Setma, the Turkish Captive.
Show Your Colours.
True and False Friendship.
Always tooâ€™ Late.
The Paiched Frock
Â§ The Story he was Told
Stephen Grattanâ€™s Faith.
David the Scholar.
Tired of Home,
Setting Out for Heaven.
The Stolen Money.
Pat Rileyâ€™s Iriends.
The White Feather,
Steenie Allowayâ€™s Adventures,
Cottage Life; its Lights and
The, Ravenâ€™s Feather.
Aunt Millyâ€™s Diamonds and
Our Cousin fiom India.
My Ladys Prize and Ejfie's
How the Golden Eagle was
Emily's Trouble and what it
The Adopted Son
Wittle Bot Series.
MARY E. ROPES,
â€œ CAROLINE STREET," â€œPRINCE AND PAGE,â€ ETC.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY:
56, PATERNosSTER Row; 65, St. Pautâ€™s CHURCHYARD ;
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
CHAP. ; PAGE
1. THE ONE SOFT SPOT : : - 5Â°
Il. ON FALSE PRETENCES . toy 14.
ui. Tom THE THIEF zi : â€˜ - 25
Iv. THE Owaee OF THE LOCKET . â€œe 32
vs A RESOLVE AND A DISCOVERY. . 38
vi. THEIR KITH AND KIN . : . 50
VI. PICTURES OF THE FUTURE : . 56
THE ONE SOFT Â§$POT.
tt would be well for the
~~Â» children who live in com-
; fortable homes and wear
~~ nice warm clothes, if they
could sometimes take a
peep at some of the places
where the poor live.
Come with me to-day, little
readers, and let us look into
a home such as you perhaps
have never secn. It is a miser-
: able little attic chamber, dark,
and quis. and bare, and very cold, yet in this
wretched place, three people live. Miles Wenley,
the drunken father; Tom, his eldest son; and
lastly, a little hundle of clothes in the corner,
6 Tom's Bennie.
zrom which emerges a wee white face, and a
pair of wasted hands, and dark mournful eyes.
These eyes brighten pathetically, when Tom
enters, asking cheerfully,
â€œWell, Bennie, how are you a gettinâ€™ on?â€
Poor little Bennie! his mother had died when
he was only four years old, "and now he was
eight, A fall from his fatherâ€™s arms, when only
fifteen months old, had Jeft the child with an
injured spine, and made him a cripple for life.
So there he sat, all day, in a corner of the
dark, dreary room, his only pleasure the society
of his big brother Tom, in whose strength he
gloried proudly, in whose love he trusted wholly,
and whom he firmly believed to be quite without
- It was Tom who took fia, out of bed in the
morning, and washed him, and dressed him in
the few shabby clothes that were nearly all the
childâ€™s poor wardrobe.
It was Tom who contrived in some mysterious
way that Bennie did not understand, to get a
few pence now and then to buy little dainties to
tempt the invalidâ€™s fitful appetite.
And it was Tomâ€™s broad, square shoulders
that bare the blows from drunken Milesâ€™ senseless
hand, which else would often have fallen â€˜upon
The One Soft Spot. 7
the helpless, suffering little child. Tom was a
sort of guardian angel in Bennie's eyes; while
the one soft spot in Tomâ€™s heart was his tender
love for his young brother.
Yes, the one soft spot; for since Mrs, Wenley's
death the boy ,had grown very hard in the
struggle for life. .
Pressed by the close grasp of poverty, and
surrounded by scenes of vice, few characters
would have retained their integrity, and we
must pity, rather than blame, poor Tom that he
had not retained his.
. It must not be supposed, however, that he
had quite forgotten his: motherâ€™s example and
teaching. Full well he remembered that sweet
face, a face which had always, he thought,
looked far superior to the position in which the
family were placed. Nor had he ceased to recall,
now and then, her loving words of pleading,
that carly in life had almost persuaded him to bs
But she was gone, aid since her death Tomâ€™s
father had become a more confirmed drunkard
than ever, while temptations not a few had
come to Tom; and though at first they were
weakly resisted, they were yiclded to at last,
and now â€œtime had dimmed the sweet memories
8 Toms Benrie.
of the past, and sin had dulled the conscience, and
â€˜Tom was no longer the high-spirited, but obedient
and tender-conscienced, boy for whom his mother
had prayed with her last dying breath.
Did you ever watch a wild stormy sky gather-
ing to itself dark and sullen clouds, heap on
heap, threatening lightning and thunder and
rain? And while you watched did you ever
mark a single speck of blueâ€”a narrow gleam of
clear brightness shining among the louring
masses of blacknessâ€”a ray of beauty and hope
amid the coming tempest?
Well, something like this was Tomâ€™s character ;
the gleam of blue and brightness being his un-
selfish and tender affection for little crippled
It was cyening, and Bennie sat in his corner
in a sort of rude reclining chair which Tom had
constructed from pieces of wood, some given
him, some â€œborrowedâ€ (to use his own phrase),
_ though there was little chance of their ever
being paid back.
Bennie was weary, and moreover very faint
from want of food. Miles had gone out early,
and had not come back, and Tom had been
away longer than usual. Bennie had eaten
nothing all day, except a little oatmeal porridge
The One Soft Spot. 9
for breakfast, which his brother had prepared
for him; and now, with the natural impatience
of hunger, he feebly threw aside the old counter-
pane, which was wrapt about him, and slipping
out of his chair, on to the floor, managed to
drag himself along on his hands and knees to
the other side of the room, to see if by chance a
bit of bread had been left in the old box which
was their sole larder. But the quest was in
vain; there was not a crumb, and the disap-
pointed child crawled back again to his chair,
and with difficulty scrambling into the low seat,
leaned back white and exhausted with the un-
Suddenly his face brightened, for his quick
ear had caught a sound outside, a firm, rapid
step, which he knew as well as we know a tune
that we have heard from infancy.
In another moment the door opened, and
Tom entered with hasty strides and an anxious
â€œPoor little man!â€ he exclaimed, kneeling
down by the chair, and laying his brown cheek
by the white face of his brother. â€˜â€œ Poor little
chap, nigh dead with hunger, ainâ€™t you? Well,
never mind now, Tomâ€™s brought you something
to eat. Wait a moment, and I'll get out a
plate and fork.â€
10 - Tom's Bennie.
Bennie untied the little parcel, and found two
nice plump sausages, and a new twopenny loaf,
also a tiny bit of cheese.
â€œOh, Tom, how nice!â€ exclaimed the child, as
his brother went down on his knees, and began
to blow into a blaze the little fire of sticks and
small bits of coal. â€œAnd Iâ€™m so very hungry ;
are you hungry tooPâ€
2 NO, replied Tom, â€œIâ€™m not, for I've had
. â€œHave you? Then you got some money
- Tom hesitated a moment.
â€œYes, I got some money: not very much, but
enough to buy me a dinner (a late dinnerâ€”for
weâ€™re fashionable folk, you know, Bennie), and
you asupper. See, thereâ€™s the remains of my
provisions,â€ and putting his hand into his
pocket; he pulled out a thick bit of sandwich,
and tossed it into Bennieâ€™s lap. But as it fell
something very bright and shining fell with it,
and Bennieâ€™s quick eye saw it before Tom
could snatch it back, and he exclaimed, â€œOh,
Tom, whatâ€™s that? Doshow itme! How did
you get it?â€
â€œ [â€”Iâ€”found it,â€ replied Tom, reluctantly
producing . the trinket, and putting it into the
The One Soft Spot. 11
ghildâ€™s hand, but looking both ashamed and
â€œFound it? Oh, how beautiful!â€ and the
little fellow gazed with delight upon a pendant
which he held up by the ring, while the light of
ithe poor, candle shone full upon it.
It was a large, massive, oval-shaped locket;
with a monogram in small rubies on one side,
and some chasing on the other. Another
moment, and his quick fingers had opened it,
and revealed double portraits, the likenesses of
two young ladies, sisters apparently, for there
was a sirong resemblance between them. .
