The Baldwin Library
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OUT OF CABBAGE COURT
MARY E. ROPES
Au hor of 'My Golden Shifi,' Ten Steps U1ward,' Etc., Etc.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56, PATERNOSTER Row; AND 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
BUTLER & TANNER,
THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,
FROM, AND LONDON.
WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAIN ?'
S ELL, here we all be! Punctual too; none
of us hasn't had to wait for t'other. Now
What do you say, chil'en ? Shall we do
that we talked about, or shall we go on
with the life we've been a-livin' of? Now's the
time to make up our minds!'
The speaker was an under-sized, slim, knowing-
looking boy about fourteen years of age. His
pale, sharp features were full of intelligence, and
his poor threadbare clothes and rusty felt hat had
a comical air of jauntiness from the way they were
The boy's companions, whom he had so patron-
isingly addressed as 'chil'en,' were, respectively, a
gaunt weedy lad, a little older than himself, but a
head taller, and a little girl with an unnaturally
long dress hanging about her feet, and a sad wist-
ful face, peering out from the ghostly recesses of a
huge black bonnet.
Yes, that's what it comes to, Tag,' replied the tall
boy; 'and for my part, all the mind I've got is
6 When shall we three meet again ?'
made up. I can't live no longer with the old
feller what calls hisself my dad's brother, for I've
been that scolded and beat, and pitched into, as
now I hardly knows who I be, or what I'm a-doin'
of. Why, only yesterday, a gent I met some-
wheres asked me my name, and for the life of me
I couldn't remember anything but what you and
the rest in Cabbage Court calls me, and says I,
' Rag, sir."'
Rag ?" laughs the gent. "What sort of a
name is that ? though I don't know," says he, "but
that it suits you pretty well;" and them bright
eyes of his falls on my clothes, which is little
better than tatters.'
'"Please, sir, says I, arter a minute, "my real
name's Richard Adams Gough, but I misremem-
bered it at first, bein' as how I'm treated so hard
at home that my head don't seem to hold any-
thing it oughter."'
'" Poor fellow," says the gent, and with that he
gives me sixpence, and a pat on the back, and off
'Well, now, if that ain't quite a thrillin' story!'
remarked Tag, with a comical grin. 'Now, Bob-
tail, what do you mean to do?' And he turned
towards the little girl, his face softening as he did
I can't go back, neither,' said she, her sad eyes
brimming over with tears. 'Since father 'listed
VW/en shall we t/i-ce meet again?' 7
for a soldier, my step-mother's been unkinder nor
ever. She sends me out to beg, and punishes me
because I won't tell lies. And I never will, you
know, 'cause I promised mother that, come what
would, I'd try and hold on to the right. But if
mother can see me (and sometimes I think she
can), she must know how very hard it's been. Yes,
there ain't anything for it but just to run away.'
'Then we're all of one mind,' said Tag; 'for I've
had about as much of father as my back can stand,
and one person less in that bit of a attic will be a
kindness to a man what comes home screwed most
every night, and feels hisself called upon to tumble
round general. At least, he won't fall a-top of me
when he do fall, this evening. And Tag gave a
hard chuckle, and snapped his fingers.
A policeman passing down the crowded side-
street at the corner of which the three young
people were standing, glanced at them disapprov-
ingly, his last and longest look resting on Tag, who
returned it with an impudent leer and wink.
'You didn't know afore as I were such a 'and-
some feller, did you, Rag?' said he, in a loud
whisper. 'Yet look at the bobby admirin' of me
to that extent as he could hardly take them green
eyes of his, off of me. And such an affection'
touchin' look in his face too, as much as to say,
"My wery dear young gent, allow r.e to have
the pleasure of takin' you up!"'
8 When shall we three meet again? '
Rag gave a feeble watery smile, and the police-
man walked on, looking over his shoulder at
intervals, a proof of suspicion which Tag hailed
with delight, for he grinned from ear to ear when-
ever his eyes and those of the policeman met.
As the burly guardian of the peace disappeared
at last in the crowd, Tag's face assumed all at
once an expression of profound gravity.
'Now, chil'en, the sooner we're off on our travels
the better,' he said, with an air of importance.
'Here's London all afore us, and outside of that
green trees, and grass, and country.'
'Can't we all go together?' asked Bobtail.
'Oh dear no!' replied Tag, 'so far from that, my
dear, we must all go separate. There ain't one of
us as is fit for t'other's life; and you, with that little
goody face of your'n, would never pass for a sister
of mine, no, nor Rag's neither. We must go
different ways, and maybe we won't never see
each other no more, nor Cabbage Court, where
we've been livin' so blissful along of the rats, and
blackbeetles, and the rest of the areystocracy.'
Tag spoke lightly,'but his face had lost its hard-
ness for the moinent, and he held out his slender
hands to his companions, glancing first at one and
then at the other, with a look that had in it a shade
of pain and sorrow.
'Good-bye, and good luck to you, chil'en! Rag,
my boy, keep up your sperits, and don't be for-
When shall we three meet again ?' 9
getting' that fine-soundin' name of your'n no more.
Bobtail, your name's Harrie, ain't it? Short for
Harriet. But you'll always be Bobtail to me,
'cause I never see you save in a dress long enough
and every ways suitable for your grandmother ; and
when you walk you kick it up behind, as one o'
them screw steamers does the water when she's
a-goin' down the river.'
'Good-bye, Tag,' said Rag, his face working
nervously. 'Good-bye, Harrie; I shall cry like a
pump if I stay another minute;' and he turned
away and stumbled over the crossing to the
opposite street, his long unsteady limbs totter-
ing at every step.
Tag and Bobtail still stood face to face, the lad
holding the little girl's hand in his, and looking
into the wistful great grey eyes where the tears
slowly welled up, and fell over cheeks whose
childish roundness was nearly all gone.
'Now look here, little un,' said Tag, assuming a
lively tone of remonstrance. 'This kind o' thing
ain't agoin' to help neither of us. If we're to seek
our fortunes, we must do it with a brave heart.
Cryin' don't better matters, unless you want one
of them big companies to give you a sitiwation
in the water-works. There now! That's right.
A smile were just what I wanted. Good-bye,
Bobtail dear, shake hands once more, then run
away up that street to the right, as fast as you
o1 VW/en shall we three meet again ?'
can go. A little girl like you can't come to no
great harm. Now then, what are you awaiting'
for? Off with you!'
Please, Tag, I'd like to kiss you just once,' said
the child, her little April face all wet with tears
Tag made a queer grimace, and ejaculated fer-
vently, 'Oh my!' but, stooping suddenly, he let
Harrie clasp her slender arms for a moment round
his neck, and touch his lips with her quivering
'God bless us, and take care of us all!' murmured
the little girl, and with one great sob, and a blind-
ing rush of tears, she turned away and walked
slowly up the street that Tag had pointed out,
holding a ragged pinafore to her face, and leaving
the boy looking after her with a strange expression
and a tell-tale moisture in his eyes.
A STALE TWOPENNY.
0 it's you as is goin' to turn mentisental, is
it? Thomas Alfred Groves, commonly
called Tag, I'm ashamed of yer !'
Thus addressing himself, the lad hastily
brushed his sleeve across his eyes as Bobtail's little
dejected figure disappeared, swallowed up in the
Now the last flutter of her long faded gown, as
it flapped, about the little feet encased in huge
boots, was gone, and Tag, realising that he was
alone, and that he must be off about his own
business, tilted his hat a little more on one side,
picked up a straw and put it in his mouth, and
then tucking his hands into his pockets, and trying
to look as knowing as possible, he sauntered up
a street leading westwards. But ever and anon,
as he walked along, Harrie's last words came back
to him, and he heard again the poor little plaintive
voice choking with grief, and saw the sad look in
the big grey eyes, when she had said, 'God bless
us, and take care of us all!'
'Like enough them words '11 hold good for her,'
12 A Stale Twopenny.
said Tag to himself. 'Nobody couldn't do no
harm to poor little Bobtail, leastways no one but
that there stepmother as she's left behind. Then,
as for Rag, he's a poor limp kind of a thing, like
his name, and if so be the Good Lord feels Hisself
bound to take care of folks as hasn't no notion of
takin' care of theirselves, why, Rag's the first that
He'll begin with. But I ain't the sort to be blest
and took care on,' soliloquised Tag; 'I warn't born
to-day, nor yet yesterday, and if them sparrers can
pick up a livin', why, so can I. And if them
sparrers can fly off the roof when they sees the
tom-cat a-comin', it'll go hard with me if I can't
keep free from the bobbies.'
Nevertheless, as the hours went by, and noon
passed and afternoon came, Tag began to lose the
proud sense of freedom in hunger and weariness,
and for the first time thoroughly to appreciate the
fact that he had cut himself adrift from even such
shelter as his miserable home had afforded; and
that he alone now was responsible for all that the
future might bring to him.
His step grew slower and less assured as he
wandered on, and just as the evening shadows were
gathering over the city, he stopped at the door of
a baker's shop, and hungrily eyed the loaves, rolls,
and buns, wishing that some of this plentiful pro-
vision were his.
Perhaps the pale thin face, with its odd expression
A Stale Twopenny. 13
of contempt for its own wretchedness, arrested the
baker's attention. At all events, after serving a
customer and seeing her out, he came a step
further, and meeting Tag's eager eyes, said, 'You
look hungry, my lad.' Tag grinned.
'Which for once appearances ain't deceivin','
said he. 'I haven't had a mossel between my lips
this day, and I've walked a goodish way too.'
'Tell me your name, my boy,' said the baker.
'Tain't quite so famous at present as I could
wish, sir,' replied Tag, unable to resist the tempta-
tion of a bit of fun at his own expense. 'In
general I goes by the name of Tag.'
'Tag ? Why, that isn't a name,' said the baker,
reaching down a substantial stale twopenny loaf
from a shelf.
Tag's eyes followed him, and his hunger
quickened his reply.
'No, sir, it ain't; my name is, or used to be,
Thomas Alfred Groves; T. A. G., sir, which I'm
told spells Tag, and Tag I've been for longer nor
I can remember.'
'Well, Thomas Alfred Groves, here's some
bread for you. You may sit down and eat it
here, if you like, while I ask you a few more
Tag did as he was told, taking the chair pointed
out, and munching the crusty loaf with evident
14 A Stale Twofenny.
'Where do you live ?' asked the baker.
Tag hesitated. To give the address of the
wretched home from which he had just escaped,
might lead to his being sent back to the old life.
So it was a moment or two before he replied:
'Well, sir, in a general way everywhere and
nowhere, as you may say; in fac', I'm a homelesss
wagrant-that's what the perleece calls 'em some-
times, I'm told;' and the boy gave a little chuckle,
which the dry bread-crumb speedily turned into
a vigorous choke.
The baker gave him a sounding slap on the back
to assist his recovery, then, as the choke subsided
once more into the laugh which had preceded it,
the man stood back a few paces, and looked at his
comical guest with astonishment.
'You're a queer one,' said he at last.
Tag dropped his eyes, and tried to look modest
'Now it so happens,' continued the baker, leaning
back against the counter with both hands behind
him, 'that just at this present time I'm in want of
a lad. The boy I had was taken ill, and was
obliged to leave me, and I really ought to get one
in his place. You seem sharp and clever enough,
and if you could only bring me a name and address
or two, where I could make some inquiries about
you, it might lead to your getting a situation.'
'There's only one person, sir, as have known
A Stale Twopenny. 15
me all my life, and could recommend me con-
scientious,' replied Tag, with painful gravity.
'And who may he be ?' inquired the baker, with
'His name, sir, not to deceive you, is Thomas
Alfred Groves; but may be, sir, his recommend
wouldn't be quite sufficient.'
The baker laughed outright. 'You young
monkey!' exclaimed he. 'You're too sharp by
half. I wouldn't have you now, not if her Majesty
herself gave you a character. Why, if I sent you
out with the rolls in a morning, I doubt if any of
them would get to the customers.'
"Pends on how you fed the lad as carried the
basket,' replied Tag demurely. 'But, sir,' he
added, rising from his seat, 'I know very well as
there's few indeed that'll take a boy and give him
this kind of work without a character, so I'll wish
you good-night, and thank you kindly for my
'Good-night to you,' said the baker; and, stand-
ing in his doorway, he watched until Tag's small.
slim figure was lost in the darkness.
