AJFA ol G
- 7: 1-.
"I WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'LL BE TEN
YEARS FROM NOW"
THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD
J. M. BARRIE
ILLUSTRATED BY WILLIAM HATHERELL
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
JOHN WILSON AiND SON, CeritAMBRIDGE, U.:
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBOIDGE, U.S.A
I TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 1
II BUT THE OTHER GETS IN . 15
III SHOWING How TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANS-
FORMED INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 26
IV THE END OF AN IDYLL . . 40
V THE GIRL WITH Two MOTHERS . 54
VI THE ENCHANTED STREET . 63
VII COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY . 75
VIII THE BOY WITH Two MOTHERS . 86
IX AULD LANG SYNE . . 101
X THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES . 112
XI AARON LATTA . . 127
XII A CHILD'S TRAGEDY . . 141
XIII SHOwS nOW TOMMY TOOK CARE OF ELSPETH 158
XIV THE HANKY SCHOOL . . 165
XV THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME . 175
XVI THE PAINTED LADY . 187
XVII IN WHICH TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN
PROBLEM . . 196
XVIII THE MUCKLEY . . 205
XIX CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL GRIZEL DE-
FIANT . . . 219
XX THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER . 231
XXI THE LAST JACOBITE RISING . 244
XXII THE SIEGE OF THRUMS . 259
XXIII GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS . 273
XXIV A ROMANCE OF Two OLD MAIDS AND A
STOUT BACHELOR . . 283
XXV A PENNY PASS-BOOK . . 302
XXVI TOMMY REPENTS, AND IS NONE THE WORSE
FOR IT . . . 315
XXVII THE LONGER CATECHISM . 328
XXVIII BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISS KITTY 337
XXIX TOMMY THE SCHOLAR . . 343
XXX END OF THE JACOBITE RISING . 356
XXXI A LETTER TO GOD . . 369
XXXII AN ELOPEMENT . . 383
XXXIII THERE IS SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL
AT LAST . . 401
XXXIV WHO TOLD TOMMY to SPEAK . 415
XXXV THE BRANDING OF TOMMY . 429
XXXVI OF FOUR MINISTERS WHO AFTERWARDS
BOASTED THAT THEY HAD KNOWN TOMMY
SANDYS . . 446
XXXVII THE END OF A BOYHOOD . 466
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"I WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOU 'LL BE
TEN YEARS FROM NOW . . Frontispiece
BOB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE SPOT . 50
"LET HER ALANE. LET MY BAIRN PRAY FOR JEAN MYLES" 74
" SHE 'S DYING, MAN," HE CRIED . . 138
THEY SAW THE WINDOW OPEN AND A FIGURE IN A WHITE
SHAWL CREEP OUT OF IT . . 194
THEY WAYLAID GRIZEL WHEN SHE WAS ALONE . 274
TOMMY CROUCHED BEHIND HAGGART'S STONE .. 316
OVER HER HEAD WAS A LITTLE MUSLIN WINDOW-BLIND,
REPRESENTING A BRIDE'S VEIL . . 338
GRIZEL STOOD BY THE BODY, GUARDING IT . 370
HE RAN THEM DOWN WITHIN A MILE OF TILLIEDRUM 404
A GIRL ROSE FROM THE BROOM . . 476
THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
THE celebrated Tommy first comes into view on a
dirty London stair, and he was in sexless garments,
which were all he had, and he was five, and ,so though
we are looking at him, we must do it sideways, lest he
sit down hurriedly to hide them. That inscrutable face,
which made the clubmen of his later days uneasy and
even puzzled the ladies while he was making love to
them, was already his, except when he smiled at one of
his pretty thoughts or stopped at an open door to sniff a
potful. On his way up and down the stair he often
paused to sniff, but he never asked for anything; his
mother had warned him against it, and he carried out
her injunction with almost unnecessary spirit, declining
offers before they were made, as when passing a room,
whence came the smell of fried fish, he might call in,
"I don't not want none of your fish," or "My mother
says I don't not want the littlest bit," or wistfully, I
ain't hungry," or more wistfully still, My mother says
I ain't hungry." His mother heard of this and was
angry, crying that he had let the neighbors know some-
thing she was anxious to conceal, but what he had re-
vealed to them Tommy could not make out, and when
he questioned her artlessly, she took him with sudden
passion to her flat breast, and often after that she looked
at him long and wofully and wrung her hands.
The only other pleasant smell known to Tommy was
when the water-carts passed the mouth of his little
street. His street, which ended in a dead wall, was near
the river, but on the doleful south side of it, opening off
a longer street where the cabs of Waterloo station some-
times found themselves when they took the wrong turn-
ing ; his home was at the top of a house of four floors,
each with accommodation for at least two families, and
here he had lived with his mother since his father's death
six months ago. There was oil-cloth on the stair as far as
the second floor; there had been oil-cloth between the
second floor and the third Tommy could point out
pieces of it still adhering to the wood like remnants of a
This stair was nursery to all the children whose homes
opened on it, not so safe as nurseries in the part of Lon-
don that is chiefly inhabited by boys in sailor suits, but
preferable as a centre of adventure, and here on an after-
noon sat two. They were very busy boasting, but only
the smaller had imagination, and as he used it recklessly,
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
their positions soon changed; sexless garments was now
prone on a step, breeches sitting on him.
Shovel, a man of seven, had said, None on your lip.
You were n't never at Thrums yourself."
Tommy's reply was, Ain't my mother a Thrums
woman ? "
Shovel, who had but one eye, and that bloodshot, fixed
it on him threateningly.
The Thames is in London," he said.
"'Cos they would n't not have it in Thrums," replied
"'Amstead 'Eath's in London, I tell yer," Shovel said.
"The cemetery is in Thrums," said Tommy.
There ain't no queens in Thrums, anyhow."
"There's the auld licht minister."
Well, then, if you jest seed Trafalgar Square 1 "
"If you jest seed the Thrums town-house! "
St. Paul's ain't in Thrums."
"It would like to be."
After reflecting, Shovel said in desperation, Well,
then, my father were once at a hanging."
Tommy replied instantly, It were my father what
There was no possible answer to this save a knock-
down blow, but though Tommy was vanquished in body,
his spirit remained stanch; he raised his head and gasped,
"You should see how they knock down in Thrums !" It
was then that Shovel sat on him.
Such was their position when an odd figure in that
house, a gentleman, passed them without a word, so
desirous was he to make a breath taken at the foot of the
close stair last him to the top. Tommy merely gaped
after this fine sight, but Shovel had experience, and
It's a kid or a coffin," he said sharply, knowing that
only birth or death brought a doctor here.
Watching the doctor's ascent, the two boys strained
their necks over the rickety banisters, which had been
polished black by trousers of the past, and sometimes
they lost him, and then they saw his legs again.
"Hello, it's your old woman! cried Shovel. "Is
she a deader ? he asked, brightening, for funerals made
a pleasant stir on the stair.
The question had no meaning for bewildered Tommy,
but he saw that if his mother was a deader, whatever
that might be, he had grown great in his companion's
eye. So he hoped she was a deader.
"If it 's only a kid," Shovel began, with such scorn
that Tommy at once screamed, "It ain't! and, cross-
examined, he swore eagerly that his mother was in bed
when he left her in the morning, that she was still in
bed at dinner-time, also that the sheet was over her face,
also that she was cold.
Then she was a deader and had attained distinction in
the only way possible in that street. Shovel did not
shake Tommy's hand warmly, the forms of congratula-
tion varying in different parts of London, but he looked
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
his admiration so plainly that Tommy's head waggled
proudly. Evidently, whatever his mother had done
redounded to his glory as well as to hers, and somehow
he had become a boy of mark. HIe said from his eleva-
tion that he hoped Shovel would believe his tales about
Thrunis now, and Shovel, who had often cuffed Tommy
for sticking to him so closely, cringed in the most snob-
bish manner, craving permission to be seen in his com-
pany for the next three days. Tommy, the upstart, did
not see his way to grant this favor for nothing, and
Shovel offered a knife, but did not have it with him; it
was his sister Ameliar's knife, and he would take it from
her, help his davy. Tommy would wait there till Shovel
fetched it. Shovel, baffled, wanted to know what Tommy
was putting on hairs for. Tommy smiled, and asked
whose mother was a deader. Then Shovel collapsed, and
his wind passed into Tommy.
The reign of Thomas Sandys, nevertheless, was among
the shortest, for with this question was he overthrown :
" How did ver know she were cold ? "
"Because," replied Tommy, triumphantly, "she tell
Shovel only looked at him, but one eye can be so
much more terrible than two, that plop, plop, plop came
the balloon softly down the steps of the throne and at
the foot shrank pitifully, as if with Ameliar's knife
It 's only a kid arter all! screamed Shovel, furi-
ously. Disappointment gave him eloquence, and Tommy
cowered under his sneers, not understanding them, but
they seemed to amount to this, that in having a baby
he had disgraced the house.
But I think," he said, with diffidence, I think I
were once one."
Then all Shovel could say was that he had better keep
it dark on that stair.
Tommy squeezed his fist into one eye, and the tears
came out at the other. A good-natured impulse was
about to make Shovel say that though kids are un-
doubtedly humiliations, mothers and boys get used to
them in time, and go on as brazenly as before, but it was
checked by Tommy's unfortunate question, Shovel,
when will it come ? "
Shovel, speaking from local experience, replied truth-
fully that they usually came very soon after the doctor,
and at times before him.
"It ain't come before him," Tommy said, confidently.
How do yer know ? "
"'Cos it were n't there at dinner-time, and I been
here since dinner-time."
The words meant that Tommy thought it could only
enter by way of the stair, and Shovel quivered with
delight. H'st!" he cried, dramatically, and to his
joy Tommy looked anxiously down the stair, instead of
Did you hear it ? Tommy whispered.
TOMMY CONTR.IVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
Before he could control himself Shovel blurted out:
"Do you think as they come on their feet ? "
"How then ?" demanded Tommy; but Shovel had
exhausted his knowledge of the subject. Tommy, who
had begun to descend to hold the door, turned and
climbed upwards, and his tears were now but the drop
left in a cup too hurriedly dried. Where was he off to?
Shovel called after him; and he answered, in a deter-
mined whisper: "To shove of it out if it tries to come
in at the winder."
This was enough for the more knowing urchin, now
so full of good things that with another added he must
spill, and away he ran for an audience, which could
also help him to bait Tommy, that being a game most
sportive when there are several to fling at once. At
the door lie knocked over, and was done with, a laugh-
ing little girl who had strayed from a more fashionable
street. She rose solemnly, and kissing her muff, to
reassure it if it had got a fright, toddled in at the first
open door to be out of the way of unmannerly boys.
Tommy, climbing courageously, heard the door slam,
and looking down he saw -a strange child. He climbed
no higher. It had come.
After a long time he was one flight of stairs nearer
it. It was making itself at home on the bottom step;
resting, doubtless, before it came hopping up. Another
dozen steps, and It was beautifully, dressed in one
piece of yellow and brown that reached almost to its
feet, with a bit left at the top to form a hood, out of
which its pert face peeped impudently; oho, so they
came in their Sunday clothes. He drew so near that
he could hear it cooing: thought itself as good as
upstairs, did it!
He bounced upon her sharply, thinking to carry all
with a high hand. "Out you go!" he cried, with the
action of one heaving coals.
She whisked round, and, "Oo boy or oo girl?" she
inquired, puzzled by his dress.
"None of your cheek!" roared insulted manhood.
"Oo boy," she said, decisively.
With the effrontery of them when they are young,
she made room for him on her step, but he declined the
invitation, knowing that her design was to skip up the
stair the moment he was off his guard.
"You don't need n't think as we '11 have you," he an-
nounced, firmly. "You had best go away to- go to-"
His imagination failed him. "You had best go back,"
She did not budge, however, and his next attempt
was craftier. "My mother," he assured her, "ain't
living here now;" but mother was a new word to the
girl, and she asked gleefully, "Oo have mother ?"
expecting him to produce it from his pocket. To coax
him to give her a sight of it she said, plaintively, "Me
no have mother."
"You won't not get mine," replied Tommy doggedly.
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
She pretended not to understand what was troubling
him, and it passed through his head that she had to
wait there till the doctor came down for her. He
might come at any moment.
A boy does not put his hand into his pocket until
every other means of gaining his end has failed, but to
that extremity had Tommy now come. For months his
only splendid possession had been a penny despised by
trade because of a large round hole in it, as if (to quote
Shovel) some previous owner had cut a farthing out of
it. To tell the escapades of this penny (there are no
adventurers like coin of the realm) would be one way
of exhibiting Tommy to the curious, but it would be a
hard-hearted way. At present the penny was doubly
dear to him, having been long lost and lately found.