. â€œWhat dear pretty ladies!â€â€ said Bennie,
â€œYes,â€ replied Tom; â€œand that one is very like
mother when first I remember her. She wasnâ€™t
like that for a long time before she died; but
this picture might have been herself, when I
was a youngster.â€
â€œWhat are you going to do with the locket?â€
asked Bennie. â€œShanâ€™t you try to give it back
to the lady that lost it?â€
Tom grunted, then gave a short, unpleasant
â€œNo,â€ said he, â€˜that ainâ€™t no good. I
couldnâ€™t find the folks. No, no, him as finds a
12 Tonâ€™s Bennie.
treasure, itâ€™s his for sure; and you and I shall
have many a supper out of that shiny thing.
Them red stones, I know, is worth a deal of
money. Iâ€™ll take it to-morrow, and change it for
coals, and meat and bread, and coffee and sugar,
and another blanket for you, and maybe a
picture-book too, or a toy.â€
â€œOh, that will be nice!â€ exclaimed the child,
clapping his hands; â€œbut, Tom, give me those
pretty faces out of the locket afore you take it
away. I shall like to look at them when youâ€™re
out. Maybe they'll keep me from being
â€œPoor old man!â€ responded Tom, fondly;
and as he spoke he deposited the sausages,
nicely toasted, on a plate, cut a slice or two from
the little loaf, then filled a tin mug with some
water from a brown jug in the corner, and
put all on to a little old tray, which he set be-
fore the hungry child, taking the locket from
his hand as he did so.
Just then there came a knock at the door.
Tom slipped the trinket into his pocket, then
went to the door and opened it. There stood a
boy who might have been his own age. His
face was sly and suspicious, and a pair of
furtive colourless eyes blinked under his hair-
The One Soft Spot. 13
â€œWhat do you want, Sam ?â€ asked Tom.
â€œTJ want to speak to you,â€ replied the lad, in
low tones, â€œabout something as we two knows
of; which I won't let you be a selling of it all to
yourself. And if you won't share it with me,
I'll get you into trouble, see if I donâ€™t!â€
â€œYou old fox!â€ sneered Tom, forgetting his
brotherâ€™s presence. â€˜ You've nothing whatever
to do with it. Why, you was far enough away
when I took the thing. And as for tellinâ€™ and
trouble, thereâ€™s two can play at that game as
well as one.â€
â€œWell, if you want that small boy to hear
your secrets Iâ€™d rather be excused myself,â€
said Sam, with a malignant glance at Bennie;
â€œbut if youâ€™d like to come downstairs and out
with me, we can talk it all over.â€
â€œTâ€™ve nothing to say to yuu,â€ rejoined Tom,
sullenly ; â€œbut if you will talk, it had better be
outside than in, of course.â€
So saying, and leaving little Bennie very
much astonished and mystified, Tom went away
with Sam, and the lads finished their conversa-
tion outside in the street.
ON FALSE PRETENCES.
3 sexeectey ENNIE dear, youâ€™re not quite so
OZ ; \ perky as usual to-day, aa Tom
to his brother one morning, when,
having washed and dressed him,
he set him gently down in his
chair, whichâ€™ was made soft by
the addition of an old pillow, and
a kind of cushion stuffed with
bits of rag, and givenâ€™ by a
~ neighbour some months ago.
â€œNo, Tom, Iâ€™m not feelinâ€™ very
A well; my back aches, and my
head too, and I donâ€™t seem to
4 \ have any strength.â€
f â€œPoor old man, you want
your breakfast,â€ said the big
brother, tenderly. â€˜â€˜Letâ€™s see if fatherâ€™s left
anything from last night. He hadnâ€™t any
money, s0 heâ€™s yone to work, and heâ€™ll be
On False Pretences. 15
sober for the rest of the week; but Saturday
night and Sunday we shall have to look out,
and I must get home early, for he'll be drinkinâ€™
up all his earninâ€™s, and old Tom must be here
afore him to take care of you, Bennie.â€
â€œHow good you are to me, Tom,â€ i
Bennie, looking up with fond, grateful eyes, as
his brother tucked the old shawl around him.
â€œSometimes I wishâ€”I canâ€™t help. wishinâ€™â€”that
I â€˜was with mother, and out of the way; I give
you such a lot of trouble, and I can â€˜t do nothin
to help you.â€
Tom drew the little fellowâ€™s head to. his
shoulder, and kissed the fair rings of hair that
lay on his forehead.
â€œBennie,â€ he said, â€œyoull make me cry
if you go talkinâ€™ like that. Trouble! How
can you say @ word about trouble? Why,
youâ€™re all I have in the world, Bennie, now
motherâ€™s gone. Sheâ€™s happy, and donâ€™t need
you in Heaven (if all they say is true); but
what should I do without you, BenP And
now I'll get your breakfast ready ; and as for
you, you must first put all such things out of
that silly little head of yours.â€
Bennie smiled. Tom could always comfort
him, even when he was most depressed; and
16 Tom's Bennie.
now he lay back with closed eyes, and a patient
contented smile on his pale lips.
There was a pinch or two of tea left, and a
morsel of bread ; so Tom sct the water on to boil,
then made the tea and a bit of toast; and a few
mouthfuls soon brought back the slight tinge of
colour into the childâ€™s white face.
â€œBut you've got nothinâ€™ for yourself, Tom,â€
â€œOh, I donâ€™t want it,â€ replied Tom. â€œTime
enough for my breakfast when Iâ€™ve earned it.â€
â€œYou've never told me how you earn
money,â€ said Bennie ; â€œdo you get work to do,
or do you beg, or what?â€
The boyâ€™s face darkened. â€œThere ainâ€™t no-
ways as I donâ€™t try, pretty much, Bennie,â€ said
he. â€œWe must live, and it don't do to be
squeamish and over particlar; a spoonâ€™s a
spoon that carries food to your mouth, whether
itâ€™s of gold or of wood. Now Iâ€™ve made up my
mind as you're to have some nice beef-tea to-
day, and somehow or other, by hook or by crook,
have it you shall, even if I have to ask the ox
himself for a bit of his shin.â€ And the
darkened face broke into a smile again; a
comical smile, that set Bennie off laughing
On False Pretences. 17
It was rather later than usual that day before
om got out of the house. His companions
had already started on various little excursions
in quest of their dangerous profits, all but Sam
Bowles (or slippery Sam), whose acquaintance
we made in a previous chapter, and who now
came up, sayingâ€”
â€œSo you're here at last, Tom! Ive been
a-waitinâ€™ for yer ever so long.â€
â€œAnd whose faultâ€™s that?â€ returned Tom,
fiercely. â€œWho asked you to wait? Not me!â€
â€œWell, you neednâ€™t go at a fellow like a
snapping turtle,â€ said Sam, in a low tone which
was intended to be nothing, but which was only
sly. â€œItâ€™s for your own good as much as mine
that Iâ€™m here.â€
â€œMy good indeed!â€ sneered Tom; â€œTI think
I see you a-lookinâ€™ after any oneâ€™s good but your
own. Be off now, and mind your own business,
and donâ€™t come meddling with things that donâ€™t
â€œHow cross you are, to be sure!â€ said
Sam, in the same oily tones as before. â€œAnd
all a-cause of me beinâ€™ obligatedâ€”for the sake
of this tender conscience of mineâ€”to keer.
to the rules of our little society, and tell the
fellers about that thing you prigged the other
18 Tonâ€™s Bennie.
day. Itâ€™s your own fault, my Tartar; for if
you'd but been willinâ€™ to share the price of
it with meâ€”aloneâ€”Iâ€™d never have said a word
about it. But you was obstinatious, and so my
conscience he woked up, and made me tell the
rest of the gang, which the conserkances of it is
of course that you donâ€™t get more than a sixth
when you might have had half.â€
â€œWell, and whatâ€™s all that to do with me
now?â€ growled Tom. â€œThe thingâ€™s over and
done with; and if your time ainâ€™t worth any-
- thing, why mine is, and Iâ€™m not a-goin to stand
about and listen to your twaddle all for
â€œWell!â€ exclaimed Sam, rolling up his eyes
vanctimoniously, and making a face nearly as
long as his arm ; â€œwell now, if your'n ainâ€™t a
on-Christian dispersition, I never see one.â€
â€œTf thatâ€™s all youâ€™ve got to tell me, I may as
well say good-morninâ€™,â€ said Tom.
