A LITTLE FIGURE WAS HUDDLED IN THE HOLLOW.
By LUCY BYERLEY,
Aunhor of "AMY'S SECRET," "RUTH ARNOLD," ETC.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY:
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD,
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
I. ROBBIE'S PRISON 5
II. A TERRIBLE MORNING. II
III. RUNNING AWAY .
iv. FLOP! GOOD DOG 24
V. IN LONDON 29
VI. HOMELESS 38
vii. A BAD FALL 46
VIII. BEN'S RETURN 55
THE QUEEN'S OAK.
SHERE was a great deal of
, ,' excitement in the little vil-
I lage of Hawbury, for a
Sq travelling menagerie, passing
V/_' from one town to another, was
remaining there for a few days.
Most of the villagers who had
seen the elephant and the camels
walking behind the vans, from which
came occasionally low growls and strange
noises, were anxious to see the lions and
tigers shut up in their iron cages, and to
watch the antics of the restless monkeys.
It happened to be Saturday, a holiday
for the school children, who were worry-
ing their parents for pennies, or turning
out the contents of little money boxes,
6 The Qveen's Oak.
in order to find the coins that would
serve to admit them to the "Grand
Cosmopolitan Wild Beast Show."
Ben Watson had been lounging about
in his mother's kitchen for more than an
hour, asking her for twopence, and getting
in the way so much that when at last he
upset the washing-pail over the cradle
in which the baby was sleeping, and the
poor little thing seemed half-drowned
and thoroughly wet, his mother boxed
his ears, and ordered him out of the
house. He knew that he would have
no chance of securing the coveted two-
pence, and going to the show, unless he
kept out of her sight until dinner time,
when the baby had been dried and
dressed, and his many misdeeds had
been somewhat forgotten.
He ran down at once to the field
where the wild beasts were receiving
their many visitors, but as he had no
money he soon grew tired of standing
there, looking at the gaily-painted cara-
vans and the fortunate persons who were
continually entering the little doorway.
Now then, you boys, run away if
you're not coming in," shouted a red-
Robbze 's Rri'solz.
faced man, who wore a gold-laced hat,
and stood at the entrance. Run home
and get your twopences," he cried, and
several of the boys ran off, as if the idea
had just occurred to them.
Ben did not think it wise to venture
home just then, so he strolled down the
lanes, passed through a little wicket gate,
and entered the wood which skirted the
Park. It was a splendid old place, acres
of soft velvety turf and fine well-grown
trees surrounding a fine ancient house;
and as the owner of these broad lands
was a kind and generous man, the Park
was always open to the public, and was
a favourite resort of the village boys.
There was hardly any one there that
Saturday morning, for the superior
charms and novelty of the menagerie
had attracted the boys to its neighbour-
hood; and as Ben wandered aimlessly
along lie felt rather dull, and began to
think of turning back, till he chanced to
see a small boy coming along the path.
It was little Robbie Swallow, who had
taken advantage of the absence of the
other boys to pay a quiet visit to a
corner of the Park where a robin was
8 The Queen's Oak.
sitting on some eggs, and the kind-
hearted little fellow, being very fond of
dumb creatures, loved to steal in un-
observed to watch the nest, and was
anxious to keep its existence a secret
from his school-fellows, who would have
stolen the nest and the pretty eggs.
Robbie flushed when he saw the big
boy coming, and looked as if he did not
wish to meet him, which was indeed the
truth; for Ben, without intending to be
really unkind, was very fond of teasing
and frightening younger children. And
as Robbie was his cousin, he never let
the little boy pass him without giving
him an extra share of attention, by
making a loud noise in his ear, or sud-
denly jumping after him, or tripping him
up. Although Ben's father had once or
twice given him a thrashing for frighten-
ing the child, no one had ever explained
kindly to him how cruel his conduct was,
and how much the timid little boy was
beginning to fear him. He only thought
him "a cry-baby," a silly little goose ;"
and when he saw him alone, he at once
determined to have what he called "a
good bit of fun with him.
He began by running up to the little
fellow, and seizing him firmly by the
shoulders he said, Now then, sir, tell
me what you've been doing with your-
self this morning?" I've been walk-
ing," said Robbie, in a low voice.
I suppose so. But where have you
been ? Tell me this instant," he cried,
fiercely.-" I don't want to," said Robbie,
almost in a whisper.
Well, you've got to tell me," said
Ben, decidedly ; "and if you're not quick
I shall put you in prison."-" Oh, don't!"
cried the child; I haven't been doing
anything wrong, indeed I haven't."
Never mind, you've got to come
along with me, sir, I tell you."
The poor child was very much fright-
ened ; but anxious to save the nest from
Ben's clutches, he let his cousin drag him
across the grass, wondering what new
torment was in store for him.
At the other side of the Park stood a
fine old tree called The Queen's Oak.
It was the oldest tree in the place, and
had been planted by an English queen
when on a visit to the owner of the Park,
so the story ran. At any rate, it had
10 The Queen's Oak.
lived and flourished for many, many
years, and was taking a good many
years to die. The trunk had long been
quite hollow, and during a violent storm
in the previous winter a great piece of
the bark and the rotten wood had been
blown away, making a large hole a few
feet above the ground.
Beside this hole Ben stopped, and
said, There now, this is the prison,
and in the black hole you must go, go,
go," and he lifted the child in his arms,
in order to drop him inside.
Oh Ben! don't put me in there.
I'll tell you, if you will only let me go,"
cried Robbie, with tears in his eyes.
But the boy was intent upon having his
bit of fun, and regardless of his little
cousin's struggles and entreaties, he
dropped him gently inside the hollow
trunk-" the prison" as he called it.
Then he put his hands in his pockets
and strolled away whistling, intending
to return in about half-an-hour to release
his little captive from bondage. But
when he reached the village his mother
was standing at the door looking for
him to come in to dinner.
A TERRIBLE VIORNINQ.
