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Title: That Little Beggar
Author: Hall, E. King
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "That Little Beggar" ***








  CHAPTER I.     JACK AND HIS MASTER.              161

  CHAPTER II.    A SONG AND A STORY.               172



  CHAPTER V.     THE DOCTOR'S HEAD!                218


  CHAPTER VII.   CHRIS AND HIS UNCLE.              244

  CHAPTER VIII.  "I'M A SOLDIER NOW."              259

  CHAPTER IX.    THE GOLDEN FARTHING.              274



"No carriage! Are you quite sure? Mrs. Wyndham told me that she would
send to meet this train."

I looked anxiously at the station-master as I spoke. I was feeling
tired, having had a very long journey; and now, to find that I had the
prospect of a good walk before me was not pleasant.

"I'll go and have another look, mum," he said civilly as he turned away;
"it may have driven up since the train came in. It weren't there before,
I know that."

Presently he returned, and shook his head.

"There's nothing from the Hall," he remarked; "nothing to be seen

I looked round despairingly, first at the deserted-looking little
country station with its gay flower-beds, decorated with ornamental
devices in dazzling white stones, then at the long, white country road,
stretching away in the distance with the July sun beating down upon it,
and sighed. The outlook was not cheering.

"Is there no inn near at which I could find some sort of conveyance?" I
asked, though without much hope of receiving a satisfactory reply.

"None but the White Hart at Teddington, and that's a matter of four
miles off," he replied. "It would take less time to send to the Hall."

"How far off is that?" I inquired.

"It's two miles and a bit. By the fields it's less, but as you are a
stranger in these parts, I take it, mum, you'd do better to keep to the
road if you think of walking," he answered.

"It seems to me the best thing to do," I replied with resignation.

"Well, it's a beautiful afternoon for a walk, if it _is_ a bit hot," he
said consolingly, and, retiring to his office, left me to my own

I started very slowly, determined not to waste any energy, with that
long and hot walk before me.

Strolling gently on I fell to thinking over my past life--the quiet,
peaceful life in the country rectory, where I had lived for so many
years, and which had only ended with the death of my dear old father two
months ago. Now middle-aged--yes, I called myself middle-aged, though I
daresay you at the age of eight, ten, fourteen (what is it?) would have
called me a Methuselah--now I had to earn my own living, and start a
fresh life. I don't want to make you sad, for I am quite of the opinion
that it is better to make people laugh than cry, but I will confess that
as I walked along that sunny afternoon, with the recollection of my
great sorrow still fresh in my mind, the tears came to my eyes. You see,
my father and I loved each other so much, and he was all that I had in
the world; I had no brothers and sisters to share my sorrow with me.

I had gone some distance on my way, when I heard the sound of loud and
bitter sobbing. Hastening my steps, I turned a bend of the road, and saw
a little boy lying full length on the roadside, his face buried in the
dusty, long grass, as he gave vent to the loud and uncontrolled grief
which had attracted my attention; whilst a few yards off stood a little
wire-haired fox-terrier, regarding him with a perplexed and wondering

"What is the matter, dear?" I asked the distressed little mortal, whose
tears were flowing so fast.

But he only mumbled something unintelligible, then burst into renewed

"Get up from that dusty grass and tell me what it is all about," I said
encouragingly, as I stooped down and took hold of his hand.

He rose slowly from the ground and looked at me doubtfully, half sobbing
the while; then I saw how pretty he was. Such a pretty little boy, but
oh! such a dirty one. He had the sweetest violet eyes, the prettiest
golden curls, the most rosy of rosy checks that you can imagine, and he
was dressed in the dearest little white-duck sailor's suit that any
little boy ever wore. But at that moment the violet eyes were all
swollen with crying, the golden curls were all tumbled and tossed, the
rosy cheeks all smudged where dirty fingers had been rubbing away the
tears, whilst as for the white-duck suit--well, to be accurate, I ought
not to call it white. But as the small person inside of it had
apparently been recklessly rolling on the ground, it was not surprising
that something of its original purity had departed.

"What is the matter?" I asked again.

"I took Jack out for a walk and he runned away and I runned after him,
but he wouldn't stop!" he sobbed vehemently.

Then, leaving go of my hand, he made a sudden dash towards the truant,
who as suddenly ran off. My small friend wept afresh.

"He thinks that you are playing with him," I said; "that's why he runs
away. Wait a moment!" seeing he made a movement as if he were again
about to chase the dog.

"Look!" I went on, and going gently towards Jack, I picked him up and
placed him beside his little master.

"Come along, you little beggar!" the indignant little fellow exclaimed,
and, seizing hold of the cause of the commotion, he walked, or rather
staggered, off with him.

Poor Jack! He did look so unhappy. I think you would have been as sorry
for him if you had seen him, as I was. Hugged closely in his master's
arms, his hind-legs hanging down in a helpless, dislocated fashion, he
gazed after me piteously over his master's shoulder, as if to say, "Can
you do nothing to help me?"

He looked so funny and so miserable I could not help laughing. "What!"
you say with some surprise, "and you were crying a little while before?"

Yes, my dear child; yet I could laugh in spite of that, for, you know,
there is no better way of drying our own tears than to wipe away the
tears of another--though they be but the ready tears of a little child.

So I laughed, and I laughed very heartily too.

"Wait," I said. "I fancy Jack is as uncomfortable as you, and that looks
to me very uncomfortable. Supposing we see if both you and he cannot
get home in an easier fashion. Why don't you put him on the ground? I
think if you were to walk back quietly Jack would follow you now."

My new acquaintance wrinkled his dirty little tear-stained countenance

"P'r'aps he'll run away, 'cause he's runned away often and often whilst
he's been out with me, and I sha'n't be able to catch him," he said

"Put him down and see," I suggested. And Jack was dropped on the ground,
though as much I fancy from necessity as choice, since his weight was
evidently becoming too much for his master.

"Are you far from home?" I asked.

"A long, long way," he replied forlornly. "All the way from

"That's where I'm going," I said, "so we can go together."

"Are you the lady what's coming to live with my Granny?" he asked,
slipping his hand confidingly in mine, as we turned our steps homewards.

"Yes," I replied.

"I'm called Chris, but my proper name is Christopher," he stated,
pronouncing it slowly and with some difficulty.

"It's very pretty," I answered, smiling at the diminutive little figure
by my side, "but a very long name for such a little person."

"That's not my only name," he said proudly. "Did you think it was?"

And he laughed pityingly at my ignorance.

"What is your other?" I inquired, as I was intended to.

"Why, I have two others," he answered with still greater pride. "Three
names altogether. Christopher, that's only like myself; and Godfrey,
that's like my Uncle Godfrey; and Wyndham, that's like my Uncle Godfrey
and my Granny too. All our names is Wyndham. What's your name?"


"Beggarley! That's something like what Uncle Godfrey calls me. He says
I'm a little beggar."

"Baggerley, not Beggarley," I corrected him.

"But I would like to call you Beggarley, 'cause then you'd be called
something the same as me. Mayn't I?"

A suspicious tremble in his voice warned me to give way, unless I was
prepared for another outcry from that healthy little pair of lungs. The
tears were evidently still near the surface. I therefore weakly yielded.

"Very well, dear," I replied in a resigned voice; and Chris, brightening
at once, continued his conversation.

"I'm seven years of age. How old are you?" he next remarked, regarding
me with interest.

"Too old to tell my age," I replied evasively.

"As old as my Granny?"

"I don't think so."

"Then how old?"

"Chris, you shouldn't ask so many questions," I said, with a touch of

"I only wanted to know if you was too old to play with me," he said,
looking at me reproachfully out of his great violet eyes.

"I will certainly play with you if you are a good boy," I replied, in a
mollified voice.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" he exclaimed, dancing by my side with pleasure;
"'cause I have no one to play with me. Granny is too old, and Briggs
says when she runs it makes her legs ache as if they will break."

"I will run a little sometimes, but I can't promise to do much," I said

"Oh, you needn't always run," he said, encouragingly. "There is one or
two games where you needn't hardly move. Just a little tiny bit, you
know. Will you play at trains?"

"What is it?"

"Oh, such a nice game! and you needn't run unless you like. I'll be the
train and the engine, and you can be the guard and the steam-engine
whistle. Then you need only walk about at the station and take the
tickets, and just scream high up in your head like this" (and Chris gave
vent to a loud and piercing scream--so unexpectedly loud and piercing
that I almost started). "That's like the steam-engine goes, you know,"
he explained.

"I couldn't do that," I said with decision, when I had recovered from
the shock.

"Then p'r'aps you'd like to play at lame horses," he suggested. "You
needn't scream then, only jog up and down as if you'd got a stone in
your foot. I'll be the coachman, but I won't make you run fast, 'cause
it would be very cruel of me if you had a stone in your foot; wouldn't
it?" he continued, virtuously.

"Very," I agreed, as we turned into the lodge-gates of Skeffington, and
pursued our way up the drive.

"There's my Granny," he remarked presently, leaving go of my hand and
running towards an old lady, who, with her work-table by her side and
her knitting in her lap, was dozing comfortably in a big wicker chair on
the shady side of the lawn.

"Granny! Granny!" shouted Chris excitedly, and at the top of his voice.
"Here's the lady what's coming to live with you."

At the sound of his voice the old lady gave a nervous jump, opened her
eyes, and, replacing her spectacles which had fallen off her nose,
arose, looking round as she did so with a bewildered air.

"Miss Baggerley, I presume," she said with an old-fashioned courtesy of
manner, and advancing towards me with outstretched hand. "But how is it
that you are walking? Was not the carriage at the station to meet you?"

"No, she walked all the way; and she didn't know the way, and I showed
it to her," Chris put in eagerly. "I showed it to her all myself."

"The carriage was not at the station. But it was not of the slightest
consequence, I assure you," I replied, as soon as Chris allowed me to

"But two miles and a half in this hot sun, and after your long journey
too!" Mrs. Wyndham said apologetically. "I am most distressed, I am
indeed. I have a new coachman who is not very bright. He has doubtless
made some stupid mistake. Dear me, how unfortunate!"

"It didn't matter, 'cause _I_ found her and _I_ showed her the way,"
Chris reiterated with pride.

"Hush, my dear child!" Granny said gently. Then, for the first time
becoming fully aware of his very unkempt condition, "What have you been
doing, my darling?" she exclaimed with surprise; "and what do you mean
by saying you met Miss Baggerley? Where did you meet her?"

"I took Jack for a walk and he runned away, and was such a naughty
little dog. And I felled down and hurted myself, and I cried," Chris
concluded with much pathos, as he saw Granny shake her head at the
account of his doings.

"My darling, it was very wrong of you to leave the garden," she said.
"You know when Briggs left you, she never thought for a moment that you
would go outside the gates. And, oh, how dirty you are! Your nice white
suit is all black! Miss Baggerley, I fear you met a disobedient, a very
disobedient little boy indeed."

"I hurted myself very much," Chris remarked, in the most pathetic of

Granny relented. "Where did you hurt yourself, my dear child?" she
asked, with some anxiety.

"On my knee, and on my face, and on my hand," he replied still with

"Go at once, darling, to Briggs, and ask her to bathe all your bruises
with warm water," she said. "Or, if they are very bad, tell her that she
will find some lotion in my room."

"Wasn't Jack a naughty little dog?" he asked, recovering, as he held up
a smudgy little face to be kissed.

"I'm afraid it was someone else who was naughty," she answered, with an
attempt at severity; "yes, very naughty indeed. But we'll say no more
about it, for I think you are sorry; are you not, my Chris?"

"Very, very sorry, Granny," he replied, but more cheerfully than
penitently, as he ran off, relieved at the matter ending in so easy and
pleasant a fashion.

"I'm afraid I spoil him dreadfully," Granny said, looking fondly after
the retreating little figure. 'You're ruining the little beggar'; that's
what my son Godfrey tells me. But then my Chris has no father or mother,
so I feel very tenderly towards him. He has such a lovable nature too,
it is difficult not to spoil him. You have doubtless seen that for
yourself already, have you not?

"And now, my dear," she added kindly, "I'm sure you must want your tea
after your long journey, and that hot walk afterwards. It was a most
unfortunate mistake about the carriage. I cannot tell you how
distressed, how very distressed, I am about it."



Yes, Granny was quite right. It was difficult not to spoil that little
beggar. Everyone helped to do so; everyone, that is to say, but one
person. That one person was Briggs, Chris's dignified and severe nurse.
The whole household concurred in petting and spoiling him in every
possible way. Briggs alone maintained her course of justice, inflexible
and unbending. Her yoke was not one under which the little beggar
willingly bowed his head. He was not accustomed to any yoke, and Briggs'
was not at all to his taste.

In consequence of this state of affairs, nursery rows were by no means
infrequent; nor was it very long before I witnessed one. It was but a
few days after I had arrived, and I was sitting one afternoon in the
library reading the _Morning Post_ to Granny, who was busy with some
work she was doing for the poor.

It was a quiet and peaceful state of affairs which we were both
enjoying. Suddenly, however, we were interrupted by a tap at the door,
and the entrance of Briggs, flushed, heated, and slightly panting.

"If you please, mum," she began, a little breathlessly, and placing her
hand on her side as if to still the beating of her heart, "I wish to
know if Master Chris is to be allowed to speak to me as he likes?"

"Certainly not, certainly not," Granny replied, raising herself straight
in her arm-chair, and trying to assume the severity of manner she felt
was suitable to the occasion. "What has he been saying?"

"It was just this, mum," Briggs started, with the air of resolving to
give a full, true, and particular account; "it was just this. We were
down in the village, and I stepped into the post-office to buy a few
reels of black cotton, which it so happens I have run out of. Likewise,
I wanted to buy some blue sewing-silk, which you may remember, mum, you
asked me to keep in mind next time I happened to be that way."

"Yes, I remember, Briggs. And Master Chris was naughty?" Granny said,
gently trying to bring her to the point.

"Well, mum, I was going to tell you," she continued, without hurrying,
"when I had bought the cotton and the silk, it came to my mind to buy a
packet of post-cards and two shillings' worth of stamps. But the
rector's young ladies had come in, and being pressed for time, Mrs.
Thompson, she says to me, 'I make no doubt but that you will let me
serve the young ladies first'; to which I made answer, 'I wait your
pleasure'. But Master Chris he gets cross, because he wants to go on
home at once and roll his new hoop. 'Come along, old Briggs!' he says;
'come along, you old slow-coach!' Such behaviour, such language! Before
the young ladies from the rectory, too! Where he learnt it I'm sure I
can't tell. Not from me, I do assure you, mum," she concluded with

"It was very naughty of him," Granny remarked mildly.

"But that was not all, mum," the irate Briggs continued; "for all the
way home he walks in front of me, tossing his head and singing as loud
as possible, '_For I'm a jolly good fellow_'; and Jack there barking and
making such a row alongside of him; it was for all the world like a
wild-beast show. Nothing I could say could stop the pair of them."

She paused to allow Granny to take in the full extent of Chris's
enormity. As she did so, a scampering of little feet was heard outside,
the handle of the door was impatiently turned--first the wrong way, and
then rattled angrily. Finally the door itself was burst open, and that
little beggar ran in, with excited countenance; the big holland
pinafore, in which Briggs insisted upon enveloping him, and his especial
detestation, half dropping off him, and trailing behind on the ground.

"Granny," he began immediately, "is '_For he's a jolly good fellow_',
that Uncle Godfrey sings, a wicked song?"

"It's very naughty of you to behave rudely to Briggs," she replied

Looking round, Chris's eyes fell upon Briggs, whom at first he had not
noticed; then, realizing that she had been first in the field, he burst
into a loud, tearless wail.

