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"THESE LITTLE ONES."
"Ragged children with bare feet,
Whom the angels in white raiment
Know the names of, to repeat
When they come on you for payment.
"0 my sisters! children small,
Blue-eyed, wailing through the city-
Our own babes cry in them all;
Let us take them into pity."
]OIIN S. MARK AND SONS,
51 DUNDAS STREET.
I. ROB AND SHRIMP, 5. 5
II. "WE BESEECH TIEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!". 11
III. MOPSIE, 18
IV..You'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MiorSIE!" . 30
V. CRAZY WILL, 43
VI. IRISH KATTY, 51
VII. "GooD LORD, DID YOU HEAR hE?" 59
VIII "WILL HE DIE?" 63
IX. "CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME," 77
X. MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE, 82
XI. THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING," 90
XII. "IT'S ALL COME BACK," 097
XIII. "SOMEBODY LISTENED," 103
XIV. "YOU AIN'T GOING BLIND, ROB!" 108
XV. THE GREEN GLASSES, 118
XVI. COME HOME "ALL TO THE MINUTE," 127
XVII. ROB GIVES UP, 132
XVIII. "I'LL FIND HER," 135
XIX. MIOPSIE'S SoN, 138
"THESE LITTLE ONES."
ROB AND SHRIMP.
THERE was fog everywhere. Thick, yellow fog, that lay
heavily over the city, veiling the housetops, and closing,
slowly but surely, on the busy life of the London streets.
Rob wondered where it all came from, and pulled a
tattered coat more closely about his slim, boyish figure.
"Shrimp, old boy, we'll knock off work; 'tain't no good
Shrimp was clinging to Rob's hand, and shivering as the
cold, damp mist folded itself more resolutely about them.
"It's awful cold, Rob," he said in a plaintive, childish voice.
Awful, and damp enough to choke a fellow," he added,
bringing his pale lips together.
"What '11 we do, Rob ?"
"Don't know. 'Tain't no good going anywhere, we ain't
got no coppers; 'sides, if the fog cuts it, there'll be the
crossing to see to."
6 ROB AND SHRIMP.
"It's awful cold," the child said again. Conversation is
apt to repeat itself at such times as these, and grow brilliant
and original in proportion to the lightness of our heart, and,
perhaps, the shallowness of our feeling.
"I say, Shrimp."
"S'pose we try to get into that church down there by
"Yes, we could, pervided we kep' our eyes open. It'll
be fine and warm in there. Ketch hold tight, Shrimp, for
I'd soon lose a little fellow like you, and we must take the
They won't let us go inside, Rob," the child said drearily,
using the word they as a simple term by which he distin-
guished the respectable members of society from themselves
-strays from the "great unwashed,"-whose doings must
ever be liable to censure.
"Let them look to theirselves," the older lad broke out
fiercely; we don't bother them or interfere with their doings.
What's churches for, I wonder? Them as got houses of
their own don't want 'em."
"Yes they do, Rob; they likes a bigger place than their
own to meet folks in and show theirselves off."
"Well, Shrimp, that's what we'll do, we'll go to church,
and show ourselves off," and the lad laughed a bitter, scoffing
laugh, which came to a sudden end as he stood still and
pulled off his ragged coat. Then he bent down and put
IOB AND SHRIMP. 7
little Shrimp's arms into it, buttoning it across his chest
with infinite care.
"Don't, Rob, you'll be awful nipped yourself."
"You shut up, youngster! What did I teach you when
you was a little 'un-that all you'd got to do was to be quiet,
and let old Rob do what he was a-minded to. You ain't
never to forget that, Shrimp, you're allers to do what I tells
"'Cause you're such a little chap, you'd be allers getting
into mischief. Now, then, keep quiet, and we'll slip in when
the old cove ain't looking. "
The old cove was the beadle, who had just opened the
inner doors, and solemnly peeped out to see if all was right.
The boys kept behind a corner until he had disappeared,
and then made for the porch. They got in safely, and
paused under its shelter to take breath.
"Now, then, peel your eyes!" Having given this some-
what mysterious command, Rob crept on tiptoe to the
green baize door, faithfully followed by 'h!i i 'p.
A faint monotonous sound reached them as the clergyman
proceeded with the morning prayers. Under cover of this
Rob ventured to push the door a little to ascertain if there
was any possibility of its creaking. But it was a model
door, and the boys, mutually congratulating each other,
peered through a moderate aperture, and took their survey.
A large church, well lighted, well warmed, with massive
pillars, coloured scrolls, and pictured recesses-a church that
8 ROB AND SHRIMP.
to the wondering child-eyes peering in by stealth, seemed
little less than Paradise.
0 Rob!" whispered Shrimp ecstatically.
Well, I'm blest if this ain't a oner!"
"Let's go in, there ain't nobody looking now. They've
all bobbed their heads."
The congregation were devoutly kneeling, and the beadle,
having for a while relaxed his vigilance, offered up his
prayers with the rest.
The children could never have a better chance, so cau-
tiously, very cautiously, Rob appealed to the door.
A pew on the right hand side, just behind the beadle,
presented itself as a suitable place for them to pitch their
camp. Holding the door open with one hand, Rob pushed
Shrimp forward with the end of his broom, then, with a
swift move of his long, slender limbs, made the desired
The beadle, all unconscious of their nearness, continued
his prayers, and the two boys drew a long breath of relief.
The pew was large, well cushioned, and carpeted, with
crimson hassocks standing in a row beneath the seats, which
went round the pew, and left room for a small table in the
Shrimp pulled out a hassock without delay, and curled
himself up on the floor, while Rob disposed of his broom in
a suitable corner. Then, standing with his eyes on a level
with the top of the pew, he made a cautious investigation.
So far all was safe. Not a head was turned towards
ROB AND SHRIMP. 9
them, not a suspicion troubled the calm repose of the beadle's
Rob rubbed his hands together, and, I am sorry to say,
winked in the most direct and pointed manner at the bald
and polished surface of that worthy's bowed head. There
was something exciting in this invasion of the enemy's
ground. Rob had no doubt that in the end they would be
discovered and ignominiously expelled, but the present
triumph was none the less enjoyable. Besides, he had
never been inside a church before, and he rather looked
upon this as an omission in his experience.
He was an old man of the world in some things, sadly
and sorrowfully old, in a way that only such as he-street
waifs and homeless ones-can become. Poor Rob and yet
there was something about the brown face, and its dusky
eyes, ever suspicious and on the alert as they were, that
seemed to claim for him the name we give to the most
winsome of our own lads-" a mother's boy."
He was a slender lad, lithe and agile, swifter-footed than
any of his ragged comrades, and abler than any of them to
hold his own in a hand-to-hand fight. There were not a
few heavy-built young giants who kept clear of Rob's long
slender limbs and resolute face, knowing what possibilities
He had been little more than a baby when his mother
looked her last on him, and left her little two-year-old
Shrimp to his care and protection. Further back than that,
he remembered a time when his father used to come home
10 ROB AND SHRIMP.
at night and lie drunk across the doorway, when his
mother, pale and frightened, would hide him under any rag
that lay about on the floor, lest he should stir the slumbering
wrath of the man she called her husband. Then a time
came when the man ceased to come home at all, and Rob
remembered how his mother cried and wept throughout the
night, and one day, not so very long after, a little dead baby
came into the world, and before another day had passed
the neighbours took it and laid it in the arms of its dead
'WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!" 11
"WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!"
ROB enjoyed the service. So did Shrimp, curled up cosily
at the bottom of the pew, his weary little face flushed
They were an odd-looking pair to be domiciled in so
aristocratic a building. The soft beautiful light, the
warmth, the cushioned seats, the well-dressed congregation,
threw these children of the mire into strong relief.
Rob looking over the pew, his chin resting on his folded
arms, felt this in a vague way, and for awhile his dark face
grew more dark, and a half bitter, half contemptuous
smile curled his lip.
"It's them as gets everything, vittals, and clothes, and
houses, and churches, while Shrimp and I ain't got nothing.
If I know'd who'd got the arranging o' it all, I'd like to
speak my mind a bit. See if I wouldn't tell him what I
thinks o' it, and him too. Why, this here church is jist
shut up ev'ry night, and not a blessed soul inside it. And
there's Shrimp and I, and Mopsie, and all the rest of us,
packed in a place like a cupboard, and thinks oursel's
12 "WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!"
mighty lucky when we gets that. It wants a deal o'
turning' .over, things like this. And they keeps the fires
agoin' here all night long, cause the ladies in their furs
shan't feel the cold when they comes in of a morning .
Things is got wrong somewhere; here's cushions, and no-
body to lie on 'em, and fires all night, and nobody to warm
themselves; and there's Shrimp and I, and all the rest of
us, down at Old Vic's! Can't nobody see it but me, I
But before long the beauty and mystery of the service
crept over him, and softened him gradually and uncon-
sciously. The players might have been in Hebrew for
all he comprehended of them; but the soft, modulated
voices, all speaking with one impulse, the reverent faces
and bowed heads, suggested a vague, beautiful something
foreign to the boy's life.
The spirit of the place entered into him, and while
Shrimp slept, Rob stood motionless, his lithe young form,
in its ragged covering, pressed forward against the seat,
his dark eyes watching every movement.
At last the constant reiteration of one clause struck on his
ears. Not that he understood its meaning, but he recognized
it as a familiar sound. He began to look for it, paying no
heed to the intermediate petition; then gradually, as it be-
came more familiar, he softly repeated it with the others.
Over and over again the people sent up their petition-
"We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord !"-till Rob began
to have a faint idea of what it meant.
"WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD." 13
It seemed to him they were asking somebody to hear
them, most likely the man in the white gown, who knelt
alone in the distance.
By and by the petition ceased, and then the people got
up and sang a hymn. Rob slipped down noiselessly, not
deeming it safe to run the risk of anybody looking round.
Then it struck him that he might as well make himself
comfortable while he could, so he stretched himself cau-
tiously on the floor, and drew out another hassock for a
pillow. A church seemed to him a first-rate place after
Lying there with half-closed eyes, he thought over this
new experience, repeating softly to himself the simple
phrase he had learnt.
Then the church grew darker and darker, and the lights
went out one by one, till only three or four remained.
They seemed far off, and flickered in and out as if a strong
wind swept by them.
Rob shivered, and drew his limbs more closely together,
coming in contact as he did so with cold, wet stone. Over-
head was a dark archway, like the dim arches of the church,
and yet still more it seemed to Rob like the recesses under
It was raining outside, for as the wind swept by again
it brought a thick shower of drops on the boy's lifted face.
He put out his hand and felt for Shrimp, who lay chill and
cold beside him.
It seemed to him that he had been asleep, for by and
14 "WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!"
by he found the distant lights were street lamps, and that
it was night, dark, wet, and windy.
A footstep sounded now and again, and the shadows
leaped about in wild confusion, crossing the shining track
of wet pavement that lay beneath each lamp-post.
A pitiless night this to spend in the London streets, and
Rob drew himself up, and looked about for better shelter.
They might creep a little farther within the arch, but that
was all, and the wind swept in after them to the farther-
Then suddenly, a soft light crept into the archway, and
Rob, looking up to see from whence it came, saw that
beyond, in the centre of a wonderful radiance, stood a
man, robed from head to foot in white.
He came towards them, and taking them both by the
hand, led them forth into the cold wet streets. But as
they walked the shining pavements grew brighter and
brighter, till Rob, looking down, saw with surprise that
they were no longer wet, but laid with gold that gleamed
in the sunlight. Then a wild, sweet peal of bells rang
forth, and the air was so full of music that the children
forgot their hunger and cold, and cried aloud for joy.
But presently Rob found that they were in the church
again, and beautiful lights shone around, and the air was
warm and rosy.
Then the stranger, still holding the boys by the hand,
went and stood outside on the steps, and one by one
children came up out of the crowded streets and knelt
"WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD." 15
before them. Amongst these ragged ones, Rob saw many
an old friend; but they seemed to see no one but the man
in the white robe, and kneeling down before him they
folded their hands and prayed-" We beseech thee to hear
us, good Lord."
But at the bottom of the steps the beadle kept guard,
and Rob saw that he would fain have held the children
back, but the stranger in the white robe beckoned them on,
and when they each had said their simple prayer, they
passed on into the light and warmth.
And ever as they came, the church widened out and
lengthened, so that it was always full, yet ever ready for
more. In the midst of the children were the people Rob
had seen in the church, and out of their rich abundance
they gave to the little ones both food and raiment.
Then they sang a strange sweet song, that none of the
children had ever heard before, but which came from their
lips with one accord. As it softly died away the stranger
stood before them, and looking across the others smiled at
Rob and Shrimp, and called them to his side. They
pressed forward with lifted, eager faces, and waited till he
You young raskils i"
For a second Rob lay still, looking lazily out from a pair
of dusky sleepy eyes; then, with a bound he was on his
The respectable beadle stood in the doorway, looking
1C "WE BESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD!"
with unmistakable horror at the intruders. There they
were-Rob, Shrimp, and the broom-painfully, awfully
distinct. They could never have looked more dirty than
at that moment-even Rob felt that the broom was at its
worst; and there they were, a forlorn muddy group, in
the centre of the crimson carpeted floor, amid the dainty
luxurious cushions, a sight to rouse the wrath of the most
"You-you young scamps !"