.oTHING was talked of but the
;'i show during dinner time;
V \ FK" and when the meal was
-2., over, and Ben at last received
the much-wished-for twopence,
he forgot all about his little
cousin, and ran off at once to the en-
closure where the vans were stationed,
gave up his money at the entrance, and
prepared to have a jolly afternoon with
his school-fellows. His fun was some-
what spoiled when he found he would
not be allowed to tease the animals, for
he delighted in the idea of making the
elephant gallop when riding on its back,
and intended to rouse up the lions and
tigers by poking a long stick through
the bars of their cages, and to annoy the
monkeys by giving them hot ginger-
drops. But all these tricks were pro-
hibited, so Ben and his companions were
1 2 The Queen 's Oak.
obliged to be content with looking at the
animals, whistling to them and calling
them uncomplimentary names, which as
they did not understand English did not
rouse their ire.
Thus the afternoon passed quickly,
and when Ben returned home it was
almost dark. He had entirely forgotten
little Robbie during the excitement and
fun of the afternoon, and did not think
of him again, for there were lessons to
be learnt and sums to be worked in
readiness for Monday morning.
Just as Ben was growing sleepy and
almost ready to go to bed, the cottage
door was opened and his mother entered
the kitchen. She had been out all the
evening and looked tired and worried.
"Have you been to see the wild
beasts, mother ? inquired the boy.
Wild beasts, indeed she exclaimed,
"no, indeed. Trouble enough they've
brought to the place this day. There's
your poor little cousin Robbie been miss-
ing ever since this morning (I suppose
you didn't see anything of him this after-
noon) ; and now they say that one of
the beasts has escaped, and your poor
A4 Terrible A/oiiwrnii. 13
aunt's nearly beside herself, for who
knows what's happened to the poor little
fellow ? There's a lot of the neighbours
gone out with guns and sticks to search
for him; and if your father was here I
know he'd gladly make one of them,
but I sadly fear that they'll never find
the poor little fellow alive before the
wolf seizes him."
"P'raps he's all right," stammered
Ben, as he took his candle and began to
creep up the narrow staircase which led
to his bed-room. There was a great
lump in his throat, and he felt as if it
would choke him if he tried to say
another word. His heart was oh so
heavy, and his knees really shook with
terror as he thought of the horrible danger
to which his little cousin was exposed.
Although considered plucky by his
school-fellows, Ben was in reality a
coward. He was very sorry indeed that
he had put little Robbie into the hollow
trunk, and had forgotten and left him
so long, yet he was much too terrified
to go out alone in the dark to release
him. Neither had he the courage to
brave the anger of every person in the
14 The Queen's Oak.
village by confessing what he had
I'll go and take him out in the morn-
ing," he thought; they'll never think of
looking there for him, and 'tisn't likely
the wolf will be able to get at him; he's
safe enough there."
But though he reasoned thus he could
not sleep; and though his eyes usually
closed directly he got into bed, remorse
and anxiety now kept him awake. How
the wind did howl through the trees in
the Park How it moaned and sobbed,
until the boy almost fancied it to be
his cousin's voice shrieking and calling
for help. He felt at last as if he must
tell some one what had happened that
morning. But there was no one in the
house to whom he could speak : his
father was gone to spend the Sunday in
the nearest market-town with his aged
mother; and his mother had gone over
to comfort her sister, Mrs. Swallow, and
to try to cheer her through the long
hours of that dreadful night.
Louder and louder shrieked the wind,
and quicker beat Ben's heart as he woke
from a troubled doze. He could lie in
A Terrible Morning. 1 5
bed no longer, but rose, dressed himself,
and looked out of the window. He half
wished that he could have gone with
the party of searchers, yet the dreadful
dreams with which his short sleep had
been filled made him shudder at the
thought of what he might have found,
and he had not enough courage to ven-
ture to start alone to join the party.
As the long hours of the night passed
slowly by, Ben felt far too wicked and
too frightened to pray, even for his little
cousin's safe return. Indeed he could
not bear the thought that although the
neighbours knew nothing of his unkind-
ness and cruelty, there was One above
who knew all about it, from whom it
was impossible to hide the truth.
The wind lulled a little just before
dawn; and when the first streaks of
daylight appeared in the sky, the boy
resolved that he would go to the Park,
and make his way to the hollow tree.
It was quite certain, he said to himself,
th Robbie must still be there, for he
could not have crept out unaided, and it
was not at all likely that the wild beast,
wolf, or whatever it was, could have dis-
16 The Queen's Oak.
covered him, and still less probable that
those who were searching for him should
have gone to that part of the wood, and
found out his hiding-place.
Half-frightened and half-courageous,
Ben crept downstairs without waking
the other children, and stole out of the
house in the early dawn of a Sunday
morning. There seemed less cause for
fear in the morning light, and not a crea-
ture was stirring in the village as he
hurried to the Park, and made his way
across the turf -towards the old oak tree.
Still he cast nervous glances around
him, for the wolf might yet be lurking
near, or the party of searchers might
not have returned, and he dreaded
meeting either almost equally. On his
way he began to think how he should
persuade Robbie to keep silence about
his unkindness to him. Should he only
release him on condition that he would
not tell ? No, that would never do.
The poor child would be tired and
hungry, and must be set free at once.
Or should he bribe him by offering his
penknife-all the money he could get
in a whole year-anything, if he would
A Terrible Morning. 17
only promise to keep silence, or to say
that he had fallen into the hollow trunk ?
He could not quite decide. But as he
approached the Queen's Oak he saw to
his dismay that the hole in the bark was
much larger than it had been the
previous morning. His heart seemed
to stand still as he peeped in. It was
empty,-Robbie was gone /
All the dreadful thoughts of the night
returned at once, and Ben's heart sank
within him as he noticed how the grass
was trodden and trampled down and saw
the fragments of bark strewn upon it,
and a little ragged piece of cloth, evi-
dently torn off the knickerbockers which
the little fellow had worn yesterday, and
lastly he noticed a little streak of some-
thing upon the bark, close by the hole.
He touched it, and found that it was
blood. With a dreadful cry he rushed
away from the place, bitterly reproaching
himself for the cruel thoughtlessness and
love of teasing which had led to such
S ..N, on he rushed, across the
Park, without heeding the
"; way he was taking, only
I anxious to leave Hawbury
behind and escape from the
place where he would be
i hated all his life, where
even now the police might
be seeking for him.
Through the wood, over the hill,
across the fields, and through the brook
he hurried, climbing fences, leaping
ditches, unheeding the brambles that
tore his clothes and scratched his hands
and face, until he gained the high road.
Still he hastened on, mile after mile,
without stopping to think in what direc-
tion his steps were bent, until he reached
a quiet village, where the bells were
ringing for service and the good people
were wending their wav to church.
