The Baldwin Library
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THE YOUNG SOLDIER'S RETURN.
Little PTot (Serits.
MARY E. ROPES,
"TIHE VENGEANCE OF VICTOR VERDUN," "SOLOMON'S
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY:
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, ST. PAUL S CHURCHYARD;
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
'-- -- -" ,
1. UNCLE TOI'S PLAN .
. MR. JACK 13
II. IN A STRANGE LAND 24
Iv. SPARROWS OR CANARIES?. 34
v. OUT OF THE DEPTHS. 47
VI. RESCUE 56
fnicle Tom's plan.
inr my lad, I'm glad to tell
S you that me and your
Smother, havin' talked the
matter over, and agreed
about it, I went to Mr.
SGussett the tailor this
---- morning and he says he's
S- willing' to take you as
-. 'prentice-him and me
bein' such friends-ay,
take you as 'prentice,
Jim, without a premium. Ain't that a chance
in a thousand,-now ? There's a many people
better off nor we, as would jump at such an
Jim Norris said nothing, and Tom Ranton
"It's a year since you left school; you're
getting' a big lad, and it's time you was doin'
something' for yourself; your mother bein' a
widder, and me, your uncle, havin' a large
family of my own to keep.
"And let me tell you again, Jim, tain't
every day you'll find them as'll take you and
teach you your trade for nothing Such folk
doesn't grow on bushes like blackberries. In
course me and your mother must pay for
your keep and your clothes the first year or
so, till you've learned enough to be worth that
much to your master; but we're willing' to do
this, if only you'll get on, working' diligent and
getting' to know all you can. You don't seem
to have no hankerin' after one trade no more
nor another; so as the tailorin' is a good
business, and Mr. Gussett was willing I
thought this offer was too good to let slip."
"All the same-I wish you had let it slip,
Uncle Tom," replied Jim Norris, sulkily.
"And why?" asked Mr. Ranton, quickly,
for he did not like the louring look in the
lad's face, or the tone of his voice.
"Why?" repeated Jim, discontentedly.
"Fancy me sitting' stitch, stitch, all day long,
cross legged, in old Gussett's front winder !"
And the boy tossed his head, and sniffed in
Uncle Tom's Plan.
disgust at the thought. "I tell you, Uncle
Tom, I ain't cut out for a tailor's 'prentice;
do I look like one now ? "
"Look like one now ?" repeated his uncle,
eyeing his nephew with marked disapproval.
S"No, you don't look like anything near so
good and useful-not by a long ways I only
wish you did! I'd have more hope of you
then. You ain't too proud to live on your
mother's hard-earned savin's, though there
ain't more than'll keep her decent and com-
fortable. You're only too proud or too idle--
S or maybe too both-to learn to get your own
I tell you, Jim, yours ain't the right sort
of pride. The right sort makes folks brave
and self-denyin', industrious and independent,
so as they'd rather do anything than be be-
holden to others. But your pride is the sort
as is twin brother to laziness; the kind as
sooner or later must come to grief."
There-that'll do, Uncle Tom!" snapped
out Jim, crossly. "You ain't my father, and
I don't want none of your preachin' nor
'prenticin' neither. I don't choose to be a
tailor; I'd rather be a soldier, if I was but a
bit older-like Joe Carter that 'listed two
years ago. But anyway I want to look round
a bit, and see what there is goin'. Time
enough to settle down to a trade when I find
one to suit me."
"Why, haven't you been running' wild for a
year, Jim ?" said Tom REanton. "Any more
of it would ruin you for life, so far as work's
concerned. No, no, my lad," he added in a
softened tone. Think better of it; remem-
ber your poor mother, and how it would
lighten her heart to see you learning' a trade.
Once you make up your mind to it, you won't
find it hard. John Gussett ain't a bard
master. His other 'prentice hands is content
enough, and you'll be the same if but you
does your duty. The papers is to be seen to
to-morrow, Jim, and they'll be signed as soon
as may be, and then you'll begin your work;
and that's all about it-so there-and good-
day to you."
For a few minutes after his uncle's de-
parture, Jim remained glowering out of the
window, his face very sullen and obstinate.
At last he got up and shook his fist at a dim
and faded photograph of Tom Ranton that
adorned the mantelpiece.
"You will, will you ?" muttered he, "you
will make me a tailor's 'prentice in spite of
everything-will you? Well, we'll see! My
Uncle Tom's Plan. 9
name ain't Jim Norris if I don't have my fling
afore I settles down to dooty and hard work.
To-morrow the papers is to be seen to, is they?
Let 'em! I shan't say no more agen it.
Papers can't do no harm to nobody when the
party as they're made out for ain't to be
Here the door opened, and Mrs. Norris
So your uncle has gone, Jim ?" she said.
"I was upstairs, and didn't hear him. But
ain't this grand news, my boy? To think of
that good Mr. Gussett bein' willing' to have
you as 'prentice without my pain' nothing .
I do take it kind of him. And I'm sure, Jim,
my dear, you'll do your best to show you feel
his kindness, and you'll be obedient and dili-
gent, and try to be of use to your master, if
only for the sake of your poor old mother."
Jim made no reply. He did not feel at all
inclined to discuss the matter over again.
He had quite made up his mind what he
should do; nothing now remained but to
arrange the details of his plan; and to repeat
to his mother what he had said to his uncle,
would only cause fresh trouble, and perhaps
make it difficult for him to carry out the
purpose he had just formed.
So he received in silence all that Mrs. Nor-
ris said, took his tea, and got away upstairs
afterwards, as soon as he could, while his
mother ran in to see a sick neighbour.
Having locked his door, Jim began to turn
out his drawers, and look over his few posses-
sions. He very well knew that if he remained
at home, he would be compelled to become
Mr. Gussett's apprentice, and against this his
pride, his laziness, his self-will rebelled.
Across the dark cloud of his selfishness, no
tender thought for his widowed mother flashed
like a ray of redeeming light. It was self-
all self-that filled his heart and mind this
evening. Duty had come before him un-
pleasant of aspect. She was calling him with
a voice which he disliked, so he would have
none of her.
"When there ain't no me here any more,"
he murmured to himself with a spiteful
chuckle, "no one can't bind the 'prentice
As he turned over his things, selecting
some and returning others to the drawers, he
came upon his Bible which had been hidden
away unheeded, forgotten for long enough.
He took it up in his hand, undecided what to
do with it; whether to take it with him or to
Uncle Tom's Plan.
leave it behind. As he handled it carelessly,
it opened, and his eyes fell upon a page, so
that almost without thinking he read several
Now the word of the Lord cane unto Jonah
the son of Amittai saying, Arise, go t oNineveh,
that great city, and cry against it; for their
wickedness is come up before Me.' But Jonah
rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence
of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he
found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the
fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with
them unto Tarshish from the presence of the
Thus far the lad read, then shut the volume
"What's that there stupid old Jonah to do
with me?" he exclaimed; "savin' as how
we're both off on a journey. But then he
knowed where he was going and I don't know
nothing And yet, come to think of it-why
shouldn't I too go down to some sea place,
and get away where no one shan't find me to
make a 'prentice of me ?
"Yes-that's what I'll do! I'll walk over
to Port Rippleton to-morrow; and there I'll
take the fust offer that comes of getting' to
sea, and I rather think it'll use up all the
time that mother and uncle and Mr. Gussett
has on their hands, afore they find me to turn
me into a tailor's goose."
