for you, Mother Gruff, I'll go off
somewhere else to sleep. There's old Dame Moss
in Placket Place; she's a deal pleasanter spoke
nor you be, and gives a feller good night and good
morning' as civil as if he was a dook. Ay, Dame
Moss ain't half a bad lot, she ain't; she wouldn't
mind if I bringed in a round dozen of baby sisters,
perwided I paid for 'em, which same in course I'm
ready to do, like any other gent as wants to act on
the square."
Ah, well, if you'll pay for the child, I won't
say no more," returned Mother Gruff, relenting.
" Here, give me the baby, and I'll undress her and
wash her a bit. My eye! ain't she wrapped up
warm!" and the woman took thelittle one on her
lap, slipped off her outer clothing, washed her, in a
fashion of her own, with the wet corner of a towel,
then bundled her up in the shawl again, and
brought her to Bel.
He laid her softly down close by him, and
watched her while she dropped quietly off to sleep.






24 BEL'S BABY.

But it was early, and the boy could not sleep yet;
he lay quite still, however, and watched the lads
arriving, and his face brightened as a tall, thin youth
with a grave, gentle, pale face, came to Bel's corner,
and threw himself down beside him.
Oh, I'm so glad you've come, Josy," whispered
Bel. "I've got something' to show you. Look
here !" and he moved a little, and pointed to the
baby fast asleep by his side,



















CHAPTER III.

BABS.

Sweetest words that ever were spoken,
Laden with blessing boundless and free;
Of tenderest love the comforting token,
Pledge of a covenant not to be broken:
Sufer the children to come unto Me.'

" WHY, Bel! a baby? Where's it come from ?'
Hush! I told Mother Gruff it were my little
sister; and' tacked to that there lie there's story
enough to fill a penny drefful. But I never tells
you no lies, Josy, and you shall know all. I were
sleeping' in a archway last night, 'cos I hadn't a
penny for Mother Gruff, and when I woked up in
the morning' there were the child lying' t'other side
of the arch. Well, I waits and waits, thinking'
somebody'd come and fetch the little kid away;
but no one did, and at last I were that near dead
with cold and hunger that I couldn't wait no







BEL'S BABY.


longer, and I gets up, intendin' to leave the baby
for some one else. But what does she do but put
out her little arms and beg to be took along; and
arter that, Josy, I hadn't the heart to leave her
behind. Well, I've been begin' with her to-day,
and she's bringed me luck. See!" And Bel took
out a handful of copper coins, among which the
silver sixpence gleamed brightly.
Then you mean to keep her, Bel ?" asked the
new comer.
Rather !" returned Bel. She were forsook. I
didn't steal her; I found her ; tain't my fault she
were left there for me."
"No, I s'pose not," responded Josy, "but 'tain't
nice to have to tell so many lies about her."
Well, you see, you're so mighty particular,"
said Bel, musingly. "I "dJ:' believe, Josy, as how
a lie would jist stick in your throat and choke
you; and yet in a way I demire truth as much as
you do."
Josy shook his head doubtfully. A mischievous
smile played round Bel's lips as he whispered, Yes,
Josy, I sets such store by this ere wirtue as we calls
truth, that I say it's a pity to hev' it wasted on
triflin' things, and more 'special' when a fine, fresh-
made-up story's kind o' soothin' and satisfyin' to
them you begs from."







BABS.


Still, Bel, wrong can't be right, you know, and
no good ever yet come of tellin' lies. Both father
and mother allers taught me that, and since they
died I've seed it for myself."
"Oh, you're too good by half!" said Bel; "I'd
never get on at all if I was like you. But there-
we're as different as can be. You're respectable,
and works for your living' as a errand-boy; and I'm
disrespectable, and begs for mine. And you read
your Bible, and I reads only scraps of papers as
I picks up; and you're-yes, you're downright
good, and I-well, I'm about as bad as they make
'em."
"It's no use talking' like that, Bel," said Josy,
gently. "There's heaps of good in you if you'd let
it come out. There, lie down, old fellow, and
while the others is eatin' their suppers and talking ,
let me read to you. They won't trouble us; we're
all to ourselves in this corner."
"All right, Josy; read about Belshazzar the king
and the drefful writing. "
This was a favourite story with Bel, since he had
first heard it and realized of what sort of monarch
he was the namesake.
So Josy read the narrative, in soft tones which
none but Bel could hear. And now," he said, I
want to read you a verse or two as seems to me







DEL'S BABY.


just the right thing for to-night, since you've
gone and got a baby. Here's some words about
children."
And Josy turned to the New Testament, and
read of the mothers who brought their little ones
to the Saviour to be blessed of Him. Softly and
sweetly the words of Jesus, the Lover of children,
fell on the ears of Bel the beggar. Josy and he
had not been acquainted long, and few had been the
chances to listen to the truths of Holy Scripture.
And now, as his fancy pictured the benignant
form of the Master, the mothers pressing eagerly
forward with their babes, the jealous and indignant
disciples, the words of Jesus touched him as no
words had ever done before.
Suffer the little children to come unto Me,
and forbid them not; for of such is the king-
dom of heaven." And with a softened face and
glistening eyes, the lad stooped over the little
stranger babe sleeping in happy unconsciousness
at his side, and gently pressed his lips to the tiny
face.
"Thank you kindly, Josy, and good night," he
said when Josy Brand at length lay down to sleep.
Then a drowsiness stole over Bel too, but even
now the lovely picture which the sweet Gospel
story had conjured up before him, filled his mind,
















'






























.- '~. .



ela~~faaa -.I -
























DEL WAS REGARDED As BABY'S NATURAL PROTECTOR." [p. 31,

































































































U







BABS. 31

and the last words upon his lips ere he fell into
deep and dreamless slumber, were those of the
Divine Master--"Of such is the kingdom of
heaven."
As the days and weeks went by, Belshazzar's
baby became, in the limited circle represented by
Mother Gruff's lodging-house, a most popular
member of society. The truth about the child had
come out ere now, and though Bel was regarded
as the baby's natural protector, she was also, in
a sense, adopted by Mother Gruff and all her
lodgers.
Babs-a pleasant perversion of Baby-was not
a shy child, and would graciously permit all the
attentions and caresses that were lavished upon
her; but loyal little heart that she was, she
showed a very decided preference for Bel himself,
a preference of which he was not a little proud.
Mother Gruff was devoted to the little one; she
washed and dressed and undressed her, made her
some curiously uncouth garments out of discarded
remnants of her own, and altogether took quite a
motherly interest in her.
Bel no longer paid his penny a night for Babs;
indeed, Mother Gruff would rather have paid a
penny a night out of her own pocket than miss the
child's company.







32 BEL S BABY.

Meanwhile Bel Smith and Josy Brand became
more intimate, and often Josy might be seen in
the evening, sitting up on his little hard mattress,
and by the feeble light of the dip, which was all
that he and Bel could afford, reading a few verses
aloud to his friend while Babs peacefully slumbered
beside them. It was in such moments as these
that poor Bel was at his best. The temptations,
the sins that belonged to his vagabond, hand-to-
mouth life were forgotten under the purer, nobler
influence that possessed him. Once more, even as
of old on the stormy waves of the Sea of Galilee,
the voice of the Lord made itself heard, and the
winds and the waves of passion and discord were
hushed into silence by that "Peace, be still! "
Very gradually Bel's perceptions of right and
wrong were being developed. Little by little he
was beginning to see the difference between good
and evil. He could not but feel that between him
and Josy, there was a great gulf, though he could
not yet quite realize in what it consisted. Josy's
education was little better than his own ; then as
to means, Josy earned by honest work less than
Bel did by begging. Nor was Josy at all a bright
or clever lad. Many of the boys called him a
soft, because of his shy, quiet ways, and be-
cause he never joined in their rough, coarse ban-







BABS.


ter or rude practical jokes. Wherein, then, Bel
asked himself, was the superiority which this
quiet, humble, unpretending companion of his
had over him-bright, 'cute, clever, wide-awake
Bel? He did not yet fully understand that
the feeling of respect with which Josy inspired
him was a tribute paid to religious ,principle,
to the motive power of that gentle life which
in the midst of temptation remained pure, in the
midst of weakness stood strong and firm, stead-
fast in the strength of the Rock of Ages, Jehovah
Himself


















CHAPTER IV.