Running Away. 19
Faint and exhausted, Ben felt as if he
would like to rest there a minute, but he
dared not stop. Peaceful and quiet as
the village looked there was no peace
He began to wonder how far he had
travelled, and in what direction he should
go; and when he reached the next mile-
stone and read upon it the words :
18 MILES TO LONDON,
lie at once resolved to make his way to
the great city. True, he had never been
to London, and did not know any one
living there; but he felt sure that he
could walk eighteen miles, although he
had already travelled ten, and he remem-
bered hearing his father say that London
was a safe hiding-place for criminals, for
searching for one person among so many
was like looking for a needle in a
The sun was shining brightly, and
twelve o'clock chimed from a pretty little
church-tower reminding Ben that it was
nearly dinner-time at home. As he had
been walking for hours, and had had
no breakfast, he felt woefully tired and
20 The Queen's Oak.
hungry, and with but a single halfpenny
in his pocket there was not much chance
of dinner that day.
Hour after hour he trudged along,
though his pace grew slower, and he
began to wonder if he should ever reach
London, the city of refuge, as it appeared
to his imagination, where he should
forget that dreadful morning and begin
The afternoon advanced; but still
Ben plodded on until he began to notice
that the green fields became fewer and
the houses more numerous; and when
he inquired how far it was to London,
the passers-by began to give him various
"What part of London do you want
to go to ?" asked a woman, in reply to
"To London Bridge," said Ben, men-
tioning the only place in the metropolis
af which he felt quite certain.
Oh it's a long way, but if you keep
straight on you'll come to it," was the
"A long way yet," he echoed sadly.
The bun he had bought with his half-
Rzuiuning Away. 2 1
penny was long since gone, and he felt
so tired and exhausted that he would
have begged of any one, but was afraid
of attracting notice.
"You look as if you had tramped a
long way," said the woman, kindly, as
she glanced at his torn and travel-stained
garments and the dust which covered
him. The boy coloured, but dared not
say how far he had walked. She slipped
a penny into his hand, and he continued
his weary walk through interminable
roads and long streets, past more rows
of shops than he had ever imagined.
They were mostly closed, but he found
one where he exchanged his penny for
a lump of bread.
Then on, past more shops and houses,
crossing endless streets where omnibuses,
cabs, tramcars, and other vehicles rattled
along with a ceaseless din, until Ben's
head ached as much as his feet, and he
began to wonder if it really could be
Sunday still, and if all the cabs and
carriages in the world were rushing
through this noisy rattling London.
Yes, it was Sunday still, and the sweet
strain' of singing came from the churches
22 7The Queen's Oak.
and chapels as he passed them, and once
he saw a large crowd gathered round a
man who was standing at the corner of
a street, talking earnestly to the people.
"Thou God seest me," he said in
solemn tones, while Ben stood a moment
to listen. But the boy waited to hear
no more, and hurried on full of fresh
terror and alarm. What use was it for
him to run away, to try to hide in this
mighty London if there was One who
was watching him wherever he went,
from whose piercing eye he could not
A few minutes later, he met a ragged
boy walking jauntily along.
Can ye tell me how far it is to
London Bridge ?" asked Ben.
London Bridge ?" cried the boy,
with a grin. He! he! he! 'London
Bridge is broken down ;'" and he ran oft
laughing and chuckling at his own wit.
For a minute Ben half-believed the
boy's words, but the laugh which followed
them undeceived him, so he walked on
a few paces farther and repeated his
inquiry to a man who was leaning
against some stone-work.
Running Away. 23
London Bridge? Why ain't this it,
yokel ?" was the scornful reply. Don't
yer know it when yer sees it ? "
And so he reached it at last, the goal
towards which he had been travelling
all day; and now he stood on London
Bridge as the clocks were striking eight,
and the great river rolled slowly beneath
him, and the lights of London began to
gleam in the gathering darkness.
And then came the next great ques-
tion-Where was he to sleep ?
FLOP I qOOD DOCi
,^ HEN Mrs. Watson returned
to her sister's house that
'"Saturday night, she found
that her worst fears were
groundless. The report about
the missing wolf was quite
'y untrue, and had only arisen
from a joke of one of the men
who wanted to scare the boys still loiter-
ing about the place, and send them home
But little Robbie was still missing,
and every few minutes some messenger
came to the cottage to ask again when
and where the boy was last seen, or to
say in what direction the men had gone
to look for him.
"There is some one else," said Mrs.
Swallow, excitedly, and a loud bark
sounded outside the door, which she
onPned at once.
Flop Good Dog / 25
But to her surprise it was only the
dog, Flop, who had been out on a little
excursion of his own, and now began to
behave very strangely, and to tug at his
mistress's gown as if he wanted her to
go out with him.
"What is it, Flop, silly dog ?" she
said, sharply; "you don't know where
Robbie. is, surely "
At the mention of the child's name,
Flop pricked up his ears, wagged his
tail, barked loudly, and became so lively
that Mrs. Watson said, I believe he
has found out something, Mary. Do
go with him and see."
Mrs. Swallow threw a shawl over her
head, and went out into the lane, while
Flop ran beside her and looked quite
proud of his conquest.
Before she reached the end of the lane,
she met her husband and his friends re-
turning from a fruitless expedition. Flop
showed his joy at meeting them by a few
short barks, and led the way into the
Park, while the men followed with Mrs.
Swallow, thinking it quite probable that
the dog might have discovered his little
playfellow. But they almost gave up
26 The Queen's Oak.
the idea when after running a long way,
Flop halted beside the Queen's Oak,
barking furiously and making frantic
efforts to climb the tree.
"Well, there's nothing here but rab-
bits after all," said one man, gloomily.
" I'm afraid we shan't find the little chap
We'll shout again and try once more,"
replied the father, and for the hundredth
time that night the woods rang with the
cry of Robbie Robbie! "
But this time, through the wailing ot
the wind and the noise of the swaying
branches, they heard a faint response
which seemed to come from the inside
of the tree. Eyes and ears were now
wide open, and by the light of the lantern
which the men carried, they could see
dimly through the darkness a little figure
huddled in a heap down in the hollow.