In a noble moment he had dropped it into a charity
box hanging forlorn against the wall of a shop, where
it lay very lonely by itself, so that when Tommy was
that way he could hear it respond if he shook the box,
as acquaintances give each other the time of day in
passing. Thus at comparatively small outlay did he
spread his benevolence over weeks and feel a glow
therefrom, until the glow went, when he and Shovel
recaptured the penny with a thread and a bent pin.
This treasure he sadly presented to the girl, and she
accepted it with glee, putting it on her finger, as if it
were a ring, but instead of saying that she would go
now she asked him, coolly,
Oo know stories ?"
Stories! he exclaimed, I '11 I '11 tell you about
Thrums," and was about to do it for love, but stopped
in time. "This ain't a good stair for stories," he said,
cunningly. "I can't not tell stories on this stair, but
I- I know a good stair for stories."
The nixnuy of a girl was completely hoodwinked; and
see, there they go, each with a hand in the muff, the
one leering, oh, so triumphantly; the other trusting
and gleeful. There was an exuberance of vitality about
her as if she lived too quickly in her gladness, which
you may remember in some child who visited the earth
for but a little while.
How superbly Tommy had done it! It had been
another keen brain pitted against his, and at first he
was not winning. Then up came Thrums, and But
the thing has happened before; in a word, Blucher.
Nevertheless, Tommy just managed it, for he got the
girl out of the street and on to another stair no more
than in time to escape a ragged rabble, headed by
Shovel, who, finding their quarry gone, turned on their
leader viciously, and had gloomy views of life till his
cap was kicked down a sewer, which made the world
Of the tales told by Tommy that day in words Scotch
and cockney, of Thrums, home of heroes and the arts,
where the lamps are lit by a magician called Leerie-
leerie-licht-the-lamps (but he is also friendly, and you
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT
can fling stones at him), and the merest children are
allowed to set the spinning-wheels a-whirling, and
dagont is the swear, and the stairs are so fine that the
houses wear them outside-for show, and you drop a pail
at the end of a rope down a hole, and sometimes it
comes up full of water, and sometimes full of fairies -
of these and other wonders, if you would know, ask not
a dull historian, nor even go to Thrums, but to those
rather who have been boys and girls there and now are
exiles. Such a one Tommy knows, an unhappy woman,
foolish, not very lovable, flung like a stone out. of the
red quarry upon a land where it cannot grip, and tear-
ing her heart for a sight of the home she shall see no
more. From her Tommy had his pictures, and he
colored them rarely.
Never before had he such a listener. Oh, dagont,
dagont!" he would cry in ecstasy over these fair
scenes, and she, awed or gurgling with mirth according
to the nature of the last, demanded 'Nother, another! "
whereat he remembered who and what she was, and
showing her a morsel of the new one, drew her to more
distant parts, until they were so far from his street
that he thought she would never be able to find the way
His intention had been, on reaching such a spot, to
desert her promptly, but she gave him her hand in the
muff so confidingly that against his judgment he fell
a-pitying the trustful mite who was wandering the
world in search of a mother, and so easily diddled on
the whole that the chances were against her finding one
before morning. Almost unconsciously he began to
look about him for a suitable one.
They were now in a street much nearer to his own
home than the spurts from spot to spot had led him to
suppose. It was new to him, but he recognized it as
the acme of fashion by those two sure signs; railings
with most of their spikes in place, and cards scored
with the word "Apartments." He had discovered such
streets as this before when in Shovel's company, and
they had watched the toffs go out and in, and it was a
lordly sight, for first the toff waggled a rail that was
loose at the top and then a girl, called the servant,
peeped at him from below, and then he pulled the rail
again, and then the door opened from the inside, and
you had a glimpse of wonder-land with a place for hang-
ing hats on. He had not contemplated doing anything
so handsome for the girl as this, but why should he not
establish her here ? There were many possible mothers
in view, and thrilling with a sense of his generosity he
had almost fixed on one but mistrusted the glint in her
eye, and on another when she saved herself by tripping
and showing an undarned heel.
He was still of an open mind when the girl of a
sudden cried, gleefully, "Ma-ma, ma-ma!" and pointed,
with her muff, across the street. The word was as
meaningless to Tommy as mother had been to her, but
TOMMY CONTRIVES .TO KEEP ONE OUT 13
he saw that she was drawing his attention to a woman
some thirty yards away.
"Man man!" he echoed, chiding her ignorance;
"no, no, you blether, that ain't a man, that's a woman;
that's woman woman."
Ooman ooman, the girl repeated, docilely, but
when she looked again, "Ma-ma, ma-ma," she insisted,
and this was Tommy's first lesson that however young
you catch them they will never listen to reason.
She seemed of a mind to trip off to this woman, and
as long as his own mother was safe, it did not greatly
matter to Tommy whom she chose, but if it was this
one, she was going the wrong way about it. You can-
not snap them up in the street.
The proper course was to track her to her house,
which he proceeded to do, and his quarry, who was
looking about her anxiously, as if she had lost some-
thing, gave him but a short chase. In the next street
to the one in which they had first seen her, a street so
like it that Tommy might have admired her for know-
ing the difference, she opened the door with a key and
entered, shutting the door behind her. Odd to tell, the
child had pointed to this door as the one she would stop
at, which surprised Tommy very much.
On the steps he gave her his final instructions, and
she dimpled and gurgled, obviously full of admiration
for him, which was a thing he approved of, but he
would have liked to see her a little more serious.
14 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY
"That is the door. Well, then, I'll waggle the rail
as. makes the bell ring, and then I '1 run."
That was all, and he wished she had not giggled most
of the time. She was sniggering, as if she thought
him a very funny boy, even when he rang the bell and
From a safe place he watched the opening of the
door, and saw the frivolous thing lose a valuable
second in waving the muff to him. "In you go!" he
screamed beneath his breath. Then she entered and
the door closed. He waited an hour, or two minutes,
or thereabout, and she had not been ejected. Triumph!
With a drum beating inside him Tommy strutted
home, where, alas, a boy was waiting to put his foot
BUT THE OTHER GETS IXN
To Tommy, a swaggerer, came Shovel sour-visaged;
having now no cap of his own, he exchanged with
Tommy, would also have bled the blooming mouth of
him, but knew of a revenge that saves the knuckles:
announced, with jeers and offensive finger exercise, that
"it" had come.
Shovel was a liar. If he only knowed what Tommy
If Tommy only heard what Shovel had hearn !
Tommy was of opinion that Shovel had n't not heard
Shovel believed as Tommy did n't know nuthin.
Tommy would n't listen to what Shovel had heard.
Neither would Shovel listen to what Tommy knew.
If Shovel would tell what he had heard, Tommy
would tell what he knew.
Well, then, Shovel had listened at the door, and
heard it mewling.
Tommy knowed it well, and it never mewled.
How could Tommy know it ?
'Cos he had been with it a long time.
Gosh! Why, it had only corned a minute ago.
This made Tommy uneasy, and he asked a leading
question cunningly. A boy, was n't it ?
No, Shovel's old woman had been up helping to hold
it, and she said it were a girl.
Shutting his mouth tightly, which was never natural
to him, the startled Tommy mounted the stair, listened
and was convinced. He did not enter his dishonored
home. He had no intention of ever entering it again.
With one salt tear he renounced a child, a mother.
On his way downstairs he was received by Shovel and
party, who planted their arrows neatly. Kids cried
steadily, he was told, for the first year. A boy one was
bad enough, but a girl one was oh lawks. He must
never again expect to get playing with blokes like what
they was. Already she had got round his old gal who
would care for him no more. What would they say
about this in Thrums ?
Shovel even insisted on returning him his cap, and
for some queer reason, this cut deepest. Tommy about
to charge, with his head down, now walked away so
quietly that Shovel, who could not help liking the
funny little cuss, felt a twinge of remorse, and nearly
followed him with a magnanimous offer: to treat him
as if he were still respectable.
Tommy lay down on a distant stair, one of the very
stairs where she had sat with him. Ladies, don't you
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN
dare to pity him now, for he won't stand it. Rage was
what he felt, and a man in a rage (as you may know if
you are married) is only to be soothed by the sight of
all womankind in terror of him. But you may look
upon your handiwork, and gloat, an you will, on the
wreck you have made. A young gentleman trusted one
of you; behold the result. O! O! O! O! now do you
understand why we men cannot abide you ?
If she had told him flat that his mother, and his
alone, she would have, and so there was an end of it.
Ah, catch them taking a straight road. But to put on
those airs of helplessness, to wave him that gay good-
by, and then the moment his back was turned, to be off
through the air on perhaps on her muff, to the home
he had thought to lure her from. In a word, to be
diddled by a girl when one flatters himself he is did-
dling! S'death, a dashing fellow finds it hard to bear.
Nevertheless, he has to bear it, for oh, Tommy, Tommy,
't is the common lot of man.
His hand sought his pocket for the penny that had
brought him comfort in dark hours before now; but,
alack, she had deprived him even of it. Never again
should his pinkie fifiger go through that warm hole, and
at the thought a sense of his forlornness choked him.
and he cried. You may pity him a little now.
Darkness came and hid him even from himself. He
is not found again until a time of the night that is not
marked on ornamental clocks, but has an hour to itself
on the watch which a hundred thousand or so of London
women carry in their breasts; the hour when men steal
homewards trickling at the mouth and drawing back
from. their own shadows to the wives they once went
a-maying with, or the mothers who had such travail at
the bearing of them, as if for great ends. Out of this,
the drunkard's hour, rose the wan face of Tommy, who
had waked up somewhere clammy cold and quaking,
and he was a very little boy, so he ran to his mother.
Such a shabby dark room it was, but it was home,
such a weary worn woman in the bed, but he was her
son, and she had been wringing her hands because he
was so long in coming, and do you think he hurt her
when he pressed his head on her poor breast, and do
you think she grudged the heat his cold hands drew
from her warm face ? He squeezed her with a violence
that put more heat into her blood than he took out
And he was very considerate, too: not a word of
reproach in him, though he knew very well what that
bundle in the back of the bed was.
She guessed that he had heard the news and stayed
away through jealousy of his sister, and by and by she
said, with a faint smile, "I have a present for you,
laddie." In the great world without, she used few
Thrums words now; you would have known she was
Scotch by her accent only, but when she and Tommy
. were together in that room, with the door shut, she
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN
always spoke as if her window still looked out on the
bonny Marywellbrae. It is not really bonny, it is gey
an' mean an' bleak, and you must not come to see it.
It is just a steep wind-swept street, old and wrinkled,
like your mother's face.
She had a present for him, she said, and Tommy
replied, "I knows," with averted face.
"Such a bonny thing."
"Bonny enough," he said bitterly.
"Look at her, laddie."
But he shrank from the ordeal, crying, "No, no,
keep her covered up!"
The little traitor seemed to be asleep, and so he
ventured to say, eagerly, "It would n't not take long to
carry all our things to another house, would it ? Me
and Shovel could near do it ourselves."
"And that's God's truth," the woman said, with a
look round the room. "But what for should we do
"Do you no see, mother ?" he whispered excitedly.
"Then you and me could slip away, and -and leave
her in the press."
The feeble smile with which his mother received this
he interpreted thus, "Wherever we go'd to she would
be there before -us."
"The little besom! he cried helplessly.
His mother saw that mischievous boys had been
mounting him on his horse, which needed only one slap
to make it go a mile; but she was a spiritless woman,
and replied indifferently, "You 're a funny litlin."
Presently a dry sob broke from her, and thinking the
child was the cause, soft-hearted Tommy said, "It
can't not be helped, mother; don't cry, mother, I'm
fond on yer yet, mother; I I took her away. I found
another woman but she would come."
"She's God's gift, man," his mother said, but she
added, in a different tone, "Ay, but he hasna sent her
"God's gift!" Tommy shuddered, but he said sourly,
"I wish he would take her back. Do you wish that,
too, mother ? "
The weary woman almost said she did, but her arms
they gripped the baby as if frightened that he had
sent for it. Jealous Tommy, suddenly deprived of his
mother's hand, cried, "It's true what Shovel says, you
don't not love me never again; you jest loves that little
"Na, na," the mother answered, passionate at last,
"she can never be to me what you hae been, my laddie,
for you came to me when my hame was in hell, and we
tholed it thegither, you and me."
