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THE WAIF OF BOUNDERS' RENTS
M. B. MANWELL
Author of 'Little Miiss,' 'The Bents of Battersby' etc.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 PATERNOSTER ROW AND 65 ST PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
BUTLER & TANNER,
THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS
FROM, AND LONDON.
A GOOD SAMARITAN
'A MINISTERING ANGEL'
THE DAWN OF 'SWEETNESS AND LIGHT'
HIS FOOT ON THE LADDER .
A CRUEL WRONG .
A RIGHTED WRONG
THE WAIF OF BOUNDERS' RENTS
A GOOD SAMARITAN
'Y1OU can't say as you'll hold out any hopes, then,
(C sir ?'
:"-' 'No, Mrs. Mullins, I can't say that I can.
The poor young thing is sinking rapidly !'
The two voices were low and grave, for it was of
the chances of a human life about which they were
whispering. The kind-eyed little doctor, who stood
in the narrow passage drawing on his gloves, was
accustomed to, though not hardened by, many similar
sorrowful scenes in his daily practice. But even he
felt that the episode upstairs, in the quiet little top-
back room, was more than ordinarily pathetic. Only,
as Dr. Trench could see for himself, there were in
this case no hearts to be broken by the end that was
creeping on so steadily; perhaps that fact but added
to the pathos.
8 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
'You're a kind, good soul, Mrs. Mullins, I know of
old, and there's nothing for you to do but be tender
with her. Give her anything she asks for; it won't be
for long now.'
The doctor and the landlady looked at each other.
Then, the latter pinching up a corner of her apron,
hid her eyes for a second.
'Well, sir, I'll do my best for the poor dear. I've
tried to do that, indeed, sincever she cored to lodge
here, and that's six months agone. You remember,
sir, 'twas jes' when my Tommy was took ?'
'Ah, yes, poor little chap!' The little London
doctor, so popular in Bounders' Rents-in which
crowded, dreary district much of his practice lay
-had the knack of remembering each individual
trouble among its masses of struggling human beings.
He never confused the poor woman's boy, lost
awhile' from her earthly sight, with that other
mother's black sheep who had strayed away into
some sore worldly trouble. He never made those
thoughtless mistakes that are silent wounds in
'And there's the baby, sir, he seems like enough
to thrive,-more's the pity, perhaps, seeing his pore
mother is bound to leave him behind.'
'We must never say that, Mrs. Mullins.' The little
doctor spoke up with unexpected decision. 'You
A Good Samaritan
forget in whose hands are the issues of life and death.
It's a monstrous way for a Christian to talk.'
'Well, sir,'-Mrs. Mullins looked abashed,-' so it
be, I allow that. But when I thinks o' my Tommy
tore away from me that would work till I dropped
for the blessed little darlin', it do seem hard that
here's this other innercent child to b6- left mother-
less and friendless. There, I 'can't understand it
You're not expected to understand it. All you've
got to do is to believe that there's a God above us
who understands what He is doing with His crea-
tures. To doubt that is to shipwreck your own soul.
To believe it is to gain that peace of God which
the world cannot take away.' The last words were
spoken in an undertone, as if to the speaker's self.
Then raising his voice, he went on: 'Well, Mrs.
Mullins, if there be any immediate change, you can
send round to let me know.' And the little doctor
pushing open a door hurried through the small shop
into the busy street beyond, and was lost in the
crowd of passers-by.
Medical men more than others are brought face to
face daily with the sorrowful side of life, and, all
honour to the profession, no one can deny that in
them is seldom lacking a never-failing well of sym-
pathy for what we now call trouble and affliction, but
10 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
which we shall by-and-by know has been our needful
schooling. In addition to a sympathetic heart,
Thomas Trench was a Christian in the fullest sense.
It was years since he had given up himself, unre-
servedly, to God's guiding, and he had a bountiful re-
ward for so doing in that tranquil peace that follows,
and in the comfort of feeling himself borne upon the
swift current of life by a power to be abundantly
trusted in storm as well as in shine. His life, in its
single-hearted love to God, was as a shining gold
thread woven in and out of the gloomy, sad-coloured
woof of teeming humanity among which his lot was
cast. His professional brethren, dashing hither and
thither, smiled compassionately at the earnest-eyed
little 'walking doctor' who tramped his daily rounds.
But possibly Thomas Trench's life, though it looked
so poor and paltry, was fair to see in the purer eyes of
One who regarded it from heaven above.
'God bless him !' said Mrs. Mullins as she watched
him from the shop door, her arms akimbo. And
perhaps many such prayers followed the busy,
kindly healer of men in his going in and out that
Mrs. Mullins' shop was in reality but half a shop,
the other half being occupied by a different tenant.
The two shop windows presented a curious contrast
.to outsiders. That of the good-humoured, brick-dust-
A Good Samaritan I I
coloured landlady of the tall, narrow house was set
out in a neat, compact array of womanly needs, from
buttons and tapes to pinafores and frocks. Its panes
of glass were always shining bright, and the goods
carefully dusted. There was the air of being quite
ready that some things and some folk have about
The window on the other side of the door, on the
contrary, was so dimmed with grimy dust that the
goods exhibited in the interior were not visible
enough to invite critical inspection. Daddy Jeffs,
the owner of the violins and the queer old-world
musical instruments, some of which puzzled even
himself as to their use and meaning, was a dealer in
curiosities. But as it was not exactly a bread-winning
trade in that particular neighbourhood, old Jeffs, the
queer, bent, hook-nosed old proprietor, was acute
enough to supplement his stock by tobacco and pipes
of shape and hue both ancient and modern. Need-
less to say, the customers, who dropped in plentifully
enough during the evenings, were chiefly attracted
by the latter commodities.
There was a history attached to the odd twin-
shop. A few years back there had been a terrible
fire in Bounders' Rents, and one of the gallant fire-
men lost his life in it, leaving a widow and a boy
penniless. From the nature of the disaster there
12 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
was a sudden wave of popular sympathy, and every-
body was eager to help on, in some way, the un-
fortunate widow Mullins. A popular preacher in a
more prosperous neighbourhood undertook to re-
present the case to his congregation. He did so in
a sermon which touched the hearts of his listeners
to the quick, and opened their purses to such an
extent that the kindly man was able, with the sum
he had collected, to establish Mrs. Mullins in a
modest but tolerably secure way of living. The
widow was of an industrious, orderly nature, and
when her tears were dried she decided on letting the
other side of her shop as well as the upper rooms of
the house rented for her. But the angel of death
came on another visit to the little home. 'The only
son of his mother, and she was a widow,' next was
beckoned away, and Mrs. Mullins found herself
childless. Distracted, she would scarcely have fought
through the fresh trouble but for the loving, sympa-
thising kindness of the lodger in the top-back room,
who now herself lay at the point of death.
It was still and quiet in the little top room where
the young mother on the bed lay drifting out of life
patiently, meekly. When Mrs. Mullins, who was
stout and short of breath, climbed slowly upstairs
after the doctor's departure, she glanced fearfully
across the room at the motionless, still form.
SA Good Samaritan 13
'My dear, you're not sleeping be you?' she
'No, oh no!' It was a gentle voice, but the owner
was too weak to turn more than her eyes towards
the opening door. 'I'm glad you've come up,'
went on the invalid faintly. 'I want to see my
'Surely, dear heart!' Mrs. Mullins bustled across
to the wooden cradle. 'Pretty dear, if he ain't lyin'
wide-awake, starin' at nothing' with them blue eyes of
his, quiet as quiet! There now, mother's own, isn't
he a real beauty?' Holding the human morsel
close to the occupant of the bed, she asked anxiously:
'Can't 'ee hold him, dear?'
'I must try,' was the halting answer. 'Just for
this once I must hold him in my arms.' With an
effort that brought a streak of red into the pale face,
the young mother held her child in her weak arms.
In her dim blue eyes was a world of hungry love as
she gazed and gazed into the tiny, round, pink face
so close to her own.
'Manikin! Do you really belong to me? Tell
me, are you my own boy? I can't believe it. I
could have known how to be happy again, if I
might but have stayed on earth with your little self.
But it is not to be, I feel that. Even for you I
must not stay!' There was a strangled sob, and
I4 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
Mrs. Mullins hastily put her strong, firm arms round
to support the frail figure.
'Don't 'ee, deary While there's life there's hope.
God is so good to us all; mayhap He will spare 'ee
to the dear lamb that needs his mother sorely.'
'Take him! I can't hold him up any longer!'
came the panting interruption. Then, as the sufferer
sank back, she added, 'Don't I know that God is
good? Who should know it better than I ? All
my life long He has held me up, and He is very
near now, so close!' There was a little silence.
The landlady stood swaying to and fro, holding the
infant as she watched the pallid face with anxiety.
Presently the large blue eyes, so like those of the
Mrs. Mullins, I want to ask you to take charge
of the brown pocket-book I spoke of. It is in that
drawer, the one to the left. You will keep it until
the baby is able to read well, and then he will know
all about himself.'
l'll do that, deary; you've my solemn word for
that! was the unsteadily spoken answer.
And-and you must have him called Guy.
Will you remember that name-Guy? It was his
father's. If-if I had lived, he would have been
Manikin!' The speaker stretched out a hand to
stroke the baby's cheek softly.
A Good Samaritan 5
'And Manikin he shall be. I'll never call him
aught else. And while I've a roof over my head,
and a crust to bite, he shall share both. I shouldn't
expect to thrive in this world if so be as I didn't
promise that much, after all as you did for me and
mine. 'Tain't likely as I'd ever forget as my Tommy
died in your arms, and me like a mad woman,
that distraught wi' grief I couldn't watch his last
'You've more than repaid me already,' languidly
said the spent voice from the bed.
A dreary silence followed. 'Pore dear,' thought
Mrs. Mullins, 'she do talk to a body same's she wor
a born duchess, and maybe-who knows ?-she's a
lady. Her bits o' things are that neat and straight
and there's a look about 'em as if they belonged to
different flesh and blood from us poor folk. An' so
fussy always about washin' an' brushin' as I never
see. Ah, well, we shan't never know now what's bin
the poor soul's life-story Her time's close at hand,
there's little doubt! '
Twenty-four hours later, Mrs. Mullins sat in her
little back room behind the shop. On her lap lay
the youngest lodger in the house, the baby who had
moved down from the little top room in the grey
dawn, the blue eyes of the baby's mother closed for
all time upon this world.
16 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
A week later that same top room was to let, and
Daddy Jeffs sat in his musty, dusty twin-shop
pondering over a certain problem regarding it.
Daddy Jeffs was neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, so to
say. To look at, he was distinctly a Jew, with his
hooked nose, his close-set, beady black eyes, his
sleek oily hair, and beard that ought to have been
grey long years since, judging by his wrinkles,
and halting, stooped gait. The truth was this.
His mother, a Jewess, had married a Christian.
But the traditions of her race had been too strong
for her, and Leah Jeffs in time broke away from
husband and home, and fled with her boy, Moses,
back to her own people, among whom she brought
the child up. Thus Daddy Jeffs was as nearly as
he could be a pure Jew. As to religion, he was
neither Jew nor Gentile, being utterly godless. He
owned neither wife nor child, and if he had savings
they were hidden from the eye and' the knowledge
alike of man. Outwardly, all he had accumulated
was the grimy dust of years that covered, as with a
mantle, every inch of his skin. Even in Bounders'
Rents he was conspicuous for griminess. But deep
down through the outer wrappings of dust the old
man had his feelings. He loved quiet, and he lacked
it. The dark, dreary room behind his shop was the
reverse of comfortable.
A Good Samaritan
Not that daddy was troubled in any wise by the
grime and the crowd of all sorts and conditions of
'properties' which he had scraped up in his time.
It was the boys of the neighbourhood who made
life irksome for him. In a sense Daddy Jeffs brought
boys on himself, as we bring most of our earthly
woes. He spent the chief part of his days in hug-
ging to himself an antique violin, the priceless value
of which he alone in Bounders' Rents understood.