FALLEN AMONG THIEVES.
iHE evening had deepened to night, and still
Tag was going along very weary and foot-
sore, and without a penny in his pocket,
while his spirits were perhaps at about as
low an ebb as they could be.
At last he came to a narrow street, out of which
opened several dark courts. There no one was
visible, except now and then a solitary pedestrian
on the side-walk. No policeman showed his broad
shoulders, or paced to and fro, with heavy meas-
ured tread, upon his beat; and, quite fagged out,
our poor Tag, his threadbare jauntiness fairly tired
to death, stole into one of these courts, and in a
corner of the dark archway that made the entrance
threw himself down.
The bare stones were under him, and nothing
covered his shivering form but the poor clothing
he wore ; still, from sheer weariness, he was asleep
in a few minutes, and never woke till the dim
London daylight stole into the court, and the hum
of the city began to resound in the distance like
the far-off buzzing of some gigantic bee.
Fallen among Ttieves.
Then, cold, stiff, and sore, Tag rose and stretched
his limbs, his teeth chattering to such an extent
that he feared he had caught the:ague wifh sleep-
ing on the damp stones.
Shivering and shaking, the lad crept out of the
court. The sky was leaden, and a cold rain was
To warm himself he set off running, and grad-
ually the blood began to circulate more freely, and
he felt the welcome return of warmth to every part
of his body.
But the restored circulation brought hunger, and
Tag's next thought was how he might satisfy the
terrible craving, which now seemed to take utter
possession of him.
An early milkman was going his rounds, and
Tag asked him very humbly (for all his wonted
assurance was gone, at least, for the time) if he
would give him a drink of milk, for he was faint
for lack of food. The milkman hesitated.
I ain't the master of these 'ere pails,' said he,
'but only the man as carries round to customers;
so, in a general way, I haven't no right to give
away a drop. But master he allows me half a
pint a day, bein' as how he's a Bible man, and
he says that somewhere there it's written, that
oxen treadin' out corn shan't be muzzled; mean-
in', as I take it, that folk as works for others
should share in what there is goin'. Now, since
Fallen among Thieves.
that half-pint is mine, I've the right to give, it
away; and you shall have it, my lad, for 'deed
you do look famished, and no mistake.'
So the good-natured old fellow measured out
the half-pint, and even took a piece of bread from
his pocket, and gave that too to the starving boy;
and never had food tasted so delicious to our poor
But even as he thanked the kind milkman, and
turned away from him, he saw the sparrows
settling down to pick up the crumbs which he
had dropped. Partially satisfied, and somewhat
refreshed, he watched them, dreamily considering
that he was like these little birds, going they
scarce knew whither, living they scarce knew how,
picking up a scrap here and a crumb there, to
keep life in them. And as he looked and pon-
dered, wistful tears rose in his eyes, and he caught
himself repeating, half-unconsciously, little Bob-
tail's last words, 'God bless us, and take care of
The exulting boastfulness, the confidence in his
own power and sharpness, that had filled his head
on the previous day, were seriously shaken, and he
felt humbled to think that with all his keen wits
he might have starved, had it not been for the
kindness and charity of a baker and a milkman.
And so the boy walked on and on for hours,
without any distinct aim or purpose, till once more
Fallen among Thieves. 19
the evening had come, and his thoughts, hitherto
bewildered and indefinite, began to take a more
'I wonder now what I can do for a livin'!' said
he to himself, as he wended his weary way.
'Beggin's uncertain, and one's liable to be took
up beside; and yet respectable folk won't engage
lads as hasn't no characters.'
So much absorbed was Tag in his own thoughts,
that he did not know he had been speaking aloud;
and he was also entirely unconscious of the pre-
sence of a lad, who had been following him for
some time. When Tag had spoken, this lad crept
nearer, listening eagerly.
'Yes,' said he, as Tag ceased speaking to him-
self. 'You're quite right. Most folks won't take
boys as hasn't no characters.'
Tag started, a little alarmed at having his
thoughts thus responded to.
The stranger gave a queer little smile.
'The thing would be,' he remarked, 'to get hold
of people what was that kind and charitable, as
they'd overlook the want of a character.'
'Of course,' replied Tag, with a bitter laugh.
'But then, that's just what I can't do. How's a
feller to find such people? Why, I haven't so
much as a friend to say a good word for me.'
'Yet 'tain't so impossible, after all, to find these
'ere charitable folks,' responded the lad. 'Maybe
Fallen among Thieves.
I could find you a place pretty soon, if so be you
wasn't too hard to please.'
'You find me a place!' exclaimed Tag. 'Why,
you never set eyes on me till just now, and I
might be a thief or-or-a acrobat, for aught you
'And so you think I can't see what you be,
'cause you don't carry it all wrote out on your
back, like Epps' Cocoa? Why, any one .with half
a eye can tell well enough that you're as clever
and sharp a boy as ever trod a London pavement.
Good-looking, beside, and with almost the air of a
Here the lad paused, and looked furtively at
Tag to see the effect of his words; and once more
the queer slight smile played for an instant round
his lips, as he saw his young companion hold his
head a little higher, straighten up his weary back,
and put on an ill-disguised smirk of satisfaction.
'Yes,' continued the stranger, 'folks in my line
of. life sees such a many faces, that pretty soon
they gets to spell out the characters behind em as
easy as though they was so many words; and so I
made out yours, and it ain't very far wrong, is it,
young 'un ?'
'No, you're right, I dare say,' replied Tag, try-
ing to look modest and to speak carelessly. 'But
now, what about that party as is to give me a
place ? '
Fallen among Thieves. 2
'You go too fast,' said the youth. 'Masters
ain't like stones, as can be picked up in the street
most anywhere. But, if you choose, you can
come with me to where I lives; and him that I
works for will try you a bit, if he feels like it, and
when he knows you-good and bad and all,-then,
maybe, if he takes a fancy to you, he may give
you some work, anything he finds you can do best.
Will you come ?'
Tag hesitated, he hardly knew why. Perhaps it
was an instinctive shrinking from danger, the draw-
ing back of the soul from an approaching evil.
'You needn't come, I'm sure,' continued the
mocking voice of the tempter. 'Nobody in their
senses wouldn't think of trying' to make a chap of
your manly sperit do what he don't want to, and I
ain't a-goin' to try. Make your own choice, my
fine gentleman, without considering' my feeling's too
much, only don't blame me arterwards, if you
This artfully constructed speech appealed to
Tag in several ways, as indeed the lad had meant
it should. He hesitated no longer.
'I'll come,' said he, and followed his companion,
who now struck off down a narrow winding street,
and thence into various alleys, and through courts
and queer dark places, in which Tag, had he been
alone, must have lost his way as though in a
22 Fallen among Thieves.
They came at length to a dingy-looking house
in a close court. Here the lad entered, accom-
panied by Tag. Up a steep stair they went, till
they came to a landing on the top floor.
'Here's where the most of us lives,' said the
youth; 'but we're like birds, you know, out all
day, and only coming' in to roost.'
Then a door opened, and Tag found himself
in a rather large but very low room, dimly lighted
by a single lamp, and containing a long narrow
table down the middle, and eight iron bedsteads
arranged along one side, at equal distances, each
furnished with a mattress, a pillow, and a dark
Adjoining this chamber was a small kitchen, the
door of communication being open. Here Tag
heard the pleasant crackling of a fire, and saw
the weird dancing of the lights and shadows on
the smoky wall.
'Mother Ratskins, where are you ?' cried Tag's
conductor. 'Here's a new baby what wants
feedin' and looking' after.'
In answer to the summons, there appeared from
the kitchen a big, coarse-looking woman, her grey
hair knotted up roughly almost at the top of her
head, and her portly person enveloped in the
hugest and grimiest of aprons.
A new baby, eh?' cried she, in deep masculine
tones. 'Oh well, Cutter, you knows what you're
Fallen among Thieves.
about, or I should say you'd get into trouble with
your new baby !'
'There, that'll do, old lady !' responded Cutter,
patting her softly on the back in a soothing
manner. 'Now what can you give us for supper,
and where's this young starveling to sleep ? '
'There's herrin's and taters for supper,' said
Mother Ratskins; 'and as for a bed, there's
Squinter's been took to-day, so his'll be vacant.'
'Who's Squinter, and what does took mean?'
asked Tag, casting a bewildered look around him.
'Babies mustn't go for to know everything all at
once,' rejoined the woman ; likewise, if they asks
questions, they gets no supper.'
At this gentle hint, poor hungry Tag held his
tongue, and watched Mother Ratskins set the
table after a rough fashion of her own, broil the
herrings, and take the baked potatoes out of the
oven. Meanwhile Cutter had gone out, saying he
would be back again presently. He came in, after
about half an hour, followed by six youths, of
whom the oldest might have been about seventeen,
and the youngest about Tag's age.
They took very little notice of the new-comer,
one of them merely remarking to Tag's acquaint-
'Ah! that's the sort of ferret for the warrens,
slim enough to slip in anywhere. You've a sharp
eye, Cutter !'
Fallen among Thieves.
Hold your noise, Nobby,' replied Cutter, clap-
ping his hand unceremoniously over his com-
panion's mouth. 'Don't you know as how he
must be let down gradooal ? Babies must be
teached to walk afore they can dance the tight
rope; and who can tell how this young 'un has
been elewated at home?'
Quite puzzled by the unwonted look of things,
and not comprehending in the least what was
said, Tag drew his stool to the table with the rest.
The herrings were hot and savoury, and the beer
quenched his thirst, and for the time he forgot
his doubts and fears in the enjoyment of being
warmed and fed. Then, almost before his com-
panions had finished their meal, drowsiness over-
came him; and Mother Ratskins, seeing him
nodding over his plate, whipped him up in her
brawny arms, stripped off his jacket as though it
had been a potato skin, and popped him down on
Squinter's bed, where, in a moment or so, he was
more soundly asleep than he had ever been before.
Cutter, after a careful inspection, to be sure that
the new baby was not shamming, drew his stool
back to the table, and the lads began to talk in
low tones about the day's experiences.
We will not attempt to repeat their conver-
sation, much of which was in a slang such as
none of our readers would be likely to under-
stand. But if Tag had been awake, and could
Fallen among Thieves. 25
have guessed, by a word let fall here and there,
into what sort of a place, and among what com-
panions he had fallen, his one thought would have
been of escape.
But he slept on, regardless of all, only dreaming
that he stood upon the brink of a frightful preci-
pice, and that little Bobtail was calling to him
from behind to stop, and that, even as he listened,
the child's voice died away in a frightened whisper,
brokenly spoken between sobs-' God bless us, and
take care of us all '
HIEN Tag awaked next day the boys were
all gone, and upon the bed next to his
own was seated a man, smoking a pipe.
As the lad started up in surprise, the
'Well, you've managed to sleep the clock round !
Do you feel better this morning ?'
'Yes, sir, thank you,' replied Tag, who felt that
he ought perhaps to call this person 'sir,' for he
had a certain air of shabby gentility about him, and
at least did not look rough or coarse, though he
was none the more prepossessing for that.
Lie still, I can talk to you, and you to me, just
as well that way,' said the man. 'Time enough to
get up when I'm gone. Cutter tells me you want
something to do.'
'Yes, sir; yes, indeed !' cried Tag eagerly.
'Very good. But then, supposing that the only
work I has to give you was what you mightn't quite
fancy, and what you'd not been brought up to,
what then ?'
'Why, of course, sir, I'd do it all the same,'
The Awakening. 27
replied the boy. 'Such as me can't go for to
choose what they'll do.'
'Sensibly said,' remarked the man. 'But now,
my lad, supposing your relations and friends should
come after you, we might get into trouble for
keeping you, and that's more risk than I'd care to
I haven't no friends in the world, sir,-least-
ways only Rag and Bobtail, and them I'm never
like to see again. And as to relations, I've none
but a drunken father what won't hardly miss me,
for when he ain't at work he's drunk, and his time's
all divided up into them two things. 'Tain't likely
he'll ever come looking' for me ; he's sure to console
hisself with thinking' I've emigrated, or throwed
myself into the river off Waterloo Bridge, or maybe
'listed in a regiment, me bein' so well-growed and
good-lookin'! No, sir, I ain't afeared of father
breaking' his heart over me, or turning' up to see what
Tag had had a good supper and a good sleep,
and some of his old facetiousness was coming back
Ah, I see you're a sharp little chap,' said the
man, smoothing his blue chin with one hand, while
he spread the other on his knee.