This bewildered though it comforted him. He
thought his mother might be speaking about the room
in which they had lived until six months ago, when his
father was put into the black box, but when he asked
her if this were so, she told him to sleep, for she was
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN
dog-tired. She always evaded him in this way when
he questioned her about his past, but at times his mind
would wander backwards unbidden to those distant
days, and then he saw flitting dimly through 'them the
elusive form of a child. He knew it was himself, and
for moments he could see it clearly, but when he moved
a step nearer it was not there. So does the child we
once were play hide and seek with us among the mists
of infancy, until one day he trips and falls into the
daylight. Then we seize him, and with that touch we
two are one. It is the birth of self-consciousness.
Hitherto he had slept at the back of his mother's
bed, but to-night she could not have him there, the
place being occupied, and rather sulkily he consented
to lie crosswise at her feet, undressing by the feeble
fire and taking care, as he got into bed, not to look at
the usurper. His mother watched him furtively, and
was relieved to read in his face that he had no recollec-
tion of ever having slept at the foot of a bed before.
But soon after he fell asleep he awoke, and was afraid
to move lest his father should kick him. He opened
his eyes stealthily, and this was neither the room nor
the bed he had expected to see.
The floor was bare save for a sheepskin beside the
bed. Tommy always stood on the sheepskin while he
was dressing because it was warm to the feet, though
risky, as your toes sometimes caught in knots in it.
There was a deal table in the middle of the floor with
some dirty crockery on it and a kettle that would leave
a mark, but they had been left there by Shovel's old
girl, for Mrs. Sandys usually kept her house clean.
The chairs were of the commonest, and the press door
would not remain shut unless you stuck a knife between
its halves; but there was a gay blue wardrobe, spotted
white where Tommy's mother had scraped off the mud
that had once bespattered it during a lengthy sojourn
at the door of a shop; and on the mantelpiece was a
clock in a little brown and yellow house, and on the
clock a Bible that had been in Thrums. But what
Tommy was proudest of was his mother's kist, to which
the chests of Londoners are not to be compared, though
like it in appearance. On the inside of the lid of this
kist was pasted, after a Thrums custom, something that
his mother called her marriage lines, which she forced
Shovel's mother to come up and look at one day, when
that lady had made an innuendo Tommy did not under-
stand, and Shovel's mother had looked, and though she
could not read, was convinced, knowing them by the
Tommy lay at the foot of the bed looking at this
room, which was his home now, and trying to think of
the other one, and by and by the fire helped him by
falling to ashes, when darkness came in, and packing
the furniture in grotesque cloths, removed it piece by
piece, all but the clock. Then the room took a new
shape. The fireplace was over there instead of here,
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN
the torn yellow blind gave way to one made of spars of
green wood, that were bunched up at one side, like a
lady out for a walk. On a round table there was a
beautiful blue cloth, with very few gravy marks, and
here a man ate beef when a woman and a boy ate bread,
and near the fire was the man's big soft chair, out of
which you could pull hairs, just as if it were Shovel's
Of this man who was his father he could get no hold.
He could feel his presence, but never see him. Yet he
had a face. It sometimes pressed Tommy's face against
it in order to hurt him, which it could do, being all
short needles at the chin.
Once in those days Tommy and his mother ran away
and hid from some one. He did not know from whom
nor for how long, though it was but for a week, and it
left only two impressions on his mind, the one that he
often asked, "Is this starving now, mother ?" the other
that before turning a corner she always peered round it
fearfully. Then they went back again to the man and
he laughed when he saw them, but did not take his feet
off the mantelpiece. There came a time when the man
was always in bed, but still Tommy could not see his
face. What he did see was the man's clothes lying on
the large chair just as he had placed them there when
he undressed for the last time. The black coat and
worsted waistcoat which he could take off together were
on the seat, and the light trousers hung over the side,
the legs on the hearthrug, with the red socks still stick-
ing in them: a man without a body.
But the boy had one vivid recollection, of how his
mother received the news of his father's death. An
old man with a white beard and gentle ways, who often
came to give the invalid physic, was standing at the
bedside, and Tommy and his mother were sitting on
the fender. The old man came to her and said, "It is
all over," and put her softly into the big chair. She
covered her face with her hands, and he must have
thought she was crying, for he tried to comfort her.
But as soon as he was gone she rose, with such a queer
face, and went on tiptoe to the bed, and looked intently
at her husband, and then she clapped her hands joyously
At last Tommy fell asleep with his mouth open,
which is the most important thing that has been told of
him as yet, and while he slept day came and restored
the furniture that night had stolen. But when the boy
woke he did not even notice the change; his brain
traversed the hours it had lost since he lay down as
quickly as you may put on a stopped clock, and with
his first tick he was thinking of nothing but the
deceiver in the back of the bed. He raised his head,
but could only see that she had crawled under the
coverlet to escape his wrath. His mother was asleep.
Tommy sat up and peeped over the edge of the bed,
then he let his eyes wander round the room; he was
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 25
looking for the girl's clothes, but they were nowhere to
be seen. It is distressing to have to tell that what was
in his mind was merely the recovery of his penny.
Perhaps as they were Sunday clothes she had hung
them up in the wardrobe ? He slipped on to the floor
and crossed to the wardrobe, but not even the muff
could he find. Had she been tired, and gone to bed in
them ? Very softly he crawled over his mother, and
pulling the coverlet off the child's face, got the great
shock of his childhood.
It was another one!
SHOWING HOW TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANSFORMED
INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
IT would have fared ill with Mrs. Sandys now, had
her standoffishness to her neighbors been repaid in the
same coin, but they were full of sympathy, especially
Shovel's old girl, from whom she had often drawn back
offensively on the stair, but who nevertheless waddled
up several times a day with savory messes, explaining,
when Mrs. Sandys sniffed, that it was not the tapiocar
but merely the cup that smelt of gin. When Tommy
returned the cups she noticed not only that they were
suspiciously clean, but that minute particles of the
mess were adhering to his nose and chin (perched there
like shipwrecked mariners on a rock, just out of reach
of the devouring element), and after this discovery she
brought two cupfuls at a time. She was an Irish-
woman who could have led the House of Commons, and
in walking she seldom raised her carpet shoes from the
ground, perhaps because of her weight, for she had an
expansive figure that bulged in all directions, and there
were always bits of her here and there that she had
forgotten to lace. Round the corner was a delightful
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLE, MAN
eating-house, through whose window you were allowed
to gaze at the great sweating dumplings, and Tommy
thought Shovel's mother was rather like a dumpling
that had not been a complete success. If he ever knew
her name he forgot it. Shovel, who probably had
another name also, called her his old girl or his old
woman or his old lady, and it was a sight to see her
chasing him across the street when she was in liquor,
and boastful was Shovel of the way she could lay on,
and he was partial to her too, and once when she was
giving it to him pretty strong with the tongs, his father
(who followed many professions, among them that
of finding lost dogs), had struck her and told her to
drop it, and then Shovel sauced his father for interfer-
ing, saying she should lick him as long as she blooming
well liked, which made his father go for him with a
dog-collar; and that was how Shovel lost his eye.
For reasons less unselfish than his old girl's Shovel
also was willing to make up to Tommy at this humili-
ating time. It might be said of these two boys that
Shovel knew everything but Tommy knew other things.
and as the other things are best worth hearing of
Shovel liked to listen to them, even when they were
about Thrums, as they usually were. The very first
time Tommy told him of the wondrous spot, Shovel had
drawn a great breath, and said, thoughtfully:
"I allers knowed as there were sich a beauty place,
but I didn't jest know its name."
"How could yer know?" Tommy asked jealously.
"I ain't sure," said Shovel, "p'raps I dreamed on
"That's it," Tommy cried. "I tell yer, everybody
dreams on it!" and Tommy was right; everybody
dreams of it, though not all call it Thrums.
On the whole, then, the coming of the kid, who
turned out to be called Elspeth, did not ostracize
Tommy, but he wished that he had let the other girl in,
for he never doubted that her admittance would have
kept this one out. He told neither his mother nor his
friend of the other girl, fearing that his mother would
be angry with him when she learned what she had
missed, and that Shovel would crow over his blunder-
ing, but occasionally he took a side glance at the victo-
rious infant, and a poorer affair, he thought, he had
never set eyes on. Sometimes it was she who looked
at him, and then her chuckle of triumph was hard to
bear. As long as his mother was there, however, he
endured in silence, but the first day she went out in a
vain search for work (it is about as difficult to get
washing as to get into the Cabinet), he gave the infant
a piece of his mind, poking up her head with a stick so
that she was bound to listen.
You thinks as it was clever on you, does yer ? Oh,
if I had been on the stair !
You need n't not try to get round me. I likes the
other one five times better; yes, three times better.
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
Thievey, thievey, thief, that 's her place you is lying
in. What ?
"If you puts out your tongue at me again-! What
do yer say ?
She was twice bigger than you. You ain't got no
hair, nor yet no teeth. You're the littlest I ever seed.
Eh ? Don't not speak then, sulks "
Prudence had kept him away from the other girl, but
he' was feeling a great want: someone to applaud him.
When we grow older we call it sympathy. How Reddy
(as he called her because she had beautiful red-brown
hair) had appreciated him She had a way he liked of
opening her eyes very wide when she looked at him. Oh,
what a difference from that thing in the back of the bed!
Not the mere selfish desire to see her again, how-
ever, would take him in quest of Reddy. He was one
of those superior characters, was Tommy, who got his
pleasure in giving it, and therefore gave it. Now, Reddy
was a worthy girl. In suspecting her of overreaching
him he had maligned her : she had taken what he offered,
and been thankful. It was fitting that he should give
her a treat: let her see him again.
His mother was at last re-engaged by her old employers,
her supplanter having proved unsatisfactory, and as the
work lay in a distant street, she usually took the kid
with her, thus leaving no one to spy on Tommy's move-
ments. Reddy's reward for not playing him false, how-
ever, did not reach her as soon as doubtless she would
have liked, because the first two or three times he saw
her she was walking with the lady of his choice, and of
course he was not such a fool as to show himself. But
he walked behind them and noted with satisfaction that
the lady seemed to be reconciled to her lot and inclined
to let bygones be bygones; when at length Reddy and
her patron met, Tommy thought this a good sign too,
that Ma-ma (as she would call the lady) had told her
not to go farther away than the lamp-post, lest she should
get lost again. So evidently she had got lost once
already, and the lady had been sorry. He asked Reddy
many shrewd questions about how Ma-ma treated her,
and if she got the top of the Sunday egg and had the
licking of the pan and wore flannel underneath and slept
at the back ; and the more he inquired, the more clearly
he saw that he had got her one of the right kind.
Tommy arranged with her that she should always be
on the outlook for him at the window, and he would
come sometimes, and after that they met frequently, and
she proved a credit to him, gurgling with mirth at his
tales of Thrums, and pinching him when he had finished,
to make sure that he was really made just like common
human beings. He was a thin, pale boy, while she
looked like a baby rose full blown in a night because
her time was short; and his movements were sluggish,
but if she was not walking she must be dancing, and
sometimes when there were few people in the street, the
little armful of delight that she was jumped up and
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
down like a ball, while Tommy kept the time, singing
" Thrummy, Thrummy, Thrum Thrum Thrummy."
They must have seemed a quaint pair to the lady as
she sat at her window watching them and beckoning
to Tommy to come in.
One day he went in, but only.because she had come
up behind and taken his hand before he could run.
Then did Tommy quake, for he knew from Reddy how
the day after the mother-making episode, Ma-ma and she
had sought in vain for his door, and he saw that the
object had been to call down curses on his head. So
that head was hanging limply now.
You think that Tommy is to be worsted at last, but
don't be too sure; you just wait and see. Ma-ma and
Reddy (who was clucking rather heartlessly) first took
him into a room prettier even than the one he had lived
in long ago (but there was no bed in it), and then, because
someone they were in search of was not there, into another
room without a bed (where on earth did they sleep ?)
whose walls were lined with books. Never having seen
rows of books before except on sale in the streets, Tommy
at once looked about him for the barrow. The table was
strewn with sheets of paper of the size that they roll a
quarter of butter in, and it was an amazing thick table,
a solid square of wood, save for a narrow lane down the
centre for the man to put his legs in if he had legs,
which unfortunately there was reason to doubt. He was
a formidable man, whose beard licked the table while he
wrote, and he wore something like a brown blanket, with
a rope tied round it at the middle. Even more uncanny
than himself were three busts on a shelf, which Tommy
took to be deaders, and he feared the blanket might blow
open and show that the man also ended at the waist. But
he did not, for presently he turned round to see who had
come in (the seat of his chair turning with him in the
most startling way) and then Tommy was relieved to
notice two big feet far away at the end of him.
"This is the boy, dear," the lady said. "I had to
bring him in by force."