While Jim thus talked to himself, he flung
aside the Bible among the things he meant
to leave behind. "It's too heavy to carry,"
he reflected, "and it ain't worth nothing' to
But the best of his clothes he packed up in
a bundle, without a thought of how meanly
and ungratefully he was behaving towards the
mother who had denied herself much that she
wanted, to buy him neat and serviceable
clothing. He did not recognize himself as a
selfish coward, or realise how vain it was, in
the long run, to fly from duty.
Had he even stopped to think over the
verses he had just read, must he not have
understood that those who forsake duty when
she comes to them as a friend, are doomed. to
be pursued by her, some day, as an avenger?
For to try and escape from duty is to try
and escape from the presence of Him who
sends duty, and from whom we cannot hide
ourselves-go where we will.
OTHER, I'm agoin' for a long
walk this morning, said Jim
at breakfast. "If I've got
to go to work as soon as
uncle says, why I must get
all the fun I can now. I
y mean to have a lark to-day-a jolly
one, so don't expect me afore night.
S And I say mother, don't you think you could
K just put me up a bit of dinner in a basket, to
'take with me?"
How quickly--how easily one sin leads to
another! It is a kind of moral treadmill; and
when once you set a foot on the first step, you
. are forced to go on. Now that Jim had made
up his mind to leave his mother and shirk his
duty, it seemed but a small matter to deceive,
: to quit home under false pretences, giving the
impression that he was going out only for the
To secure some provisions and twelve hours'
start beside, was worth having, for, as his
mother would not expect him home before
nightfall, no search or inquiry would be made
until he was-in all probability-far beyond
the reach of it.
All right, Jim," replied Mrs. Norris. As
you're agoin' into harness so soon, I won't say
nothing' agen a last day's holiday, and I'll put
you up some dinner to take with you. There's
some cold meat and cheese in the house, and
you can have a twopenny loaf and a slice of
yesterday's pie, and a bottle of cold coffee;
and all that'll make a good basketful. But
mind you're home in good time, Jim my boy,
for Uncle Tom he's coming' in to supper to-
night, to talk things over again, and he won't
be pleased if you ain't here punctual."
Jim only grunted in reply to this; he could
hardly repress a chuckle as he thought how
angry his uncle would be when hour after
hour passed, and his hopeful nephew did not
The old chap won't know what to make of
it," said the naughty lad to himself. "Won't
he just fume and fret, and go round asking'
everybody if they've seen that there lad as he
was on the point of 'prenticin' to Mr. Gussett
the tailor "
Mr. Jack. 15
In half-an-hour's time Jim was ready for
his start. The parcel containing his clothes
he had carried out over night, and hidden in
the washhouse, behind the mangle. And now
with a careless nod of farewell to his mother,
who was busy in the kitchen, washing up the
breakfast things, he took his luncheon basket
from the dresser, and went across the yard to
the washhouse, dragged the parcel from its
hiding place, then slipped out into the narrow
lane leading to the cross roads.
Going by this path, which was a winding
way, and not a thoroughfare for vehicles, he
avoided the town, on the outskirts of which
his mother's cottage stood, and by a round-
about way he gained the high road to Port
Rippleton, a shipping town about ten miles
Twenty minutes' sharp walk, and he was
clear of the lane; and as he trudged along the
road, he met a number of country folks on
foot and in light carts going to market. Some
of these people he knew, and they spoke to
him as he passed, and asked him where he
was going. And to questions like these, he
replied that he was only bound to a village a
mile or two away-of which he mentioned the
If any one tries to look for me, that'll put
'em off the scent," said Jim; and when his
conscience whispered, "Another lie! you've
told another lie! he silenced it by saying,
"Well, it can't be helped; in for a penny, in
for a pound! As I've told several already,
one or two more won't so much matter."
Jim was still about two miles from his des-
tination, and the afternoon was well advanced,
when, as he was making a short cut across
some fields, to avoid a bend in the road, he
saw in front of him a man walking slowly
along with a large wicker cage on his back,
filled with sparrows.
As Jim overtook the stranger, he saw, from
his whole appearance and dress, that he was
a foreigner. His dark hair was long, and
hung over his greasy, frayed coat collar; his
skin was swarthy, and every feature of his
curious face was thoroughly un-English. So,
too, was his familiar gesture and smile as he
turned his head and nodding, said, "How do?
Naice day, mine boy."
"Yes, very fine !" replied Jim.
"You have walk long ways, boy, yes?"
questioned the foreigner in his queer accent.
"Rather," replied Jim.
"And where you goin', mine friend ?" and
the man's dark eyes peered curiously into
Jim's, which did not seem to care to meet
"Goin'?" repeated the lad, hesitating
whether to name the place of his destination,
or to keep silent about it. Then hastily de-
ciding that there could be no harm in telling
the truth to this stranger and tramp, he said,
"I'm agoin' to Port Rippleton for-for the
The man smiled again as he glanced slily
round out of the corners of his eyes, at Jim's
big parcel slung over his shoulder on a stick.
"Bah!" said he, a little contemptuously.
"Why does boy tell false to old Jacques Le-
Gros-Poisson? Peoples goes not out for day
with big bundle as well as basket."
Jim hung his head, and did not answer.
To lie was not such a very terrible thing to him
now, after his late experience in lying; but to
be found out in lying-ah, that was another
thing. He began to be afraid of this shrewd,
sly, far-seeing Frenchman, and edging away
from him, fell back a step or two to let his
companion pass on.
But Jacques Le-Grps-Poisson had no notion
of parting from him so easily.
What ver big fool boy is! he exclaimed,
with a silent inward laugh, which shook the
wicker cage upon his back, and set the poor
little brown prisoners fluttering for fear.
" Tell de trute, you silly! Be not coward wis
old Jacques. Say you running' away not for
day but for alway-all de days. Now den!
Tell Jacques if dis is not so ? "
"What a drefful sharp old codger it is!"
thought Jim; but as the man was evidently
expecting an answer, he said reluctantly
enough, "Well yes, you're right, though how
you came to know all about me, I can't
"Bah!" exclaimed the Frenchman again.
Then he went on, And when you do come to
arrive at Port Rippleton, mine clayver good
boy, what do you then ? "
I don't know, no more nor you yourself,"
stammered Jim; "but I thought as how
p'raps I'd get a berth as cabin-boy aboard of
The man shook his head as though this
was, at best, a very forlorn hope. "You
never been on sea? he inquired.
"No, never," replied Jim.
"Den let me tell you, mine boy, that if
captain take you-you, dat is what de sailors of
dis country call land-lubber, you shall have mal
de mer-sea-sick-and feel like to die; and
when you no can work, Monsieur de Captain
he say, 'Vat is dis we have here? De boy
dat cannot do de work, he shall go overboard
wid de rest of rubbish.' And den he call de
sailors, and dey shall come, and in der arms
S dey shall take dat boy, and him trow into the
sea to be eat of de big fish."
This terrible prophecy, uttered in the most
solemn tone of conviction by one who seemed
to know, alarmed Jim not a little. All his
life he had lived inland, and had only seen
the sea once or twice when he made a day's
S excursion. He was wholly ignorant of the
ways of seafarers, and the Frenchman ap-
peared to be speaking so seriously, that he
could not but believe him; and he did not
notice that Jacques was watching him nar-
rowly, as though to mark the effect of his
"If I don't get a place aboard of a vessel,
I can't think what in the world I'm to do,"
remarked Jim at length.