WILY WILL.
From temptations that assail us,
From false friends that flatt'ring fail us,
Save, O gracious Lord !
Give us in the evil hour,
Strength to foil the Tempter's power,
Through Thy living Word.
ONE day Bel was less fortunate than usual. He
had Babs with him, according to his wont, but
somehow or other, neither her pretty, innocent
little face nor his own pitiful if highly imaginative-
stories seemed to touch the hearts or loosen the
purse-strings of the passers-by.
Policemen, too, appeared to be more lively and
watchful than common, and altogether it was a.
very unsatisfactory day's work, and Bel was
thoroughly discontented and disgusted.
At last, almost in despair, he began to saunter
wearily towards home. It was dark, and the:







WILY WILL. 35

baby, as tired as her bearer, had fallen asleep with
her head over Bel's shoulder.
Suddenly the boy felt a touch on the back of
his arm, and looking round he recognized a youth
whom he had known by sight for some time, and
whose nickname was Wily Will, or more often
The Wily.
You look rather down on your luck, youngster,'"
said Will. "What's up ?"
Only goin' back empty as I come out," replied
Bel,. sulkily. "'Twouldn't be no great matter if
so be I was alone, but when a fellow has a family
to keep, he can't afford these 'ere off days."
"Ah so you've been out all day Shouldn't
wonder, now, if you was hungry."
"Hungry ? I believe you! rejoined Bel.
"Well, a sharp young chap like you haven't no
biz'ness to be hungry; why, you might live like a
alderman if you was wise. I'm never hungry;
ain't sich a fool !"
"Ain't you ?" said Bel.
No, indeed. Now, look here, Bel, I'm a-goin'
home to supper this minute, and the chap as I
works for is allers glad to see a nice sharp boy, if
he's interdooced by me. Come and hev supper
along o' us."
Bel hesitated. He longed to accept Will's
C 2






36 BEL'S BABY.

invitation, but he was not ignorant of the report
that the youth bore a very bad character, and
indeed was said to have been in prison several
times. Bel knew enough of the streets by this
time to guess, if he did not actually know, that
Will was in the employ of a regular thief-trainer.
Now, begging was not the most respectable means
of living that could be found, but still it was much
better than stealing, and Bel had hitherto con-
sidered himself extremely virtuous because he
had abstained from purloining the goods of his
neighbours. On the whole, all things considered,
Bel could hardly plead ignorance if he accepted
Wily Will's invitation.
"What about Babs ? said he at last, parleying
with the tempter. She ought to go home and
have her supper and be put to bed. She ain't
used to late hours."
"Oh, bring her along; we'll take care of her.
She won't come to no harm," replied The Wily.
So Bel allowed himself to be persuaded against
his better judgment, and accompanied Will,
though he could not help wondering what Josy
Brand would say if he could know what his friend
was doing.
After a walk of about twenty minutes, Will led
the way into the court and up a dark stair. Then







WILY WILL. 37

throwing open the door of a large room, he
ushered in Bel and Babs.
Here, guv'nor," he said, here's some visitors
come to supper."
A tall, muscular man, with a very bald head
and a very bushy beard, got up from a table
where he was sitting with some twelve or fourteen
young men and lads.
So you're a friend of Will's are you, my boy ?"
said he, coming forward graciously. "Might I
enquire your name ? "
Belshazzar Smith, sir," replied Bel.
A titter of amusement went round the table,
but the guv'nor did not laugh.
"They calls me Bel," added the boy, "and this
is Babs, my adoptedd child."
This time the titter changed to a loud guffaw,
and Bel turned towards the table and said
indignantly,-
If that's your manners in general, ye laughing'
jackasses, the less me and my Babs sees of you
the better for we," and he moved to the door.
Come, come," said the guv'nor," that will
never do! Don't be so easily offended, my boy !
Sit down. It was only your queer name and
your having a child that upset the fellows. Be
quiet, you lads, and behave yourselves."







BEL'S BABY.


The master's word acted like magic. The
laughter ceased, a chair was placed for Bel, and
the sleeping baby was laid on a bench in the corner.
The table was spread with abundance of good
food, and great jugs of ale stood at the corners.
The sight of such unaccustomed plenty revived
Bel's drooping spirits, and when Wily Will heaped
the boy's plate and whispered in his ear, Now,
Bel, ain't our biz'ness better nor yourn ?" he
laughed and replied that- he shouldn't wonder if it
were.
So there he sat and ate and drank and joked
with the rest. The bright light, the savoury food,
the stimulating drink filled him with strange
fancies, and oddly enough, he now recalled to
mind the narrative of Belshazzar the King, half
unconsciously mingling the monarch's experiences
with his own, until he caught himself staring
before him and almost expecting the terrible
supernatural fingers to appear, and the fatal
writing to glow in fiery letters on the wall.
Be sure you come to me to-morrow morning.
I particularly wish to speak to you, Belshazzar
Smith," said the "guv'nor" when he bade Bel
good-night; and the boy readily promised, for he
was not a little flattered at the notice taken of
him.






WILY WILL.


It was late before Bel found himself outside in
the street, and later still when, with Babs in his
aching arms, he entered Mother Gruff's lodging-
house, and lay down in his corner beside his
friend.
Josy was not asleep.
Where have you been, Bel ? I've been keeping'
awake ever so long, so as I could read to you."
"Oh, I've been to a friend's to supper, my boy,"
whispered Bel, "and sich a supper !"
"What were your friend's name, Bel ?"
"Will Brooks ; but he's called Wily Will."
Oh, Bel, you hadn't oughter went with The
Wily They say he's a thief."
Well, may be, and may be not; but I tell you,
Josy, if he is, it must pay to be one. You never
see sich a spread as there was It minded me of
that there King Belshazzar's feast.'
Belshazzar were a wicked king, and his feast
ended in death," replied Josy. "'That night,' you
know, 'was King Belshazzar slain, and Darius the
Mede took the kingdom.'"
Oh, I dessay," said Bel; "that king were a
stoopid, and didn't deserve no better. But his
feast is only a old story now, and mine were
real and what's more, Josy, Will's master have
asked me to go and see him to-morrow, and I






BEL'S BABY.


think he's sort of took a fancy to me. He stared
at me as if I was one of them strange animals in
the Zoo."
"Don't go, Bel," said Josy, "or maybe he'll
teach you to be a thief too."
"Nonsense, you old croaker !" said Bel. "Ten
to one he's agoin' to do something' grand for
me."
Well, leastways you won't take Babs, surely ?"
In course I shall take Babs Does I ever go
anywhere without her ?"
The only answer was a sigh, and there was
silence for a few moments, during which the boys
could hear the measured breathing of the other
sleepers in the room-sound sleepers, whom the
whispered conversation had in no way disturbed.
At last Josy lighted his dip, and opening his
Bible, said,-
Come closer, Bel, and I'll read you them verses
you like so much."
So Josy read from the tenth chapter of St.
Mark's Gospel the following verses :-
And they brought young children to Him (Jesus)
that He should touch them : and His disciples rebuked
those that brought them.
But when Yesus saw it, He was much displeased,
and said unto them,' Sufer the little children to come






WILY WILL.


unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the
kingdom of God.
"' Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not
receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall
not enter therein.'
"And He took them up in His arms, put His
hands upon them, and blessed them."
"What made you read that?" asked Bel. "I
knowed it so well; you might have guy me some-
thin' else for a change."
I read it, Bel, 'cos I hoped if you heard again
of them as brought their little uns to the Lord, it
might keep you from takin' Babs into company
where the Lord ain't, and where no blessin' won't
come. That there king, in the chapter of Dan'el
as you're so partial to, seemed to be havin' a fine
time, but sin were in all he did. And while he
was praisin' the false gods, the real God's message
come to him, and it were the last message he ever
had. Them as thinks theirselves far enough from
God to be safe from punishment, ain't no safer nor
Belshazzar the king. The only safe folks, Bel, is
them as comes to the Lord theirselves, and brings
what they loves with 'em. And oh Bel, if Jesus
was much displeased, and said 'forbid them not'
to His own disciples, that He knowed loved Him
and wanted to obey Him, what would He say to






42 BEDS BABY.

people that not only won't go to Him theirselves,
but won't even let the little uns be blessed ?"
Bel did not answer; this was authority that he
dared not dispute, and his own conscience told him
that Josy was right.
Feeling very uncomfortable and not a little
guilty, he fell asleep, and dreamed a confused
medley, in which he was mixed up hopelessly with
Belshazzar the King, and was threatened with
instant destruction by Darius the Mede, who bore
a frightful resemblance in face and attire to old
Mother Gruff.

