"Briggs, you're a nasty, nasty thing, and I hate you!" he cried
vehemently, stamping his foot as he spoke.

"There, mum! Is that the way for a young gentleman to speak?" she asked,
not without a certain triumph.

"I don't like you!" Chris cried, stamping his foot again. "You are
always cross! Nasty, cross, old Briggs!"

"Chris, I am shocked, very, very shocked," Granny said gravely. "You
must stand in the corner for a quarter of an hour."

The little beggar wailed again; real, unfeigned tears this time.

"I don't--want to--go into--the corner," he said sobbing. "It's
all--your fault, Briggs."

Briggs shook her head slowly and solemnly from side to side.

"Oh, Master Chris!" she exclaimed, "is that a way for a nice young
gentleman to speak?" Then she left the room with dignity.

Chris, looking after her with impotent anger, moved towards the corner
with laggard steps, crying bitterly as he did so.

"Must I go into the corner, my Granny?" he wailed. "Uncle Godfrey is
never sent into the corner."

"Yes, yes, you must, Chris," she said, obliging herself to be firm.

The little beggar looked entreatingly with large tearful eyes at her, as
he crept towards the hated corner. But she would not allow herself to
relent. Justice, in the form of the deeply offended Briggs, had to be
propitiated, and Chris had to bear the punishment for his misdeeds.

At the same time, I believe Granny would joyfully have gone into the
corner herself, if by so doing she could have spared her darling this
wound to his pride, and yet have satisfied her own conscience. I think,
indeed, in her sympathy for Chris in his disgrace, she really suffered
more than he. It was therefore with relief, and as a welcome diversion
that, when the footman came to announce the arrival of visitors, she
rose to go to the drawing-room.

"I must go, Miss Baggerley," she said. "Will you be so kind as to see
that Chris stays in the corner for a quarter of an hour? Only for a
quarter of an hour, if he is good; but I know that he will be good, for
he does not want to make his Granny unhappy any more. I am sure of
that." With which gentle persuasion she went.

For a time Chris wept loudly and sorely, after which he was silent, save
for an occasional sniff. This silence continued uninterrupted for so
long that it at last aroused my suspicions. Turning my head the better
to see him, I found that he was engaged in drawing strange and mystic
signs upon the wall, by the simple process of wetting his finger in his

Hence the explanation of this sudden calm; for so absorbing, apparently,
was this occupation, that it had had the effect of drying up all those
bitter tears which, but a few minutes earlier, had flowed so freely.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "You must not dirty the wall like that."

"I am writing my name," the little beggar said with much pathos.
"Chris-to-pher God-frey Wyndham. Then when I'm dead and gone far away
over the sea, Granny will see it, and she'll be sorry she was so cross."

"Jane will wash out those dirty marks," I replied, ruthlessly destroying
his mournful hopes. "They will not remain there."

At this the little beggar desisted from disfiguring the wall, but
reiterated, though more weakly, "Granny will be very sorry by and by;
she was cross, and she'll wish she hadn't put me in the corner."

"No, she won't," I answered decisively; "she'll be sorry that you were
naughty, but she won't wish that she had not punished you. You deserved
to be punished."

Feeling that I did not regard him as the ill-used little being that he
considered himself, and that there was a want of sympathy about my
remarks that was not altogether to his taste, Chris once more was

Ten minutes elapsed, broken only by an occasional sigh from the occupant
of the corner. Then I was asked wearily:

"Is it nearly time for me to come away?"

"Yes," I said, as I looked at my watch, "you may come out now."

A forlorn little figure came towards me, and crept on my knee.

"Was I very naughty?" he asked, deprecatingly.

"Yes, dear, I am afraid you were," I answered. I should have liked to
speak more severely, but that was a difficult matter with Chris.

"Briggs is a nasty thing," he said, nestling his head contentedly on my

"Granny will send you back to the corner if she hears you speak like
that," I said, with more confidence than I felt upon the subject.

"She was so unkind to me; she isn't a kind Briggs," he said. "Do you
like her?"

Then without waiting for an answer he went on: "I love my Granny best,
and Uncle Godfrey next, and you next, and Briggs last,--the most last."

"If you were good to Briggs you would love her more," I said.

"Would I?" he asked doubtfully.

"Yes," I answered; "and though you are a happy little boy now, you would
be still happier then. There is nothing that makes us happier than to
love people very much and try to be kind to them."

"Even Briggs?" he inquired, thoughtfully.

"You should not talk of her like that," I said, trying not to smile.
"She is really very fond of you, and very kind to you. If she was angry,
it was because you were rude."

Chris moved impatiently. He did not like that view of the case. There
was a pause, then: "Shall I tell you a story?" I asked. "I shall just
have time before you go to your tea."

"I don't know," he answered, with some indifference. "I've heard them
all lots of times. Briggs has told them to me often and often--'Jack the
Giant-Killer', and 'Jack and the Beanstalk', and 'Red Riding-Hood', and
'Cinderella' ("I don't much like those two," he put in, with a touch of
masculine contempt, "'cause they're all about girls"), and 'Hop o' my
Thumb.' And the story of the Good Boy who had a cake, and gave it all
away to the Blind Beggar and his dog, except a tiny, weeny piece for
himself; and the Bad Boy who had a cake, and told a wicked story, and
said there never was one, 'cause he didn't want anyone else to have it;
and the Greedy Boy who had a cake, and ate it all up so fast he was
dreadfully sick. Briggs has told them all to me, and she says there
ain't no more stories to tell; leastways, if there are, she's never
heard tell of them."

"If I were you I shouldn't say 'leastways', 'never heard tell', or
'ain't no more'," I remarked as he paused, out of breath.

"Why not?" he asked.

"They are not the expressions a gentleman uses," I answered.

"Does a lady?" he asked with curiosity; "'cause Briggs does."

"My dear child, never mind what Briggs does. We were not talking of
her," I replied. "You know I have told you before you should not always
ask so many questions. It is a troublesome habit."

"Is it?" he said, with the utmost innocence.

"Decidedly," I replied, and once more struggling not to mar the effects
of my words by smiling. "Well, about my story. It is not one of those
you have spoken of. I don't think that you have heard it."

"Then tell it to me, please," he said, with a touch of condescension.

"Well, once upon a time," I began, in the most approved fashion, "there
were two men who had a great hill to climb. It was a long and difficult
climb, but, if they only reached the top of that hill, they would be
fully rewarded for all their pains. I will tell you why. There was
there a beautiful country, where they would live and be happy for
evermore. It was such a beautiful country! The trees were always green,
the flowers never withered, and it was always sunny,--never a cloud to
be seen. The Lord of that country was not only very great and powerful,
but He was also very loving and good. He knew how wearying and difficult
that uphill journey was to the dwellers in the valley beneath. So, in
His love, He sent messengers to tell the travellers how they must
journey if they hoped ever to reach the beautiful country over which He

"One of these messengers came to the two men of whom I have spoken just
before they started on their journey, with these plain and simple

"Follow the straight and narrow path that leads up-hill; you cannot
mistake it, for it goes right on without any curves or twists. You will
come across many rough and difficult places, but do not turn aside,
though the path leads you over them. You may see other paths that lead
round them, but don't turn off from the narrow one. Don't take the
others; they don't lead up, they lead down. The straight path is the
only right one. _Go straight on, don't be afraid._ These are my Lord's

"'The journey is very tiring,' went on the messenger, 'and the sun will
beat down by and by with much fierceness, so that you will suffer at
times from great thirst. But, see, my Lord has sent you these!' As he
spoke, he held out two flasks. You cannot imagine anything so beautiful
as they were. They were made of pure gold, bright and shining, and
ornamented with diamonds that flashed and sparkled in the light like
fire. To each of the men the messenger gave a flask.

"'Look,' he said, 'and you will find that they are filled with fresh,
clear water. This water is magic; it will never come to an end, and you
will never suffer from thirst, so long as you obey the order which my
Lord sends you. This is the order. Drink none yourself, but give of it
to all who need it. If you do so, your thirst will never overpower you.
But if you are churlish, and wish to keep it for yourself, some day you
will suffer--suffer terribly. By and by you will find, too, that there
is no water left, for the magic will all have gone! The beauty also of
your flasks will have all disappeared; the gold will have become dim,
the diamonds will have lost their sparkle, and you yourself will have no
power to go onwards and climb higher. Good-bye--remember that my Lord
waits to welcome you with love.'

"Now, when he had given them these directions, the messenger went, and
after a while the two men started on their journey.

"At first the hill went up so gently that they hardly noticed the
incline. The way did not appear very difficult in the beginning. They
went through a wood where the trees were all young, and the leaves a
tender green, as you see in the springtime, Chris, my dear. And the
sunlight fell through the trees and made a pattern on the ground, which
moved slowly and gracefully as the gentle breezes swayed the branches.
There were no rough places then, or, if there were, they were so slight
that the two travellers hardly remarked them. And as they walked along
they sang in the joy of their hearts; the sunshine, the soft light
breezes, the pretty wild flowers, the trees--all made them so glad and
so happy. Nor did they forget to give to all who passed by some of the
fresh, pure water out of their golden flasks.

"By and by they came out of the pretty little wood, and the hill became
steeper, the rough places rougher and more frequent.

"Then one grew impatient. He wanted to go on more quickly than he had
done hitherto. It seemed to him a waste of time to stop so often to give
to the passers-by that pure, refreshing water. Besides, he began to
doubt the truth of the message he had received. It did not seem possible
to him that he could give away the water in his flask and yet not
suffer from thirst. He resolved to keep it all for himself. Nor could he
believe that it was always necessary to follow the narrow path. It was a
different thing when it led through the pretty wood, but now that it led
so often over such difficult places, he determined to find an easier
one. Therefore he separated from his companion, and went his own way,
avoiding all the roughnesses of the road, and taking the paths that
seemed less hard. Nor did he any longer stop to offer to others the
magical water of his golden flask, he kept it all for himself, and let
the wearied and sad ones pass him by without compassion.

"But he never remarked how dim the gold of the flask was growing, nor
how fast the water was diminishing. Nor did he see that instead of going
up he was really going down-hill, and that the paths he chose were
misleading him. In his hurry he never noticed this, till one sad day it
came upon him.

"He had been feeling very tired and out of heart, for the way seemed so
long and tiring. Yet, he had been struggling on, hoping to find his rest
at last. On this day, however, he found that his strength had gone; he
could climb no further. He took out his flask, now so dim, hoping to
quench the terrible thirst that was overpowering him; but alas! alas!
there was hardly any water left; not nearly enough to revive him. So
there, by himself, sad and disappointed--for he knew that now he would
never see the happy land he had started for with such glorious
hopes,--he died--died all alone and uncared for!

"And the other traveller? Well, he went straight on as the good Lord had
directed. Often the rough places were terribly rough, and the sharp
stones in the pathway wounded his feet sadly. Nevertheless, he never
turned aside; he went right on as he had been directed, whilst to all
those who passed by, thirsting for some of the beautiful, clear water
from his golden flask, he gave freely and willingly. Little children who
met him with tearful eyes went on their way laughing and singing. Older
people, also, who were too tired to cry, whose hearts were heavy with
many sorrows, drank of that water and went on their way refreshed. And
his golden flask remained bright, and the water within it undiminished,
right to the very end.

"What was the end? Ah, it came sooner than he thought it would! The
journey was not so very long after all! And when he arrived at that
beautiful country, and his eyes saw 'The King in His beauty', he forgot
all about the rough places, and all about his past weariness. It was the
land of sunlight, you see, and the land of shadows passed from his
recollection for ever."

"Is that all?" Chris inquired, as I paused.

"Yes, that's all," I replied.

"It's a very nice story," he said, patronizingly. "I like it almost as
much as 'Jack the Giant Killer' and 'Jack and the Beanstalk', and better
than 'Cinderella'."

"Shall I tell you what it means?" I asked.

He looked at me doubtfully.

"Are you going to scold me?" he asked, moving restlessly on my knee;
"'cause I'm going to be a good boy now."

"No, my dear, I'm not going to scold you," I said reassuringly. "I only
want to tell you what I mean by my story."

"Will it take long?" he asked; "'cause I'm hungry, and want my tea."

"No, it won't take long," I answered persuasively. "I will tell it to
you quickly. This is what it means. You know, Chris, God wants us all to
go to heaven and live with Him by and by. In His great love He has shown
us all the way; it is the way that the blesséd Jesus went; a way that
sometimes takes us over hard and difficult places, but that always goes
up--never down. It is a way that leads us higher and higher, right away
to the happy land you were singing of last Sunday. But there is one
thing God has told us to do if we ever hope to reach that happy land--we
must love everyone. Just as the man who in my story reached the
beautiful land at last, just as he gave freely of the water in his
flask, so must we give freely of the love God has put into our hearts.
He has put it there, not that we should spend it on ourselves, but that
we should spend it on others. So long as we do that, so long will our
hearts remain pure and good as God wants them to be. And the more we
love everyone, the more we shall know of God, and the nearer we shall be
to heaven; for you see, dear, to know God is Heaven, and God is Love."

I paused, and Chris looked contemplative.

"I'm going to be like the good man, who gave away the water out of his
flask," he said, with the air of one taking a great resolution. "I'm
going to love everyone, and Briggs too."

"I like to hear you say that," I said, stroking his head, with the
tumbled, golden curls. "Now, I think you had better go to your tea.
Briggs will be waiting for you."

He jumped off my knee and went as far as the door, then came back to my

"Miss Beggarley," he said, putting his arms round my neck, "I want to
give you a great, good hug like I give my Granny. I love you very, very



"If you please, mum, what am I to do about Master Chris's lessons? You
said you wished me to look over his clothes this morning, and I haven't
time for that and lessons too." Briggs looked inquiringly at Granny as
she spoke.

"Of course not, of course not," said Granny. "Bring me his books,
Briggs; I will give them to him to-day."

"Yes, Granny, you give me my lessons," exclaimed Chris, dancing with
glee and clapping his hands, evidently looking forward to a frivolous
hour in her company.

"I hope, mum, you'll see he does no tricks," Briggs said, when she
returned with Chris's books. "He's very fond of them. He'll read over
what he's read before, with a face as innocent as a lamb's, and if I
don't remember he'll never say a word to remind me."

"Go away, Briggs; I don't want you," the little beggar remarked with
more truth than politeness.

"Master Chris, I shall always stay where my duty calls me," she answered
with loftiness, "as my mistress knows."

"Certainly," Granny replied soothingly. "Chris, I cannot permit you to
speak to Briggs in such a way. Where are your lesson-books?"

"Here, mum," Briggs said, producing two or three diminutive red books
and a tiny slate.

"Thank you. Then you had better go and get on with your work," said
Granny, and Briggs left, with a last admonitory look at the little
beggar, which he received with one of defiance.

"May Jack do lessons too? He's just outside," he asked as Granny opened
his reading-book.

"Very well," she agreed, and he ran off to fetch him. He returned
presently, followed by his four-legged friend, who, selecting a sunny
spot near the window, lay basking there, blinking at us lazily with
sleepy eyes, as from time to time he roused himself to snap at the flies
within reach.

"I want to get on your knee, my Granny," Chris said, suiting the action
to the word.

"I don't think you will do your lessons so well," she said, doubtfully.

"Oh yes, I will!" he replied coaxingly, and was allowed to remain.

"Let us read this," he proposed, opening his book and pointing to a

"What is it? A little dialogue?" answered Granny. "Yes; it looks very

"It's very difficult. So will you be the lady, and me the gentleman?"