Oh den surely you shall return where you
came from, mine boy! said the Frenchman,
in a smooth persuasive voice.
Go back to where I came from ? Not if I
know it! exclaimed Jim. "Why, Mr. Jack
Poison-or whatever your heathenish furrin
name is-they want to bind me to a tailor,
and I ain't agoin' to stitch, stitch all my life
long. That's why I'm running' away; it is-
as sure as my name's Jim Norris! "
Hum Now we have it!" grunted Jacques
to himself in his own language. "One can
see what this lad is made of! Fear will draw
the truth out of him when nothing else will.
This coward must be made of service to me.
He is ignorant, foolish, unscrupulous, just
what I want! Good! Jacques, mon bon-
homme, here is thy chance; take it! "
Then turning blandly to the young run-
away, he said, "Look here, mine dear boy.
Since you choose not to go back to your home,
and you may not be cabin boy upon de seas,
what den lies before you but to quickly
Starve! cried Jim, turning pale. Oh
that would be dreadful, Mr. Jack; but I say,
sir, couldn't you do something for me now ?
You that know such a lot, couldn't you put
me in the way of getting' a livin'? Oh do,
please! Pray do, Mr. Jack Poison."
The ghost of a smile just curled the lips of
the Frenchman as he replied coldly, "And
what can poor Jacques do ? Am I rich man ?
Can I to you offer better dan to be servant to
dat tailor who shall make you stitch, stitch ? "
"Why, anything would be better than
that cried the lad, ruefully.
Anything better ?" repeated Jacques.
"Well den let me tink. No," he continued
after a pause, "I no can help you-me-for
I go back to my own country-to France-
now-directly minute. I have in England no
more to make accomplished; whereas, without
doubt, you shall prefer to stay here, to run
about and starve, and at the last to find
yourself wis your bete noir, de tailor and his
S stitch, stitch! "
At that, Jim, in his eagerness, caught hold
of the man's frayed sleeve. "Look here, Mr.
Jack," said he, earnestly; "I don't want to
stay in England-I don't, one little bit. I
won't run the risk of bein' caught and bein'
made a tailor of. If so be you're agoin' over
the sea to France, and you'll take *me along
of you, I'll go, sir--I will; I'll go like-like a
bird. See if I won't!"
Oh! you shall go like a bird, shall you?"
muttered Jacques with a smothered laugh and
a glance over his shoulder at the fluttering
chirping sparrows in their prison. "Good,
mine boy So be it! You shall not, for dis
time, be trow over to de big fish. But de big
fish will have you all de same, for dat is my
name, Gros-Poisson-big fish. So now, mine
would-not-be tailor-we two shall go, bote of
us togedder, to Port Rippleton, and dere we
take ship for France, and you Jeem Norreece
shall learn my trade whereby I live me and
"And what is your trade, Mr. Jack?"
"My trade, Jeem," replied Jacques, with a
grin, "is in birds-cage birds; I have lots of
dem at my house, and I buy oders, or catch
dem, or make dem. Canaries, de fine yeller
little bird-dat make I most. Ah yes-I am
clayver in make of canaries."
Make canaries ?" repeated Jim. What
do you mean? "
"Dat shall you learn later, my son, when
we have done sail over the sea to France.
De knowledge it comes not all at once, but in
time you shall be wise; ah, but how wise! "
There was something mysterious in the
man's words and manner that gave Jim an
uncomfortable feeling. Silently he walked by
the side of his new master, the rest of the
way to Port Rippleton. Still gloomy and
depressed, he ate his supper at a little public-
Mr. Jack. 23
house, and lay down to sleep in a double-
bedded room with Jacques.
He said no prayer ere he laid his head on
the pillow; he read no verse of Scripture to
give him a last sweet thought as he fell asleep.
Indeed, his Bible had been left behind, and
he did not miss it.
But even as he closed his eyes, and com-
posed himself to slumber, his thoughts some-
how confused his own adventures that day
with the story of Jonah which had been
recalled to him the night before, and like a
warning bell the words rang in his ears,
But Jonah rose up to flee from the presence
qf the Lord."
In a Strange i and.
SE next morning Jacques
and Jim were early at the
'harbour. A schooner,
laden with coals, was
Sailing at once for St.
Malo, and the French-
". : man knew the skipper,
S'who was a countryman
of his own. Jacques
easily persuaded this
S, man to give him and
Jim a passage to France,
on payment of a trifling sum.
So, about nine o'clock, our runaway and
his new master went on board, the lad carry-
ing his basket and parcel, the man his wicker
cage, which was, however, now covered with
coarse canvas, preventing the birds from
being seen, though tiny spaces were left here
and there to let in air for the little prisoners
In a Strange Land. 25
The schooner sailed immediately, taking
advantage of a favourable breeze; but she
was deeply laden, and built rather for carrying
a large cargo than for speed, so she was a
long time doing the little voyage.
Poor Jim, wrapt up in an old oilskin coat
of the skipper's, and lying in a corner of the
deck, seasick and wretched, felt as though he
would have cared but little had the sailors
came round him as they came about Jonah of
old-taken him up, and thrown him into the
Once or twice Jacques approached, and
looked at him without speaking, smiling in
an odd kind of way which the lad did not
like. But towards evening of the first day,
the Frenchman brought him a slice of bread
and a piece of Dutch cheese, and said,
Jeem, mine boy, if you no can eat, you
shall be too weak to work for me, when we
come to de land. For figure not to yourself
dat I keep any in idle."
In vain poor Jim declared that he was
much too ill even to look at the food. His
new master would take no denial, until, at
last, the lad made a great effort and began to
eat, not daring to disobey.
To his surprise, when he had swallowed a
couple of mouthsful of the coarse bread and
salt cheese, he began to feel better; and after
a while he was able to get up and walk about
a little, before he finally turned in for the
night ; which turning in consisted of wrapping
himself in an old horse-blanket and lying
down in a dark corner of the musty little
cabin, among the rats and cockroaches.
Glad enough was Jim Norris when St.
Malo came in sight; and yet more glad was
he when he was able to follow Jacques ashore.
He would thankfully have stayed for an hour
or two out there in the clear sunshine, on the
quay, and looked about him, for everything
was new to him.
The bold, picturesque coast-line, with its
bays and headlands, its beaches, rocks, and
islands; the long line of vessels in the har-
bour; the masses of goods piled upon the
wharf; the loosely put-together, ramshackle
carriages, the blue-bloused drivers, and the
rough-looking horses with their frayed rope-
harness ;-all these things were novel to the
village lad, and he would fain have lingered.
But Jacques got hold of him by the arm and
"Now Jeem, dis is not time for play.
Come wis Jacques. I have spend money on
In a Strange Land. 27
you, and now you shall learn to pay me back,
and wis interest."
So saying, Jacques shouldered his cage and
led the way up from the waterside into the
town, with its crooked little hilly streets of
irregular and many-coloured houses, into a
narrow, dirty court, where, among other un-
inviting-looking buildings, was a squalid,
barn-like hovel, which, though of rather large
size, looked as though it were in the last
stage of decay. Indeed, how it held together
at all was a marvel, or, at least, so Jim the
inexperienced thought, as he followed his
master over the threshold.
When he had done so, and stood within,
he gave a little shudder. What a contrast
was this filthy, dark, bare hole to his mother's
neat, clean cottage!