Tommy raised his arm instinctively to protect his face,
this being the kind of man who could hit hard. But
presently he was confused, and also, alas, leering a
little. You may remember that Reddy had told him
she must not go beyond the lamp-post, lest she should be
lost again. She had given him no details of the adven-
ture, but he learned now from Ma-ma and Papa (the
man's name was Papa) that she had strayed when Ma-ma
was in a shop and that some good kind boy had found
her and brought her home; and what do you say to this,
they thought Tommy was that boy! In his amazement
he very nearly blurted out that he was the other boy,
but just then the lady asked Papa if he had a shilling,
and this abruptly closed Tommy's mouth. Ever after-
wards he remembered Papa as the man that was not
sure whether he had a shilling until he felt his pockets
a new kind of mortal to Tommy, who grabbed the
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
shilling when it was offered to him, and then looked at
Reddy imploringly, he was so afraid she would tell.
But she behaved splendidly, and never even shook her
head at him. After this, as hardly need be told, his one
desire was to get out of the house with his shilling
before they discovered their mistake, and it was well
that they were unsuspicious people, for he was making
strange hissing sounds in his throat, the result of trying
hard to keep his sniggers under control.
There were many ways in which Tommy could have
disposed of his shilling. He might have been a good
boy and returned it next day to Papa. He might have
given Reddy half of it for not telling. It could have
carried him over the winter. He might have stalked
with it into the shop where the greasy puddings were
and come rolling out hours afterwards. Some of these
schemes did cross his little mind, but he decided to
spend the whole shilling on a present to his mother,
and it was to be something useful. He devoted much
thought to what she was most in need of, and at last he
bought her a colored picture of Lord Byron swimming
He told her that he got his shilling from two toffs for
playing with a little girl, and the explanation satisfied
her; but she could have cried at the waste of the money,
which would have been such a God-send to her. He
cried altogether, however, at sight of her face, having
expected it to look so pleased, and then she told him,
with caresses, that the picture was the one thing she had
been longing for ever since she came to London. How
had he known this, she asked, and he clapped his hands
gleefully, and said he just knowed when he saw it in
the shop window.
It was noble of you," she said, to spend all your
siller on me."
"Was n't it, mother ?" he crowed. "I 'm thinking
there ain't many as noble as I is !"
He did not say why he had been so good to her, but
it was because she had written no letters to Thrums
since the intrusion of Elspeth; a strange reason for a
boy whose greatest glory at one time had been to sit
on the fender and exultingly watch his mother write
down words that would be read aloud in the wonderful
place. She was a long time in writing a letter, but that
only made the whole evening romantic, and he found
an arduous employment in keeping his tongue wet in
preparation for the licking of the stamp.
But she could not write to the Thrums folk now
without telling them of Elspeth, who was at present
sleeping the sleep of the shameless in the hollow of
the bed, and so for his sake, Tommy thought, she
meant to write no more. For his sake, mark you, not
for her own. She had often told him that some day
he should go to Thrums, but not with her; she would
be far away from him then in a dark place she was
awid to be lying in. Thus it seemed to Tommy that
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
she denied herself the pleasure of writing to Thrums
lest the sorry news of Elspeth's advent should spoil his
reception when he went north.
So grateful Tommy gave her the picture, hoping that
it would fill the void. But it did not. She put it on
the mantelpiece so that she might just sit and look at
it, she said, and he grinned at it from every part of the
room, but when he returned to her, he saw that she was
neither looking at it nor thinking of it. She was look-
ing straight before her, and sometimes her lips twitched,
and then she drew them into her mouth to keep them
still. It is a kind of dry weeping that sometimes comes
to miserable ones when their minds stray into the happy
past, and Tommy sat and watched her silently for a
long time, never doubting that the cause of all her woe
was that she could not write to Thrums.
He had seldom seen tears on his mother's face, but
he saw one now. They had been reluctant to come for
many a day, and this one formed itself beneath her eye
and sat there like a blob of blood.
His own began to come more freely. But she needn't
not expect him to tell her to write nor to say that he
did n't care what Thrums thought of him so long as she
The tear rolled down his mother's thin cheek and fell
on the grey shawl that had come from Thrums.
She did not hear her boy as he dragged a chair to
the press and standing on it got something down from
the top shelf. She had forgotten him, and she started
when presently the pen was slipped into her hand and
Tommy said, "You can do it, mother, I wants yer to
do it, mother, I won't not greet, mother!"
When she saw what he wanted her to do she patted
his face approvingly, but without realizing the extent
of his sacrifice. She knew that he had some maggot in
his head that made him regard Elspeth as a sore on the
family honor, but ascribing his views to jealousy she
had never tried seriously to change them. Her main
reason for sending no news to Thrums of late had been
but the cost of the stamp, though she was also a little
conscience-stricken at the kind of letters she wrote, and
the sight of the materials lying ready for her proved
sufficient to draw her to the table.
"Is it to your grandmother you is writing the
letter ?" Tommy asked, for her grandmother had
brought Mrs. Sandys up and was her only surviving
relative. This was all Tommy knew of his mother's
life in Thrums, though she had told him much about
other Thrums folk, and not till long afterwards did he
see that there must be something queer about herself,
which she was hiding from him.
This letter was not for her granny, however, and
Tommy asked next, Is it to Aaron Latta ? which so
startled her that she dropped the pen.
"Whaur heard you that name?" she said sharply.
"I never spoke it to you."
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
I 've heard you saying it when you was sleeping,
Did I say anything but the name ? Quick, tell me."
"You said, Oh, Aaron Latta, oh, Aaron, little did we
think, Aaron,' and things like that. Are you angry with
me, mother ? "
"No," she said, relieved, but it was some time before
the desire to write came back to her. Then she told
him The letter is to a woman that was gey cruel to me,"
adding, with a complacent pursing of her lips, the curi-
ous remark, "That's the kind I like to write to best."
The pen went scrape, scrape, but Tommy did not
weary, though he often sighed, because his mother
would never read aloud to him what she wrote. The
Thrums people never answered her letters, for the
reason, she said, that those she wrote to could not
write, which seemed to simple Tommy to be a suffi-
cient explanation. So he had never heard the inside of
a letter talking, though a postman lived in the house,
and even Shovel's old girl got letters; once when her
uncle died she got a telegram, which Shovel proudly
wheeled up and down the street in a barrow, other
blokes keeping guard at the side. To give a letter to
a woman who had been cruel to you struck Tommy as
the height of nobility.
She '11 be uplifted when she gets it!" he cried.
"She'll be mad when she gets it," answered his
mother, without looking up.
This was the letter: -
"MY DEAR ESTHER, I send you these few scrapes to let
you see I have not forgot you, though my way is now grand by
yours. A spleet new black silk, Esther, being the second in a
twelvemonth, as I 'm a living woman. The other is no none
tashed yet, but my gudeman fair insisted on buying a new one,
for says he Rich folk like us can afford to be mislaird, and
nothing's ower braw for my bonny Jean.' Tell Aaron Latta
that. When I'm sailing in my silks, Esther, I sometimes pic-
ture you turning your wincey again, for I 'se uphaud that's all
the new frock you've ha'en the year. I dinna want to give you
a scunner of your man, Esther, more by token they said if your
mither had not took him in hand you would never have kent
the color of his nightcap, but when you are wraxing ower your
kail-pot in a plot of heat, just picture me ringing the bell for
my servant, and saying, with a wave of my hand, Servant,
lay the dinner.' And ony bonny afternoon when your man is
cleaning out stables and you 're at the tub in a short gown,
picture my man taking me and the children out a ride in a
carriage, and I sair doubt your bairns was never in nothing
more genteel than a coal cart. For bairns is yours, Esther, and
children is mine, and that's a burn without a brig till 't.
"Deary me, Esther, what with one thing and another, namely
buying a sofa, thirty shillings as I 'm a sinner, I have forgot to
tell you about my second, and it's a girl this time, my man say-
ing he would like a change. We have christened her Elspeth
after my grandmamma, and if my auld granny's aye living, you
can tell her that's her. My man is terrible windy of his two
beautiful children, but he says he would have been the happiest
gentleman in London though he had just had me, and really
his fondness for me, it cows, Esther, sitting aside me on the
bed, two pounds without the blankets, about the time Elspeth
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
was born, and feeding me with the fat of the land, namely,
tapiocas and sherry wine. Tell Aaron Latta that.
"I pity you from the bottom of my heart, Esther, for having
to bide in Thrums, but you have never seen no better, your man
having neither the siller nor the desire to take you jaunts, and
I 'm thinking that is just as well, for if you saw how the like
of me lives it might disgust you with your own bit house. I
often laugh, Esther, to think that 1 was once like you, and
looked upon Thrums as a bonny place. How is the old hole ?
My son makes grand sport of the orifortunate bairns as has to
bide in Thrums, and I see him doing it the now to his favorite
companion, which is a young gentleman of ladylike manners,
as bides in our terrace. So no more at present, for my man is
sitting ganting for my society, and I daresay yours is crying to
you to darn his old socks. Mind and tell Aaron Latta."
This letter was posted next day by Tommy, with the
assistance of Shovel, who seems to have been the young
gentleman of ladylike manners referred to in the text.
THE END OF AN IDYLL
ToMMY never saw Reddy again owing to a fright he
got about this time, for which she was really to blame,
though a woman who lived in his house was the
It is, perhaps, idle to attempt a summary of those
who lived in that house, as one at least will be off,
and another in his place, while we are giving them a
line apiece. They were usually this kind who lived
through the wall from Mrs. Sandys, but beneath her
were the two rooms of Hankey, the postman, and his
lodger, the dreariest of middle-aged clerks except when
telling wistfully of his ambition, which was to get out
of the tea department into the coffee department, where
there is an easier way of counting up the figures.
Shovel and family were also on this floor, and in the
rooms under them was a newly married couple. When
the husband was away at his work, his wife would
make some change in the furniture, taking the picture
from this wall, for instance, and hanging it on that
wall, or wheeling the funny chair she had lain in before
THE END OF AN IDYLL
she could walk without a crutch, to the other side of
the fireplace, or putting a skirt of yellow paper round
the flower pot, and when he returned he always jumped
back in wonder and exclaimed: "What an immense
improvement! These two were so fond of one another
that Tommy asked them the reason, and they gave it by
pointing to the chair with the wheels, which seemed to
him to be no reason at all. What was this young hus-
band's trade Tommy never knew, but he was the only
prettily dressed man in the house, and he could be
heard roaring in his sleep, "And the next article ?"
The meanest looking man lived next door to him.
Every morning this man put on a clean white shirt,
which sounds like a splendid beginning, but his other
clothes were of the seediest, and he came and went
shivering, raising his shoulders to his ears and spread-
ing his hands over his chest as if anxious to hide his
shirt rather than to display it. He and the happy hus-
band were nicknamed Before and After, they were so
like the pictorial advertisement of Man before and after
he has tried Someone's lozenges. But it is rash to
judge by outsides; Tommy and Shovel one day tracked
Before to his place of business, and it proved to be a
palatial eating-house, long, narrow, padded with red
cushions; through the door they saw the once despised,
now in beautiful black clothes, the waistcoat a mere
nothing, as if to give his shirt a chance at last, a
towel over his arm, and to and fro he darted, saying
"Yessirquitesosir" to the toffs on the seats, shouting
" Twovegonebeef onebeeronetartinahurry to some-
one invisible, and pocketing twopences all day long,
just like a lord. On the same floor as Before and After
lived the large family of little Pikes, who quarrelled at
night for the middle place in the bed, and then chips of
ceiling fell into the room below, tenant Jim Ricketts
and parents, lodger the young woman we have been
trying all these doors for. Her the police snapped up on
a charge that made Tommy want to hide himself -
Shovel was the person best worth listening to on the
subject (observe him, the centre of half a dozen boys),
and at first he was for the defence, being a great
stickler for the rights of mothers. But when the case
against the girl leaked out, she need not look to him
for help. The police had found the child in a basket
down an area, and being knowing ones they pinched it
to make it cry, and then they pretended to go away.
Soon the mother, who was watching hard by to see if
it fell into kind hands, stole to her baby to comfort it,
"and just as she were a kissing on it and blubbering,
the perlice copped her."
"The slut!" said disgusted Shovel, "what did she
hang about for ? and in answer to a trembling ques-
tion from Tommy he replied, decisively, Six months
"Next case was probably called immediately, but
THE END OF AN IDYLL
Tommy vanished, as if he had been sentenced and
removed to the cells.
Never again, unless he wanted six months hard, must
he go near Reddy's home, and so he now frequently
accompanied his mother to the place where she worked.