"Yes, if you would like that. But as I am helping you, you must be very
good, and read your very best."

"My very, very best."

There was a pause.

"Now begin, my darling; we are losing so much time," Granny remarked.

"Why, it's you to begin," Chris replied, with a touch of reproach at
having been unjustly censured. "Don't you see? You are Sue!"

"Quite true, to be sure, so I am," the old lady said apologetically,
then began gently and precisely:

"'_She._ Sir! sir! I am Sue. See me! see me! The cow has hit my leg! She
has hit her leg out up to my leg, and she has hit it and I cry! Boo!

To this announcement of woe, Chris replied, or rather chanted in a
sing-song tone, and as loudly and rapidly as he could:

"'_He._ Why, Sue, how is it? Why do you cry so? You are not to cry, Sue.
It is bad to cry. Put the cry out and let me see you gay.'"

"Not so fast," Granny here remarked mildly; "not so fast, and not so

"I want to finish it," he explained. "I want to get my lessons done very

"Ah! but they must be done properly. You see that, my darling, don't
you?" she said. Then continued:

"'_She._ I am to cry, and to cry all the day. I am so bad and so ill,
and my leg is hit, and it is too bad of the cow to hit my leg.'"

"'_He._ Did she hit you on the toe?'"

"'_She._ No. She hit me by the hip, and it is a bad hip now, and she is
a bad, old, big cow, and she is not to eat rye or hay; no, not a bit of
it all the day.'"

"'_He._ Not eat all the day! not eat rye, not eat hay!'"

At this point, Granny stroked Chris's head and said commendingly:

"You are reading very well now, very well indeed. You have made great
progress since I last heard you."

The little beggar wagged his head solemnly. "I want to read well," he
stated gravely. "I want to read very well; then I shall read big books
like my Uncle Godfrey."

"You are a good little boy," she said. "I am very pleased with the pains
my little Chris is taking."

A suspicion crossed my mind. Was he indulging in one of the tricks of
which Briggs had forewarned Granny?

"Have you ever read this before, Chris?" I asked.

"Oh, yes; often and often!" he replied, with the utmost candour.

"Oh, my darling, why did you ask me to let you read it now?" Granny
said, looking grieved.

"'Cause I read it so well," he explained, without exhibiting any proper

"Ah! but you might have known Granny didn't want an old lesson," she
said gravely. "It wasn't quite right; was it, Miss Baggerley?"

"No; it wasn't fair," I assented.

Chris hung his head. "I didn't mean not to be fair," he said, with
touching contrition.

Granny's heart softened. "I don't believe you did, my Chris," she
remarked gently.

Chris put his arms round her neck and hid his face on her shoulder. "I'm
very sorry," he mumbled. Then raising his head:

"I am going to be a very fair boy," he said magnanimously, touched by
Granny's forgiveness; "I'm going to be a very fair boy, and I am going
to tell you that I don't know the lady's part as well as I know the
gentleman's part. Shall I be Sue, my Granny?"

"Yes. Now that's an excellent idea," she said, with much satisfaction,
and glancing at me with a look of pride in her darling's noble
repentance. "I consider that an excellent idea, indeed; and I am very
pleased that you should have proposed it."

Chris's face fell. "Don't you think that it is silly for a big boy like
me to be Sue?" he asked, with evident disappointment that his offer had
been accepted.

"Not at all," Granny said. "It's only in a book, you see, my pet."

"I don't like being a girl," he murmured. "I don't want to be Sue."

"I thought, though, that you wanted to show Granny you were sorry for
not having told her you were reading an old lesson," I remarked.

He sighed, without answering me; then after a pause, continued with an
effort and a hesitation that offered a striking contrast to the glib
manner of his previous reading:

"'_She._ Yes; for why did she hit me? She is a big and bad old cow. See
her! See how fat she is! She is as fat as a sow. She has a fat hip, and
a fat rib, and a fat ear, and a fat leg, and a fat all.'"

As he came to the end of the sentence he sighed once more, very heavily
and sadly, then waited.

"Yes, yes, go on," Granny said, as he looked at her expectantly; "read
to the end, like my good little boy."

He obeyed, but with a look of protest on his face, which changed to one
of injury, when, at the close of the one lesson, he found that Granny
intended him to read another.

This was not what he had expected, and he was disappointed with her

"That is just as much as I read with Briggs," he said, looking at her
with a world of reproach.

"But you must read as much with me as you do with Briggs," she said,
looking slightly fatigued with the arduous duty of giving the little
beggar his lessons.

"Why must I?" he asked.

"Now, now, don't ask so many questions," she said slightly flustered.
"Begin here, my dear child."

"'Ben! Ben! I can see a fly!'" he started impatiently, and stumbling
over the words in his haste; "'and the fly can fly, and the fly can die,
and the fly is shy, and can get to the pie, and can get on the rye! and
the fly can run, and can get on the bun, all for its fun! and the fly is
gay all the day, and oh, Ben! Ben! the fly is in my ear, so do put it
out of my ear.'"... Chris came to a stop, and leant his head back on
Granny's shoulder.

"What a funny thing it must be to have a fly in your ear," he remarked
thoughtfully. "Have you ever had a fly in your ear, Granny?"

"Never, my darling," said the long-suffering old lady patiently; "go

Chris obeyed; now, however, reading in a listless fashion, as if he had
no further energy left.

He continued without a breath, until he reached the following: "Ah, but
now it has got in the oil. Oh, fly, fly, why do you go to the oil?"

This was too good an opportunity to be lost.

"Granny," he said idly, and yawning as he spoke, "I want to ask you

"Yes, my Chris," she said inquiringly.

"Why did the fly go to the oil?" he asked with feigned interest.

"My darling, how can I possibly tell you?" she exclaimed. "See, you are
slipping right off my knee. You can't read properly so."

Chris scrambled back to his former position, and then continued reading
in a desultory fashion.

"'Oil is bad for a fly. So, now I put you out of the oil, and now I say
you are to get dry. Ah! but now the fly is on the pot of jam, and it is
on the jar and in the jam. The red jam, the new jam, the big jar of

"How nice!" he exclaimed, with more enthusiasm. "May I have some red jam
for my tea to-day?"

"If you are a good boy, and read right on to the end of the lesson
without stopping," she replied. Thus encouraged, Chris with an effort
toiled to the conclusion without any further pauses.

"'By, by! Wee fly!' Now must I do my sums?" he asked all in a breath as
he came to the end.

"Yes; I think you had better," Granny replied, holding the slate-pencil
between her fingers and looking meditatively at the slate. "I will write
you out one."

"_Sometimes_ Briggs doesn't write horrid sums on the slate; _sometimes_
she asks me sums she makes up out of her head," he said, insinuatingly.
"I like that better, it is much, much nicer."

"Sometimes Briggs asks you sums out of her head, does she?" Granny
repeated, putting down the slate-pencil. "Well, now, what shall I ask

"Something about Jack," he said, getting off her knee and sitting on the
ground beside the dog. "He's such a naughty, lazy, little doggie; he's
done no lessons at all. Now, listen, Jackie, and do a sum with me. If
Granny asks me something about you, you must think just as much as me.
Mustn't he, Granny?"

"Of course, of course," she replied absently. "I'm to ask you something
about Jack, my darling. Let me see, what shall it be?"

She looked at Jack for a moment as she spoke, who blinked back at her
inquiringly, as if to ask, "What are you all talking so much about me

Then with a look of inspiration:

"I know," she said. "There were six--no, there were eight flies. Jack
swallowed one--yes, he swallowed one, he ate another--let me see, how
many flies did I say? Eight flies? Yes, eight. Well, he swallowed one,
and he ate one, and"--she took off her spectacles and thought a
moment--"he bit another in halves.

"Yes, that will do," she said with satisfaction. "He swallowed one, he
ate another, and he bit another in halves. How many flies were left to
fly away?"

Chris knitted his brows. "Lots," he replied, as he pulled one of Jack's

"Come, come, think," Granny said reprovingly. "He swallowed one--that
left how many?"

"Seven," said Chris.

"Very good. He ate another?" she went on--

"That left six," the little beggar said, looking very astute.

"That's right. And he bit another in halves. Then, how many were left to
fly away?" she asked with mild triumph.

"Five and a half," answered Chris. Then thoughtfully: "How did the
half-fly fly away, my Granny? P'r'aps Jack only ate the body and left
the wings. Was that how it happened?"

"My pet shouldn't ask such silly questions," Granny said, speaking more
testily than she generally did. "I only said, _supposing_ there were
eight flies."

"Well, supposing," Chris persisted; "how would the half-fly fly away

"It wouldn't, it couldn't. You see, my darling, it would be dead," the
old lady said, becoming flurried.

"But you said it would," Chris said with some perplexity.

"There, there, that will do," she said. "You are a silly little boy to
think such a thing. We must get on with your other lessons, for the time
is passing."

"Shall I have a holiday now?" he suggested lazily.

"No, no; that would never do," she said. "You had better do some more
sums; but on the slate. Miss Baggerley, will you be so kind as to give
them to him. That, with a little spelling and a copy, will, I think, be
sufficient for to-day;" and the old lady, leaning back in her arm-chair,
closed her eyes with an exhausted expression.

"Miss Beggarley," said Chris in a coaxing voice--he never failed thus to
distort my name--"may I get on your knee and do my lessons, like I did
on Granny's?"

"No, you had better not," I said, hardening my heart. "How do you expect
to write well if you sit on my knee?"

"'Cause I know I could," he replied confidently.

"No, no," I said firmly; "we won't try. Come here; you sit on this chair
and write this copy. Now show me how well you can write and spell. I
know a boy no older than you, and he writes and spells beautifully for
his age."

"Better than me?" Chris asked anxiously.

"Well, write and spell your very best, and then I shall be able to
tell," I replied with caution. The mention of my small friend of
advanced powers as scribe and speller proved a happy thought on my part.
The effect was excellent. Chris's mood changed; his lazy fit passed away
in a burning desire to emulate--not to say outdistance--his unknown
rival. With frowning brow and tongue between his teeth, he laboured
assiduously at his copy, without uttering a word, whilst Granny, lulled
by the quiet which prevailed, slept the sleep of the just.

I felt, indeed I had cause to be, fully satisfied with the result of my
remark, for its effects lasted not only whilst the copy was being
written but even through the spelling-lesson; an effect that could
hardly have been anticipated when the varying moods of that little
beggar were taken into consideration.

As I closed the spelling-book, "Miss Beggarley," he said, gazing at me
with anxious eyes, "have I written my writing and spelt my spelling as
well as that other boy?"

"Yes, I really think you have; at least very nearly."

"P'r'aps I shall quite, to-morrow."

"Perhaps you will--if you take great pains."

"Shall I kiss my Granny?"

"No, you will wake her up."

"Why does she want to go to sleep? She often goes to sleep when she does
my lessons. Do boys' lessons always make old people sleepy?"

"That depends on the little boy who does them," I replied gravely. "If
he tires his granny very much, it is not surprising that she should go
to sleep."

Chris looked thoughtful.

"Have I been a good boy?" he said.

"You were inattentive at the beginning, dear," I replied, "but you were
good afterwards."

"Then I shall tell Briggs I have been a good boy," he remarked with
satisfaction. And with a certain expression of anticipated triumph upon
his face, he walked off, followed by Jack, his constant and faithful



"Tell you a story? What shall it be about? I thought you were tired of
stories." Granny spoke a trifle drowsily. It was very warm that
September afternoon--an afternoon that made you feel more inclined to
sleep than to tell stories.

But Chris was not to be denied.

"I want a story very much," he said; "very much indeed."

"Perhaps Miss Baggerley would tell you one," suggested Granny. "I am
sure it would be a more interesting one than any I could think of."

"I don't want anyone to tell me a story but you," answered the little
tyrant wilfully; "only you, my Granny."

"Then I will, my darling," she replied, plainly gratified at this
preference so strongly expressed. "But you must wait a moment," she went
on, "I shall have to think."

She closed her eyes as she spoke, and there was silence, broken only by
the sounds of the world without carried through the open windows--the
lazy hum of the bees amongst the flowers, the gentle, monotonous cooing
of the wood-pigeons in the trees, the far-off voices of children at

Presently the little beggar became impatient.

"Why don't you begin, Granny?" he asked, pulling her sleeve as he leant
against her knee.

She started from a slight doze into which she had fallen.

"Let me see," she said with a start; "I had just thought of a very nice
story, but I was trying to recollect the end. I think I remember it

"There was once a very beautiful Newfoundland dog," she began hurriedly.
"Yes, he was a very beautiful dog indeed."

"How beautiful?" interrupted Chris, with his usual aptitude for asking
questions. "As beautiful as Jacky?"

"I think more beautiful," she replied, without pausing to consider.

"Then he was a nasty dog," he said, with vehemence. "I don't like a dog
what is more beautiful than my Jacky."

"He was such a different kind of dog," she said deprecatingly. "A
Newfoundland dog cannot very well be compared with a fox-terrier, my

"What was his name?" asked the little beggar, accepting Granny's
explanation and letting the matter pass.

"Rover; that was what he was called," she replied. "His little mistress
loved him dearly," she continued.

"Did he belong to a _girl_?" Chris inquired, with some contempt on the

"Yes; and they always used to go out for pleasant walks together," she
went on. "But never near the river, for she had said many a time,
'Don't go near the river, my darling, for it is not safe; not for a
little girl like you'."

"Who said that?" he asked, speaking with some impatience. "The little
girl--or what?"

"The little girl's mother," replied Granny, a trifle drowsily.

"You're going to sleep again!" Chris exclaimed reproachfully. "Oh,
Granny, how can you tell me a story when you're asleep?"

"Asleep! Oh no, my darling," she said opening her eyes. "Well, one day,
I am sorry, very sorry to say, Eliza--"

"Was that the little girl's name?" inquired Chris.

"Yes," she answered. "Didn't I tell you her name was Eliza? Dear, dear,
how forgetful of me! As I was saying, Eliza thought, in spite of her
father's and mother's command, she would go to the river, for she wished
to pick some of the water-lilies which grew there in such profusion."

"How naughty of Eliza!" exclaimed Chris, with virtuous indignation.

"Yes, very naughty; very naughty indeed," agreed Granny, her voice again
becoming sleepy. "It was sadly disobedient."

There was another pause, during which Chris listened expectantly, and
the old lady once more closed her eyes.

"Oh, Granny! do go on," said the anxious little listener fervently.

"She picked several which grew near the river's brink," the old lady
continued with an effort, "and at first all went well. But at last she
saw a beautiful--a remarkably beautiful one that grew just out of her
reach. It was a most dangerous thing to attempt to pick it, but she did
not think of that, for she was very, very thoughtless as well as
disobedient. Bending forward, heedless of her father's warning call, and
her poor dear mother's sorrowful cry, she lost her balance,

The last few words were uttered in a whisper, Granny's sleepiness having
once more overtaken her, bravely as she struggled against it.

"How drefful!" said Chris, with wide-open eyes. "Was poor Eliza
drownded? Oh, I hope she wasn't! Did she get out? Oh, say yes, Granny!
And where did her father and mother call to her from? Right from the
house? 'Cause I thought you said she was alone."

But the only answer to his torrent of questions was a gentle snore. The
time he had occupied in pouring forth these queries had sufficed to send
Eliza's historian asleep.

Chris's little face fell.

"My Granny has gone quite asleep," he remarked with much disappointment.
"Now I shall never know if Eliza was drownded or not. P'r'aps she's
only pretending. I'll see if her eyes are fast-shut," he added,
preparing to put Granny to the test by lifting one of her eyelids.