He found himself in a clay-floored kitchen
and dwelling-room in one. In the place
which a cooking range would have occupied
in an English kitchen, there was an opening
into a great wide chimney, and a hearthstone
upon which burned a fire of driftwood and
seaweed, while over it, on a three-legged iron
stand, a large pot was boiling.
In the wall were two shelves arranged like
the berths of a ship, and having bed-clothes
upon them. In one of these shelf-beds lay a
little girl, her tiny pale face turned wistfully
towards the dim light from the dirty window.
One little thin hand hung listlessly down
over the edge of the berth, while the other
arm encircled her head, holding back the
masses of dark hair from her face.
"Ah, little Claudine," said Jacques, in
French, as he walked in, "behold thy dear
father returned safely from over the sea.
But how is it that thou art alone, child ?
Where is thy stepmother?"
She did but run'out to the baker's for a
loaf, father; she will be here presently,"
replied the little girl.
See here, Claudine, I bring with me a
boy, an English. He ran away from his
home because they would make him a tailor,
and he has fallen into my hands."
"Poor lad!" murmured the child, com-
passionately, as she glanced round at Jim,
who looked wretched enough to excite the
pity of a person harder hearted by far than
the little Claudine.
"And why poor lad?" repeated Jacques,
sharply. Is it, then, so bad a fate for this
runaway, that he should come to live with
Jacques Le-Gros-Peisson 2"
In a Strange Land. 29
Father, I remember but too well the poor
Conrad," said the child, in a voice that had
the sound of reproach in it.
Ah, that little pestilent German!" ex-
claimed the man. Well, it was not strange
that French and Germans should not get on
well together. And, pray, was it thy father's
fault, Claudine, that the tiresome alien was
always puny and complaining and sick,
catching every disease that is known in the
hospital or out of it ? It was a merciful thing,
my girl, that he died when he did. But this
is an older and a stronger lad, and I shall
make my profit out of him, never fear !"
The little girl did not answer, and just at
that moment the whole doorway was darkened
by the entrance of a very large, stout woman,
and Jacques called out,
"Ah! here comes the wife! Good-day,
Victoire. Art thou glad to see thy husband
here again after his voyage?"
"But yes," she answered, laying down on
the table a huge loaf she had brought home
in her apron. Of course, I am not sorry.
Have I not had all the work to do during
thy absence? But tell me, Jacques, how
hast thou prospered? And who is this that
thou hast brought in with thee ?"
Thy last question first, Victoire. This is
a young malcontent that I picked up on
my road to the port whence I sailed from
England. His one fear was lest his people
should find him. So I brought him with me
-all for pure love and pity, of course-
that goes without saying!" and Jacques gave
a sardonic chuckle, which his wife echoed,
while little Claudine sighed heavily.
"And as to prospering in the purpose of
my journey," continued the man. I have
seen thy brother, who declines to take
Claudine off our hands, on any pretext. In
vain I urged the need the child had of
change of air and scene. In vain I begged
them to receive her, if only for a month.
Thy brother and his wife only laughed and
"Maitre Poisson, tell thy Victoire, our
sister, from us, that she should not have
married a man with a bedridden daughter, if
she was too lazy to look after her !"
"I am sorry," rejoined Victoire, "that
this great purpose of thy journey was not
accomplished. An invalid in a house is a
great tax, and one that I "
But here the little girl cried out plaintively,
"Father, mother, I grieve that I am such a
In a Strange Land. 31
burden to you. But how-oh, how can I
help it ? It is the good God who has made
me with this crooked back, so that I cannot
help myself. But I will pray Him to send
His angels and take me away soon-very
soon, so that I may not trouble any one
more;" and the poor little sufferer turned
her face to the wall, and sobbed as though
her heart were breaking.
At this Jim forgot for the moment his own
troubles in those of this poor little invalid.
His wrath rose against Jacques and his wife;
for selfish, wanting in right feeling and
principle as he was, Jim was not quite
heartless, and the evident sorrow of this little
girl roused his indignation-an anger which
awoke out of pity and sympathy.
Of course the lad could not understand a
word that had been spoken; but he could see
that the parents were unconcerned, while the
child wept either for grief or pain.
SActing on the impulse of the moment, and
forgetting that the only language he could
speak was a strange tongue to Claudine, he
put down his parcel and basket, and walked
across the room to the shelf-bed in the wall.
"Poor little gal!" he said, stroking the
thin hand and dark hair; "poor little gal!
I'll be bound they're a cruel lot, ain't they
now? I don't understand this heathenish
lingo of theirs, but it's made you cry, and
that's enough. I'll be kind to you, though;
you shan't have no cross words from me.
Yes, I'll be a brother to you, see if I ain't ?"
Jim had not only forgotten that Claudine
could not understand what he said, but he
had also lost sight of the fact that Jacques
could. A loud burst of coarse laughter re-
called this to his recollection.
Ah, mine brave! what good boy you be !"
he exclaimed, in mockery. Me and Victoire,
de wife, we are a cruel lot-hein! So be it
then, Monsieur de Judge! But you-you
who appear to know so well de parents' duty
to dere children-what say you to children's
to de parents? Say, what told you me,
Jeem, as we walked togedder to Port Ripple-
ton? Was it not your mudder dat you run
from ? Now, you ver good boy; what answer
you to dat?"
Jim hung his head. Jacques certainly had
the best of the argument. For the first time
he saw his own sin against his loving, tender
mother. It needed the dark back-ground of
his present surroundings to show him his
conduct, and himself as he really was.
In a Strange Land. 33
"The dinner is ready, Jacques," said
Victoire, as she set a large soup tureen on
the table. Does thy new servant eat with
us, my husband ?"
"No, he will wait until we have finished,"
replied the man.
So poor, weary, famished Jim sat on a
stool in the chimney corner, and looked on
ruefully while Jacques and his wife gorged
themselves with the thick soup and huge
hunches off the loaf; after which followed a
dish of fruit, a little of which, with some
S bread and a cup of milk, was given to poor
When they had dined, the remains of the
stew, and a hard stale remnant of yesterday s
loaf, were handed to Jim, who devoured the
food eagerly, as he sat in the chimney corner.
He would have been glad of some more, but
no more was forthcoming; and as soon as he
had finished his scanty meal, Jacques said,
Now, Jeem, you shall come and see me
work, and learn de trade dat is mine." So
saying, he took up the cage of sparrows, and
led the way into the most curious room that
Jim had ever seen in his life.
i,;rr..i,'.s Or anaris ?
S- 'T was a long room for its
S. width, and was lighted
only by a skylight in the
roof. There was no fur-
niture whatever save a
couple of three-legged
S stools, but all four walls
were covered with cages
containing small birds of
various kinds. Canaries
of every shade, from pure orange or pale
lemon to brownish buff; linnets, goldfinches,
bullfinches, larks, thrushes, and blackbirds.
There was also a huge cage of sparrows,
even bigger than the one Jacques had brought
from England with him. Evidently sparrows
formed a very important part of his stock in
"What a lot of birds!" remarked Jim,
looking round the room.
"But yes; de birds dey is my business,"
iS2parrows or Canaries? 85
replied Jacques. "I buy birds, I rear birds,
p I catch birds, I make birds, and best of all,
mine boy, I sell dem. See now, Jeem; dese
little brown tings dat have make de voyage,
must go into de sparrows' big hotel here.
Hold de cage so, wis de door open."