"We ain't; we com'd to church like the great folks,"
Rob asserted sullenly.
"Well, then, you'll have to learn it ain't a place for such
"Who's it for then?"
"For them as pays for their sittings, and belongs to decent
society. Turn out now-turn out!"
"Don't hurry yourself," said Rob, taking up his broom
leisurely, and preparing for departure; "but"-with an
inimitable air of grandeur-" we'll thank you to see the
pew swept out and cleaned before next Sunday. We've
taken a liking to the place-Shrimp and I-and shall look
in again some day. The place "-with a wave of his hand
-"does you credit, I'm sure."
"I'll have the perlice for you, see if I don't," cried the
beadle, getting very red in the face.
"Don't put yourself out, sir," said Rob anxiously, "you
shouldn't never worry. If it'll save you the trouble we'll
"WE PESEECH THEE TO HEAR US, GOOD LORD." 17
call him oursel's. Shrimp and I are more used to his ways,
and we'll ask him jist to keep an eye on you. Now Shrimp,
bid the gen'el'man good-day," and then the lads went off,
going down the church steps with infinite leisure and
WHEN the night closed in chill heaviness over the city, the
lads were still wandering about.
"Rob, I'm awful tired," Shrimp said languidly, holding
his brother's hand and coming to a standstill. "Let's go
to Old Vic's."
"What's the good ? We ain't got no coppers, and she's
too sharp to take us on trust. It's only the gentry that
don't want it that gets that."
Well Rob, let's sit down. I can't walk any farther, so
it ain't no use. I'm so hungry."
Look here, Shrimp, you're not going to give up like that,
I'll bet. Just you jump up on my back, and we'll go to
Old Vic's, and try our luck. If it's no go, there's a bit of
an archway I found out down by the river."
Shrimp laid his head on Rob's shoulder, too weary even to
speak. It was a long way to Old Vie's, and by the time they
got there, Rob, who was burdened with Shrimp in addition
to his broom, staggered heavily into the doorway, and sank
down on the stair with a long breath of relief.
"Now, Shrimp, look here, if she won't take both on us in,
perhaps she'll take you on trust, 'cause you're so small."
"I don't 'spect I'll take much room, Rob, only what'll
"Oh1, I shall get on first-rate," the elder lad said brightly;
"there's lots of places I can go to, only you're dead done up,
that's what you are," and he looked down in a motherly way
at the little face, with its heavy, half-shut eyes. "Now,
then, let's go up and see."
At the top of the broken, rickety stairs were several
rooms, the inmates of which were more or less noisy. The
door of one of them was ajar, and Rob pushed it open and
Half-a-dozen lads were there already, some asleep on rough
beds on the floor, others lounging in a corner, talking, and,
in most cases, quarrelling.
"Hullo! here comes Robin and Shrimp," they shouted,
at sight of the two boys. Hope you've done a good day's
bizzness, and are ready to treat your friends. We'll swear
by ye if yer can," and some tangled forelocks were pulled in
Sorry to disappoint you, I'm sure, but it ain't convenient
to-day. Left my spare cash at the bankers. Where's Old
Lost to sight, to mem'ry dear," returned a red-haired boy,
whose name was Ben.
That she are," cried another with an emphatic nod of his
head, "never knew another so dear as she. The little 'uii
looks down in the mouth, Robin; what yer been doing to
"He's dead beat, and that's the long and short o' it.
Mother Vie !"
There was no answer, so he called again.
"What are you yellin' there for?" came in a deep voice
from another room.
"For you, ma'am," returned Rob in the pleasantest way he
Well, and what do you want ?"
"Please, Mother Vic" -
"Please, Mrs. Vie, we wants a night's lodging."
"Oh, indeed!" and Mother Vie plunged into the room.
I use that word to describe her mode of entrance advisedly.
She was a huge woman, rather lame, whose limbs were
inclined to act on their own responsibility.
Her face was large, with a forehead of great height. Her
cap, which had been in constant use from time immemorial,
was composed of various black materials, put together irre-
spective of suitability, and forming a low border on her
forehead, and wide wings on each side of her face, black,
vague, and fluttering, that in the eyes of small children
represented something awful and mysterious. Shrimp
looked at them now, and gave a little shudder. Her sudden
entrance had set the large bows quivering in a very
"Where's your coppers ?" she asked,
Rob answered pleasantly, while Shrimp took a closer hold
of his hand-" Please, ma'am, we thought as how you know'd
us, and so" -
"Yes, I know you, you young scamps."
"And"-Rob went on fearlessly-" and we'll bring you
the coppers to-morrow, 'pon our honour we will."
"I seem I see you," and Mother Vie laughed as loud and
deep as a six-foot grenadier. "A very likely story that--
very," and then Mother Vie laughed again, till the great
black wings of her cap trembled all over. Shrimp shut
his eyes a minute that he might not see them, but Rob
"You see, ma'am, it's been an awful sort o' day, nothing
but fog anywhere, and we haven't been able to keep at the
That's no bizzness of mine, but when it's a parcel of boys
what don't pay me, that comes to a different thing."
"I thought that just for once like" -
"Oh yes, that's the old story. You'd have done better if
you'd struck a new line."
"We'd be sure to bring you the money to-morrow night,"
pleaded Rob, after another look at the little pale face by his
side. "There wouldn't be no doubt about that, ma'am!"
"Much obliged, but I'd rather depend on something more
substantial," returned Mother Vie grimly. "Bring your
coppers to-morrow night, and to-morrow night you may
stay. But no coppers, no bed. You'd better turn out
That was what everybody said to these lads-" turn out."
It seemed as if there was no niche in all the world for
Rob stooped down and drew Shrimp more forward, that
Mrs. Vic might, see the little pathetic face, and by chance be
"Ile's awful tired, ma'am, and he's such a little 'un, he
won't take much room. I'll be off in a minute, ma'am, if
you'll only let him stay, or I'd do any odd job for you so as
to make up a bit. It would only be till to-morrow night."
"Wouldn't it ?" and again Mrs. Vic laughed so deeply,
that little Shrimp nestled up to Rob, and whispered softly
-" I'd rather go with you, Rob, anywheres"
"It's precious little I'd see of you again if I took charge
of that piece of goods," she went on, nodding her head at
the child. "I've never been took in yet, and I'm not going
to begin now."
"And it's precious little you'll see of my money in future,"
Rob declared in a grand tempest of indignation, and taking
Shrimp by the hand, he turned on his heel.
Mother Vie smiled to herself, then shouted to the boys
as they reached the bottom of the stairs, You'll come back
again; you'll come back again Beggars can't be choosers,
and you won't find a cheaper place, not if you lights a
candle to look for it."
The fog was worse than ever, or it seemed so to the boys
coming out with the knowledge that they would have no
shelter for the night. When times were good, they paid
Mrs. Vic a week's lodging in advance; but things had been
against them lately, and Mrs. Vic knew this, and acted
Poor little Shrimp staggered every now and then, as
if he hardly saw where he was going; but Rob held him
with a firm hand, till at last he sank down on a doorstep,
and began to sob from sheer weariness.
"Now, then, none of that!" Rob said sternly; "you ain't
a-going to give up like a baby. You're too old for that, a
good deal too old. Why, you're 'most a man now, that
"But I'm so tired, Rob, I aches all over."
"Yes, I knows all about it. But you mustn't give up,
Shrimp. 'Twill never do. Look here, I'll give you a lift
now, if you'll shut up; but it isn't Rob that '11 carry a cry-
baby. I'm disappointed in yer, Shrimp, that's what I am,
and you 'most a man now! Now, then!" and up went
Shrimp on the strong young shoulders, and the boy stepped
forth as if he knew nothing of cold or hunger, fighting his
way against the fog with the heart of a hero.
As they turned the sharp corner of a street some one
came full tilt against them, and Rob nearly lost his
" Well, you're a nice one," he said contemptuously.
"Where did you learn your manners? You'd best leave off
coming round at such a rate as that, more particular on
foggy nights, when nobody's on the lookout for you."
Oh, indeed!" said a saucy young voice, and so I am
to learn my manners from you, Mr. Robin;" and the girl
came up and peered through the fog at the two boys.
"You might do worse," returned Rob calmly, veering
round to greet the newcomer. "So, it's you, Mopsie! I
thought 'twas uncommon like you, you nearly floored both
"What's up with your baby ?" said the girl curiously.
"Is that the way you generally go about ?"
We suit our own convenience, thank you, and don't
ask for leave nor liberty. If you'll step a bit farther off
we'll go on."
Where are you going?"
"To our lodgings, should'nt a' thought you'd have needed
The girl bent a little nearer so that Rob could see her
wide-open childish eyes. "Bad luck to-day?" she asked
"Been to Old Vic's."
The boy nodded.
"Ah!" returned Mopsie in a comprehensive way. "No
"I believe you!" and the two children shook their beads
as solemnly as if they had been fifty.
"It's bad for the little 'un such a night as this."
"Yes, there's the rub, he's fairly sick with the cold
"Well, good-night !" and Mopsie disappeared in the mist.
A minute later, and they heard her hurrying after them
Look here, I'll take the little 'un, and he'll get a night's
lodging with me. Look sharp there I can't be waiting."
0 Mopsie!" and Shrimp lifted up his pale face in
Come into a fortune?" Rob asked to the full as much
surprised as Shrimp.
"Not exactly, but I can see to him and myself too.
Here come on!"
"Bless your heart, Mopsie! You ain't such a bad one
after all. See if I don't stick up for you in future. Let
me know, and I'll knock down any fellow you like."
Mopsie took hold of Shrimp and turned off. "You can
come round to Old Vic's in the morning and fetch him.
He'll be all right till then."
Then they separated, Rob going off to spend his cheerless
night as best he could, and Mopsie and Shrimp to find their
way to Mother Vic's.
Shrimp was quiet enough, but after a minute or two
Mopsie stooped down and touched his cheeks.
"You're crying!" she said.
"Not very much," the child answered. I can't help it,
you'know, Mopsie. Rob don't like me to, but it's no use
"What's the matter?"
"I'm so dreadful hungry-it's awfld."
"Had nothing to-night, I s'pose?"
"Not since the morning. We could'nt, had'nt got a
"Well, it's been pretty bad times, I should say. Could'nt
you hook anything ?"
"No, Rob won't. He'd rather starve, I think, 'cause he
Oh, that's it, is it ?" and Mopsie pursed up her lips and
gave a prolonged whistle. It's a'most a pity," she said
after a bit; "you often get a chance, if you're on the look
out, and it's just as cheap a way as I know on. Well, you
shall have a supper to-night, see if you shan't. Now, what
would you like ?"
Mopsie," and the little fellow paused timidly, "you ain't
going to hook it, are you?"
"Bless me! and what if-I did ?" she asked.
Rob would'nt like it, and he'd be angry."
"As if I should care!" and the ragged little damsel flung
up her tangled head with the air of a princess. Rob
is'nt my brother, and I don't think so very much of his
Poor little Shrimp sighed wearily; he felt himself in
difficult straits, so all he could do was to go on silently
and hope for the best. And the best came to him presently.
Mopsie heard the weary little sigh, and relented.
"Look here, Shrimp, it's all stuff about my hooking any-
thing to-night. There's no such luck," she explained
naively. "But we'll get a nice little supper, you'll see,"
and she put her hand in her ragged dress and chinked her
money, that Shrimp might hear, and take heart at the
"I got it all for singing," she explained, "and I'm to go
again every week. You see the men likes a bit of music
when they're a smoking and drinking, and it's a nice sort
of place, too-fires a-roaring away, and the gas a-burning-
such fires, Shrimp, you're most obliged to shut your eyes,
they blaze at you so. I've been twice now, so things is
looking up a bit. Now, Shrimp, we'll get some supper down
this street-it's close to Old Vic's, so you'll soon be all right.
You shall have just what you're a-minded to. It's pay
your money and take your choice, leastways it's I pays the
money and you chooses."
"0 Mopsie !" the child said, drawing a little shivering
breath, "I could eat 'most anything."
"Well, here we are! Now then, Shrimp, shall it be a
hot pertater, or a sassage, or a piece of cheese, or a good
hot fry ?"
"Mopsie "-and the little voice positively quivered over
the words-" I should like a sassage--and a pertater."
"And that's what you shall have," the girl said impul-
sively, putting her arm round the child, and drawing him
into the small shop she was about to patronise.
"Sassage and pertater," she said, issuing her order with
the utmost importance, "and be quick about it, please."