â€˜But it ainâ€™t, my lovely crittur. What I
wanted to speak about were this; let you and I
â€˜ be partners for a week. We wonâ€™t say nothink
to the rest, and we'll share and share alike
whatever luck we gets.â€™
â€œMuch obligated!â€ rejoined Tom; â€œa nice
plan, to be sure! But when I want a partner
On False Pretences. 19
Pll choose one inyself, and he won't be a blab
nor yet a sneak.â€
So saying he snapped his fingers contemp-
tuously in his companionâ€™s face, and walked
down the street with his long supple stride,
leaving Sam breathing vengeance through his
Fortune did not favour Tom that morning.
Policemen seemed to be more than usually
numerous and watchful; all the most touching
and harrowing stories which his fertile brain
could invent did not draw the pennies from the
pockets of the passers-by. No silk handker-
chiefs dangled their corners out of shallow
pockets, inviting appropriation ; no purses or
pocket-books temptingly indicated their presence,
in a manner suggestive of possibilities. And the
afternoon came, and Tom had not a halfpenny
in his possession. He had eaten nothing too
that day ; but this was a trifle, it only made him
look more longingly in at the cook-shops, and
sniff the rich steams that issued forth from the
In his wanderings, he left the East-end of
London far behind him, and travelled up to
the West, where the richer people live, turning
aside at length into a quict square.
20 Toms Bennie.
As he sauntered along, he saw in the distance
a lady approaching him. Here was a chance
not to be neglected! In an instant he stopped
short, put his hands in his pockets, and turned
them ostentatiously inside out. Then, as though
in a state of violent and painful agitation, he
clapped one hand to his brow with a gesture of
despair, and wrung the other frantically. Lastly,
he wheeled round, and walked slowly along,
stooping as though looking for something, and
sobbing with deep, long-drawn breaths.
As the lady drew near, she saw this picture
of woe, and her heart was touched.
â€œMy poor lad, what is the matter Pâ€ said she.
â€œ Have you lost anything Pâ€
Tom went on sobbing, but he managed to
falter out, â€œOh, maâ€™am, yes. Itâ€™s a shilling as
my old grandfather thatâ€™s ill gave me to take to
the chemistâ€™s shop up this end of the town,
for a bottle of physic. And itâ€™s the last shillinâ€™
as we had in the house; and if he donâ€™t have the
physic, the doctor said as he was certain not to
live till the morning.â€
â€œPhysic is all heâ€™s been able to swallow
for over ten days,â€â€™ continued the boy, becoming
quite interested in his own false tale, and telling
it with a plaintive innocence which might have
On False Pretences. 21
imposed upon Solomon himself; â€œ and as for me,
maâ€™am, I havenâ€™t even had a dose of that for
wittles to-day; and a drum is a trifle to what I
am at this present time, for the kind of thing as
is called emptiness.â€
The lady could not help smiling at Tomâ€™s
quaint description of his condition; but she
sympathized with him none the less for that,
â€œ Hereâ€™s a shilling for you,â€ said she; â€œand
if youâ€™ll dry your eyes and stop sobbing, and
come with me to that house over there, I'll tell
the cook to give you some dinner.â€
Tom ceased sobbing as gradually as was
natural; as for drying his eyes, there was no
need of that, for not a tear had he shed. He
followed the lady at a respectful distance, and
presently they entered a nice houseâ€”No. 1 of
a block fronting the squareâ€”while at its back
ran a small street communicating with one of
the principal thoroughfares.
Now, for the first time Tom raised his eyes to
the ladyâ€™s face (he had not dared to doso before, -
for fear she should see that he had not been .
really crying), and gave a great start. Could
he be dreaming? No, he had seen this face
befure; but where? Ah! now he knew. It
was in that locket with the ruby monogramâ€”it
22 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
was one of those likenesses that little Bennie
had begged to keep, when the trinket itself
had to go. The discovery, the association, the
surprise, and a feeling of shame, sent a quick
flush into the ladâ€™s brown cheek; but the lady
had already turned away, and did not remark it.
â€œFollow me,â€ she said, and Tom obeyed,
accompanying her to the back of the house and
into a spacious kitchen, where a savoury odour
greeted the hungry ladâ€™s nostrils, and made him
more ravenous than ever.
A comely-looking, middle-aged woman was
busy preparing the dinner. Soup was bubbling
away on the fire, flanked by a fish-kettle. On
the spit a handsome little joint of beef was
roasting, and the cook was just about to pop a
large fruit pie into the oven.
â€œSee, Naylor, I have brought you a visitor,â€
said the lady, whom we shall call Mrs. Piercy.
â€œThis poor boy has had nothing to eat all day.
Give him a good meal, will you, please ?â€
â€œYes, maâ€™am, that I will, with pleasure.
Will you take a seat, my lad, while I wash this
paste and flour off my hands?â€
Tom sat down, and Mrs. Piercy said good-bye,
and was just closing the kitchen door, when she
recollected something, and returning said, â€œ What
On False Pretences. 23
is your name, child, and whereabouts do you
For a moment Tom hesitated. He would
have liked to tell this kind lady the truth, but if
he did so she might discover that the story about
his grandfather and the physic was false. One
lie leads to another, and Tom, though he dropped
his eyes with a momentary feeling of shame,
replied with his accustomed readiness,â€”
â€œMy name is Watson, maâ€™am ; and we live in
Chickentoe Lane, out of Ginger Street, Bethnal
â€œWhat number?â€ asked Mrs. Piercy. -
â€œNo. 15, maâ€™am,â€ said Tom, giving his
age as the first number that occurred to him ;
â€œbut itâ€™s a bad neighbourhood for the likes of
you,â€ he added; â€œwa never see no ladies down
At this Mrs. Piercy only smiled and said,
â€œAnd my address, remember, is Morton House,
Dashe Square.â€ Then she nodded, and was
And now a large plateful of cold meat, a huge
piece of bread, and a mug of hot coffee were set
before Tom ; and seldom, if ever, had food tasted
so delicious to the poor boy. Yet even as he
ate his thoughts went back to his little brother,
24 Tom's Bennie.
and to the determination he had expressed that
morning to procure for the child something
nourishing and strengthening. Bennie had
often asked for beef-tea since the day that a
kind woman, who lived in the same house as
the Wenleys, had brought some for Bennieâ€™s
mother. Tomâ€™s eyes turned covetously towards
the piece of meat which had been set to roast.
It was hardly more than warmed through yet.
What beef-tea that would have made! And as
he ate and drank, the wish to possess the joint
of beef grew stronger and stronger.
TOM THE THIEF.
wy is dinner was finished, yet still
Tom lingered, on pretence of
warming himself, though his
healthy young blood was ting-
ling down to the tips of his
â€˜fingers and toes. In reality he
was longing to carry off the
beef, but did not see just how
to do it.
We fear he did not feel the
base ingratitude of the thought
he was harbouring, as we could have wished
him to feel it. For years the hardening process
had gone on; and we have seen that he was now
a really wicked, unprincipled, hard-hearted lad,
save in the one tender place which had escaped
the deadening influence.
But was it not strange that his love for
Bennie, and his wish to benefit him, should be
26 Tom's Bennie.
leading him into fresh sin? Alas! so itis with
the soul that has chosen evil, and forsaken
Godâ€™s path of right; for Satan will often tempt
that soul in ways that are strange and subtle,
through the deepest affections and closest ties.
Tom was still busy turning the matter over in
his mind, when suddenly the kitchen bell rang,
and Naylor ran to the door. Tom heard a
strange voice in a tone of distress.
â€œOh! Mrs, Naylor, could you come, please ?
Maryâ€™s been and scalded herself very bad
with the tea-kettle. Itâ€™s only three doors off,
and folks said as how you was clever at them
â€œTl come this minute,â€ said Mrs. Naylor,
kindly, â€œ I'll only wait to get my rags and stuff.