"Don't do that, Chris," I said hastily. "Come here, I'll tell you the
rest of the story."

"Do you know it?" he asked doubtfully.

"I can guess it," I replied, as he crossed the room to my side.

"Then what happened to poor Eliza?" he inquired anxiously; "and did
Rover help her? Oh! I do hope he did."

"Well," I started, taking up the story at the point at which Granny had
dozed off, "when her father and mother--who were near enough to see what
had occurred--realized the danger their little daughter was in, they
were filled with horror. It seemed as if they were going to see her die
before their eyes; for they were so far off that it looked as if it were
not possible to get to her before she sunk. And this is just what would
have taken place had not help been at hand. Eliza, her water-lilies, and
her disobedient, little heart would have sunk to the bottom of the river
for ever, had it not been for--what do you think Chris?"

"I know, I know!" he cried, clapping his hands. "It was Rover; the good
dog. He swam after her."

"You are right," I said. "There was a plunge, and there was Rover
swimming to the help of his little mistress. For a minute it appeared as
if the current was carrying her away, and as if he would not reach her
in time. How, then, shall I describe her father and her mother's joy
when they saw him succeed in doing so, and, seizing her by the dress,
bring her safely to the river's bank! No," as Chris looked at me with
inquiring eyes, "she was not hurt; only very wet, and very frightened."

"I 'spect she was very, very frightened," Chris said, loudly and
eagerly; "and I 'spect she never, never went near the river
again,--never again. Did she?"

"No, my darling," Granny said, awakened by his loud and eager tones in
time to hear his last question, and sitting up and rubbing her eyes;
"she was never such a naughty little girl again. She expressed great
sorrow for what had occurred, and she learnt to be more obedient for the
future. Indeed, she became so remarkable for her obedience, my pet, that
they always called her by the name of 'the obedient little Eliza'."

"Now nice!" Chris remarked with unction. "You've been fast asleep, my
Granny," he informed her, with a laugh--pitying and amused.

"Dear, dear, is it possible?" she said.

"Yes, and Miss Beggarley had to finish the story," he continued.

"I'm much obliged to you, my dear, I'm sure," Granny said gratefully.

"I hope I told it as you intended it to be told," I said laughing.

"You told it just as it should have been, I am fully convinced," she
answered with gentle politeness; "much better than I should have

"But she never told me what happened to Rover afterwards," put in Chris.

"He lived to a great age," answered Granny, adjusting her spectacles and
resuming her knitting, "and was loved and honoured by all. And when he
died he was beautifully stuffed and put into a glass case."

"I wish he hadn't died, my Granny," said the little beggar mournfully,
unconsoled by the honour paid to Rover's remains. Then, with a sudden
change of thought: "Can Jack swim like he did, I wonder."

"That I can't say, my darling," Granny replied, intent on her work.

"I think I had better teach him," the little beggar said, looking very
wise; "'cause if you, or Miss Beggarley, or me, or Briggs felled into
the water like Eliza, Jacky could bring us out, and save us from being

"Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine," murmured Granny, busy
counting the stitches on her sock, and too much occupied to pay
attention to what Chris said. "Twenty-nine! Now, how have I gone wrong?
Miss Baggerley, my dear, would you be so kind as to see if you can find
out my mistake?"

"I know!" exclaimed Chris, as Granny handed me her work; "I know very
well what I will do. I'll--," and he stopped short.

"What will you do, my pet?" asked Granny, a little absently, watching me
as I put her knitting right.

But Chris shook his head. "A surprise!" he said, and closed his lips

I felt that it would be safer for the interests of all to probe the
matter further, and was about to do so, when there was a tap at the
door, and Briggs entered.

"Master Chris," she said, "it's time for your walk."

Now, generally the little beggar murmured much and loudly when he was
interrupted by Briggs. On this occasion, however, he showed no
disinclination to go with her, but on the contrary went with alacrity.

"I think he is really becoming fond of her," Granny remarked with some
satisfaction when they had gone. "Perhaps, after all, I shall not have
to send her away at Christmas, as I feared I should have to if she and
Chris did not understand each other better. I shall be very glad if I
can let her stay, for although she has an unsympathetic manner--yes, I
must say that she strikes me as being extremely unsympathetic to the
darling at times; don't you think so, my dear?--yet I know that she is
thoroughly reliable and trustworthy."

"I wonder if Chris's readiness to go with her had anything to do with
his 'surprise'," I answered. "It looks to me a little suspicious, I must
own. I hope he has not any mischievous idea in his little head."

"Oh, no, my dear!" she replied, almost reproachfully; "the darling is as
good as gold. There never was a better child when he likes. No, no, he
is not at all inclined to be troublesome to-day; I think you are

I kept silence, for I saw that dear old Granny was not altogether
pleased at my suggestion. Nevertheless, in spite of her reassuring
words, I did not feel convinced that the little beggar was not going to
give us some fresh proof of his remarkable powers for getting into
mischief. And further events justified my fears.

I will tell you how this happened.

About half an hour later I was taking a stroll in the garden, when,
turning my steps in the direction of the pond, I suddenly came upon
Chris, accompanied by Briggs. That something was amiss was at once
evident. Briggs was walking along, with her air of greatest
dignity--and that, I assure you, was very great indeed,--whilst Chris,
by her side, was also making his little attempt at being dignified.

But it was the sorriest attempt you can imagine!

Dripping from head to foot, water running in little rivulets from his
large straw hat upon his face, water dripping from his clothes soaked
through and through, and making little pools on the garden-path as he
pursued his way--a more forlorn, miserable-looking little object it was
impossible to conceive.

In spite of this, however, he would not let go of that attempt at
dignity. With his hands in his pockets, and his head thrown back, he
whistled as he walked along, with the most defiant expression he could
assume upon that naughty little face of his.

And the procession was brought up by Jack, with his tail between his
legs, also dripping and shivering violently.

Directly Chris saw me the defiant expression instantly vanished, and
running to me, he buried his face in my dress and wept at the top of his

"What is the matter, Chris?" I asked. "What has happened? What have you
been doing?"

"What _hasn't_ happened, and what _hasn't_ he been doing?" said Briggs,
coming up and speaking very angrily. "And what will happen next? That's
what I ask."

"What has happened now?" I repeated.

"One of Master Chris's tricks again, that's all," she said, still
angrily, as we all walked on to the house.

"I was--teach-teach--teaching J-J-Jack to--to swim--like Ro-Ro--Rover,"
the little beggar said between violent sobs, and bringing out the last
word with a great gasp.

"Teaching Jack to swim like Rover!" I repeated.

"Yes," exclaimed Briggs, with much sarcasm; "and it was a mighty clever
thing for Master Chris to do, seeing as how he can't swim himself.

"It was just like this, mum," she explained, as she hastened her steps,
"(I think we had better hurry a bit if Master Chris isn't to take his
death of cold. He'll be in bed to-morrow unless I'm much mistaken!) I
was just speaking to one of the gardeners about a pot of musk we wanted
in the nursery. I hadn't turned my back two minutes before I hear a
splash and Master Chris crying out at the top of his voice, and when I
look around there he is struggling nearly up to his neck in water, and
Jacky struggling along by his side. Well, here we are back; we'll see
what my mistress thinks of it all. I'll be bound she won't be over and
above pleased. As for me, I can only say I am more than thankful it was
at the shallow part of the pond; if it had been at the deep end, there's
no saying if he wouldn't have been lying there now stiff and stark."

At this woeful picture of himself, Chris's grief, which had become
slightly subdued, burst forth afresh, and as we entered the hall he
sobbed more loudly and more violently than before. So loudly and so
violently that the sound of his grief penetrated to the library where
Granny was sitting, and brought her out into the hall, frightened and
anxious to know what was wrong.

"He nearly drowned himself, that's what is the matter, mum," answered
Briggs, with a certain gloomy satisfaction, in reply to the old lady's
anxious questions. "It's nothing but a chance he isn't at the bottom of
the deepest end of the pond at this very same minute that I speak to

At this startling, not to say overwhelming statement, Granny became
quite white, and, holding on to a chair near at hand, did not speak.

"There is nothing for you to alarm yourself about, Mrs. Wyndham," I said
quietly.--"Chris, stop crying; you are frightening Granny.--He managed
to fall into the pond, trying to teach Jack to swim, but it was at the
shallow end, so there was no danger."

Thus reassured, Granny looked at me with relief.

"Thank God!" she said earnestly, as she kissed the little beggar
thankfully, all wet and tear-stained as he was.

Then, with an attempt to control her emotion, but speaking in a voice
that trembled in spite of herself:

"Come, come," she said to Briggs, "we must not waste time in talking. We
must put Master Chris to bed at once, and get him warm. See how he
shivers. Yes, come upstairs at once, my darling, and I will hear all
about it by and by."

And, together with Briggs and the cause of all the confusion, she went
upstairs to take precautions for the prevention of the ill consequences
likely to follow upon his rash deed. It was some time before she came
downstairs again, and when she did so she looked worried.

"I am afraid, very much afraid, he has caught a chill," she remarked.
"He so easily does that."

"Perhaps you may have prevented it," I said hopefully.

"I wish I could think so," she replied, shaking her head; "but I much
fear that it cannot be altogether prevented. He is not strong, you see,
my dear."

"And to think," she went on admiringly; "to think the darling ran that
risk all because of his loving little heart; because he feared that
some day we might be in danger of being drowned, and that if Jack could
swim we should be rescued. Isn't it just like the pet to think of it?"

"It is," I agreed with conviction; adding cautiously, "It would have
been better, I think, if he had told you of his idea before trying to
put it into effect. It would have given everyone less trouble."

"He wished to surprise us all by showing us he had by himself taught
Jack to swim," Granny returned, quick to defend her darling. "No, no, I
see how it happened; he was thoughtless but not naughty. Indeed, I take
what blame there is to myself. I should have considered, before I told
him the story of Eliza and her dog Rover, the effect it was likely to
have upon an active, quick little brain like his."

I smiled. It was quite plain that dear old Granny in her loving way
wished to take all the blame upon her own willing shoulders, and to
spare that incorrigible little beggar....

It was some three days after this, and I was sitting in the nursery by
Chris's crib, trying to amuse him and wile away the time until Briggs
came back with the lamp, when it would be the hour for him to say
good-night and go to sleep. The bright September afternoon was drawing
to a close, and twilight was beginning to fall.

In spite of all Granny's precautions he had not escaped from the
consequences of his tumble into the pond, but had caught a severe chill,
and so had had to stay in bed for these last three days. He was very
sweet and gentle in his weakness, that poor little beggar; partly, I
think, because he felt too tired to be mischievous, and also, I am glad
to say, because he loved his Granny very dearly and was truly sorry for
the fright he had given her. I had been telling him stories for the last
half-hour, but having now come to the end of my resources, for the
moment we were quiet.

With his hand in mine, Chris lay looking out through the window at the
stars as they came out slowly, slowly in the gathering darkness.

Presently he asked:

"Do you like the stars? I like them very much."

"Yes, Chris," I answered; "so do I."

"I think they are the most beautifullest things," he remarked with

"Yes, they are," I replied. "They are like the great and loving deeds of
God, falling in a bright shower from heaven upon the earth beneath."

"When I go to heaven, will God give me some stars if I ask Him very
much?" Chris inquired, most seriously. "P'r'aps if I ask Him every day
in my prayers till I'm dead He will then."

I smiled a little.

"No, darling," I said, smoothing his hair gently; "the stars are not the
little things they seem to you. You see, they are worlds like our world.
It is only because they are such thousands and thousands of miles away
that they look to you so small."

Chris pondered over this for a moment or two, then he said thoughtfully:

"Miss Beggarley, I want to ask you, when the good man got to the top of
the hill, did he see that the stars were big worlds and not little, tiny

"Yes," I replied, half to him, half to myself; "he saw then that those
things which, at the foot of the hill, had seemed to him so small and so
far away he had given them but little consideration, were in reality
great, and beautiful, and worlds in their importance. And he saw, too,
that the things which in the valley beneath had appeared to him of such
infinite value were by comparison poor and valueless, not worthy the
thought he had given them or the pain they had so often caused him...."

I heard a footstep, and looking round, saw that Briggs had come back.

"I must go now," I said to Chris, kissing him. "It is time for you to
sleep. Good-night, dear!"

"Good-night!" he said, then turned his head towards the window and lay
still, gazing solemnly with big, sleepy eyes at the stars that shone



As Chris regained his strength he also regained his love of mischief--a
state of affairs that proved somewhat trying. To keep him in bed and to
keep him good was not a very easy task.

"The trouble it is, mum, words can't tell," Briggs said to me with
fervour one evening when I had come upstairs to see that Chris was
comfortably settled for the night. "If I turn my back for a moment he is
half out of bed," she said, as she detained me for a moment as I went
through the day-nursery. "He is that full of mischief I hardly know what
to do with him."

"It shows he is getting strong again," I said, half smiling.

"It's the only way I can get any comfort," she said, sighing.

Poor Briggs! She really looked tired as she spoke, and I felt sorry for

"You look very tired," I remarked.

"I've had bad enough nights lately to make me so," she replied. "Master
Chris--he is always waking up and coughing and coughing till I'm nearly
driven wild. It's my belief it's the barley-sugar has got something to
do with it. Ever since the doctor said some had better be given to him
when he got coughing it seems to me his cough has got a deal worse."

"Why don't you put a little by his crib?" I suggested; "then he needn't
wake you up when he wants it."

"I did try that last night," she answered, "but by the time I went to
bed myself he had eaten it all up, and there wasn't a scrap of it left."

"I think he will be well enough to get up soon," I said hopefully.

"I think so too," she replied. "It was only yesterday I said so to Dr.
Saunders, but he didn't seem to think the same.

"I don't altogether hold with him," she continued, with a return of her
usual dignified manner; "and so I told my mistress this morning. He is
over-careful, and I've no belief in these medical gentlemen who are
given that way. When he comes to-morrow--There, if I didn't forget!" she
interrupted herself to exclaim.

"What have you forgotten, Briggs?" I asked.

"My mistress asked me in particular to remind the doctor that he said
Master Chris would be the better of a tonic, but he had forgotten to
leave the prescription," she answered. "I never thought of it this
morning when he was here."

"I should make a note of it," I suggested.

"Which is the very thing I'll do," she assented. "I'll write it down now
on Master Chris's slate whilst it is in my mind. It's the only way to
remember things, I do believe.

"Though it is my opinion, mum," she added, as she carried out her
intention; "though it's my opinion a physician should not need reminding
of such things. But there! he is always forgetting something. He has no
head! I should like to know where it is sometimes, for it isn't always
on his shoulders, I'll be bound!"

"How can the doctor's head not be on his shoulders?" asked a puzzled
little voice. "'Cause he'd be quite dead if he had no head."

At this unexpected interruption Briggs and I looked in the direction
whence the voice proceeded, and saw a little figure standing on the
threshold of the door that led into the night-nursery. A little figure,
in a long white nightgown, with tumbled, golden hair falling about the
flushed little face, and two great violet eyes shining like stars, and
dancing with mischief and glee.

I confess I felt a weak desire to take that naughty but bewitching
little beggar in my arms, and kiss him in spite of all his sins. But
Briggs experienced no such weakness.

"Master Chris!" she exclaimed in horrified amazement; "what next, I
should like to know? This is past everything."

Then snatching him up in her arms, she carried him back to bed,
struggling and vehemently protesting at being treated in so summary and
undignified a fashion.