Well, then, I may perhaps be able to make you
useful, if you'll promise to obey without question.
You're not one of the pious sort, are you ? If you
are, you had better just cut and run at once, for
that kind isn't for us.'
'Pious? Oh my, no !' replied Tag, thinking of
poor little Harrie, and wondering what answer she
would have given to this question.
'Well, I'm glad of it, as you seem a likely lad
enough in other respects. Now, remember, since
we've saved you from starvation, and are willing
to feed and clothe you when we know nothing
about you, except that you haven't any one to say
a good word for you-remembering this, I say, you
belong to us, body and soul, and if ever you turn
sneak, or turn mutinous, or turn obstinate, we shall
find ways of making you wish you had never been
born. But as long as you do exactly as you're told,
and ask no questions, you shall fare like a fighting-
cock, and have lots of fun beside. Do you under-
'Yes, sir,' replied Tag; but he felt alarmed, in
spite of his ready assent. These conditions im-
posed upon him gave him a presentiment of
something dreadful. The night before, in his
hunger and weariness, he had thought of nothing,
but now he felt something as Esau may have done,
when he awoke to the consciousness that he had
sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. What
was this mysterious work in which he was to share?
Why all this secrecy, this close questioning ?
'Well, there's no help for it now,' thought Tag,
The Awakening. 29
looking up for a moment into the inscrutable dark
eyes that seemed to look him through and through.
'I'm in for it, that's about what it is, and I must go
on, since even if I did turn back I don't see what
I could do, or where I could turn for.help.'
'What are you thinking about?' asked the man
Tag coloured a little, but did not reply, and his
new master smiled grimly, saying, 'Well, never
mind, I don't care to know more than your face
tells me. But now, my boy, what is your name?'
'Thomas Alfred Groves,' replied Tag.
'Is that what you're called in general? because
it's a pretty pretentious sort of a name.'
'No, sir, I've been called Tag by such children
as I knowed in our court.'
That'll do,' said the man, 'and my name, at
least to all you youngsters, is Master,-remember
'Yes, sir,' answered Tag.
The master went on: 'Now mind, Tag, until
further notice you're not to go outside the doors.
If Mrs. Ratcliffe wants you to help.her you can do
so, and after a while I may, perhaps, give you a
little job of work.'
'Yes, sir,' again rejoined Tag.
'.My room is just below this,' continued the
master, 'and there's precious little you can do
without my knowing it.' And now look me in the
30 The Awakening
face, and listen to one thing more. Do as I tell
you, and I'm not a bad master, as masters go;
disobey me, and I'll-- well, you'll repent it.'
Tag shuddered, for the piercing dark eyes had
assumed a menacing, threatening look, and he felt
himself completely in his employer's power. A
terror hitherto unimagined took possession of him,
and as the man rose from his seat on the bed,
nodded to him, and walked out of the room, Tag
felt as if the open streets and starvation would be
better than the service of this master.
'Shall I run away ?' he asked himself, as he stole
across the bare floor on tiptoe towards the door.
Noiselessly he moved the handle, then dropped it
in despair. The key was turned on the outside,
and Tag was a prisoner indeed.
The day passed drearily enough. Mother Rat-
skins, though she was not unkind to Tag, would
not answer a question, or tell him what he had
to expect in the way of work or treatment ; and,
what was worse, she kept the door locked, and the
key in her pocket.
Tag was a clever, handy boy, and he helped her
as much as he could, for which she vouchsafed him
a rough 'Thank yer,' patting his head on one occa-
sion with the rolling-pin (with which she had just
been rolling out the crust for an immense meat-pie
for supper) and leaving a floury track on his bushy
Between nine and ten most of the lads dropped
in one by one to supper; and this evening, Tag, not
being overcome by sleep, was on the alert to notice
everything, and the more he noticed the more his
longing grew to get away.
Just once, while the lads were busy chatting at
the table, he slunk towards the door, which had
been unlocked for the entrance of his companions.
Softly turning the handle, he was preparing to
make a bolt for it, and trust to his nimble feet for
descending the stairs, and passing the master's
room in safety, when, quick as lightning, Cutter's
hand gripped his shoulder, and half a dozen voices
cried out as though in indignant horror.
'If that's your game, young'un,' said Cutter, in
low tones, 'it'll be a case for the master!' and
there was a mysterious significance in his voice far
more terrifying to Tag than the noisy remon-
strances of the other boys.
Wholly cowed and dispirited, he went and sat
down on his bed, hanging his head in sullen
After supper, Cutter came up to him once more.
'Now, look here, youngster,' said he, 'when a
feller has once passed his word to the master, he's
got to keep it; leastways it's as much as his life's
worth if he don't. And similarly the same, he
must jist do as he's told, not asking' Why must I
do this 'ere, or that there ? If you've got a soul,
32 The Awakening.
you'd better hush it asleep at once' (and Cutter
grinned) 'for you won't have no use for it here, nor
yet for your conscience. You must be content to
shut your eyes, and ears, and mouth, and go where
you're led, and stay when you're left, or at least,'
added the young scoffer, with an ugly leer, 'only
open your eyes to things as is in the way of
business, and your ears to what the master or me
tells you, and your mouth when there's dinner or
supper to put into it.'
'It's no go struggling' agin my fate,' said Tag to
himself, as he lay down to rest that night 'I'm
in for it,'and there's no help for me. It's a case of
doin' as I'm bid, or bein' murdered, and I haven't
no fancy for bein' put out of the world just yet.
I'll see what to-morrow brings, but I s'pose I may
as well make up my mind to do as that there
willain the. master says. It'll be his sin, thank
goodness, not mine !'
With this last thought in his mind, Tag turned
over and tried to sleep, but somehow he could not
entirely soothe his conscience, or shake off a sort of
undefined sense of responsibility. He tried to say
a prayer, as he had been taught long ago by his
mother, but no prayer would come. He could not
ask the blessing of a holy God upon his newly-
formed resolution. He could not even say, with
poor little Bobtail, 'God bless us,. and take care of
us all!' when he had quitted the right and chosen
The Awakening. 33
the wrong path. If seemed to Tag that night
that he had left his childhood, nay, even his light-
hearted boyhood, for ever behind him, and that
from the dark course which lay before him there
could be no escape save by death.
ONE OF THEM INDEED.
SFEW weeks of close imprisonment made Tag
so impatient, nay desperate, that he was
ready to consent to anything.
He now began to understand more clearly
into what kind of society he had fallen, it being
pretty plain that his associates were pickpockets
and thieves; and there had been an occasional
word dropped, which made him sure that one or
two of the elder lads had been concerned in
burglary as well.
The master was, of course, the organizer of the
various expeditions, and the disposer of the stolen
property. He paid the lads regular wages, these
being in strict proportion to what he was pleased
to call their earnings, so that they had a constant
incentive to diligence in their unlawful employment.
From the fact that he had a clear plotting brain,
and a fair amount of education, he had obtained
great influence over the youths in his service; and
though he had proved himself severe, and even
cruel, in cases where boys had deceived him or
resisted his authority, he knew well enough how
One of Them Indeed. 35
to conciliate and reward all who showed themselves
anxious to please him.
Mother Ratskifis, Tag learned, was the widow
of a former associate of the master, and had been
retained to look after the babies,' as he called his
The house belonged to the master, the greater
part of it being let out in cheap lodgings to people
with whom he was more or less in league, and
whom he had, therefore, little reason to fear.
The lads had become accustomed now to Tag's
presence among them, and no longer made any
secret of their doings, knowing that the more their
young companion's mind was familiarized with
evil, the less hesitation he was likely to have in
joining them actively when the time and oppor-
tunity arrived for him to do so. And such is the
force of bad example, that Tag, weary of the
monotony of his long lonely days, with nothing
to do but to wait on Mother Ratskins, looked
forward with pleasure to the nightly return of his
companions, and began to take a keen interest,
though as yet in a shame-faced way, in the ac-
counts of their various disgraceful exploits.
Nay, one evening he grew so excited, that when
the babble at supper-time ceased for a moment,
Tag got up from his seat, and, waving his thin
right hand, exclaimed vehemently, 'Only let me
out, you fellers, only let me out, and see if I don't
One of Them Indeed.
do something' as known' as any of yer How long
am I to be kep' jumpin' round Mother Ratskins
here, and tied to them apron-strings of her'n, as
if I were a-trainin' for a cook's place? If the
master be as clever as he'd like to have us think,
he'll see as the time's come when I must hev some
liberty guy me, or I shall take it somehow.'
'Good !' said a deep voice at the door, and the
subtle smiling face of the master looked in, while
he softly clapped his hands in half-contemptuous
applause of poor Tag's speech.
'Good !' he repeated again, coming further into
the room, and fixing his eyes upon Tag's flushed
face. 'So, my man, you'd rather do as I tell you
now, than run away from me and all of us who
are so good to you and so fond of you.' And the
smile on his face widened slowly into a sardonic
grin, showing a double row of hungry-looking
teeth, that reminded Tag of a picture he had once
seen in a shop-window, of little Red Ridinghood's
wolf in the grandmother's bed.
The master did not wait for the boy's reply,
but went on, 'Since you are in so promising a
mood, my new baby, I will honour you with a job
this very night. It is only fair you should begin
to pay for your board and lodging now.'
'Yes, sir,' responded Tag, whose boastfulness
had. somehow died a sudden death when the
master appeared. The latter went on,-
One of Them Indeed.
'Beside the new baby, I only want Cutter to-
night. The rest of you lads can go to bed if you
Cutter nodded with the easy familiarity of a
privileged person, and Tag looked at him enviously,
wishing that he too could attain to a position of
similar importance, and fear the master as little
as did, apparently, this favoured and trusted fol-
'Come down to my rooms, babies, as soon as
you have finished your supper,' said the master;
'all of you come except Tag. It is Friday,
pay-night; and look here, young, man,' and' he
turned once more to Tag, 'if you behave pro-
perly this evening, you shall have wages too next
'Thank you, sir,' said Tag.
'What do you s'pose he wants me to do?' asked
the boy when he and Mrs. Ratcliffe were left alone,
and were washing up the supper things together.
'Bless me!' cried the dame, 'I never did see
sich a baby for questions! How can I know?
The master don't make me the keeper of his
secrets. You'll see what he wants with you when
the right time comes; and all I can say to you is,
that you'd better go through with it, if so be- '
'Yes, if so be what, Mother Ratskins ?'
'If so be you ain't downright sick of your life,
38 One of Them Indeed.
and don't mind it bein' thumped, and knocked, and
jeered, and worried out of yer,' replied the woman.
Oh, for the matter of that,' said Tag, trying to
speak indifferently, I ain't a saint, nor yet a
martyr, and if ever I had anything good in me
it's been clean took out since I come here.'
Mother Ratskins paused in her wiping of a
huge dish that had held the tripe and onions for
supper, and her masculine voice softened a little as
she looked into the boy's eyes.
'It is a pity too!' she said with a half sigh, and
speaking more to herself than to Tag, 'so young
as he is Little more nor a child. Well, I were
a child myself once, and my parents was God-
fearin' folk, and yet I've come to this!' and she
dashed away a sudden tear with the corner of the
towel she held in her hand.
An uncontrollable impulse seized Tag, and he
sprang forward and threw both arms round the
'Oh, Mother Ratskins,' he sobbed, 'let me out!
let me run away! Better starve in the open street
than stay here! I thought, an hour ago, that I
were game for it all, but now it do seem worse
nor death itself. If you can help me, do! Oh, do!
You've been good to me; I can see you're sorry
for me; let me out for God's sake !'
There was a momentary response in the woman's
face and manner, which showed that his passionate
One of Them Indeed.
appeal had touched her. Then, as though recol-
lecting herself, she put the boy from her with a
'Don't be a silly !' she said; 'you might just as
well cry for the moon. It would be well nigh as
bad for me as for you if I tried to let you get
away; and, what's more, if I tried ever so, you'd
never do it. That there Cutter-let alone the
master-have got ears that can almost hear you
think, if so be you're a-doin' of it a little longer
than common; and he'd know your step on the
stair afore ever you got past the master's door.
No, Tag,' she added more gently; 'give it up, and
do the best you can; you shouldn't have made all
them promises to the master if you hadn't a mind
to keep 'em.'
Tag turned away. The sudden hope that had
flashed up in him like a flame died down into
mournful ashes, while there came into his face a
look of reckless despair terrible to see.