The strains he drew from out the mellow wood were
no more to the rough, uncultured ears of the Rents
than the harsh squeaks of the raw new timber,
fashioned in a like shape, sold in the toyshop close
by. All the same, the melodies of Daddy Jeffs
never failed to draw round the dark back window
a shouting, tumbling crowd of rough lads and boys.
Hearing was not enough for this audience; they
must also see, so the panes of glass were broken,
that they might watch the performer. Not that
daddy in his unlovely person was a spectacle to
reward the lookers-in.
'A walking' skillington, I calls 'im,' Mrs. Mullins
would remark in confidence to Miss Sparkes, who
superintended the restraint where the neighbour-
hood obtained seasonable delicacies, such as eel pies
'Well, ma'am,' responded Miss Sparkes, 'we all
18 Tke Waif of Bounders' Rents
knows as a Jew can't change his natur' no more'n
a camel can, nor a leper neither, as the Book itself
'That's true, Miss Sparkes, ma'am!'
Mrs. Mullins was church, while Miss Sparkes was
chapel, but neither good ladies could pick holes in
each other's rendering of the Scriptures. But slip-
shod as was their interpretation, both being God-
fearing women, the meaning was the right one in
their simple hearts-which suffices.
'Talkin' of Jews,' resumed Miss Sparkes, in the
irrelevant fashion of her sex, 'how's the little Chris-
tian thrivin', ma'am ?'
Pore little dear,' rejoined Mrs. Mullins, resting
her arms upon her basket, which stood on the coun-
ter, for a further chat, 'ee's doin' wonderful. Don't
seem to miss her or anything. Never see such a
baby for sleeping! '
'But however do'ee manage to leave the child
alone, when you're out for a bit of marketing? asked
the spinster of the matron.
'Oh, Mr. Jeffs he sees to the little dear for me.
He brings his fiddle into my room, and plays away
to hisself with one eye on the cradle.'
'You don't say so!' Miss Sparkes let fall her
ham knife in amaze. 'I couldn't ha' thought it of
A Good Samaritan 19
Nevertheless it was true, that as Daddy Jeffs
played away to the tune of his own thoughts, he
kept a corner of those same thoughts for the tiny
shaver who slept so peacefully in the wooden cradle.
The question that exercised the old man's mind
was whether he should or should not hire the top-
back room, now tenantless, as a refuge from his
tiresome enemies, the boys of the Rents. It would
be a haven of rest for himself and his fiddle; but,
on the other hand, his other earthly treasure would
be cut off from him by the length of the staircase,
and thus at the mercy of who knew what thieves
and robbers. No! Rest was sweet, but it might be
too costly. Daddy must stick to his grim retreat,
in spite of the 'limbs' of the Rents.
'To think you'll grow up to be sich!' Daddy
laid down his bow tenderly, as though it were a
living thing, and gazed at the tiny, round, pink face
of the human bundle that had begun to stir in the
cradle. 'Yes, you're a boy, you are. I couldn't call
you wuss-could I now?'
A prompt gurgle from the cradle seemed to ac-
quiesce, and daddy stooped forward impulsively to
gingerly touch the tiny face. As he did so, the
small waxen fingers that were opening and shutting
restlessly closed on his own grimy black finger, as
if a prize were found. Something, the old man
20 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
knew not what,-perhaps it was his heart,-stirred
at the velvet-soft grasp; something that presently
welled up into the keen eyes gleaming under the
grizzled, overhanging thatches of eyebrows.
'Poor little shaver!' muttered the old man, in
whom all the springs of compassion and mercy
and charity had dried up long ago. 'Poor little,
lonely chap! It seems hard, it do, that you should
be left to fight your way from the cradle. Hold
on, that's right!' as the soft grasp tightened over
its prize. 'It must have bin a bad wrench for that
poor soul to have to leave you behind. A sensible,
well-favoured woman she was. She knew a Strad."
the minute she saw and heard it, which is more than
any one else in Bounders' Rents could do. Ah,
she'd seen better days, I'll wager. There's a deal
of locked-up life histories in London Town, one
'Deary me, how be us getting' on, Mr. Jeffs?' a
cheery voice broke in, and the mistress of the house
entered.. 'I got a bit of a fright, what with no
fiddlin' to be heard as I comed in.'
'Aha! Well, you see, Mrs. Mullins, I'm not to
say a free member of society. I've been taken into
custody by this young lodger o' yours, ma'am.
'Well, now, to be sure!' A rush of tears filled
A Good Samaritan 21
the widow's eyes as she bent forward, and presently
the twin-shopkeepers were seated on either side of
the wooden cradle talking over the baby's prospects
and the baby's dead mother.
O, Mr. Jeffs she was nice as nice, poor dear
Mrs. Wolcott; but one never got no nearer,
for all the six months she wor under this roof.
From the fust day as she came I was able to keep
her in needlework for my customers, and that's
how she earned the crusts as kep' her alive, and no
more, for I needn't tell you, Mr. Jeffs, as a needle-
woman's pay is that shameful low, 'tis a sort of
stoopin' one's natur' to take it at all. Not that I'm
one to complain; I never does, not if 'twas ever so.
An' I'm sure I never kep' back a penny from the
pore dear, though sich was only my due, as go-
between; she 'ad all the customers giv'. It's always
bin my motter : Do as you'd be done by, which
that's putting' our Lord's command into plain Eng-
'But didn't you never get at who she was, or her
people ? asked daddy, caressing his Strad. softly.
'No, I didn't, never; she was that close. Even
when she was a-goin', she only spoke of the brown
pocket-book which that was to be kep' till the dear
babe could read, and then he'd know all about his-
'Where is it-that brown pocket-book ?' inquisi-
tively asked Daddy Jeffs.
'Locked up where it'll stay,' curtly rejoined Mrs.
Mullins. She might be the most good-natured
woman in Bounders' Rents, but she knew the differ-
ence between right and wrong, between a promise
kept to the letter and a promise broken, Jesuit-wise,
as a means to a laudable end. 'I ain't a-goin' to pry
into it, once for all,' she added conclusively.
'Didn't she leave nothing' but that pocket-book ?'
inquired daddy presently; and, not to look too
curious, he lifted the violin lying across his thread-
bare knees, and gently fingered it up and down..
'Well,' said Mrs. Mullins, 'there's her things, just
a few clothes that she giv' me-they're that patched
and darned!' Daddy nodded. He remembered
that the baby's mother had never a hole visible in
her garments. 'And there's a little box which she
said nothing about, and which I means to put by with
'Let us have a look first.' Daddy set down his
'Well, I don't see as there's any great harm if so
24 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
be as I does show it you.' Mrs. Mullins had risen,
and fetched a small, long, foreign box. 'There,
'tain't much, you'll say. I fancy the poor dear sold
or put away her bits o' thing one arter another be-
fore she comed to me.'
Daddy Jeffs was silent. He was eagerly gazing at
the contents of the box, poking among them with
his grimy, skinny finger. There was a twisted silver
ring; a long out-of-date hair watch-chain, with tiny
links of gold; a dainty silver thimble; a French
lace-pin, with mock pearls. These, with a little
oblong pasteboard box, were all the contents.
Nothink to speak of, is there?' repeated Mrs.
Mullins; 'that there box is empty Oh, bless
his little heart '
The good woman turned hastily to the wooden
cradle, for the baby, suddenly awaking, set up a
loud outcry, and she had much ado to hush his
screams. When at length the sobs died away, and
she turned round, still swaying the baby to and fro,
daddy was shutting the small cardboard box care-
'Yes, 'tis empty,' he said slowly, and his voice had
a forced constraint in it. 'But if so be,' he went on,
'as you'd let me have it, Mrs. Mullins, I'd keep it as
a bit o' remembrance like of her that's gone. I asks
Oh! blithely said Mrs. Mullins, you may have
the ole box, and welcome. 'Twill hold the pins
you're always a-pickin' up, Jeffs. There's a bit o'
cotton-wool in the lid o't, and that will do to stuff
your ears with, come the next east wind. "Waste
not, want not," I says.'
Daddy Jeffs' fingers shook as he put the empty
cardboard box in his vest pocket, but he did not
There's that shop bell, drat it! Pretty dear, you
lie quiet, now do S'pose you watch him a bit, Jeffs,
for me?' and Mrs. Mullins was gone in a flash to
attend to her customers.
When her back was turned Daddy Jeffs sat on,
staring silently at the little downy head rolling-
uneasily from side to side. But daddy was not
thinking of the youngest lodger in the house. His
thoughts were far away, and his cramped old heart
was beating faster than it had done for many a long
That night when the twin-shops were shut, and
the boys of Bounders' Rents began to collect in the
---- dark lane out upon which Daddy Jeffs' window
looked, they wondered there was no fiddling as
26 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
P'raps 'ee's dead and gone !' suggested one of the
wildest of the little scamps in the gang.
Then the group fought to get to the front of each
other, in order to peer into the window.
'Ugh!' shouted the most successful; 'if daddy
ain't set up a red curting! My! we're gittin' too
fine to live; real gentry, no less. Yah '
Groans of baffled disappointment went round.
Not a chink nor a rent to peep through was there.
Daddy took care of that before he lighted his
little lamp, and sat down to carefully examine the
prize that had fallen from the skies, so to say, that
day, into his clutch. Though, when one came to
look at the small object he was stooping almost to
his knees to peer into, why, it was nothing more
than the worthless pasteboard box which Mrs. Mul-
lins had said would do to hold the pins that daddy
was always picking up. But perhaps the associa-
tions belonging to the useless trifle were powerful,
for daddy, after spending a considerable portion of
the evening examining the cardboard box through a
strong magnifying glass, carefully locked it up in a
secret drawer of an antiquated oak chest, blackened
Then daddy sat down to think.
It was a great crisis in the life of this old, miserly
man, half-Jew, half-Christian, by birth alone; for re-
In Possession 27
ligion he had none whatever. Perhaps he had
never been confronted with such a big temptation
'What'd they say in Hatton Garden, if so be as
I took them shiners over there!' he muttered, and
his gleaming eyes were fixed on the blackened oak
chest, as if it had suddenly become his most prized
possession-and perhaps it had. The lights up and
down the shabby lanes and alleys of Bounders'
Rents went out, one by one, and there fell upon the
neighbourhood that brief lull that comes just before
the dawn creeps up the sky, and the country carts
trundle by, on their way to the great markets. Still
Daddy Jeffs sat immovable. Chilled to the marrow
and faint from fasting he must have been, but he
seemed unconscious of all save one feeling-that he
had suddenly become rich. Now and then the
silence was broken by a grim chuckle. It was all so
new, so strange. Once, a swift remembrance darted
through his brain. This great fortune, had it not
come too late? Was he too old to enjoy the good
things of life which he might now have in abund-
ance round him ? Well, he was not too old to hug
secretly to him, unknown to the whole world, his
wonderful find. Daddy's heart was untroubled by
any qualms of conscience, by any dread of the all-
seeing eye of God that penetrates the secrets of men.
28 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
All such remorseful scruples were a dead-letter to
Daddy Jeffs. The godless old man had lived all his
days to stint and scrape and cheat.
Now that wealth had suddenly fallen into his lap,
he turned over in his mind what he should make
of the future. Should he sell off the contents of
his dirty little crowded shop, and enjoy life ? But,
though himself he did not know the fact, it had
come to this with Daddy Jeffs. He had hardened
into a mass of cunning greed, and the capacity for
enjoyment had frozen up for ever. The worst thing
of all had happened to this man : his human heart
had congealed into stone. As for doing good with
his evil-gotten treasure, no such wild notion occurred
'After all, I've got my Strad., a genuine article, and
I couldn't get no better, nohow,' he muttered huskily,
when the dawn broadened into morning light, and he
rose up stiffly to stretch himself. 'I'll bide here, I
will, and I'll keep them. Nobody livin' will ever know
aught about them, and any day I could get a ready
price for such pure brilliant. How she, poor soul,
came to have such, passes me to guess at. O' course
she didn't know she had 'em, no more'n Mrs. Mullins.