CHAPTER V.


A FATHER FOUND.

One hour of wilful sin, though seeming light,
Doth make a dark to-morrow;
For all unhallowed joy, however bright,
Must end in sorrow.

BEL was awakened early next morning by a hoarse
cry and cough from Babs, and when he took her
up he found she was burning with fever. Mother
Gruff was much alarmed about the little one, and
sent off at once for the doctor, who, when he had
examined the child, said she was suffering from
bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs, and that
she must have caught a very severe cold.
"She cannot be nursed here," said he; "she
must go to the hospital, for she needs more atten-
tion and skill than any of you can give her. I
have a carriage at the door, Mrs. Gruff," he con-
tinued. "Wrap the baby up warmly, and I will
take her to the hospital myself. There's a







44 BEL'S BABY.

children's ward in the place where I used to be
house-surgeon, and I am sure I can get her in there."
Mayn't I go too ?" asked Bel with quivering
lips. The boy was dreadfully unhappy, for he felt
that, humanly speaking, it was his fault that Babs
had caught cold, and become ill; for had he not
kept the child out late in the chill and damp the
night before ?
"Yes," replied the doctor, "you can come. Is
she your little sister ? "
"No, sir; she's my adoptedd child; but I loves
her as though she belonged to me. And now she's
beginning' to walk and talk, and understands all I
says to her, it seem as if I set more store by her
nor ever."
Doctor Carr looked a little surprised; but
doctors are used to surprises, and he asked no more
questions. He waited while Mother Gruff wrapped
the child up, covering face and all; then he carried
her out himself, followed by Bel, and entering the
carriage, they were driven to the hospital. When
Babs had been given over to the charge of the
matron, the doctor drove off, and Bel, feeling very
down-hearted, walked slowly up the street.
Suddenly he remembered his promise to the
"guv'nor." Should he keep the appointment he
had made with him ? But what if Will was really a






A FATHER FOUND. 45

thief, and that man his master and teacher? Well,
there surely was no danger of his (Bel's) becoming
one too. Maybe the "guv'nor "had merely taken
a fancy to him, and could perhaps put him in the
way of earning his living. Then, too, boy-like, he
longed for some excitement to make him forget
his great anxiety about Babs; and so, in spite of
Josy's remonstrances and a certain small voice in
his own heart telling him that he was running into
danger, he made up his mind to keep the appoint-
ment.
Bel found the guv'nor sitting by the fire quite
alone.
"Good morning, Belshazzar Smith; you're an
early visitor, and I'm glad of it," said he. "I
wanted to see you, to ask you a few questions
which I couldn't well pi~t before the lads yester-
day."
"Yes, sir," replied Bel, meekly.
You told me that you were called Belshazzar
Smith. Now, is that your real name ? "
"Yes, sir ; I was christened that; mother's often
told me ; it's my name right enough."
And your mother, where is she ? "
Please, sir, she's dead. She died a good few
years agone."
And your father ? "






46 BEL'S BABY.

"Oh, father! he deserted mother when I were a
baby, sir; and I don't know no more about him
than if I'd never had none. He ha'n't been no
good to me, nor yet to mother neither, nor to no
one else as I knows on."
"And what about that baby you brought here
last night ? You called her your adopted child."
"Yes, sir; and so she is, in a sort of a kind of a
way. I found her under a archway, and I've kep'
her ever since, begin' her food and my own."
"Well, now," said the man, I want you to tell
me, if you know, what sort of a man your fatherwas."
Why, sir, mother used to say as how he were
good-lookin' and a scholar, and could be quite the
gentleman when he chose, but-"
"But what, Bel ?"
"Well, sir, he warn't good at all, nor kind; in-
deed, he were-"
I see, a bad man Well, just another ques-
tion, now. What was your mother's name before
she married ? "
"She were called Molly Hall," replied Bel.
" Her folks lived in the country, I've often heard
her tell."
The "guv'nor" did not reply at once; he had
covered his eyes with his hand, and seemed to be
thinking. At last he said,-








if M




II I


"WHAT ABOUT THAT BABY YOU BROUGHT HERE?" [p. 46.







A FATHER FOUND. 49

"Look here, my boy! Something in your face
last night made me feel as though I were looking
at pictures of my past life, and now I understand
why it was. You're the very image of your
mother, Bel; your mother as she was when I first
saw her down in the country, before she- Don't
stare like that, child! Yes, you needn't look so
frightened; there's nothing terrible about it.
Molly, your mother, was my wife, and I'm your
father, Bel."
"My father-James Smith ? stammered Bel.
"Yes; I see you hardly understand how it can
be. It's true I haven't been a very tender papa to
you, my boy;" and a slight sneer played round
the man's lips. I did leave your mother and
you, for I was tired of doing the model husband
and father. After that I got into trouble, and
was in prison for a long time, and when I came
out Molly had moved away from the house where
I left her, and I couldn't find her. But now-
now I've found you, Bel,-I'm willing to act a
father's part by you. See here, my boy I I am
doing a very fair business at present, and if you
like to join my troop of lads, you shall share
in the profits. Do you know, Bel, what my
business is ?"
Bel made no reply. He was stunned by the






BEL'S BABY.


discovery that the "guv'nor was James Smith,
his father, and he could not speak until he re-
covered a little from the shock. There was
silence for a moment or two ; then the guv'nor "
went on,-
If you don't know I may as well tell you. I
train these young fellows to relieve folks who are
richer than we of anything they have to spare.
Why should we starve while others have more
than enough ? I consider it every man's right to
get all he can, no matter how; and if folks can't
take care of their property, why, let them lose it.
Now, then, my son, you know what our trade is;
will you join us ? Or perhaps you can't make up
your mind so quickly. Think it over, Bel, and
come to me to-morrow with your decision." And
Bel, without another word, went his way.
"Such news, Josy whispered Bel to his friend
that night. I've found my father."
Have you, though?" asked Josy, in amaze.
"What, that bad man as you've so often told me
about?"
"Yes; and what's more, he's quite kind now,
and he says if I'll go to him and join the hands he
keeps, he'll look arter me and see as I gets on."
"Well, that's a fair offer," remarked Josy. Is
he a good man now ? and what's his biz'ness ?"







A FATHER FOUND.


"I don't think, Josy, as how he's what you'd
call good," replied Bel, thoughtfully; nor yet his
biz'ness ain't usual' considered tip-top respectable,
it's-well, it's just thievin'. The Wily is one of
the lads as works for father, and there's some
others, and they seem to have a easy enough time
of it."
"But, Bel, that sort of thing won't never do for
.you.
"I don't know, Josy. I ain't over and above
nice. Beggin' and making' up stories ain't awery
elewatin' perfession-so folks say-but bless you 1
I've never minded it! And p'r'aps I wouldn't
mind father's biz'ness neither."
"Not mind it, Bel! what can you be a-thinkin'
of? Arter all our talks together, old boy, and
arter all we've learned together out of my dear old
book here, don't tell me you could be a thief and
not mind it."
One can't go on for ever as I've been a-doin',
Josy," said Bel, doggedly. Starvin' now I've a
baby to keep, is harder than it used to be when I
were alone. Arter all, it ain't but a step from lyin'
and begin' to pick-pocketin'. All's one, whether
you gets money by tellin' a false story, or gets a
hanky or a pocket-book by priggin' of it. Why
should rich people have all and us nothing' ? If






BEL'S BABY.


they doesn't choose to spare us of their plenty,
let's make 'em That's only fair, ain't it, now ? "
And Bel gave a little hard laugh that grated on his
companion's ear.
Josy shook his head sadly.
I never heard you talk like that afore, Bel,"
said he; "is it your father that's been putting' of
it into your head ?"
"Well, and s'posin' it were, what's the odds ? "
replied Bel, in a surly tone. "It's no one's
biz'ness but my own."
For one moment Josy looked in his friend's face,
his own full of love, and sorrow, and pathetic
appeal. Then he said, gently, What can I read
you this evening Bel? I'll read anything you've
a mind for."
Then that'll be nothing!" answered Bel,
roughly. "I ain't in a mood for no Scriptur' to-
night. There now! Don't say no more, but
shut up, Josy Brand, and go to sleep."





