As for me, I presently went downstairs laughing, with the sound of
Chris's voice still ringing in my ears:

"Put me down, Briggs. I will be a good boy. I don't want to be carried
like a baby." Then with his usual persistency: "But I want to know--why
do you say that the doctor sometimes has no head on his shoulders,
'cause how could he live without a head?" Then again, in the most
insinuating of voices: "Shall I tell the doctor about the medicine he
forgot, and shall I write down all the things you want to know, and all
the things I want to know, and everything. Would I be a good boy if I
did? I want some barley-sugar, 'cause my cough's drefful bad."

"Chris is certainly recovering," I said to Granny when I joined her in
the drawing-room, and told her what had occurred. "He is quite in his
usual spirits again."

"His is a happy disposition, is it not?" she said, with satisfaction.
"The child is like a sunbeam in the house; so merry, so bright!"

The next morning, however, the sunbeam was comparatively still; not
dancing, gay, and restless, as sunbeams often are.

The little beggar was in one of his quiet moods--moods of rare
occurrence with him, as you will have gathered.

"The darling is like a lamb," Granny remarked when she came downstairs;
"very gentle and so good. He wants you to go and sit with him a little,
if you are not busy, my dear."

"Certainly," I said, and went up to the nursery to see Chris in this
edifying rôle.

I found him busy, drawing strange hieroglyphics on a large sheet of
foolscap paper with a red-lead pencil. As I entered he looked up at me
for a moment with a preoccupied expression, then said mysteriously:

"Miss Beggarley, what do you think I am doing?"

"I don't know," I replied. "What is it? Let me see."

"No, no, no!" he cried, bending over the paper, "you mustn't see. I
don't want you to know."

"Then why did you ask me?" I inquired.

"'Cause I wanted to see if you could guess," he said.

"It's nothing naughty, is it?" I asked.

"Oh no!" he replied in the most virtuous of voices, "it's very good.

"I've done now," he remarked a few minutes later, sitting up and putting
the sheet of foolscap and the red-lead pencil under his pillow. "When I
get better will you play horses with me? You said you would, and you
never have."

"That is very wrong of me," I answered. "Yes, I will play with you when
you are better."

"When will the doctor come?" he suddenly asked with some eagerness.

"Very soon now, I think," I replied. "It is just about his time."

"Will you be a lame horse when you play, or a well horse?"

"Which of the two horses has the least work?"

"The lame horse."

"Then I'll be the lame horse."

"Is that the doctor?"

I listened. "Wait a moment, I'll see," I replied, and went to the

Yes, it was the doctor. I could hear him and Granny talking as they
walked along the passage; Granny on her favourite topic--the virtues of
her darling.

"Yes," she was saying, in answer to some observation of her companion's,
"he really shows a great deal of character for one so young. But he has
done that from the earliest, from the very earliest age. When he was a
baby of but a few weeks old, he would clutch hold of his bottle with
such resolution, such tenacity, that it was, I assure you, a difficult
matter to take it from him."

"Quite so, quite so," the doctor answered blandly as they entered; "as
you say, great tenacity of purpose.

"Well," I heard him continue, after having passed through the
day-nursery to the one beyond; "well, and how are we to-day?"

"Quite well," answered the little beggar's voice cheerfully.

"Quite well? We couldn't be better, could we?" he said jocularly. "Yes,
I think we are looking so much better we may get up to-day, and go for a
walk in the sun to-morrow. What do you say, Master Chris?"

"I want to ask you a lot," I heard Chris say importantly.

"Very well," replied the doctor good-naturedly, "let us hear it;" at
which point curiosity prompted me to go to the door of the night-nursery
and look in.

Chris was in the act of drawing, with no little pomp, the large sheet of
foolscap from beneath his pillow.

"Read it," he said, handing it to the doctor with pride. "I've printed
it all myself."

The doctor laughed as he glanced at it.

"I think," he said, "you had better read it to me yourself, my little

"All right!" answered Chris. "It's all questions I want to ask you. I've
written them down in case I forget them."

I here saw Briggs glance up uneasily, and was myself conscious of some
feeling of disquietude. Could Chris's questions have anything to do with
Briggs' remarks of the previous evening? A recollection came back to me
which, till that moment, had slipped from my mind. Had not I heard a
suggestion made by a naughty, struggling little mortal being carried
back to bed against his will? "Shall I write down all the things you
want to know, and all the things I want to know, and everything?"

A presentiment of coming confusion came upon me, and I half stepped
forward to try and stop Chris going further in his proposed catechism.
But I was too late; he started without delay.

"May I have sugar-candy for my cough instead of barley-sugar, 'cause
I've eaten so much barley-sugar?" he began pompously.

"Certainly," replied the doctor laughing; "we won't make any difficulty
about that."

I gave an involuntary sigh of relief at hearing so harmless a question,
whilst Briggs looked less anxious, and Granny smiled.

"Shall I be well enough to run my hoop to-morrow?" he went on, loudly
and slowly, pretending to read from the sheet of foolscap he held. "I
have a new one, and I'm tired of not running it," he added.

"Very well, we'll see," the doctor answered. "If the sun is out I
daresay we shall be able to run our hoop a little bit to-morrow. But we
must be careful not to over-tire ourselves. Anything more, my little

"Yes. Why did you forget to leave the 'scription for my tonic
yesterday?" continued Chris. "And will you remember it to-day?"

The doctor laughed, but with some constraint. Briggs looked up
anxiously, and the smile vanished from Granny's face.

"What! Are we so fond of medicine?" the doctor asked, trying to speak as
before, but unable to prevent a touch of annoyance being heard in his
voice. "Little boys don't generally care for it so much. Yes, I will
leave the prescription to-day."

"There, there, that will do," interposed Granny nervously, moving
towards the door.

"But there is one other question I want to ask very much," Chris said,
again feigning to refer to his paper.

"Yes?" said the doctor inquiringly, pausing in his progress towards the

"What do you do with your head when it isn't on your shoulders?" he
asked, with the innocent expression always to be seen upon his face when
he was creating the greatest awkwardness.

At this question Briggs became scarlet, looked as if she were about to
speak, then appeared to alter her mind, and, turning her back, busied
herself arranging the medicine-bottles on a little table near the crib.
The doctor himself appeared more bewildered than anything else.

"What do you mean?" he said. "Where can my head be except on my

"Well, that was what I thought," Chris said, triumphantly. "I said you'd
be dead if your head was off your shoulders."

"I should have concluded that everyone must have been of the same
opinion," he said, still mystified, whilst Granny shook her head gently,
and frowned at the little beggar, hoping to prevent any further
discussion of the subject. A futile hope. Chris was resolved to go to
the bottom of the matter.

"Well, Briggs said it wasn't!" he exclaimed, "and what did she mean?"

The doctor's expression of mystification changed to one of annoyance, as
he remarked with no little displeasure:

"I think you had better ask Briggs herself for an explanation of her
remark," then left, accompanied by Granny--poor Granny, awkward and
mortified beyond measure at the embarrassing situation.

As for Briggs--who had certainly been the principal sufferer--her
indignation burst out as soon as we saw the last of the doctor.

"Well, I never!" she exclaimed indignantly. Then with increased wrath,
"Well, I never did!" After which two exclamations she paused to find
suitable words in which to condemn the enormities of which Chris had
been guilty.

For his part, he was not in the least disturbed by the general
embarrassment--the only one who was not.

He gazed up at Briggs with an expression of injured innocence.

"Are you cross, Briggs?" he asked. "Have I been naughty?"

"Have you been naughty, Master Chris?" she asked, with wrathful sarcasm.
"Oh, no! there _never_ was such a well-behaved young gentleman."

"Surely, Chris," I said, coming into the night-nursery, "you knew that
you had no business to repeat to Dr. Saunders what Briggs said to me?"

He hung his head a little guiltily.

"I wanted him to 'member about the tonic," he replied; "and I did want
to know what Briggs meant about his head coming off his shoulders.
Wasn't I a good boy?"

He received his answer, however, from Granny, who returned at this
moment, a bright spot glowing in each of her faded, pink cheeks.

"My Chris!" she said, "my darling! What foolish thought made you ask
such questions?"

Chris wrinkled his brows. "I want to be a very good boy and please you,"
he said querulously, and with a tremble in his voice; "and now Briggs
scolds me, and now you scold me, and now I'm very unhappy."

"But don't you see, my pet," Granny said, more calmly; "don't you see
what rude questions you asked Dr. Saunders? Oh, I felt ashamed of my
little Chris!"

The little beggar at this point crawled to the bottom of his crib.

"I shall stay down here," said a muffled voice. "I shall stay here
always and never come back again, as my Granny is so unkind."

"But you must see," she reiterated, addressing a shapeless mass of
bed-clothes, "that you asked the kind doctor very naughty questions, and
very silly ones too. Did you not understand when Briggs said that he had
no head, she meant that he had a bad memory, my child? Did you not
understand that? And did you not think how insulting, how very insulting
it was to ask him such a question? And about the tonic too. Surely, my
darling, if you had thought you must have seen that. And, especially,
how wrong it was to repeat what you overheard. Does not my pet see what
his Granny means?"

The mass of bed-clothes moved impatiently, but there was no reply.

"As for me," put in Briggs with dignity, "I felt as if I was going to
sink through the floor, I was that ashamed!"

"Yes, yes, and so were we all," agreed Granny. "Indeed, had not my Chris
been ill, I should have felt obliged to punish him for his
thoughtlessness. But he is sorry now; that Granny feels sure of. Is he

Her question was received in sullen silence.

"Come, come," she said, "this is not the way I expect my child to

"Nor any other little gentleman either," put in Briggs, with asperity.

There was an expectant pause, but no answer from the little beggar
buried beneath the bed-clothes.

Granny looked at me with a puzzled expression.

"Well, Chris, we have no time to waste with naughty little boys," I
said, "so we are going downstairs. But I am surprised that you should
treat your Granny so; I thought you loved her."

There was still no reply, and we turned to go.

But ere we reached the door the shamefaced but slightly defiant little
beggar cried out:

"I _do_ love my Granny!"

At the sound she turned back with a radiant smile, and saw with delight
two little arms stretched out to her appealingly, and two large tears
trickling down a penitent little face.

"There, there! we will say no more," she exclaimed, forgivingly; "for
you are sorry, my pet, are you not?"

"Very, very sorry," said the little beggar with contrition; "and very
hot, dreffully hot; and I won't ask the nasty doctor nothing ever

"Not the 'nasty' doctor; the nice, kind doctor who has made little Chris
well again," she corrected gently. "And you are going to be a good
little boy now, darling?"

"A very good boy; as good as Uncle Godfrey," Chris said brightening up,
as he saw that he was to be blamed no more.

"That's my pet," she said, covering him up and tucking in the

"I'm so glad," she continued to me as we went downstairs, "that he came
round, and was good in the end. But I knew he would. Sulkiness is not
one of his faults; no, no, nobody could say that.

"I suppose," she went on a little uneasily, "Godfrey would tell me that
I ought to have been more severe with the child. 'You've let the little
beggar off too easily, mother,'--that's what he would say. But between
ourselves, my dear, I sometimes think that officers in the army are
accustomed to such obedience, such implicit obedience, that they are at
times inclined to carry their love of discipline too far. Don't you
agree with me? Not that Godfrey is a martinet! Oh, no! he is far from
that; such a favourite, so beloved by the men under his command. But you
understand what I mean, do you not?

"However," she concluded, with a certain relief, and as a salve to her
conscience in the shape of her son Godfrey's opinion, "now I think of
it, I did tell the poor darling that if he had not been ill I should
have felt obliged to punish him. Of course, so I did. That will serve as
a warning to him in the future; won't it, my dear?"



"I can't, my pet; I can't tell you a story to-day," said, or rather
whispered, Granny huskily. "I have such a bad cold I can hardly speak."

Chris looked at her solemnly with wide-open eyes.

"Are you very ill, my Granny?" he inquired very seriously, and sinking
his voice to the sympathizing whisper which seemed to him to befit the

"Not very ill, darling," she whispered again with an effort; "only a
very bad cold.

"I am quite losing my voice," she added to me, shaking her head. "Most
trying, my dear."

"How drefful!" exclaimed Chris with sympathy, and still speaking in a
whisper. "What a drefful thing!"

"I have a good piece of news for you, my Chris," she whispered, with
another effort. "Someone is coming home--to-day--this very
afternoon--that you and I shall be--very, very--glad to see. Who do you
think it is?"

Chris considered a moment, then suddenly looked enlightened.

"I know, I know!" he cried, jumping about and clapping his hands, in the
excess of his joy forgetting to whisper, and putting to their full use
his well-developed little lungs. "I know!" he repeated. "It's my Uncle
Godfrey. Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"

Granny nodded, and held up a telegram. "I've just had this," she said,
with an attempt to regain her natural tone, which ended in an almost
inaudible whisper, and her voice going away completely. "Few nights ...
way to London.... Isn't ... treat ... pet?" she whispered brokenly. "Must
be ... quiet ... tired."

"Yes," I put in, taking upon myself to act as interpreter; "Granny is
very tired, Chris; so if you stay here, you must be quiet."

"Did I make a noise and tire my Granny, and was I a naughty boy?" he
asked penitently, becoming very subdued in voice and manner.

Granny smiled at him tenderly, and shook her head.

"No, dear," I said; "you have not been naughty. We did not mean that."

Thus reassured, the little beggar looked relieved; then, with a glance
of deepest sympathy at his Granny, he ran out of the room as if struck
by a sudden thought.

In a few moments he returned, carrying something carefully wrapped up in
his pinafore. Then, going up to her, he drew out a piece of paste
bearing some rude resemblance to a man, and laid it with triumph on her

"My Granny," he whispered proudly, "see what I have brought you. Cook
gave it to me for my tea, and I'm going to give it to you, and you may
eat it all up; every bit. P'r'aps it will make you feel happy, as you
have a cold."

Granny opened her eyes slowly and languidly, but seeing the paste
figure, she sat straight up in her chair, with an expression of the
strongest disapprobation.

She opened her mouth and endeavoured to speak, but this time without
success; she could not make herself heard. She rose, therefore, and
going to the writing-desk, took a sheet of note-paper, and, in a neat,
old-fashioned, Italian hand, wrote the following reply, which she placed
in my hand, signing to me to read aloud:

"My darling, this is a most unwholesome and indigestible thing. It would
not make either my Chris or his Granny happy to eat it, but would
probably make them both ill. I am much surprised that Mrs. James should
have given it to you; she should have known better. You may, instead,
have some of the sponge-cake we had at lunch, but I cannot permit my pet
to eat this paste, nor can I eat it myself. But he will understand how
much Granny appreciates his kind thought."

Chris listened to this long message attentively and without
interruption, for there was a solemnity about the proceeding that much
impressed him. When I had finished reading it, he regarded the object of
Granny's displeasure with suspicion, mingled with awe; then remarked in
a solemn and stage whisper, and in the manner of one bringing a grave
charge against his poor, misguided friend:

"Cook called it 'Master Chris's little friend'. That's what she called
it, my Granny."

"Tut, tut!" said Granny, as she heard this charge made against Cook.

By her expression, it was plain to see that she would have liked to say
more had she been in full possession of her voice. Failing that,
however, she was obliged to content herself with "Tut, tut!" and a
gentle frown.

"Come, Chris," I said laughing, "we'll leave Granny in peace now and go
and play in the library, or I will tell you a story. Take your 'friend',
the man of paste, with you, and see if Jack would like to eat him."

"What shall we do?" asked Chris, slipping his hand into mine as we left
the drawing-room.

"Would you like a story?" I asked.