Shrimp sat breathless till the savoury meal was brought,
his pretty eyes wide-open and wistful, his pale lips parted
in blissful anticipation. But when he had taken the first
mouthful, he paused suddenly, caught hold of Mopsie and
said, with a voice full of self-reproach, I can't eat it-poor
Rob's got nothing."
"Oh, nonsense!" Mopsie returned coolly, "leave Rob
alone-he'll do. Just you go on and finish that sassage,
or you'll never get another."
Shrimp hesitated, his keen hunger and his love for Rob
struggling for precedence. Mopsie settled the matter at
once with ready tact.
"What's the good of leaving it ? If you don't eat it, Rob
won't. And I should ha' thought you'd know what he'd
say about it. If you don't eat it, I'll tell him to-morrow,
and he'll be awful angry. I wouldn't stand in your shoes,
that I wouldn't," and the girl's mischievous face changed
to one of awful gravity.
Shrimp looked at her solemnly, then dropped his eyes
on the sausage, still held between his fingers, and the
matter was settled. It was such a meal as he had not had
for a very long time. Mopsie took nothing herself, but
stood looking at the child with the air of a grand patron.
"Ain't you going to have some?" Shrimp said shyly,
noticing at last that she had only been an onlooker.
"Bless your heart, no; I had my supper an hour ago."
This was true enough; but her supper had not been as
sumptuous as the child's, but Mopsie kept that to herself.
There was lodging and breakfast to be paid for, and the
store of coppers in the ragged little pocket would soon come
to an end.
Mother Vie's was close at hand, so in a few minutes the
children were under shelter. When she saw poor little
Shrimp she gave a suspicious grunt; but Mopsie's coppers
were not to be despised, so she took them, and passed over
Shrimp in contemptuous silence. He might stay now,
seeing he was paid for, but he'd better be quiet and keep
out of the way.
30 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE !"
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE!"
ABOUT seven o'clock the following morning, Rob and his
broom might have been seen coming along the dingy street
that led to Mother Vic's.
There was a languid look about him, as if his cheerless
night had failed to bring him rest. Once or twice he put
up his hand and pressed it over his eyes, as if there was
pain or dizziness there. The fog had cleared off, but the
wind was cold and searching, the sky dreary and sunless.
At Mother Vie's the boys were turning out; some had
been up an hour ago, but a few of the lazier ones, or those
who were prepared with their day's stock-in-trade, had not
"Just come in from the country," they shouted out,
catching sight of Rob and his broom. "Who pays yer
"Boys!" and Rob turned his brown face gravely towards
them, "I goes out for the benefit of me health, and don't
consider the valley of a little money."
The ragged young crew gave a shout of applause. "We'll
"" YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE! 31
try it ourselves-that we will," and then they turned off
to their day's work.
Mopsie was sitting on an old barrel that stood outside
the door, swinging her legs and whistling.
"If you had'nt been whistling, Mopsie, I should have taken
you for my broom, wrong end up," said Rob with a fine air
The girl coloured furiously, pursed up her lips, and went
on with her tune. She knew well enough what Rob meant.
Certainly she was an odd little figure, tall and thin for
her age, her head covered with a perfect shock of brown
hair. Many a girl would have given half her fortune for it,
but to Mopsie it was the "thorn in the flesh." There was
no possibility of keeping it in order, or concealing its pro-
fusion. The only method the child could adopt was to clip
it off in great hanks whenever a pair of scissors came in her
way. Shorten it she might, but thin it never. There it
stood, almost on end, in every possible stage of growth.
The constant impartial clipping had given it a stubbly
appearance that certainly suggested a broom, and from this
well accepted fact, her comrades, with one accord, had
dubbed her Mopsie."
It was hair that brushed, and cared for, and allowed to
grow, would have been her glory. But the child knew
nothing of this, or how, even now, there were wonderful
shades of colour in its tangled depth, shades that you only
see in one kind of brown, but which make it the most
beautiful colour of all.
32 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE !"
"Now, Mopsie!" Rob said, relenting a little.
"Just you leave me alone !"
"Did'nt mean anything, 'pon my honour, but somehow-
Mopsie, you don't sow seed for that hair of yours, do you ?"
Mopsie put up her hands and crushed down the brown mass
with all her might. She only succeeded in making herself
a shade more comical, the great locks standing out on either
side instead of on the top. Then she looked out defiantly
from under the shadowing eave.
Never mind, 'tain't no use," Rob said consolingly, but
you're a first-rate girl after all." The mischief died out of
the boy's face as he spoke, and a wonderfully sweet look
grew in its place. "It was uncommon good of you last
night, Mopsie, 'cause I knows wasn'tt much of a fortune
you'd got, though you did make so light o' doing it."
Law wasn'tt nothing," returned Mopsie, swinging her
legs with great zeal, but keeping her face turned away.
I knows better. Where's the little 'un now?"
Mopsie did not answer.
Rob gave her a little poke with his broom. "Where's
the little 'un?"
"Oh, you can be civil enough now, Mr. Robin," Mopsie
returned indignantly, still keeping her face averted.
Why you're never offended," Rob said, stepping forward
and putting himself right in front of her, so that he could
have a good look at her face. He started as he caught
sight of her eyes brimming over with tears. It was a
strange sight to him, and for a minute he stood silent in
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE! 33
pure amazement. What had broken the girl's wild spirit,
and brought those blinding tears ?
Then an awful thought came to him, something had
happened to Shrimp!
He caught hold of the girl roughly, almost savagely.
"Where's Shrimp?" he thundered, as if she was deaf:
"Where's the little 'un ? Speak out!"
She shook him off impatiently. There ain't nothing
the matter with Shrimp," she said, her voice choked and
Rob's face cleared, and he flung back his head. "Well,
if you didn't give me a scare "
Mopsie made a little sound, that was half a chuckle of
triumph, half a sob. She had got her revenge all uncon-
But, Mopsie," the boy persisted, what was it ?"
"As if you'd care!"
But I do, so tell me right away."
One or two big drops fell from the child's eyes before she
"Don't!" Rob said, looking thoroughly uncomfortable.
I ain't !" she declared, the tears still wet on her cheeks.
Was it the chaffing ?"
"Well, I wish you would'nt. How would you like me
to tease you about "- Mopsie knitted her brows, and
looked him up and down in a strong endeavour to find
some point for ridicule.
"Take your time," he suggested calmly.
34 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE !"
There was nothing that Mopsie could take hold of readily.
At last, his long slender limbs gave her a suggestion.
"Well," with a sudden burst, "s'pose I called you 'Daddy-
long-legs,' and kept on at it. How should you feel ?"
The boy laughed. "You may if you like. But, Mopsie,
all the boys chaff you."
Very well," she returned severely. You needn't.
"Well, I won't-so there! And I'm awful sorry."
Mopsie jumped off the barrel, her face breaking into
smiles. "You see," she said, with an air of confidence, it's
bad enough to have such a head as mine without being told
It only wants cutting a bit," and Rob looked at it with
an air of friendly interest.
I cut it, an' cut it, and it gets worse and worse."
"Wet it," suggested Rob, wouldud lie down then."
"Would it ?"
Oh, splendid! come on and try!"
There was an old pump at the end of the court, and
there straight as an arrow went Mopsie. She ducked her
head, and Rob lifted the handle.
Oh!" and splash went the water, and up came a
forlorn looking object.
"Oh my !"
It looks all right now," said Rob with calm approval.
"It's as flat and straight as a pancake."
It's awful cold," the girl said with a shiver. "I wish
I hadn't a done it."
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE! 35
"Why, there ain't a end sticking up !"
Mopsie was rubbing it with a bit of her ragged dress.
It '11 be just as bad as ever, by-'n-by."
Oh, no !" Rob returned encouragingly. You'll find the
good of it for days. Now, Mopsie, Shrimp and I'd better
be off. The fog and rain's left a pretty lot of mud about,
so there'll be work at the crossing's to-day. Where's the
little 'un "
"He's upstairs. I didn't wake 'm, 'cause he was dead
asleep, and Mother Vie knows better 'n to turn him out till
I goes up again."
Rob turned into the house, and went up the dark, gloomy
staircase. Coming in from the light his eyes were dazzled,
and he stood still a moment, and put out his hands before
him, almost as if he were feeling his way.
What's the matter with you?" asked Mopsie, coming
along behind, and brought to a standstill by the boy's
"Nothing," he returned sharply, going on again, but with
slower step, and hands outstretched before him.
"You're afraid of Mother Vie," came in Mopsie's teasing
voice from behind. "You needn't-I'm here."
"Be quiet!" said the boy turning off into the room he
had been in the night before.
"He ain't there!" said Mopsie, with a shake of her for-
lorn little head. "He's in the gals' room; I took him in
with me last night, 'cause 'tis warmer there. You stay
where you are, and I'll fetch him out."
86 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE !"
She was gone a few minutes, but when she came back she
"I don't think he's very well," she explained,, her wild
little face grown suddenly grave; "you'd better come in an'
see him. There ain't nobody there."
So Rob went in, and across to one of the low, wooden
benches, called, by virtue of a layer of straw, a bed.
"Why he's got a blanket!" he exclaimed, catching sight
of an old ragged covering.
Mopsie's eyes fairly danced. "In course," she said, her
voice as cool and indifferent as if blankets were a thing of
everyday use. "Why shouldn't he?"
But Rob was bending over Shrimp with an anxious look.
Shrimp I've come to fetch you," he said. .
The child's face was flushed, and the blue eyes half closed
and dreamy. He roused a little at Rob's voice, but did not
"It's Rob come after you, Shrimp," and the boy stooped
down, and lifted the little fellow in his arms.
The blue eyes opened then, and a smile broke over the
"What's the matter Shrimp? Tell Rob all about it."
"I'm so thirsty, Rob-and my head's so bad."
"Whatever will I do ?" said Rob, his voice full of despair.
"He won't be able to go to the crossing and I must get some
money. Shrimp, s'pose I carrys you to the crossing and let's
you sit down on a nice step, couldn't you manage to keep
up a bit, just for Rob to get a few coppers ?"
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE!" 37
The child shook his head.
"O Shrimp, do try!" pleaded Rob, "I don't know what.
ever I'll do else."
But Shrimp lay still, with his eyes closed, and Rob saw
it was no use.
"He's bad-that's what he is!" Mopsie declared, giving
her damp locks an occasional rub, and looking at the two
boys with much interest. "He was a-coughin' and tossing
about all night. That's why I let him sleep on this morning. "
Rob laid the child back on his rough bed, and stood up,
his face full of despair.
"You go to the crossing, said Mopsie, in a motherly sort
of way, and leave the little 'un to me. I can get along for
It was a comical face that Rob saw when he looked round,
smeared and soiled with a fringe of dripping, ragged hair,
but it seemed to him like the face of an angel.
"If you comes back early that'll do," she went on, "'cause
I goes out singing of an evening; but I'll look after Shrimp
till then, so you needn't bother yourself. "
"You're, a thorough brick, Mopsie," and the lad put his
hand on her ragged shoulder with almost a reverential
"How long's that been ?" was the offhand return, while
a little derisive laugh broke over the mutinous face. Now,
you'd better go along."
So, after another look at Shrimp, Rob shouldered his
broom, and went off.
38 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE!"
Mopsie sat down on the edge of the bench, and dived one
grimy hand into the recesses of her dress. Out of some
hidden pocket came her store of wealth-five coins. These
she arranged in a row, and counted them by poking a fore-
finger on each one of them in turn.
Five ha'pennys-that's tuppence ha'penny," she said with
an air of grave meditation. It's a good bit that "-with a
shrewd nod of her head-" a good bit, and u'll carry us on
Just then she heard a step outside, and away went the
halfpennies as if they had been bewitched.
When Mrs. Vic popped her head inside the door, she only
saw Mopsie sitting on the bench drying her hair.
"Come, clear out!" she said, in her deep, threatening
voice, "it's no use thinking you're going to lumber up my
"We ain't, we're goin' to pay for lodgin's," explained
Mopsie with a grand air.
Oh, indeed, and where's the money to come from ?"
"That's my bizzness," returned Mopsie coolly.
"What's the matter with him ?" and Mother Vie bent her
large, flapping cap over poor little Shrimp. He shuddered,
and hid his face beneath the ragged coverlet.
Oh, he's got a bad cold, and as I wasn't going nowhere
in particler, he's going to stay here with me. Here's yer
money, Mrs. Vie," and Mopsie yielded up two of her treasured
"And a ha'penny for the blanket," demanded Mrs. Vic,
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE 39
closing one greedy hand over the coins, and stretching out
the other to the child.
"I shouldn't a thought you'd a charged for that when I
paid extry for it last night," pleaded the girl, thinking
remorsefully of her diminishing hoard.
"Make haste!" urged Mother Vie, "your money, or the
Mopsie hesitated a moment, then looked at Shrimp, and
decided. "Well, it can't be the blanket, so here goes," and
she handed up the required money with a slow and lingering
"Is she gone?" asked Shrimp in a frightened whisper,
lifting his head a little and peering out with shining, feverish
Mopsie nodded and made a face in the direction of the
"I'm so thirsty, Mopsie!"