CHAPTER VI.

A PRAYER FOR HELP.

'Twas whispered by those falt'ring lips, yet up in heaven it
rang,
In music strong and sweet above the song that angels sang;
And they that stood about the throne, veiling their dazzled
gaze,
Cried, "Glory be to Thee, 0 Lord! Behold a child that
prays !"

TIE next morning Bel went to his father, having
fully made up his mind to cast in his lot with the
young men and boys whom James Smith employed.
He had deliberately hardened himself against Josy's
warnings and entreaties, and had grieved his friend's
tender heart by appearing indifferent to everything
that was said. His face had a hard, defiant look, as
he entered the room where Gentleman Jim sat at






54 BEL'S BABY.

a table casting up long columns of figures in a big
account-book.
"Well, Bel, what's your answer?" questioned
James. "Will you live here with me, as my
son should, and let me teach you your trade
thoroughly ?"
Yes, father; I've made up my mind to it."
"That's right! That's my fine boy!" cried
Smith, clapping Bel on the back. "I'll give
you some lessons this very day, and The Wily
shall take you in hand, too. Of course, you've
come for good now; you're not going away any
more ?"
I can't come for good, sir, till Babs is out of
the hospital. It's too far for me to be runnin' to
and fro 'tween this and there."
Babs! do you mean that brat you brought here
the other night ? "
"Yes, father."
"And pray what do you mean to do with her
when she comes out of the hospital ? "
"Do with her?" repeated Bel. "Why, in
course she'll live along o' me, just as she did afore."
"It seems to me you're reckoning without your
host, then, Bel. I've agreed to take you and see
to you, but I don't want a baby."






A PRA YER FOR HELP.


"She's sich a little dear," said Bel; "she
wouldn't be no bother to no one. I'd take care
on her."
"I shouldn't wonder!" cried Gentleman Jim
scornfully. And pray how are you to be one oi
our nimble, light-fingered gentry, if you've got a
child tagging on to you ?"
Couldn't I leave her with some kind woman
what would see to her ?" asked Bel, "and then
have her myself in the evening' ? "
"A fine idea, indeed!" sneered James Smith;
"and who is to pay this same kind woman, I'd
like to know ? No, no, my boy," and the man
changed his tone to one of coaxing and flattery,
such a promising young chap as you are mustn't
have your career spoiled by having a brat to look
after."
Bel's face flushed crimson; his spirit was fairly
up at last.
I ain't a-goin' to be parted from my Babs, not
for all the careers you can give me. I'd rather
starve on a crust with her than live like a king
without her. You says you're my father, sir, but
you never done nothing' for me all my life, and now
you axes me to give up the only thing as loves me.
Arter all "-and Bel drew himself up-" Josy were






BEL'S BABY.


right when he adwised me not to go to you. I'll
wish you good-mornin', sir."
The lad turned to go, but James Smith caught
him by the arm.
Don't be a fool, child! he said. "What is it,
after all, to part from that little girl, compared
with all you'll gain if you give her up ? And
besides, the child's ill, you say, and in the hospital.
Well, very likely she'll die, and then, of course,
you'll-"
"Die My Babs die Oh, no, you don't mean
that! I couldn't bear to lose her, I couldn't! "
Bel covered his face with his hands. The thought
that the baby might die was a netw one to him, and
wrung his heart with an agony of fear and grief.
"Nay, if you're such a soft as that, Bel," said
Gentleman Jim, contemptuously, letting go the
boy's arm, "you won't do for our trade, and I'll
say no more. Be off, then, but remember, if ever
you let the light in upon us here, you shall suffer
for it."
If you're afeared of me playing the sneak and
informer," retorted Bel, you ain't as wise as I took
you for. I may be a poor sort, but I ain't sich a
cad as that !" And as he spoke he walked out of
the room and downstairs.






A PRA YER FOR HELP.


I ain't sorry as how I stuck out about Babs, I
ain't a bit! he said to himself, as he walked along.
,' If so be I'd become a thief, how could I face the
little 'un when she looked up with them innercent
eyes, and patted my cheek and said, 'Dood Bel,'
and I known' all the time as how I were awful
wicked, and not dood a bit. And as to Bab's dyin'
-why, I'd rather the world come to a end at once.
It wouldn't be half as bad to bear-so me and Babs
could be in it together."
Poor Bel's heart was heavier than ever later on
in the day, for when he called at the hospital he
learned that Babs was very ill indeed and in great
danger.
Oh, Josy, Josy, I'm in sore trouble ; my heart's
broke, it is he said to his friend when they met
at Mother Gruff's that evening.
"Have you settled to go to your father?"
asked Josy.
"No; I'd made up my mind to go, but he said
he wouldn't have Babs, and so I backed out of the
bargain. But it ain't that as is making' me so
down-hearted, Josy. It's my little darlin', as is
drefful bad ; and oh, if so be she was to die I don't
know what I'd do !"
"She'd go to heaven, safe and sure," said Josy;






BEL'S BABY.


' she'd go to Jesus. Couldn't you give her up to
Him ?"
No, I don't see as how I could," replied Bel.
"And yet p'raps if she got well you'd stay away
from Jesus yourself, and not bring her to Him
neither. Maybe the Lord sees you don't care for
Him, and so He won't trust Babs to you no
longer, for fear of her learning' to be naughty when
she growed bigger, and then beside-" But here
Josy paused, for Bel was sobbing so bitterly that
his own voice grew husky and broke.
"I can't bear it, I can't! sobbed Bel.
Josy stole an arm round his neck and whispered
Come, let's tell Jesus just how you feel, and as
how you're afeared to lose her. Shall we pray,
Bel ? "
Bel nodded, and the two boys knelt side by side
in their little corner, which was screened off from
the rest of the room by a sort of rude curtain
formed of their coats hung upon a string.
"Dear Lord (and Josy's voice grew very soft
and clear again as he prayed), "poor Bel's heart's
well-nigh broke about Babs. Thou knows she's
wery bad, and Bel he don't feel as how he can give
her up even to Thee, dear Saviour, 'cos he don't
know Thee yet, and can't feel how Thou loves him














h .' '
*^e-


SL THAT BS WAS IL
"HE LEARNED THAT BABS WAS VERY ILL.


rp 7. 5


,, ~,!

: '"i;
;~I' I
'I


I '
'''
1~



r
:i'i
'






A PRA YER FOR HELP. 61

and how Thou loves Babs too. Lord Jesus, if
Thou sees best, give the baby back to Bel; show him
that Thy mercy's wonderful great, and make him
feel willing' to come to Thee hisself, and bring Babs
too. He knows Thou says, Suffer the little chil-
dren to come.' Oh, let him not be one of they as
forbids 'em! don't let him go wrong hisself and
teach others so, but show him that there ain't one
of us as can't try to serve the Lord, and bring
another into the kingdom. And now, dear Jesus,
bein' as how Thou was once a child, and p'raps
sometimes a sick child too, look down from heaven
on Bel's Babs, and cure her as Thou did sich a lot
of sick folk when Thou was on earth. And, O
Lord, touch poor Bel's sore heart, and comfort him
too. 'Cos we asks all in Thy name. Amen."
I wonder if Jesus have heard that prayer and
means to answer it! said Bel, as he lay down on
his mattress.
"In course He will," replied Josy ; "He allers
does."
Poor Josy! Ignorant, simple little Josy! His
knowledge of the smallest, his life a constant
struggle with want and hardship; a meagre,
desolate, loveless lot; and yet this child, taught
by the Spirit of God, had mastered the meaning of
a great truth; the faithfulness of the Heavenly







62 BEL'S BABY.

Father, His readiness and willingness to hear and
answer prayer, for Jesus' sake.
And Josy was right. The good Lord heard the
prayer of those two sad-hearted, lonely boys, as of
old He heard the cries of the poor and the sick
and the sorrowful, and granted them their desires
according to their faith.
The news that Bel brought home next day from
the hospital was much more encouraging, and the
lad's heart was filled with thankfulness and rejoic-
ing that seemed to make God very real to him, as
a true Hearer and Answerer of prayer.


















CHAPTER VII.


THE TEMPTER AGAIN.