Before long some of the lads came to bed; a
few of the elder ones went out again. Tag was
told to lie down for a hour or two till he was
wanted; but he could not sleep. His heart beat
fast with excitement, and he kept imagining all
sorts of wild things, and wondering which of them
he would be required to do this night.
IN THE DEAD OF THE NIGHT.
LEVEN o'clock struck slowly on the shabby old
time-piece, then the door was opened from
the outside, and the master entered. He
stood for a moment by Tag's bedside without
speaking. The boy started up.
'Come!' said the man in a whisper, and Tag
rose, took his cap from its nail on the wall, and
followed the master out. Down the steep stairs
they went, and on the first landing they were
joined by Cutter, and by a man whom Tag had
never seen before.
As the outer door was unclosed, and the fresh
night air blew into Tag's face, he experienced a
momentary sense of joy and freedom, and he felt
as if he must break away from his companions and
fly anywhere-anywhere, so that it were but far
from them. Perhaps Cutter divined the boy's
thoughts, for he hooked his lithe arm into that of
Tag, and peered, with a mocking smile, into his
face under the first lamp they reached. And
beneath the influence of that look the poor lad
grew hard and desperate again, nerving himself to
In the Dead of the Nighzt. 41
face the worst, and to obey, whatever might be
required of him.
By all sorts of bye-ways and dark alleys and
back slums they went, Cutter and Tag on one side
of the street, the two men on the other; and Tag
saw that the master was now disguised with a
venerable grey wig and beard, while his companion
wore dark spectacles, and had his coat collar
They walked what seemed to Tag a long way,
meeting now and then a policeman, who looked at
them inquiringly, but said nothing, except that
once, Cutter having facetiously called out' Good-
night, Bobby!' to a constable who stood at the
corner of a lonely street, he received the reply,
'Bad luck to your imperence: you're the sort as
comes to grief!' Whereat Cutter chuckled with
delight, taking the man's words as a charming
As they left the darker streets behind, and
began to near the suburbs, the master hailed a
passing cab, and they all got in and drove till
they reached a railway station, where they dis-
missed the vehicle.
Another half-hour's walk brought them to a
quiet road; and soon they paused before a good-
sized house standing in a shady garden. As far as
Tag could see in the darkness, this was the back
of the house, and all the lower windows were
42 lIn the Dead of the Nzi7rt.
carefully shuttered except one small casement,
which seemed to belong to a slip of a room-a
kind of prophet's chamber-in the wing.
'There are no men in the house,' said the master,
as the two couples paused under a tree just outside
the garden gate, 'only two ladies, and three
women servants. That little window belongs to
an unoccupied room; or, at least, it was unoccu-
pied when I was down here a few weeks ago, and
made a plan of the place. I managed to scrape
acquaintance with the housemaid, and she gave
me lots of particulars in the course of conversation;
particulars which come in very convenient when
there's a job to be done.
'Now, Specs,' he added, turning to his comrade,
'your business is to cut a pane out of that small
window with your diamond. Cutter and I will
watch, and give the alarm, should there be danger.'
At a sign from the master, Cutter, still holding
Tag firmly by the arm, opened the gate softly, and
hid himself and his companion between the trunk
of a large tree and a clump of evergreen shrubs.
The master took up his station at a short distance,
also hidden from observation, both from the road
and the house.
A few anxious moments passed, then Specs
joined them again, carrying a pane of glass in his
'Now it's your turn, my beauty !' said Cutter to
In the Dead of the Night. 43
Tag, in a low whisper; but even as he spoke the
'Tag,' said he, in a quiet distinct voice, 'slip
along there in the shadow of the wall, and get in
at the window where the pane is out. It will be a
tight fit, but you can do it. Then creep softly to
the back door and open it to us. The ladies are
old and deaf, and the servants sleep in the attic, so
it's not likely you'll be heard. But stay, are you
wearing a dark shirt ?'
'Yes, sir,' answered Tag, his voice shaking.
'Good, then leave your jacket here; you'll
crawl through the easier; and your shoes, Tag, off
with them too. Now you know what you've got
to do, get along with you, and be quick about it.'
There was no time for hesitation, the master
took care of that; and in a moment Tag had
moved away like a little dark ghost, and those
whom he had left behind lost sight of him in the
shadow of the wall.
He gained the window, and wriggled himself
through as noiselessly as he could, pushing inwards,
as he did so, a cotton blind which hung down
against it. Another instant and his stockinged
feet pressed a carpeted floor, and he paused to
gain breath, and to summon up courage for what
still lay before him.
While he stood motionless, the silence was
broken by a gentle stir in the darkness, as of some-
44 In the Dead of the Nighot.
one turning in bed. Then a sweet sleepy little
'Dear Jesus, thank you for my nice warm bed,
and for folks'as is so kind to me. And please
bless the other two what runned away along o' me,
and let 'em be happy and comfy as I be. So God
bless us, and take care of us all. Amen.'
The burglars outside Garden House waited; but
no back door opened to them.
'He's played us false!' muttered the master
fiercely, as lights began to appear in various rooms,
showing that the inmates were astir.
'Or he may have made some noise and been
nabbed,' suggested Cutter. 'I think he meant to
act on the square.'
'Well, square or no square, we must be out of
this now,' said Specs. 'But what's to be done
with the boy's jacket and shoes ?'
'Why, just leave them here, of course,' replied
the master, 'and we must all go back to the city
different ways. We mustn't be seen together again
in these parts.'
So the garden gate opened softly once more,
and, after a careful survey of the road right and
left, the master stole through, followed by Specs
and Cutter. Noiselessly the gate was closed again,
and these companions' in-- evil-doing separated
without another word, moving along like wicked
In the Dead of the Aihil.. 45
black shadows, and melting away into the darkness,
their guilty purpose brought to nought by Him
who hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the mighty, and who had this night
defeated the plans and the counsel of the plotter
by the half-unconscious prayer of a sleepy child.
A GOOD SAMARITAN.
UR story returns to Rag, who, after parting
from his companions, as recorded in the first
chapter, started off on his travels, his lengthy,
rickety limbs carrying him along in uncertain
strides, but whither he neither knew nor cared.
He only felt that he was flying from his tormentor,
from cruelty and oppression which had broken his
young heart, and well-nigh cost him his wits; and
now, if he was conscious of any purpose at all, it
was to put the greatest distance possible between
himself and the man with whom he had lived since
his parents died.
As he wended his way through the busy noisy
streets, people turned their heads in surprise at
the weary forlorn face in which there was no light
of hope, no trace of youth's sanguine feeling, not
a vestige of past happiness, or a thought of any
future joy; only a patient endurance, an uncom-
plaining desolation. The very street cads forebore
to jeer at him. Even their hard little hearts were
touched into silence by his quiet but utter misery.
A costermonger selling roasted chestnuts stuffed
A Good Samaritan.
a handful into the boy's nerveless grasp, saying,
'There, my lad, they're hot, and sweet, and mealy,
cat 'em up; they'll do yer good.' And Rag's
meek 'Thank you,' was recompense enough for
the kind old fellow, who had given freely of such
as he had, hoping for nothing again, and who fol-
lowed with compassionate eyes the emaciated
shambling figure, till it was out of sight.
'He ain't long for this world, I'm a-thinkin','
said the man to himself. 'And a pretty hard
world he's found it, or I'm much mistook.' Then
a customer came up and claimed his attention, and
his soliloquies were at an end.
Meanwhile Rag went aimlessly on. Up one
street and down another, all day, his limbs drag-
ging wearily, his confused brain being able to form
no distinct idea of the direction in which he might
be going. He had had nothing to eat but those
few chestnuts, and now evening had come, chill
and raw, and he was without shelter and food.
The thought of this, realized at last, brought him
to a standstill.
Oh, this endless wilderness of streets, with the
hurrying people, the bright rich shops, the hand-
some houses. And yet here was a lonely waif
without a place to rest in, or a penny to buy him
a morsel of bread.
Quite spent at length, Rag sat down on the
doorstep of a house. He was shivering with cold,
48 A Good Samaritan.
but he drew his old garments as closely about him
as he could, and turned his back to the wind, as
it came eddying up the street laden with clouds
Hiding his face in his hands, and shutting out
thus from his sight the world that had been so
cruel to him, the lad did not see the dainty little
figure of a child approaching, with a servant in
attendance. She paused on the lowest step, and
gazed at Rag, between whose bony fingers great
tears were slowly dropping. Then she put out
a small gloved hand, and laid it lightly on his
shoulder, saying, 'What is the matter? Why are
you crying ?'
Rag, startled almost as much as if he had been
suddenly waked from sleep, sprang to his feet.
Then, seeing only the child looking at him with
sweet pitying eyes, and the maid with her puzzled
face, he hastily wiped his eyes with his sleeve, and
said, 'I beg your pardon, little lady, I'd no busi-
ness to be sitting' on your steps, but. I were that
wore out and faint, as I didn't think of nothing' but
somewhere to rest. I'll move on now.'
'But you mustn't go like this,' exclaimed the
little girl; 'you look ill and weak, and you will
drop if you try to walk. Knock and ring, Bessie,
quick, and let's get in. Mamma says it's wicked
to send any one hungry away, and I'll ask cook
to give this poor boy a good supper.'
A Good Samaritan.
Just then the door opened, and the little lady
gently pushed Rag into the hall, much to the
horror of the maid, who showed at once great fear
lest the whole contents of the hat and umbrella
stand should be walked off with. As for Rag, he
was like one in a dream; and when the child, who
had run away to her mother, returned to him and
said, 'You're to come into the kitchen, mamma
says, and be warmed and fed,' he followed her
with a dim undefined sort of feeling that this was
an angel whom God had sent for his deliverance.
The kitchen was bright and cheery, and clean
as it could be; and the cook, a tidy, motherly-look-
ing body, made Rag sit down near the fire, and
set before him a bowl of good soup and some
bread. But after a few spoonfuls the lad laid
down the spoon.
'I thought I was so hungry,' said he; 'but
somehow I can't eat.'
It was true. The shivering fit that had shaken
his gaunt frame had now given place to a burning
heat, which flushed his hollow cheeks and kindled
a wild light in his eyes, while his breathing be-
came rapid and laboured.
'It seems to me you're ill, boy,' said the cook
kindly. 'Susan, my girl, just run to mistress, and
tell her I'm afeared this lad is took very bad, and
ask her what's to be done with him.'
Susan, the housemaid, left the kitchen to do
A Good Samaritan.
the cook's bidding, but she met the child in the
hall, and the little one cried, 'I heard what cookie
said, Susan, and I'll take the message myself. Oh;
there is papa's knock, I'll ask him; doctors know
everything. Here, papa, papa!' and she rushed
to meet him in the hall. 'Here's a patient for
you in the kitchen, and so you must please come
in and describe for him.'
'Prescribe, you ignorant little puss,' replied Dr.
Massitur, laughing. 'Well, I'll come and see this
patient of yours. I dare say there's nothing much
But when he stood by Rag's side, and the boy
looked up in his face, both doctor and patient
'We've met before,' said the doctor, 'I never
forget a face. You're the lad who didn't know
his own name yesterday; not the first time of
asking, at least; don't you remember, Richard
'Oh yes, sir,' responded Rag, with a feeble smile;
'and you was so good as to give me sixpence, and
that saved me a thrashin' when I got home, it.did;
and thank you kindly, sir.'
The doctor took the thin hand in his, and felt
the bounding thrilling pulse and the parched
dryness of the skin; then he pressed his ear to
the hollow chest and the weak bent back, and
shook his head gravely.
A Good Samaritan. 5
'Where do you belong? Shall I send you
home?' asked he. 'You're very feverish, and I
am afraid you are in for an illness. Tell me where
'Oh don't, sir! For God's sake don't send me
back! Why, I only runned away from that man
this morning a-cause of my heart and my head
bein' both like to be broke. Anywhere, sir, but
there! I couldn't abear it!' and Rag started up
from his seat and stared wildly about him, as
though meditating flight at once.
'There, there!' said the doctor soothingly;
'don't be afraid, my poor boy. You shall not go
back, if you feel so about it. I'll tell you what
I'll do. I'll take you to the hospital, and there
you'll be looked after properly; and when you're
well, then, please God, we will try and find you
something to do, eh, Richard?' and Dr. Mas-
situr laid his hand kindly on the lad's shoulder,
and pushed him gently down into his seat again.