Robbie was found at last; but then
arose a difficulty How was he to be
rescued from his narrow prison ? There
was not sufficient room for a man to get
inside to lift him out, and the poor little
fellow was too weary and faint from fear
and fatigue to be able to help himself at
Flop / Good Dog / 27
all. The only plan seemed to be to
make the hole large enough to enable a
man to put his arms right in and lift the
Little bits of bark and rotten wood
were soon stripped off by willing fingers,
and in a few minutes Mr. Swallow was
able to lean down and reach Robbie and
take him from his place of captivity. The
child's knickerbockers caught on a pro-
jecting piece of bark and were sadly torn
as his father lifted him out, but no one
heeded the accident in their joy at his
safety. He had been so long in one
position that his limbs were cramped and
cold, and he could not walk home, but
was carried in his father's arms.
Several neighbours were in the cottage
when the successful party returned, and
there was much joy when the missing
child was carried in. Every one praised
Flop when they heard of his exploit, and
patted him on the head, and said Good
dog!" to which he replied by a feeble
wag of the tail, but without his usual
animation; and when Mr. Swallow took
him on his knees, he found that the dog
was bleeding from a wound in the neck,
28 The Queen's Oak.
which had probably been made by the
rough edges of the bark when he first
discovered the child and tried in vain to
Robbie was warmed and rubbed and
put to bed without giving any account
of his strange adventure, though many
inquiries were made and much wonder
was expressed at his being found in such
a strange position. The child was tired,
and terribly sleepy, and his mother said
that it would be too bad to trouble him
with questions, she was only anxious
that he should be quiet and have a good
When Mrs. Watson returned to her
home on Sunday morning she found that
Ben had already gone out; and as he
did not appear when the day was well
advanced, she concluded that he had
taken advantage of his father's absence
to go on a birds'-nesting expedition, and
would not be back perhaps till evening.
So the day passed, and she grew vexed
and annoyed, but not alarmed at his ab-
sence, and never once thought of con-
necting it with little Robbie's adventure.
N London Bridge at eight
"-.. ^ o'clock on Sunday evening,
"r without apennyin his pocket
or a friend in the great city,
'poor Ben stood alone, home-
1 ss and houseless.
He sat down on one of the
seats and wondered what he could do,
and heaved a deep sigh as he realized
What's up ? said a voice beside
him. You ain't ont o' luck, air yer ? "
He turned and saw a boy about his
own age, but clad in garments which
were hardly respectable enough for a
scarecrow. Rags, rags everywhere, coat
too large, and perfectly riddled with
holes, and short trousers, which ended in
a fantastic fringe of tatters. A pair of old
boots, many sizes too large, and fastened
with pieces of string, and a thick shock
30 The Quern's Oak.
of hair which did duty for a cap, com-
pleted his attire. A pair of honest grey
eyes peeped forth from a face, which,
considering its owner's opportunities, was
"Yes, I s'pose I am out of luck," said
Well, yer've got werry good close,
any'ow," retorted the other.
But I haven't got a penny in my
pocket, and I don't know where to
sleep," said Ben, desperately.
He felt that he must tell his misfor-
tunes to some one, if only to a scarecrow.
Got good close and boots, and no-
where to sleep ? Yer comes from the
country, don't yer ?"
How do you know ?"
Never mind. i wasn't born yes-
terday, and I knows a thing or two.
Run away from 'ome ?"
That's none o' your business," said
Ben, quaking inwardly.
No, it ain't. And yer don't want no
'elp, in course; yer so aristocratic. My!
ain't you green ? Well, I'll say good
eveningg" and he turned away with a
"Wait a minute. Can't you tell me
any place where I could sleep ? "
What! for not/ink ? No, my friend,
times is bad, and landladies is werry
But I must find some place. Couldn't
I sleep with you ?" cried Ben in despair,
though he hardly liked the prospect of
such a strange bed-fellow. I'd give
"What ? I thought yer 'adn't got
anything! cried the other, suspiciously.
Only my pocket knife," said Ben,
producing a large clasp knife from his
Yer go 'ungry with that in your
pocket ? cried the boy, scornfully.
I couldn't sell it of course, I didn't
Know where, and the shops were all
I'll soon get rid of it, hif yer'll go
'alves in some grub," said the boy;
" but my mother's in quod, and my
lodgin' his a werry 'umble one, and it
don't do to turn in too early, though
I think we can make room fur two hif
yer'll promise not to snore too loud."
"Thank you," cried Ben, heartily:
32 The Queen's Oak.
" Take my knife, I should like some-
thing to eat, I'm so lear."
He, he! laughed the boy, running
off; "'e wonders 'ow I knows that 'e
comes from the country, Lear, indeed,
ha, ha, ha!"
After waiting for a quarter of an hour,
Ben began to wonder if he should ever
see him again ; but he re-appeared at
last with a great hunch of bread and
sausage, which the two boys divided be-
tween them, and ate greedily. Then
they wandered up and down for a little
while, and Ben's companion, who was
called Ginger, talked on in his odd dry
manner about life in London, until he
felt his own ignorance and dullness in
painful contrast to the sharpness of the
little street Arab beside him.
At last they turned into Ginger's
lodging, which was nothing more than
the dark corner of a railway arch. There
was a little straw on which the boys lay
side by side, and were soon sound asleep.
And so ended that eventful day.
When Ben awoke the next morning,
his companion had gone, and he was
alone. He roused himself, but felt very
tired and stiff after the long journey of
the previous day, and was scarcely in-
clined to stir; but the sharpness of
hunger reminded him that if he wanted
any breakfast he would have to seek it
His first business was to find a pawn-
shop; and after some little difficulty he
found one to which Ginger had directed
him, where he left his waistcoat and
scarf. Then he made a good breakfast
at a coffee-stall, which swallowed up
nearly all his ready cash. Warmed and
refreshed, he set out for the docks ; for
he had quite determined that he would
go and find some ship just ready to sail,
in which he would be taken off at once
to the other side of the world, where no
one would be likely to follow and track
City life was so new to him that he
was continually astonished, as he made
his way eastwards, at the labyrinth of
streets, the multitude of people, all going
their own way, and the numbers of
vehicles ever rushing along in a per-
But when he reached the docks, his
34 The Queen's Oak.
difficulties seemed only to have com-
menced. When he tried to speak to
any one, he was told in no gentle tones
to get out of the way, and once or twice
received a volley of oaths.