The little room had a funny fireplace called a stove, on
which his mother made tea and the girls roasted chest-
nuts, and it had no other ordinary furniture except a
long form. But the walls were mysterious. Three of
them were covered with long white cloths, which went
to the side when you tugged them, and then you could
see on rails dozens of garments that looked like night-
gowns. Beneath the form were scores of little shoes,
most of them white or brown. In this house Tommy's
mother spent eight hours daily, but not all of them in
this room. When she arrived the first thing she did
was to put Elspeth on the floor, because you cannot fall
off a floor; then she went upstairs with a bucket and a
broom to a large bare room, where she stayed so long
that Tommy nearly forgot what she was like.
While his mother was upstairs Tommy would give
Elspeth two or three shoes to eat to keep her quiet, and
then he played with the others, pretending to be able
to count them, arranging them in designs, shooting
them, swimming among them, saying "bow-wow" at
them and then turning sharply to see who had said it.
Soon Elspeth dropped her shoes and gazed in admira-
tion at him, bat more often than not she laughed in the
wrong place, and then he said ironically: "Oh, in
course I can't do nothing ; jest let 's see you doing of it,
By the time the girls began to arrive, singly or in
twos and threes, his mother was back in the little room,
making tea for herself or sewing bits of them that had
been torn as they stepped out of a cab, or helping them
to put on the nightgowns, or pretending to listen
pleasantly to their chatter and hating them all the
time. There was every kind of them, gorgeous ones
and shabby ones, old tired ones and dashing young
ones, but whether they were the Honorable Mrs. Some-
thing or only Jane Anything, they all came to that
room for the same purpose: to get a little gown and a
pair of shoes. Then they went upstairs and danced to
a stout little lady, called the Sylph, who bobbed about
like a ball at the end of a piece of elastic. What
Tommy never forgot was that while they danced the
Sylph kept saying, "One, two, three, four; one, two,
three, four," which they did not seem to mind, but
when she said "One, two, three, four, picture! they
all stopped and stood motionless, though it might be
with one foot as high as their head and their arms
stretched out toward the floor, as if they had suddenly
seen a halfpenny there.
In the waiting-room, how they joked and pirouetted
and gossiped, and hugged and scorned each other, and
what slang they spoke and how pretty they often looked
THE END OF AN IDYLL
next moment, and how they denounced the one that had
just gone out as a cat with whom you could not get in a
word edgeways, and oh, how prompt they were to give
a slice of their earnings to any "cat" who was hard up!
But still, they said, she had talent, but no genius.
How they pitied people without genius.
Have you ever tasted an encore or a reception ?
Tommy never had his teeth in one, but he heard much
about them in that room, and concluded that they were
some sort of cake. It was not the girls who danced in
groups, but those who danced alone, that spoke of their
encores and receptions, and sometimes they had got
them last night, sometimes years ago. Two girls met
in the room, one of whom had stolen the other's recep-
tion, and but it was too dreadful to write about.
Most of them carried newspaper cuttings in their purses
and read them aloud to the others, who would not
listen. Tommy listened, however, and as it was all
about how ofie house had risen at the girls and they had
brought another down, he thought they led the most
Occasionally they sent him out to buy newspapers or
chestnuts, and then he had to keep a sharp eye on the
police lest they knew about Reddy. It was a point of
honor with all the boys he knew to pretend that the
policeman was after them. To gull the policeman into
thinking all was well they blackened their faces and
wore their jackets inside out; their occupation was a
constant state of readiness to fly from him, and when
he tramped out of sight, unconscious of their existence,
they emerged from dark places and spoke in exultant
whispers. Tommy had been proud to join them, but
he now resented their going on in this way; he felt
that he alone had the right to fly from the law. And
once at least while he was flying something happened
to him that he was to remember better, far better, than
his mother's face.
What set him running on this occasion (he had been
sent out to get one of the girls' shoes soled) was the
grandest sight to be seen in London an endless row
of policemen walking in single file, all with the right
leg in the air at the same time, then the left leg. See-
ing at once that they were after him, Tommy ran, ran,
ran until in turning a corner he found himself wedged
between two legs. He was of just sufficient size to fill
the aperture, but after a momentary lock he squeezed
through, and they proved to be the gate into an
The magic began at once. "Dagont, you sacket!"
cried some wizard.
A policeman's hand on his shoulder could not have
taken the wind out of Tommy more quickly. In the
act of starting a-running again he brought down his
hind foot with a thud and stood stock still. Can any
one wonder ? It was the Thrums tongue, and this the
first time he had heard it except from his mother.
THE END OF AIN IDYLL
It was a dull day, and all the walls were dripping wet,
this being the part of London where the fogs are kept.
Many men and women were passing to and fro, and
Tommy, with a wild exultation in his breast, peered up
at the face of this one and that; but no, they were only
ordinary people, and he played rub-a-dub with his feet
on the pavement, so furious was he with them for
moving on as if nothing had happened. Draw up, ye
carters; pedestrians, stand still; London, silence for a
moment, and let Tommy Sandys listen!
Being but a frail plant in the way of a flood, Tommy
was rooted up and borne onward, but he did not feel
the buffeting. In a passion of grief he dug his fists in
his eyes, for the glory had been his for but a moment.
It can be compared to nothing save the parcel (attached
to a concealed string) which Shovel and he once
placed on the stair for Billy Hankey to find, and then
whipped away from him just as he had got it under
his arm. But so near the crying, Tommy did not cry,
for even while the tears were rushing to his aid he
tripped on the step of a shop, and immediately, as if
that had rung the magic bell again, a voice, a woman's
voice this time, said shrilly, "Threepence ha'penny,
and them jimply as big as a bantam's! Na, na, but
I'll gi'e you five bawbees."
Tommy sat down flop on the step, feeling queer in
the head. Was it was it was it Thrums ? He knew
he had been running a long time.
The woman, or fairy, or whatever you choose to call
her, came out of the shop and had to push Tommy aside
to get past. Oh, what a sweet foot to be kicked by.
At the time, he thought she was dressed not unlike the
women of his own stair, but this defect in his vision
he mended afterward, as you may hear. Of course, he
rose and trotted by her side like a dog, looking up at
her as if she were a cathedral; but she mistook his awe
for impudence and sent him sprawling, with the words,
"Tak' that, you glowering partan!"
Do you think Tommy resented this ? On the con-
trary, he screamed from where he lay, "Say it again!
say it again!"
She was gone, however, but only, as it were, to let a
window open, from which came the cry, "Davit, have
you seen my man ?"
' A male fairy roared back from some invisible place,
"He has gone yont to Petey's wi' the dambrod."
"I 'll dambrod him!" said the female fairy, and the
Tommy was now staggering like one intoxicated, but
he had still some sense left him, and he walked up and
down in front of this house, as if to take care of it. In
the middle of the street some boys were very busy at a
game, carts and lorries passing over them occasionally.
They came to the pavement to play marbles, and then
Tommy noticed that one of them wore what was prob-
ably a glengarry bonnet. Could he be a Thrums boy ?
THE END OF AN IDYLL
At first he played in the stupid London way, but by
and by he had to make a new ring, and he did it by
whirling round on one foot. Tommy knew from his
mother that it is only done in this way in Thrums.
By this time he was prancing round his discovery,
saying, "I 'm one, too so am I dagont, does yer
hear ? dagont! which so alarmed the boy that he
picked up his marble and fled, Tommy, of course, after
him. Alas! he must have been some mischievous
sprite, for he lured his pursuer back into London and
then vanished, and Tommy, searching in vain for the
enchanted street, found his own door instead.
His mother pooh-poohed his tale, though he described
the street exactly as it struck him on reflection, and it
bore a curious resemblance to the palace of Aladdin
that Reddy had told him about, leaving his imagination
to fill in the details, which it promptly did, with a
square, a town-house, some outside stairs, and an auld
licht kirk. There was no such street, however, his
mother assured him; he had been dreaming. But if
this were so, why was she so anxious to make him
promise never to look for the place again ?
He did go in search of it again, daily for a time,
always keeping a look-out for bow-legs, and the moment
he saw them, he dived recklessly between, hoping to
come out into fairyland on the other side. For though
he had lost the street, he knew that this was the way in.
Shovel had never heard of the street, nor had Bob.
But Bob gave him something that almost made him
forget it for a time. Bob was his favorite among the
dancing girls, and she or should it be he ? The odd
thing about these girls was that a number of them were
really boys -- or at least were boys at Christmas-time,
which seemed to Tommy to be even stranger than if
they had been boys all the year round. A friend of
Bob's remarked to her one day, "You are to be a girl
next winter, ain't you, Bob ? and Bob shook her head
"Do you see any green in my eye, my dear ?" she
Her friend did not look, but Tommy looked, and
there was none. He assured her of this so earnestly
that Bob fell in love with him on the spot, and chucked
him under the chin, first with her thumb and then with
her toe, which feat was duly reported to Shovel, who
could do it by the end of the week.
Did Tommy, Bob wanted to know, still think her a
mere woman ?
No, he withdrew the charge, but but She was
wearing her outdoor garments, and he pointed to them.
"Why does yer wear them, then ? he demanded.
"For the matter of that," she replied, pointing at his
frock, "why do you wear them ?" Whereupon Tommy
began to cry.
"I ain't not got no right ones," he blubbered. Harum-
BOB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE SPOT
THE END OF AN IDYLL
scarum Bob, who was a trump, had him in her
motherly arms immediately, and the upshot of it was
that a blue suit she had worn when she was Sam Some-
thing changed owners. Mrs. Sandys "made it up,"
and that is how Tommy got into trousers.
Many contingencies were considered in the making,
but the suit would fit Tommy by and by if he grew, or
it shrunk, and they did not pass each other in the
night. When proud Tommy first put on his suit the
most unexpected shyness overcame him, and having set
off vaingloriously he stuck on the stair and wanted to
hide. Shovel, who had been having an argument with
his old girl, came, all boastful bumps, to him, and
Tommy just stood still with a self-conscious simper on
his face. And Shovel, who could have damped him
considerably, behaved in the most honorable manner,
initiating him gravely into the higher life, much as you
show the new member round your club.
It was very risky to go back to Reddy, whom he had.
not seen for many weeks; but in trousers! He could
not help it. He only meant to walk up and down her
street, so that she might see him from the window, and
know that this splendid thing was he; but though he
went several times into the street, Reddy never came
to the window.
The reason he had to wait in vain at Reddy's door
was that she was dead; she had been dead for quite a
long time when Tommy came back to look for her. You
mothers who have lost your babies, I should be a sorry
knave were I to ask you to cry now over the death of
another woman's child. Reddy had been lent to two
people for a very little while, just as your babies were,
and when the time was up she blew a kiss to them and
ran gleefully back to God, just as your babies did.
The gates of heaven are so easily found when we are
little, and they are always standing open to let children
But though Reddy was gone away forever, mamma
still lived in that house, and on a day she opened the
door to come out. Tommy was standing there she
saw him there waiting for Reddy. Dry-eyed this
sorrowful woman had heard the sentence pronounced,
dry-eyed she had followed the little coffin to its grave;
tears had not come even when waking from illusive
dreams she put out her hand in bed to a child who was
not there; but when she saw Tommy waiting at the
door for Reddy, who had been dead for a month, her
bosom moved and she could cry again.
Those tears were sweet to her husband, and it was he
who took Tommy on his knee in the room where the
books were, and told him that there was no Reddy now.
When Tommy knew that .Reddy was a deader he cried
bitterly, and the man said, very gently, I am glad you
were so fond of her."
"'T ain't that," Tommy answered with a knuckle in
his eye, "'tain't that as makes me cry." He looked
THE END OF AN IDYLL 53
down at his trousers and in a fresh outburst of childish
grief he wailed, "It's them!"
Papa did not understand, but the boy explained.
"She can't not never see them now," he sobbed, "and
I wants her to see them, and they has pockets! "
It had come to the man unexpectedly. He put
Tommy down almost roughly, and raised his hand to
his head as if he felt a sudden pain there.
But Tommy, you know, was only a little boy.
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS
ELSPETH at last did something to win Tommy's
respect; she fell ill of an ailment called in Thrums the
croop. When Tommy first heard his mother call it
croop, he thought she was merely humoring Elspeth,
and that it was nothing more distinguished than London
whooping-cough, but on learning that it was genuine
croop, he began to survey the ambitious little creature
with a new interest.
This was well for Elspeth, as she had now to spend
most of the day at home with him, their mother, whose
health was failing through frequent attacks of bronchitis,
being no longer able to carry her through the streets.
Of course Elspeth took to repaying his attentions by
loving him, and he soon suspected it, and then gloomily
admitted it to himself, but never to Shovel. Being but
an Englishman, Shovel saw no reason why relatives
should conceal their affection for each other, but he
played on this Scottish weakness of Tommy's with
"She's fond on yer! he would say severely.