She couldn't ha' knowed!' he repeated. "Tis the
queerest mystery out-and-out as I ever stumbled on.
But there ain't no mistake about them. I back
myself against any Jew in Hatton Garden to know
a pure brilliant from paste.'
Then daddy laid himself down as he was in his
dirty garments on the stump bedstead in the corner
of the crowded room for a couple of hours' sleep;
but there was no sleep for him. When he shut his
eyes, it -seemed as though he were surrounded on
all sides by shining gems that glittered like water
with the sunlight falling through it. When he opened
his eyes, it was to pierce the blackened oak chest on
the other side of the room, to pierce right into its
secret drawer where lay buried something that glit-
tered with a greater lustre still.
"Tain't no use, I must git up!' groaned the old
man; and as he stumbled across the room, he halted
abruptly at the sound of a feeble cry from
'An infant crying for the light,'
that was now flooding even Bounders' Rents with
its early morning freshness.
A strange grey look crept up daddy's face, a look
of fear as he listened to the feeble sound. It was the
child Mary Wolcott had left behind her in this world
who was wailing. Suddenly, the dazzle and sheen that
had been haunting the sinful old man died out, and
grim, dark shadows gathered in his brain. Verily, as
the Book says, 'the wicked are like a troubled sea,'
casting up mire and sand and weeds.
30 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
'I'll do nothin'-nothin' at all, meantime!' mut-
tered daddy doggedly. 'Best let it blow over, and
p'raps the brat will be taken to the Union; then he
will be lost, like a needle in a haystack. After a bit
we'll see. Yes, yes, I'll bide low and do nothing. '
The thread of a voice on the other side of the
house was growing clearer, louder ; Mrs. Mullins was
stirring, opening doors, and suddenly Daddy Jeffs
looked down at his own skinny finger. Did he feel
the soft grasp of the baby-fist still ?
'A MINISTERING ANGEL'
' AMMY, mammy!' A sweet, shrill voice came
from under the counter in the tapes and
Mrs. Mullins, a trifle stouter, a trifle older,
though none are so slow to grow old as the good-
humoured folk, put down her pile of sewing and
bustled hurriedly into the shop, expecting to greet a
customer. There was nobody visible, however, and
a bell-like, clear laugh proclaimed that the good soul
had been tricked.
'Come out, you rogue; come out, and I'll whip
you! See if I don't!' A fair, curly head slowly
appeared, and a pair of solemn blue eyes gazed up
confidingly into Mrs. Mullins' face. Manikin knew
pretty well by this time, seeing he had spent the
five years of his life in her company, what mammy's
threats were worth. Presently, he was crawling up
into the lap of the good woman who had sunk down
upon the stool she kept for herself behind the shop-
32 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
counter. Mrs. Mullins passed a good portion of her
days sinking into adjacent seats, as if she were
really too good-natured to stand up in any sense of
'What's to be done to the naughty boy who calls
"Wolf" when there's no wolf at all? Didn't I tell
'ee to call mammy only when a customer comes
inter the shop, an' where's the customer, say ?'
Manikin's mouth elongated, and the corners went
down dolorously, his great blue eyes stared fixedly
into the kind, broad face above him. Was mammy
actually angry this time ?
I'll whip 'ee, that's what I'll do,' severely said the
deceived shopkeeper. The shadow lifted off the fair,
serious face instantly.
'Do, mammy!' pleaded the bird-like voice.
Manikin was of an inquiring mind, and thirsted for
the experience of being whipped ; a fact which
proved his ignorance of the meaning of punish-
In all Bounders' Rents there had never been such
a baby as the one Mary Wolcott left behind her.
So said Mrs. Mullins, and'jealously had she striven
to keep the tiny waif apart from contact with the
rough community her lot was cast amongst.
'Send the blessed babe to the Union!' she had
fairly screamed, when the popular voice had made
'A Ministeriing Angel' 33
this very natural suggestion. 'Not while S'phia
Mullins has 'ands to work for the pretty dear's bite
and sup. Why shouldn't I, sir?'
'Well, well, my good soul,' pacifically rejoined Dr.
Trench, to whom the pertinent question was put. 'I
fancy I can make it straight for you with the parish
authorities. They will be glad to be relieved of pro-
viding for the child, you'll see.'
The little man was as good as his word, and
Makes up to the poor soul for the loss of her
Tommy, as nothing else would,' he murmured com-
passionately; and he was right. All the world
brightened again for the bereft mother, and as the
years went on Manikin crept into her heart and had
taken his seat for life as its sovereign. Not that
Tommy was ever forgotten-that is not the true
mother's way-but she grew slowly to believe, con-
tentedly, that her little lad was in safer custody than
even her own loving arms.
Perhaps the five years that followed were the
happiest, they were at least the most peaceful the
widow had ever known. Her business prospered,
for in a community where women and children
abounded such wares as hers never failed to be in
request. And not only in Bounders' Rents did her
customers dwell. Mrs. Trench herself frequently
34 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
came from the neighboring square to buy trim-
mings, or to order a set of pinafores to be made for
her tiny daughter, Ruthie. A pleasant little lady
was Mrs. Trench, said Bounders' Rents, where she
was well known, going in and out among the
denizens without showing any nervous terrors, 'or
looking at us as some does, as we was'wild beastesses,
which the poor has their feeling' as well as other
The truth was, Mrs. Trench, in common with the
doctor, owned a heart brimming over with love for
that Saviour who stooped to win, by the sacrifice of
His sacred body on the cross, the meanest of human
beings. And through that divinest of sacrifices, in
her eyes all waifs and strays were transfigured. Be-
cause He had thought them worthy, so did she. And
there's nothing in the world so catching as sympathy.
It breaks down the barriers of class as nothing else
will. If our thoughts turned more often to the other
side of the deep stream of death that divides here
and yonder, the two countries which are alike our
heritage, it would be difficult for any one among us
to esteem himself more highly than his brother-man.
But as it is, the world goes round every day, and the
travellers upon its surface are first-class, second-class,
and third-class. When these, one by one, arrive at
the end of the distance their life-ticket allots to them,
'A Ministering Angel'
and they gaze across from that other side upon earth,
how must it look in their eyes, from which the veil
has fallen, to see this mortal holding away its skirts
from contact with that other fellow-creature ? Not
only the seeming pure from the open sinner, but,
worse still, the man whose purse is fat, shrinking
away from his brother-man whose pockets hang
But little Mrs. Trench was one of the few who
leaven by their sweet-natured humility the sorry
lump of human pride.
If so be as there was more o' she, there'd be less
o' we !' tersely said Bounders' Rents, with a gleam
of frankness in the admission, forced out of them by
the uniformly Christ-like life of this gentle lady, who
scrupled not to go in and out among their sad homes,
not to preach to or at them, but to be sorry and glad
with them, according to their needs.
'Dear souls! my heart goes out to them all,
Thomas,' she dreamily told her husband.
'Just so, Bessy said the equally single-hearted
little man. 'You couldn't give them more than
your heart, after all. It was what He-the Lord
Himself-did when He stooped to love poor lost
This man and wife never lacked courage to speak
openly of One who was so much in their simple
36 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
thoughts. There was no awkward faltering over the
sacred name that sounds so sweet 'in a believer's
'Whatever are you goin' to make of that little
shaver, Mrs. Mullins ?' the Bounders' Rents' gossips
would ask when they dropped in to buy reels of
cotton or twists of darning mending.
'Make o' Manikin?' was the cheery answer. 'Well,
well, we'll see. I'm not one to interfere. I like jes'
to let things go in God's own way. 'Tain't for me
to shape 'em, be it, now?'
The years were slipping by, and Manikin was
springing up apace, but as small-made a boy as ever
was seen. The only points about him that were not
doll-like were his large, fair-haired, curly head, his
long hands and his long feet. Some folk-those who
had used their eyes as they trudged through life-
predicted, from those same lengthy hands and feet,
that Manikin would suddenly stretch out into a tall
lad, and end in becoming a fine-made man. The
child was as different, somehow, in his ways and
his nature from the wild, rough youngsters, the other
natives of the Rents, as day from night. When she
was forced to send the little chap to school, Mrs.
Mullins was nigh heart-broken.
He will never be the same Manikin now, Jeffs,
you'll see! she sobbed. I've kep' him from them
'A Ministering Angel'
limbs of the Rents as if he'd lived in a band-box,
I have. But now he will be in the thick of 'em.'
Whatever's the use o' setting' the little chap up
above his kind ?' snapped Daddy Jeffs, who, as the
burden of years weighed heavier, had grown too
irritable to be spoken to by most people. He's got
his livin' to make, same's the other limbs o' Bounders'
Rents. The sooner he begins to rough it the better
But that was just what Manikin could not do.
He did not know how to rough it, and for that
reason the child was cordially detested by the young
Renters-for that and for his personal cleanliness.
To be clean was to be aggressively impertinent in
that neighbourhood. It was to stand aloof from
one's fellow-creatures in the most conspicuous of all
ways. It was even worse than setting up to be
pious. It was permissible, with clasped, unwashed
hands, to thank the Lord clamorously-if the human
vehicle through which tangible blessings passed were
within hearing. But to pray with soap-rubbed skin
was to set oneself upon a pinnacle, and Bounders'
Rents revenged itself by pelting mud at the occupant
of the eminence.
'Not as I care,' persisted Mrs. Mullins ; '"cleanli-
ness is next to godliness," and I've kep' Manikin
clean as a new pin all his little life, and teached him
38 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
his catekis, and every Sunday evening his colic like-
wise, as well as the textes. I've done my dooty by
him, as I promised his pore mother I should. My
mind's easy on that score, at least, though I'm a pore
sinful woman myself.'
Manikin was distinctly a credit to the good soul,
who had lavished as much care and love upon the
friendless orphan as if he had been her own Tommy.
Tiny as was Manikin's frame, his heart brimmed over
with pluck and daring; while his head, that curly
head so much too big for his thin scrap of a body,
held its full share-more, perhaps-of common sense.
As long as she dared, Mrs. Mullins kept the boy at
home, but to school he had to go in the end.
As for Sunday-school, it was long since Manikin
first went there, his warm little hand tightly locked
S in that of mammy, who was never too busy nor too
ailing to convoy the wee man to and from the new
mission-room where the Sunday-school was held.
But on week-days it was otherwise: Manikin had
to run the gauntlet of the young Renters alone. He
was a brave little mortal, however, and he took care
never to bring home stories of the scrimmages he
was constantly mixed up in. The boy was deter-
mined that mammy should not be distressed by his
troubles, when he could help it.
But on one occasion he was unable to hide a
'A Ministering Angel'
grievous mishap. It had been a planned thing on
the part of the young Renters, a practical joke
played upon my gentleman,' as they jeeringly
called him. It was Monday, a day when the boys
knew Manikin would be even more scrupulously
spick-and-span than usual. They had got hold of
an old tin of warm pitch-stolen it. Into the tin
the wicked young wretches had crammed a hapless
live kitten up to its neck. Then it was set down
conspicuously in the lane leading from the schools
to the Rents. Of course, there was a pretended
discovery by the imps who were actually the perpe-
trators of the plot.
Oh! oh the poor kitty!' shrieked tender-hearted
Manikin, whom some of the boys artfully shouldered
forward, that he might have a full view of the
tragedy. 'Poor pussy! it will be choked; it will
die!' he ended with a wild sob. Forcing his way
closer he tried, might and main, to release the un-
His little fists were immediately covered with the
warm liquid, and the wildly alarmed kitten tried
to bite Manikin's fingers-scratch them she could
not, seeing that her claws were stuck fast in the
'Oh! what'll I do?' cried the boy, as the pitch
dripped off his hands all over his clothes, a moment
40 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
before so conspicuously clean in their Monday morn-
Yells of derisive laughter went up from the crowd
of little roughs at Manikin's horror-struck face.