"No, thank you; I don't want a story now, I think," he answered, with
some caprice. He thought a moment or two, then exclaimed: "I know! we'll
paint. I'll get the new paint-box Granny has given me, and a
picture-paper, and we'll make lovely pictures."

"Very well," I said, not dissatisfied with this arrangement, which I
hoped would only require on my part advice from time to time, or
admiration, as required.

Taking a book, therefore, I sat down in an easy-chair near the
writing-table, where Chris, having fetched his paint-box, settled
himself, labouring for a time silently and earnestly at his paintings.

Presently he asked:

"What colour shall I make this horse? Shall I make him black?"

"A very good colour," I replied.

"Then, you see, I could call him 'Black Prince'," he went on. "I
couldn't call him 'Black Prince' if I made him brown, could I? I'd have
to call him 'Brown Prince'. Have you ever heard of a horse called 'Brown

"Not to my recollection," I said, with my eyes on my book.

"It is a funny name, isn't it?" he said laughing, as he continued his
work. "Brown Prince!"

"Very," I said shortly, interested in my story, and not inclined to
encourage conversation.

Chris worked on for a few moments without speaking; then asked:

"Miss Beggarley, what colour are moons gennerly?"

I laughed. It was, after all, a futile hope to continue reading under
the circumstances. Still, it was Chris's time with Granny and me, when
he exacted as his right an unlimited amount of attention, so I resigned

"What colour?" he repeated, as I did not at once answer.

"Green," I answered.

"Green!" he echoed.

"Haven't you ever heard that the moon is made of green cheese?" I asked.

He stared at me reproachfully.

"You're laughing at me," he said, in an aggrieved voice, "and I don't
like you to laugh."

"I won't any more, dear," I said, composing my countenance to a becoming
expression of gravity. "If I were you, I should paint the moon pale
blue. How would that do?"

"Loverly," answered the little beggar in a mollified voice, and for a
moment or two there was again silence.

Then, however, I heard something like a whimper, and looking up I saw
Chris's great eyes fixed on me tearfully.

"What is the matter?" I inquired.

"Will my Granny never, never be able to speak again?" he asked, digging
his knuckles into his eyes. "Will she always be never able to talk?"

"Why, no, dear," I answered cheerfully. "In a day or two she will be
able to talk again as well as ever."

"But she said it," he replied tearfully.

"Said what?" I asked, puzzled. "Oh," I added, enlightened, "you mean
when she said she was losing her voice! But she only meant for a little
while. She did not intend to say she was losing it for ever. It is only
because she has caught a bad cold. When her cold is better she will be
able to speak again."

"Are you quite, quite sure?" he asked, anxiously, but relieved at my

"Quite sure," I answered.

His mind thus at ease, he returned once more to his painting and worked
contentedly for another five minutes, at the end of which time his
restless spirit reasserted itself.

"Now, what shall we do?" he asked, throwing down his brush and yawning.
"Will you play at horses? You said you would."

"Well, for a little while," I answered, "but not too long."

"Oh, Briggs, what do you want?" Chris asked discontentedly, as at this
point that worthy woman made her appearance.

"You are to come and put on your velvet suit against Mr. Wyndham comes,"
she announced staidly.

"I don't want to put on my velvet clothes," he replied rebelliously,
annoyed at being thus disturbed. "They're nasty, horrid things."

"Oh, fie! Master Chris," she answered reprovingly.

"It isn't like a big man to wear a velvet suit, it's like a baby," he
went on, grumblingly. "Uncle Godfrey doesn't wear velvet clothes, and
why should I?"

"Don't you grumble at your velvet suit, Master Chris," Briggs said in a
warning tone. "You may come to want it some day. There's many a little
boy in the gutter as would be glad and proud to own it."

"Then I wish you would give it to the little boys in the gutters," the
little beggar answered wilfully. "I shall ask my Granny to give it to
them, 'cause I hate it. And I'm going to play at horses; aren't I, Miss

"Not with me," I said firmly, "until you have done what Briggs tells

"You said you would," he remarked, pouting.

"So I will," I replied, "when you have obeyed Briggs."

He glanced at me inquiringly to see if there was no chance of my
relenting, but I preserved a severe and resolute expression--in spite of
a distinct inclination to smile,--seeing which he left with laggard step
to don the despised suit.

When, later, he returned in that same suit--in the dark-blue
knickerbockers and coat, the large Vandyke collar of cream lace, and the
little white satin vest,--I really thought that he looked the sweetest
little picture in the world!

He had, indeed, such an extremely clean, well-brushed, and altogether
spotless appearance, that I hesitated about the promised game of horses,
fearing to spoil the result of Briggs' work, before that all-important
event--the arrival of Uncle Godfrey.

"Shall we play something else?" I suggested. "I'm afraid if we play
horses you will get untidy."

"Oh no, I won't!" he said confidently. "We'll be quiet horses.

"I know," he added, with a look of intelligence. "I won't be a horse;
I'll be the driver, and you shall be a lame horse. Then the game will be
such a quiet game."

"Very well," I replied, weakly yielding to his wishes, as most people
had a habit of doing. And a minute later I was running round the library
in a fashion most undignified for a lady of middle-age, becoming at the
same time hotter and more breathless than was altogether comfortable.
Consequently I slackened my pace, and found it more to my mind. For,
when a good many years have passed since you indulged in the habit of
playing horses, you find it more expedient to take for your model the
slow and conscientious cab-horse rather than the swift and brilliant

But the change did not please Chris.

"Gee-up, Charlie!" he cried, excitedly. "That's your name, you know.
Gee-up! why are you going so slowly?"

"I've no breath left to go fast," I explained.

"What shall we do?" he said, perplexed. "I don't like a horse what won't
go fast.

"Oh," he said, his face clearing. "Why, it's time for you to go lame.
Poor Charlie! poor thing! what's the matter?

"You've got a stone in your foot," he explained in an aside, "and you
must jog up and down as if you're lame."

"Must I?" I said, and obediently followed the directions with a patience
truly praiseworthy, jogging laboriously up and down, whilst the little
beggar followed in my wake, highly delighted, and giving vent as he did
so to many loud and excited ejaculations.

Before long, however, he pined for further excitement.

"The road is very, very slippery," he said; "'cause it's been snowing.
You must slip right down and break your leg."

"I'll slip into an arm-chair," I said, glancing at the comfortable one I
had just quitted.

"No, horses don't slip into arm-chairs; there aren't no arm-chairs for
them in the road," he objected.

"I can't help that," I answered, taking a stand. "My bones are too old
to risk breaking them. I don't mind my leg being broken in fancy, but I
do mind its being broken in reality."

"How shall everyone know, then, that it is broken?" he asked,
discontentedly. "It won't look a bit as if it is broken if you fall into
an arm-chair."

"I will groan very loud to show that I have," I said in a propitiating

"Do horses groan when they break their legs?" he asked, doubtfully.

"This horse does, very loud indeed," I said. "Come, we'll go once more
round the room, and then I'll break my leg and show you how beautifully
I can groan."

"All right!" said the little beggar, conceding the point, and away we
started once more.

"Gee-up, Charlie!" he cried; "gee-up, good horse! Now then!" as we
approached the arm-chair; "now then, now then, it's time for you to
break your leg. Quick, quick!"

"All right!" I said, and with the most heartrending groan I could
produce, I sank--carefully--into the chair. At the same moment the
door opened, and a stranger to me entered the room--a tall and
soldier-like-looking young man. Even in the dimness of the twilight I
could see a strong enough resemblance to the little beggar to tell me
who he was without his delighted scream of "Uncle Godfrey! Uncle
Godfrey!" as he ran and clasped him round the knees.

"Hold on!" answered Uncle Godfrey, putting him aside.

Then turning to me:

"I fear you are ill. Shall I send for my mother's maid?" he asked with
polite sympathy.

"Why, no; she isn't; she isn't a bit ill!" cried the little beggar
delightedly, with peals of derisive laughter, as he jumped about and
clapped his hands. "She's only a poor, old, lame horse, what has just
fallen down and broken his leg...."



If ever there was a case of hero-worship it was the worship by Chris of
his uncle. To the little beggar, Uncle Godfrey was the ideal of all that
was most manly, most noble, most heroic. To emulate him in every way was
his most ardent desire, and with this end in view he imitated him
whenever possible, to the smallest details.

When Uncle Godfrey was at home in the autumn, Chris's diminutive toy-gun
was, without fail, brought down to the gun-case in the hall, where it
lay in company with the more imposing weapons of his uncle. And when
these were cleaned, it was an understood thing that the toy-gun must be
cleaned likewise. To have omitted to do this would have drawn down upon
the offender the little beggar's deepest indignation.

I believe, too, that it was a real grief of heart to him that he was not
allowed to go out with his uncle in the autumn, and try the effect of
that same toy-gun upon the pheasants. He had often pleaded hard to be
permitted do so, having, I imagine, glorious visions of the bags they
would make between them; and the refusal of his request had been the
cause of many tears in the nursery. Not before his uncle! No, if there
was one thing more than another that troubled him, it was the fear of
looking like a baby in his uncle's presence. Uncle Godfrey might tease
him as much as he pleased,--and he was undeniably talented in this
respect,--but, close as were the tears to his eyes at other times,
before his hero Chris would never let them fall if he could help it.

Sometimes, when in the swing of a game, his uncle Godfrey was
unintentionally a little rough in word or deed, the little beggar, it is
true, would flush--crimsoning up to the roots of his fair hair. His
voice would falter, too, as if the tears were not far off, but he would
struggle manfully with them, and, as soon as he had recovered, return
again to the attack with fresh vigour. Indeed, so great was his
devotion to him, that he was never so happy as when by his side, and
with Chris in his vicinity, Uncle Godfrey found it a matter of no little
difficulty to give his attention elsewhere. This was observable one
morning when he was endeavouring to write his letters and enjoy a smoke
in peace--a state of affairs by no means to the little beggar's mind.

Drawing near, Chris took up his position straight in front of him, and
stared steadily at him without speaking. Presently Uncle Godfrey looked
up, and, meeting Chris's stedfast gaze, stared back in silence.

"I'm a policeman," at last remarked Chris, with a strenuous effort to
assume the manly tones of his uncle; his usual habit when talking to

"Are you?" replied Uncle Godfrey, leaning back in his chair and giving
him a little kick. "Then be off, it's time you were on your beat."

"But you're a bad, wicked robber, and I've come to take you to prison,"
persisted Chris.

"Get along," said the writer laconically, blowing the smoke of his
cigarette into the face of the policeman, and returning to his letters.

Chris looked at him admiringly.

"I'm going to be a soldier like you, and smoke pipes and cigarettes, and
everything like you, Uncle Godfrey," he remarked. "When may I be a

"Not yet," was the reply. "We take them young, but they have to be out
of the nursery, my boy."

"When shall I be out of the nursery?" asked Chris, discontentedly.

"When you're in the army," his uncle said to tease him.

"But a man, a real soldier, said if I came to him, he would make me a
soldier," announced the little beggar.

"What man?" asked Uncle Godfrey.

"A man what is staying in Marston, with his father and his mother and
his brothers and his sisters," explained Chris. "A very tall, big
man--as tall as you; and he finds soldiers for the Queen, he told me."

"Oh, a recruiting-sergeant!" Uncle Godfrey said. "How did you come to
speak to him?"

"I saw him when I was standing outside the shop when Briggs was buying
some buns for tea, and when I asked him if he knowed you," said Chris,
all in a breath. "He had on such loverly clothes! Do you think if I go
to him he will make me a soldier for the Queen?" he asked.

"Of course," his uncle replied. "But I'll tell you what, you had better
learn to hold your gun properly, and not as you did the other day. If
you don't, you'll end by shooting the sergeant, and being put in

"What is 'chokee'?" asked Chris, with wide-open eyes.

"Oh, prison! You'll be put into a cell, and have nothing to eat but
bread and cold water."

"How drefful!"

"Then go and get that little gun I bought you, and I'll show you how to
hold it as you should."

"Just like a real soldier?"

"Well, how else?

"Now, look here," said Uncle Godfrey, when Chris returned with the gun,
"didn't I tell you that it was very dangerous to hold a gun like that?
It's not sportsmanlike either. Do you hear?"

He spoke with some severity, for he was a young man who was very
thorough in all he did, whether work or play, and would tolerate no

"Not sports-man-like!" echoed Chris slowly, trying hard with his child's
voice to imitate Uncle Godfrey's manly tone.

"Then, as you hear, remember," his uncle said, authoritatively. "Now,
rest the gun against your right shoulder--you young duffer, that's your
left shoulder; I said your right. Shut your left eye, and aim at my

"Yes," said the little beggar, very proud of himself.

"Let's see; that's right," his uncle continued.

"Now, fire!... Not bad, only you should keep your arm steadier. It
wobbled about too much."

"It's very tired," Chris remarked.

Then he inquired: "Uncle Godfrey, may I shoot some wicked men?"

"Certainly, when you find them--and with that gun," he answered.

"Only in the legs," added Chris, "'cause it would be unkind to kill them
really, wouldn't it? But I may shoot their legs, so that they can be
caught, and can't run away; mayn't I?"

"As much as you like, I say, with that gun," his uncle replied, as he
resumed his neglected correspondence.

"I shall shoot a lot," Chris said, with satisfaction.

"Granny," he went on eagerly as he entered the hall, "I'm going to shoot
some wicked men. Uncle Godfrey says I may."

"With that gun," cried his uncle, without looking up from his writing.

"My darling!" Granny exclaimed, somewhat dismayed at this bloodthirsty
ambition. "But you should not wish to hurt anyone; no, no one at all."

"Only wicked men, and only in the legs, so they couldn't run away from
the people who catched them," he said comfortingly. "And I'm going to do
it with this gun Uncle Godfrey gave me. Isn't it a beufferfull gun?" he
went on proudly.

"Yes, yes, I saw it," she answered, taking it out of his hands. "A very
nice little gun indeed, my pet."

"Oh, my Granny, take care!" he cried suddenly, in a loud, warning voice.

"Why what is the matter?" asked the old lady starting, and in her alarm
almost dropping the gun as she spoke. "What is it?" she repeated in a
flurried manner, turning round vaguely as she spoke.

"You mustn't hold the gun like that, my Granny," Chris said more calmly,
but still gravely; "it's very dan-ger-rus, and it's not sport-man-like."

"Thank you, my darling," she said simply. "Granny will remember another

"Shut up, Chris," said Uncle Godfrey laughing, "and don't talk

"Well, I want somebody to play with me," he said inconsequently, as he
returned to his Uncle's side. "I want someone to play with me very

"I can't," said Uncle Godfrey, in his usual decided manner. "I have to
finish my letters."

"Then, Miss Beggarley," he asked, with the air of one making the best of
an unpromising state of affairs, "will you tell me a story?"

"Not now, dear," I answered. "I am just turning the heel of this sock,
and I can't think of that and a story too."

"Not even Miss Beggarley can tell me a story!" said Chris, sitting down,
with a disconsolate expression, beside Jacky on the hearth-rug.

"Not even Miss Beggarley," I repeated laughing.

Chris, looking disappointed and injured, gave Jacky an irritable push,
which resulted in an angry growl.

There was a deep sigh from the little beggar. "No one plays with me
now," he said mournfully, "and Jacky growls. Naughty Jacky; I don't love

"Naughty Chris; it's time for you to go back to the nursery," remarked
Uncle Godfrey half-smiling.

"Yes, my Chris; a few lessons, or a nice walk," Granny said,
persuasively. "Now, go, like my little pet."