'Let some one fetch a cab at once,' said the
doctor, as he left the kitchen. 'And you, Eva,
my pet, run and tell mamma that I am going to
the hospital with this poor lad, and that I shall
be an hour late for dinner.'
A WINGLESS ANGEL
' EVERE inflammation of one lung, and threaten-
ing of brain trouble,' said the house surgeon,
when the new patient had been put to bed,
and made as comfortable as possible.
'I thought as much,' replied Dr. Massitur. 'I
know but little of the lad, but I fear he has
suffered greatly, and has been subjected to most
cruel treatment. Well, he will be kindly dealt
with here; that is a comfort. I will look in now
and then, if I may, to learn how he is getting on.
My little daughter Eva is interested in him, and
she will always be plying me with questions, I
know. Good evening!' And the doctor took his
leave, and was soon at home, telling his wife and
Eva in what comfortable quarters, and under what
kind and skilful care, he had left the poor sick
For some time after his removal to the hospital
Rag knew but little of what was going on about
him. The fever ran so high that he was almost
constantly delirious. Too weak to make much
noise, he only muttered to himself about things
A Wi/ngless A angel.
that the nurses did not understand, often bringing
in the names of his two friends, Tag and'Bobtail;
while, now and then, his voice would strain itself
to a feeble piteous cry, 'Don't beat me, uncle!
Don't! Dad never did!' Then the pained look
would pass from the poor haggard face, and he
would babble on of a little angel that was coming
to save him; while he asked, again and again,
with a wondering bewildered look, 'But where's
the wings ? They has wings, hasn't they, like the
birds ? Where be hers, pretty dear?' Then he
would sigh, 'If the angel could but come again!
Little angel, pretty angel, come again to poor
Rag!' and so on, sometimes for hours together.
At last, the head nurse of the hospital said to
Dr. Massitur, when he called one day to see how
the boy was getting on, He has got a fixed idea,
sir, about what he calls a pretty little angel, who,
he says, saved him once, and whom he seems
pining to see again.' And she repeated some of
Rag's unconscious words, adding, 'Do you know,
sir, or can you guess, if there is any meaning in
what he says, or whether it is only raving ?'
I cannot tell at all,' replied Dr. Massitur, un-
less it were perhaps my little daughter Eva, whom
his poor fevered brain has converted into an angel.
She found him on our doorstep, and brought him
in to be warmed and fed; he was then almost
out of his senses with fever, and I think it quite
54 A Wingless Angel.
likely that her sweet little face and pretty ways
may have induced the fancy.'
'Yes, sir; that must be it,' rejoined the nurse.
'If the doctors and you think it well,' continued
Dr. Massitur,' I will bring Eva to see the poor lad.
He may possibly recognize her; or if not, the un-
conscious sight of her face might perhaps quiet the
longing he seems to have.'
So the next day there flitted into the ward, like
a fairy, little Eva's light form. Her father came
with her, and, without a word, pointed out the bed
where poor Rag lay, with vacant eyes staring at
the window, and parched lips murmuring words
which even the nurse could not understand.
Eva stole to the bedside, placing herself between
the sick boy and the light from the window, while
she ungloved one little hand, and laid it, fresh and
cool, upon his brow.
For one instant the dry lips muttered on, then
they ceased, but remained parted, while the eyes
brightened with a sudden gleam, and a smile
illumined the whole face. There was silence for
a minute or more; then the lad whispered,-
'Hush! it's the angel come again at last!
Come to save me, and make me well! Pretty
angel, did God send you ? '
Yes, He did,' replied Eva softly.
'And are you a real angel ? and please, where's
the wings?' asked Rag dreamily.
A Wingless Angel.
'I hope to be a real angel some day,' answered
the little girl, with the rare tact which seems born
with some children; 'but God hasn't given me my
wings yet. I'm to have them when the time
comes for me to fly away to Him.'
But don't fly away yet,' pleaded the boy ear-
nestly; 'stay as long as you can, stay till poor
Rag can go too.'
Then the weary eyes closed, and he sank into
the first really refreshing slumber that had come
to him since his illness began.
'I think he may pull through now,' said the
nurse, as she led the way out of the ward, 'though
of course he will need the greatest care. Thank
you, sir, for bringing the little lady. She has
comforted the lad's poor heart and soothed his
wandering mind, and that's a work that any
grown-up person, let alone a child, might be glad
and thankful to do for the Master.'
And little Eva, ere she lay down on her white
bed that night, knelt and prayed earnestly for poor
Rag,-that God would make him well again, and
that he might be very good and happy. And
even while she folded her little hands in prayer
for him the lad was murmuring softly in his
'Little angel, dear little angel, don't fly away
yet. Stay a bit longer! Do stay and comfort
NEWS OF A FRIEND.
AG'S recovery was slow, so slow that Dr.
Massitur sometimes wondered whether or
no the boy would ever leave the hospital
till he was carried out dead. The good
doctor had become much interested in this poor
waif, who had so long been hovering between life
and death; and it was a real joy to him and to his
wife-to say nothing of little Eva-when it was
announced that the invalid might now take his
leave of the ward which had been almost like a
home to him, and which was certainly the first
place, since his parents died, where he had been
The lad had grown during his long sickness,
and now a more pathetically comical figure could
scarcely have been imagined. He had out-grown
his few poor clothes, and looked, in consequence,
more awkward and bony than ever, all points and
angles, while his limbs, never very firm, tottered
like those of a year-old baby learning to walk.
In Rag's face, too, there was a change, but only
a pleasant one. The look of hopeless misery had
News of a Friend. 57
passed away, the brow was smooth and tranquil,
the poor lips that had so often quivered with pain,
and that had been almost strangers to a smile, the
gentle eyes so frequently dim with tears, these,
thank God, were changed; and even before he left
the hospital Rag startled both his nurse and him-
self one day, by breaking out into a hearty laugh
at the antics of a child, who had been brought in
on a visit to one of the nearly convalescent
Dr. Massitur soon saw that all the lad required
now for the perfecting of his recovery was com-
plete change of air and scene, with good food and
care; and before long he contrived to make ar-
rangements for him to be sent off to a Convalescent
Home at the seaside. The season was still early,
for it was only May, but the air was growing
balmier every day, and the soft wind seemed laden
with the fragrant promise of summer.
In all his life Rag had never before seen the
sea; and now to sit on the beach under the shel-
tering cliffs, and watch the glorious tide roll in
and dash and break into foam, was a fine delight
to him. Then there was so much of interest beside.
The steamers, the fishing-smacks, the pleasure-
boats hither and thither bound, gave life and
variety to the scene. Then, too, what could be
more fascinating than the treasures of the ocean
which the incoming water bore to his very feet,
58 News of a Friend.
and strewed there in rich profusion ? The rock-
pools, with 'heir calm clear depths, were a revela-
tion to the poor ignorant London boy. The
active little shrimp, the pugnacious hermit-crab,
the flower-like sea-anemone, the rainbow-hearted
jelly-fish, were so many miracles of beauty and
wonder to Rag; and he never wearied of his wan-
derings in search of fresh marvels.
In the Home itself, all was well ordered and
pleasant. The rules were easy to keep, and the
patients were allowed a great deal of liberty, on
purpose that they might be in the open air as
much as possible.
There were no irksome or unnecessary restric-
tions, no arbitrary restraints, but only such mild
discipline and wise regulations as were needful
both for the health and comfort of the community.
Among the convalescents was a boy about Rag's
age, with whom he soon became friendly. His
name was John Norris, and he had been a baker's
shopboy in London, but was taken ill with low
fever, and having partially recovered in one of the
hospitals of the metropolis, was sent to gain
strength here among the salt breezes of Shell-
John Norris was far better educated than our
poor Rag, for he had been kept at school until he
was able to take a place, while Rag, during the
last miserable year or two, had forgotten nearly all
News of a Friend. 59
that he had learned in the earlier and happier
years of his childhood.
However, John Norris undertook to teach his
new acquaintance, and many a precious hour was
spent by the two lads on the beach or by the corn-
fields on the cliff; one teaching, the other eagerly
learning, out of an easy book which they found in
the Home library. Often John would take his
little Bible with him, and Rag listened wonder-
ingly, almost breathlessly, to the interesting narra-
tives of the inspired Word, and, best of all, that
good old story which is yet ever new, and which
tells of the coming of the Christ-child, the life on
earth of the God-man, the death, for our sakes, of
the Immortal One; of His resurrection from the
grave, His ascension to His Father and ours; and
of the descent, according to His promise, of the
Spirit, the Comforter.
On Rag's childlike heart, softened and prepared
by sickness, as the soil of the field by the plough
and harrow, the sacred words fell as good seed into
good ground. He did not ask himself what it
was to be religious, or whether he was a Christian
or not. He only felt that he was a sinner, and
that here were forgiveness and cleansing. He
knew he was weak and poor, and here were
strength and riches. He longed for love, and
here was the love of Jesus ready to welcome him
as a child lay its little head upon its father's
6o News of a Friend.
bosom, feeling that here are safety and rest; so
the lad, without a misgiving, gave himself to the
Lord, being taught the truth, not as man teaches,
but by the still small voice that carries convic-
tion, and makes plain, even to the simple, the
hidden things of God.
So, while the poor frail body was being in-
vigorated by the life-giving wind of the salt sea,
the soul was being nourished and fortified, and
made meet for the service of the Master.
A month at the Convalescent Home did
wonders for the boy; and it was no longer a poor
limp Rag that walked into Dr. Massitur's kitchen
one bright morning in June, but a lad who looked
as if he had a backbone, and was proud of the
possession, while the happy light of hope and
peace shone in his eyes and smiled on his lips.
'Sakes alive! that can't be Richard Gough as
called hisself Rag, now surely!' cried Hesketh, the
cook. 'Why, my boy, you look as well and jolly
as I do myself.'
'And so I be,' laughed Rag, chuckling for sheer
content and joy of heart.
'Sit down, Richard,' said Hesketh, 'I'll tell
mistress and little miss. They will be glad to see
you so well. Dear me! To think what a bag o'
bones you was, and full of aches and pains too, in
this very kitchen, only a short time ago!' And
the good creature bustled away, and presently
News of a Friend. 61
returned with Mrs. Massitur and Eva, both of whom
gave Rag a warm greeting that did his heart good.
A corner in the box-room was cleared, where the
lad could sleep until something could be decided
as regarded his future.
That evening, when the doctor came home, he
had a talk with Rag about his prospects.
You're not fit for any hard work yet,' said he
kindly; 'this new-found strength of yours would
break down if you tried it too early. Tell me, my
boy, have you any ideas or wishes as to employ-
Rag hesitated, colouring up to the roots of his
hair, and looking down.
I have, sir,' he replied, 'but I hardly like to say
what's in my mind, for fear of you thinking' me
'Don't be afraid, speak out,' said the doctor,
with a reassuring smile.
Thus encouraged, Rag went on : 'Then, sir, if I
might make so bold, I shouldn't care what work
I did, perwided only I could be somewhere near
all of you who's been so good to me. It would
just break my heart, it would indeed, sir, to leave
this neighbourwood, and think I'd never more set
eyes on you, and the mistress, and little Miss
Somehow, Rag had got the impression that
Angel was one of Eva's names. He had adopted
62 News of a Friend.
it in the hospital as soon as he was sensible enough
to speak to her understandingly, and she answered
to it as naturally as though it really belonged to
'Well, my lad,' said Dr. Massitur, 'this wish of
yours makes it the easier and the more pleasant
for me to propose to you a plan which occurred to
me lately when the matron of the Convalescent
Home wrote about your return. My coachman,
Matthew Timms, is getting old, and is stiff with
rheumatism. My practice is increasing, and I
ought to keep another horse, for I have more driv-
ing than two can stand. Now what do you say,
Richard, to taking the place of stable-boy at first ?
Then, when you are accustomed to the care of the
horses, Matthew shall teach you to drive, and after
a while, if you take pains and are careful, you may
become second coachman.'
It were needless to record Rag's reply. Suffice
it to say that his joy and gratitude knew no
bounds, and that a happier stable-boy never sang
over his work than Richard Gough, or Dick, as
Matthew called him.
Rag had been for some weeks in the service of
Dr. Massitur, when he one day received a visit
from his friend John Norris, who had returned to
London with him from the Convalescent Home.