'Oh whatever'll mammy say to my gentleman "
now?' screamed out Bobby Lowe, who was frankly
admitted to be the worst of the bad boys of the
Bobby was bad from sheer love of wickedness.
Perhaps he had a soft spot somewhere in his heart-
a nook or cranny by which, in God's own good time,
the Holy Spirit might force an entrance. We all,
possibly, have that. If so, in Bobby's case it would
take considerable digging to reach the spot, unless
an earthquake, in the shape of some severe shock,
upheaved the frozen ground.
'Oh my!' The imps fairly danced round the
unhappy Manikin, shrieking out their derisive jeers.
' Dontcher wish yer 'adn't touched it? What do
the text say about touchin' pitch? Pious folk like
herself oughter be ready with their textes. Yah !'
There was a whirl in Manikin's big, curly head.
Wildly he longed to rush home with his dirty little
self, for mammy to put him right; but-the kitten!
He couldn't leave the poor little struggler in that
hateful plight. Never With a beating heart, Mani-
kin again plunged in his hand, this time succeeding
'A Ministering Angel' 43
in dragging out the miserable kitten and deluging
himself still further with the pitch. The yells re-
doubled, and the tormentors closed in round Mani-
kin, but not one of them offered to wrest his prize
from him. Not they! The warm pitch was a bar-
rier. But laughter and jests were let loose on the
hapless pair, Bobby Lowe giving the time for each
round of groans.
Throw her over on the rubbish heap, and cut
home with yer to wash yerself with scented soap!'
at last jeered Bobby.
'But she would die !' cried Manikin.
'Let her die!' shouted Bobby. 'Jes' you heave
her over, and we'll help 'er to die a bit faster with
a few stones !'
'Then you'd be a cruel murderer! exclaimed
Manikin, with a flash of his blue eyes.
'Take that yerself! angrily said Bobby. 'That's
for calling' people names, you that pertends to be a
Pious Peter! '
A swinging blow fell on Manikin's face, the only
safe place of his person to hit, as he was smeared
all over by the kitten's struggles.
Pluck must be, if there's anything wrong in it,
a bit of original sin, for Manikin, clutching kitty
still tighter to him with his left hand, let fly, with
lightning speed, his doubled-up fist. For a few
44 The Wazf of Bounders' Rents
seconds Bobby's line of vision was filled up with
sparks, and before he could see clearly again, or the
rest of the young Renters recovered their arrested
presence of mind, Manikin hugging the kitten, now
dying of exhaustion and the cold produced by the
pitch stopping up its pores, was flying home to the
tapes and button shop.
FTER the death and burial of the pitch-slaugh-
tered kitty, matters were strained in Bounders'
Rents. Not that the boys openly molested
Manikin, indeed, they looked shamefacedly at him
and with no little awe. That anybody so clean and
pious, two obnoxious qualities in that neighbourhood,
could use his fists in such a professional manner was
a deep surprise to the youthful Renters, particularly
to Bobby Lowe.
For one entire afternoon Bobby sat so unnaturally
quiet in his class at the Sunday-school that little
Mrs. Trench, who had undertaken the school that
Sunday in order to allow Miss Franks, the paid
teacher, to sit at home with an ailing sister, feared the
boy was ill. She looked at him anxiously now and
again, but not once did she see Bobby make one of
those customary hideous faces for which he was quite
famed in that part of the world. His tongue-and
Bobby owned quite the longest tongue in the Rents
46 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
-remained, as nature intended, inside his mouth.
And his eyes, which he could skilfully turn when so
disposed, rested in their proper position. To be
exact, his eyes were fixed with a sullen glower upon
Manikin's face. Certainly Bobby Lowe must be
sickening for something, decided Mrs. Trench, and
when the boy in his turn stood up to repeat the
verses to be learned and could not do it, she
refrained from giving the deserved bad mark to a
Presently Mrs. Trench began to explain the mean-
ing of the second great commandment to the class.
What she told them was simple in the extreme;
it could not be otherwise, for it was the outcome of
a simple mind. Some of the children listened to the
gentle voice; some did not, because they had not
left week-day things outside of the Sunday-school.
Instead, they had brought them in their pockets, in
the shape of sweets, half-eaten apples, toys, and the
different findings they had lately picked up. These
were their earthly treasures, and of course where
their treasure was, their hearts and their thoughts
were also. So the good seed, the simple earnest
words of the teacher, fell on stony ground that
In addition to Bobby Lowe, his sister Kit was
present, an individual about as bad for a girl as
Bobby was for a boy. Neither were at all regular in
their attendance, and of course there was a reason for
the presence of the two on this particular Sunday.
Even Bessy Trench could not but set it down to the
fact that in the coming week the Harvest Festival
was to be held, and on the coming Sunday the
children had of late years held an afternoon service
of their own, bringing in return for the good gifts
showered upon the earth such humble thanksgivings
as each could obtain. Their gifts, great and small,
were taken over and given to a small children's
hospital, which its founders hoped would, by-and-
by, grow to be a great boon for the tiny sufferers in
the poor, squalid Rents.
This simple service had its attractions even for
Bobby and Kit, the gaunt, ill-clad 'step-girl.' It
was something-to stare at, but meant no more to
the brother and sister. Hence their joint appear-
ance at the mission-room classes on the preceding
Sunday, for it is astonishing how early we begin
to plan and manceuvre to elbow our way to a good
place in the front of life's shows. Kit was much
more of a stranger at Sunday-school than Bobby;
a stranger in every sense. To be sure, she could
have told you who made her; perhaps even who
died for her. But it was only parrot fashion-ques-
tions and answers to be gabbled through anyhow.
48 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
She had no rooted objection to Sunday-school; on
the contrary, it was a fine, cosy shelter on a wet
afternoon, or from the piercing cold winter winds.
The drawback for Kit lay in her rags. It was called
the Ragged School Sunday-school, and she might
consider herself duly qualified. But there are degrees
in our body-coverings. Kit's flimsy tatters scarce
held together over her form, so threadbare and
ragged were they.
'I must rake out something decent for her!'
mused Bessy Trench silently, as she contemplated
Kit over the top of her Bible with dismay. Again
and again, while continuing her simple explanation,
her eyes wandered to Kit's terrible attire.
I wonder, Bobby, could you tell us what loving
your neighbour as yourself means ?' Mrs. Trench
presently asked aloud, in her soft-spoken voice.
Why she fixed on Bobby Lowe she could not have
told you. But a good many more things are done
for us than we are aware. There's more guiding
than we guess, even when we imagine we are choos-
ing our own way.
Bobby started and glowered at the sunny face of
I dunno !' he sulkily answered aloud ; but to him-
self he said, 'I could tell a jolly lot more about
'ating my neighbour than loving 'im1' and his evil
Kit's Ideal 49
glance travelled back to Manikin's unconscious face.
In his heart was smouldering a wild desire for
vengeance, in return for the black eye Manikin's
fist had dealt him so lately.
'Well, then, perhaps you can tell us?' Bessy turned
to Manikin, whose innocent blue eyes were fixed
on her face raptly. 'Why should we love our
neighbour as ourselves ? It would be just as easy
to hate him, easier for some people,' went on Bessy,
with unconscious sarcasm. 'Why should we, I ask
'Please, 'cos Jesus told us to!' promptly said
Bessy nodded brightly. It was just the answer
'Just so! It was Jesus who, nearly every time
He spoke while on this earth, enjoined us to love
one another as well as to love His own dear self.
In the plainest, clearest words He tells us so: "If
a man love Me, he will keep My words." And now
tell me what are those words-His commandment,
you know ? You can, Manikin ?'
"'That you love one another as I have loved
you !2"' The text came out with an eager rush.
Manikin was too unconscious of self to feel abashed
at having the words on the tip of his tongue thus.
It so happened that it was mammy's own particular
50 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
verse for the new week which she had chosen that
morning, and made Manikin learn by heart, as was
'You are a dear boy, Manikin!' softly said Bessy
Trench, and the colour flew into Manikin's fair,
round face at her gentle praise.
This may not be the correct way to conduct
Sunday-school, but it was Bessy's way-she loved all
children so well that she could not help caressing
them with her tongue, as well as by friendly pats
and lingering touches that meant so much to the
giver and the recipient. 'When we love a person
very much, somebody who has been kind to us,
what is it we feel we should like to do?'
'Giv' em summat, teacher.'
It was Kit's voice that huskily answered; and
then the step-girl could have bitten her tongue off,
for the eyes of the whole class were turned upon
her ragged self.
'Quite right!' said Bessy approvingly. 'Well, you,
every one of you, know that next Sunday we are
going to give what we can, each one of us, to
God's poor sick, and you remember, don't you,
that the dear Lord said: Inasmuch as ye did
it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye
did it unto Me" ? Now, the sick and sorrowful
children in the hospital are among "the least of
Kit's Ideal 51
these My brethren," so when we give to them, we
give to the Lord Jesus, His very own self. He has
said so. After that I expect that the poorest child
here will bring some little gift.'
Bessy purposely kept her blue eyes from wander-
ing across to poor Kit, but she made up her mind
that the girl should come to the flower-service whole
as to her garments, at least.
When the class was over, Mrs. Trench made in-
quiries, and found that Kit, whom she did not seem
to remember, was the sister of Bobby, and that the
motherless pair had received but a hard bringing-
up at the hands of a father who got drunk with
a regularity worthy of a far better cause. Home
their miserable dwelling could scarcely be called;
and they got their meals as best they could-or
went without them. The family were new-comers
in Bounders' Rents, and Bobby, whom even his
parent denounced as a bad stick, was still at school,
simply because he was too idle to pass the necessary
standards. He was, therefore, a dead burden at
Kit, when Saturday came round, earned many a
twopenny fee by step-cleaning, not in Bounders'
Rents, but further afield, among the better-off folk
who could afford to pay for having their doorsteps
whitened for them, and thus saved many an in-
52 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
dustrious mother what would have been the last
straw in the way of toil and moil.
'You will come to see me, Kitty?' said Mrs.
Trench, who had detained the wretchedly-clad child,
for she was little more. 'I shall have something
looked out for you, if you will come, next Wednes-
day, shall we say? You know my house-where
the doctor lives ?'
Yes, Kit knew the house with the red lamp where
Dr. Trench lived--who was there in Bounders' Rents
'Then you will come, my good girl ?'
'Is it to clean the steps, please ?'
'The steps Oh dear no You come on Wednes-
day, and see what I shall have ready for you !'
And Kit went home to dream for the next few
days of wonders to be hers-perhaps a whole, entire
frock, bodice and skirt That had been the summit
of the girl's ambition ever since she could remember
darning the many ragged portions that went to form
the sorry whole of her tattered attire. If such a
magnificent prospect were to be realized, Kit felt
life would be almost too happy. Already she began
to plan how she was to keep her possible treasures
from the knowledge of the father who laid hands
on everything, and carried it to the pawnbroker's
round the corner, to be converted into the where-
Kit's Ideal 53
withal to obtain the drink that was ruining soul and
'I wonder, I does, 'ow I could stow it away!'
she pondered aloud. 'It'd be no manner o' use to
sleep on it; he'd be safe to find it out-smell it, I
believe ; then it'd be all up.'
Kit remembered, with burning anger, the fate of
a hat which a compassionate soul had presented
her, along with the step-cleaning fee of twopence.