At last he saw a man who looked less
forbidding than the rest, and plucked up
courage to tell him that he wanted to go
to sea, and to ask whether he knew of a
captain who wanted a boy about his age.
The man took him by the shoulders
and said gruffly, yet not unkindly,
Look 'ere, youngster, you've run
away from home, and you may loaf
about for a year, but you won't get any
skipper to take you aboard as you'd like.
Go home to yer mother at once, and
let yer father give ye a thrashing if ye
deserve it, and settle down quiet. But
don't break yer mother's heart."
Depressed and weary, Ben waited
about until late in the afternoon; and
then, after two or three fruitless attempts
which met with a much rougher repulse
than the old sailor's, he turned sadly
away to retrace his steps. But this was
not an easy matter; he took a wrong
turning, and quite lost his way. After
all one place was much the same to him
as another. He had no home in th6
great city, darkness was coming on apace,
and again he was without a penny. He
sat down on a doorstep to rest for awhile,
but was soon ordered to move on.
P'raps if I don't see Ginger again, I
shall find some other boy who'll show
me a place to sleep in," he pondered;
and when he met a poor boy, not quite
so ragged as Ginger, but as untidy and
dirtier, he went up to him and inquired,
" Can you show me a place where I can
sleep ? "
The boy looked at him somewhat
curiously and said, There's a place
over the way, and if yer'll come with
me they'll only charge----"
Oh! I haven't got any money,"
No tin! Then wot do yer expect,
I thought you could tell me of an
archway, or some other place where I
could lie down for the night."
"A harchway! oh, the bobbies won't
allow that. Hif yer got no tin yer'd
better walk about."
36 The -Queen's. Oak.
" I can't cried Ben ; I'm too tired',
I didn't have a bed last night."
"Well, jest to hoblige ye," said the
other, still eyeing him, I'll show ye a
convenient little corner which I knows,
and a few private friends;" and he led
the way down several streets to a new
road, where several houses were in
course of erection. The workmen had
left for the night, and had shut up the
place securely, they thought; but Ben's
new friend motioned to him to follow,
and stole softly round to the back, where
they crept through the frame of an un-
finished window, and found themselves
in a large room, where mortar and
building materials lay in heaps. The
floor boarding was partially laid, and the
boys found a snug corner, where they
gathered together a few shavings and
arranged them as a bed.
Take off yer boots, yer'll rest more
heasy,' said the boy, as he kicked off
his own tattered slippers.
Ben was thankful for the suggestion.
He pulled off the stout boots which had
been on his aching feet for two whole
days and a night, lay down on the floor,
hn London. 37
and in less than five minutes was sound
asleep, and snoring loudly.
Now's my chance," said the other to
himself, as he cautiously drew on his old
slippers and felt in the pockets of the
No go he muttered; nothing
but these after all," and he took Ben's
boots and hat under his arm, and stole
out into the darkness.
S. us' after six o'clock the next
morning Ben was rudely
awakened by a heavy blow,
and dragged from his corner
by a rough hand, while a
a loud voice shouted, What
are ye doin' here ? Overslept
yerself, I suppose. Well, you'll
soon go to the lock-up now; I'll give ye
to the bobby."
"Oh, please sir, please sir," cried Ben,
now wide awake, don't send me to
prison; I'll do anything if you'll only let
Werry fine," said the workman, who
still retained a firm grip of his arm.
" Don't you know that you've got no
business on these 'ere premises ? "
I didn't know; some one showed me
the way in. I don't know where he's
gone, and ohil! where are my boots and
my hat," he gasped, and began to cry
bitterly in evident distress.
Here, mates," said the man, hauling
the boy through the door ; "look at this
youngster I've jest found asleep down-
stairs. What shall I do with him ? "
Give 'im to the bobby," said one.
Let him go," cried another.
He says that a boy showed him the
way in, and has made off with his 'at
and boots," said the first speaker. A
pretty lot they are!"
Ever been in jail before ? said one.
No, never," sobbed poor Ben. Oh,
please sir, don't send me."
Where do you come from ?"
No reply, but sobs.
"Answer, can't ye," cried his captor,
"No, I can't."
Then give him to the police."
Ben began to scream and struggle,
but only brought upon himself a shower
Tell us where you come from, and
we'll let you go," cried a voice.
"I ran away from home," sobbed
Ben; "and I'm afraid to go back."
40 The Queen's Oak.
The men might have asked several
more questions, but at that moment they
caught sight of the foreman just turning
the corner, and let Ben off with a parting
cuff by way of reminder not to come
Shoeless, hatless, bruised, and hungry,
he ran off as fast as his legs would carry
him; but it was weary work, running
or walking without boots through the
muddy streets, where the rain was fast
How the poor boy managed to live
through that day and others that followed,
he could never tell. He had very little
left to pawn, and that little was soon
gone; but by dint of begging and picking
up odds and ends he lived on without
stealing or getting into prison, though
he ran great risk of it several times.
Perhaps his very awkwardness lessened
the temptation, for he knew that he was
not quick and clever and able to dodge
the police like the boys he saw every
day; and he felt sure that if he took
anything he would certainly have been
caught, and, once in the hands of the
police his dreadful secret would soon be
brought to light, and terrible conse-
quences might follow.
He fancied the tall policemen to be
continually on the look out for him, and
would never pass one if he could help
it; and since the theft of his boots he
avoided all street boys, and went his
own way, as miserable as any lonely
boy could be.
The events of the previous Sunday
seemed to have happened years ago, and
to form a dark background to his city
life ; while his uppermost thought and
main anxiety was-how to get food.
This was no light matter to a healthy
growing boy with a good appetite, who
had been accustomed all his life to three
substantial meals every day, and abun-
dance of light and wholesome food. The
dried herring or pease pudding upon
which the little fellows in the streets
were glad to make a meal, only served
to whet his appetite for more, and the
pangs of hunger grew, day by day, more
Thus the hours passed slowly by, until
on Saturday afternoon he happened to
be in the neighbourhood of London
42 The Queen's Oak.
Bridge, and once more chanced to see
his acquaintance, Ginger.
Hallo!" was his greeting, yer out
o' luck now, sure enuf."