'Well, John' said Dick, 'have you found any-
thing to do yet? I s'pose your old master the
News of a Friend.
baker had got suited, and you had to look out for
'No,' replied John, 'that's the best of it. He
did get a boy; but he turned out an awful bad
chap, and had to be packed off in a hurry. Then
,he engaged another; but he was that slow and
sleepy, as the customers never got their rolls till
breakfast was well-nigh over, and, since nothing
would wake him up, the baker sent him packing
too. It was just when he was about to try.a third
that I called in, permiscuous like, to ask him to
recommend me to a place, and says he:
"John, you can just step into your old position
here, and I'll add a shilling a week to your wages
for the comfort of having a boy I know, instead
of those rubbishy scamps as I've been wearing
my life out with since you left." So of course,'
continued John, 'I was glad enough, and in I went
to my old place, and began my old work, and
there I've been ever since.'
'Well, if that ain't just capital!' exclaimed Rag
'Yes, and now there's a special something I
want to tell you,' responded John.
'You must know that I told my master all
about the Home at Shell-town-on-Sea, and about
you too; but when I mentions you by your
name of Rag, he looks up surprised like, and,
64 News of a Friend.
"Rag! That's a queer name! Sure you don't
'"Tag!" says I, in my turn, remembering what
you'd told me about your friend. "What do you
know about Tag ? "
'"Not much," says he, "not much, save that his
real name is Thomas Alfred Groves."
'" So was my Rag's Tag," answers I, quick as
anything. At that he laughs outright, and begins
to explain ; and says he, "'Twere a bleak cold even-
ing in March, that I noticed a sharp-looking lad
eyeing the bread in the shop as though he was
hungry; and I takes down a stale twopenny, and
gives him, and while he eats it in the shop I have a
talk with him; and of all the known' lads I ever
see, he was the knowin'est, and the jauntiest, comi-
calest, perkiest little beggar that ever set to laughing'
with his mouth full of dry bread, and choked him-
self so doin' till he was well-nigh as black as a
'That's Tag! That's Tag all over!' exclaimed
Yes, well-to continue, as the story books say-
master, seeing what a sharp clever lad he seemed,
asked him if he couldn't give him a name or two
for reference, as he wanted a boy, and would be
willing to try him. And if you please, the young
scamp, as solemn as five funerals, says, that he
hasn't no reliable recommend, saving his own;
News of a Friend.
says it too with such an air, that master nearly
chuckled his head off with just the remembrance
'Tag were always just like that,' remarked Rag
thoughtfully. 'Oh dear me! How I wish I
knowed what have become of him and dear little
Bobtail! I seem to see 'em both as they stood
together-for I were the first to say good-bye-
he with that cocky look of his, and his hat on one
side, and she-Harrie Simmuns-Bobtail, as we
called her, poor little thing, with her long gown
a-flappin' about her, and her thin white face well-
nigh lost in her bonnet, except for the tears as was
running' down her cheeks. God knows if we shall
ever see each other more-us three! But I pray
every day that we may. How glad I'd be to
know they was as well off as me !'
'My dear,' said Dr. Massitur to his wife one
bright morning in September, 'it is a very long
time since you went over to see your old friends
the Misses Grosvenor, at Garden House. It is not
often I can spare you the brougham, and to-day
it is quite at your service, as I am sent for to
a patient at a distance, and must go by train. I
shall be away nearly all day, so you can stay
with the good ladies as long as you feel inclined.
Take Eva with you, she will enjoy the' drive, and
the dear old dames are so fond of her.'
'But,' replied Mrs. Massitur, Matthew is suffer-
News of a Friend.'
ing from rheumatism to-day, and I do not like to
take him so far.'
'You need not take him at all,' said Dr. Massi-
tur. 'Take Richard. He drives extremely well;
I have gone out with him very often lately, and he
manages the horses perfectly. You need not feel
nervous, Kittie, the lad is as cautious and careful
as heart can wish. You may be sure I would
not trust him with so precious a charge were I
not sure of his being able to drive you safely.'
Accordingly, in the course of an hour or two,
behold our old friend Rag, now a respectable-
looking, though rather youthful, coachman, bring-
ing round Dr. Massitur's neat brougham and
handsome bay horse. And a proud and happy
moment was it for him when his mistress and
Miss Angel seated themselves, and he drove off
down the street towards the address that the
doctor had given him.
IN ST. PAUL'S.
.T[ E left our little friend Harrie Simmuns,
1l otherwise Bobtail, going crying along the
S busy street, her pinafore up to her eyes;
sobs shaking her small frame. Her loving
heart clung to her two friends, the sharers of many
a sorrow and hardship; she loved them both like
brothers, and now the parting was very hard to bear.
In the home which she had just left there
had been no one to love her, no one whom she
could, love. Ever since. her father had gone
abroad with his regiment, her step-mother had
sadly ill-treated the little girl; and her son, a
youth about Harrie's own age, imitated his
mother's example, till poor Bobtail's life was a
burden to her. Starved, beaten, scolded, taunted
and neglected-yet not so openly that outsiders
could interfere-the girl reached the age of
thirteen, though she was no bigger than a child
of ten. Stunted by the want of proper and
sufficient food, and by the absence of all the
favourable conditions that serve to develop child-
hood, Bobtail had grown very slowly, and was as
In St. Paul's.
slight as she was small; a poor little mite to be
all alone in the great city, seeking some lot more
bearable than had hitherto fallen to her share.
For some time after she had left Tag, she walked
slowly on, with downcast eyes, wondering whether
she should ever see her two friends again, and
feeling that now she had indeed cut adrift from all
that bound her to the old life. How she was to
live, what she was to do to win her daily bread,
had not yet occurred to her as a question. But
this thought came later, induced by hunger.
She had been sent out to beg since her step-
mother had had the ordering of the household,
and when she brought home less than sixpence
she had been beaten and sent to bed supperless.
But all this persecution had never made the
child consent to tell lies, and invent harrowing
stories to excite the charity of passers-by. Begging
had ever been distasteful to Bobtail; her mother
had brought her up to believe that honest work was
the right thing, and had toiled early and late to
send her little Harrie neat and clean to school. And
so poor Bobtail always felt ashamed and disgraced
when she was asking for charity, and had none of
the persistent assurance of the professional beggar;
none of the nasal whine and endless resources in
the way of fresh tales of woe. Generally she said
not a word, only held out one thin little hand, with
a wistful upward glance of her great grey eyes.
In SA. Paul's.
Going slowly along, she found herself, by the
afternoon, in St. Paul's Churchyard, and close to
the grand old cathedral. It was the hour of
service, and quite a number of people were
assembling. Harrie was very tired of walking,
and as no one seemed to object to her entering,
she stole softly up one of the aisles, and placed
herself in a dark corner. Presently the service
began. The child was too far off to hear the
words of the prayers or the lessons, but the notes
of the organ, and the voices of the choristers, as
they pealed out and echoed and died away
through the arches of the vast building, made poor
Bobtail think of heaven, and wish she was there.
'But God is here, too,' she murmured to herself,
as she knelt with the rest of the congregation, 'and
He sees I'm all alone, and hungry, and tired, and
very miserable, and p'raps He'll help me if I ask
And then, from that dark corner of the great
church, from the quivering lips of that little for-
saken child, rose the cry of the sad young heart
to the Father whose ear is as open to the voice of
the poor and lowly as to the beautiful notes that
chant His praise in our fairest and noblest temples.
The benediction was pronounced, the congrega-
tion began to disperse, and Harrie left her corner,
and followed with the rest who were leaving the
cathedral. Just in front of her were two elderly
70 In St. Paul's.
ladies, dressed exactly alike, and with faces so
similar that even Bobtail could not help noticing
and wondering, as they turned towards each other,
and began to speak.
But one of them, just as she reached the great
door, put her hand into her pocket, and pulled out
her handkerchief, and with it her purse which,
being of sealskin, fell without making any noise.
In one instant Harrie had stooped and picked
it up, then timidly touching on the arm the lady
who had lost it, she said softly, If you please,
ma'am, you dropped this just now, I see it fall.'
'What do you say, my child ?' replied the lady,
who apparently was rather hard of hearing; then
seeing what Harrie held in her hand, she ex-
claimed, 'My purse! Dear me! How did I come
to lose it? Thank you, my dear, you are a very
good little girl to return it so quickly. I dare say
now you haven't even looked inside it ?'
Bobtail flushed crimson.
Oh, ma'am, I should think not indeed,' she said,
and turning away she began to descend the steps
into the churchyard.
'Stop, stop cried the lady, 'wait a moment.
I did not mean to hurt your feelings. I wish to
give you a little present, child; not as a reward for
honesty, for you know honesty is its own-reward,
but because, though you look poor, you never
asked for anything, and because it is a duty as
In St. Paul's.
well as a pleasure to us to help any one we can.'
So saying she took out of the sealskin purse a
Bright half-crown, and put it into Bobtail's hand.
'Oh, ma'ani, how shall I ever thank you!'
murmured the child, looking at the glistening coin,
the largest sum of money she had ever owned.
'Don't thank me any more, that's thanks
enough!' said the kind lady; and she and her
sister went away arm-in-arm, leaving the little
girl quite stupefied with her good fortune.
She was roused, however, presently, by a voice
saying in bland persuasive tones, 'Oh my little
dear, that were a stroke of luck indeed What a
lovely new half-crown to be sure! Now how be
you a-goin' to lay it out ?-if I may ask the
question-take it home, maybe ?'
Bobtail looked up, and saw standing by her an
old woman decently dressed, and with a good deal
of grey hair framing her face under a black bonnet,
and contrasting rather unpleasantly with a pair of
black eyebrows which met in the middle over the
dark small secret-looking eyes.
'No,' replied the child, answering the woman,
and thinking aloud at the same time; 'no, I haven't
got no home to take it to ; this bright money must
pay for lodging and food for a long, long while;
yes, for a very long time, for I don't know when
I'll get any more.'
'Listen, my dear,' said the old woman, 'if so be
74 in St. Paul's.
you haven't no home, just come with me for to-
night at least. I'll lodge you for a trifle, and let
you have some supper too. That'll be better than
running' about the streets. Will you come ?'
Bobtail did not at once reply. Her instincts were
very quick, and perhaps her experiences as a beggar
had sharpened her wits a little beside. There was
something in the old woman's manner, or voice, or
looks-she could not determine which-that made
Harrie distrustful, and hence her hesitation.
She looked up once more into the face that was
earnestly watching her, her own eyes suddenly
grown deep and searching, and the stranger turned
away, saying in an injured tone,
'Ah well; if so be that, young as you are, you've
learned to be suspicious-like, and can't trust a
decent body like me, stay where you are, and shift
for yourself. I never makes no invitation twice
over, and there's plenty of poor children as would
jump at what I offers you.'
Even as the woman spoke Harrie had recon-
sidered the subject.
'Stop, stop!' she said, 'you didn't give me time
to think and answer. Please I'll go with you, and
be thankful, for I'm dreadful tired, and haven't no-
where to sleep.'
Come along then,' responded the woman; and
Bobtail followed up one street and down another
for more than twenty minutes. At last they
In St. Paul's.
entered a court, then a dark smoky-looking house,
and after ascending some stairs they entered a
room, where a girl, with a shock of rough red hair,
was busy mending some coarse stockings by the
eightt of a tallow candle, for the daylight was
already on the wane, and the room had but one
small window looking out into the dingy court.
'Is supper ready, Martha?' asked the old
woman. 'I've brought company for the night.'
Martha looked up, showing a heavy mealy face,
two light blue eyes, and a rather stupid expression.
'Supper's ready,' she said, rising and walking
towards the fire, but with her pale eyes still fixed
upon the visitor's face.
The three sat down to supper, which consisted
of some weak broth made of bones, and thickened
with rice and onions.
Bobtail ate her plateful with a keen relish ; then
the old woman said, 'Now, if you're tired, you're
welcome to lie down at once; there's room for you
on Martha's bed,' and she pointed to a mattress on
the floor in the corner.
Bobtail gladly did as she was told, having first
taken off her dress, and old shabby petticoat,
bonnet, and boots. The half-crown she tied up
in the corner of her little handkerchief, and put
under the pillow.
The supper-plates washed and put away, Martha
also came to bed, but ere that time Bobtail was
76 In St. Paul's.
sound asleep, having said her little evening prayer,
not forgetting her friends Tag and Rag, and ending
with her favourite words, God bless us, and take
care of us all I'
THE LOST PIECE OF SILVER.