Father got possession of it, though Kit did make
a pillow- of it. Not that the hat, a modest sailor
one, came up to Kit's ideal of either fashion or
beauty. Her ideal of these were a huge, upturned
brim and a pointed crown surrounded by a yard or
so of gaily-coloured manufactured feather, Much
as the maiden of exalted station dreams of the
presentation day when she will be clad in gleaming
white satin and pearls to bow low before her beloved
sovereign, so, down at the bottom of the social
ladder, Kit pictured the hat which is the hall-mark
of the coster girl. But Kit knew better than hope
that Mrs. Trench would give her any tawdry magni-
ficence such as her uncultured soul loved. It would
be a gown with a bodice-navy-blue, perhaps But
where was it to be hidden from father ?
Daddy Jeffs meanwhile was tuning his Strad. in
his back room, with one eye on the shop which he
54 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
could command through the communicating door.
It was growing dark, about the time for his tobacco
customers. Seated close to his knees on a quaint
black oak seat, something like a stool, but which
neither Manikin nor any one else but daddy guessed
the real use of-it being an ancient coffin rest looted
from some demolished church of the Middle Ages
-sat the big-headed, small-bodied boy of Mary
His long fingers were hugging his knees, and he
was preparing to listen to daddy's fiddling as though
it was the music of the 'hevingly quires,' and so
perhaps it was to the dreamy, small soul, which
distinctly was no denizen of Bounders' Rents, though
the body belonging to it might be chained to that
But it was Saturday night, and Manikin's thoughts
were localised, in so far that he was looking for-
ward to the thanksgiving service of the morrow.
'Daddy!' he broke in with his sweet, shrill
tones. 'Do you like flower-services-in church, you
'Never seed any sich!' gruffly rejoined daddy,
raising his bow, and bending his elbow.
'Didn't they have 'em, then, when you was a little
boy ?' demanded Manikin, a bit surprised.
When he was a little boy! Daddy started. Could
he himself ever have been a child, such as the fair-
faced mite staring so confidingly up into his grimy,
'Daddy !' Manikin spoke again; he had forgotten
the flower-service, his little wits were travelling
further afield. 'Shouldn't you like to have been
a little boy when the Lord Jesus was here on earth?
Wouldn't it have been just grand to creep up along-
side of Him and listen to His voice? Fancy a
boy like me, you know, hearing Jesus speak real
words that sounded out loud in my ears, not printed
in a book, like the Bible! And some boys did;
some boys creeped up alongside, and He touched
them with His hands '
The shrill but musical voice went on, and daddy
laying aside his bow, stood up to shuffle uneasily.
Had he read or heard, in his past-and-gone youth,
of changelings that the fairies mischievously substi-
tuted for human infants. This, surely, must be one
of such. All that babble about the Lord and the
Bible, which to daddy was full of naught but fables,
was not the talk of an ordinary boy-not a boy of
Bounders' Rents, anyway. A cold shiver ran over
the old man as he glowered down on the earnest,
round-eyed face raised to his.
Could that ordinary ignorant woman, the twin-
shopkeeper, really have put all this vivid belief in
56 The Wazf of Bounders' Rents
sacred things into the child she had reared, or-
or was it-yes, daddy remembered the verse per-
fectly, and almost against his will: 'Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou per-
fected praise'? Could there be anything in it, after
all? Was there really a God the Father, and had
He yielded His beloved Son as a ransom for poor
humanity? No daddy refused stubbornly to be-
'Why, ain't you going to play, daddy? Play
"Jumps," won't you ?'
'Jumps' was a bit of Spohr, a special favourite
with the child, who revelled in its melody, that took
quaint back-steps now and again on its way.
Far in, through the outer crust of his grimy ex-
terior, daddy's nature held a jewel in the form of a
pure musical taste. What the old man played on
his Strad. was the utterance of the old masters;
nothing modern or trashy ever desecrated the pre-
cious instrument, whose tone was so exquisitely true
and mellow that the fingers of Paganini himself
might have handled it. In his past daddy had
been a member-a humble one, it is true-of a great
orchestra. He had fallen out on the march forward.
He had preferred evil courses, and Art admits of no
philandering with her laws. To attain perfection,
even in small things, one must yield up oneself
unreservedly to the service in which we have en-
listed, whatsoever it may be. To be faithful and
loyal to the special career you have chosen is the
first and foremost of your duties. Daddy Jeffs was
neither faithful nor loyal, consequently he had failed.
He scraped along his life as best he might, instead
of converting it by faithful industry into a life lived
to the praise and glory of God. But even with
daddy there remained one rag of respect for his
art-he never desecrated the Strad. It was thus
that Manikin had never heard any but the finest
and best of classical music.
Daddy's feeling toward the big-headed child was
'If you believe me, Miss Sparkes, ma'am,' Mrs.
Mullins told her friendly neighbour at the restraint '
'for it's truth I'm telling you, old Jeffs has come
forward handsome in regard to the dear child.
" Mrs. Mullins," he says, I'm willing' to 'dopt him,
and to eddicate him proper as he can git his livin'.
I'll make a musician of Manikin; it's in him, as I
ought ter know." "Jeffs," I says, calm as calm,
"yer may be willing I don't go for to doubt it. But
what's more to the pint, I ain't willing S'phia
Mullins ain't one to pass her word to them that's
dead and gone, an' then to break it. While I've
strength I does for Manikin, with this pair o' hands.
58 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
And if so be as he is grateful, which he loves me as
his own, he may be able, please God to give me a
crust when I'm past work, jes' to keep me from the
House. If he can't, well, I ain't afraid. Why should
I be? Ain't God bore me up all my days out of the
mire and mud o' this sinful life ? 'Tain't likely He'd
throw me over when I'm bowed with infirmities and
Depend upon it,' said Miss Sparkes mysteriously,
'he's got summut under it, ma'am. Jeffs thinks as
that child'll turn out somebody. An' who knows
but he may '
'Well,' remarked Mrs. Mullins contemplatively,
'o' course there's the brown pocket-book; that will
tell us, come the time when Manikin's able to read,
and he's in two syllables already, dear heart.'
'You ain't never peeped into the pocket-book, I
s'pose ? tentatively ventured the spinster.
'No, Miss Sparkes, I haven't I'm a humble
widder, and tapes an' buttons ain't an elevatin'
business, p'raps; but when I gives my word, I keeps
it faithful!' Mrs. Mullins' broad face was crimson.
Good-natured as she was, the artfully thrown out
hint was too much. She was about to speak acidly,
but just in time she remembered the apostle's ad-
monition: If it be possible, live peaceably with all
'I should say, Miss Sparkes, ma'am, as one
could confide a last request to yourself without any
fear as you'd not keep it sacred ? Mrs. Mullins felt
bound to thus handsomely make the amende for
her inward slip into malice and all uncharitable-
'Well, o' course, I'd try !' Miss Sparkes managed
to declare with some show of decision, born of the
confidingness of her friend.
Why is it that there's nothing more likely to en-
gender a desire to be honest and upright than the
knowledge that your fellow-creatures give you credit
for being so? Perhaps, if we could but bear this in
mind, we might help a few more lame dogs over
stiles than we do.
'By the way,' went on the spinster, her heart still
further expanding, 'I've saved these up for your
little Manikin to carry to the service to-morrer.'
'Well, now, I take that kind of you, I do!' re-
sponded Mrs. Mullins, with a gush of gratitude, as
Miss Sparkes handed over the counter a large Jersey
pear rich in colour, and a monster plum ablaze with
purple and gold. 'Them two are picters, I do
declare. They will make a show for my little man
to take up and present, bless him !'
'Yes, I thought as he oughter have 'em, and-and
I'd like to look in myself, Mrs. Mullins, if so be as I
60 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
wasn't intruding, and takin' up room that others have
a better right to.'
'Come and welcome, ma'am!' Mrs. Mullins re-
joined heartily; and as she trudged home she
congratulated herself on swallowing the unkind
words her tongue had ached to say about church
and chapel. Miss Sparkes was really so friendly,
and not a bit narrow.
'Manikin!' She rapped loudly on DIaddy Jeffs'
wall, for he was playing 'Jumps,' and the child's
sweet, shrill voice was accompanying with the same
ringing tone, and as truthfully in the middle of the
notes as the Strad. itself. 'Come along and see wot
you've got sent you to carry as your thanksgiving to-
In a few moments Manikin was crying out rap-
turously over the two 'picters,' the pear and the
'Oh, mammy, mine will be the beautifullest of
everybody's!' he declared enthusiastically. 'An' I've
got the groundsel, too, such a bunch for God's
canaries. I put it in the cracked mug on the shelf.'
The boy had insisted on getting a bunch of groundsel
as his offering. He passionately loved birds, and
indeed all animals. The miserable death of the poor
tarred kitten had made a wound in his heart, though
he had forgiven Bobby Lowe, just because mammy
Kit's Ideal 61
told him that these were specially the enemies Christ
tells us to love, the people who hurt ourselves most,
and Manikin loved dumb creatures as he loved him-
T was Sunday, a bright 'pearl of days,' as Sunday
so often is, to stand out in one's memory for all
time. It was a day also of great events. As if
the service were not excitement enough, Manikin
had been invited to dine with Daddy Jeffs, and was
actually sitting opposite the old violin-player at his
'Now, deary,' Mrs. Mullins had admonished, 'mind
your manners, if 'tis ole Jeffs only. Remember the
Of a little, take a little;
Manners so to do:
Of a little, leave a little;
That is manners, too."
An', deary, if so be as things is not jes' clean and nice
as you look for, don't let that make no difference to
your be'aviour. I don't hold with company manners
myself which folk's manners had oughter be always
So Manikin was doing his little best to be polite,
and daddy looked almost agreeable. It was an un-
precedented event for him to be entertaining a guest.
But he helped Manikin liberally to the pork-pie he
had bought the last thing on Saturday night, hanging
round the shop until the first stroke of twelve, when
the pork-pie came down a farthing in value, and
daddy secured a bargain. Indeed, he piled the
boy's plate with as near an approach to hospitality
as a miser could wring out of himself.
'I mustn't stay too long, though,' Manikin re-
membered to say. 'You know there's the flower-
service to-day. Should you like to see what I've got
to carry up, Mr. Jeffs ? Shall I run and fetch 'em ?'
'If yer likes, child !' said the host indifferently;
and Manikin fled across the passage to return as
quickly with the gaily-tinted Jersey pear in one
hand and the purple-gold plum in the other.
'Real beauties! ain't they ?' demanded the boy
proudly. 'Don't you think coloured things are the
beautifullest of all, Mr. Jeffs, don't you? I do. I
thinks they are better nor dimonds even!' Mani-
kin held his treasures up to the light.
'Dimonds !' echoed Daddy Jeffs, and his glittering
eyes flashed a strange glint at the unconscious boy,
whose eyes were fondly feasting on the glowing
64 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
'Yes,' simply answered Manikin, 'them shiners,
you know, in the jewellers' shops like bits o' water
with the sunshine darting through 'em. Mammy
says they be worth more than gold.'
'Some on 'em, boy ; some on 'em !' Daddy spoke
with difficulty, and he. shot a furtive glance across
the room at his queer old black-oak chest.
Have you got any dimonds, Mr. Jeffs ?' suddenly
asked Manikin, with the abrupt directness peculiar
'What!' snarled daddy, with a spurt of fury that
startled Manikin. 'Jes' you clear out, now. I don't
want no spies and pries round my place.' He rose
as if to enforce his words by deeds, but Manikin,
agile as a dart, disappeared through the door across
the passage to his own side of the house.
A couple of hours later the old-time church close
by Bounders' Rents was rapidly filling with all sorts
and conditions' of women and children, if not of
men. The latter portion of the community loafed
about the dingy houses of the dingier streets leading
to the church, simply watching, with pipes in their
mouths, which they occasionally removed to permit
the outlet of a scoff or an evil laugh. Still, on one
or two faces there gleamed a furtive pride as the
little ones hurried up, each armed with some trifling
thanksgiving in their hot, chubby little hands.
'Deary me !' ejaculated Mrs. Mullins as she and
Manikin elbowed their way through the crowd.