I say, my lad, will you keep house for me here
for a matter of ten minutes, and baste that there
beef now and then ?â€
â€œYes, maâ€™am,â€ replied Tom, feeling very
guilty, but very glad notwithstanding. Then
Naylor went away, and Tom was alone with the
prize he coveted.
He glanced round the kitchen for something
to wrap the joint in, and close behind him he
saw a large round-towel hung on a roller by the
sink, In a moment he had slit it with the knife
Tom the Thief. 27
that lay on his plate, and folded it carefully
round the smoking meat. Then he came out into
the passage, opened the back door and peeped
out. No one was near; and quietly closing the
door behind him, he darted off, in an opposite
direction from that which the cook had taken.
By the back streets and slums of the city, he
found his way home, just as darkness was suc-
ceeding the twilight.
â€œLook here, Bennie, look !â€ cried he, darting Â©
into the room, and holding up the parcel. â€œSee
what Iâ€™ve got for you!â€ and he laid the beef, cloth
and all, down on the stool by the childâ€™s chair.
â€œWhy, where did this come from?â€ asked
Bennie, lifting a corner of the towel and peeping
in. â€œAnd whatâ€™s this writing at the end of the
cloth? Hold the candle a little nearer, Taff
dear ; why, look, itâ€™s one word, Piercy.â€
â€œOh, of course, that must have been the name
of the butcher that sold it,â€ continued Bennie,
innocently. â€˜I suppose then you'll have to take
the towel- back. But it was very kind of him to
lend it. And, Tom, I never saw such a piece of
meat in all my life; it would be a shame to
make broth of all this. Canâ€™t we both have a
bit of it done like steak? Itâ€™s ever so long
since we had any steak.â€
28 tomâ€™s Bennie
â€œTâ€™ll do a piece for you directly. We've got
a little coal left, and Iâ€™ll make a fire, and you
shail have your supper comfortable. See,
Bennie, this thin end of the beef, we'll cut off
and stew in a jar for beef-tea; and now with this
sharp old knife Iâ€™ll cut you a nice thick little
steak. Where's the old gridiron? Oh, here it
is!â€â€™ and presently a steak, done to a turn, was
smoking before little Bennieâ€™s sparkling eyes.
Just as Bennie had finished his supper, and
Tom had hidden the rest of the joint, Miles
Wenley came home. He was sober, having had
no money to spend; and Miles sober was a very
different man from Miles drunk, for he was
naturally a kind-hearted, good-natured fellow ;
a person of education and even refinement in the
old times; but a life of constantly increasing
self-indulgence had deprived him of all that he
once possessed, had clouded his intellect, and
reduced him from the position of a rising lawyer
to the place of a common drudge, with hardly
sense enough to find his way about as light
Still there were times when Miles Wenleyâ€™s
degraded condition, and that of his children,
forced itself upon him; and the memory of his
wife, who had been faithful and tender to the
Tom the Thief. 29
last, haunted him. How oftÃ©n, even now, there
rose up before him that sweet gentle faco! How
often he fancied he could hear again her earnest
words of entreaty and remonstrance, her words
of faith and hope when she lay on her death-bed.
The name of Jesus had been the last utterance
of those pale lips, and well he knew that the
Lord whom she loved had received her to ,
Himself. But the parting to him had been
bitter indeed. Not only had he been consumed
with remorse for the misery he had brought upon
her throughout their married life, but it seemed
to him as though their parting must be eternal.
He had never been able to enter into or under-
stand her religious life; and now she was gone,
and seemed utterly lost to him, save for these
painful memories which even his fatal self-
indulgence could not always shut out from his
mind. What had she not given up for him ?
home and parents, and beloved sister, love of
kindred, and many a blessing beside !
And how had he repaid the sacrifice she had
made in marrying him? Alas! he had proved
to himself and to her, what his father-in-law, in
anger, had said when he disowned and disin-
herited her,â€”that she had married bencath
her. Ay, he had proved it by dragging her
30 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
down in his own fatal course, by involving her
in anxiety, in sickness, in poverty, such as she
had never even imagined; in shame, that broke
her heart and brought her to a premature
These memories were strong in Miles Wen-
leyâ€™s brain to-night; and he looked so very
weary and so forlorn that Tom pitied him, and
going unobserved to his box-larder, cut off a slice
of meat, and broiled it, unbidden, for his fatherâ€™s
supper, going out also to buy, with a portion of his
shilling, an ounce or two of coffee and a loaf.
Meanwhile our readers will readily guess what
disappointment and vexation had been felt by
the kind inmates of Morton House.
When the cook returned to the kitchen, she
was in consternation to find the meat gone, and
even the round-towel, which she rightly con-
cluded had been taken to wrap it in.
She went to her mistress at once with the tale
of the theft, and indignantly condemned the
whole race of boys, â€œwhich the kinder you was
to â€™em, the worse they behaved themselves, takinâ€™
ready enough what you give â€™em, and helpinâ€™
themselves to all that were left, as soon as ever
your back were turned.â€
Tom the Thief. 3l
â€œWell, Naylor, never mind,â€ said Mrs. Piercy
at last, when the cook had given vent to her
feelings; â€œgo to the butcherâ€™s, and get some
chops for dinner. Our young guest has not
behaved very well, I must say; but we donâ€™t
know how he has been brought up, or what
excuses even we might be willing to make for
him, if we only knew the truth. I have his
name and address, and will look him up to-
morrow afternoon. I have to go into the city,
and I might as well call and see if the ladâ€™s
story isa true one. There was a something in
his face that made me think I had seen him
before, though how or where I cannot imagine.â€
â€œ Tisnâ€™t likely, maâ€™am, as you could ever have
set eyes on that young thief till to-day. Not
that he were a bad lookinâ€™ lad neither; but
thereâ€”itâ€™s no use trustinâ€™ faces, and I'll never
do it again ; no, maâ€™am, not if it was ever so!â€
Naylor was an old and faithful servant, and
was allowed more latitude than later comers ;
but this remark was her last, and she now con-
tentedly went off for her chops, and then pro-
ceeded to the important business of ccoking
THE OWNER OF THE LOCKET.
VN pe |
Piercy was writing letters
- in her boudoir, the servant
announced Mrs. Masterman.
Mrs. Masterman was Mrs.
NY lived only a little way off, she
. used often to run in and see
half an hour to spare.
â€œMother dear,â€ said the younger lady, when
the first greetings were over, â€œhave you
recovered your locket ?â€
â€œNo, Ida, I have heard nothing, though I
advertised and offered a reward. I do not care
so much for the locket, for that can be replaced,
but your likeness was in it, and that of our poor
darling Amy, and these I can never have
The Owner of the Locket. 33
â€œYou can have mine any day, mother,â€
replied Mrs. Piercy.
â€œYes, dear, but not as you were at the time
that was taken. When you are as old as I am,
Ida, you willâ€”should you have children of your
ownâ€”wish sometimes to recall them as they
used to be when at home and about you. And
as for Amyâ€™s portrait, that loss is irreparable.
O Ida, just think! It is actually sixteen years
since our precious child chose between husband
and parents, and we disowned her; and nowâ€”
Oh, merciful heaven! what would we not give
to be reconciled to her, and take her to our
hearts again! Poor Amy, so fair, so frail, so
little able to fight such a battle of life as I fear
was in store for her. Your father says little,
but his repentant regret is very painful to
witness; and every year as it passes seems to
make his grief and remorse harder to bear. Ida
dear, should God bless you with a child, may
you never have to reproach yourself with harsh-
ness towards it, no matter what that childâ€™s
fault may have been!â€ And Mrs. Masterman
wiped away some bitter tears that ran down
over her furrowed cheeks.
â€œI had such a disappointment yesterday,
motherâ€ said Mrs. Piercy presently, anxious to
34 Tonâ€™s Bennie.
lead away the old ladyâ€™s thoughts from the
painful subject of her Jost daughter; and she
proceeded to tell how she had tried to be kind
to a poor beggar boy, and how ungratefully he
had repaid her charity.