HEN Harrie awoke next morning only
Martha was there. The old woman was
not to be seen. The child's first thought
was for her half-crown, and putting her
hand under the pillow she drew out the handker-
chief, a little blue check cotton thing, in a corner
of which she had left her treasure the night before.
Alas neither knot nor half-crown was there now.
Poor Bobtail uttered an exclamation of dismay,
and burst into tears.
'What is it ? What's the matter?' asked the
red-headed girl, who was filling a tea-pot from a
kettle which she had just taken off the fire.
Oh dear Oh dear What shall I do ?' sobbed
the child; 'it was all I had in the world, and it's
'What be you a-talkin' about?' asked Martha;
'what could such as you have to lose, I wonder !'
and her foolish blue eyes stared vacantly at the
little girl's troubled face and flowing tears.
'I had a bright new half-crown,' replied Bobtail
at length, when her sobs suffered her to speak.
78 The Lost Piece of Silver.
'A lady gave it me yesterday for finding' her purse;
and last night I fastened it into the corner of this
handkercher. But the money's gone, and I don't
know what I'm to do, for I haven't a penny, and
no home nor nothing. '
'I didn't even know that you had any money,'
replied Martha ; 'did mother ?'
Oh, yes,' replied Bobtail, 'she see the lady give
it me as we come out of the big church, and she
asked me how I meant to lay it out.'
A curious conscious look came into Martha's
'Oh, that's it?' she said; 'then I understand !'
'Understand what ?' asked Bobtail, drying her
eyes, and gazing in wonder at her companion.
'Never mind,' rejoined Martha doggedly. 'Just
come and eat your breakfast; here's tea and
'But please won't you tell me what's become of
my half-crown, since you say you know ?' pleaded
I didn't say nothing' of the sort; understanding'
ain't knownn'' rejoined Martha. 'How do I know,
indeed, that you had one at all ? I never see it.'
But I had; I couldn't tell a lie. Oh dear! Oh
dear!' and Bobtail, unheeding her breakfast, buried
her face in her hands, laid her head on the table,
and sobbed out, '0 Lord, I asked you to bless us,
and take care of us all, and yet you haven't took
77e Lost Piece of Silver.
care of me, for the money as you sent yesterday
has been stole away, and now I don't know how
to live. Please God, remember your poor little
Harrie, and help me, and show me what to do !'
'I do think you're mad,' said Martha; 'who be
you a-talkin' to?'
'Why, my Father in heaven, of course,' rejoined
Bobtail. 'I'm a-tellin' Him my trouble, and maybe
He'll help me, if only He haven't clean forgot; I
almost fear He has, since He's let me be robbed.'
So Harrie Simmuns reasoned, as many an elder
person has done before and since, knowing not
that losses are of God's sending, even as the gifts
that seem to come straight from heaven; and that
all, even every pain as well as every joy, may be
a means of grace, and a revelation of Divine love
to the child of God.
'Well,' said Martha at last, after staring in
amazement for some moments, 'you be a queer
one, and no mistake. Now will your eat your
breakfast or no? For if not I'll clear the things
But Bobtail was too sad to eat. 'No,' she said,
'I don't want anything, unless you'd please to give
me a bit of bread to put in my pocket.'
'Yes, you can have that,' replied Martha, push-
ing a substantial hunch across the table. 'I dare
say mother won't be so very much out of pocket,
if you do take your breakfast with you. All! so
80 The Lost Piece of Silver.
you're a-goin', be you ? Afore mother comes home
too? Well, do as you like.' And Martha helped
Bobtail to tie the strings of her antiquated bonnet,
and to pin across her thin shoulders the threadbare
'Good-bye, and thank you,' said the child, raising
her sad eyes to Martha's face, as the door opened
to let her out. 'You've not been unkind to me,
and I don't believe you would have stole my half-
crown, now would you ?'
The pleading eyes, the quivering yet half-sniling
lips, the trusting childish words, touched some
chord in stolid Martha's long silent heart. Put-
ting an arm round the little girl's neck, she said
heartily, Steal your half-crown No, little 'un, I
ain't so bad as all that, and I'm truly sorry you've
lost it, and lost it here. If I could get it back for
you I would this minute. Kiss me, child; you
believe me, don't you ?'
Bobtail flung both arms round the girl's neck;
these few kind words were so infinitely precious to
'Yes, yes, I believe you,' she sobbed, 'and now
you've spoke to me so kind, I don't so much mind
about my money. God will take care of me after
all, I'm sure. He feeds the birds, and He will
keep me from starvin'. Good-bye, again, I shall
never forget you; p'raps we'll meet again some
The Lost Piece of Silver. 8 I
And then the little old-fashioned figure fluttered
out into the damp and cold of the bleak March
morning, and poor Bobtail prepared to face, with
what courage she might, the uncertainties, the
dangers, the privations of the day before her; and
further than this the child dared not look. She
walked patiently on through the busy streets,
emerging at last into one of the great central
thoroughfares that she knew. Here, close by the
side-walk, were some women selling oranges, and
one girl Harrie could not help noticing, for she
was quite pretty, with dark eyes and thick short
curly hair. But she looked ready to drop with
pain or great weariness, and was deathly pale.
Bobtail's sympathy gave her courage to speak.
'Be you a-feelin' bad ?' asked she, glancing up
timidly in the other's face. 'You don't know how
ill you look.'
Yes, I'm a-feelin' awful bad,' replied the orange-
girl, 'but I could run across the street to the
chemist's there, and get something that would
stop this pain, only I aren't leave my tray with
no one to take care of it; and these other girls
ain't friends with me, so I don't like to ask them
to mind it for me.'
Harrie hesitated a moment, then she said,
' Will you trust me to take care of your fruit, while
you runs for the physic ? I know I'm a stranger,
but you may trust me if you will.'
82 The Lost Piece of Silver.
For one instant the girl looked straight into
Bobtail's eyes. What she saw there we cannot
tell, but she said, I do trust you, and I'll go, and
thank you. Here, child, take the tray. These 'ere
big oranges is a penny each, and the small ones
a 'alf-penny.' Then the orange-girl ran across the
street, and disappeared in the chemist's shop, while
Bobtail, in a sweet pathetic little voice, began to
cry, 'Oranges, fine oranges !' rather shaking in her
shoes, however, for fear some one should come to
'No, no,' said a big voice presently, to a woman
who was offering her fruit very eagerly. No, no;
I tell ye I am goin' to buy of the smallest seller
here, and that's this mite of a thing, what's lost in
her bonnet to that extent as she hardly seems to
know where she is herself. Look up, little woman,
and let's see your face, if so be you've got one,
and tell us what your oranges cost.'
Harrie pushed her bonnet back, and looked up.
A great burly countryman stood over her, his fat
rosy face beaming with smiles, his little twinkling
eyes full of good-humour and fun. It was im-
possible to feel afraid of such a face as this, and
Harrie smiled responsively and replied, 'Them big
ones is a penny each, sir, and the small ones a
I'll take six penny ones,' said the man, 'and
here's a shillin' for you.'
The Lost Piece of Silver.
'Won't you please to give me sixpence instead?'
asked the child, 'for I haven't no change, and the
right owner of the tray ain't back yet.'
'Bless the child !' exclaimed the countryman, in
his big hearty voice, 'I don't want you to change
the shillin', keep it, to be sure.'
The little girl flushed crimson with delight.
'Oh, thank you, sir, how good you are !' she ex-
claimed, looking up again with a grateful face.
'You're a small thing to be at this trade in
Lon'on streets,' said he, raising her face gently
with his broad hand, and peering into her great
'Please, sir, tain't my trade, I'm only here for
a minute or two, in place of a girl what felt bad,
and has run to the chemist's over the way. And
here she comes!' added Bobtail, as she spied the
orange-girl threading her way across the crowded
street. 'Be you a-feelin' better?' asked the child,
turning from the customer a moment; 'here's a
gent been buyin' six oranges, and he's paid for
'em with a shillin'.'
'I'll give you change, sir, in a minute,' said the
girl, receiving the shilling, and pulling out of her
pocket a little leather bag.
I don't want the change, my good creature,'
said the man laughing; 'just give the sixpence
to this child here, she's the smallest thing in fruit-
sellers as ever I see' So saying, he nodded to
84 The Lost Piece of Silver.
Bobtail, and walked off with a broad grin on his
fat pink face.
A dark cloud had gathered on the brow of the
orange-girl, and she held the purse in her hand,
as though unwilling to give Bobtail the sixpence,
while the child, flushed and timid, stood by her
bearing up the tray.
'I don't see why you should have that sixpence
all for yourself, that I don't!' said the girl frown-
ing. 'I meant to give you a penny for takin' my
place, and I'm sure that's enough. I haven't been
away more'n a minute or two, and 'tain't as if
you'd been givin' up any other work for this.'
'Fie, Betsey! For shame!' cried the other
The angry blood flashed into Betsey's face.
'Oh! So you're all agin me, be you ?' she said
defiantly, 'well, I don't care! 'Twere while this
chit were a-sellin' of my fruit that she got spoke
to and took notice on, and in course the money
is mine, since she were in my place. So here's
your penny, you young minx, and be gone!' and
Betsey, forgetting Harrie's compassion for her, and
the ready offer of help, only a few minutes before,
put a penny in her hand, and gave her a little
This was the last strazv. This morning robbed
of her half-crown, and now again of sixpence.
Only one poor penny-piece between her and
The Lost Piece of Silver.
starvation. No home, no friends, with a hopeless
sense of misery and loneliness, Harrie staggered a
step or two away, and sitting down on the pave-
ment, and leaning against a lamp-post, she cried
as she had never cried yet.
But presently a hand was laid upon her shoulder,
and looking up through her tears she saw one of
the orange-girls in whose kind blue eyes a tell-tale
moisture was glistening, while in her open left
hand was a little pile of half-pence.
'There, there, dear, don't cry and break your
poor little heart!' said she, with a sweet womanly
tenderness that was better than a caress. 'See,
child, each of us, save Betsey, has give something ,
and so we've made up your sixpence and a trifle
over. Here, my chick, wipe your eyes, and take
'God bless you! Thank you, oh, thank you !'
said Bobtail, sobbing and laughing all at once.
And as the half-pence slid into her palm she took
the rough weather-beaten hand of the giver, and
kissed it fervently.
The girl drew back half-ashamed, for she heard
Betsey chuckle audibly behind her. Then with a
sudden reaction, a brave generous impulse that
defied the unmannerly ridicule, she stooped and
pressed her lips to the pale cheek of the little waif,
saying, 'Good-bye, dear, and good luck to you.'
With a grateful tearful smile at the girl and
86 The Lost Piece of Silver.
her companions who had contributed out of their
poverty to make amends for Betsey's ingratitude
and dishonesty, little Bobtail turned away and
walked on, with the comforting sense that God
had not forsaken her after all, but had sent her
help and kindness when she was most desolate
Stopping only once to buy herself a cup of hot
coffee at a little coffee-shop, she went steadily on,
the idea that had now taken possession of her
being, to get out of the crowded city with its
wickedness, its dishonesty, and its cruelty, and
into some quiet neighbourhood, where perhaps
she could obtain a little place as servant to some
kind people, who would feed and clothe her in
return for such work as she was able to do.
'I WAS A STRANGER, AND YE TOOK ME IN.'
AIN'T quite the country, and yet it's not
unlike it,' said Harrie Simmuns to herself,
when, after some hours of walking, she found
herself in a pretty suburb of the great city.
Many of the houses had large shady gardens, or
rather gardens that would be shady when the
leaves were out. At present, the trees had hardly
a flush of green, for the bleak March wind had
nipped the opening buds, and had warned them that
it was early yet to awake from their long slumber.
The little girl was very weary, and when, at a
turn in the road, she saw a cart going along, with
a man trudging beside it, her fatigue gave her the
courage to ask if he would give her a lift.
The carter stooped and peered into Bobtail's
huge bonnet before he replied. Then he said
'Give you a lift? Ay, that I will! I ain't
a-goin' far-only a mile or so up the road, to leave
them sacks of oats at one of the villas; but if the
mile will be any sort of a help to you, you're
welcome, child, as flowers in May.'
88 'I was a Stranger, and ye took Me in.'
Bobtail thanked him gratefully. In the morn-
ing she had been in despair, thinking that God had
forgotten her, and that the world was full of
wicked people; but the kindness of the orange-
girls, and now of this rough-looking but good-
natured carter, had warmed the little chilled heart,
and brought back the childlike trust in the Eternal
Father's wisdom and love.