Mopsie disappeared, and a few moments after came back
with an old broken mug and a draught of water.
The child drank it eagerly, then pushed the old covering
back, and lay with his bare arms outstretched.
"Why, Shrimp !" Mopsie said, her voice full of reproach,
"don't you like the blanJbt, what I pays extry for ?"
"Sometimes," he returned wearily, "but I'm so hot."
"And the blanket ain't no good ?" Mopsie said, scarcely
able to believe her senses, and looking at it regretfully.
"Never mind, you'll be wanting it by 'n by, perhaps," she
continued cheerfully, "and it's just as well to have it ready."
40 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, IMOPSIE!"
Shrimp was tossing about, his face burning, his breath
coming in short, quick gasps.
"It hurts so," he said, looking up wistfully, "and oh,
Mopsie, I wants more water."
Down went the girl to the old pump in the court, and
brought back another mugful.
"Now, Shrimp, you keep quiet a bit, and I'll go out and
buy something for our dinners. I won't be gone long. The
mug's close by and all handy for you, and Mother Vic's
gone out, so there'll be no fear of her bothering you."
Mopsie went along the dingy lane that led from Mother
Vic's, with an old shawl tied over her forlorn head, and her
two halfpennies held close in one hand. First of all she
got a small roll of bread, and that swallowed up half of her
wealth. Then she looked about for a bit of a "relish."
The "little 'un" would want something tempting. Poor
Mopsie was rather uncertain as to the most paying invest-
ment. After a while she decided that as Shrimp was so
thirsty a ha'porth of tea would be the best thing.
On her way back she noticed a man in the distance
carrying a large basket of oranges, and all at once a grand
idea came to Mopsie. She set off running at full speed, so
that when she came up to the man, she could only stand
still and gasp for breath.
"What's up?" he said, turning round and recognizing
a small fellow-tradeswoman. For Mopsie earned her bread
in all sorts of ways, trying now one thing, now another.
A month earlier she had been an orange-girl. By and by
"YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPSIE!" 41
when spring and summer came on, she would be a flower-
girl, and in the autumn a fruit-seller.
Please, Mister Jenkins-please"- and then Mopsie was
so breathless she could not get out another word.
"Well, make haste," the man said, not unkindly.
"There's a little boy, sir, as I knows on, what's very ill,
and-you see sir, if you'd got a bit of an orange what was
a beginning to go "-
"I might let it 'go' altogether," the man interrupted with
a laugh and a wink.
"Yes, sir," said Mopsie, grave as a judge.
"Well, you're a good one!"
"You see," Mopsie went on, sticking to business, and
trying to make the man feel his obligation, "I've buyed
oranges of you many a time, and so I feels "--
The man interrupted her with another laugh. It struck
him as being rather a good joke.
Mopsie was in no way dismayed. "So I feels that p'raps
you'd be glad to oblige me," she concluded, with such fine
audacity that the man could not help feeling she had gained
"Well, you've made a neat job of it," he said, "so I'll
just give a look and see. Who's the little 'un-your
"Oh, dear no," answered Mopsie, "he's just a little boy
what sleeps at Old Vic's. And he's bad, and there ain't no
money going. There's one!" she cried, for all this time she
had been keeping a sharp eye on the oranges.
42 "YOU'RE A THOROUGH BRICK, MOPS1E!"
Yes, there's one," and the man took it in his hand and
gave it a pinch. "Well, you may have that one." Then as
he shouldered his basket, he tossed her another, saying with
a laugh-" And I'll throw that in to make weight."
This last one was large and firm, and as Mopsie caught it,
her eyes fairly danced, and she gave a little shriek of
"Oh!" she cried, beginning to thank him, but he was
striding off at a good pace, and her words did not reach
him, seeing which, she turned round, and ran off, never
stopping till she arrived at Mrs. Vic's.
CRAZY WILL. 43
IN the meanwhile Rob had been doing a very fair business
in the city. He went home full of hope, and ran up the old
stairs, his face alight, and a smile playing about his lips.
Mopsie met him, and something in her face hushed him
and made him wait. The wet, tangled locks were dry now,
and stood erect, raying off from the childish face like a dark
He's worse," she said briefly, "a good deal worse, and I
don't believe he'll know you."
Rob stood still without a word. He was used to repres-
sion, and though he felt his heart sink within him, he gave
no outward sign.
"I've done whatever I could, but I'm feared to let Old
Rob pushed past her, and went in to see for himself.
The child lay almost uncovered, tossing and moaning, his
face flushed, and his blue eyes shining and vacant.
"No, no!" he cried as Rob bent over him, "I don't want
you, I want Rob !"
44 CRAZY WILL.
Rob knelt down, and gathered him in his arms. "It's
Rob what's here, Shrimp, your old Rob, who'll nurse you a
bit, and make you comfortable."
But the child tossed him off, and moaned all the more.
"He's been like it for more'n an hour," Mopsie explained,
standing by with a woe-begone expression, "an' he don't
care for the blanket a bit."
He's very ill," Rob said, his young face white, and full
of pain. 0 Mopsie, if he was to die, whatever should I
"He won't do that," the girl returned, with an air of con-
viction that came like a waft of hope to Rob. "He's awful
bad, but he'd have to go a good bit worse before he'd come
to that." It was Mopsie's way this, and her opinion was
simply based on a general inclination of hers to take a
cheerful view of life.
However, it did Rob quite as much good as if it had been
the result of careful observation.
"People often gets ill," she went on, nodding her head at
Rob, and speaking with slow precision, "but that don't
mean as they're going to die; I told Old Vie as he'd got a
bad cold; but bless you, 'taint that."
Rob looked up sharply. Mopsie gave a shrewd nod, then
put a finger on her lip.
"Yes," she whispered, "I knows all about it, and they
won't let him stay here if they finds it out."
"Ain't there no place for us?" the boy burst forth in a
passion of indignation, "ain't there nobody to see to things?"
CRAZY WILL. 45
Mopsie looked at him with a wondering face. Shrewd
though she was, she took, life much more easily than Rob,
and had no sympathy with this mood. Though her ten
years of life had brought her painful experience, she was
still too much of a child to have any questions as to the
why and wherefore.
"There's the perlice," she said at last, "but I'd just as
soon they'd leave me alone. Never see much good from
their interferings" and she gave a laugh at her own small
"Could you stay here just a minute longer?" asked Rob
hardly noticing her words. "I must find some place for
Shrimp before the rest come in."
"Oh, I'll stay, but you'd better make haste. Had good
"Pretty fair-enough to get some place for the little 'un,
and to pay you back, Mopsie."
"Leave that till you're a bit richer, Rob," she said follow-
ing him to the door; "if Mother Vie would let you have the
loft wouldd do first-rate."
"But there's Crazy Willie," objected Rob.
"He won't hurt, and she'll take your money and his too.
You see you'll get it cheaper 'cause of him, and you could
come down here and do your cooking, and I should be
handy like to do a bit of nursing when you're out."
"It's a famous idea," and away went Rob to put it into
execution, but Mopsie called him back. "Don't let her
know he's bad," she whispered.
46 CRAZY WILL.
"Not if I knows it," and he gave her a comprehensive
In a little while he returned, his face full of business.
"It's all right. As soon as she know'd I could pay a week
in advance, she giv'd in, and we're to go up at once. But
I'm going to see about a bed first. I'll carry up some
straw, and then come back for Shrimp."
"And there's the blanket," suggested Mopsie with a
radiant face. "We'll take that too, 'cause it's paid for till
the evening. "
So the little sick child was lovingly prepared for, and
carried up in Rob's strong arms to his new abode.
It was a miserable place. The rough timbers of the roof
projected in every direction, so that Rob could only move
about with the greatest caution. The flooring was cracked,
and in many places altogether unsafe, but it was shelter
and home to Shrimp and Rob.
"You'll do capital," said Mopsie looking round with
admiring eyes. "I remember we had a place like this
once, before mother was "
"What?" asked Rob as the girl paused.
"Went off on a sea voyage to see what the other side o'
the world's like."
Rob nodded. He knew well enough what the girl meant,
and was too used to such announcements to be in any way
"Where's yours ?" Mopsie asked with an air of friendly
CRAZY WILL. 47
"She's dead," Rob answered sadly.
"P'raps it's a good job," was Mopsie's cheerful rejoinder.
"When they're bad, they're awful."
"Ours was good," said Rob, slowly and lingeringly, as if
he liked to talk about her, "and didn't she love me and
Shrimp ? "
"Well, I never!" and Mopsie put her arms akimbo, and
looked the picture of amazement.
"We've missed her awful-me and Shrimp."
"There's lots of mothers I've known," Mopsie said at
last, with an air of reflection, "but I never thought they
was anything to care about. I was precious glad when my
mother got took off."
"Oh, you don't know anything about it then. I've seen
them sort o' mothers myself; they're common enough."
"I made him a cup of tea," said Mopsie with a jerk of
her head towards Shrimp, "but he didn't seem to care for
it. He liked the orange though, so I giv'd him all of the
rotten one first, and saved this here for to-night."
"Where did you get it?" said Rob suspiciously.
"Oh, it's all right. It came in the way of bizzness.
There ain't no harm in it, Mr. Robin," and Mopsie looked
up at her tall young friend with a great air of virtue.
There was only three years between these two children,
Mopsie being ten, the boy thirteen, but Rob was so tall for
his age, that there seemed a far greater difference. Both
of them looked on Shrimp, who was only seven, as a mere
48 CRAZY WILL.
"Very well, then," said Rob, "only I wondered how you
come by oranges. I knew you wasn't in the trade now."
"No indeed! I've got something better, and I must be
off pretty sharp too."
"What is it?"
"Singing. There's a place down Dunlop's Lane, where
the men goes to have their smoke and drink, and sometimes
they gets old Ben and his vierlin, and sometimes they gets
me. They likes a bit of music, 'cause it's so cheerful."
"What time'll you be back?"
"Not afore ten, but I'll just run up and see how the little
'un is," and with a friendly nod she disappeared.
For the next two hours Rob and Shrimp were alone.
The little fellow lay moaning and crying, calling pitifully
for Rob, yet never knowing that it was he who bent over
him and lifted him from one position to another. At last
he fell into an uneasy sleep, and Rob sat down on the floor
and watched him.
Then he heard somebody coming up the steep ladder
that led to their little loft.
The step was too heavy for Mopsie's, so it must be Crazy
Willie coming home.
There was a rough push at the door, and then there came
in a man of five or six and twenty, with an old battered
straw hat drawn down over his eyes.
He stood still a moment, looking in a sort of vacant
surprise at the small candle which, propped up in a bottle,
was the only light in the room. From the candle his eyes
CRAZY WILL. 49
passed to Rob sitting on the floor, and then again to
"You turn out!" he said solemnly, touching his cap, and
staring straight before him.
"Good evening, Mister Will," said Rob pleasantly; "glad
to see you come home."
The man pushed his hat off his forehead and peered at
the two boys. Rob's respectful address had rather pleased
him. Generally speaking he got no other title than Crazy
"Is that your candle?" he asked, pointing towards it with
a long forefinger.
"Yes, and if you likes to undress by the light of it,
you're kindly welcome," offered Rob in a spirit of pro-
"I never found anyone here before," the man said slowly.
"There's a plenty downstairs, but never up here. How did
you come up?"
"By the ladder, Mr. Will."
"It's very steep," he said, frowning heavily.
"How long are you going to stay."
"Oh, may be some time, may be not. We shall be a bit
of company for you, sir."
Crazy Will gave a grunt, whether of disgust or appre-
ciation Rob could not tell. Then he began to undress
himself slowly, keeping his eyes fixed solemnly on Rob.
"Do you know who I am?" he said at last.
50 CRAZY WILL.
No, sir-leastways I call you Mister Will."
Oh you're wrong-altogether wrong. I'm a very great
man-I'm a preacher."
"Oh!" exclaimed Rob, and then he said nothing more,
not knowing exactly what a preacher might be.
"You might not think it," the man went on, "but I am.
And I'll tell you a secret, my dear young friend. I'm that
very remarkable and well-known person- Now then,
guess!" he said drawing himself suddenly up, and striking
"Can't," said Rob.
Well, I'm-Spurgeon People don't know it generally,
but that's who I am."
"Oh!" exclaimed Rob again, rather vaguely wondering
whether to be Spurgeon was to be in a certain condition, or
to be a certain person.
Do you like being Spurgeon ?" he asked after a pause,
thinking that as non-committal a sentence as any.
"It was always my ambition-from a mere lad. But
I'll tell you the whole story some day. When we are up
here I should like you to call me so-not downstairs,
though," he added quickly; "it wouldn't be safe."
"Why not?" asked Rob innocently.
"Why not? Because some other fellow would dispute
the title. Do you see?"
"Exactly," returned Rob.
"Very well then. Good night!" And with this abrupt
conclusion he turned off to get his night's rest.