Jim did as he was told, and one by one the
sparrows were coaxed or driven into the larger
cage, where the little English chirpers were
noisily welcomed by their voluble French
"De food for all de birds keeps in dat
corner," said Jacques, "and fresh water at de
pump. Dis morning' I show you how to clean
de cages, put sand and all, and to-morrow and
after, you shall do all yourself; and now mark
well where I put seed and where sop, and de
birds dat has chopped meat or wums, or cat-
pillars, and spider, and de eggs of ant. And
later shall you go out and sell de birds. But
first it needs that I make some assorted
couples, and dis means one canary of nature,
and one of art."
Jim said nothing. Indeed, he hardly took
in what his master was saying, for he was
staring round the room, and his ears were
almost deafened by the noise of the birds.
"To make assorted couple," went on
Jacques, "you take one canary; and suiting
the action to the word, he opened the door of
a cage, and took out a little bird of mingled
yellow and greenish brown plumage, and
dexterously popped it into a small wood and
wire cage and shut it in.
"Dis little gentleman is a canary, but a
common sort. Now we shall give him a mate
of a sort yet more common."
So saying, the Frenchman stole his hand
swiftly into the sparrows' hotel, as he called
it, caught one of the little brown babblers, aid
slipped it into what looked like a tiny iron
wire toast rack, only that it was closed in at
one end, and had a door at the other.
The thing was so very small, that the bird
could only just stand in it. It could not turn
nor flutter, being closely pent in on all sides and
above, pressed against the wide-spaced Lars.
"Dis names himself de colour cage," ex-
plained Jacques. "Now observe, mine Jeem,
what artist is your master."
And taking a brush and a cup of specially
mixed yellow colouring matter, he proceeded
to paint the sparrow, and in a few minutes
had transformed the dusky stranger into a
very presentable canary, which would have
imposed upon anyone except a bird-fancier.
Sparrows or Canaries ? 87
Jim looked on in silent wonder while
Jacques put the last touches to this novel
work of art, and then hung the colouring cage
and its poor little sham canary tenant on a
hook under the open skylight to dry the paint.
"So," said Jacques, addressing the spar-
row, So, my little friend; stay you dere, and
make dry quick dat fine coat of your, for Jeem
shall take you out dis fine day and sell you."
By the time Jacques had cleaned out the
cages, and fed the birds, over an hour and a
half had passed, and it was about two o'clock
in the afternoon.
"Now shall you begin to earn your bread,"
said Jacques. "Jeem, mine boy, it is not
late. Here, take dese cages, and go out and
sell de birds where you can. Dese t'ree
couples is five francs de couple; dose two is
seven; dis is ten; and dese small cages wis
one bird is only thirty sous-franc and half.
You may say dat dey all sing like de angels."
While his master was speaking, Jim was
closely examining the various birds, as the
cages were put together and bound firmly
with a strap.
"These cheap ones is spadgers, then," said
he at last. "And them couples at what you
call five francs, is one proper yaller bird, and
one painted spadger, and the t'others at seven
is both proper; is that it, Mr. Jack?"
"Ah! what ver sharp boy dis is!" ex-
claimed Jacques. "What treasure I have
find in heem! But see here! I teach you de
moneys of de country. Dis is piece of ten
sous, called fifty centimes-half franc. Next
come franc-ver like your shillin'-and dis
big old grandfader of a money is de five franc
piece. And here," pulling some copper coins
out of his pocket, "is one sou-half penny,
and piece of two sous-penny. Now shall you
understand to count de money you receive."
"Then I'm to go now-am I, Mr. Jack ? "
"Yes-but wait one little minute. You
have English money; give it to me."
Jim's face fell. "I ain't got much," he
said, sulkily. "Nor I don't see why I should
give it up."
"Ah good-I see sneered Jacques. "Dis
so charming boy is to be fed and treated as
milord, and trusted moreover with birds to
sell; and who can say dat dis same charming
boy shall not put de money in his pocket and
run away from poor Jacques as he ran from
his mudder? Nay, my ver sharp Jeem; I
must have something for de security. Give me
Sparrows or Canaries? 39
"So-one, two, five shillin'. Ver good!
And your clothes in parcel dat make twenty
more. Now take off dat coat, and put on dis
blouse, and despatch-go! If you sell big
lot birds, you shall have big lot supper. If
few birds, den likewise few supper. Au revoir,
Smine dear Jeem."
Jim was still weary, giddy, and queer from
the voyage, and would greatly have preferred
lying down to rest instead of going out into
the streets of a strange foreign town to sell
birds. But he dared not disobey Jacques;
and though it could scarcely be said that he
obeyed with a good grace, yet still he did obey.
The Frenchman had helped him to get the
strapped-up cages on to his back, and had
tied little tickets on to them to remind him of
the prices he was to ask for the birds. But
just as he was leaving the house, the lad
hesitated, turned to Jacques and said timidly,
"I don't know as it's quite fair, Mr. Jack,
to go and sell a common, rubbishy spadger
for a canary. I wish you'd please to do the
dirty work yourself-if you don't mind; I
ain't used to it."
Jacques turned upon him fiercely.
"Yes, dat say you true !" he cried. "You
not used to no kind of work, not dirty nor yet
clean. But now shall you come to know what
it mean, and who but Jacques Le-Gros-Pois-
son shall teach you! Now go wisout more
word, and see dat you bring back de full
pocket of moneys."
Another moment, and Jim Norris was out of
the dirty court in a street which ran up fur-
ther into the town, and down towards the
harbour. He looked all around him, carefully
noting the position of various objects, so as to
know the place again when he was trying to
find his way back. Then walking up the
street a little way, he turned off to his right,
along a quieter thoroughfare which soon
merged into a pretty country road.
In the distance, upon the top and sides of a
wooded hill, he could see some nice-looking
villas; and longing to escape for a while from
the town, he resolved to wend his way up to
these houses, and try to sell his birds there.
As he trudged along in this direction, his
thoughts were very busy with the strange new
life that had begun for him. He could not
but confess to himself that he both distrusted
and feared his new master, the more so, as
now he felt that the man had him completely
in his power..
He says his name-in that outlandish
Sparrows or Canaries? 41
lingo, means the big fish," said Jim to him-
self. Well, the big fish have got me now,
and no mistake! And I do declare if that
ain't like Jonah again! "
Jim did not find the discovery very com-
forting. Somehow it seemed to set his con-
science working-the conscience that had
been asleep so long. So far, the story of the
disobedient prophet and his own adventure
seemed only too much alike.
Both Jonah and he had fled from duties to
which they objected. Both had embarked on
the sea. Jonah had been swallowed by one
big fish, Jim taken possession of by another.
"Yes," muttered the lad to himself, "it's
just that there prophet over again, and enough
to give one the creeps to think of it And
he trudged on, trying to put away these
troublesome thoughts from his mind.
About half an hour's walk brought him to
the first house on the side of the hill. There
was a garden in the front of it, and two
young ladies were at work there, washing the
standard rose-trees, and clearing off the green
fly that so often infests them.
Jim approached the gate, touched his cap,
and said, "Any birds to-day, ladies? I've
got some nice canaries."
Why, Janet," said one of the girls, the
lad speaks English; and yet he's dressed in a
blue blouse like one of the French peasants."
"Yes, it is strange," replied Janet. "Call
him, Elsie, and let's look at his birds. Papa
was saying only this morning that we wanted
some more for the aviary."