"You's a liar."
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS
Gar long! I believe as you 're fond on her I "
"You jest take care, Shovel."
Ain't yer ?"
"Will yer swear?"
"So I will swear."
"Let 's hear yer."
So for a time the truth was kept hidden, and Shovel
retired, casting aspersions, and offering to eat all the
hair on Elspeth's head for a penny.
This hair was white at present, which made Tommy
uneasy about her future, but on the whole he thought
he might make something of her if she was only longer.
Sometimes he stretched her on the floor, pulling her
legs out straight, for she had a silly way of doubling
them up, and then he measured her carefully with his
mother's old boots. Her growth proved to be distress-
ingly irregular, as one day she seemed to have grown
an inch since last night, and then next day she had
shrunk two inches.
After her day's work Mrs. Sandys was now so list-
less that, had not Tommy interfered, Elspeth would
have been a backward child. Reddy had been able to
walk from the first day, and so of course had he, but
this little slow-coach's legs wobbled at the joints, like
the blade of a knife without a spring. The question of
questions was How to keep her on end ?
Tommy sat on the fender revolving this problem,
his head resting on his hand: that favorite position of
mighty intellects when about to be photographed.
Elspeth lay on her stomach on the floor, gazing earnestly
at him, as if she knew she was in his thoughts'for some
stupendous purpose. Thus the apple may have looked
at Newton before it fell.
Hankey, the postman, compelled the flowers in his
window to stand erect by tying them' to sticks, so
Tommy took two sticks from a bundle of firewood, and
splicing Elspeth's legs to them, held her upright
against the door with one hand. All he asked of her
to-day was tq remain in this position after he said
"One, two, three, four, picture!" and withdrew his
hand, but down she flopped every time, and he said,
"You ain't got no genius: you has just talent."
But he had her in bed with the scratches nicely
covered up before his mother came home.
He tried another plan with more success. Lost dogs,
it may be remembered, had a habit of following Shovel's
father, and he not only took the wanderers in, but
taught them how to beg and shake hands and walk on
two legs. Tommy had sometimes been present at these
agreeable exercises, and being an inventive boy he -
But as Elspeth was a nice girl, let it suffice to pause
here and add shyly, that in time she could walk.
He also taught her to speak, and if you need to be
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS
told with what luscious word he enticed her into
language you are sentenced to re-read the first pages of
"Thrums," he would say persuasively, "Thrums,
Thrums. You opens your mouth like this, and shuts it
like this, and that's it." Yet when he had coaxed her
thus for many days, what does she do but break her
long silence with the word "Tommy!" The recoil
knocked her over.
Soon afterward she brought down a bigger bird. No
Londoner can say "Auld licht," and Tommy had often
crowed over Shovel's "01 likt." When the testing of
Elspeth could be deferred no longer, he eyed her with
the look a hen gives the green egg on which she has
been sitting twenty days, but Elspeth triumphed, say-
ing the words modestly even, as if nothing inside her
told her she had that day done something which would
have baffled Shakespeare, not to speak of most of the
gentlemen who sit for Scotch constituencies.
"Reddy could n't say it! Tommy cried exultantly,
and from that great hour he had no more fears for
Next the alphabet knocked for admission; and entered
first M and P, which had prominence in the only poster
visible from the window. Mrs. Sandys had taught
Tommy his letters, but he had got into words by study-
Elspeth being able now to make the perilous descent
of the stairs, Tommy guided her through the streets
(letting go hurriedly if Shovel hove in sight), and here
she bagged new letters daily. With Catlings some-
thing, which is the best, she got into capital Cs; ys are
found easily when you know where to look for them
(they hang on behind); Xs are never found singly,
but often three at a time; Q is so aristocratic that even
Tommy had only heard of it, doubtless it was there,
but indistinguishable among the masses like a celebrity
in a crowd; on the other hand, big A and little e were
so dirt cheap, that these two scholars passed them with
something very like a sneer.
The printing-press is either the greatest blessing or
the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes for-
gets which. Elspeth's faith in it was absolute, and as
it only spoke to her from placards, here was her
religion, at the age of four:
"PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
HAPPY ARE THEY WHO NEEDING KNOW THE
PAINLESS POROUS PLASTER."
Of religion, Tommy had said many fine things to her,
embellishments on the simple doctrine taught him by
his mother before the miseries of this world made her
indifferent to the next. But the meaning of "Pray
without ceasing," Elspeth, who was God's child always,
seemed to find out for herself, and it cured all her
troubles. She prayed promptly for every one she saw
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS
doing wrong, including Shovel, who occasionally had
words with Tommy on the subject, and she not only
prayed for her mother, but proposed to Tommy that
they should buy her a porous plaster. Mrs. Sandys
had been down with bronchitis again.
Tommy raised the monetary difficulty.
Elspeth knew where there was some money, and it
was her very own.
Tommy knew where there was money, and it was his.
Elspeth would not tell how much she had, and it was
Neither would Tommy tell, and it was twopence.
Tommy would get a surprise on his birthday.
So would Elspeth get a surprise on her birthday.
Elspeth would not tell what the surprise was to be,
and it was to be a gun.
Tommy also must remain mute, and it was to be a
box of dominoes.
Elspeth did not want dominoes.
Tommy knew that, but he wanted them.
Elspeth discovered that guns cost fourpence, and
dominoes threepence halfpenny; it seemed to her,
therefore, that Tommy was defrauding her of a half-
Tommy liked her cheek. You got the dominoes for
threepence halfpenny, but the price on the box is five-
pence, so that Elspeth would really owe him a penny. :
This led to an agonizing scene in which Elspeth wept
while Tommy told her sternly about Reddy. It had
become his custom to tell the tale of Reddy when
Elspeth was obstreperous.
Then followed a scene in which Tommy called him-
self a scoundrel for frightening his dear Elspeth, and
swore that he loved none but her. Result: reconcilia-
tion, and agreed, that instead of a gun and dominoes,
they should buy a porous plaster. You know the shops
where the plasters are to be obtained by great colored
bottles in their windows, and, as it was advisable to
find the very best shop, Tommy and Elspeth in their
wanderings came under the influence of the bottles, red,
yellow, green, and blue, and color entered into their
lives, giving them many delicious thrills. These bottles
are the first poem known to the London child, and you
chemists who are beginning to do without them in your
windows should be told that it is a shame.
In the glamour, then, of the romantic bottles walked
Tommy and Elspeth hand in hand, meeting so many
novelties that they might have spared a tear for the
unfortunate children who sit in nurseries surrounded
by all they ask for, and if the adventures of these two
frequently ended in the middle, they had probably
begun another while the sailor-suit boy was still hold-
ing up his leg to let the nurse put on his little sock.
While they wandered, they drew near unwittingly to
the enchanted street, to which the bottles are a colored
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS
way, and at last they were in it, but Tommy recognized
it not; he did not even feel that he was near it, for
there were no outside stairs, no fairies strolling about,
it was a short street as shabby as his own.
But someone had shouted "Dinna haver, lassie;
Tommy whispered to Elspeth, "Be still; don't
speak," and he gripped her hand tighter and stared at
the speaker. He was a boy of ten, dressed like a
Londoner, and his companion had disappeared. Tommy
never doubting but that he was the sprite of long ago,
gripped him by the sleeve. All the savings of Elspeth
and himself were in his pocket, and yielding to impulse,
as was his way, he thrust the fivepence halfpenny into
James Gloag's hand. The new millionaire gaped, but
not at his patron, for the why and wherefore of this
gift were trifles to James beside the tremendous fact
that he had fivepence halfpenny. "Almichty me!" he
cried and bolted. Presently he returned, having
deposited his money in a safe place, and his first
remark was perhaps the meanest on record. He held
out his hand and said greedily, "Have you ony
mair ? "
This, you feel certain, must have been the most
important event of that evening, but strange to say, it
was not. Before Tommy could answer James's ques-
tion, a woman in a shawl had pounced upon him and
hurried him and Elspeth out of the street. She had
been standing at a corner looking wistfully at the
window blinds behind which folk from Thrums'passed
to and fro, hiding her face from people in the street,
but gazing eagerly after them. It was Tommy's
mother, whose first free act on coming to London had
been to find out that street, and many a time since then
she had skulked through it or watched it from dark
places, never daring to disclose herself, but sometimes
recognizing familiar faces, sometimes hearing a few
words in the old tongue that is harsh and ungracious to
you, but was so sweet to her, and bearing them away
with her beneath her shawl as if they were something
warm to lay over her cold heart.
For a time she upbraided Tommy passionately for
not keeping away from this street, but soon her hunger
for news of Thrums overcame her prudence, and she
consented to let him go back if he promised never to
tell that his mother came from Thrums. "And if ony-
body wants to ken your name, say it's Tommy, but
dinna let on that it's Tommy Sandys."
"Elspeth," Tommy whispered that night, "I 'm near
sure there's something queer about my mother and me
and you." But he did not trouble himself with won-
dering what the something queer might be, so engrossed
was he in the new and exciting life that had suddenly
opened to him.
THE ENCHANTED STREET
IN Thrums Street, as it ought to have been called,
herded at least one-half of the Thrums folk in London,
and they formed a colony, of which the grocer at the
corner sometimes said wrathfully that not a member
would give sixpence for anything except Bibles or
whiskey. In the streets one could only tell they were
not Londoners by their walk, the flagstones having no
grip for their feet, or, if they had come south late in
life, by their backs, which they carried at the angle on
which webs are most easily supported. When mixing
with the world they talked the English tongue, which
came out of them as broad as if it had been squeezed
through a mangle, but when the day's work was done,
it was only a few of the giddier striplings that remained
Londoners. For the majority there was no raking the
streets after diversion, they spent the hour or two
before bed-time in reproducing the life of Thrums.
Few of them knew much of London except the nearest
way between this street and their work, and their most
interesting visitor was a Presbyterian minister, most of
whose congregation lived in much more fashionable
parts, but they were almost exclusively servant girls,
and when descending area-steps to visit them he had
been challenged often and jocularly by policemen,
which perhaps was what gave him a subdued and
The rooms were furnished mainly with articles bought
in London, but these became as like Thrums dressers
and seats as their owners could make them, old Petey,
for instance, cutting the back off a chair because he
felt most at home on stools. Drawers were used as
baking-boards, pails turned into salt-buckets, floors
were sanded and hearthstones ca'med, and the popular
supper consisted of porter, hot water, and soaked bread,
after every spoonful of which they groaned pleasantly,
and stretched their legs. Sometimes they played at
the dambrod, but more often they pulled down the
blinds on London and talked of Thrums in their mother
tongue. Nevertheless few of them wanted to return to
it, and their favorite joke was the case of James
Gloag's father, who being home-sick flung up his situa-
tion and took train for Thrums, but he was back in
London in three weeks.
Tommy soon had the entry to these homes, and his
first news of the inmates was unexpected. It was that
they were always sleeping. In broad daylight he had
seen Thrums men asleep on beds, and he was somewhat
ashamed of them until he heard the excuse. A number
THE ENCHANTED STREET
of the men from Thrums were bakers, the first emigrant
of this trade having drawn others after him, and they
slept great part of the day to be able to work all night
in a cellar, making nice rolls for rich people. Baker
Lumsden, who became a friend of Tommy, had got his
place in the cellar when his brother died, and the
brother had succeeded Matthew Croall when he died.
They die very soon, Tommy learned from Lumsden,
generally when they are eight and thirty. Lumsden
was thirty-six, and when he died his nephew was to get
the place. The wages are good.
Then there were several masons, one of whom, like
the first baker, had found work for all the others, and
there were men who had drifted into trades strange to
their birthplace, and there was usually one at least who
had come to London to "better himself" and had not
done it as yet. The family Tommy liked best was the
Whamonds, and especially he liked old Petey and young
Petey Whamond. They were a large family of women
and men, all of whom earned their living in other streets,
except the old man, who kept house and was a famous
knitter of stockings, as probably his father had been
before him. He was a great one, too, at telling what
they would be doing at that moment in Thrums, every
corner of which was as familiar to him as the ins and
outs of the family hose. Young Petey got fourteen
shillings a week from a hatter, and one of his duties
was to carry as many as twenty band-boxes at a time
through fashionable streets; it is a matter for elation
that dukes and statesmen ha,d often to take the curb-
stone, because young Petey was coming. Nevertheless
young Petey was not satisfied, and never would be
(such is the Thrums nature) until he became a salesman
in the shop to which he acted at present as fetch and
carry, and he used to tell Tommy that this position
would be his as soon as he could sneer sufficiently at
the old hats. When gentlemen come into the shop and
buy a new hat, he explained, they put it on, meaning
to tell you to send the old one to their address, and the
art of being a fashionable hatter lies in this: you must
be able to curl your lips so contemptuously at the old
hat that they tell you guiltily to keep it, as they have
no further use for it. Then they retire ashamed of
their want of moral courage and you have made an
"But I aye snort," young Petey admitted, "and it
should be done without a sound." When he graduated,
he was to marry Martha Spens, who was waiting for
him at Tillyloss. There was a London seamstress
whom he preferred, and she was willing, but it is safest
to stick to Thrums.