â€œTt was all the harder, you know, mother,â€
continued Mrs. Piercy, â€œbecause I rather took
to the lad, having a sort of fancy that I had
seen him before. Something in his face was
familiar. Te was a tall, handsome fellow, as
straight as an arrow ; and though he was dressed
badly, he was not dirty, nor had he the degraded
look that many of these beggar boys have.
However, I secured his name and address, and
am going to find him, if I can, to-day. He said
he had an old grandfather who was very ill, and
I should like to know if his story was true. I
could forgive him the more easily for stealing
my beef, if I could but feel sure that it was
anxiety to provide for the sick manâ€™s wants that
made him commit the theft.â€
Mrs. Masterman smiled sadly.
â€œAh, Ida,â€ she said, â€œyou at least have
learned charity, and how to forgive ; learned it
without so painful a lesson as has been given to
your father and me. And you have nothing
with which to reproach yourself in Amyâ€™s case,
The Owner of the Locket. 35
for you did all you could to obtain our consent
to the marriage, and used all your influence to
make us relent, and take her back to our
â€œ Mother dear, it is no good talking any more
about it,â€ replied Mrs. Piercy, gently. â€œAll
the remorse in the world will not muke matters
better; and now that our lesson has been
learned, God will surely overrule all the further
events of His providence in wisdom and in love.
At least it is not your fault or fatherâ€™s that Amy
was too proud, poor child, to apply to us, or that
she hid herself away so carefully that we could
never find her. â€˜I'ake comfort, mother, God
knows our hearts, and He will yet send us con-
solation and peace. And as for Amy, she was
perhaps wilful and disobedient in that one thing,
through love for the man whom she married ;
but she had right principles, and a tender affec-
tionate heart, and if she still lives, I am sure
she does not bear us malice, but has forgiven us
â€œGod grant it, dear!â€ responded Mrs. Master-
man; then, after a little more conversation, she
took her leave.
Karly in the afternoon Mrs. Piercy set out
on wkat our readers know could not but bea
36 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
wild-goose chase. For a long time she huntedâ€™
about, finding many Watsons, and parts of the
given address in several places, but nowhere a
Chickentoe Lane, a Ginger Street, a number
fifteen, and the name of Watson, corresponding.
Thoroughly tired and disappointed, she gave
her cabman directions to take her to the nearest
Metropolitan railway station ; and soon she was
rattling through the darkness â€˜towards home,
where she arrived at length, and was obliged to
reply to Naylorâ€™s triumphant question, â€˜ Then
you havenâ€™t found him, maâ€™am?â€ with the
words, â€œNo, Naylor, no; I fear you are right,
and that he is a very naughty, deceitful boy.â€
How would she have felt, think you, had she
known that as she was knocking at the door of a
house in one of those poor streets, and doing her
best by inquiry and personal search to find Tom,
that young gentleman himself happened to pass
close behind her on tiptoe; and understanding at
a glance how matters stood, dodged round the
next corner to avoid being seen P
That night, when Tom reached home, he said
to his little brother, â€˜â€˜ Bennie, have you got those
two pictures still.â€
â€˜Yes, Tom, here they are; I keep them in.
this little Bible of motherâ€™s,â€
The Owner of the Locket. 37
â€œJust let me look at them,â€ said Tom ;,and
long and earnestly he gazed upon the two
â€œVery strange!â€? he murmured to himself.
â€œTwo faces in a locket, one of them like mother,
and the other like the lady that lives at Morton
House. And whatâ€™s stranger still; theyâ€™re like
each other too, very like. Thank you, Bennie,
that'll do!â€ he added aloud; and he handed
them back to his little brother, who put them
away again reverently between the leaves of his
Bible. The child had no toys, and these minia-
tures were indeed treasures to him.
Had he but known the truth, how doubly
precious they would have been.
A RESOLVE AND A DISCOVERY. â€”
.uE following Saturday evening
and Sunday were very trying
times to poor Tom and Bennie.
Their father was paid on
Saturday night, and as usual
he came home drunk, and was
so violent that Tom at first
had hard work to protect his
little brother, and keep the few articles of
furniture and crockery from being broken to
pieces. At last, however, the violent stage
passed, and Miles fell aslcep, while the two boys
sat side by side, talking till late.
Tom had feared for some time that Bennie
was not so well, and to-night it struck him more
than ever that the child seemed feebler and less
capable of the least effort even than usual.
Indeed Bennie acknowledged that he had been
in rather more pain of late, and had felt very
A Resolve and a Discovery. 39
helpless and weak. A frail little creature he
looked, as he leaned his white face against
Tomâ€™s sturdy shoulder, and spread out his small
delicate, nerveless hands upon his brotherâ€™s
_ â€œVd like to be big and strong like you, Tom,
dear,â€ said he, presently.
â€œWell, who knows! perhaps you will some
day,â€ replied Tom, trying to speak hopefully.
â€œThat is, if you try to eat as much as you
can (when weâ€™ve got it, of course), and donâ€™t
fret and think too much about dyinâ€™, and all
Bennie shook his head.
â€œTâ€™ll never be strong and well no more, Tom,
Iâ€™m afraid, till I get wp there!â€ and he pointed
solemnly upward; â€œbut thenâ€”oh look, Tom,
what the book saysâ€”â€ and the child opened his
httle Bible at the twenty-first chapter of Revela-
tion, and pointed to the fourth verse, reading
softly and as if the words soothed and comforted
him, â€œ And God shall wipe away all tears from
their eyes; and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be
any more pain: for the former things are passed
It was Tom who had taught his little brother
40 Tomâ€™s Benivie,
to read, and the childâ€™s one book was the Bible,
till, through constant perusal, it had grown so
familiar to him, that it was like a friend; and
he turned to it with a simple, unconscious faith,
that an older and in some ways far wiser person
might have envied.
Tom winced as if he had been struck. The
one tender spot in his heart was touched by
Bennieâ€™s words; and the beautiful verse, so
soothing to the child, was anything but consol-
ing to the elder brother, whose conscience told
him that such a heaven as this was not the place
With a hardly suppressed sigh, he took the
Bible gently out of Bennieâ€™s hand, saying, â€œItâ€™s
getting late, little man, and you ought to go to
bed ; let me undress you.â€
But long after the child was peacefully asleep,
Tom lay awake thinking. He could not hide
from himself that Bennie was gradually growing
more strengthless; thinner aud whiter, a littleâ€”
a very littleâ€”every day.
â€˜â€˜He wants more food and better than I can
give him; and how can I manage it Pâ€â€™ said the
lad to himself. â€˜Save payinâ€™ the rent, father
does nothinâ€™ for us; and the child hasnâ€™t a bit
but what I carn orâ€”or steal. Steal!â€ he re-
A Resolve and a Discovery. 41
peated, almost fiercely. â€˜Thereâ€™s not a thing
I wouldnâ€™t do to keep the life in him. Oh
Bennie, Bennie!â€ and for a few minutes Tom
sobbed, and hid his face under the bed-clothes.
Then his thoughts took another direction.
â€œTf only I hadnâ€™t given that lady the wrong
address and name, sheâ€™d have come and perhaps
helped Bennie. What a dinner was getting
cooked that day at her house! They must be
well-to-do folk! If only I dared go there again !
But no, it would never do after walkinâ€™ off with
that beef! I wonder what the cook thinks of
And with a sudden revulsion of feeling,
natural to a character like his, he chuckled as
he thought what her consternation must have
been, when she came back, and found the joint
But his mirth did not last long, and his
thoughts came back to Bennie. Was the child
going to die? Yet what else meant this gradual
wasting of life in him, this growing weakness and
weariness? Tom buried his head in the pillow
in his excitement, as a new thought struck him.