Oft our souls in sore temptation
Feel the powers of darkness near;
Speak to us through gathering shadows,
Speak, and banish all our fear.
Grant us strength to burst the meshes
That would hold our hearts from Thee;
Will to fight until we conquer,
Grace to keep our conscience free.

BUT if dear little Babs was out of danger now, Bel
was not so yet. True he had for the time escaped
a great temptation, but it must be remembered that
he had been quite prepared-determined in his own
mind to cast in his lot with the evil-doers, and it
was only his indignation at the thought of being
separated from Babs that gave him strength to
burst the meshes of the net that was drawing in
about him.
And now that he had given up the idea of living
as the thieves did whom James Smith employed,







BEL'S BABY.


he too often allowed his mind to dwell upon all that
he had lost in so doing. Like the Israelites of old,
who, in spite of their great and wonderful de-
liverance, hankered greedily after the flesh-pots
of Egypt, the fish, the onions, the melons, the
cucumbers and the garlic, Bel recalled to memory
the splendid supper he had eaten that night of his
first visit to his father's rooms; and it must be
confessed that it was no small mortification to him
to realize that of his own accord he had relin-
quished the right to enjoy just such a meal as
that every night in the week.
Perhaps Satan never has a better opportunity for
tempting us successfully than when we are looking
back, half sorry that we did not eat of some for-
bidden fruit offered to us; half vexed with our-
selves for turning aside from the broad road (even
though it might lead to destruction) and choosing
the strait and narrow path.
And Satan was very busily whispering into Bel's
ears and heart one morning, about a week after he
had heard of the change for the better in Babs's con-
dition. The boy had a heavy cold upon him, and
felt out of sorts. His begging had not paid well
these last days, and he had been half-starved. Then,
too, he missed the little one's loving caresses and
innocent prattle. Altogether, under the influence







THE TEMPTER A GAIN.


of all these things combined, Bel was growing
harder, and more like the Bel that used to be
before God sent him his little baby missionary.
So that it almost seemed like the echo of his
own discontented heart, when he heard a voice
close by muttering, If you ain't a fool, Belshazzar
Smith, I never see one in all my life !"
It was Wily Will. Bel turned his heavy, red-
lidded eyes towards the speaker and replied
sullenly, Well, is that wuss nor bein' a knave ? "
Rather !" said The Wily, promptly. "Here
you've guv up a easy, comfortable life, a good'ome,
good food, good wages, and all for what? The
'guv'nor' telled me you wouldn't be parted from
that there kid, and so, you see--"
Well," interrupted Bel impatiently, the thing's
all over now, over and done with. What's the use
of talking ? If so be I wished to go back on my
word, I couldn't do it."
Now don't you be too sure of that," responded
the tempter with a sly smile.
Do you mean tcr say, Will, as how I could, if
I chose ? cried Bel, surprised for a moment out of
his sullenness.
"Hush! we ain't town cxiers nor yet open-air
preachers," sneered The Wily. Listen Bel; it's
like this. The'guv'nor' seems somehow to be that






66 BELS BAB

took with you, that he's fairly heart-broke you won't
come to him; and last night says he to me, he
says, 'Wily, my lad, if you happenn to meet that
poor, dear misguided boy anywhere about,' says
he, 'tell him I've been considering' of it over, and I
almost think as how we can arrange for the little
gal too, if so be Belshazzar Smith feels like changing'
his mind and coming' to us for good and all.' "
Bel was silent. Now that James Smith had
made this concession so flattering to the boy's
pride, he felt strongly inclined to accept the
renewed offer. But then, in strange contrast with
Will's words, came to his memory those of that
text which must always now be associated with
Babs : "Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not, for of such-is the Kingdom of
Heaven."
Should I be suffering' Babs to go to Jesus, or
should I be forbiddin' of her ? the boy asked him-
self, "if so be I took her to live at Gentleman
Jim's ? And what'd Josy say to sich a thing arter
all that's passed !"
But Bel put the better thoughts from him and
began to argue thus with himself: Arter all,
Babs ain't out of the 'orspital yet, and goodness
knows when she will be; and if I was to go to
father now I'd have time to try what sort of a life






THE TEMPTER AGAIN. 67

it were afore I took her into it. I'm sick of begin'
and starvin', and anything 'd be better; and as for
right and wrong,-what that little Methody Josy's
allers a-preaching about,-why, let them see to it
as hasn't got empty stummicks and empty
pockets."
"You've a wonderful fine gift for thinking 't
seems to me, Bel!" put in The Wily with another
covert sneer. Maybe you'll be so condescendin'
now as to give me a answer,-a message to take
back to the 'guv'nor.'"
Bel raised his head, his face looking old and
hard, his eyes sullen and defiant,-
"Tell the 'guv'nor'-" said he firmly, "tell him
that as he still do seem to want me, I'll jine."
Will slapped him on the back in boisterous
approval.
"Come now !" he said, "if that ain't something
like! Why, you've got pluck enough arter all!
And I wentur' to say you'll be sharper than all on
us put together soon, see if you ain't! All right
then, Bel, home I goes to the' guv'nor' this minute,
S and say I to him, We've done the trick, sir, and
added a shinin' light to our noble perfession.'
And what time shall we look for you, Bel? The
earlier the better, you know."
Bel hesitated a moment, then he replied, still in
E2






68 BEL'S BABY.

that firm, hard tone which had never belonged
to little Babs's loving, tender Bel,-" To-morrow,
supper-time or later, as I finds I can get away."
"Good! We'll be expecting' ofyer." And with a
patronizing nod and half smile, The Wily turned a
corner, dived down a dark alley, and was lost to
sight.




















CHAPTER VIII.


THE TEMPTER PREVAILS.

When we are blinded and are led astray,
Calling good evil, and the bitter sweet,
Wandering downwards from the King's highway,
Till the floods rise about our wilful feet;
Then Lord, O then-grant that some brave, true heart,
Some friend, for love of us and love of Thee,
May stretch a rescuing hand, ere hope depart,
Ere conscience drown in sin's unfathom'd sea.

"WHAT'S up with you to-night, Bel? Have you
had bad news of Babs ? or what's the matter?"
Nothin', 'cept I don't want to be badgered and
bothered," growled Bel. What a fellow you be,
Josy, for asking questions Don't do it, and you
won't get no lies."
Ah, you don't tell 'em now," said Josy, with a
a proud, smiling confidence that went to Bel's
heart.
UDon't I!1" replied he gruffly, "that's all you







BEL'S BABY.


know about it! No, Josy, there's nothing' to
percent my turning' off a good un as glib as ever,
only give me the chance of getting' anything by it.
But it's late, Josy, and I'm tired. 'Tain't no use
keeping' on jawin' for ever; let's go to sleep."
"And you won't tell me what's putting' you out
and making' you so queer ?" pleaded Josy.
If you say any more, it's me that'll be putting'
you out-out at the door too, Josy Brand, so you'd
best hold your noise."
"And you don't want no reading' afore you goes
to sleep ?"
"No, I don't !" returned Bel shortly.
Josy sighed. Bel knew very well that his
friend's tender heart was wounded, and he hated
himself for giving Josy pain, and yet he had not
the courage to tell him what he had that day
promised to do. Nothing makes such cowards of
us as having a guilty secret upon our minds, and
already Bel was beginning to feel this.
Josy was breathing softly by his side, in a calm
slumber that night, long before the boy closed his
eyes. And when he did sleep, it was only to
start up continually out of troubled dreams, with
the ominous sentence taken from his favourite
Bible story ringing in his ears, Thou art weighed
in the balances and found wanting." Yes, after all






7THE TEMPTER PREVAILS.


his trying to be a good boy, and to lead a better
life, this was what it had come to; weighed in the
balances, like that other Belshazzar, and found
wanting. "And that night was the king, Belshazzar,
slain, and Darius the Mede took the kingdom."
The end had come while the king was feasting and
making merry, and-well, for the first time since
hearing Josy read the narrative, it was painful to
Bel to recall it, for to-night the well-known
words seemed to be full of a terrible meaning of
menace. It was not the king, as Bel had hitherto
always pictured him, that the boy seemed now to
see sitting at his table, with the gold and silver
cups and vessels before him,-but himself, Bel
Smith, at supper as he should be to-morrow night,
among his chosen comrades, a gang of thieves, his
own father at their head. And he was deliberately
choosing his lot too. No one was forcing him on
to evil. Yes, there was no help for it now. He
had pledged his word to Gentleman Jim, and he
could not break it. Somehow, too, he must
manage to get away without Josy knowing what
had become of him, and he could not do this in
the morning, because the bundle of things that he
must take with him would at once attract atten-
tion, and make Josy suspicious. How was the
running-away to be safely accomplished ? Bel