When Tommy was among his new friends a Scotch
word or phrase often escaped his lips, but old Petey
and the others thought he had picked it up from them,
and would have been content to accept him as a London
waif who lived somewhere round the corner. To trick
THE ENCHANTED STREET
people so simply, however, is not agreeable to an artist,
and he told them his name was Tommy Shovel, and
that his old girl walloped him, and his father found
dogs, all which inventions Thrums Street accepted as
true. What is much more noteworthy is that, as he
gave them birth, Tommy half believed them also, being
already the best kind of actor.
Not all the talking was done by Tommy when he
came home with news, for he seldom mentioned a
Thrums name, of which his mother could not tell him
something more. But sometimes she did not choose
to tell, as when he announced that a certain Elspeth
Lindsay, of the Marywellbrae, was dead. After this
she ceased to listen, for old Elspeth had been her
grandmother, and she had now no kin in Thrums.
"Tell me about the Painted Lady," Tommy said to
her. "Is it true she's a witch ?" But Mrs. Sandys
had never heard of any woman so called: the Painted
Lady must have gone to Thrums after her time.
"There ain't no witches now," said Elspeth tremu-
lously; Shovel's mother had told her so.
"Not in London," replied Tommy, with contempt;
and this is all that was said of the Painted Lady then.
It is the first mention of her in these pages.
The people Mrs. Sandys wanted to hear of chiefly
were Aaron Latta and Jean Myles, and soon Tommy
brought news of them, but at the same time he had
heard of the Den, and he said first:
"Oh, mother, I thought as you had told me about
all the beauty places in Thrums, and you ain't never
told me about the Den."
His mother heaved a quick breath. "It 's the only
place I linna telled you o'," she said.
"Had you forget it, mother ?"
Forget the Den Ah, no, Tommy, your mother had
not forgotten the Den.
"And, listen, Elspeth, in the Den there's a bonny
spring of water called the Cuttle Well. Had you for-
got the Cuttle Well, mother ?"
No, no; when Jean Myles forgot the names of her
children she would still remember the Cuttle Well.
Regardless now of the whispering between Tommy and
Elspeth, she sat long over the fire, and it is not difficult
to fathom her thoughts. They were of the Den and the
Into the life of every man, and no woman, there
comes a moment when he learns suddenly that he is
held eligible for marriage. A girl gives him the jag,
and it brings out the perspiration. Of the issue else-
where of this stab with a bodkin let others speak; in
Thrums its commonest effect is to make the callant's
body take a right angle to his legs, for he has been
touched in the fifth button, and he backs away broken-
winded. By and by, however, he is at his work -
among the turnip-shoots, say guffawing and clapping
his corduroys, with pauses for uneasy meditation, and
THE ENCHANTED STREET
there he ripens with the swedes, so that by the back-
end of the year he has discovered, and exults to know,
that the reward of manhood is neither more nor less
than this sensation at the ribs. Soon thereafter, or at
worst, sooner or later (for by holding out he only puts
the women's dander up), he is led captive to the Cuttle
Well. This well has the reputation of being the place
where it is most easily said.
The wooded ravine called the Den is in Thrums
rather than on its western edge, but is so craftily
hidden away that when within a stone's throw you may
give up the search for it; it is also so deep that larks
rise from the bottom and carol overhead, thinking
themselves high in the heavens before they are on a
level with Nether Drumley's farmland. In shape it is
almost a semicircle, but its size depends on you and
the maid. If she be with you, the Den is so large that
you must rest here and there; if you are after her
boldly, "you can dash to the Cuttle Well, which was the
trysting-place, in the time a stout man takes to lace his
boots; if you are of those self-conscious ones who look
behind to see whether jeering blades are following, you
may crouch and wriggle your way onward and not be
with her in half an hour.
Old Petey had told Tommy that, on the whole, the
greatest pleasure in life on a Saturday evening is to
put your back against a stile that leads into the Den
and rally the sweethearts as they go by. The lads,
when they see you, want to go round by the other stile,
but the lasses like it, and often the sport ends spiritedly
with their giving you a clout on the head.
Through the Den runs a tiny burn, and by its side is
a pink path, dyed this pretty color, perhaps, by the
blushes the ladies leave behind them. The burn as it
passes the Cuttle Well, which stands higher and just
out of sight, leaps in vain to see who is making that
cooing noise, and the well, taking the spray for kisses,
laughs all day at Romeo, who cannot get up. Well is
a name it must have given itself, for it is only a spring
in the bottom of a basinful of water, where it makes
about as much stir in the world as a minnow jumping
at a fly. They say that if a boy, by making a bowl of
his hands, should suddenly carry off all the water, a
quick girl could thread her needle at the spring. But
it is a spring that will not wait a moment.
Men who have been lads in Thrums sometimes go
back to it from London or from across the seas, to look
again at some battered little house and feel the blasts
of their bairnhood playing through the old wynds, and
they may take with them a foreign wife. They show
her everything, except the Cuttle Well; they often go
there alone. The well is sacred to the memory of first
love. You may walk from the well to the round ceme-
tery in ten minutes. It is a common walk for those
who go back.
First love is but a boy and girl playing at the Cuttle
THE ENCHANTED STREET
Well with a bird's egg. They blow it on one summer
evening in the long grass, and on the next it is borne
away on a coarse laugh, or it breaks beneath the burden
of a tear. And yet I once saw an aged woman, a
widow of many years, cry softly at mention of the
Cuttle Well. "John was a good man to you," I said,
for John had been her husband. "He was a leal man
to me," she answered with wistful eyes, "ay, he was a
leal man to me but it wasna John I was thinking o'.
You dinna ken what makes me greet so sair," she
added, presently, and though I thought I knew now I
was wrong. "It's because I canna mind his name,"
So the Cuttle Well has its sad memories and its
bright ones, and many of the bright memories have
become sad with age, as so often happens to beautiful
things, but the most mournful of all is the story of
Aaron Latta and Jean Myles. Beside the well there
stood for long a great pink stone, called the Shoaging
Stone, because it could be rocked like a cradle, and on
it lovers used to cut their names. Often Aaron Latta
and Jean Myles sat together on the Shoaging Stone,
and then there came a time when it bore these words,
cut by Aaron Latta:
HERE LIES THE MANHOOD OF AARON LATTA,
A FOND SON, A FAITHFUL FRIEND AND A TRUE-LOVER,
WHO VIOLATED THE FEELINGS OF SEX ON
THIS SPOT, AND IS NOW THE SOUNNER OF GOD AND MAN.
Tommy's mother now heard these words for the first
time, Aaron having cut them on the stone after she left
Thrums, and her head sank at each line, as if someone
had struck four blows at her.
The stone was no longer at the Cuttle Well. As the
easiest way of obliterating the words, the minister had
ordered it to be broken, and of the pieces another
mason had made stands for watches, one of which was
now in Thrums Street.
Aaron Latta ain't a mason now," Tommy rattled
on: "he is a warper, because he can warp in his own
house without looking on mankind or speaking to
mankind. Auld Petey said he minded the day when
Aaron Latta was a merry loon, and then Andrew
McVittie said, God behears, to think that Aaron Latta
was ever a merry man!' and Baker Lumsden said,
'Curse her! '"
His mother shrank in her chair, but said nothing,
and Tommy explained: "It was Jean Myles he was
cursing; did you ken her, mother ? she ruined Aaron
"Ay, and wha ruined Jean Myles's life ?" his mother
Tommy did not know, but he thought that young
Petey might know, for young Petey had said: "If I
had been. Jean Myles I would have spat in Aaron's face
rather than marry him."
Mrs. Sandys seemed pleased to hear this.
THE ENCHANTED STREET
"They wouldna tell me what it were she did,"
Tommy went on; "they said it was ower ugly a story,
but she were a bad one, for they stoned her out of
Thrums. I dinna know where she is now, but she were
stoned out of Thrums! "
"No alane ?"
"There was a man with her, and his name was it
was -- "
His mother clasped her hands nervously while Tommy
tried to remember the name. "His name was Magerful
Tam," he said at length.
"Ay," said his mother, knitting her teeth, "that was
"I dinna mind any more," Tommy concluded. "Yes,
I mind they aye called Aaron Latta Poor Aaron
"Did they ? I warrant, though, there wasna one as
said Poor Jean Myles ? "
She began the question in a hard voice, but as she
said "Poor Jean Myles something caught in her
throat, and she sobbed, painful dry sobs.
"How could they pity her when she were such a bad
one ?" Tommy answered briskly.
"Is there none to pity bad ones ?" said his sorrowful
Elspeth plucked her by the skirt. "There's God,
ain't there ?" she said, inquiringly, and getting no
answer she flopped upon her knees, to say a babyish
74 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY
prayer that would sound comic to anybody except to
Him to whom it was addressed.
"You ain't praying for a woman as was a disgrace to
Thrums !" Tommy cried, jealously, and he was about
to raise her by force, when his mother stayed his hand.
"Let her alane," she said, with a twitching mouth
and filmy eyes. "Let her alane. Let my bairn pray
for Jean Myles."
"LET HER ALANE. LET MY BAIRN PRAY FOR JEAN MYLES"
.I aBI % a:-" f ** y "
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY
"JEAN MYLES bides in London was the next remark-
able news brought by Tommy from Thrums Street.
"And that ain't all, Magerful Tam is her man; and that
ain't all, she has a laddie called Tommy ; and that ain't
all, Petey and the rest has never seen her in London, but
she writes letters to Thrums folks and they writes to
Petey and tells him what she said. That ain't all neither,
they canna find ou' .hat street she bides in, but it 's on
the bonny side of London, and it's grand, and she wears
silk clothes, and her Tommy has velvet trousers, and
they have a servant as calls him 'sir.' Oh, I would just
like to kick him They often looks for her in the grand
streets, but they're angry at her getting on so well, and
Martha Scrymgeour said it were enough to make good
women like her stop going regular to the kirk."
"Martha said that!" exclaimed his mother, highly
pleased. Heard you anything of a woman called
Esther Auld ? Her man does the orra work at the
Tappit Hen public in Thrums."
"He's head man at the Tappit Hen public now," an-
swered Tommy; "and she wishes she could find out
where Jean Myles bides, so as she could write and tell
her that she is grand too, and has six hair-bottomed
She '11 never get the satisfaction," said his mother
triumphantly. Tell me more about her."
She has a laddie called Francie, and he has yellow
curl., and she nearly greets because she canna tell Jean
Myles that he goes to a school for the children of gentle-
men only. She is so mad when she gets a letter from
Jean Myles that she takes to her bed."
"Yea, yea!" said Mrs. Sandys cheerily.
"But they think Jean Myles has been brought low at
last," continued Tommy, because she hasna wrote for
i. long time to Thrums, and Esther Auld said that if she
knowed for certain as Jean Myles had been brought low,
she would put a threepenny bit in the kirk plate."
"I'm glad you've telled me that, laddie," said Mrs.
Sandys, and next day, unknown to her children, she
wrote another letter She knew she ran a risk of dis-
covery, yet it was probable that Tommy would only hear
her referred to in Thrums Street by her maiden name,
which he had never heard from her, and as for her hus-
band he had been Magerful Tam to everyone. The risk
was great, but the pleasure -
Unsuspicious Tommy soon had news of another letter
from Jean Myles, which had sent Esther Auld to bed
"Instead of being brought low," he announced, "Jean
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY
Myles is grander than ever. Her Tommy has a gov-
That would be a doush of water in Esther's face ?"
his mother said, smiling.
She wrote to Martha Scrymgeour," said Tommy,
"that it ain't no pleasure to her now to boast as her
laddie is at a school for gentlemen's children only. But
what made her maddest was a bit in Jean Myles's letter
about chairs. Jean Myles has give all her hair-bot-
tomed chairs to a poor woman and buyed a new kind,
because hair-bottomed ones ain't fashionable now. So
Esther Auld can't not bear the sight of her chairs now,
though she were windy of them till the letter went to
"Poor Esther !" said Mrs. Sandys gaily.