â€œYesâ€”thereâ€™s nothing for it,â€™ said he, â€œI
must put my pride in my pocket, and my fear of
bemâ€™ nabbed may go along with it; itâ€™s for
42 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
Bennieâ€™s sake, and I must do it.â€ His resolu-
tion once taken, he turned over and went to
sleep, dreaming all sorts of strange dreams in
which the inmates of Morton House played
The next morning he wrote a letter in pencil
on a blank-leaf of the little Bible, while Miles
and Bennie were still asleep. Let us look over
his shoulder and see what he has written. The
spelling is hardly all that we could wish, but we
must remember that Tomâ€™s advantages had
â€œâ€˜T donâ€™t kno that you will beleeve me
now, because I deceeved you once. But this
time I am speekinâ€™ the trooth, and itâ€™s all on
akount of Bennie, thatâ€™s my brother. Deer
Madam my name isnâ€™t Watson, and the address
I gave you wasnâ€™t right, for there isnâ€™t no such
place. My little Bennieâ€™s a cripel, dear lady,
and heâ€™s gettinâ€™ worse and very week and thin,
and if he donâ€™t have help soon, I think he must
di. Â§8o please deer Madam come and see him
for yourself to proove that Iâ€™m speakinâ€™ troo, and
please forgive me for stealinâ€™ the bief, which it
was for Bennie I did it. My reel name is
A Resolve and a Discovery. 43
Wenley, and my address is 5, Crowdieâ€™s Court,
Cora Street, Bethnal Green,
and I remane,
your humbel servent,
Thomas M. Wenley.â€
This letter he folded and â€˜slipt into his pocket ;
then, when he had got Bennie up into his chair
as usual, and made the bare room a little tidy, and
given the child his breakfast, he sallied out to
walk to Morton House. It wasa good distance ;
but he traversed it quickly, dropped his letter
into the post-box in the door, and beat a hasty
retreat for fear of being seen.
He walked home more slowly than he had
come, and was surprised, as he opened the door
of their pour room, to see Bennie lying all in a
heap in his chair, his little face hidden in the
pillow, his chest heaving with bitter sobs.
â€œBennie! Bennie! My own darlinâ€™ little
man, whatâ€™s the matter?â€ and Tom sprang to
his brotherâ€™s side, knelt down, and tried to draw
the fair head to his shoulder with the old en-
But for the first time in his life, the child
resisted the pressure of those loving arms, and
turned his head away from the brown curls that
44. Tonâ€™s Bennie.
rested for a moment on the pillow beside him.
Tom was amazed and horrified.
â€œ Bennie,â€ he said again, in low tremulous
tones, â€˜tell your old Tom whatâ€™s the matter.
Are you in pain? are you tired or hungry?
Here he paused, for Bennie looked up with
aface of such hopeless misery that his brother
â€œOh, Tom, Tom!â€ sobbed the little fellow,
clasping his hands together, and gazing with
streaming eyes into the face hitherto so beloved,
that now leaned over him. â€œTom, say it isnâ€™t
true; oh do say it canâ€™t be true. Say youâ€™re my
same Tom, as good as ever.â€
â€œOf course Iâ€™m your old Tom, Bennie, though
maybe I ainâ€™t very good,â€ said the big brother,
soothingly. â€œ What have to love but you? And
youâ€™ve got me. In this big, hard world weâ€™ve
got just each other. Thatâ€™s all right, Bennie.â€
â€œAnd youâ€™re not what he called you, Tom? â€”
you're not wicked? you donâ€™t take what ainâ€™t
yours? youâ€™re notâ€”oh say youâ€™re not a thief !â€
Tom rose at once, his bosom heaving, his eyes
â€œâ€œWhoâ€™s been here, Bennie? Who's been
tellinâ€™ you things about me P â€
A Resolve and a Discovery. 45
Bennie stopped crying, fairly frightened at the
â€˜rage in his brotherâ€™s face.
â€œT donâ€™t know his name,â€ he replied; â€œhe
had a queer quict face, aud eyes that looked
down; and heâ€”â€
â€œHa, I know! Itâ€™s Sam, Slippery Sam.
Listen, Bennie; Sam was vexed with me tâ€™other
day, and he said, to pay me out, heâ€™d do me
some harm ; and so heâ€™s told you this to set you
against me, because he knows very well as you
and I havenâ€™t nothinâ€™ else in the world but
just each other, and thatâ€™s the worst he can do
â€œTom,â€ cried the little fellow, his face flushing
and shining with a sudden light of innocent faith
and love, â€œTom, I wonâ€™t believe one word he
said; Iâ€™ll never think of it again, if only you'll
say, Bennie, Iâ€™m not a thief; Sam told a lie.â€
. Tom hung his head abashed. Bad ashe was,
hardened as he had grown, glib in falsehood,
seared in conscience, he could not face those
clear child-eyes with such an untruth as that
upon his tongue.
With a ery low and plaintive and full of pain,
like that of some poor wounded thing, he
dropped on his knees, convicted and self-con-
46 Tonâ€™s Bennie.
Of what terrible nature must be the sin that
he dared not confess to his guileless little
brother? And where could his conscience have
been hidden all this time, that now, starting into
life, forbade his denial of that sin?
For some time there was silence. Bennie
was alarmed at the effect his words had pro-
duced, and feared to say anything more, and
Tom was reviewing the past two years, which
conscience brought up before him with all their
At last, with an effort, he moved away from
his brotherâ€™s side, feeling as if he must do some-
thing to dull this terrible pain at his heart. He
recollected that Bennie must be faint, for the
child had eaten hardly anything at breakfast
time, and had not had a mouthful since. So he
set about preparing a little meal, which he
presently set before the child, who had been
lying with closed eyes, quite exhausted with
emotion. Bennie swallowed a few mouthfuls,
then pushed his plate away. Tom ate nothing,
but put the food back in the box, washed the
plate, and then placing Bennieâ€™s Bible where the
child could reach it, he went out, taking the
precaution of locking the door, and carrying
uway the key in his pocket, for fear of Sam's
A Resolve and a Discovery. 47
coming again, but quite forgetting his letter to
Mrs. Piercy, and his invitation therein contained.
A cold rain had begun to fall, but Tom did
not feel it. full of his own sad thoughts, he
wandered on up one street and down another,
not heeding whither. The wind blew through
his threadbare jacket, and the cold rain soaked
it, but he did not notice it. For the first time
in his little brotherâ€™s suffering life, a shadowâ€”
â€˜a shadow of hisâ€”Tomâ€™sâ€”own making, the
shadow of his sinâ€”had come between them.
Perhaps Bennieâ€™s loveâ€”the only love that had
cheered his hard lot since his mother diedâ€”was
lost to him.
In his misery he wandered aimlessly about
for an hour or two, then turned wearily home-
A second surprise awaited him there, for as
he opened the door, Bennie said, â€œO Tom, Iâ€™m
so glad youâ€™ve come home; somebodyâ€™s been
here, talkinâ€™ to me through the door, and
couldnâ€™t get in because it was locked, and at last
she said sheâ€™d come to-morrow, and so she went
â€œShe?â€ repeated Tom, in amazement, â€œ what
she, Bennie? â€
â€œOh, some one who talked like a lady, and had
48 Tom's Bennie.
a nice voice, and she was very sorry she couldnâ€™t
get in. I told her I was ill, and anyway I
couldnâ€™t open the door, because it was locked
outside; and I said my brother didnâ€™t do it out
of unkindness, but only to keep naughty people
away, and poor little me safe, and O Tom,
Tom!â€ Here the child broke down utterly, and
could only sob cut, â€œTom dear, take me in your
arms again; Iâ€™ll never believe youâ€™re wicked ;
neverâ€”never, no matter what anyone says.â€
But the long, lonely walk and time for reflection Â°
and repentance had done something real for Tom,
and he was no longer resisting Godâ€™s good Spirit
that strove with him, making his heart a childâ€™s
again. He knelt down in his former attitude by
the little boyâ€™s chair, saying softly,
â€œSuppose it was true, Bennie; suppose your
poor old Tom was just what Sam said; suppose
that when I couldnâ€™t get money by fair means,
I got it by foul! Nay, donâ€™t suppose anything!
It 7s so, Bennie. Samâ€™s a cur, but he was right.
I am a thief, and as bad as Sam himself in that,
or as any of the other fellows. O Bennie,
Bennie, if you say you donâ€™t like me I donâ€™t
know what I shall do. Iâ€™ve got no one but you
in the world.â€
It was a piteous thing to sce the ladâ€™s bowed
A Resolve and a Discovery. 49
head, and to hear the cry with which he uttered
For a moment Bennie looked awe-stricken.