72 BEL'S BABY.

thought it all out between his short unrestful naps,
and at last decided that on the evening of the
next day he would come back to Mother Gruff's
as usual, and go to bed at the accustomed hour.
The doors were never shut before twelve, at which
time the old woman herself retired to rest, so
that Bel could wait until Josy was asleep, and then
steal away without his being the wiser. Josy was
generally in by about eight, and asleep before nine,
so that it would be easy enough for Bel to get off
unperceived, and yet be in time for the supper, for
which-and others like it-the boy was dimly
conscious that he was going to sell his soul,
as Esau did his birthright, for the mess of
pottage.
Bel was very miserable next morning, after his
restless troubled night, and he noticed that Josy
looked hard at him, as the two lads went out to-
gether.
"I've got the headache Josy," explained Bel,
answering the mute question in his friend's eyes.
" Ain't a chap got a right to a headachee even without
consultin' his mate? he added with an ill-nature,
which was not like Bel at all. Alas I Already the
shadow of the evil that he had chosen was gather-
ing about him,
The day passed even more miserably, more un-






THE TEMPTER PRE VAILS.


successfully than the previous one. One half-
penny beside the penny which had to be put aside
for Mother Gruff, was all he received; and if he
had felt any misgivings the evening before, or any
regrets about joining James Smith's gang, this
day's starvation and wretchedness would have
taken them away, and given him the reckless
courage of despair. But indeed no other course
seemed to promise him even the barest necessaries
of life. It appeared to him that he must be a thief,
or lead a life of constant hardship and privation,
from which, just now, he shrank more than he did
from sin.
And so it was with his mind fully made up, and
the strong determination to play his part through
to the end, that he lay down beside Josy this
evening, and listened impatiently for the measured
breathing which should tell him that his friend
was sound asleep.
But somehow Josy Brand did not seem to
breathe quite as usual that night, or else Bel was
too much excited to hear aright. Still, as the boy
lay quite still with closed eyes, Bel at last con-
cluded that his companion must be asleep. Very
cautiously he rose, slipped into his coat, and put
on his cap, took his bundle, which he had made
up and hidden before Josy got back that







74 BEL'S BABY.
evening, and carrying his boots in his hand, stepped
softly down the centre of the long narrow room,
between the straight rows of straw mattresses
spread upon the floor, and the weary sleepers upon
them in every imaginable posture. Out into the
dark corridor, noiseless as a little ghost, he passed,
then, with a cat-like bound, he leaped across the
threshold, and, without a look over his shoulder,
down the street he sped, pausing only for a moment
under an archway to put on his boots. Not one
look back-not one; or he might have seen a lithe
dark form stealing along where .the shadows fell
thickest, matching, pace with him at no great dis-
tance behind, step for step.
What faithful eyes were these that kept the
little would-be thief in sight? What faithful
heart, in its great love, was even now planning and
scheming for his salvation?
Ah! Josy Brand had not slept after all. His
great love had kept him wakeful and watchful,
made him wise and thoughtful beyond his years.
He had been sadly troubled of late by the great
change in his friend, and anxiety had sharpened
his perceptions, and made him quick to observe,
and to understand.
Dear, tender-hearted, forgiving, Christ-like child!
When the great books are opened at the last, and







THE TEMPTER PREVAILS. 75

the hearts and lives of all laid bare, how sweet will
it be for you to hear from the Master's own lips,
those words already so dear to you-" He that
shall convert a sinner from the error of his ways
shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude
of sins."
Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter
thou into the joy of thy Lord."



















CHAPTER IX.

THE COURAGE OF LOVE.

O wonderful Life in its patience and might I
0 Spirit of Courage with meekness I
O Saviour of men, in the dark be our Light,
Let Thy strength be made perfect in weakness.

THROUGH a number of dark back streets, and up
winding alleys, Josy followed his friend, taking
good care however to keep out of sight, which
indeed was not very difficult, the night being dark,
and this low quarter of the city badly lighted. At
last he saw Bel pause, take a brief look round-
during which time Josy crouched close into the
angle of a wall-and enter a house, the door of
which stood open. Josy waited a moment, then
cautiously followed him. The stairway was dimly
lighted by a lamp in a niche about half-way up,
and as Josy stood at the foot of the stairs, and
followed with his eyes the ascending figure of his






THE COURAGE OF LOVE.


friend, he distinctly saw Bel stop on the second
floor, and knock at a door on his right. Josy
waited until the door opened and Bel disappeared,
then the sad little watcher stole out again as quietly
as he had stolen in.
He had attained the purpose which he had in
coming, this being to discover the situation of the
house to which Bel had gone, and which, Josy had
little doubt, was the home of James Smith.
Without a knowledge of the locality, he would
have been helpless, and could have done
nothing to save his friend; but now it only
remained for him to think how he could best use
his newly-acquired knowledge for Bel's deliverance
from the clutches of the thieves, among whom,
Josy rightly guessed, he had fallen.
There was no sleep for Josy Brand that night.
The hours passed in painful thought, earnest
prayer, and silent tears. But by the time daylight
came, the dawn of something like a definite
purpose began to brighten in the boy's mind, and
the way before him grew clearer.
To-day was a Bank-holiday, so he had no work,.
and could devote himself to the project he had so
much at heart. And his first step was to pay a
visit to Doctor Carr, whom our readers will
remember as the kind physician who himself took






BEL'S BABY.


Babs .to the hospital. Josy recalled to memory,
with satisfaction, that the good doctor had seemed
to take quite an interest in Bel, and being a gentle-
man of education and experience, he seemed to be
the proper person to consult.
The doctor was not yet downstairs when Josy
reached the house, but he very soon appeared,
and took Josy into the study which adjoined the
surgery.
Is any one ill at Mother Gruffs," asked he,
kindly, "that you've come so early ?"
"No, sir, thank you; but it's wuss nor that,"
replied Josy, lifting his swollen eyes wearily to the
doctor's face.
".Sit down here, my lad, and tell me all about
it." And Josy sat down, and frankly told the
whole sad story, all that he knew, and all that he
guessed.
"That's how it is, sir," said he in conclusion;
"but I think I could get Bel to come back again,
if only that father of his will let him go."
"I dare say," replied Doctor Carr;. "but how
are we to make a man give up his own son? Do
you propose to go to the police, and let them help
you ? "
"No, sir. Bel, he wouldn't never forgive me if I
did that, for his father would allers think as how


78






THE COURAGE OF LOVE.


it were Bel as had played the sneak,.and called in
the bobbies."
"Then tell me, Josy, what is your idea of how
the thing may be managed ? for that you have an
idea I can see by your face."
Josy drew out of his pocket a piece of letter-
paper, folded like a note, and roughly stuck to-
gether with a bit of stamp paper.
Please to take this, sir," said he; "it's got
wrote out in it the address of where Bel's gone to.
And will you please be so good, sir, as to write me
a few lines, a kind of receipt, to say I've guy j~ou
a sealed paper with an address inside it, and that
you'll open the paper and read the address, and
call at the police station with it, say by eleven
o'clock, if I ain't back here with Bel by that time.
How will that do, sir? And in course, if I'm here
with Bel at the right time, you won't open the
paper at all, but give it me back just as it is,
won't you, sir ?"
I will! A capital idea, my boy, and one which
I think will meet all the difficulty. But are you
not afraid, Josy, of going to this house, if Bel's
father is all you say he is ? I always thought you
were a shy, timid, shrinking kind of a lad."
Yes, sir, you're quite right, and so I be. But
I love Bel, and that give me courage; and now






80 BEL'S BABY.

I've told you, and you've been so kind, why, sir, I
feel as if I didn't mind a bit. So good morning'
sir, and thank you kindly."
My dear child, you don't suppose I am going
to let you go away fasting, do you ? cried the good
doctor. My breakfast is just ready, and I'll
send some in here for you. It won't take you
very long to eat it, and you'll feel twice the
man when you've had something. You had no
sleep last night, I can see by your eyes. All the
more reason why you should keep up your
strength with food."
So presently poor Josy sat down to such a meal
as he could not remember ever to have eaten
before, and he got up from the table feeling, as the
doctor said he would, twice the man, or rather
boy, than he had been a quarter of an hour before,
and quite ready to beard the lion in his den.
Josy had taken special note of the way last
night, as he was following Bel, and to a boy
brought up in the London slums, the city bye-
paths are not such a labyrinth as they are to those
who only visit them occasionally, so it was not
a very difficult matter for Josy to find again the
house to which he had tracked his friend, and of
which he had written down the number and the
street on theprevious night,so as not to forget them.