It was a very easy thing for the big burly man to
lift Harrie's light form, and place her in the cart,
where she sat down comfortably on a sack of
oats, and watched the leisurely pace of the sober
old horse, which seemed to have worldly wisdom
enough not to hurry unnecessarily over its work.
'Tell us your name, child,' said the man, walking
close beside the -cart. 'You're a small thing to be
adrift like this.'
My name's Harriet Simmuns,' replied Bobtail,
pushing back her coal-scuttle, and revealing her
small face with its rings of dark hair falling over
the brow, and its heavy-lidded eyes that had not
yet forgotten the tears of the morning. 'I've gone
and left my stepmother,' continued the child ; 'she
tries to make me do wicked things which I'd
promised my own mother I wouldn't. And I was
that starved and beaten, that I was afeared, if I
stayed along of her, she and her son would at last
turn me into a hard crittur like theirselves. So
me and two friends-which their names was Tag
'I was a Stranger, and ye took Me in.' 89
and Rag-runned away, feeling' that even if we
starved and died, all alone in London, this were
better than such lives as we was livin' at home.'
'And where may them two friends of your'n be,
child ?' asked the carter, who had marked each
change in the little girl's face while she spoke.
Harrie's eyes filled with tears.
'I only wish I knew she said with a trembling
voice. 'We all of us went different ways, and we
can't tell if we'll ever see each other again, and they
was like brothers to me-so kind and good.' And
she drew her little handkerchief from her pocket,
and hid her face with it.
'There, there! I didn't go for to make you
cry,' said the carter soothingly. 'Poor mite But
no one won't think the worse of you for sheddin' a
few tears when you thinks of those you loves.
Never mind, my girl; I've lived a goodish bit longer
nor you, and I've learned as how the world ain't
such a mighty big place, arter all, and folks jostles
up agen each other often, when they didn't expect
ever to meet again. And what's a better lesson
still, little woman-which life equerly the same is
a-teachin' of us-the good Lord ain't the One to
forget none of His children, and all the blessin' and
happiness as is good for 'em, whether it be meeting'
with their friends, or getting' things they want, He
will take care they have. It's like this, you see,
child,' and as the man spoke he uncovered his
90 'I was a Slranger, and ye took Me in.'
head, and looked up into the pale cold sky, that
was beginning to darken in the bleak March
evening-' It's like this. If we trust God at all
it must be altogether, and for always; for others
as well as for ourselves: for the great eternity
that's to come, as well as for these little lives of
our'n. And this sort of faith wouldn't be easy-
nay it wouldn't even be possible, if it weren't that
we know He loved us and cared for us so as to give
His best Beloved for us. And if so be He loved
us enough for that, you know, little 'un-loves you
small Harriet Simmuns, and me, big John Grace-
it ain't for us to doubt Him, whatsoever His
dealing's with us may be. We may trust Him, now
mayn't we ?' And John Grace turned his honest
face upon the child, glowing with joy and assur-
ance, and meeting the eager little countenance that
seemed to drink in every word.
'He does, yes, He does! Oh, thank you! thank
you!' cried Bobtail. 'That's how mother used to
speak to me; but since she died I've heard nothing
good; and it seemed as if the Lord and me had
well-nigh forgot each other.'
'And yet you be one of the Good Shepherd's
lambs for sure,' said the carter; 'for see how He's
been a-guardin' and a-helpin' of you up to this
present. And what He have done He can do
again, and more too. After the night comes the
morning Your night may have been a long one
'I was a Stranger, and ye took MAe in.' 9
for the likes of you, child, but I believe daybreak's
a-comin', and ain't far off neither.'
Bobtail did not reply, but her bright little face
answered for her, and the good carter understood.
By this time the destination of the cart-load of
oats had been reached, and John Grace stopped
before the back gate of a pretty villa standing in
its own grounds.
I suppose I must bid you good-bye now,' said
Bobtail, scrambling down, aided by the carter's big
'Tell us,' said he, 'what be you a-thinkin' of
doin'? Where be you a-goin', if it's a fair ques-
tion?' And while he spoke John Grace held the
little hand of the child firmly in his warm clasp.
I don't know,' replied Bobtail; 'but after what
you've said, I ain't afeared any more. You've
called to mind all I knowed afore, and I feel I'll be
took care on, and all's got to come right. in the
'That's true enough, my child,' replied John,
'and equerly the same it's true as God works by
means, and tells His children to love one another,
and each to bear t'other's burdens, so fulfillin' the
law of Christ. And now, if you don't mind waiting'
for me here till I've carried in them oats, I'll take
you home with me, and you shall stay the night
along o' me and my wife, and to-morrow we'll
think what's to be done with you.'
92 'I was a Stranger, and ye took Me in.'
Poor little Bobtail She tried so hard to thank
her new friend, but she could not speak, and good
John Grace did not wait for her acknowledgments,
but began to carry the sacks into the stable yard,
where he delivered them up to the care of the
coachman. Presently he returned, and lifting the
child as though she had been a baby, he put
her gently back into the cart, then getting in
himself, he drove, at a brisk trot, down a side
'1My home's in these 'ere parts,' said he, pointing
with his whip. 'I does cartin' jobs for lots of
folks round. And them ladies as I took the oats
to just now often give me orders. Now I carts
their luggage to a station; then again I fetches
furniture or things they've been a-buyin' of at
some sale, or I carries the bit of hay they make in
a little field behind the house. And often, in the
summer time, I takes down the things for school
treats and poor folks' picnics. You should see the
benches and kettles, and urns, and baskets of buns
and fruit as my cart carries; for them ladies is
very good to all about them, and does what they
can for the poor, and visits us all regular. Sally,
my wife, she thinks a heap of them, and so -
but here we be!' And John Grace came to a
sudden stop in his explanations, jumped down
before his own cottage, and entered a wee garden,
in which were some early spring flowers. Then
'I was a Stranger, and ye took Me in.' 93
the door opened, and a bright comely little woman
'Oh, John dear, I am glad you've got home.
Tea will be ready directly; and -- then in a
lower tone she added, 'Who's this child you've left
sitting in the cart ?'
'I'll tell you all about her afterwards, lovie;
make the poor mite welcome now. She's had a
hard life, and needs comfortin'.'
'And what she needs she shall have,' said Sally
Grace, coming forward and helping the child to
alight. Then taking her hand, she led her in, and
made her welcome, while John, looking over his
shoulder at them, as he walked away to put his
horse up, murmured to himself, 'I was a stranger,
and ye took Me in. Forasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye
have done it unto Me.' And that night, when he
and his wife knelt together to offer up the evening
prayer, as was their wont, he thanked God for the
privilege of helping one of the Lord's children,
and for being suffered, even in so humble a way,
to tread in the steps of the Good Shepherd, who
takes the lambs in His arms, and carries them iti
After such trials as Bobtail had experienced,
this quiet home was real rest and happiness; for
the talk next morning had resulted in a decision
94 'I was a Stranger, and ye took Me in.'
that Harrie should remain for the present; and
to the child this prospect was one of unmixed
A little bed was made up for her on the sofa in
the parlour, and Mrs. Grace allowed Bobtail to
help her in her household occupations. Under
the good woman's direction, she learned to sweep
and dust, to scour and clean, to cook a little, and
wash and iron, and sew and knit. And kind Mrs.
Grace, seeing that the poor child's clothes were
almost dropping off her back, made from one of
her own gowns a dress which the little girl
thought a triumph of skill and beauty. The huge
coal-scuttle was exchanged for a neat hat, and the
untidy elf-locks were cut and combed; so that
few people who now saw this sweet tidy-looking
girl, with her glossy wavy hair, great grey eyes,
and slight trim little figure, would have guessed
that she was one and'the same with the wretched
waif whose bedraggled skirts and sad face might
have been seen any day in the streets of London,
as she plied her distasteful trade of begging.
'I want to teach you all I can, child,' said Mrs.
Grace to Harrie one day, when she had been
giving her a lesson in starching and ironing. 'The
more you know, the better chance there will be of
your getting' a good place. No sort of knowledge
comes amiss, and one is only the better for learning'
anything. It's sure to be useful some day.'
'I was a Stranger, and ye took Afe in.' 95
And Bobtail showed herself an apt scholar, and
soon became quite a help in the little home,
relieving Mrs. Grace altogether of some of the
lighter duties, and helping with the others as much
as her strength would permit.
The more the good woman saw of the girl, the
more convinced she felt of her having been care-
fully trained, during the earlier years of her life, in
all that was true and pure. And fully believing
Bobtail's story, she was sure that she was only
doing her duty in making it easy for her to escape
from so wretched and wrong a life as she had led
with her wicked stepmother, during the miserable
years that had followed her own mother's death.
As for John Grace, he treated Harrie almost as
though she had been his own daughter. He asked
her to read the Bible to him in the evening; he
bought her a copy-book and a pen, and made her
practise her writing. And. to all this Bobtail took
very kindly, and looked forward with real pleasure
to her daily lessons.
AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT.
NE afternoon, when Mrs. Grace was ironing,
and Bobtail making preparations for an early
cup of tea, there came a tap at the door, and
when it was opened there entered two ladies,
at whom the little girl stared in speechless aston-
ishment, for they were the very two whom she
had followed out of St. Paul's Cathedral, and one
of them was the lady who had dropped the purse,
and given her that bright new half-crown, over the
loss of which she had shed so many bitter tears.
Bobtail recognized them at once, but it was not
wonderful that they did not know her. She was
clean now, and neatly dressed, and had, moreover,
such a contented happy little face that she did not
seem like the same child ; and her bright pleasant
looks at once attracted the attention of the visitors.
'Why, Mrs. Grace, you have a guest,' said Miss
Grosvenor, who was the elder of the twins by
about an hour.
'Yes,' said Miss Katherine, the younger, 'it
must be delightful for you to have a companion,
so much alone as you are obliged to be.'
As a Thief in the Night. 97
'She's been some little time with me now,
replied Mrs. Grace, coming forward smilingly, and
placing seats for her visitors.
'Yes, and we should have made her acquaint-
ance earlier, only that we have been away from
home, and so have not been able to pay our
monthly visit,' explained Miss Grosvenor.
Meanwhile Miss Katherine drew Bobtail nearer
to her, and asked her name, and how she came to
know Mrs. Grace; and the little girl told her story
very simply and naturally, and finished up by say-
ing: 'If you please, ma'am, it were you and the
other lady as I followed out of St. Paul's one day,
and it were that lady as give me the half-crown'I
were robbed of afterwards.'
'Dear me! dear me!' exclaimed Miss Kath-
erine. 'Winifred, just listen a minute! Do you
remember our going into town to shop, a short
time before we left home for the seaside ? If you
recollect, we went into St. Paul's, for the afternoon
'Of course, Kate, I am not likely to have for-
gotten that already. I dropped my purse as we
were coming out, and a child returned it to me
It seemed strange to us both, you know, to find
such honesty in one so poor as she appeared to
be; and- But what are you smiling at, Kate?
And you too, little girl ? Yes, and even you, Mrs.
Grace! What do you all know that I do not ?'
98 As a Thief in the Night.
'Tell my sister,' said Miss Katherine to Bobtail,
gently putting the child forward a step. Harrie
looked up in Miss Grosvenor's face, coloured a
little, and said : 'If you please, ma'am, I were the
little girl as picked up the purse, and it were me
as you give the half-crown to.'
So then, Harrie had to tell her story all over
again; and when it was ended Miss Grosvenor said
a few words to her sister, who nodded and smiled;
then she turned to Mrs. Grace.
'If quite agreeable to you, Mrs. Grace,' said she,
'my sister and I should like to have this child, and
train her for a maid. She is, you say, industrious,
and of good principles, and we should be glad to
take charge of her. Our maid could teach her
some of her easier duties, whilst my sister and I
would give her daily lessons in reading, writing,
arithmetic, and sewing. But if you would rather
keep her, Mrs. Grace, please say so. You were
her first friend, and it is for you to decide what is
best for the child. And if you are unwilling to
part from her, you have only to tell us, and we will
say no more about it.'
'I should be selfish indeed, were I unwillin',
ma'am,' replied the carter's wife. But I have
come to be fond of her, and shall miss her sorely
And as for my John, why, he treats the child as if
she was his own, and he will miss her too.'
'Well,' said Miss Grosvenor, talk it quietly