Then he laid his fair head down fondly on tho
masses of brown curls, and said, â€œTom, Tom, I
do love you, just as much as ever! Whatever
youâ€™ve been, it shanâ€™t make no difference to
Bennie. Look up and kiss meâ€”do kiss me, Tom ;
and then we'll ask God to forgive and bless us
for Jesusâ€™ sake, and it'll all be right again.â€
Tom looked up, the tears streaming down his
brown cheeks, his lips pale and trembling. He
kissed his little brother, and the two boys clung
together passionately, there was no longer even
that one secret between them.
â€œNow letâ€™s pray,â€ said Bennie, reverently ;
â€œTom dear, please, will you ?â€
But Tom, to whose lips no prayer had risen
for years;â€”from whose ever-hardening heart
no petition had ascended to the Giver of .good,
â€”had forgotten all the prayers that he had
repeated when a child. And of the prayerful
utterances of Godâ€™s Holy Word, which their
mother had taught, he could remember only one.
But this he said-â€”said in a choked voice, and
with a fresh burst of tears, â€˜God, be merciful !
God, be merciful to me, a sinner |!â€
THEIR KITH AND KIN.
(OA geo) Miles Wenley reached
oh yo home that night, he found
ey that Tom, as well as
Gig 4â‚¬ Bennie, was in bed. The
Z boy was really feeling very
ill; he had taken a chill
while walking in the rain
and wind that afternoon ;
and this, with the violent
mental and moral struggle,
had been enough to tax
severely even his healthy constitution.
All night he tossed sleeplessly, or if he lost .
consciousness for a few moments, it was only to
wander into troubled dreams, more painful than
In the morning he was utterly unable to
rise; pain shot through every limb, his head
swam even when he tried to sit up, and he was
forced to lie down again with a groan.
Their Kith and Kin. 51
Miles did what he could for both boys; but
he did not attempt to dress Bennie, a delicate
operation which needed firmer, gentler, and
more skilful hands than his. But he made
some tea, and set it by their bedsides, and in
his helpless way tried to make the poor room a
little more comfortable. Then he went away
to his work.
Tom was too ill to talk much, and Bennie
was too anxious about him to care for anything
else; so the day wore on, very slowly and
Towards four oâ€™clock, however, a low knock.
came at the door, and what scemed to little
Bennieâ€™s eyes a vision of beauty and freshness
dawned upon the boys in their dark dreary attic
Tom started up with a cry of recognition,
and the lady approached his bedside.
â€œT am here again, you see; yesterday I could
not get in.â€
â€œYes, maâ€™am, I locked Bennie up because
heâ€™d had a bad boy to see him, and I feared
heâ€™d come again.â€
â€œYou look ill, Thomas,â€ said Mrs. Piercy,
bending over the boy with a look in her sweet
face of deep interest and concern.
52 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
â€˜Yes, maâ€™am, I do feel bad.â€
â€œMy poor child!â€ and she laid a soft cvol
hand on his burning forehead.
â€˜Oh please, maâ€™am, have you forgiven me?â€
murmured poor Tom, with a sob. â€œIâ€™m truly
sorry, ma'am; I am indeed,â€
â€œHush, child, say no more; I: freely forgive
you. Listen, my boy, are you well enough to
answer a question or two ?â€â€™
â€œYes, maâ€™am, I think so.â€
â€œWell, first tell me your full name.â€
â€œThomas Masterman Wenley.â€
â€œMasterman? After whom were you called?
That is a peculiar name, you know.â€
â€œ Please, maâ€™am, mother said it was after our
grandfather that we'd never seen,â€ replied Tom.
â€œ Yes,â€ piped little Bennie from his corner;
â€œand when we begged her to tell us all about
him, she cried, and said we must never ask her
â€œAnd where is your mother, my children?â€
questioned Mrs. Piercy, who had turned very
white, and looked eager and anxious. â€œTell
me where she is, for I have something very
particular to say to her,â€
- â€œOh, maâ€™am,â€ replied Tom, â€œmotherâ€™s been
dead these two years.â€
Their Kith and Kin. 53
â€œDead two years! Oh Amy, my poor,
suffering darling!â€ sighed Mrs. Piercy, great
tears welling up in her sweet brown eyes.
Then turning towards Tom again, she said,
â€˜Have you any likeness of your mother that
you could show me?â€
â€œNo, maâ€™am, we havenâ€™t,â€â€™ replied the lad.
Here Bennie interposed :
â€œBut I've got here in my Bible, maâ€™am, a
picture that Tom says is very like mother as
she looked when he was little,â€ and opening his
Bible he drew out the likenessesâ€”both of them
â€”and laid them in Mrs. Piercyâ€™s hand, indicat-
ing with his finger which was the picture that
resembled his mother.
The lady gave a little cry of mingled joy and
â€œOh Amy! Amy!â€ she gasped, â€œ Amy, my
poor dear sister!â€
Bennie started; Tom raised himself with
difficulty on one elbow, and stared blankly as
Mrs. Piercy once more addressed him.
â€œ Tow did you become possessed of these two
portraits Pâ€ she questioned, with a mixture of
severity and compassion in both face and voice,
which set Tom wondering.
â€œT wonâ€™t deceive you any more, maâ€™am,â€
54 tomâ€™s Bennie.
answered the boy sadly, dropping helplessly back
into his former posture. â€œI was walkinâ€™ one
day behind a lady, and as she passed along the
pavement, I saw somethinâ€™ bright and shininâ€™,
and I picked it up, and put it in my pocket,
meaninâ€™ to sell it, secret like, and live on the
money, we beinâ€™ so poor. But Bennie, he saw it
by accident, when I came home, and he begged
for the pictures, and I let him keep them.â€
All this time Bennie had been looking ear
nestly in the visitor's face, and now he said,
â€œPlease, ma'am, itâ€™s very strange, but ainâ€™t
you the other picture?â€
â€œYes, dear child,â€ replied Mrs. Piercy, and
there is something stranger still. Your mother
was my dear, my only sister; and her two sons,
Tom and Bennie, are my nephews.â€
There was a cry of surprise from both boys.
No wonder they found it hard to believe that
this lovely lady was their own aunt, their
motherâ€™s sister ; but when she came and stooped
over and kissed first one and then the other, they
began to realise that it must really be so.
â€œMy poor children, how you must have
suffered!â€â€™ she said, as she glanced once more
round the comfortless room. â€˜* Well, for the
future it shall be my care to try and make you
Their Kith and Kin. 55
forget your troubles, only remembering the
lessons you may have learned from them. I
will go home now to my husband, and talk
â€˜matters over with him; and we will come to-
morrow, and sce your father, and arrange
So saying, she laid some money on the table
for present necessities, as she explained,â€”and
bade the boys good-bye, kissing them both once
more for their dead motherâ€™s sake, and taking
with her the two likenesses to show to Mrs.
PICTURES OF THE FUTURE.
and worse. The pain in
his head was very great,
and the fever rose higher
every hour. Bennie could
not sleep, for his brother
began to be delirious, and
kept the child half crying,
half laughing, at the some-
times sad, sometimes absurd things he said.
Now he fancied that Slippery Sam was near,
taunting him, or threatening. Then he would
shriek with horror, and cry that he was being
chased by a hugh piece of beef which rolled
after him more quickly than he could run.
And now again Mrs. Piercy stood by him, trying
with one hand to force him into a gold box with
a ruby monogram while with the other she held
up his motherâ€™s photograph, crying, â€œStolen!
Pictures of the Future. oF
Miles had reached home that night pretty
sober; and being really alarmed at the serious
nature of poor Tomâ€™s illness, he remained beside
him for a while, bathing his head with cold
water, and giving him a drink now and then of
some lemonade which he made from lemons
bought with some of Mrs. Piercyâ€™s money.
Tom was too ill to be able to tell his father
anything about the wonderful events of the day,
and Bennie felt afraid to venture upon all the
explanations necessary, especially as he had a
very confused idea of the whole affair. So all
he said was that a kind lady had been to visit
them, aud would call again to-morrow; and also
that she had asked to see their father.