IRISH KATTY. 51
THE next morning Mopsie was up betimes. The group of
girls and women, who had occupied the room for the night,
were standing round a meagre little fire, at which, by pay-
ment of a small sum, they were allowed to cook their
Mopsie had waited patiently enough, but it seemed as
her turn would never come. At last she pushed in, and
secured a place. But no sooner had she done this, than a
"woman thrust past her.
"Here, clear out; you've had more'n your share of the
fire, and it's my turn now."
"Well, take it," said Mopsie coolly, but never budging an
"Are you going to move?" the woman asked.
"When I've done," returned the girl.
There was an old feud between these two, and whenever
they came together there was a quarrel. The woman put
up her hand now, and gave the girl a sharp box on the ears.
Mopsie turned round, her childish face in a perfect flame.
"Go it, little 'un!" cried the women standing round'
"give it her back again."
52 IRISH KATTY.
The child struck out right and left; but the woman was
brawny and strong, and in a minute or two Mopsie was on
the floor, sobbing with rage at her defeat. Her tormentor
gave a contemptuous laugh, that acted like fuel on a fire.
Breathless and half blind Mopsie sprang to her feet ready
for action, and in another moment the fight would have
been gone through again.
But one of the girls had come forward. What is't, thin?
What is't, thin?" she said in a sweet Irish voice. "Sure
and it's meself that'll see to the rights of this. Lave
bhotherin', and let the lassie be. Now, mavourneen, ye'll
bide quiet, will ye no?" she added, turning and putting an
arm about the child.
"Let me be," cried Mopsie impatiently, "I'd rather fight
"Arrah, thin, and it's not me that'll be after seeing you
baten again," and the girl kept her arm about the child
with sufficient force to render her passive.
"Sure, and it's a dale better to be quoiet, and it's bad
luck that I wish to you for beginning the fightt" she said
to the woman, who was standing looking at Mopsie as if
she expected another outburst. "You'd better be after
getting your breakfast and lavin' me and the child alone,"
and Irish Katty turned off, still holding Mopsie.
"Och, thin, it's yourself that was foolish too, though it
wasn't me that would be after owning to the same, but it's
a black eye that you'll be having the morn and no mistake.
If it's a cup o' tay you'd be wantin', thin it's not long
IRISH KATTY. 53
before I'll make you one, and sure you'd better be wipin'
af your face the while."
Mopsie looked up gratefully. It was not often any one
took her part, and Irish Katty was nearly a stranger amongst
What d'ye do it for?" she said wonderingly.
"Faith, and what should I do it for at all, but to stop
that woman a-murtherin' you?"
"Oh, I'm used to it," returned Mopsie coolly.
Irish Katty laughed, and her grey eyes smiled down on
the child. "Sure, thin, and it's sorry I am if I've cheated
you out of a trate," she said; and while she went off to see
about the "cup o' tay," Mopsie wiped her eyes, and drew her
forlorn looking rags into shape. When she returned the
two girls sat down on the end of a bench to eat their break-
"Och thin, mavourneen, and where are you goin' the
morn?" asked Katty, tilting herself back against the wall
with the mug of tea in one hand and a good slice of bread
in the other.
Mopsie shook her head. "Don't know," she said briefly.
"And isn't it any work you've got at all, at all?"
"Oh, I sings of an evening."
"Sure, and that's aisy enough thin. It's meself that
wouldn't moind the same."
"What do you do ?" inquired Mopsie.
"Nothing very foine. It's button-holes I'm a making' all
the blessed day,"
54 IRISR KATTY.
"Does it pay?" asked Mopsie shrewdly.
The girl shook her head. "Deed thin, no, and it's often
I'm a within' o' meself back in would Oireland," and quick
Irish tears rose in the girl's grey eyes.
Have yer got any folks belonging to yer ?" inquired
"It's only me father, and sure it's down the river he's
working, and not here at all, at all. But he'll be back all
to the minute one day, and then it's meself that'll be
proud and glad."
Mopsie sighed. There wasn't anybody to come home,
"all to the minute," to her, and she looked up at Irish
Katty with a wistful little face.
What is't, thin ?" asked the girl.
"I ain't got nobody-I ain't."
Irish Kate stooped down with a sudden impulse and
kissed the child. "Thin it's meself that'll look after ye
a bit. Now, thin, I must be aff to the work, but sure I'll
look for ye the night," and the girl jumped up, and in
another moment had twisted her shawl about her, and
was running at full speed along the lane.
By this time the room had fairly cleared, and Mopsie
began to wonder how Shrimp was getting on. Crazy Will
had gone out, but she had seen nothing of Rob. She went
cautiously to the door, and crept up the ladder.
It's only me," she whispered, pausing a minute at the
"Come in 2" said Rob, and Mopsie felt her way carefully
IRISH KATTY. 55
towards him, but the loft was very dark, and the great
beams stood out in all directions.
"Take care," said the boy, "you've got to larn the ins
and outs of a place like this."
He was sitting on the floor with Shrimp in his arms,
and Mopsie could hear the little fellow's laboured breathing.
"He's worse," Rob said briefly.
Mopsie sat down, crossed her legs, put her elbows on her
knees, and rested her chin or her hands. "It's uncommon
bad," she said, "but it's the fever he's got, sure and certain.
I had a little sister what had it, so I knows."
Rob leaned forward, and his voice trembled over the
words. "Did-did she get better, Mopsie?"
No-she died," returned the child promptly.
The boy drew back a little, and groaned.
"Some of 'em dies," Mopsie went on, but some of 'em
gets all right again."
"He won't-he'll die. I wish mother was livin', she'd
know what to do. Shrimp, look up a bit, and tell Rob
you're better! Come, Shrimp, I'm 'most ashamed to see ye
giving up like this-and you 'most a man now."
The little face changed, and for a moment the blue eyes
looked back into Rob's with a faint recognition of the
familiar words. But the effort was too feeble to last, and
the lids drooped, and the expression faded.
0 Shrimp, Shrimp!" and the elder lad bent down his
head and sobbed aloud. "I'd ought to have taken better
care of you !"
56 IRISH KATTY.
Poor little Mopsie gave a distracted look round the room.
She wished she knew what to do. At last her practical
common sense came to the rescue.
"You'll be wanting money, and there's the crossing
would bring you something to-day."
Rob lifted up his head. It was no time to give way,
and Mopsie had reminded him in her own quaint fashion.
I came up to see if I should look after him a bit, same
as I did yesterday. I nursed my little sister, so I knows
"Mopsie "-and again the boy's voice quivered-" was
she ill long?"
"Not very. 'Bout a week, near as I remembers."
She was a good deal worse than Shrimp?" he persisted
anxiously-" a good deal worse?"
Well-yes, I s'pose she was."
Quite different looking, I daresay ?"
Mopsie reflected gravely. They looked much the same,"
she said reluctantly; then added with her strange old-world
wisdom, "but that don't go for much, most people looks
alike when they're bad."
"Yes," Rob agreed, and then he sighed heavily. "If
you wouldn't mind nursing him a bit, Mopsie, I'd go to the
crossing for an hour or two. Maybe I'd get a few coppers,
else I don't know what I'll do."
"All right !" returned Mopsie. I'll see to him till you
comes home, and you needn't be particular to an hour."
Rob got up slowly. His limbs were cramped and stiff
IRISH KATTY. 57
ened with nursing, so that he scarcely knew how to move.
He put Shrimp on the straw bed with hands that were
gentle as any mother's; then he drew himself up, and
stretched out his arms wearily. It had been a long night
for him, yet the day would bring no rest.
Shrimp lay still for a moment, then as he missed his
brother's arms, he began to wail and cry, flinging out his
little hands in sudden unrest.
Rob was back at his side in a moment, but Mopsie inter-
"You leave him alone," she ordered, "as if I don't know
what to do." Then, stooping over him, she took the little
wandering hands in hers, and began to sing a low, sweet
song. Gradually the restlessness died away, and before
long the child lay passive and quiet. Rob stood motionless
until she ceased.
"Mopsie, I didn't know you could sing like that," he
The girl looked up, the old mutinous expression coming
swiftly over her face.
"Didn't you, indeed? Well, there's a lot of things you've
got to learn, Mister Robin."
The boy laughed. "At it again, Mopsie; well there's a
good many things for you to learn too," and there was the
slightest perceptible lifting of the boy's eyes to her tumbled
locks. Then, in swift regret he added, "Mopsie, I didn't
mean nothing, indeed I didn't. I'll never be able to thank
you for your goodness to him,"
58 IRISH KATTY.
"Very well then," she returned, only don't you ever "-
"No, I never will," declared Rob. "I'll come back as
soon as ever I can," he went on quickly, "so as to set you
free." Then picking up his broom, he disappeared, pausing
for a moment at the bottom of the ladder to catch again
the soft, sweet notes of Mopsie's song.
"GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME? 59
"GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME?"
"HE'S dying! ''
It was Rob who spoke, and his voice was strained and
The child had been getting worse for days, and on this
last day Rob had never left him for a moment. Mopsie,
with her generous heart, had settled matters once more.
"You stay with him now," she had said, "and I'll go out
and get the money. Don't you fear but what I'll bring
And Rob had agreed that this was the best plan. Come
what would, he could not leave the little fellow that day.
Irish Kate had been up to see them once or twice, for
Mopsie had found it advisable to let her into the secret, and
to ask her if she thought they had better get any doctor's
stuff." Whereupon Katty had nodded her head, saying in
her soft Irish brogue-" Sure, thin, an' it's meself that'll
bring the darlint some doctor's stuff this very same night."
And she had kept her word, getting a bottle of simple medicine
from an obliging chemist, who thought from Katty's descrip-
tion that the child was down with a feverish cold.
60 "GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME "
"Faith, and this is the stuff that'll make him himself
again," she whispered, coming up the steep ladder, and
handing it to Rob, "and it's nought but a tayspoon he's to
take at the night and the morn; lavin' it off at your
So at night and morn Rob had administered the nauseous
draught, but slowly and steadily the child grew worse. At
last, Rob sitting alone with him this last afternoon, and
watching the little fading face, saw a change pass over him,
and though there was none to hear, the boy spoke out in
his sudden fear.
"He's dying! O little Shrimp, little Shrimp, don't go
away! Rob's got nobody but you!" But the pitiful cry
received no answer, and the boy shuddered at the silence.
Ain't there nobody to help us," he said again-" nobody ?"
Then as he knelt there in the unanswering silence, his
young face convulsed with agony, a strange memory came
back to him.
He was hardly conscious of its presence until he found
himself repeating the words of the petition-" We beseech
Thee to hear us, good Lord !" Over and over again he said
it, gaining in some wonderful, unknown way a sense of
comfort. He folded his hands together, and bowed his head,
as he remembered the people had done in church, and made
known his complaint.
All the passion and strength of his life seemed concen-
trated in that one sentence. We beseech Thee to hear us,
good Lord !"
GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ?" 61
As the hours dragged on, and Shrimp lay in an awful
stillness, Rob never ceased his prayer.
He did not know to whom he was praying, or how help
would come, but he was in terrible need, and "there was
none to hear."
When Mopsie came home she found him still saying the
What is it?" she said curiously, "there ain't nobody here,
is there ?"
"No, that's just it," the boy burst forth, "there ain't
"Then, what was it you was a-saying ?"
"I don't know, Mopsie."
"Don't know ?" she repeated.
The boy shook his head. "It's something I heard once
in a church-me and Shrimp-and all the people kept on
saying of it till I couldn't help learning it. They was
asking somebody to help 'em."
Mopsie nodded. So far she understood. "Well," she
"They was talking to Him," Rob explained, "but I
couldn't make out who He was."
"Go on," prompted the girl.
"That was all."
"All ? Didn't He give 'em nothing ?"
"Not that I see'd," said Rob, feeling it wasn't much of a
help after all. But He must have been something special,
Mopsie, or the grand folks wouldn't a-been asking of Him."
62 "GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ?"
"Perhaps He sends round to 'em all afterwards," suggested
Mopsie, and gives 'em what they wants then."
"Perhaps He does," Rob said slowly, "but He wouldn't
never send here."
"No, I don't s'pose He would; but what was the words
Rob ?-say 'em over again."
Rob said them, and Mopsie repeated them after him.
They were both sitting on the floor by the side of the rude
straw bed on which little Shrimp lay waiting for death. It
did not seem as if it would be long now, and then "one of
these little ones" would be gathered home.
Rob sat quietly, but the tears fell slowly one by one.
At last Mopsie could bear it no longer.
"Rob, I'll go and see if I can't get a doctor somehow."
S'pose they was to take him away from me, Mopsie. I
couldn't never bear that."
They shan't!" Mopsie declared vehemently; "but I'll go
and see if I can't get somebody to help us."
"Mopsie!" Rob said, a sudden light breaking over his
face, you know that church down by Browning's Corner,
don't you, the one with a great point going up into the sky ?"
"Yes, I knows."
If you was to go there, Mopsie, you might see Him "-
"Who ?" asked Mopsie, looking dubious.