'I 'opes we are not late. Why, there's Miss Sparkes,
poor dear! looking' that moidered. You go on,
sonny, and jine your class, which you had oughter
have gone in with them. I'll be sure to pick you
out, and watch you a-carryin' up the gifts.' Letting
go Manikin's hand, Mrs. Mullins dived into the group
to rescue her bewildered friend.
'Hilloa What have you got to carry up, Bobby
Lowe ?' Manikin, his eyes shining and his cheeks
pink with excitement, greeted Bobby and his sister,
standing, more by chance than any family attach-
ment, side by side.
Bobby's face had been well soaped, and his hair
conspicuously combed, while Kit well, Kit was
simply unrecognisable in a neatly-made brown and
white tweed gown. It was a gown familiar to the
eyes of divers of the Bounders' Renters, who had
admired it on the back of the doctor's wife many
a time. But both brother and sister were empty-
handed. Somehow, though they had been indifferent
to that fact before they started from the miserable
cellar half underground which they called home, it
was an altogether different thing to stand with empty
hands among the other children, each and all of
whom had something, if it were but a green apple, to
66 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
give. A feeling of depression crept over the two,
Kit's pride in her splendour of an entire frock, from
neck to hem, collapsed ; so did the bold mien natural
to Bobby. And Manikin's innocent question was
the last straw.
I ain't got nothing! dejectedly said Bobby, and
he eyed Manikin's gifts with a covetous glare.
'And I ain't, neither!' supplemented Kit, edging
up closer. 'My! what lovely things you've got!'
The step-girl also gazed hard at the Jersey pear and
the bloomy plum. Manikin was silent. A red flush
crept slowly up his clear-skinned face.
'I don't think I'll go inside the church,'said Bobby
next. 'I ain't a-goin' to march up with empty
'No more will I !' energetically declared Kit,
though she suddenly remembered how shabby it
would be to vex her teacher by staying away-the
teacher who had been so good to her, and she
smoothed down the warm kindly-feeling stuff of her-.
frock. It never occurred to the step-girl that her
staying away would offend a far higher somebody
than an earthly teacher-One who had been far
kinder to herself.
Manikin looked up in dismay from the brother to
the sister. They would stay away, just because they
had nothing to bring, would they ?
Kit's Victory 67
'Nothing in my hand I bring !'
The line of the hymn floated through his mind,
but he was too shy to speak it aloud. There was a
pause. The people pressed forward more insistently;
time was nearly up; in a few minutes more the bell
would cease ringing. The red feather that gaily
bobbed on top of Miss Sparkes' best bonnet was
disappearing in the wake of Mrs. Mullins' black crepe
widow's bonnet through the church door. Manikin
could see them, but still he stood motionless and
'There! he suddenly blurted out in a choky voice.
'Each of you take one to carry up !' and he pushed
the Jersey pear and the plum at the brother and
My !' Kit was open-mouthed, Bobby stood dumb.
'But whatever '11 yer have for yerself ?'
Oh, here's the bunch of groundsel.' Manikin tried
-to speak out bravely, but his words sounded so
shaky that he himself was surprised. He was afraid
that if he stayed another moment he would cry, and
that would be an everlasting disgrace to his plucky
nature. Dashing forward, he managed, eel-like, to
thread his way into the church, and into his class,
where he seated himself quietly at the foot. The
church was so crowded with grown-up folk that
68 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
Manikin felt like a small field-mouse among the tall,
stately wheat of ripe harvest. He wished himself a
couple of feet higher, that he might see Kit and
Bobby enter. They were a long time, he thought.
Then the service began, and Manikin speedily forgot
the pair to whom he had given his offerings. The
boy loved music passionately, and there were
plenty of bright hymns given out for the children to
sing. Then came short prayers, and a quite short
sermon-too short for a single yawn from the most
impatient. Next came the event of the day-the
march, single-file, up to present the fruit and flowers
to the clergy. At last, Manikin caught sight of Kit.
She walked at the tail-end of the girls, and her face
literally shone with delighted pride. In both hands
she carried the Jersey pear, as though it were much
too precious to be entrusted to one. But even
Manikin noticed in the step-girl's face a strangely
tremulous light which he could not understand.
For himself, the boy had already forgotten the pang
it gave him to yield his gifts. The fruit was going
straight to be given to God's poor sick; the selfish
desire that it should go through his own hands was
no longer present. It sufficed that Kit was carefully
bearing it. But he wondered vaguely why the step-
girl as she placed the large pear in the clergyman's
outstretched hands should bend forward to whisper
a word or two. A surprised look came over the
curate's face. And Manikin himself would have
been still more astounded had he heard Kit's hoarse
whisper, 'Please, sir, I ain't broke the skin. I re-
membered jes' in time !'
Looking down, the curate saw in the reddest
ripest side of the pear the marks of four small teeth.
They were Kit's own, and they told the story of
Outside the church door, where Manikin had left
the brother and sister, a little drama had been
'My! Ain't they love-ely!' Kit had ejaculated
'They're too good to give away, eh, Kit ?' said
Bobby tentatively, as he raised the plum to sniff at
'Yah! You're mean as mean! I'm 'shamed of
yer, I am, Bobby!'
'Jes' you smell yourn,' said Bobby slyly, and Kit
raised the lovely Jersey pear to her face. Bobby
chuckled aloud, for the next thing he saw was Kit's
even short teeth pressed on the pear's glowing,
tempting side. 'Who's mean now?' he exclaimed
triumphantly. His taunt was in time; it saved
'I ain't broke the skin!' she panted out thank-
70 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
fully, and turning away she dived into the church,
her victory won over greed and selfish covetousness.
Of this Manikin was in ignorance. On his fair,
round face glowed a deep satisfaction as he trudged
along in the returning stream of children, after
handing in his humble and rather puzzling bunch
of groundsel. In her far-off seat Mrs. Mullins
watched his every step with pride, and with an
.unshed tear tucked away in her kind, faded eyes.
Thoughts of her own lost Tommy were bound to
arise as she gazed at the boy who, in one sense,
not in all, filled his vacant place in her true mother-
'You stepped out brave, deary!' she said by-and-
by, when, the service over and Manikin's hand
clasped tight in hers again, they hurried home to
tea. 'But I couldn't see you presentin' your gift. I
s'pose I was too far off, and my eyesight begins to
fail a bit.'
There was no reply to this from Manikin, whose
blue eyes were wandering anxiously for a sight of
Bobby Lowe. But no Bobby was to be seen. Not
likely, for that individual was skulking at the other
end of Bounders' Rents, half sullen, half ashamed-
a guilty boy. Bobby had gobbled every bit of the
purple-gold plum, instead of carrying it up as a
thanksgiving for the good gifts God had meted out
Kit's Victory 71
to himself-food, and shelter, and health. But even
Bobby had a conscience, or a rag of one. The plum,
luscious and sweet, was gone, but the after-taste it
left-the guilty recollection-was bitter indeed.
THE DAWN OF 'SWEETNESS AND LIGHT'
HE doctor's wife sat in her cosy drawing-room,
and, for a wonder, her busy hands lay idly on
her lap. Her kind blue eyes were dreamily
watching a fair picture-her only child, Ruthie,
trying to squeeze the breath out of the lanky body
of Sandy, the Scotch terrier, a valued member of the
Ruthie was a sweet-featured child, with bright
chestnut-coloured hair. Sandy, on the contrary, was
ugly-so ugly that one could believe the shame-
faced way he had of avoiding your eye was altogether
due to his own consciousness of his deplorable lack
of good looks. But though no beauty, Sandy had
a heart of gold. He was passionately attached to
three persons; in short, he carefully divided his
affections into three portions the exclusive pro-
perties of the doctor, Bessy, the doctor's wife, and
Ruthie, the doctor's only child.
For the rest of the world Sandy's indifference was
The Dawn of 'Sweetness and Light' 73
quite shocking. To some folk, indeed, this indiffer-
ence gave place to wrathful dislike.
You're a bit of a snob, Sandy, I'm afraid,' said
his mistress gravely, after she had watched the
equable manner with which Sandy submitted to
Ruthie's tugging and pulling. 'I was quite ashamed
of you to-day, sir, for the unkind way in which you
snapped and snarled at my poor Bounders' Rents
people. Never shall I take you when I go visiting
there again. Do you understand ?'
Sandy had wriggled himself out of Ruthie's fat,
clutching fingers, and his chin was resting on the
knee of his mistress, while his brown eyes gazed at
and shifted uneasily from her sunshiny face by turns.
Oh yes, Sandy understood. He knew he was being
scolded, and he felt ashamed for the moment. But
he knew well that he was sure to be forgiven and
patted to his heart's content presently.
'Please 'm, there's a girl would like a word with
you, if convenient.' The door had softly opened to
admit Matilda, the parlourmaid, who moved into the
doctor's household some few years back when the
doctor's bride came home. Both the bride and
Matilda came from the same family, for the good,
faithful soul had been trained by Bessy's mother, the
fairy granny who showered such gifts on Baby Ruth.
Matilda was, practically, one of the pillars of the
74 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
doctor's house; in truth, she was upright and down-
right enough to be a pillar of the State itself. She
was a bit self-righteous too; so much so, that she
made overmuch haste to gather up her skirts and
hold them aloof from her neighbours.
'Who is the girl, Matilda?' asked Mrs. Trench,
sitting up straight, while Ruthie, the most inquisitive
of mortals, struggled to her feet, and Sandy, with
ears suddenly cocked, made a rush forward.
'He won't hurt you; he's quite harmless. Don't
be afraid!' A shrinking figure was huddled against
the drawing-room door in terror at Sandy's fierce
'You needn't be so fearful,' coldly put in Matilda.
'Sandy's particular in his feelings. He has no
patience with dirt and untidiness, but he won't eat
you. Sandy's very particular !'
The frightened stranger, no other than Kit, Bobby
Lowe's sister, shot a wistful glance at the speaker;
while Sandy, abruptly ceasing his vociferous barks,
retired to the hearthrug to rumble out subterranean
growls of terrific import. Kit was quick to compre-
hend Matilda's meaning, and. her head sank lower
still, for the girl knew herself to be a sorry spectacle.
She felt ashamed at her own squalid appearance,
which seemed to be more conspicuous in Mrs.
Trench's pretty drawing-room, where dainty cleanli-
I ) II *I I
B i;9 i .l!
j! : ,'Ir
The Dawn of Sweetness and Lzg/t' 77
ness reigned, than in the kindred atmosphere of
'Is it can it be you, Kitty?' Miss Trench
came forward with widening eyes, and Ruthie, at
her mother's heels, peeped round her skirts in puzzled
dismay. Kit was truly a revelation in dirt and
misery, as she tried to shrink herself smaller. If her
arms and legs were not so dreadfully long, she
thought it would be easier for her rags to cover them
from the kind, wondering eyes bent upon them.
Agonies of shame froze her words, and must have
spoken out of her face. Mrs. Trench suddenly
comprehended, and, to the horror of Matilda, she
took Kit's thin, stained hand in her own warm white
one, to draw the girl nearer the fire.
'It's getting quite winter weather, isn't it, Kit ?'
she said cheerily, and she carefully avoided looking
at the girl's rags again, for Bessy knew above all
things how to 'be pitiful,' to 'be courteous.'
Sit down here, my good girl, and tell me all your
troubles, for I see something is wrong.'
Kit's answer, as she seated herself on the edge of
a chair, was a burst of violent weeping. Ruthie was
amazed, and Sandy barked a sharp bark, which asked
quite plainly what on earth was the matter.
Hush, hush !' said Bessy Trench soothingly. 'It's
something about your new frock, Kitty, isn't it ?'
78 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
She had jumped at once to the right conclusion.
'Yes 'm, it be my new frock as you gived I,' Kit
sobbed still more wildly. It's bin stole from me
already, it has, and it's on'y bin wore the once-o'
Sunday. And folk said as I looked that nice.'