Elsie ran to the gate and told Jim to come
in. "You must be an English boy," said she,
as Jim touched his cap again, and said,
"Yes, miss, that's what I am," replied the
lad, with a smile; for it was pleasant and
comforting to him to meet, in this strange
land, with some one from his own country,
after the queer English of his new master.
"Show us your birds, my boy," said
Janet, coming up. "What for this pair?"
she asked, pointing to a cage. Oh, I see,"
as she caught sight of the ticket; ten francs.
Rather dear, it seems to me."
They're a rare sort, miss; pure breed and
trained singers," said Jim, romancing a little,
in his great desire to sell the birds.
"No, it's too much to give; besides we
want several;" replied Janet. "What is the
price of these?" and she singled out a cage
containing one of Jacques' assorted couples.
Sparrows or Canaries? 43
"Them's five francs the pair, miss; just
half the cost of t'others."
"Why is that, I wonder!" said Elsie,
looking into Jim's face with two honest, clear,
blue eyes. The boy coloured up to the roots
of his hair, but did not answer.
I suppose the birds are not of such a good
kind," suggested Janet.
Yes, miss, yes, that's just it," assented Jim,
with a sigh of relief; "they ain't near so
good, not near."
Still I think we'll have this pair," said the
young lady, a little surprised at the lad's
manner. "And one of those seven franc
couples as well, please."
Jim carefully detached the two cages from
the strap, and pocketed his twelve francs joy-
fully. He was just moving off to the gate again,
when Elsie called, "You look very tired, poor
boy, sit down and rest on this garden seat,
and I will get you a glass of milk to drink."
Do you live far from here ? asked Janet,
when her sister had gone for the milk.
No, miss, only in the town there," replied
"What part of the town?" inquired the
girl. "We are often there, all of us, and
Elsie and I go in twice a week regularly to see
4 1 Jiin.
a poor sick child. We know the place well.
What's your address ?"
"I'm quite a stranger here, miss, bein' as
how I only come to-day. I don't know the
name of the street my master lives in, nor I
can't pronounce his own name neither-not
rightly. I call him Mr. Jack Poison, but he
says his real name means the big fish."
Why, Elsie," cried Janet, as her sister
returned with the glass of milk, which she
handed to Jim with a smile. "Elsie, this
boy's master must be Jacques Le-Gros-Pois-
son, poor little Claudine's father."
Then turning again to Jim, she said,
"Has your master got a sick daughter? A
dear little patient girl who lies on a shelf
bed ? "
"Yes, miss, that's right; and now I think
of it, I remember hearing' Mr. Jack and the
missis too calling' her Clawed-in, for I thought
what's that for a Christian's name! "
"Well, my boy, if that's where you live, we
may see you again very soon," said Elsie. And
taking the now empty glass from the boy's
hand, she said good-bye to him, and Jim left
the garden, realising, as he walked away, that
after all, his pleasure at meeting these kind
ladies, was nothing to the pain and shame
Sparrows or Canaries? 45
that he felt at the fraud he had been the
means of practising upon them.
And now, instead of looking forward with
delight to meeting them again, there was
nothing he dreaded more, for he knew that
in a day or two they were sure to discover
that one bird of the assorted couple, was only
a poor little brown sparrow, and then-oh
then-what would they think of him ?
Jim called at several other houses, and sold
some more birds; so it was with a greatly
lightened load that he returned that evening
just as the twilight was turning sea and shore
to a soft misty grey.
Twenty-one francs for de first day Dat is
not bad !" said Jacques, as Jim delivered over
his takings. You shall have, mine Jeem, plenty
supper. But tell me where you sell de birds."
Jim described the road, and the houses on
the hill. But when he said at which house
he had disposed of the assorted pair of birds,
the Frenchman's face underwent a frightful
change of expression.
What have you did! he shrieked, stamp-
ing his great foot with its wooden sabot. "I
repeat what have you did! You have ruin
me! But stay-I have idea! I can excuse
mineself; it is all right. Ah yes; ver well,
Jeem, go in kitchen now, and mine wife will
give you supper."
So the lad had his supper, and afterwards
was glad to lie down on an old mattress in a
corner of the bird-room; and while the mice
ran about all that night, picking up the seed
and crumbs that fell from the cages, the weary
boy, forgetting his fears and his shame for a
while, slept heavily, and dreamed that he was
really Jonah, after all.
He thought a storm was raging, and that
the sailors of the tossed vessel were swinging
him to and fro, before heaving him overboard.
While there, in the green and blue waves, the
great fish was waiting for him, just showing
an enormous head, and a face the giant coun-
terpart of Jacques Le-Gros-Poisson, with
cavernous mouth gaping wide for its prey.
And ever the while, overhead, fluttered a
confused cloud of sparrows and canaries, be-
wildering Jim so, that at last he could not tell
them apart, though in some strange way it
seemed to him that his life depended upon his
Thus, full of the tangle of dreams, the first
night wore away; and with the dawn the lad
was awakened by the twitter and chirp and
song of the birds that shared his room.
Out of th 3 Depths.
i7.- T HE t morning Jim was
'- up early, and did all the
I'~ 'li cleaning out of the cages
"' and feeding of the birds
before breakfast. Then
Si! afterwards Victoire called
him to chop wood and get
water from the pump;
after which she set him
to cleaning saucepans and
All this time Jacques was lying in bed in
a little closet room which opened out of the
kitchen; but when Jim had done all that the
woman required of him, and Victoire had
gone to market, Jacques called out,
Now, Jeem, the day advances; go, take
cages, all de same like day before. Get
ready, and I shall see de birds before you
take your depart; for dis minute I rise from
So Jim went into the long room to make a
selection of birds; but he was puzzled by the
many different kinds, and so bewildered by
the noise they made, that he was a long
while getting together the cages he meant to
take with him. He was scarcely ready when
he heard the street door open, and heard a
voice in the kitchen say in English, "Ah,
good-morning, Monsieur Poisson. Your wife
is not at home, I see; but how is our little
"As usual, mademoiselle, I tank you,"
replied Jacques; "but she shall respond for
herself." Then followed some words in French
spoken quite softly by another lady, probably
to the child.
The first speaker, whose voice Jim re-
cognised as that of the young lady whom her
sister had called Janet the day before, went
on. "Tell me, Monsieur Poisson, have you
not in your employ here an English lad? "
"Alas mademoiselle, yes," replied the man,
"to my sorrow it is true."
"And why to your sorrow?" asked Janet
"Ah, dear lady! Well may you make
dis inquire!" responded Jacques, plain-
tively. In de goodness of mine heart did I
Out of the Depths. 49
bring dis stranger to my country, and now I
find dat he is bad heart to de core, like rot
apple- and all my charity have trowed
"Why, what has the poor lad done?"
asked Janet. "He did not look such a very
- Mademoiselle," said Jacques, impressively,
"de crimes dat boy have commit I cannot
number; and one I did found out yesterday,
have broke de poor heart of me. Figure to
yourself, dear lady, dat dis boy paint one of
my common birds dat I sell for cooking in
pie -or for roast for invalid. Dis boy he
paint de bird and sell heem for canary, and
den I discover dat it was you dat make pur-
chase of dis hyp'crite bird, you, dat I would
Snot deceive, not for noting. Ah, mademoiselle,
how I could weep when I think how wicked is so
young boy, and how he get me into trouble."
"It is sad indeed," replied Miss Milward,
"and very strange too that he should begin
with these deceptions as soon as he arrives
here. My sister and I noticed that one of the
new birds looked very queer this morning after
its bath; and this explanation of yours ac-
counts for it. But I am truly distressed,
Monsieur Jacques, to learn this of the lad,"
And there was a tone of real sadness in the
young lady's voice, that cut Jim to the heart.