Certainly his appearance had greatly
changed within a week. His clothes
were torn and ragged, and scarcely suf-
ficed to cover him ; his toes peeped
through great holes in his tattered socks ;
his tawny hair uncombed, his face un-
washed, and altogether he looked a
veritable city arab, except for the slouch-
ing gait and drawling speech which told
of his country breeding.
"'Ad any grub to-day?" inquired
Ben shook his head ruefully; and in
reply to a few more questions, told him
the whole story of his adventures since
Wot a fool yer was to run away from
'ome Well, yer'd better come with me
now," said Ginger, in reply, after some
uncomplimentary remarks upon his com-
panion's "greenness in picking "with
any strange kid." "We're goin' to have
a blow out this afternoon, tea and cake,
and no end of a lark. A chap named
Smiles 'as sent the invitation. 'E's a good
sort, and won't mind my bringin'a friend."
Ben needed no persuasion, and an
hour later he and Ginger were in the
midst of a seething crowd of ragged
urchins, waiting impatiently outside a
small mission-room until the door should
be opened to admit them to the feast.
There were continual squabbles and
fights for the post of vantage nearest the
door, and when at length it was opened
the rush was so great that Ben was
thrown down in the scuffle.
A kind-looking gentleman raised him
from the ground, and taking him inside,
gave him a comfortable seat at a table
in the corner. Then grace was sung in
loud shrill tones, and immediately after-
wards the feed began. A feed it cer-
tainly was, and not to be dignified by
the name of a meal, for the hungry boys
emptied plates and mugs more quickly
than the nimble willing waiters could
replenish them, and called for more cake;
and Ben, who had never been to a noisier
feast than the decorous school-treat
at Hawbury, was astonished at the
uproarious mirth and hubbub.
44 The Quee''s Oak.
When at last the hungry boys were
satisfied, there was a good deal of sing-
ing; then Mr. Smiles called for silence,
and showed a number of pictures which
he explained in a few words. Two other
gentlemen spoke, and told short stories,
which were followed by more singing.
While the addresses were going on,
Ben grew more and more uncomfortable,
and fidgeted uneasily in his seat, for
every speaker spoke of God, and brought
back to the boy's mind the words which
he had heard the street preacher utter,
"Thou God seest me," and his agony
of fear revived.
A large slice of cake was given to each
child at the conclusion of the meeting;
and when the boys went out shouting
and leaping, Mr. Smiles stepped down
from the platform and asked Ben where
he was going to sleep that night.
I don't know," was the reply; I
haven't got any place to bide in."
"Would you like to sleep at the Re-
fuge to-night ? I will give you a bed
That I should," was the eager reply;
and after speaking to Ginger, who ,vas
"goin' 'ome" as his mother was hout
once more," he accompanied his new
friend with a few other boys to a build-
ing across the road, where beds were
provided for waifs and strays.
"Good-night! I want to talk to you
in the morning, and see if I can help
you," said Mr. Smiles.
In a very short time Ben was enjoying
the pleasure of stretching his tired
limbs, and resting upon a bed for the
first time that week. His weary eyelids
closed at once, and he fell into a sound
and dreamless sleep.
,A BAD FALL.
S UNDAY morning rose calm
," and bright over the great
.,'^ city, with the rest and quiet
.' > which belong to the day.
It was rather late when
< 3 Ben awoke, and found to
his delight that he was to
have some breakfast before he was sent
out once more to battle with the world.
Mr. Smiles was faithful to his promise,
and appeared at the Refuge directly
breakfast was over, to have a talk with
the boys he had taken in hand the
He led them into a little room, where
they sat down, while he took each one
aside, and asked him a good many ques-
tions about his home and parents, and
also if he were willing to give up his
street life, and go to Canada to earn an
honest living by his own labour.
A Bad Fall.
Ben's turn came last, and a great hope
filled his heart as he overheard some of
the questions put to the others. If he
could only go to Canada, and work on a
farm and forget the past, what a chance
it would be for him! He hated the
busy, noisy city, and longed to get away
to some other part of the world. And
yet-how could he satisfy Mr. Smiles
that he was alone and friendless ?
It would never do to tell the truth, he
thought; and while he was considering
what he should say, the other boys were
dismissed, and Mr. Smiles asked hin
suddenly how old he was.
Twelve, sir," was the reply.
"Are your parents living?"
No, sir," in a hesitating manner.
Mr. Smiles looked at him keenly.
No ? When did they die ? "
Father died a year ago, and mother
four fourteen years ago," said Ben,
desperately, and getting hopelessly con-
Where do you come from ? I know,
of course, that you are not a Londoner."
The boy was bewildered. He had
not had time to concoct his story, and
48 The Queen's Oak.
was anxious to mislead his questioner;
but he knew the names of so few places,
except in geography lessons, that he
pitched upon a village only a few miles
from his native place.
Hepworth ? That is in Hampshire
or Berks, surely ? Are you telling me the
truth ?" asked the gentleman solemnly.
" Remember there is One who knows
all about it."
Ben turned away and looked at the
wall, where his eyes fell upon the text,
which would recur so often to his mind,
"Thou God seest me."
"No, sir," he cried, giving way sud-
denly. "It ain't true, and I can't tell
nothing. But do send me to Canada,
and I'll work as hard as you like."
"I cannot help you unless you tell
me the whole truth," was the reply.
The boy said no more, but maintained
a sullen silence, though his heart was
full of conflicting emotions. Mr. Smiles
was called away for a moment, and Ben
took advantage of his absence to slip
out, and run away down street after
street, never stopping until he had put
at least a mile betw, een himself and the
A Bad Fall.
only hand in the great city which had
been held out to help and rescue him.
The bright sky was already overcast
with dark clouds, and when the'church
bells ceased ringing the clouds grew
blacker, and began to empty themselves
in torrents of rain, without any respect
for Sunday frocks and best bonnets.
Although the rain could do little injury
to Ben's tattered clothes, the boy had
no desire to be drenched to the skin,
and he looked round eagerly for some
place of shelter. On the opposite side
of the way stood a large handsome
chapel, with a flight of steps leading up
to the main entrance. The worshippers
were inside, for the service began early,
and the sound of singing floated out on
the air. The porch was empty, and offered
a comfortable shelter from the storm.