"Him they ask-the good Lord."
"That's what Mrs. Vic says, and lots of the people
down below. They're always a-saying 'Good Lord.' I
shouldn't think there was much in Him."
"GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME?" 63
"'Tisn't anything to do with that," Rob said eagerly, "it's
somebody that's real good. I dreamed about Him once, and
He had on a white gown and was all shining."
"Well," Mopsie said, failing to follow him.
0 Mopsie, could you go, would you mind doing it for
Shrimp's sake ?"
"No," said Mopsie with a sob, "I wouldn't mind doing
nothing for him. But what am I to do when I gets
there ? "
"You must get inside; but you'll have to keep your eyes
open, or else the old man will be down on you."
"And what then ?" asked the girl.
"Then you must say over them words, Mopsie, over and
over again, and out loud. I wouldn't say much else, 'cause
that's where they all seemed to stick. They couldn't get
nothing better, I s'pose. Now you'll go, won't you?" he
"Oh, I'll go this very minute, and I'll say it over all the
way there and back. If you thinks 'twill do any good, Rob,
I'm sure I'll keep at it like a trooper."
"There's a good girl," and, without waiting to hear more,
Mopsie went off
It was about seven o'clock, and a cold, dark night, but
Mopsie knew her way, and lost no time in reaching the
Suppose it should be shut up and dark ?
As the girl turned the corner, she glanced up anxiously at
the large pile of buildings, and saw with delight that the
64 "GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ? "
windows were all illuminated. "Ain't I lucky ?" she said
to herself, and then paused to consider the best mode of
While she waited she saw some people going up the steps,
and followed in under their shadow. It was a large church,
and for this Friday evening service only a portion of it had
been fully lit. This was all in Mopsie's favour. She crept
into a seat in the duskiest corner, and then went down on
her knees according to Rob's directions. The service had not
commenced, but Mopsie could not wait for that. She did
not know that the people let the clergyman speak to the
"good Lord first. She had come there on urgent business,
and went about it at once.
Rob said she was to say it out loud. So, although Mopsie
was dreadfully afraid of being heard by the wrong person,
she repeated the words, first softly, and then, as her courage
increased, a little louder. Then she waited a moment to try
and find out if the good Lord had heard her. If not, she
must say it again.
"Good Lord," she said gently, "did you hear me ?"
But, as no answer came, she began her little petition
Just then the door was pushed open, and some one
stepped inside, and looked round the church. A stranger
evidently, who had merely glanced in out of curiosity. He
stood a minute or two, hat in hand, and then turned round,
as if on the point of going out.
But at that very moment a little childish voice broke the
"GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ?" 65
silence of the great building, and the stranger bent his head
to catch the words.
We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!"
Over and over again the words were repeated with an
intensity that was almost painful.
Then followed a silence, broken once more by the little
Good Lord," Mopsie said gently, : did you hear me "
A strange, sweet smile flashed across the man's face, and,
stooping down, he made his way to the child, and touched
her softly on the shoulder.
"Dear child," he said, "the good Lord' has heard you."
Mopsie sprang up, her face flushing with joy. Oh, sir,
Rob will be so glad!"
The stranger smiled, then put her hand in his, and led
"Are you the good Lord ?'" Mopsie asked simply, look-
ing up at her new friend.
"No, little one, only one of His servants."
"Then, sir, can you take a message ?"
"He heard you Himself, dear child, and sent me to you
for an answer."
"Did he ?" said Mopsie wonderingly. "Then He was
uncommon quick about it."
"Didn't you want Him to be ?" was the gentle question.
"Yes, but folks ain't generally so ready to oblige ye,"
returned the child shrewdly.
"No, but the Lord waits to do it."
66 "GOOD LORD, DID YOU IEABI E ?"
"Does He?" and Mopsie came to a standstill in sheer
surprise. "I wish we'd know'd of Him before."
Who told you of Him, then ?"
Oh, 'twas all along of Rob. He's a friend of mine,"
Mopsie explained with an air. "Him and l' 1, p, you
know. And they went in there one day," jerking her head
towards the church, "and heard the folks a-saying them
words what I've been saying. So Rob he remembers it
somehow, and when I went back this afternoon there he
was crying over S l..I ., and keeping on at them words;
and nothing would do but I must come to the same place
and say 'em over again, out loud too, so that the 'good
Lord' might hear."
"Then Rob is in trouble," the gentleman said, walking on
with Mopsie, and trying to find out the story that lay behind.
"Oh, dreadful. Shrimp's very bad, and Rob thinks he's
a-going to die, and he's that fond of his little brother, as
you'd never believe."
"Where does he live?"
"At Old Vic's. We all lives there, but Rob and Shrimp
they've got a loft to theirselves,'cept for Crazy Will and the
"Poor little ones."
"Eh!" said Mopsie, looking up. "It's not a bad loft,
and they gets it cheap, 'cause of Crazy Will," she explained.
"Who is he ?"
"Oh! he's grow'd up, but he's wrong here," and Mopsie
tapped her forehead comprehensively. "Did the Lord tell
"GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ?" 67
you to come along with me ?" she asked anxiously, "'cause
I promised Rob I'd bring somebody home."
"Yes, I am going with you," the stranger answered gently.
"Do not trouble any more. The Lord heard you. What is
the matter with Shrimp?"
The child looked at him before she spoke.
"I s'pose I may tell you," she whispered cautiously; "but,
look here, you won't split on us, will you?"
"Well, then-it's the fever."
"Who is nursing him ?"
"Rob and me, sir."
"Nobody else ?"
Mopsie shook her head. "You see, we take it in turns.
I goes home and nurses him a bit, while Rob goes out and
gets the money."
"How do you get the money ?"
"Rob gets it at the crossing' when the days is fit, and I
"In the streets, or down at Dunlop's. I sells matches and
cresses sometimes, too," added the child, growing confiden-
tial. "I s'pose you don't know of a doctor what 'ud come
and see Shrimp ?"
All this time they had been walking quickly in the direc-
tion of Old Vic's, and Mopsie was growing anxious about
the little one. My little sister had a doctor, but she died;
so I don't know it's much good."
68 "GOOD LORD, DID YOU HEAR ME ?"
"Come in here a minute," and the stranger stepped into
a chemist's shop, wrote something hastily on a piece of paper,
and waited a minute or two for a bottle of medicine.
"Never mind about a doctor," he said to Mopsie when
they came out. "I shall know what to do."
"We'll soon be there now," returned Mopsie with a great
sigh of relief, and, oh dear, don't I wish we'd know'd about
the 'good Lord' before."
"WILL HE DIE?" 69
WILL HE DIE?"
IN the meanwhile, Rob was anxiously looking for Mopsie's
It seemed a long time to him, kneeling by the side of little
sIl "iip, and watching the changes that passed over his face.
He had carried him about in his arms until he was tired,
then he had nursed him on his knee, and now he had laid
him back on his bed.
"I'd hardly a-knowed you, Shrimp," he said wistfully,
looking at the small, wasted face, and talking to himself for
company. There wasn't never very much of you, but I
don't know where you're gone to now." This was true
enough, for the little fellow looked scarcely more than a
baby, his small limbs being nothing but skin and bone. It
had always beef a secret trouble to Rob, that Shrimp was
so small for his age, and great had been his delight to
discover a few weeks ago that he was really growing.
Now, even if he got better, this illness would seriously
throw him back.
The light had faded away, and Rob's solitary candle was
70 "WILL HE DIE ?"
well burnt down, when, instead of Mopsie, Crazy Will came
Rob had got to look on him as a friend, for he had been
kind to the boys in his own fashion, and always came over
to their end of the loft to have a look at Shrimp, and see
how he was getting on.
As he came in now, Rob spoke to him.
Mr. Spurgeon!" He had called him so ever since the
first night when the man had mystified him with his strange
announcement. It was just as good a name as any, Rob
thought, and at the sound of it the poor vacant face would
brighten into a pleased surprise.
He went over at once to Rob, Eh ?" he said slowly.
0 Mister Spurgeon, could'nt ye help us nohow? He's
a-dying, and I don't know what to do. I'm feared to say
a word down below, 'cause they'd take 'un away from
Crazy Will bent over the sick child, and shook his head
solemnly. Then he began rummaging his pockets, smiling
a little to himself.
"Look here!" he said at last, pulling out a bunch of
grapes. "I thought I'd got something for him."
Rob took them, but the tears came to his eyes by way
Don't you like them ?" and the poor fellow leaned
forward with an anxious face, they're uncommon good."
"Yes, I know," returned Rob sadly, but he won't take
nothing now." Then they sat in silence, Crazy Will looking
WILL HE DIE 71
from Shrimp to Rob, and from Rob to Shrimp, with a face
full of helpless sympathy.
At last the child grew restless again, and Rob took him
in his arms, and rocked him to and fro, folding about him
the blanket that it had been Mopsie's pride and pleasure
to secure for him throughout his illness.
Mister Spurgeon," the boy said at last, "do you know
anything about the good Lord ? "
"What ?" the man said slowly.
"The 'good Lord,' Mister Spurgeon, 'cause Mopsie's gone
to see if He'll help us."
The man shuddered for a moment, then buried his face
in his hands. The good Lord," he repeated, as if he was
trying to remember the words. He seemed almost as
though he had forgotten the boys. Then he looked up at
Rob, gradually coming nearer and nearer.
"Tell me about Him," he said eagerly. "I can't
The boy shook his head. "I don't know nothing; I
thought you'd may be have heard of Him."
"I have. But I've forgotten it all. It was long ago,
before-before I got so bad here," and the poor fellow put
up his hand to his forehead.
Did you ever ask Him for anything ?" Rob questioned
The man drew his brow together with a painful effort to
I can't remember. It's all gone," he said sorrowfully.
72 "WILL IIE DIE "
Oh, I vish you could, Mister Spurgeon."
What did you call me ?" the man said sharply.
Only what you told me to, sir."
"I fancied," he said, in a confused sort of way, "it had
got something to do with-with that other subject we were
"Oh, I don't think it had," returned Rob, putting it down
for a "crazy" whim. "I don't see how it could, you
"No," said the man, but he kept on passing his hand
over his forehead, as if he was trying to recall something.
It was a great relief to Rob when he heard somebody
climbing up the steep ladder.
It muist.be Mopsie this time, and Mopsie it was. She
came in with a radiant face, and stood breathless before
0 Rob !" she said, "' the good Lord' has heard me, and
I wants the candle to show him up. I was 'most afraid to
let him try the ladder in the dark; and then, still with the
same breathless hurry upon her, she seized the candle and
Here he is !" she said triumphantly, reappearing a few
minutes later, closely followed by her friend, the candle in
its broken bottle held aloft in her right hand. And please,
sir, this is Rob."
The introduction was over now, and she waited for some-
body else to make the next move.
Crazy Will, on hearing the stranger's footsteps, had crept
WILL IE DIE ? 73
away to his own part of the loft; so the stranger, looking
round to discover the inmates, saw only Shrimp and Rob.
So this is Rob," he said pleasantly, bending his tall head
to escape the beams, and coming forward to the sorrowful
Rob lifted his soiled face, and gave a sharp look at the
stranger, at the same time folding his arms more closely
about his little brother.
"You ain't going to take him away," he began half-
defiantly, then breaking down with a sob of despair.
Certainly not, my boy, but unless I can do something
for him, he will die," and he knelt down and took Shrimp,
burning with fever, into his own strong arms. He felt the
rapid pulse, and laid his cool hand on the child's forehead.
Then, pouring some medicine into a mug, he gradually got
a small quantity through the child's clenched teeth.
"Will he die ?" Rob asked looking on with a trembling
heart. "I've done 'most everything I could for him, but
he's got worse and worse."
The gentleman did not answer for a moment, so Mopsie
came to the front.
"Don't you go worrying," she said severely, "I didn't
bring him home for ,i:tl'ii'g, and I don't s'pose the Lord
'ud send the wrong pusson."
Presently, the gentleman tore a piece of paper from his
pocket-book, and sent Rob out to fetch a few necessary
things. The boy gave a lingering look at his brother
before he went, but Mopsie nodded at him as much as to
74 WILL HE DIE ? "
say-" It's all right, I'm on guard," so, with her cheerful
little face to remember, he went off
When he came back, Shrimp had fallen asleep, and the
little face looked more peaceful than it had done for days.
0 sir," he said gratefully, "you've done him good
I hope so," returned their new friend.
Did the Lord really tell you to come ?"
"Yes, and He said, too, that whatever I did for this 'little
one' was the same as if I did it unto Himself."
I'd like to thank Him then," the boy said simply. It's
just as if He knowed what a dear little fellow Shrimp was."
"He does know, and He would like you to thank Him,
"Then, please sir, will you tell me how ?" and Rob lifted
his young, earnest face full to the stranger's.
"He is here now, though you cannot see Him, and He is
always listening to those who call upon Him."