THE COURAGE OF LOVE. 81

In spite of the boldness which the knowledge of
his righteous purpose gave him, the lad's pulses
beat loud and quick as he stood for a moment to
regain his breath before he knocked at the door
on the second floor, where he had seen Bel go in.
Then, with a cry for help that went up from his
very heart of hearts to the Throne of Grace, he
lifted the knocker with a firm hand, and gave a
bold rat, tat, tat, which seemed to him to resound
and echo strangely on the bare staircase and
empty landings.
Presently there was the sound of shuffling steps,
as of slippers down at heel. Then a shrill,
cracked voice said through the closed door,
" Who's there ?"
For a moment Josy knew not what to reply.
He had not thought what he should do-how he
should act were he not admitted, and to tell his
name he felt instinctively would be unwise. But
when the cracked voice repeated the question, he
was ready with his answer: "A letter for Mr.
James Smith, and bearer to wait for a answer."
Then the door opened a crack, and Josy caught
sight of an old woman's wrinkled face, tied up
in a faded red cotton kerchief, while a dirty, claw-
like hand came clutching for the paper.
"No! no! said Josy, holding it behind him.
F







82 BEL'S BABY.

"This is to be guy up to noboby save Mr. Smith
hisself."
"Well, you can't see Mr. Smith, so there !"
exclaimed the old hag angrily.
"Which you wouldn't say so, if you knowed
the danger of him not reading' that letter afore a
certing time this morning replied Josy, his own
great anxiety lending an ominous and a tragic
sound to his voice.
Stuff and nonsense! responded the woman.
"You're a-tryin' to frighten me !" And she made
a hideous grimace at Josy through the small open-
ing in the door. But bless me I ain't so easy
frightened. I, oughter know what games boys is
up ter by this time; which rather give me rats
and mice and cockroaches, if I could hev my
choice "
Taking no notice of this flattering comparison,
Josy, feeling that he must alarm her in good
earnest, or he should never gain his point, said in
an excited whisper,-
"If you don't let me see your master, there'll
be mischief afore this morning's out. How would
you like, ma'am, to be setting' in Holloway Gaol
this very evening' ?"
The old woman's face changed and darkened
with fear.







THE COURAGE OF LOVE. 83

"Hush! she said, breathlessly; "is there
really danger, then ?"
"Rather!" replied Josy, with an emphasis
worthy of Bel himself. The boy went on: "If
you can let me see Mr. Smith at once, no harm'll
come to none of you, as I knows on, but if you
Sends me away, or keeps me waiting' much longer,
you'll hev the bobbies here as sure as anything."
It was all quite true, and even the old woman
could see that Josy was terribly in earnest.
S" Well," she said, "if things is so, I'll tell
master." She shut the door, and Josy heard her
down-at-heel slippers shuffling off till their sound
died away in the distance, while he waited
breathlessly listening for what should come next.



















CHAPTER X.


SAVED.
Only the cry of a child; a cry in the dark of the night
To the Maker of earth and Heaven, Who dwells in eternal
light.
Only the wordless prayer of a penitent soul-; yet see,
With morning an answer comes, and the prisoner is
free.

OUR story returns to Belshazzar Smith, of whom
we lost sight as he entered his father's home on
the previous night.
Determined in his own mind as he was to cast
in his lot with that of the gang of thieves, he did
not even pretend to himself that he was ignorant
of the danger of this course, or unconscious of its
sinfulness.
On the contrary, his lately-awakened conscience
bitterly accused him, and he now fully realized
that of his own free will he was taking a step
which might involve the ruin of his whole life.






SAVED. 85

Anid when he heard James Smith's door close
behind him, he could not but feel that between
him and his past a great gulf was fixed.
True, his childhood and boyish years had not
been blameless. He had told falsehoods, and used
petty deceptions to aid him in getting his living,
but until recently he had hardly been conscious
that this was wrong. Now, however, he saw and
understood, only too clearly for his own peace of
mind, that to sin knowingly meant a dangerous
change, a terrible choice. But as he entered the
warm, bright room where Gentleman Jim and his
hopeful pupils sat at supper; as he met their
noisy welcome, and smelt the savoury odours of
stewed steak and onions, and heard his father say,
"Well, here you are at last, my lad, with us, I
hope for good and all," Bel made a desperate
effort. Conscience was silenced, memory sternly
rebuked, remorse stifled. With a wild burst of
unnatural merriment he tossed his ragged cap
high as the ceiling, and cried, "Yes, here I am,
and here I'll stay, till the bobbies come to fetch
me away."
This condition of excitement lasted all through
supper and for one hour afterwards, while the lads
were recounting their adventures during the day
and boasting of their successes. The takings, or,






86 BEL'S BABY.

as Gentleman Jim called them, the earnings of
each youth, were examined and valued; and to
the most successful workers the "guv'nor" said a
few words of praise so naturally and kindly that
Bel could almost have persuaded himself that his
father was a good man, and that the efforts of
these lads to please him were real honest work
for real honest wages. But when business was
over, and the boys sat down to cards, gambling
eagerly for halfpence, as many who know better
than they play for pounds, Bel, who did not know
the game, began to feel his high spirits giving way.
Once more his conscience awoke and upbraided
him. The future, which only just now seemed
opening up brightly after a lurid fashion of its
own, loomed before him sombre as the very grave.
Was this the place to which he was to bring his
dear little innocent Babs when she came out of
the hospital? Ah what had he done !
Pleading that he was tired and not well-which,
indeed, was true-he asked leave to go to bed,
and his father showed him a small iron bedstead,
prepared for him in his own room, which opened
out of the large apartment where the boys sat
together and had their meals.
But Bel could not sleep. The beer he had
swallowed seemed to make him feverish. His






SA VED.


head ached, all his pulses throbbed, and heart and
mind were filled with an agony of remorse and
misery. Again and again he moaned to himself,
"What have I done? oh! what have I done?"
And then he remembered that night not long
ago, when he had been so unhappy about poor
little Babs, and when Josy's simple faith and
earnest prayer had helped and soothed him. Yes,
and the prayer had been heard and answered too,
for had not Babs begun to get better from that very
time ? Oh, if Josy were but here! What would
not Bel have given to have that true, loving heart
beating near him, to hear that gentle voice
murmuring in his ear, What shall I read to-night,
Bel, afore we goes to sleep ?"
"Ah, Josy, Josy! groaned poor Bel in the
bitterness of his soul, I didn't know how much I
loved you till now. Nor I didn't know why I
loved you neither. But now. I see, 'twas all along
of your bein' so good-so real good-as I shall
never be now, never, as long as I live." And yet
was it altogether hopeless ? Had not his friend
often told him that to God all was possible, and
that He would never cast out any that came to
Him in the name of Jesus ?
James Smith had not come to his room yet;
Bel was quite alone. No one heard him as, clasp-






BEL'S BABY.


ing his feverish hands together, and raising his
aching, tearful eyes towards Heaven, he sobbed out
his grief, his penitence, his longing for escape from
his sin and its danger. No one was listening as he
confessed his love for the friend whose heart he
had sorely wounded, and for the little baby-girl who
was so much to him. What! was no one listen-
ing? Did no one hear? Ah! thank God, there
never yet was a heartfelt earnest prayer sent up
towards Heaven to find the golden door closed-
the Father's ear heavy that He could not hear.
And Bel's passionate cry-the outcome of a broken
and penitent heart, a contrite spirit which God
despises not-sped like a winged angel into the
Divine Presence, and brought down a blessing.
And the first part of the blessing came in this
thought, suggested by the passage of Scripture so
familiar to him, describing Christ receiving the
children : If," said the poor lad to himself, Jesus
said, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me,'
for sure He won't turn away them as is a bit older ?
and I ain't so very old yet neither." And with
this thought uppermost, soothing and comforting
him, Bel turned his weary head on the pillow, and
at last fell asleep.,
The lad slept late the next morning, and James
Smith, seeing how swollen and red his eyelids