So Ben ran quickly up the broad
steps, nestled down unnoticed in a quiet
corner and waited there, listening to the
singing and to the solemn hush -which
followed it. Then another hymn began,
and the boy bent forward to listen to it;
but the sexton came out of the chapel at
that moment, and espying him in his
50 The Queen's Oak.
corner, he darted forward angrily to seiie
him, and ask what he meant by coming
there to pick pockets and annoy decent
The boy was too quick for him, and
springing forward, evaded his grasp, but
he missed his footing, and fell down the
steps to the pavement below, where he
lay stunned and senseless.
A policeman helped the frightened
sexton to lift him from the ground, while
a crowd quickly gathered; and as Ben
was still pale and insensible, he was
placed in a cab and taken to the nearest
hospital, where it was discovered that
he was rather seriously injured.
When he came to his senses, and
found himself lying in bed, he thought
for a brief moment that the events of
the past week had been only a dreadful
dream. He moved slightly, and groaned
aloud, for the terrible pain which seized
him at once convinced him that his
troubles were real enough; and looking
round at the strange unfamiliar ward,
with its rows of clean white beds, and
the pale faces upon the pillows, he con-
cluded that he was in a hospital. The
A Bad Fall.
nurse noticed his movement and little
scream of pain, and went at once to his
side, and spoke a few kind words, telling
him that he had had an accident; but
that, if he would only lie still and keep
quiet, she would take care of him, and
he would soon be well and able to go
Ben sighed, but did not answer her.
Home indeed! How far away it seemed!
As far as heaven. Would he ever see
it again ? How his head ached, and how
strange his arm felt! Why, it was ban-
daged up so tightly that he could not
move it. And his head too-there was
another bandage on that! Then he re-
membered the angry sexton, and his fall
down those dreadful white steps, and
his head ached and he grew sleepy and
fell into a doze.
The next morning when he was lying
quiet in bed, some one asked his name
and the address of his friends; but he
trembled so much, and refused to utter
a word, and grew so excited that no
more was said, and he was left in peace.
The days at the hospital passed slowly
by in their quiet regularity. The doctors
52 The Quzeen's Oak.
paid their visits, and the meals came up
punctually every day; and every evening,
at the same hour, the gas was turned
down, and the night nurse commenced
In a few days Ben's head grew less
dizzy and painful, and he began to take
an interest in what was going on in the
ward, though he was still unable to use
his arm, or even to move it.
There was a boy in the next bed who
suffered great pain from a diseased bone,
on which more than one operation had
been performed. Yet he was a bright
happy little fellow, and did his best to
cheer Ben, who lay in bed, looking dull
and miserable and very unhappy, in spite
of all that was done for him.
On Thursday afternoon visitors were
admitted to see the patients; and at
the appointed hour they flocked in in
large numbers, and there were such
bright faces, so many smiles and kind
words for every one except Ben, who
seemed more miserable than ever.
Little Tom in the next bed had two
visitors, his mother and a very pleasant
young lad)', his Sunday-school teacher,
A Bad Fall.
who had brought him a picture book, and
talked to him very sweetly for a few
minutes. Then she turned away, saying,
" I won't stay any longer, Tom, as you
have your dear mother, and I know you
want to talk to her; but I shall think of
you very often, and will try to come
She caught sight of Ben lying there,
looking very lonely and unhappy, with
only his thoughts for company, and
stopped to speak as she passed his
Don't you expect any one to-day ?"
she asked, kindly.
No, miss, there's no one a-coming
to see me."
Then let me be your visitor to-day.
Your friends live too far off to come
often, I suppose ?"
I haven't got any friends to see me,"
was the muttered reply.
Poor boy, I am so sorry," she said,
gently. "But how nice it is to know
that you are not alone, that God sees
No, no, no," he cried frantically,
springing up in bed. "It's dreadful.
54 The Queen's Oak.
Oh dear! He sees me here, and I'd
forgotten it. It's too dreadful."
The young lady was alarmed at the
effect of her words, and tried to comfort
the boy. No," she said, "it is not
dreadful, because God is so good, so
kind and so loving to us."
He doesn't love me, I know," per-
Indeed He does," she cried, eagerly.
He couldn't love me," was the mut-
tered reply. He knows all about me,
and you don't."
"Yes, God knows; yet He loves you
so much that He is ready to forgive you
everything for Jesus' sake. Do pray to
Hiin, and ask Him to forgive you, if
you have done something wrong."
BE'S IFE TU RN.
T was time for the visitors
to leave, and Miss Leslie
Silent Ben her little Bible
and gave him a text to
think about when she went
home, not to forget him,
but to ponder over and
pray earnestly for him.
"Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be white as snow; though
they be red as crimson, they shall be as
The poor boy read the words over
and over many times until he knew
them by heart, and began to under-
stand their meaning; and in this he was
helped by little Tom, who told him what
he had heard at Sunday-school, and how
ready God is to receive and forgive all
who come to Him through Jesus.
The old lessons Ben had learnt long
The Queen's Oak.
ago seemed to have a new meaning for
him, and he began to pray that God
would have mercy upon him; and as he
prayed a thought entered his mind, and
he determined that if he ever saw the
young lady again he would tell her all
about Robbie and the reason he had left
home. He felt that it would be easier
to tell her, a lady and a stranger, than
any one else.
On the following Sunday afternoon,
Miss Leslie peeped in at the door, look-
ing so bright and happy that every one
seemed pleased to see her enter the
ward. She spoke to Tom, who had
several visitors, and then turning to Ben
asked him if he remembered the text she
had given him.
"Yes, miss," he said; "and," he
continued in a half whisper, I want to
tell you about my sins, for they are so
red. I've run away from home because
1 did a dreadful thing;" and then in a
low tremulous voice he poured quickly
into her ear the story of his unkindness
to his cousin, his forgetfulness, and the
terrible results which followed.
"Are you quite sure he was killed ?"
she asked, when he paused for a mo-
Oh yes. And do you think, miss,
that God can ever forgive me ? "
Yes; I believe that Jesus is saying
to you now, as He once said to a great
sinner when He was upon this earth,
'Thy sins which are many are all for-
given thee.' You know that His blood
can wash away all sin. And, my poor
boy, although you did a very wrong
thing, you must not say that you killed
your cousin. You would not have left
him in the oak if you had thought he
would be devoured, would you ?"
Oh no. Yet even if God does for-
give me, I shall never see the poor little
fellow any more."
"And your mother ?"