Oh, and I forgot this, mother. Jean Myles's reason
for not telling where she bides in London is that she 's
so grand that she thinks if auld Petey and the rest
knowed where the place was they would visit her and
boast as they was her friends. Auld Petey stamped wi'
rage when he heard that, and Martha Scrymgeour said,
'Oh, the pridefu' limmer!' "
"Ay, Martha," muttered Mrs. Sandys, "you and Jean
Myles is evens now."
But the passage that had made them all wince the
most was one giving Jean's reasons for making no calls
in Thrums Street. "You can break it to Martha Scrym-
geour's father and mither," the letter said, "and to
Petey Whamond's sisters and the rest as has friends in
London, that I have seen no Thrums faces here, the low
part where they bide not being for the like of me to file
my feet in. Forby that, I could not let my son mix with
their bairns for fear they should teach him the vulgar
Thrums words and clarity his blue-velvet suit. I'm
thinking you have to dress your laddie in corduroy,
Esther, but you see that would not do for mine. So no
more at present, and we all join in compliments, and my
little velvets says he wishes I would send some of his
toys to your little corduroys. And so maybe I will,
Esther, if you'll tell Aaron Latta how rich and happy I
am, and if you're feared to say it to his face, tell it to the
roaring farmer of Double Dykes, and he'll pass it on."
"Did you ever hear of such a woman?" Tommy said
indignantly, when he had repeated as much of this insult
to Thrums as he could remember.
But it was information his mother wanted.
What said they to that bit ?" she asked.
At first, it appears, they limited their comments to
"Losh, losh," "keeps a'," "it cows," "my certie," "ay,
ay," "sal, tal," dagont" (the meaning of which is
obvious). But by and by they recovered their breath,
and then Baker Lumsden said, wonderingly :
Wha that was at her marriage could have thought it
would turn out so weel ? It was an eerie marriage that,
"Ay, man, you may say so," old Petey answered. "I
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY
was there; I was one o' them as went in ahint Aaron
Latta, and I 'm no' likely to forget it."
"I wasna there," said the baker, "but I was standing
at the door, and I saw the hearse drive up."
What did they mean, mother ? Tommy asked, but
she shuddered and replied, evasively, "Did Martha
Scrymgeour say anything ? "
She said such a lot," he had to confess, that I dinna
mind none on it. But I mind what her father in Thrums
wrote to her; he wrote to her that if she saw a carriage
go by, she was to keep her eyes on the ground, for likely
as not Jean Myles would be in it, and she thought as
they was all dirt beneath her feet. But Kirsty Ross -
who is she ?"
"She 's Martha's mother. What about her ?"
"She wrote at the end of the letter that Martha was
to hang on ahint the carriage and find out where Jean
Laddie, that was like Kirsty Heard you what the
roaring farmer o' Double Dykes said ? "
No, Tommy had not heard him mentioned. And in-
deed the roaring farmer of Double Dykes had said
nothing. He was already lying very quiet on the south
side of the cemetery.
Tommy's mother's next question cost her a painful
effort. "Did you hear," she asked, "whether they telled
Aaron Latta about the letter ? "
"Yes, they telled him," Tommy replied, "and he said
a queer thing; he said, 'Jean Myles is dead, I was at
her coffining.' That's what he aye says when they tell
him there's another letter. I wonder what he means,
I wonder !" she echoed, faintly. The only pleasure
left her was to raise the envy of those who had hooted
her from Thrums, but she paid a price for it. Many a
stab she had got from the unwitting Tommy as he re-
peated the gossip of his new friends, and she only won
their envy at the cost of their increased ill-will. They
thought she was lording it in London, and so they were
merciless; had they known how poor she was and how
ill, they would have forgotten everything save that she
was a Thrummy like themselves, and there were few but
would have shared their all with her. But she did not
believe this, and therefore you may pity her, for the
hour was drawing near, and she knew it, when she must
appeal to some one for her children's sake, not for her
No, not for her own. When Tommy was wandering
the pretty parts of London with James Gloag and other
boys from Thrums Street in search of Jean Myles, whom
they were to know by her carriage and her silk dress and
her son in blue velvet, his mother was in bed with bron-
chitis in the wretched room we know of, or creeping to
the dancing school, coughing all the way.
Some of the fits of coughing were very near being her
last, but she wrestled with her trouble, seeming at times
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY
to stifle it, and then for weeks she managed to go to her
-work, which was still hers, because Shovel's old girl did
it for her when the bronchitis would not be defied.
Shovel's old slattern gave this service unasked and with-
out payment; if she was thanked it was ungraciously, but
she continued to do all she could when there was need;
she smelled of gin, but she continued to do all she
The wardrobe had been put upon its back on the floor,
and so converted into a bed for Tommy and Elspeth, who
were sometimes wakened in the night by a loud noise,
which alarmed them until they learned that it was only
the man in the next room knocking angrily on the wall
because their mother's cough kept him from sleeping.
Tommy knew what death was now, and Elspeth knew
its name, and both were vaguely aware that it was look-
ing for their mother; but if she could only hold out till
Hogmanay, Tommy said, they would fleg it out of the
house. Hogmanay is the mighty winter festival of
Thrums, and when it came round these two were to give
their mother a present that would make her strong. It
was not to be a porous plaster. Tommy knew now of
something better than that.
"And I knows too!" Elspeth gurgled, and I has
threepence already, I has."
Whisht !" said Tommy, in an agony of dread, "she
hears you, and she '11 guess. We ain't speaking of noth-
ing to give to you at Hogmanay," he said to his mother
with great cunning. Then he winked at Elspeth and
said, with his hand over his mouth, "I hinna twopence! "
and Elspeth, about to cry in fright, "Have you spended
it ? saw the joke and crowed instead, "Nor yet has I
They smirked together, until Tommy saw a change
come over Elspeth's face, which made him run her out-
side the door.
You was a-going to pray !" he said, severely.
"'Cos it was a lie, Tommy. I does have threepence."
"Well, you ain't a-going to get praying about it. She
would hear yer."
I would do it low, Tommy."
She would see yer."
1 "Oh, Tommy, let me. God is angry with me."
Tommy looked down the stair, and no one was in
sight. "I'll let yer pray here," he whispered, "and you
can say I have twopence. But be quick, and do it
Perhaps Mrs. Sandys had been thinking that when
Hogmanay came her children might have no mother to
bring presents to, for on their return to the room her
eyes followed them wofully, and a shudder of apprehen-
sion shook her torn frame. Tommy gave Elspeth a look
that meant "I'm sure there 's something queer about
There was also something queer about himself, which
at this time had the strangest gallop. It began one day
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY
with a series of morning calls from Shovel, who suddenly
popped his head over the top of the door (he was stand-
ing on the handle), roared "Roastbeef! in the manner
of a railway porter announcing the name of a station,
and then at once withdrew.
He returned presently to say that vain must be all
attempts to wheedle his secret from him, and yet again
to ask irritably why Tommy was not coming out to hear
all about it. Then did Tommy desert Elspeth, and on
the stair Shovel showed him a yellow card with this
printed on it: S. R. J. C. Supper Ticket;" and writ-
ten beneath, in a lady's hand: "Admit Joseph Salt."
The letters, Shovel explained, meant Society for the
something of Juvenile Criminals, and the toffs what ran
it got hold of you when you came out of quod. Then if
you was willing to repent they wrote down your name
and the place what you lived at in a book, and one of
them came to see yer and give yer a ticket for the blow-
out night. This was blow-out night, and that were
Shovel's ticket. He had bought it from Hump Salt for
fourpence. What you get at the blow-out was roast-
beef, plum-duff, and an orange; but when Hump saw
the fourpence he could not wait.
A favor was asked of Tommy. Shovel had been told
by Hump that it was the custom of the toffs to sit beside
you and question you about your crimes, and lacking the
imagination that made Tommy such an ornament to the
house, the chances were that he would flounder in his
answers and be ejected. Hump had pointed this out
to him after pocketing the fourpence. Would Tommy,
therefore, make up things for him to say; reward, the
This was a proud moment for Tommy, as Shovel's
knowledge of crime was much more extensive than his
own, though they had both studied it in the pictures of a
lively newspaper subscribed to by Shovel, senior. He
became patronizing at once and rejected the orange as
Then suppose, after he got into the hall, Shovel dropped
his ticket out at the window; Tommy could pick it up,
and then it would admit him also.
Tommy liked this, but foresaw a danger: the ticket
might be taken from Shovel at the door, just as they
took them from you at that singing thing in the church
he had attended with young Petey.
So help Shovel's davy, there was no fear of this.
They were superior toffs, what trusted to your honor.
Would Shovel swear to this ?
But would he swear dagont ?
He swore dagont; and then Tommy had him. As he
was so sure of it, he could not object to Tommy's being
the one who dropped the ticket out at the window ?
Shovel did object for a time, but after a wrangle he
gave up the ticket, intending to take it from Tommy
when primed with the necessary tale. So they parted
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 85
until evening, and Tommy returned to Elspeth, secretive
but elated. For the rest of the day he was in thought,
now waggling his head smugly over some dark, unutter-
able design and again looking a little scared. In grow-
ing alarm she watched his face, and at last she slipped
upon her knees, but he had her up at once and said,
"It were me as reached yer to pray, and now yer prays
for me! That's fine treatment!"
Nevertheless, after his mother's return, just before
he stole out to join Shovel, he took Elspeth aside and
whispered to her, nervously :
"You can pray for me if you like, for, oh, Elspeth,
I 'm thinking as I '11 need it sore !" And sore he needed
it before the night was out.
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS
"I LOVE my dear father and my dear mother and all
the dear little kids at 'ome. You are a kind laidy or
gentleman. I love yer. I will never do it again, so
help me bob. Amen."
This was what Shovel muttered to himself again and
again as the two boys made their way across the lamp-
lit Hungerford Bridge, and Tommy asked him what it
. "My old gal learned me that; she's deep," Shovel
said, wiping the words off his mouth with his sleeve.
But you got no kids at 'ome !" remonstrated Tommy.
(Ameliar was now in service.)
Shovel turned on him with the fury of a mother pro-
tecting her young. "Don't you try for to knock none
on it out," he cried, and again fell a-mumbling.
Said Tommy, scornfully: "If you says it all out at
one bang you '11 be done at the start."
"And you should blubber when yer says it," added
Tommy, who could laugh or cry merely because other
people were laughing or crying, or even with less reason,
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS
and so naturally that he found it more difficult to stop
than to begin. Shovel was the taller by half a head,
and irresistible with his fists, but to-night Tommy was
"You jest stick to me, Shovel," he said airily. "Keep
a grip on my hand, same as if yer was Elspeth."
"But what was we copped for, Tommy ?" entreated
Tommy asked him if he knew what a butler was, and
Shovel remembered, confusedly, that there had been a
portrait of a butler in his father's news-sheet.
Well, then," said Tommy, inspired by this same
source, "there 's a room a butler has, and it is a pantry,
so you and me we crawled through the winder and we
opened the door to the gang. You and me was copped.
They watched you below the table and me stabbing the
"It was me what stabbed the butler," Shovel inter-
"How could you do it, Shovel ?"
"With a knife, I tell yer "
"Why, you didn't have no knife," said Tommy,
This crushed Shovel, but he growled sulkily:
Well, I bit him in the leg."
Not you," said selfish Tommy. "You forgets about
repenting, and if I let yer bite him, you would brag
about it. It's safer without, Shovel."
Perhaps it was. "How long did I get in quod, then,
Tommy ? "
So did you ? Shovel said, with quick anxiety.
"I got a month," replied Tommy, firmly.
Shovel roared a word that would never have admitted
him to the hall. Then, "I 'm as game as you, and
gamer," he whined.
"But I'm better at repenting. I tell yer, I'll cry
when I'm repenting." Tommy's face lit up, and Shovel
could not help saying, with a curious look at it:
"You you ain't like any other cove I knows," to
which Tommy replied, also in an awestruck voice:
"I'm so queer, Shovel, that when I thinks 'bout
myself I'm I'm sometimes near feared."
"What makes your face for to shine like that ? Is it
thinking about the blow-out ? "
No, it was hardly that, but Tommy could not tell
what it was. He and the saying about art for art's sake
were in the streets that night, looking for each other.
The splendor of the brightly lighted hall, which was
situated in one of the meanest streets of perhaps the
most densely populated quarter in London, broke upon
the two boys suddenly and hit each in his vital part,
tapping an invitation on Tommy's brain-pan and taking
Shovel coquettishly in the stomach. Now was the
moment when Shovel meant to strip Tommy of the ticket,
but the spectacle in front dazed him, and he stopped to