'So you did, Kit. I saw you! said Bessy com-
'Tho did I I wath at church, too !' put in Ruthie.
I'd a basket wif grapes and flow-ers. Did you
'An' I'd a pear-a big, lovely one !' Kit stayed her
weeping to say proudly.
How her heart beat when she remembered her
victory over greed !
'But 'tis the frock, ma'am! 'Tis stole!' She re-
lapsed into a wail.
'Stolen !' indignantly repeated Bessy. 'Who
dared to steal it? Tell me, Kit; explain yourself.'
It wor father '
In the smallest of shamed voices Kit whispered
the words, and Bessy's kind blue eyes filled. She
was full of sorrowful sympathy with the unhappy child
who owned such a father.
My poor girl !' she said gently.
'Poor dirl!' echoed Ruthie, whose pride it was to
imitate her mother in every respect.
Kit stared at the two in wonder. She had
The Dawn of 'Sweetness and Light' 79
imagined that a storm of angry reproach would greet
her confession. She was a little frightened at this
kindness, as though it were the lull before a storm
that was bound to burst forth. But Bessy only bent
forward and stroked the poor toil-stained fingers that
lay on Kit's ragged lap, while the good little woman
brooded over what could be done. Then she put a
few questions to Kit, dragging out of her, bit by bit,
that her dissipated father, hearing of his girl's con-
spicuous neatness at the flower-service, had stolen
the frock after Kit was asleep-stolen it and sold it
to buy the burning poison that went down his throat
as often as he could beg, borrow, or steal to buy it.
It was an old story in Kit's wretched home, and
Bessy's heart ached for the girl. She sat down and
stared into the fire, while Sandy, on the alert, stood
sentry over the visitor, not relaxing guard for a
second. This new-comer belonged, he felt sure, to
the detested locality of Bounders' Rents, where he
had distinguished himself by his apparent desire to
rend every inhabitant. It therefore behoved him to
protect his mistresses from such a dangerous guest.
As for Kit, she had ceased sobbing, and was staring
about her in amazement. Did folk really live in all
this splendour on week-days ? Soft chairs and a
thick carpet, and graceful curtains, and such a power
of little tables It was marvellous! Not that Mrs.
80 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
Trench's drawing-room, with its simple, flowered
chintzes and quaint black furniture, was anything
really grand or even smart. You would have called
it a cosy, homey sort of room, where the tired-out
master of the house could rest on any of its easy
chairs without being admonished not to lean back,
nor to rumple up cruelly fine antimacassars. Thomas
Trench could never stand a showroom of that sort,
and Bessy had never tried to break him in to such a
thing. The walls, coloured salmon-pink, where you
could catch sight of them between the many pictures
and china and bookshelves, contained the only valu-
ables in the room. Bessy Trench had come out of a
large circle of wealthy relatives and friends, to marry
the penniless, struggling young doctor, and she had
brought with her heaps of wedding presents. They
certainly made a great show on the walls, shelves,
and brackets; so, perhaps, after all, Kit's amazement
'Does you like doggies, little dirl ?' demanded
Ruthie, whose own short person would probably
have reached Kit's knees, had she been standing
'No! I hates 'em!' was the uncompromising an-
'Hate doggies !' Ruthie was scandalized. 'Mo-
ther and me, we love them, and father doth, too.
The Dawn of 'Sweetness and Light' 81
And granny, too. Granny hath lots of doggies ; she
lives in the country. Her littlest doggie is Jetty,
and when Jetty wath very ill, granny gave him beef-
tea in a saucer, beef-tea same's mother has when
she's ill. And Jetty has a wee wicker cottage-a
kennel-to live in, on the hearth-rug. And-and-
Jetty hath a tooth-brush, a tiny one for his own little
self. Granny brushes his teeth wif it, cos Jetty would
bite anybody else, you know, little dirl.'
Kit listened without comprehending. She had
never possessed such an implement as a tooth-brush.
Possibly it was no great matter of surprise that the
gentry, who made use of such articles themselves,
should insist on their pet dogs also using them.
'Kit!' Mrs. Trench spoke at last, and gravely.
She hesitated to say what she felt on the subject of
Kit's father and his sinful ways. He was all the
parent the girl had, and did not the Book itself com-
mand her to honour him ? It did not stipulate that
if he were a good, loving father, who feared God, and
strove his best to do his duty to his children, he was
to be honoured. It simply said, Honour thy father
and thy mother.' So Bessy was silent regarding the
But,' she said thoughtfully, 'if I were to give you
another frock, how would it do for you to keep it
here-in this house? You could come and dress
82 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
here on Sunday morning, and return to undress on
Sunday evening. Do you see?'
Kit nodded comprehendingly. Her eyes shone in-
telligently. Yes, that would be just splendid Every
Sunday she would be dressed all day, neat as neat,
and tidy as the best, and the frock would be safe for
'And I'll come clean as clean, ma'am, on the Sun-
day morning's. You needn't be frightened. I has a
good wash every Saturday; so has Bobby when he's
in the humour. But I always has. That's why I
feels so pertikler oneasy Sundays, when I has to put
a dirty frock over a clean skin.'
'I'm very glad you promise to come clean,' said
Bessy, secretly relieved on the point, for already she
dreaded Matilda's reception of her plan.
'Does you only wash on Saturdays, only once a
week ? solemnly inquired Ruthie, who had been
'Yes, missy; I washes all over once a week, I
does !' answered Kit, in all innocence.
'I wishes I was your little sister, then! observed
Ruthie decisively. 'I'm washed in a bath every
morning and every night!' she went on plain-
Every morning And every night !' echoed Kit,
marvelling how the little missy could possibly get
The Dawn of 'Sweetness and Light' 83
herself so dirty as to necessitate two washings in the
'But, Kit,' Bessy's soft voice broke in again, 'you
must also promise to come regularly to Sunday
School, to hear about the dear Lord Jesus who loves
you and me so well.'
'And me too-and father, and Sandy too!'
edged in Ruthie, who was not losing a word of the
'And you too, and dear father! My darling,
yes !' quickly said Bessy Trench, and her arm went
tightly round the little speaker, so dear to her mother-
heart. You'll promise, Kit ?'
Yes'm. I promise, sure's death !'
'My dear girl, you need never say "sure's death."
It isn't womanly to use such strange, rough lan-
Kit stared fixedly from under her dark brows at
the lady, something after the brooding, sullen manner
of Highland cattle.
'Wouldn't you never say "sure's death," ma'am ?'
'I ? Oh dear no said the shocked Bessy.
'Then I won't, never!' Kit announced, with a
decisive shake of her short, shaggy locks.
'And I shan't never say, "shoo's death" !' A
little voice startled Bessy and Kit alike.
The mother drew her brows together. Here was
84 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
mischief already. Ruthie must not be subjected to
such 'evil communications '-and yet- !
'Kit!' said Bessy aloud, 'don't you see, now, how
wrong it is to use rough speech and to do rough
deeds ? Not only do we injure ourselves, but we cor-
rupt little innocent ones, who copy us in all things.
My little daughter had never heard such an expres-
sion, but in a moment she has picked it up, you hear
'She shan't never hear it again-from me, nor
anything wrong! 'energetically said Kit. For herself,
she did not comprehend there was aught wrong in
what she had said. But already the germ of a new
desire to wriggle out of the evil of her old life was
stirring. As she tramped back through the chilly fog
to Bounders' Rents the step-girl formed many a fresh,
clean resolution for the future. She would keep her
lips from evil-speaking, as well as her fingers from
'picking and stealing;' honesty had, hitherto, been
her sole virtue, but now there dawned in her ignorant
nature the ardent wish to grow cleaner, sweeter, in
mind and in body alike.
HIS FOOT ON THE LADDER
UMMERS and winters had sped by since Manikin
carried a humble bunch of groundsel as his
thanksgiving. The child had shot up into a
boy; his thin, wiry little body was now more in
proportion to his big curly head. And Manikin
had done with school-days; he had entered upon
life as one of its busy workers.
The boy had made his choice of a career, after
much deliberation between 'mammy' and himself.
He would be a printer, so the boy was bound to that
trade for three years, which time was already rapidly
expiring. Every morning Manikin, clean as a new
pin,-for the boy had not outgrown his tidy ways,-
trudged away city-wards to his work, whistling like
But Manikin was still a home-bird, for when even-
ing came, and the day's work was done, he found
plenty of attractions among the curiosities in Daddy
Jeffs' dingy shop. His love of music had grown
86 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
with his years, and the boy was no mean performer
on a violin, which daddy had-in an unusually gener-
ous fit-presented to him. It was rather a crazy,
patched-up instrument, but Manikin loved it as we
usually love our own belongings.
When I'm a man,' the boy had begun by saying,
'I mean to go out as a missionary among the
blacks, mammy, and I'll take my fiddle to play to
Mammy smiled and shuddered by turns.
'I couldn't spare my sonny,' was all she would
say, 'not if 'twas ever so!' and she was thankful
enough when Manikin, after he had tasted the joys of
being able to read, decided that he himself would
be a printer. Mrs. Mullins, good woman as she was,
felt she could never have yielded up her all, even for
the missionary cause. She encouraged Manikin's
new enterprise, therefore.
S'Tis sich a respectable, stiddy trade, deary, a
printer's, and so risin'. Why, there's some as makes
their 'underds of pounds on books. I've read of it, so
it's bound to be true.'
'That's book-writers; 'tain't printers,' rasped out
Daddy Jeffs, who made a practice of listening or not,
just as was convenient, to passing conversation.
'Book-writers! Oh, well, but they all begins as
printers, o' course,' rejoined Mrs. Mullins, with an
His Foot on tke Ladder 87
emphatic decision founded on absolute ignorance.
"Tain't to be expected as folk could be writers
straight off-all of a suddent like. They're bound to
be trained up from the bottom o' the ladder, o'
course,' which sage conclusion on the good woman's
part was worthy of being well-aired among that vast
army of 'fools' who 'rush in where angels fear to
'Well,' hopefully declared Manikin, 'I'll be a
writer-man when I grow up. I'll write bound books,
not them penny numbers as Bobby Lowe is always
reading I don't like them stories.'
'I should think not, indeed, sonny!' indignantly
said Mrs. Mullins. 'Why, the likes o' them isn't fit
to be touched with the tongs, let alone your fingers.
Not that there ain't good and bad. The city mis-
sionary handed me a couple, 'twas on'y yesterday;
real pretty tales they seem, and you're a-goin' to
read 'em out loud to me to-night while I mend them
socks o' yourn.'
It was a peacefully happy time while Manikin's
childhood glided past. He was hedged in from the
evil surroundings by a good woman's loving care,
and Mary Wolcott's boy grew up as pure-hearted
and upright in nature as though she had been per-
mitted to do a mother's part for her child.
Though Manikin could read and write fairly well,
88 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
and his trade had been fixed upon, still the widow
shrank, she hardly knew why, from placing in the
boy's hands the jealously-guarded brown pocket-
book. Time enough yet, she would tell herself, as
she put off, again and again, the evil day, for to her
she instinctively felt it would be an evil day. And
there was nobody to urge her to unravel the mystery,
if any mystery there were, about Manikin's kith and
kin. Daddy was the only person who might have
done so, for Miss Sparkes had long since'changed
her name and condition as a spinster, and betaken
herself to the other end of England. But daddy
showed no sign whatever of curiosity regarding the
matter. Possibly the old violin-player had forgotten
the brown pocket-book.
So there were long, deceitful lulls, when conscience
and memory alike slumbered. Life went along with
such a busy swing that 'S'phia' Mullins almost for-
got Manikin was not her own boy.
After Manikin relinquished those aspirations for
missionary life which were born of wondrous tales
heard from the lips of missionaries home from
foreign fields of labour, mammy's mind was at rest.
A proud, contented woman was she when the boy
was formally apprenticed to a well 'kent' firm of
printers, a decent stock, whose respected name carried
due weight in the land.