I wish she and all of them could
know that I did not mean to hurt Robbie,
then perhaps they wouldn't hate me so
much when I am gone right away."
We must ask God to show us what
to do," said Miss Leslie, as she bade
him good-bye, promising to see him
Early the next morning the young
58 The Queen's Oak.
lady started off on a little excursion, and
after a short railway journey alighted
at Durrow Station, and inquired the way
to Hawbury. It was a pleasant walk
across the fields, and when she reached
the village she asked some children
playing in the lane if they would take
her to Mrs. Watson's cottage. Two or
three urchins volunteered to show the
way, and she began to talk as they
walked along and inquired if they knew
"Oh, yes," said one, "we all know
her very well."
"And Ben ?"
He's run away, and nobody can't
find him," they answered.
Run away, has he ? How is that ?"
"He put little Robbie Swallow in
the oak, and then he runned away."
And what became of Robbie ? "
Oh good old Flop found him, and his
father fetched him 'ome."
Then he is quite well now ?"
Yes'm. He was poorly for a bit,
but he comes to school now."
Miss Leslie had found out what
she wanted to know before she reached
the cottage and tapped at the door.
Mrs. Watson opened it in answer to her
knock, and seemed surprised to see a
"Good morning," said the visitor," I
am spending the day in your pretty
village, and I thought that you might be
able to give me a glass of milk."
Oh, yes, miss. Step inside, please."
Dinner was just over, and the children
scampered off to the garden, while their
mother gave her visitor a chair, and
prepared to set some food before her.
Are those your children ? she in-
Some of them," said the mother, with
Miss Leslie was thinking how to
introduce the subject which filled her
mind, and these words gave her the
opportunity she sought.
"Have you lost any recently ?" she
Yes, indeed I have, miss," said Mrs.
Watson, bursting into tears ; I've lost
-really lost-my eldest boy, and God
only knows where he is."
Do you mind telling me about it ?"
6o The Queen's Oak.
asked the young lady. I have friends
who work among the lost, and may
perhaps be able to help you."
Then the mother told her story as
well as tears would permit, adding, We
have searched the country round, high
and low, but can't hear nothing; and I
sadly fear he has run away to sea, and I
shall never see him again," and her tears
But what do you think was his
reason-his motive-for running away?"
Well, miss, you see there's no doubt
that he put Robbie into the oak. The
little fellow wouldn't tell of him until
he heard Ben couldn't be found, and
then he forgot and cried, He thinks
you're all angry with him for putting me
into the black hole ; but do please go
and tell him you'll forgive him.' So
then we knew what he had done; and I
suppose he was afraid of a thrashing,
which he'd have had sure enough, and
didn't dare show his face in the village;
though we'd be ready to let bygones be
bygones if he'd only come back again
and be a good boy."
Did it never strike you that he
thought Robbie was killed, and that he
was the cause of his death ? Was there
not a wild beast loose that night ?"
"It was only a report, miss; and I
don't believe Ben thought anything more
"Not if he went in the morning to
take him out, and found torn clothes
and blood stains upon the tree ? Was it
not enough to make him fly in terror
from the place, when he thought, like
Joseph's eldest brother, 'Some evil beast
hath devoured him ?' "
Oh I never thought of that How
frightened he would be How he would
Indeed he has suffered, Mrs. Watson,
far more than any punishment--"
But how do you know ?" cried the
mother, suddenly. Have you seen
him? Oh tell me!"
Miss Leslie then told what she knew
of the troubles Ben had met with in
London, of her visit to him, and of his
penitence and remorse, while Mrs.
Watson grew eager and excited, and
was anxious to go to London that very
afternoon to see her boy. But her
62 The Queen's Oak.
visitor persuaded her to wait awhile, as
Ben, though in good hands, was still
weak, and his recovery might be hin-
dered by any great excitement.
I will see the doctor, if you like,"
she said, and ask him when it will be
best for you to see Ben. Meanwhile, I
can relieve his mind about Robbie, and
tell him that you forgive him, and are
coming to fetch him home."
Mrs. Watson saw the force of her
argument, and at last consented to wait
until she heard the doctor's opinion.
When the young lady visited Ben
the following day, she found him looking
quite bright and cheerful.
Miss Leslie," he whispered, if God
says all sin, that must mean mine,
mustn't it ? "
Yes, Ben. And now I have some
more good news for you. I heard
yesterday that the story about the wild
beast was not true, and Robbie is-
Then he isn't dead," cried the boy.
" Are you sure ?"
If Miss Leslie had made some self-
sacrifice in ,order to go to Hawbury, she
was fully rewarded for her efforts by
the happy look which overspread Ben's
face as she told him of her visit.
It is quite true," he said at last;
"God did see me all the time, though I
was afraid and ran away. But now He
has forgiven me for Jesus' sake, and
washed away my sins, and I am not
afraid. He sees me and He loves me."
With a mind at peace the boy's re-
covery made rapid progress ; and before
the week was over his mother went to
see him, and kissed and soothed him as
she had not done since he was a tiny
baby. It was not long before Ben was
able to leave the hospital, and to bid
farewell to little Tom in the next bed,
which he, poor boy, would never be able
to leave, except for the Home above.
In spite of all assurances, Ben could
hardly realise that all his terror had had
so little foundation, until he reached
his home at Hawbury, and took little
Robbie's hand in his, and patted Flop's
head, calling him "Good dog!" again
and again. What a welcome he had
from every one at home! How kind
64 The Queen's Oak.
they all were, and anxious to hear the
story of his adventures in London over
and over again. And how Mrs. Watson
extolled Miss Leslie's goodness, while
Ben thought, It was God who sent her.
She said He was watching over me!"
Miss Leslie did not forget Ben, and
at the beginning of the New Year, she
sent him a parcel containing two beau-
tiful texts which she had herself painted
for him. The words they bore were
these, THou GOD SEEST ME," and GOD
For some time Ben felt very much
ashamed of his wicked conduct. When
some of those who knew him did not
forget to tell him of his misdeeds, he
boldly confessed how wrong he had
been, and how he was resolved in God's
strength to live a better and nobler life.
In after years Ben was known as a
humble follower of the Lord Jesus, trust-
ing in the merits of His atoning death
for salvation, and relying on the aid of
the Holy Spirit in his daily walk and
LONDON: KNIGHT, PRINTER, MIDDLE STREET, B.C.
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