SA VED. 89

were, would not wake him; but after the other
boys were gone, he put Bel's breakfast down to
the fire to keep hot for him, and then set to work
to look through some clothes (of which he had a
stock by him) to find some things to replace his
son's rags.
It was while he was thus engaged that the old
woman's red bandaged head appeared at the door.
"What is it, Mrs. Crump ?" asked the guv'nor."
"Please, sir, here's a boy what's got a letter, and
he won't give it to no one but you ; and he says as
how, if you doesn't see it at once, the perlice '11 be
upon us this wery morning. "
James Smith said not a word. With a very
grave face he went to the door.
Boy, are you still there ?" he said softly, in his
deep voice.
"Yes, sir," replied Josy in the same hushed
tones. Then the door opened, and the bald-
headed, big-bearded man, whom Bel had described
to Josy after his first meeting with the "guv'nor,"
stood before him.
"The letter-give it me I" said Gentleman Jim
briefly, and Josy put into his hand the doctor's
receipt. It needed no explanation; the contents
were simple enough for a less intelligent man than
James Smith to understand at a glance. He






9o BEL'S BABY.

pulled out his watch. "No time to lose," he said
to himself; "I never reckoned on Bel having friends,
or I would not have risked it. Look here," he said
to Josy, do you know what's in this letter?"
"Yes, sir," replied the boy simply.
"Hum!" grunted the man. "Well, now, I
might of course stand on my rights, and keep Bel,
because I've a right to my own son. For he is my
son; maybe you know that too ?"
"Yes, sir," replied Josy again.
But," continued Gentleman Jim, with an easy
suavity which justified this name, I hate a fuss;
and if Bel has friends who want him, I don't wish
to interfere. Wait here, my lad, and I'll bring him
to you."
A moment more, and James Smith stood by the
bedside of the sleeping boy, looking down at him
with a strange mingling of annoyance, anxiety, and
tenderness in his face.
Get up, Bel, get up and dress, and have your
breakfast quickly," said he; "a friend of yours has
come for you; and as I've found out that, after all,
you're but an unwilling prisoner, I've thought better
of keeping you."
Wondering what miracle had been worked in
answer to his prayer, and hardly wide awake
enough yet to realize his own happiness, Bel






SAVED 91

hastily washed, and dressed himself in the clothes
which his father had found for him. He gulped
down a cup of coffee, but could eat nothing.
Then James Smith took him by the arm, and
said very gravely, "I'm letting you go, Bel; but
remember, I rely upon your honour not to talk of
me and my affairs."
"You may trust me, father," replied the lad
earnestly. And oh, thank you for lettin' me go.
I'd never have done for this kind of life."
"Perhaps you're right, my boy; and now, good-
bye." And pressing Bel's hand, he led him to the
door, opened it, and Bel rushed into Josy's arms.
For one moment Gentleman Jim stood looking
at the two lads, his hard eyes almost seeming to
moisten. Then he pulled a shilling out of his
pocket and gave it to Josy, saying, "You must
hurry all you can, boys; and here's the money for
a cab, for if you don't drive, you won't be back by
the time mentioned in the letter."
A very short quarter of an hour after, a hansom
rattled up to the door of Doctor Carr's house, and
out sprang the two lads, and were admitted into the
study, which seemed a very haven of rest and peace
both to Bel and Josy after their late experiences.
The good doctor gladly destroyed Josy's paper at
once, and related to Bel the story of his friend's






BEL'S BABY.


devotion and ingenuity in devising and carrying
out the plan for his rescue, while Bel listened with
a thankful heart and with glistening eyes.
The day that Babs was to leave the hospital, a
lady called at Mother Gruff's and asked for Bel-
shazzar Smith. Mother Gruff, greatly astonished
at Bel's having such a visitor, told the lady that he
was out, but that she expected him that evening;
and the lady left word that he was to call and see
her at an address that she gave, as she had some-
thing special to say to him. And when Bel,
obedient to the instructions he had received,
turned up at the house, he was informed by the
lady that she was in the habit of visiting the
children's ward in the hospital where Babs had
been, and that having no little ones of her own,
and having, moreover, taken a special fancy to the
little girl, she was desirous of adopting her, but
learning that Bel was the baby's only guardian,
she had resolved to do nothing without consulting
him.
I would train her carefully," the lady said; I
would teach her all that is good ; I would try to
lead her early in life to her Saviour. My boy, you
see and understand that I can provide and care
for the child better far than you can ever hope to
do: won't you trust her to me ? "







SA VED.


"Oh, ma'am," cried Bel, "you don't know how
dear Babs is to me How can I part from her ?
It'll jist break my heart, it will."
The lady did not answer at once; she seemed
to be thinking. At last she said, "I have just
thought of a way in which you could still be near
Babs-as you call her. My husband is about to
dismiss from his service the page who answers the
door-bell, and does other light work in our house.
If you like to take his place, and will do your best
to learn your duties, to be honest and truthful
and obedient, you shall have a month's trial, and
if at the end of that time you suit us, you can re-
main with us always. Thus you would still be
under the same roof as the little girl, and could
see her every day."
Poor Bel was at first speechless with delight and
gratitude. To give up begging and story-telling;
to be taken out of those miserable streets ; to see
Babs well fed, well clothed, and happy-this would
be bliss indeed, and Bel formed many a good re-
solution for his future conduct in the flush of his
gratitude and joy.
Poor Josy was very sad at losing his friend,
but Mrs. Carr, the doctor's wife, comforted him
by promising to look out for a situation for him
too, and Bel could not help hoping that the doctor's







BEL'S BABY.


practice would increase so fast that he would have
to keep two boys, and that Josy too would be
taken into his service.
It was very pleasant to Bel. He had to wait upon
the kind doctor who had been so good to Babs, Josy
and himself; and our readers will readily believe
that the service rendered by the lad was the more'
willing and glad because prompted by a grateful
and loving sense of all that he owed to his good
master. So far as his work was concerned, Bel
had no difficulty in learning to do it well, for he
was naturally quick and had a good memory. But
a far harder task he found it to cure himself of the
habits he had formed in the course of those years
of hardship and loneliness. It was difficult for him
to speak the truth when a lie might screen his
faults and save him from blame. Then too, after his
long starvation, he was often tempted to be greedy,
now that there was plenty of good food to be had.
These tendencies, with the restlessness that be-
longed to his former life of a waif and stray on the
great ocean of London, were not easy to overcome.
But Bel's conscience was awake now; his desire
to do right was sincere, and his endeavours were
earnest and constant. Humbly conscious of his
own weakness; knowing that left to himself he
must fall as he had so often fallen before-his
continual prayer was "Lord, help me I "







SAVED. 95

And so, in the struggle with his besetting sins,
having Almighty strength and goodness on his
side, even poor, weak, ignorant Bel could not but
prevail at last.
Before Bel had been many weeks in his new
home, some very sad news came about his father.
James Smith, alias Gentleman Jim, was caught
in the act of burglary, and as he was carrying
fire-arms, and had used them upon his pur-
suers in trying to escape, a severe sentence of
long imprisonment with hard labour was passed
upon him.
Little Babs's mother has never been heard of,
but the child has tender, watchful, wise parents in
Dr. Carr and his wife, and a devoted friend in the
doctor's smart, clever, and good page, who has a
face as bright as his buttons and a heart as true as
steel. Indeed, unless you knew the lad's face very
well you would never, in looking at it, recall your
old acquaintance-the London beggar, Belshazzar
Smith.
Josy Brand often runs in to see Bel in the
evening, and then the boys talk over old times,
and delight in reading together those passages
which will always be favourites with Bel-the story
of King Belshazzar's great feast, and the sweeter
narrative of Christ blessing the children.
Nor have their lessons been lost on Bel. The







BEL'S BAB Y.


warning of the one and the tender sweetness of
the other have come home to him now; and
saved by the Redeemer, among those who have
become even as a little child, for him the fatal
writing will never appear upon the wall. And
well he knows now, and feels in his heart of hearts,
that him whom the Lord Jesus saves with an
everlasting salvation and clothes with His perfect
righteousness, can never be weighed in God's
balances of justice and found wanting.










THE END.


Printed by Gilbert and Rivington, Ld., St. John's House, Clerienwell, E.C.





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