"But I can't see Him," the boy said with a strange
"No; neither can I. He is too beautiful, my boy, for
eyes like yours and mine to look on, the shining of his face
would blind us; so until we can see Him as He is, He has
veiled Himself, and instead of seeing Him eye to eye, as you,
and I see each other, we can only feel His presence."
Does He see us ?" Mopsie asked with wide open eyes.
"Yes, and hears us, too. Shall we ask Him now, you and
I and Rob, to make Shrimp well again ?"
WILL HE DIE?" 75
"Can He ?" Rob said in an eager whisper.
"He can do all things, dear lad."
Then kneeling down he took a hand of both the children's,
and in a soft low voice began to speak.
"Dear Lord," he said, "we beseech Thee to hear us!
These little ones of Thine are in great trouble. They can
do nothing without Thee. They know nothing of Thy love
and pity, or Thy willingness to hear; but they are in sorrow
to-night, and that is enough for Thee. They can only tell
Thee of that, and ask Thee to look down and save Touch
this little one with Thy loving Father's hand, so that all
suffering and pain may be kept away, and if it be Thy will
let his strength come back to him. Hear our cry, Lord
Jesus, and hearing, save !"
Just at the beginning of this prayer there was a stealthy
movement from the dark corner of the loft, and slowly, very
slowly, out of the shadow came the figure of Crazy Will.
Nobody saw or heard him, for the eyes of the two chil-
dren were fixed on the face of their friend.
Step by step, creeping forward on hands and knees, he
came nearer to them. The light of the candle just reached
him, falling on his dark face and unkempt hair, on his
ragged shirt and waistcoat, on his hands, lifted together, and
There was a strange expression on his face, a startled
awakened look that grew in intensity every moment.
He moved his lips, as if following the words of the prayer,
but no sound came forth.
7G "WILL HE DIE?"
But when the last word had been spoken, and the stranger
had bowed his head in silence, a stifled Amen" was heard.
It was a strange scene. The children kneeling with
startled, wide open eyes by the side of their friend, the
little sick child asleep on the straw, and in the background
the quaint figure, half in shadow, half in light, of Crazy
As soon as he found that he was discovered, he shuffled
hastily back into the darkness.
"It's only Crazy Will," Rob explained, seeing the gentle-
man's surprise; "he won't do no harm, though he is a bit
At which remark their friend remembered Mopsie's de-
scription of the premises-" a place all to theirselves, 'cept
for Crazy Will and the rats."
Then, sending Mopsie downstairs to get some rest, he
sat and watched by the side of the sick child till morning.
"CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME." 77
"CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME."
THE days that followed brought a new experience to the
children. For the first time in their lives they understood
what it was to be "cared for." It was almost like a dream.
But Shrimp throve upon it, and day by day Rob watched
the little face grow more assured and life-like. And then
as he was strong enough, Rob would tell him the wonderful
story of that night, and how Mopsie spoke to the "good
Lord." Sometimes Crazy Will" would creep over to where
the children sat, and leaning his chin on his hands, sit in
silence till the story was ended. And when Rob paused,
Mopsie would nod her head to vouch for the truth.
They were sitting in this way one night, when the
shadows were beginning to creep about the loft.
Mister Spurgeon," Rob said suddenly, "you was a-going
to tell me some day how you got to be Spurgeon."
Eh ?" the man said in his slow, confused way, as if the
boy had startled him.
"'Twas along of your wanting me to call you so. And
you said you'd tell me all about it one of these days,"
78 CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME."
The man shook his head, "I don't know," he said sadly,
"I seem to have forgotten it all. I've been trying to re-
member something, and I can't even tell what it is. When
he comes here and talks to you, it seems as if it was coming
back like, and then it'll all go again. I've never felt right
here," he said pitifully, touching his head, "since I was ill;
there's something wrong-something wrong."
"Oh, never mind," Mopsie put in with prompt sympathy.
"I wouldn't worry if I were you; we likes you very much
just as you are."
"Do you ?" he said eagerly, leaning forward, and his face
brightening like a child's, do you really ?"
Mopsie nodded. "Sure and certain."
For a moment the tears came to his eyes, and he did not
speak. Then he spoke in a whisper, "I'm most afraid to go
anywhere, cause they laugh at me, but I shan't mind now
-I shan't mind now. I shall think of you and what you
said. I shall say, 'Never mind, never mind, Crazy Will's
got some friends at home.' "
"Yes," said Mopsie, "and, Mister Spurgeon, I wouldn't
care for them boys and gals a bit when they laughs; why,"
and here Mopsie looked up with frank indignation, "they
even laughs at me "
"Do they?" said Crazy Will, with great interest, "what
Mopsie coloured, and gave a sharp look at Rob. Oh,"
she began hastily, they'll laugh at anythink-they will.
But I wouldn't mind if I were you, I wouldn't really."
"CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME." 79
"I won't; it's a great comfort what you've been -.\ i ,,"
and the poor fellow looked at the child as gratefully as if
she had been a duchess.
So a close band of sympathy was linking itself around
this little group of "strays who belonged to nobody, and
had no special niche in all the world.
The children had found out by degrees that their new
friend was a doctor, and that his name was Elliot, but that
was all. They scarcely needed to know even this, for they
had accepted him at once as a special answer to MXopsie's
prayer, and surrounded him with a reverence and mystery
that no amount of matter-of-fact detail could have dis-
Slowly, very slowly, he began to tell them the story of
Jesus Christ, fearing to mystify them, and disturb their
simple faith, waiting patiently for their larger growth.
It was a grand day when Shrimp was wrapped up in the
old blanket, and carried downstairs. Mopsie went first to
see if the coast was clear, though since Mr. Elliot's advent
Mrs. Vie had been much more civil. Still Shrimp was
anxious not to meet her on his first appearance in public.
The old fear of her, and the remembrance of those vague
black wings that had so often hovered above him, could
not be dispelled.
Mopsie had been working very hard lately, singing in the
streets, and selling matches, in addition to her evening
engagements. But she had managed to run home in time
to accompany Shrimp in his first airing. The little fellow
80 CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME."
looked very wan as he lay in Rob's arms, the soft, spring
sunlight falling on his face.
This is very backward!" Rob said solemnly, looking
down at him as he spoke, and shaking his head. "You
was getting 'most a man, and here am I carrying you like
a baby. 'Twon't never do to go on like this."
Shrimp smiled back feebly.
Oh yes, it's all very well for you to lie there a-smiling,
and not doing nothing, but I'm 'most ashamed of ye, I am.
Seems as how you'd shrinked up smaller'n ever."
I am afraidd I anii rather small," the little fellow confessed,
a shade wistfully.
"< Well if you hadn't got ill, you was growing fust-rate,"
Rob admitted in a more cheerful tone, "but you must do
your best, Shrimp."
I will try, Rob, I will," and then he shut his eyes, and
lay still as if he was almost wearied.
Just then Ir. Elliot joined them, and taking the child
in his own arms, carried him back to the loft.
"Can you read ?" he said after awhile, looking thought-
fully at Rob.
"Yes, that I can," returned the boy proudly; "'twas
mother, she taught me, and Shrimp knows some of his
"Did your mother ever talk to you of Jesus Christ ?"
Rob shook his head. "I don't think she know'd any-
think about him. She'd a been glad enough to have had
somebody to go to."
CRAZY WILL'S GOT SOME FRIENDS AT HOME." 81
Mr. Elliot sat still a few moments.
Can you read writing ?" he said at last.
"A little, but I likes the printing best."
Mr. Elliot laughed, "I daresay, but can you make this
out ?" and he drew an envelope from his pocket, and gave
it to the boy to read.
Rob took it, and for a moment knitted his brows as he
peered at it through half-closed eyes. It's too dark," he
said at last.
"Is it?" said Mr. Elliot; "let me have.it a moment. Why,
Rob, I can read it; go nearer the light, my boy."
So Rob took it under the rough bit of glass that had been
let into the roof to do duty as a window, and stood puzzling
At last he came back to Mr. Elliot putting his hand
over his eyes.
"I could read it there," he said, 'twas the dim light
what put me out. It's Mr. Brown, Smallbrook Street,
"That will do very well," and Mr. Elliot took the
envelope, and returned it to its place. He did not say any
more, and Rob wondered what had been his motive.
But a few days later he found out.
82 MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE.
MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE.
A FIGHT was going on in the lane, and in the thick of it
Rob heard the noise up in the loft, but took little notice
at first. It was no uncommon thing in the neighbourhood
of Mrs. Vic's, and people rarely interfered.
Mopsie had been coming home, quietly enough, until she
reached the lane. Then she saw that the boys had some
" row in hand. It was no business of hers, and she might
have gone quietly on.
But that was not Mopsie's way. So she marched right
up to them, and investigated the affair. They were stand-
ing closely together in a group, and were too busy to notice
"What is it, boys?" she said, standing on tiptoe and try-
ing to make matters out. What's the spree ?"
The boys stood in a closer group, and one or two of them
edged her off. "Here, you go on; it's nothing to do with
Isn't it, then?" she returned scornfully, "that shows how
much you know about it."
.. . . .. . .- ,. .- -
_ _ ~ ~~ ~ ._ .-^e ^ _ __^_
MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE. 3
"Come now, are you going ? "
"Oh dear no!" was the cool return; "who've you got
in there?" jerking her head towards the centre of the
"And who told you there was anybody there ?" said a
rough, looking boy called Mat.
"Oh I know," she returned, nodding shrewdly.
"Then perhaps you know who 'tis."
If I did, I shouldn't a-wasted my breath asking of you."
"Well, you ain't gained much."
"We'll see about that," she returned saucily, darting
under their elbows like a midge.
The next moment she stood in the centre of the group,
her childish face crimson, her hands clenched.
"You cowards!" she said, turning round and facing
Just for a few breaths they stood in involuntary silence,
then a loud laugh from Mat unloosed their tongues.
"Look at her! Look at the little vixen!" And theri
there was a shout of laughter that provoked the child to
the last pitch of indignation.
"I'll fight you all!" she cried in a supreme moment of
heroic passion. "Every one of you!" she went on with a
keen touch of scorn in her clear, young voice.
There was nothing comic to the child in this mad asser-
tion, but the boys greeted it with another loud shout.
"I'd like to hurt you," she went on, "just as you've hurt
him;" and then she stooped down suddenly, and put her
84 MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE.
little arms protectingly round some one crouching in a heap
on the ground.
"They shan't do it again," she said softly, "they shan't
touch you while I'm here."
Come now, Miss Spoil-sport, are you going to clear off ?"
asked Mat, catching up a bit of stick and flinging it at the
It hit her sharply on the forehead, and brought from her
lips a cry of pain.
For a second she stood, her breath coming in a hard sob,
her eyes wide and tearless. Then she clenched her hands
and flew at them. I'll hurt you," she said passionately,
"I'll hurt you as you've hurt me and him."
The boys closed around her in a narrower ring. "Come
on !" they shouted, "eome on !"
And Mopsie came on. Her little clenched fists flew out
right and left, hitting the group around her with impartial
As for the boys, they did little in the way of fighting,
but they were enjoying the fun, and offered themselves
continually for personal combat.
"Now then, Mopsie, have a try with me," shouted one;
then another, "Come on, Mopsie, I'm a-ready for you!"
till the poor child was goaded to desperation.
At last she paused in sheer exhaustion, the whole of her
body in one wild pulsation. But she stood her ground
nevertheless, not stirring an inch from the dark figure
crouching on the ground at her feet. Her hair stood up
MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE. 85
in wild confusion, her cheeks were a-flame, her eyes like
a hunted deer's.
"I-I have hurt you!" she gasped at last, looking
round on them all in the vain hope of seeing some one
There was a shriek of irony, which made her eyes flash
out like stars.
"I meant to," she declared proudly, and I will !"
"That's it, don't give in, little 'un At it again like a
She looked round on their jeering faces, and her courage
failed. Her hands were bruised and bleeding, yet she had
scarcely made them wince. Her lips trembled suddenly,
and the flush died out of her face.
"Let us go home !" she said, almost with a sob, stooping
down again, and putting her hand in Crazy Will's, who
sat shuddering from head to foot, his face hidden.
"Oh, that's very fine," returned Mat with a sneer. "You'll
just bide our time, I can tell you!"
"You shan't touch him!" she said fiercely, seeing him
slip behind her, and get nearer Crazy Will.
"What's he to you ?"
"He's-he's my friend!"
"Oh-oh-oh! Just hear that! Crazy Will's got a friend!"
"It's true!" Mopsie said flashing round on the boy, "and
he's got better friends nor me."
"Well, now's their time then! Let him call 'em out,
ev'ry one on 'em."
86 MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE.
Just then Rob came headlong over the stairs. He had
caught the sound of Mopsie's voice, and bidding Shrimp
stay quiet, dashed off to the rescue.
He saw the group of boys, but that was all. Mopsie and
Crazy Will in the centre were completely hidden.
"What's up there?" he shouted, bearing down on them
like an eagle.