In spite, however, of her gentle persuasions, Chris looked as if he
would like to protest, had he not lacked the courage to do so in the
presence of Uncle Godfrey. It was, therefore, slowly and unwillingly
that he went up the first flight of stairs, then sat on the landing and
looked at the back of Uncle Godfrey's head as he bent over his writing.

In a moment or two Briggs' voice was heard in the distance.

"Master Chris, where are you?"

"Here I am," he called back; "just here."

"What, not gone yet?" Uncle Godfrey said a little sharply, turning

"Yes, I'm gone," answered the little beggar half-defiantly,
half-nervously, as he rose hastily from the landing and continued his
upward progress.

"What do you want, Briggs?" he called out.

"I want to know," she said, the sound of her voice coming nearer; "I
want to know if you can tell me where your hats are? It's time for you
to go out, and I've hunted for them everywhere, but not one can I find."

"Why, they're down there," Chris was heard to say in an aggrieved voice,
and as if she were asking a most unnecessary question. "They're all down

"And where might down there be?" she asked, with some irritation.

"Why, on the table near the door, with Uncle Godfrey's hats," he
answered. "I'm always going to keep my hats there now," he added. "It's
only babies what has their hats in the nursery."

"Well, if this doesn't pass everything!" she was heard to exclaim
angrily. "And to think of me hunting for those very same hats for the
last quarter of an hour till I'm that tired. Your tricks, Master Chris,
are beyond bearing. You'll please come down with me this minute and
fetch those very same hats."

"I shall put them all back when we come home," Chris remarked
rebelliously, as he began to walk downstairs in company with the irate

"We'll see what we'll see,--and _you'll_ see. That's all I say," she
answered with some loftiness. "I have no mind to have things put out of
their proper place, and me have all this trouble given me."

After which oracular speech, and because she was approaching the last
flight of stairs leading into the hall, she reserved all further
expressions of indignation till she and Chris were once more on the
familiar ground of the nursery.

As for the little beggar, it was with many a furtive glance at Uncle
Godfrey, who was still writing, that he crossed the hall. He hoped to
escape without notice, and, looking mysteriously at Granny and myself,
walked by Briggs' side on tiptoe. But his pains were wasted.

"Yes, I know you're there," Uncle Godfrey said, without turning his
head, and relaxing into a smile. "What mischief have you been up to this

"I put my hats with your hats, 'cause I liked them to be with yours,
and I didn't want to be a baby and have my hats in the nursery,"
explained Chris, encouraged by something in his uncle's voice to run to
his side and lay his cheek affectionately on his coat-sleeve.

"Then, in future, just you keep your hats where you are told to," Uncle
Godfrey said, laughing. "Don't you be such an independent little

"No," replied Chris obediently, relieved at receiving no severer

"And come and kiss your Granny," Granny said gently and caressingly, as
he passed her. "Do you love her very much?"

"Oh, yes, my Granny!" he answered somewhat thoughtlessly, as he obeyed
her directions. Then continued without pause: "I wanted to ask you--why
does Cook always make rice-puddings, and tapioca-puddings, and
sago-puddings for my dinner?"

"Because, my pet, I tell her to," she replied. "They are so wholesome,
so good for little boys; they make them grow big."

"But I don't mind about growing big," he answered. "I would rather have
roly-poly puddings for my dinner; roly-poly puddings what have lots of
jam inside."

"Now, how do you think I am to get on with my writing whilst you chatter
like this?" interrupted Uncle Godfrey. "Go upstairs, and don't keep
Briggs waiting like this."

By the little beggar's expression, it was evident that he did not
consider the merits of roly-poly pudding, as compared with those of its
less enticing rivals, had been by any means sufficiently discussed, and
that much yet remained to be said upon the subject. Nevertheless, his
uncle's order had the effect of restoring, for a time at least, peace
and quiet to the hall; for, as I have before intimated, the one person
whose word Chris never thought of disputing was Uncle Godfrey's.

I said that peace and quiet was restored _for a time only_, and I said
it advisedly. With the little beggar in the neighbourhood it was useless
to count on such a state of affairs continuing for more than a short
period. So it proved upon the present occasion.

Before a quarter of an hour had passed, his voice--unmistakably defiant,
not to say impertinent--fell upon our ears, as he and Briggs walked
along the gallery, that ran above, round the hall. It was Briggs whom we
heard first.

"Master Chris," she remarked severely, "I will not stand it."

Then the little beggar repeated in an irritating and rebellious-sounding

    "I have a little nursie,
      She is a little dear,
    She runs about all day
      Without a thought of fear.
    I love my little nursie,
      An' she loves me.
    So my little nursie an' me
      Both a-gree."

A pause followed, evidently intended by Briggs to convey her sense of
deep displeasure, and to overawe the offender. Without effect. In a
moment Chris's voice began again, from time to time choked with
laughter, and giving a little variety to his poetical effort by varying
the accent on different words:

    "I _have_ a little nursie,
      She _is_ a little dear,
    She runs about all day
      Without a _thought_ of fear.
    I _love_ my little nursie,
      An' she loves _me_.
    _So_ my little nursie an' me
      Both a-gree."

At this repetition of the offence Briggs could contain her wrath no

"If I'm to be ridiculed like this," she exclaimed angrily, yet without
altogether losing her habitual impressiveness of manner; "If I'm to be
ridiculed like this, I shall give warning and go. I cannot, and I will
not stand it."

A second pause, by which time they had reached the top of the stairs
leading into the hall, when Chris, forgetful that Uncle Godfrey was
within hearing, and unaware of the judgment about to descend on him,
started once more:

    "I have a _little_ nur--"

"Wait a moment, young man," called out his uncle from the writing-table.
"What do you mean by being so disobedient? Come here."

"He has been going on like that for the last ten minutes," said Briggs
complainingly, when she and Chris reached the hall. "He's been that

"What nonsense are you talking?" Uncle Godfrey asked him severely,
beckoning Chris to come to him.

The little beggar looked at his uncle half-frightened, and did not at
once answer.

"What was it, my pet?" Granny said, gently and encouragingly.

"It was a piece of poetry I made up all by myself, all about Briggs," he
faltered out.

"A piece of impertinence, it strikes me," remarked Uncle Godfrey.

"Well, as you are so fond of poetry, as you call it, I'll make up a
piece about you," he said, whilst Granny glanced at the judge
pleadingly, as if to ask mercy for the offender.

"Wait a moment ... yes, I have it," Uncle Godfrey said presently. And
holding Chris at arm's-length, he repeated, imitating as he did so, his
childish voice and accents:

    "I know a little beggar,
      He is a little goose,
    He runs about all day
      Rampaging on the loose.
    I think that little beggar,
      Would be better for a slap;
    If he isn't pretty sharp,
      He'll get a nasty rap.

"How do you like that?" he asked, when he had finished.

He was smiling all the while in spite of his severe tone,--very often
the way with Uncle Godfrey. But Chris did not see that, and with his
little face scarlet, he stood still, struggling with his tears, unable
to reply.

His uncle looked at him and relented.

"There, go along with you," he said, laughing and rumpling the boy's
golden curls; "and don't you make yourself such a little nuisance."

The little beggar brightened up as he noted the altered tone, and Granny
appeared perceptibly relieved.

"Uncle Godfrey, do you know what?" he asked with a loud sniff and half a
sob. "What do you think?"

"What?" asked his uncle with some amusement.

"I'm going to be a soldier like you very soon," he said, nodding his

"Well, you'll have to learn to be a little more obedient," his uncle
remarked with a laugh. "I'd soon find myself in a pretty position if I
disobeyed orders as you do. Be off, you young rascal, and look smart.
There is Briggs waiting for you by the door.

"What made him think of that jingle?" he continued, still laughing, to
Granny when Chris had gone. "It was a funny thing for a little chap of
his age."

"The darling has quite a turn for poetry; he has indeed," explained
Granny with pride. "He takes the greatest delight in repeating his
little poems, such as: 'I love little Pussy, her coat is so warm,' and
'Mary had a little lamb'. And the child says them so sweetly, so
prettily too!"



Some two hours later Briggs faced Granny and myself with a countenance
expressive of the deepest despair.

"He's gone, mum!" she exclaimed, tragically, throwing up her hands as
she spoke.

"Gone! Gone! Who is gone?" Granny asked with bewilderment and surprise
at Briggs' sudden announcement. Then, as Chris's absence struck her, she
inquired fearfully:

"Has anything happened to Master Chris? Where is the child? Why is he
not with you?"

"He's lost, mum!" she said, breathlessly. "Everywhere have I looked for
him, high and low, up and down, but nowhere is he to be found!"

At this startling piece of intelligence Granny half rose in her chair as
if to go without delay and search for the wanderer; but, recollecting
the necessity for further information, she sunk back again, and asked
with agitation:

"Where, then, did you leave him? When did you last see him? How long ago
is it, Briggs? I must beg of you to be as accurate as possible, most

"I left him in the garden about an hour ago," she answered, on the point
of tears. "I had just taken him out for a short walk, having some work
to do; and thinking he'd be better for a little more air I left him in
the garden when we came back. When I went for him half an hour after,
not a trace of him was there to be seen!"

"But how careless, how very careless of you, Briggs!" Granny said in a
reprimanding yet trembling voice. "You should not have left him out of
your sight for so long. At his age! Most inconsiderate!"

"Have you looked along the road?" I suggested. "He may have wandered out
there. He did so the day I arrived."

"I've walked half a mile along each way," she answered, with a hopeless

"But the garden, Briggs!" Granny exclaimed, in her anxiety hardly
knowing what to say. "How could you be so thoughtless, so forgetful as
not to search the garden before you went into the road?"

"But I did, mum; it was the very first thing I did do," she replied
tearfully, and with something of an injured expression at this
unnecessary censure.

"Have you looked over the house? He may be hiding there," I said.

"Everywhere in the house and out of it," she answered with gloomy
conviction. "Not a stone have I left unturned."

We glanced from one to the other with perplexity. What could have become
of the little beggar? Where could he have hidden himself, thus to escape
this vigilant search?

"Wouldn't it be as well to let Mr. Wyndham know?" I said. "I think I
hear him practising billiards."

"Of course, of course!" Granny answered with relief. "Why didn't I think
of that at once? Briggs, go at once and ask Mr. Wyndham to speak to

"Well, what is it?" he said cheerfully, when he arrived upon the scene.
"The youngster disappeared? There is no need for worry. Depend upon it
he is hiding somewhere not very far off, and we'll soon unearth him."

"You say you have looked carefully in the garden?" he continued to

"All over it, sir; in every corner," she replied.

"All the same, we had better do it again," he said. "It is just possible
that he may have escaped you the first time. No, mother, you stay here,"
he said decidedly, as Granny rose with the evident intention of
accompanying him. "You will only tire yourself for no purpose. If he is
to be found in the garden, you may rest assured that I shall find him
and bring him to you as soon as possible. Just stay here quietly with
Miss Baggerley, and don't worry yourself."

Undoubtedly a very good piece of advice, this last, but one that poor
Granny in her nervous state of mind found very difficult to follow.

"It is so strange, so very strange!" she said, unhappily. "I cannot
understand it at all; I only pray that no accident may have happened to
the child. I should have thought Briggs would have taken greater
precautions if she intended to leave him alone for that time. I had a
higher opinion of her, I had indeed.

"She is much to blame," she added, smoothing with a nervous little
movement the curls she wore in the old fashion on each side of her face.

After this she continued her knitting, but she was plainly too restless
and ill at ease to fix her attention on her work.

"My dear," she said in a minute, "it has just struck me that it would be
a good thing if we were together to look upstairs; Briggs may not have
searched there thoroughly. Do you not think that it would be a good plan
if we were to go?"

I should have liked to answer in the negative, for she was not strong,
and a little exertion soon fatigued her. But I saw that it would be a
real relief to her in her anxiety to be doing something. So I did not
follow my inclination, and together we went slowly upstairs, Granny
leaning on my arm, in a sweet, clinging way,--a way that was all her

Arrived upstairs, we went conscientiously from room to room, but in
vain. No success attended our efforts.

We would go into a room, when Granny, opening the door of a cupboard and
peering in in a short-sighted way, would call out in a gentle, slightly
quavering voice:

"Is my darling hiding here from his Granny?"

No answer coming, her face would become still more anxious-looking, and
she would request me to see if he were under the bed.

"Will you look under the bed, my dear, and see if he is there?" she
would whisper, as if fearful that he might overhear and escape us. Then
as I did so, she would cry coaxingly:

"Are you hiding there, my pet, trying to frighten poor Granny? Come out,
my darling, come out."

And so on from room to room till we had exhausted all those not only on
the first floor but on the next also, after which she proposed exploring
the attics. By this time, however, she was so tired that I persuaded her
to send one of the servants instead, whilst she returned with me to the

Here we found Briggs waiting for us, with a face the expression of which
told its tidings without words. Ill-success was so plainly written upon
it, that our anxious question, "Have you found him?" seemed almost

"Did you look everywhere, Briggs,--everywhere?" poor Granny asked
anxiously, and with grievous disappointment.

"In every single nook and corner, mum," Briggs replied, with a heavy
sigh. "He ain't in the garden--that's sure and certain."

"Where is Mr. Wyndham?" Granny inquired, as she sat down wearily in her

"He's gone round to the stables," she said. "He's going to drive into
Marston. He says that Master Chris this morning was talking about the
recruiting-sergeant staying there, and he thinks it may be possible he
has taken it into his head to go to him, fancying he can enlist."

"I really think that that is possible," I remarked.

"Dear me! dear me! What if anything should happen to the child on the
way?" exclaimed Granny, with fresh care.

"I should not think of that; nothing will happen. Someone will find him
and bring him back," I replied, speaking more cheerfully than I
altogether felt.

As I spoke I turned to the window, more from a restless feeling of not
knowing what to do with myself than for any other reason.

Certainly the last thing in the world I expected to see at that
particular moment was the little beggar.

Yet--to my utter astonishment--that was exactly what I did see!

There he was, after causing all the confusion and alarm of which I have
told you, walking down the drive as calmly as possible; as if to
disappear mysteriously from home for about two hours, without leaving
any idea as to his whereabouts, was the most ordinary and everyday habit
a little boy could indulge in.

He was not alone, but was in company with a tall and gorgeous
individual, whom I concluded was the sergeant, and the innocent cause of
the little beggar's last and most startling escapade.

He walked hand in hand with him in the most confiding fashion,
chattering to him apparently in his usual fashion--without the least
reserve, whilst Jacky frisked along by their side.

As my eyes fell upon this little group I uttered a loud exclamation of
surprise, which induced Granny to look up inquiringly.

"Why, there he is! Chris!" I exclaimed, "coming down the drive!" and
accompanied by Briggs I hurried to meet him, Granny following more

"Here I am! Here I am!" cried the little vagabond, gaily bounding
forward to meet me. "I've 'listed, and I'm a soldier now like Uncle

"A soldier!" burst out Briggs contemptuously. "As naughty a child as can
be found in Christendom. That's what I should say!"

"Yes, Chris," I said, in the gravest voice I could assume, "you have
been a very naughty little boy indeed."

At these strictures on his conduct Chris pouted and kicked the gravel
with some violence, whilst his companion relaxed into a broad smile,
which he put up his hand to hide.

"I found this here young gentleman, marm, on his way to Marston," he
said, touching his cap. "I came across him quite by a chance, as you
may say, it happening that I was taking a walk in this direction. 'I've
come to find you,' he says, ''cause I want to 'list and be a soldier
like my Uncle Godfrey,' says he. 'But I won't shoot you,' says he,
''cause I know how to hold my gun, and I don't want to be put in
chokee,' he says. Guessing as how there was something amiss I finds out
where he lives, and so here he is."