Slowly and wearily the night wore away, but
the morning found Tom no better, and Bennie
was quite ill too from anxiety and want of sleep.
Just about two oâ€™clock in the afternoon, how-
ever, Mrs. Piercy came, accompanied by her
husband, Dr. Picrey, who was a physician of
high standing at the west end of London.
Miles Wenley looked up, met the eyes of his
sister-in-law, and uttering a faint ery, staggered
back against the wall. She extended her hand
to the miserable man, and said gravely but
58 Tom's Bennie.
â€œI have found you out, you sce; and for
dear Amyâ€™s sake I want your permission to
take charge of these boys.â€
â€œHow did you knowâ€”how could you tell
we were here ?â€ stammered Miles.
â€œOh, that is a long story,â€ replied Mrs.
Piercy, â€œwhich we will not now enter upon.
Are you willing to give up your children to our
care, and to allow my husband and me to
assume parentsâ€™ responsibilities with regard to
them? Your position is not one in which you
can keep them in comfort, or give them any
Miles coloured with shame. He knew that
ever since his wifeâ€™s death, he had done almost
nothing for the support of his family, and that
his eldest boy had been obliged to supply the
needs of the younger.
â€œTm a poor wretch,â€ he said; â€œdrink and
evil companions have been the ruin of me. I
believe Amy died heart-broken; and I only
wish I had died when she did. Yes, Mrs.
Piercy, you may take my children. Their
father is no fit guardian for them. Take them
away, and God grant they may never disgrace
you hy following the bad example I have set
Pictures of the Future. 59
Meanwhile Dr. Piercy was bending over Tom,
and making a careful examination. Now he
beckoned to his wife and said very gravely,
â€œIda, this boy is, I fear, in for typhus fever ;
there is every symptom of it. He must be
moved out of this close, dusty place at once, or
there will be no chance for his life. An old
nurse whom I often recommend to my patients,
has a large airy upper room to let just now, and
I think I cannot do better than secure it at
once, and take the lad there. She will help to
look after him, and I will attend him myself.
You stay here, my dear, while I drive to Nurse
Goodmanâ€™s, and make all arrangements for the
boyâ€™s reception. Then I wiil return, and take
him with me, while you carry off that sweet-
faced little invalid to Morton House.â€
Miles Wenley acquiesced readily enough in
all that was proposed, and only asked per-
mission to see his children occasionally ; which
permission of course was freely granted.
In the course of about an hour and a half,
Dr. Piercy came back; and poor Tom, who was
unconscious of what was going on around him,
was wrapt up in such blankets and things as
could be mustered, and was carried by his
father and the doctor to a cab that was waiting.
60 Tom's Bennie,
Then Mrs. Piercy enveloped Bennie in the
same way, adding a shawl and a rug of her own
that she had brought with her, and Miles
carried the child to a second cab which Dr.
Piercy had also engaged.
The doctor and his wife got in with their
respective patients; the wheels rolled round,
and the dreary attic homeâ€”the old life of
privation and misery were left behind for ever.
Bennie cried bitterly when he saw that he
was to be separated from his brother; but his
aunt pacified him by explaining that Tom was
going where he would probably get well quickly,
and that Bennie should sce him again as soon
And now, dear readers, who have followed thus
far the fortune of Tom and Tomâ€™s Bennie, I would
have you look in with me at the drawing-room
window of Morton House, about six weeks after
the events recorded in the last chapter.
A tall, pale lad, with traces of weakness about
him, is seated near the window in a comfortable
arm-chair. His brown curls are beginning to
grow again after the close cropping during his
illness. But his eyes are still too large and
lustrous, and his checks are not yet filled out.
Pictures of the Future. 61
In his illness he has been brought very low,
and has learned many a lesson. He has proved
that God is gracious and merciful, and has
given himself to the Saviour, consecrating to
Him the life that has been spared, and trusting
to Him wholly for grace to live up to the light
that has been given.
Near him, on a couch, lies Bennie, whose face
is already losing its former pinched, wan appear-
ance. Upon a small table beside him, are some
papers and pencils, and several attractive-looking
books. And between the boys, with one hand
on Tomâ€™s shoulder, and the other on Bennieâ€™s
head, stands the proudest, happiest aunt in all
She has long since forgiven Tom for his
wickedness and deception, and she really does
not know which of her two nephews she loves
But now the door opens, admitting Grand-
papa and Grandmamma Masterman, who just
cdote upon Amyâ€™s children, and are inclined to
indulge them more than prudent Aunt Ida
approves, though she quite understands their
feeling of wanting to make up to the children
for harshness shown to their mother. To-day a
discussion is held as to Tomâ€™s education; and it
62 Tomâ€™s Bennie.
is decided, with his glad consent, that as soon
as his health and strength are thoroughly re-
established, he shall go to school. As for
Bennie, Dr. Piercy has forbidden any severer
studies than such little lessons as Aunt Ida can
But we would not have it supposed that poor
lonely Miles Wenley had been left to his fate,
and that no effort was made to reclaim him, or
to improve his wretched condition.
Dr. Piercy took an early opportunity of seeing
him, talking to him very seriously but very
kindly, and persuading him at last to try and
break off the terribie habit of intemperance
which he had formed. The good doctor pro-
mised in his turn to endeavour to find him some
employment more suited to his former position,
and to the good education which he bad received
as a youth, and help thus to redeem him from his
depraved companions, and degrading associations.
And now we assume an author's. privilege,
and place Â« magic mirror before our readersâ€™
eyes; @ mirror in which they may see some-
thing of the future of those whose recorded
history is now drawing to a close.
Pictures of the Future. 63
Look, dear young friends, and tell us what
you sce. Oh! the mirror clouds, then clears
away bright and fair, and a picture is before
Â«We see,â€™ you reply, â€œwe see our beggar
and thief, Tom, transformed into Dr. Thomas
Masterman Wenley, the valued, trusted, and
competent partner of Dr. Piercy, who tells his
patients, that the practice will all belong to _
his nephew some day, and that he shall not
have a moment's disquict when he retires from
his duties, and commits them entirely to the
younger physicianâ€™s care.â€
Again we shift the scene, and catch sight of
Bennie, who, though still a cripple, can get
about on crutches now. He is an author, and
writes stories for children. And in the prettiest
and most touching of all his books, there is a
little crippled, helpless child, watched over and
tended by a big brother; some people say that
Bennieâ€™s love for Thomas is as great and as
clinging as ever, and that it is this which makes
him reproduce in his works parts of his own
and his brotherâ€™s past life.
Mr. and Mrs. Masterman have gone to their
64 Tonâ€™s Bennie.
rest, and have rejoined their daughter whose
death they had so lamented.
Mrs. Piercy has some grey hairs now, but
her face is even more like that of her sister
Amy than it used to be, She has no children
of her own, but Tom and Bennie amply make
up to her for this.
Miles Wenley is a clerk in a merchantâ€™s
office, and has faithfully kept the promise he
made to Dr. Piercy. He often comes to Morton
House, and is a very contented and a very
And now we take the mirror away, for the
pictures are finished.
Tf these pages have carried with them any
lessons (and God grant they may have done so),
some young heart may yet be the softer, some
young life may yet be the better, for this simple
story of Tomâ€™s Brnniez.
KNIGHT, PRINTER, MIDDLE STREET, ALDERSGATE, E.C.
Till the Sugar Melts,
The Story of a Geraninon.
The Flying Postman,
The Money in the Milk.
Lhe Cowslip Ball.
The Little Model,
Tales from over the Sea.
Lisetta and the Brigands.
In his Father's Arias.
Cosmo-and his Marmoset.
Talks with Unele Morris.
Herbert and his Sister,
Lacy Millerâ€™s Good Work,
Little Andy's Legacy.
How the Gold Medal was Won,
and The Young Drovers.
Master Charles's Chair.
Squire Bentley's Treat.
Jessie's Visit to the Sunny
The Children in the Valley.
Bia see oa So VEG RRS EOCRE Soe eT