His Foot on the Ladder
For three years Manikin was to bring home a cer-
tain little 'wage.' After that time, well, after that,
would come the book-writing, which mammy so
fondly believed would be the natural sequence of the
It was surprising what a literary colour life took
on in the face of Manikin's new occupation. Little
coloured picture-books began to edge themselves in
among the tapes and buttons in the widow's shop-
window, and before half a year was over the counter
had its regular supply of cheap periodicals. And all,
be sure, were of a wholesome sort. Bounders' Rents
should get no poison to taint their sorrowful lives,
and instil germs of vice by-and-by to blossom into
full-blown crimes, and people our prisons with un-
happy, ruined inmates.
'No, indeed! Treat 'em with food for the mind
same's you treat 'em with food for the body,' vigor-
ously said S'phia Mullins. 'If so be as you feed a
child, unstinting, with clean, wholesome food, he goes
out satisfied to the brim, and he ain't half so ready
to hanker after indigesible, half-decayed messes,
which it's* a cryin' shame for shop winders to show
such goods. 'Tis jes' the same with reading You
give the boys and girls-boys in special-stories to
read of adventures as wild as yer please, but with a
good motive for the daring, and them boys won't
90 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
hanker after the bad printed stuff that the devil
hands about right and left in this great London
town of ours. Ah, 'tis so! And, sonny, 'tis a great
responsibility, this trade you've took up, in special
now that you've got past the printing part, and are
coming to the book-writing. You've got to answer,
some day, for everything as you lays down in printed
words. 'Tis like lettin' loose a flood o' waters by
turning a simple little tap; we never knows for
certing where them waters will spread to.'
Mrs. Mullins was excited by her subject, and, as
if carried away by her own simile, she got a bit out
of her depth. Manikin, however, thought mammy's
talk wonderfully clever, and listened admiringly.
The two were seated, with their feet on the fender,
in the room behind the shop, which was shut, for it
was nigh bedtime. Mammy, uplifted by her own
eloquence, was about to resume her harangue on the
good and the bad effects of literature, when a feeble,
flurried rapping on the wall startled both.
'Daddy!' said Manikin, jumping up, and then one
saw what a smart, straight little chap he had grown.
'There must be something wrong with the old
man. I thought as he'd stepped out, for there's bin
no fiddlin' all night. Wait until I light a candle,
deary, and we'll step across the passage to see what's
His Foot on the Ladder 91
Hurriedly the two crossed the narrow slip of
a passage between the twin-shops, and as they
entered the back room, where daddy spent hours
with his Strad., a loud cry broke from Mrs. Mullins'
On the floor of the dirty, grimy, little living-room
lay Daddy Jeffs, huddled in a heap as he had fallen,
evidently. He was moaning loudly, and returned no
answer to the eager questions of the widow Mullins
and Manikin, who both hung over him.
'We must git him on the bed. Whatever's come
to him I can't think,' said mammy.
Daddy Jeffs was but a bag of bones, so, by dint of
pulling and hoisting, the pair at last got the old man
on the untidy heap in the corner that he dignified by
the name of bed. But his moans grew into shrieks
of agony during the struggle.
'Git a sup o' water for him, sonny, quick!'
Manikin fled, to return with a glass of water and a
'Well done, deary Jes' the thing. You sponge
his 'ed, while I git the water between his teeth.'
The cool, fresh water had its effect, and daddy,
suddenly ceasing to groan, opened his eyes.
'What's a-do with you, Jeffs? What was it ?'
anxiously asked the widow. 'What d'ye say ? I
92 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
'Run over a bicycle a scoundrel .
Oh, I'm killed inside of me!' Daddy opened his
The words came disjointedly, and mammy whis-
pered across the prostrate form on the bed,-
'Run, deary, for the doctor, quick!'
Off again fled Manikin through the dingy streets
to the house with the red lamp, while Mrs. Mullins
busied herself loosening her old neighbour's ragged
coat collar, and bathing his face. Daddy Jeffs
looked terribly ashen-grey when the grime was
sponged off his face, and the widow trembled lest
he should die before the doctor came.
'If I'm took for death, neighbour,' gasped daddy,
with a pant between each word, 'you'll find 'em in
the pasteboard-box jes' as you give it me. I never
meant to injure him in the end, s'help me!-least-
ways, I don't think I did. They're the boy's by
rights, but I couldn't give 'em up. 'Twould have
dragged my heart out!'
'If I was you, Jeffs, I'd settle my mind on making'
my peace with God, afore it's too late. Ax pardon
from Him, and never mind earthly things.'
'But I must mind !' shrieked out the miserable,
shivering old creature. 'I tell you they're in the
box, and they're his-the boy's. And if you won't
listen, and I die, some folk will get hold of 'em when
His Foot on the Ladder 93
the old traps are sold; and they're worth thousands,
woman-the purest lustre I ever seed.'
Poor soul!'-mammy compassionately stroked
back the ragged, neglected locks from the wrinkled
brow-'he's ravin' in his mind. I wish the doctor'd
Here I am !' called out a voice ; and, like a fresh
breeze filling the dingy room, Thomas Trench burst
in, active and cheery as ever, but with a touch of
frost here and there on his crisply curling hair.
'Now, then, what have we been doing to ourselves,
hey ? Run down by a bicycle ? Oh, come, come,
that's very serious But let me see for myself what's
When Dr. Trench put on his hat, a quarter of an
hour later, he was able to tell Mrs. Mullins that
although Daddy Jeffs had sustained some terrible
injuries, still, as the mere mention of going into the
hospital sent the old man into a fit of senseless terror,
he thought for a day or two the sufferer had better
not be moved.
I'm ready and willing' to do for him, sir,' said Mrs.
Mullins, with the cheerful alacrity of the poor to
help each other. 'What with us bein' neighbours
for years, and never a tiff-though I will say he's bin
a trial with grime and dirt-I call it my dooty to do
for him, and I shall I'
94 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
'Just so !-I thought you would. And when this
terror about leaving his own room subsides we shall
get him into the Metropolitan. I'll manage all that.'
And Dr. Trench bustled off, quite satisfied that he
had left his patient in capital hands, and marvelling
what would become of this world if it were not for
all the good women in it. Then he thought of the
home-picture he would see in an hour or so, when he
had paid one or two more urgently-needed visits-
a brightly-lighted, pleasant room, with one of the
best of women waiting for him, the woman whose
face was the fairest on earth to him-his Bessy's.
The Trenchs had remained faithful to the neigh-
bourhood, unlovely as it was, where the little medical
man had first started his practice, which had in-
creased during the years mightily. Thomas Trench
was now a prosperous man. He had become widely
known as a conscientious and skilful doctor. People
grew to trust him, and to love him for his unfailing
sympathy. For himself, Thomas had grown to feel
as though the sorrowful, sinful locality were his own
appointed vineyard, in which he, as far as man could,
was to do his Master's work. His wife's family, who
had stormily opposed her marriage with a penniless
doctor, had thought fit to forgive the rash young
pair long ago, and urged Thomas from time to time
to start afresh in some new neighbourhood, where
His Foot on the Ladder 95
he would be surrounded by 'sweetness and light.'
Granny-the wealthy old London goldsmith's widow,
who lived in selfish state-even offered to buy a
more suitable practice for her daughter's husband;
but the little man, loyal to what he considered his
trust, elected to slave away cheerfully, day and night,
for the ever-increasing community of Bounders'
And Bessy was content that it should be so. Her
own youth had been an indulgent one, and steeped
in luxury; but, instead of rendering her selfish, it
had the contrary effect of making her desirous of
brightening the dull, dreary days of her fellow-
creatures. Besides, her own life brimmed over with
lavish happiness; Bessy firmly believed that she
possessed the best husband and the dearest little
daughter this world contained in Thomas and
Ruthie. Why, then, should she hanker after the old
gay life of reckless pleasure which Granny Sylvester
still clung to ? Above all, the knowledge had come
to Bessy Trench that she, too, had work to do in the
world-daily to stretch out helping hands to those
of her neighbours who stumbled into the mire of
sin. Some of these she landed high and dry; others
deliberately preferred the abyss, and resisted her
help-but for all that Bessy never lost sight of these
if she could help it. Even from Bobby Lowe, who
96 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
had gone doggedly down into the depths, she never
turned coldly away; instead, the brave little woman
visited the wretched lad when, convicted of crime,
he was cast into prison, and tried, with all her per-
suasiveness, to melt the ice of deliberately-chosen
sin by keeping before his miserable eyes the fact
that somebody still cared for him.
Bobby Lowe was a conspicuous example of the
condition to which vile fiction will bring a boy-in
the end. He had fed his mind on such evil fare
until he had become thoroughly vitiated-blind to
any sense of right or wrong. To defy authority
became daring courage, and constituted a mutinous
lad, in his view, a hero of the first class. A burglary
became thus glorified into a doughty deed, and the
day soon arrived when Bobby, inflamed with desire
to see himself in print as a hero-housebreaker, joined
a well-known gang, and speedily fell into the hands
of the police.
For Kit, on the other hand, Bessy had worked
wonders. From the day when the ragged step-girl
was permitted to keep her Sunday frock in safety at
the doctor's house, she was a changed being. To
live up as far as she could to that clean, wholesome
tweed frock, which hung on a nail in the spare attic
in the house which Matilda sternly reigned over, was
Kit's new-born aim. A change that set Bounders'
His Foot on tMe Ladder 97
Rents marvelling came rapidly over the girl. She
not only cleaned other folk's steps, but she scoured
the grimy cellar which the Lowes called their home.
Since the unhappy mother's death it had never
looked as Kit now made it. The sodden father, who
worked-when he was sober-at his cobbling trade
in the window, was astounded; but he was too much
enslaved by his infirmity to abet his daughter's new-
born efforts at cleanliness. It was something, how-
ever, that he was conscious of the change. He would
have been still more surprised could he, Sunday after
Sunday, have encountered his girl coming down
the doctor's steps, in her sound, whole raiment, on
her way to Sunday School; for the new respect
for her own neglected body had stirred the desire
to take that same body, cleansed and decently
clothed, into a higher atmosphere than the old
haunts at the Rents.
In time, Kit grew to love her class and her teacher,
and then it was not long before the good seed sown
in the heart that had been gradually prepared for it
took root and sprung up. With a deep and passionate
reverence, Kit grew to love the dear Lord who
had given Himself for her salvation. When once
that fact had been mastered in her heart, Kit joy-
fully surrendered it to her Saviour. She was but
a poor step-girl, and her life a sad unlovely one,
98 The Waif of Bounders' Rents
but the Holy Spirit changed her heart. The rude,
rough language grew gentle. Kit spoke as if she
were a lady, for the wisdom that is from above is
the truest and finest of good breeding. In the
highest society it cannot be surpassed, because
the secret spring of all fine breeding is the ful-
filling of Christ's commandment-' Do unto others
as ye would that others should do unto you.'
All this change of nature in Kit resulted from
the gentle example of a pure-hearted woman.
Small wonder, then, that though his daily grind
was sad and sorrowful, the old sweet melody, Home,
Sweet Home, sang blithely in the little doctor's
'But that poor old soul!' he murmured, as he
fitted his latchkey, and his thoughts reverted to
Daddy Jeffs. 'What a wasted life his has been!
not a human being to care whether he lives or dies.
If he gets over this, he will be a cripple for life.
He is badly injured. Yes, the infirmary will be the
place for Jeffs !'
Who is it, dear ?' Bessy was in the hall ready
to help her husband's coat off. His interests were
hers, and her ears caught his muttered words as he
Then Thomas told his wife of daddy's pitiful
His Foot on the Ladder 99
plight, and of the wretched old man's terror lest
he should be taken to hospital.
'Poor Jeffs! Well, who knows we may get at
his frozen old heart now! I'll go and see him
to-morrow, Thomas,' was all Bessy said.