It was bad enough to have deceived the
ladies by selling them the sham canary; but
for them to think he had planned the de-
ception, and painted the sparrow for it, was
more than he could bear, and even the fear
of Jacques could not make him submit to this
false witness against him.
Flinging down a cage he was holding, he
burst into the kitchen with a flushed face and
"I've heard what was bein' said, miss,"
cried he, almost choking with rage, and it's
all lies-nothin' but lies Why, I never seed
no singin' birds to speak of, afore I come
here, and never in all my life did I so much
as hear of painting' 'em up, till I sets eyes on
that there Mr. Jack Poison a-doin' of one
yesterday; and as for- "
"Jeem, you ver bad liar boy! Go away
back to your room! thundered Jacques.
" You shall not defame your master dus."
But Jim went on without heeding, I was
wicked, I know I were, miss, to sell a spadger
for a canary, even if this man did order me
to; and God knows I'm punished enough for
that and other sins you can't know of But
Out of the Depths. 51
don't, miss, 0 please don't believe I'm all this
Frenchman says, 'cause I ain't so bad as
that; I ain't, truly."
"I should like to believe you, my lad," said
Janet Milward, kindly. Come, Elsie, it will
be better for us to go now, and come again
later, when you can have a quiet hour with
Claudine. We can do no good by remaining
As soon as the visitors were gone, Jacques
turned upon Jim, his face purple with passion.
So dis is your tank to me dat take you of
charity! he cried. "But wait bit! old
Jacques shall- "
But here he was interrupted by the en-
trance of a man inquiring for some birds,
and Jacques had to bottle up his wrath, and
lead the way into the bird-room, while Jim
was left alone with Claudine.
The poor little girl was white and trembling;
for though she did not know what her father
was saying, she could see that he was in a
passion with Jim, and her tender heart ached
for the lad who only the day before had shown
her pity and sympathy.
She beckoned him to her now; and when
he approached and took the little hand in
his, she eagerly pointed first to the door that
led into the bird-room, and then to the one
that opened on the court.
The child's looks and gestures were so easy
to understand, and the expression of fear on
her face was so plain, that the lad felt con-
firmed in his resolution to fly for ever from
the evil influence of his new master. But he
suddenly remembered that his money and
clothes were no longer in his possession, and
that he was thus helpless. For what could
he do without a penny in his pocket, and
not even a thing that he could sell to pay
his passage over to England? No, he was.
tied to this miserable life as securely as any
one of those poor birds in the next room.
He tried to show Claudine why he could
not follow the advice she was mutely giving
him. He turned his pockets inside out to
show their emptiness, then pointed to his
blouse and shook his head sadly, to indicate
that his coat was gone.
But as he did so, the child's face suddenly
brightened. She eagerly stretched her hand
towards a cupboard in the wall, the key of
which was in the lock. Jim rose and opened
the cupboard door, and there, on a shelf was
his purse, and the paper parcel of clothes in
a corner with the old coat,
Out of. the Depths. 53
With a smothered cry of joy, the lad seized
his recovered treasures. He slipped off his
blouse, rolled it up, and threw it into the
cupboard. He put on his coat, tucked the
parcel under his arm, and put the purse into
his pocket. Then he stooped over Claudine,
gratefully kissed her pale cheek, and was
just opening the street door, when Jacques,
who had completed a bargain with his visitor,
and was returning from the bird-room, caught
sight of the fugitive, and took in the situation
at a glance.
With an oath he gave one spring forward,
caught the boy by the collar, and growling
like a wild beast, shook him violently. Then
he dragged him to the cupboard, opened it,
thrust the lad in, and turned the key upon
Jim heard the little girl sobbing and crying
in entreaty on his behalf,; but by the rough
tones of her father's replies, he could tell that
her pleadings were in vain; and soon the
voices were silent, and Jacques went out.
The cupboard was shallow, and the space
under the shelf where the man had thrust
Jim was narrow. The walls and floor were
covered with dust and mould, and the smell
"Why, if this ain't like Jonah again, after
the big fish had swallowed him! groaned
poor Jim. "This place ain't much better."
But with the thought of Jonah, came also the
recollection of what Jonah did when he felt
himself swallowed up, gone down into the
And Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God.'
That's what Jonah did," said Jim to himself.
"And there ain't nothing' for me but to do
It was a strange prayer that went up to God
from that dark foul hole where Jacques had
thrust him; but it was the cry of a repentant
heart. He felt that, like Jonah of old, he
was justly punished. He recalled with shame
and sorrow all the steps in the sinful course
that had led him into this misery.
First the idle, wasted year in which self-
indulgence had unfitted him for effort of any
kind, and made him selfish. Then the pride
and self-will that rebelled against the employ-
ment provided for him; then his repeated
falsehoods, his cruel deception of his mother,
and his heartlessness in leaving her to the
sorrow of not knowing what had become of him.
Yes, he had disobeyed God's voice when
called to work; and now how much worse was
Out of the Depths. 55
his case And all because he had chosen his
own way, rather than God's; his own will
instead of God's will, finding, in so doing,
like Saul of Tarsus, that it was hard for him
to kick against the pricks.
In bitter tears and cries, in humble con-
fession of sin, and entreaties for forgiveness
through the Saviour, the hours passed.
Jim heard Victoire come home, and chatter
loudly to Claudine as she prepared dinner.
Then Jacques returned, and Jim heard the
clatter of plates, and again Claudine's voice
pleading for Jeem, and her father's laugh of
contempt, and the Non, Non, which Jim
supposed meant no to her request.
No food was given him, and he turned
faint and sick. The air became suffocating,
and the boy's head began to throb frightfully.
Was he going to die in this horrible place ?
Should he never see his mother again?
Never ask her forgiveness, and tell her that
by God's help he meant to lead a new life ?
Was it too late after all for him to try
and redeem the past?
And then there came a strange buzzing in
the lad's ears, as of thousands of swarming
bees- And there, cramped together in that
evil smelling hole, he at last lost consciousness.
"ci Yl'HEN Jim Norris came to him-
S i-..i -' self he looked all round him
in amazement. He was lying
o tin a narrow white bed, one of
'. number in a long room with
S white-washed walls. By his
bedside sat a young lady whom he recognized
as Miss Elsie Milward, and near her stood a
tall, dark, grave Frenchman and a white-
The gentleman said something in French
to the young lady, and she stooped down over
the boy and said softly, "You are feeling
better, Jim, are you not ? The kind doctor
wants to know."
"Yes, miss, thank you; I'm just a bit
queerish still; but I'll be all right soon.
Please, miss, what's this place, and how did I
come here ? "
"This is the town hospital," replied Elsie.
"I happened to call at Jacques Poisson's
house in the afternoon, and found Claudine
sobbing and crying, and no one else at home.
She told me that her father had put you into
the cupboard for trying to run away. I
opened the cupboard door, and found you
were quite unconscious. You were too heavy
for me to move by myself, so, leaving the
cupboard door and the window of the room
open to give you air, I ran off in search of a
policeman and a carriage.
I told the policeman the story, and he
came with me to Poisson's cottage, lifted you
out of the cupboard, and carried you to the
carriage, and I drove with you here. Just as
we were driving off Jacques came home, and
the policeman took charge of him, and led
him away to the lock-up, till such time as he
could be brought up for trial, not only on the
charge of cruelty and intention to defraud, but
for other misdemeanors, I believe, as well.