The boys paused suddenly. "Here's the Robin!" they
whispered, and then, just as if the name was a magic one,
half of them took to their heels.
But Mat, and a couple of the others, held their ground.
"What is it, boys ?" he said, looking as if he meant to
go to the bottom of the matter.
Mopsie saw him, and gave a shrill cry of triumph. "You'll
catch it now," she said, turning a face of supreme satisfac-
tion on her tormentors. "In another minute I guess you'll
wish you hadn't."
Rob gave a swift glance at Crazy Will and the girl, and
at once comprehended. Then he turned on the boys, facing
"I'll settle this," he said with a turn of his lips that
meant mischief. "Now then, Mat!"
Mat looked as if he would rather not, but the boys were
watching at a distance, and his reputation was at stake.
So he squared his shoulders, and stood up for the fight.
Mopsie looked on with the most intense interest, encour-
aging Rob by an occasional cheer. It was a close struggle,
but after the first few throws, everybody saw what the end
MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE. 87
would be. Mat was thickset, with a full, red face, and
though he struck out heavily Rob was more than a match
for him. His long slender limbs were lissome, and swift,
and full of nervous strength; they did him good service
now, for before five minutes were over, Mat lay prostrate
on the ground while Rob bent over him, his knee'on his chest.
"Have you had enough?" he inquired, a fine look of
scorn on his face, or will you get up and go on again ? "
Mat lay still, panting and gaining his breath.
"If ever I catch you saying a word to either of them,"
jerking his head towards Mopsie and poor Crazy Will,
"you'll hear from me again, and it'll be the last time, I can
The other two boys had skulked off. They did not
relish having a taste of Rob's justice, and Mat was left
alone on the field. Discretion seemed to him the best part
of valour, so he picked himself up slowly and inoffensively,
and began to crawl off.
Mopsie considered a moment, then went after him. It
struck her it would be well to have the last word.
"Next time you want to have a fight," she said in a
frank, matter-of-fact way that bore no malice, and was
simply a business affair, "just come to me or him first,
and leave Crazy Will alone. I told you you'd wish you
hadn't," and then she whisked round and went back to her
Rob was looking after Crazy Will, but the poor fellow
refused to stir.
88 MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE.
"Come, Mister Spurgeon, it's only Mopsie and me, so
come along home," Rob said persuasively.
But lie only shook his head and shuddered. The boys
had given him a terrible fright, and he seemed unable to
shake it off.
Mopsie knelt down beside him, and putting her little
hands over his, drew them from his face. "Come !" she
said softly, "come home!"
The man looked at her stupidly.
"It's Mopsie !" she said with a little nod.
His face brightened slowly, and he made no effort to with-
draw his hands.
"And you'll come home with me," she went on, a soft
coaxing in her voice that must have come naturally, since
there had been no one to call it forth.
The poor fellow made no answer, but he got up slowly.
He was covered with dirt, and when he tried to walk he
seemed in pain.
"Whatever did they do to you ?" asked Mopsie.
Instead of answering, he hid his face and began shudder-
"Don't ask him," said Rob in a whisper, "he's too fright-
ened. Better let him be."
So they took him quietly home, and helped him up the
ladder into the loft. He looked round then and gave a sigh
of relief, but he did not speak.
"Lie down a bit, Mister Spurgeoi," Rob said, "you'll feel
MOPSIE TO THE RESCUE. 89
He lay down like a child, without a word of dispute, and
closed his eyes as if he was thoroughly wearied.
The children thought he was going to sleep, so crept away
to the other side of the loft. Little Shrimp had waited very
patiently for Rob's return, but insisted upon knowing every-
thing that had happened.
"Did you fight, Mopsie ?"
"In course I did," returned the child, "I pitched into 'em
all," she went on, her eyes glowing at the remembrance,
"and there was a good many of 'em."
"But you're only a girl," Shrimp returned, not looking
nearly so impressed as Mopsie would have liked. You
couldn't have hurt 'em much."
"Didn't I though?"and Mopsie looked aggrieved. "If
I am a girl, I'm better'n a coward any day."
"That you are," said Rob heartily; but look here, you're
an awful fright now, d'ye know?"
Mopsie's face fell. "Am I?" she said, putting up her
hand to her hair.
"Oh, well-never mind," she returned contentedly, we
took the shine out o' them."
90 THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING."
THERE 'S SOMEBODY LISTENING."
THE next morning Crazy Will did not get up. When Rob
went over to him he was lying staring at the roof in a blank,
stony way that frightened the boy.
"Mister Spurgeon !" he said anxiously.
But the man did not stir, and when Rob touched his
hands they were very cold.
"Ain't you well ?" Rob said again.
He was lying in his clothes, just as he had come in the
night before. A ray of sunlight falling through the sky-
light touched his face, and brought out each bruise and stain
with pitiful distinctness.
Rob waited a moment, then went downstairs and called
"I'm afraid he's real bad," he said, coming up over the
ladder in front of her; he won't speak or look at me."
Oh dear !" and Mopsie gave a prodigious sigh. She had
hoped, now that Shrimp was better, ;r!'.! would go more
smoothly. But here was another trouble, and her little
roguish face grew very' grave.
"THERE'S SOMET-DY LISTENING." 91
"I've come up to see you, Mister Spurgeon," she began
gently, going across to his side in her simple, fearless
A slight quiver broke the stillness of his face, and, seeing
this, Mopsie went on.
"We want you to speak to us, and say how you finds
yourself this morning," and she touched him with one little
hand as if to rouse him.
He stirred then, and his eyes gathered light. The soft,
childish hand had done its work.
"That's right," she said cheerfully; "you know you're all
among friends now, and you needn't be feared."
"Friends," he repeated slowly, and fixing his eyes on
Mopsie. "Crazy Will's got friends."
, She nodded her head, "Oh, yes; there's me and Rob,
and then"-dropping her voice suddenly-" there's the
'good Lord' you know."
Ah!" he said quickly, a wonderful change coming over
his face, "say that again."
Mopsie lifted up her hands and counted on her fingers.
"There's me-that's one; then Rob-that's two; Shrimp-
three ; and the dear Lord-four. That's a good lot, Mister
Sp1urgeon, isn't it ?"
He nodded his head and lay still.
"Ain't you going to get up ?"
Instead of speaking, he looked at the two children wist-
"Don't you think you can ." Rob asked.
"0 "THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING."
He shouk his head feebly. Very well, then," said Mopsie,
"you shan't, and I'll go and bring you up a cup of tea, see
if I don't."
So all that day 4 I'i,,I. and Crazy Will kept each other
company, while Mopsie and Rob went off to their separate
When they reached home it was a great relief to them to
find Mr. Elliot sitting by the side of Crazy Will, while
nestled in his arms was little Shrimp, who had fallen fast
asleep. He was talking softly, and Rob heard him say as
he came into the room-" Leave it all now. You must not
even try to remember. It will all come back some day, but
just now you must rest."
When he saw Rob, he got up and laid little Shrimp on
I have good news for you, my boy," he said brightly.
The lad looked up eagerly.
How would you like to be errand-boy at a shop that I
have heard of ?"
Rob flushed over brow and chin, but did not speak.
Well! Mr. Elliot said, his dark eyes smiling down on
"0 sir, do you mean it ?"
Of course I do. You would have to be there at seven
every morning, to sweep out the warehouse, and help gene-
rally. Then you would go your rounds twice a-day, at
twelve o'clock and six o'clock."
"And would they have me?" Rob asked, looking up in
"THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING." 93
sheer wonder. "How would they know I wouldn't make
off with the things ?"
"Because I am answerable for you."
Rob's face grew very gentle. "How do yo u know?" he
said, coming a little nearer, and waiting eagerly for Mr.
"I trust you," he said simply, putting his hand on the
Tears came into the boy's eyes, and he drooped his head
that no one should see them fall.
"And God trusts you, Rob," Mr. Elliot went on, after just
a minute's silence. "You will be true to us both."
"That I will, as true as I knows how," Rob said heartily,
"You shan't be disappointed."
"You will have pretty heavy work, but I should fancy
you were strong," and Mr. Elliot eyed the boy critically.
"Oh, there ain't any fear about that. I can beat most
any of the boys," and Rob drew himself up proudly.
"Can't I, Mopsie?"
Bless you, yes; you should have see'd him yesterday a
pitching' into Mat," said Mopsie, her eyes sparkling at the
remembrance. "I don't s'pose you could have done it
better yourself," and she knitted her brows, and took a
survey of her friend.
"I don't suppose I could," and Mr. Elliot's lips took a
comical curve. "But, Mopsie, I don't want him to fight,
I'd rather he didn't by far."
"Would you and the child looked up in surprise.
94 "THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING."
"Yes. Jesus says, Be ye kind one to another, tender-
hearted, forgiving one another.'"
Mopsie's face fell. So far she had gloried in a "good
row," and this new teaching did not come pleasantly. "I
likes to pay 'em out," she said with perfect candour and
Mr. Elliot drew her towards him, and looked at the little
mutinous face before he spake.
"Hundreds of years ago," he said, as if he was going to tell
her a story, "a little child came into the world. Not like
you, Mopsie, who remember nothing before you were born,
but a little child who had a beautiful home in another
world, far away. A world full of sunshine, and trees, and
flowers, and happy people, where the air was full of music,
and the children sang sweet songs, sweeter far, Mopsie, than
any you have heard."
"I'd a-stayed where I was," interrupted MIopsie, her face
full of interest and lifted upward.
"But, Mopsie, He wanted other people to share it with
Him, so He left His Father, and His home, and came into this
world that you live in as a little child. Then every day as
He grew older, He talked to the children around, and told
them the way to His home. It was not always a smooth
and easy road, and there were brambles and stones; but,
Mopsie, it led to the Beautiful Land!"
"Oh!" and the child drew a deep breath, "and didn't
they run ?"
Mr. Elliot did not smile. He thought of those who should
"THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING." 95
"run and not be weary," and the child's word seemed but a
Go on," she said, as he sat still, his pale dark face looking
away from her.
"They did not like the road, and because of that they
grumbled, and turned back. And as the child grew older,
He went and told the men and women about the Beautiful
Land; and when they found there was only one wcay to get
there, they were angry, and said, if they couldn't go their
own way they wouldn't go at all. And because this child
Jesus would not let them go their own way and lose them-
selves, but tried day and night to set their feet on the one
safe road, they grew so angry, Mopsie, that at last they took
Him and spat upon Him, and bound His head about with a
crown of thorns, and nailed Him to a cross that He might
die. Then-what do you think He did then, Mopsie ? "
"He couldn't do much," she said thoughtfully, "'cept call
"Child, can you understand it ? Bleeding, dying, He cried
with His last breath-'Father! forgive them, they know not
what they do!'"
Mopsie was silent, but the tears were slowly falling. "Did
He die she said softly.
"Yes; and now He is back in the Beautiful Land, and you
and I, Mopsie, and all the world, may go there too. He is
the 'good Lord,' dear child, who heard your prayer, and
sent me to give you help."
Then he got up and left them, saying he would come
96 "THERE'S SOMEBODY LISTENING."
again soon. He had given them enough for one day.
Slowly, but none the less surely, were they learning the
"old, old story,"
When Rob went over to Crazy Will, he looked at him in
astonishment. He lay in the same position, but his face and
hands had been washed, and his clothes changed.
"Who did it ?" asked Rob.
"Mr. Elliot ?"
Crazy Will nodded.
"Well I never!"
"Isn't it nice ?" the poor fellow said, smiling a little.
"Uncommon. Ain't you well ?"
"I don't know."
Rob couldn't make it out, and looked anxiously at his
friend. He hoped he wasn't going to have the fever like
"I heard all he was saying of," he said looking at Rob.
"Did you ever hear it afore, Mr. Spurgeon ?"
"All of it-every word of it. He says I mustn't think,
but it's coming back. I lics here looking up at the roof,
and I hears voices and all sorts of things. I keeps on a-say-
ing them words of yours-' We beseech thee to hear us,
good Lord'-and it's a deal of comfort. There's somebody
listening, you know-there's somebody listening!"
"IT'S ALL COME BACK!" 97
"IT'S ALL COME BACK !"
IT was Sunday evening, and Crazy Will was going out on a
Nobody knew anything about it but Mr. Elliot, and he
understood its nature far better than the man himself.
Some weeks had gone by, and Rob was getting accustomed
to his new life. Shrimp was able to run about again, and
his little pinched face had grown almost rosy. Rob looked
at him with pride, and kept an exact measurement of his
height in a corner of the loft. You might have seen extra-
ordinary marks there, but you would not have been any the
wiser if you had. Only Rob and Mopsie understood what
they meant, but there was plain proof to them that at last
little Shrimp was growing.
"He's 'most a man now," Rob would say, chalking down
the last measurement, and then the little child would look
up, and give a proud, pleased smile. He had always felt
that he was backward, and was ashamed of it.
Crazy Will crept down the ladder with a slow, uncertain
step. The passing weeks had changed him sadly. His face