And now, Jim," added Elsie, you must
not ask any more questions, but lie still and
take this: look what beautiful soup Nurse has
Only one thing more, miss," said the lad,
raising his languid eyes to Elsie's face. You
don't believe I painted that there bird, do
you ? I did wrong; I were very wicked, miss,
to sell it to you for a real yaller one; but oh,
it wasn't me as coloured the spadger to make
a canary of him."
No, I am sure you did not, Jim," replied
Elsie, for since I saw you this morning I have
met a lady who was deceived, in precisely the
same way, some weeks ago, and by a man
answering to the description of Jacques; so
there was no more doubt left in my mind as
to who had dressed up our poor little sham
"But now, my boy, I must go home. Lie
still here for the present. You will be kindly
treated, and no harm can come to you. I
will try and run in to see you again to-mor-
row. Good-bye, Jim." And Elsie Milward
Just then a young fellow in the next bed
raised himself on his elbow, and looked Jim
full in the face.
"Well, I never! he exclaimed. "If this
ain't cur'us To think of Jim Norris bein'
here in France "
"And to think of you bein' here too, Joe
Carter cried Jim. "You that went for a
soldier two year agone. How did you get to
this place ?"
"Easy enough," replied the young man.
" I've an aunt livin' in St. Malo married to
a Frenchman ; and havin' leave just now, I
came over to spend my holiday here. I hadn't
been in the place not three days afore I were
took ill, and that's why I'm in hospital. But
I'm a getting' on fine, and maybe I'll be let
out in a day or two, and then I'm agoin'
home for a bit, afore I returns to my dooty."
Then if you goes back to England afore I
does," said Jim, great tears welling up in his
eyes, will you go to my mother, and tell her
where you met me? Tell her-please tell
her, Joe- but here the boy's voice broke,
and he burst into sobbing.
The Nurse was at his side in a moment.
You must not talk to him yet," she said to
Joe in French. He is still very weak, and
cannot bear it. By and by, since you seem
to be countrymen and old friends, you shall
be permitted to converse."
The next day Elsie Milward came again,
and to her Jim made a full confession of all
his wrong-doing, and told her how he was
longing to get back to his mother, and to
begin to lead a new life. He told her, too,
how the story of Jonah-the last thing he
had looked at in his despised, neglected Bible
at home-had seemed to follow him, and in
some ways had appeared to apply to his own
"Well now," said Elsie, smiling, since
you can trace such a likeness between the
prophet's story and yours, so far as the sins
and their punishment are concerned, try and
imitate Jonah, too, in the obedience which he
showed when God's command came to him
the second time. From this time forward,
Jim, whenever God calls you by the voice of
duty-even though it may be unpleasant or
even painful duty-obey promptly, feeling
sure that He will not only make things pos-
sible to you, but give you real and lasting
satisfaction-true happiness in doing what He
But it's so very hard to do right, and to
be good, miss," said Jim, "even when one
really wants to, as I do now. I'm so afeared
I shall go all wrong again."
So you will, Jim, if you depend only upon
yourself. There is only one way in which you
can be strong enough to carry out your
good resolutions," said Elsie, earnestly.
" Remember, my lad, that God's strength and I
God's willingness to help are infinite, and
that you can have His Holy Spirit's help and
guidance if you will: that Spirit, the Com-
forter, which Jesus promised to send to His
disciples, and which, abiding in the heart of
every true disciple-to this very day-can
lead us-will lead us-into all truth.
"So now, Jim, now-while your heart is
tender; while you are able to see plainly
what your sin has been before God, and what
His dealings with you are teaching: now,
without delay, give your heart to Him, your
life into His blessed keeping, so that you may
have His hand to hold on to when sin would
tempt you aside, His might to strengthen you
when you are weak. Jesus loves you, Jim.
Whatever you have been in the past-what-
ever you may be now-Jesus loves you, for
He came (never forget that, dear boy) not to
call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
After Elsie had gone, Jim lay quite still,
thinking over all she had said. Everything
seemed very plain to him now, and his heart,
at first so stubborn and rebellious, was melted
as he prayed once more for pardon through
the Redeemer, and for grace to refuse the evil
and to choose the good, in the years that
might be to come.
Three days after Jim was brought into the
hospital, Joe Carter was able to leave for his
aunt's house, and on the following evening he
sailed for England, taking with him a long
letter from Jim to his mother, whom Joe had
promised to see, and put the letter into her
The next day, late in the afternoon, Widow
Norris was sitting at her window, sewing.
Her face was very pale and sad, for no tidings
had come of her lost boy, and she had begun
to fear that he must be dead.
Suddenly the garden gate clicked, and look-
ing up she saw a young soldier walking quickly
up the gravel path, and recognized him as Joe
Carter, the son of an old friend of her own.
What could he be coming here for ? Was
he perhaps bringing tidings of Jim ?
For a moment her heart seemed to stop
beating, and she turned faint with fear. But
controlling herself with an effort, she got up
and ran out to meet him.
What is it, Joe ? she said, grasping his
hand; do you bring me tidings of my Jim ?"
I do, Mrs. Norris," replied the young man.
"And he lives? He is well ?" cried the
"He lives, he will soon be quite well,"
answered Joe. "Here is a letter which he
said I was to be sure to give you."
Joe followed Mrs. Norris into the house,
and told her all he knew about her son. Jim's
letter gave her yet fuller particulars, and the
poor woman's heart was filled with joy and
thankfulness, not only at the near prospect
of her boy's return, but at the change of heart
which showed itself in every line of the
humble, contrite letter he had written.
And now, what yet remains to be told of
our young Jonah and his friends ?
When Jim was well enough to travel, Elsie
and Janet Milward provided him with his
passage money, and sent him off on board the
steamer for England.
But first Elsie took him to say good-bye to
Claudine, who, after her father was put in
prison, had been carried to a children's home,
and placed in the infirmary, where she was
very happy and well cared for.
Jim could not of course talk to her, but he
kissed her and stroked her hand, and so bade
her farewell, feeling that he should never see
the little girl again in this life, but hoping
that one day he might meet her in heaven,
freed for ever from that poor suffering body of
hers, and gathered, with many other little
lambs, safely into the Good Shepherd's fold.
What a joyful meeting it was when Jim
Norris came home to his mother How sweet
and fresh looked the dear old home, after
the dirt and squalor and misery of Jacques'
house. How kind and cordial was his Uncle
Tom's reception of him !
Not a word of reproach or blame greeted
the truant lad, nor was the subject of the
apprenticeship mentioned until Jim himself
said, Mother and uncle, will you please tell
Mr. Gussett that if he'll be good enough to
overlook my running' away and bad behaviour,
I'll be thankful for my articles to be signed,
and I'll begin work at once. I ain't agoin' to
be Jonah never no more, bein' as how I know
now to my cost, that it ain't no manner of
use-no, nor pleasure neither-to think of
fleein' from the presence of the Lord.
I've learned that the Lord is everywhere,
and there ain't nothing' nor nobody as is hid
from Him. Bat bless His name, I'm not
afeared of Him now, and I wouldn't hide from
Him if I could, for there's help and comfort
too in them words as was so terrible afore-
"THOU GOD SEEST ME "
LONDON KNIGHT, PRINTER, MIDDLE STREET, ALERSGATE, E.C.