"Is he quite well and safe, quite well and safe?" Granny asked nervously
at this point, arriving just in time to hear the conclusion of the
sergeant's explanation. "Oh, Chris, my darling, what have you been

"I'm a soldier now, my Granny," he stated proudly, with a defiant look
at Briggs and myself. "He said I was, didn't you?" he asked, turning to
the sergeant, who smiled again. "He's going to lend me his soldier
clothes till you buy me some. He said he would."

"He'd have been here before if I could have got a lift, marm," explained
the sergeant, "but it chanced nothing passed by us. It's been a long
walk for the young gentleman, I'm afraid."

But Granny did not at once reply; she was looking at the little beggar
with all the love of her heart overflowing her eyes, and as if she never
again could bear to let him out of her sight. Indeed, for the moment she
was so absorbed that I think she hardly realized what the sergeant

There was a slight pause, and then she said with much fervent gratitude
and an old-fashioned courtesy of manner:

"I am more indebted to you than I can express for your kind care of my
little grandson. It is, indeed, a great relief to my mind to see him
back safely."

"Why, my Granny!" cried Chris, with a little skip and a laugh, "I
_always_ was safe. There was nothing the matter with me!"

"Hush! my child," Granny then continued, though with an effort, as if
the reaction from the anxiety she had been suffering was becoming too
much for her control: "Will you not go round to the kitchen and rest?
And will you kindly tell Parker, my butler, that I have sent you, and to
see that you have some refreshment after your long walk."

"Thank you, marm," said the sergeant, touching his cap once more as he
left, followed by a regretful glance from Chris.

"I should like to go with him," he remarked.

"My darling," began Granny reproachfully--then stopped short and tried
to smile at me.

"I'm very silly," she said, as the tears filled her eyes; "but, my dear,
I have been feeling so anxious, so anxious, you understand...."

She could say no more, but going to a wicker-chair near, she sat down,
and covered her eyes with her hand.

I said nothing, for I knew that her tears were a relief to her
overwrought feelings. So for a time there was silence, which was at
length broken by the little beggar, who, looking at her with pity
mingled with curiosity, remarked in a hushed voice:

"I b'lieve my Granny is crying!"

"And who do you think has made her cry?" suddenly asked a severe voice,
and turning round somewhat apprehensively, the little beggar saw Uncle
Godfrey--who, unperceived and unheard, had crossed the lawn--confronting
him in righteous indignation.

"I say, who do you think has made her cry?" he reiterated, as Granny
threw him an imploring glance as if to beg mercy for the offender. "I
have just heard something of your last piece of disobedience from your
friend the sergeant," he continued sternly. "Fortunately for me I met
him not two minutes ago, and so was saved a useless drive into Marston
on your account. Now I should like to hear some explanation of your

He looked so very tall and inflexible as he towered above the little
beggar, and the little beggar looked so very small and abject as he
stood before him, that my heart was stirred with pity for the diminutive
transgressor in spite of his misdeeds.

"Well, answer," Uncle Godfrey said peremptorily. "What is the meaning
of your behaviour, sir?"

"I w--w--went to be a s--s--soldier," stammered Chris, winking his eyes
to keep back his tears, and grasping hold of Granny's hand as if for

"What did I tell you this morning?"

"I forget," answered the little beggar tremblingly.

"Then think," his uncle said; whilst Granny said pleadingly:

"Don't be too severe, my son. He's only a little child."

"Quite old enough to know better," he replied unrelentingly; and, as
Chris did not at once answer, "Didn't I tell you," he went on, "that you
were not old enough to be a soldier? Do you remember now?"

"Y--yes," answered Chris, with a strangled sob.

"But I suppose you thought that you knew better than I, and didn't tell
me of your plan because you knew that you would not be allowed to carry
it out. Was it not so?" he asked. Then as Chris nodded he went on: "I
hope now that you see the consequences of your behaviour," he continued;
"everyone's time wasted, an endless amount of unnecessary anxiety and
trouble, and your Grandmother nearly ill. If ever anyone deserved a good
punishment it is you."

At this point the little beggar, unable to keep back his tears any
longer, buried his head in his Granny's lap and sobbed bitterly, and as
if his heart would break; whilst for my part I went away. He had been
very naughty, but I did not like to see him crying so bitterly. It made
me sad.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about an hour later,--just lunch-time,--and I was walking up and
down the gravelled terrace at the back of the house, when a little hand
was slipped into mine, while a little voice remarked in an awe-struck

"What do you think? Uncle Godfrey put me in the corner for half an
hour--a whole half-hour!"

Chris spoke with much solemnity. Granny's punishments were of such a
mild description, that this of Uncle Godfrey's, by comparison, appeared
very heavy, and impressed upon him the grievousness of his offence.

"And he says I'm not to have no pudding for dinner," he continued with
some pathos; "no pudding at all. Do you know what kind of pudding it

"No, I don't," I answered smiling.

"'Cause Granny said I might have a roly-poly pudding soon," he said,
"and I do hope it's not to-day. If it is bread-and-butter pudding I
don't mind, as I don't like bread-and-butter pudding."

"I can't tell you what pudding it is," I repeated.

"Uncle Godfrey said I was a very naughty boy," he went on.

"So you were," I said, but mildly, and not with the decision the case

"I didn't want to frighten you, or my Granny, or anyone," he said
humbly, with the effects of his uncle's scolding and punishment still
fresh in his memory. "But I did want to be a soldier and fight; and
Uncle Godfrey says I'm not one, and I never was one, and that the
soldier was only laughing at me when he said I was. And I can't be a
soldier for a long while--a very, very, very long while."

"Not that kind of soldier," I said, "but I know another kind of soldier
that you can be."

"The Queen's soldier?" asked Chris eagerly.

"No, but the King's soldier," I replied. "You can be one of Christ's
soldiers. Whenever you try hard to be good and obedient when you feel
inclined to be naughty and wilful; whenever you try not to say the angry
word, to think the unkind thought you would like to say, you would like
to think; whenever you turn your back on what is mean and unmanly and
follow what is true and noble; whenever you do this for His sake, then,
Chris, you are fighting for Christ, you are Christ's soldier.

"But," I went on as I saw that I had gained his attention, "there is a
great difference between these battles and the others that you were
speaking of. In fighting for the Queen you have to be very brave and no
coward, it is true. But you have the cheers of your countrymen to
inspirit you. You know that your country is watching you, and that helps
you to meet your enemies with courage. In these other battles, fought
for Christ, there are no cheers to excite you, no one watching but God,
and God only. For these fights must be fought silently, quite by
yourself,--God your only Help,--or they are not worth the name of
battles. But, by and by, on that silent battle-field, where so many
struggles have been gone through, and so many hard victories won through
the grace of God, the silence will at last be broken. It will be broken
by a sound full of triumphant joy, too heavenly in its beauty for
earthly ears to catch, but a sound that will make the angels in heaven
rejoice, a sound of--"

I paused as I tried to find appropriate words for the thought that,
half-formed, was in my mind, gazing as I did so, as if to seek
inspiration, at the boughs of the elms near, swaying and bowing slowly
to and fro in the wind.

"What?" said Chris, impatiently tugging at my dress. "What?"

"'The voice of a soul that goeth home'," I said, as the great poet's
words came to me in all their beauty.



"It's the best thing; I should not propose it unless I were fully
convinced that it is so."

Uncle Godfrey, standing on the hearth-rug in the drawing-room, his hands
in his pockets, was speaking with his usual decision.

I, who had just entered, feeling that I was interrupting his
conversation with Granny, turned to leave.

"Please, don't go, Miss Baggerley. We should like to have the benefit of
your opinion," remarked Uncle Godfrey.

"Yes, stay, my dear. I should be glad to know what you think," said

So I remained.

"You tell her what we are talking about, Godfrey," she said.

"All right!" he answered. "Well, the subject under discussion is the
advisability of sending Chris to be educated with my sister's little
boy. She and her husband have just come home from India, and have taken
a house for a time in Norfolk. In a letter my mother had from her this
morning, she suggests the plan I have mentioned; in fact, she is most
anxious that it should be arranged. I think myself that it is a capital
idea, for it seems to me that it would do Chris all the good in the
world to have the companionship of another child. He is a capital little
chap, but I don't see how it can be good for him to have every whim and
fancy attended to as he has at present, by my mother, by you, by
everyone as far as I can see, except perhaps that excellent and
depressing young woman, Briggs. Oh, I know what you would like to say;
much that my mother has already said--that Chris is not easily spoilt,
that he has such a good disposition, and so on. All of which I grant;
but, nevertheless, I think it would be better for him in the end to have
a little less attention given to him than he has at present. Besides, he
would have the advantage of an excellent governess, who has been with my
sister some time, and, according to her, is a paragon of a teacher. And
that is not to be despised, it seems to me. Chris, of course, would
always come to my mother for the holidays, so that she still would see a
great deal of him. Now, frankly, don't you agree with my view of the

"I suppose so," I answered, though I was conscious of speaking
unwillingly, for I knew what it would cost Granny to give up the charge
of her darling.

"Of course you do," he replied, "only you don't like to say so for the
sake of my mother."

"The darling is very dear to me," said Granny, a little pathetically.
"I only desire what is best for him."

"I know that, my dear mother," Uncle Godfrey said gently--he could speak
very gently when he liked, in spite of all his decided ways,--"no one
could doubt it."

No one spoke for a moment or two, and it was plain to see that a
struggle was going on in Granny's mind.

"I don't want to persuade you against your judgment, mother," at last
Uncle Godfrey said, still speaking very gently, even tenderly, and then
we were silent again.

Then Granny said with an effort--an effort that plainly cost her much:

"You are right, my son; yes, you are right. I am getting too old to have
the entire responsibility of the child, and, doubtless, it would be
good, it would be more cheerful for him, to be with a little companion
of his own age. Yes, it is better that he should go to Louisa."

And then she got up and left the room, as if, for the time, she could
say no more. It was a hard trial for her, because love for Chris was as
part of her life, and to part with him would be a wrench that neither
Uncle Godfrey nor myself could fully comprehend, with all our desire to
enter into her feelings. Yet I think that she had never loved him so
truly as at that moment when she gave him up. For is not our love the
greatest when it is the most unselfish, when it is purified by
self-sacrifice, as "gold that is tried in the fire"?

       *       *       *       *       *

It was such a bright morning when the little beggar left us; a cold,
crisp day in the beginning of October, the slight frost sprinkling the
ground with a white powder that sparkled and glistened like diamonds in
the autumn sun.

Uncle Godfrey had come up from Aldershot for the express purpose of
taking him to his new home, which fact filled Chris with no little

"Me and my Uncle Godfrey are going a long way together," he kept
informing everyone. "He has left all his soldiers to come and take me.
Isn't it kind of my Uncle Godfrey?" in a tone of devotion.

I imagine that had it been anyone else but his Uncle Godfrey it would
have been a difficult matter to reconcile him to leave his Granny. As it
was, he became inclined to be very tearful as the hour of departure drew
near, and clung to her in a way that, whilst it touched and pleased her,
made the thought of the parting more difficult to bear.

And now the little beggar, who for the last few minutes had been playing
in a somewhat restless fashion with Uncle Godfrey, returning between
whiles to Granny's side, was sent upstairs to have his hat put on.

Five minutes passed and he had not returned. Granny became impatient.
Poor Granny! who grudged losing even a minute of her darling's presence
when she knew that she was about to lose it for so long.

"My dear," she said to me, "will you kindly go and see if he is ready?
The dog-cart will so soon be round."

Hastening upstairs, I went to the nursery to bring down the little
beggar to rejoice her sight for the short period that remained before he

As I approached the open door I heard Briggs taking leave of him, and
with more sentiment than was generally to be observed in the utterances
of that dignified person.

"And you won't forget your Briggs?" she said, kissing him; "and you'll
send her a letter sometimes?"

"A long, long letter; ever so long," promised Chris rashly. "And you've
wroten down the place what you live at?"

"Yes, here it is," said Briggs, holding out an envelope and reading
aloud as I entered:

        6 Balaclava Villas,
          Upper Touting,

"And you'll write me a nice letter, won't you, Master Chris?"

"Nicer than ever you can think," he replied, as she kissed him again
with something like emotion, and bade him good-bye.

"I'm sorry to leave Briggs," he said, as we went downstairs hand in
hand; "but I am dreffully, dreffully sorry to leave my Granny."

"Will I never come back to her again?" he asked, wistfully.

"Why, of course you will," I said, encouragingly.

"But I don't want to go 'way from her," he remarked sadly.

"You'll be a good boy, though," I said, "and not cry, or you will make
her unhappy."

"Yes, I'll be the goodest boy," he promised me fervently, "and I won't
make my Granny unhappy; not a little, tiny bit."

But when he saw her looking so sad his resolution somewhat failed, and,
standing by her side, he gazed up into her face with his great eyes full
of tears--eyes like violets with the dew upon them.

Suddenly, however, he brightened up, and turned to leave the room.

"Hulloa! where are you off to?" cried Uncle Godfrey. "The dog-cart will
be round in a minute, and you'll be nowhere to be found."

"I want to get something for my Granny; I want to get something very
badly for her," he said eagerly as he paused; "and it's in my coat, and
it's outside, where I put it, with your greatcoat in the hall."

"Slightly involved," Uncle Godfrey remarked, laughing.

"What can the darling be bringing me?" Granny said, roused a little from
the abstraction into which she had fallen.

She was not long left in doubt, for almost as she asked the question
Chris returned, holding aloft a little, bright, red leather purse, the
pride and joy of his heart. Opening it, he went back to Granny's side
and showered its contents upon her lap--two halfpennies and four
pennies, a sixpenny and a threepenny bit, and a bright farthing.

"It's all for you, my Granny, 'cause I'm going away," he said
impulsively; "all for you! The golden farthing and everything?"

"No, no, my pet; I won't take it from you," answered Granny, much moved
by this great gift.

"Yes, but you must, my Granny; it's all for you," he repeated, with a
fleeting glance of regret at the red purse in its splendour.

"My darling, I won't take it all," she said, replacing the money in the
purse, and putting it into his pocket--all save the "golden farthing",
which she kept. "But, see, I will keep this as a keepsake from my own
dear child."

"Yes, Granny; and you'll never spend it," Chris said seriously. "You'll
keep it for always."

"For always, my Chris," she said tenderly, with a pathetic little
tremble in her voice as she kissed him.

And now the dog-cart came round to the door, and we all went out into
the hall.

Then, with a hug from me, and many a loving kiss from Granny as she
clasped him in her arms, Chris was lifted up by the side of Uncle
Godfrey and driven away.

"Good-bye! good-bye! good-bye!" he called out shrilly, looking back and
waving his hand, till his little voice grew faint in the distance.

As for Granny, she stood still on the door-step, heedless of the keen
morning air, with one hand shading her eyes from the sunlight, while the
other grasped tightly Chris's parting gift--the "golden farthing".

She stood there gazing after the dog-cart till it was out of sight. Then
she turned in silence and went back into the house.

It seemed as if all the sunshine and brightness had gone out of it with
the departure of that little beggar!

       *       *       *       *       *

Many years have passed since that summer's day when I found a little
truant sobbing so bitterly by the roadside. Granny is a very old lady
now, and my hair is becoming quite white. As for the little beggar
himself, the ambition of his childhood is fulfilled, and he is one of
the Queen's soldiers, having just passed into Sandhurst, a fact in
which Granny takes an overwhelming pride. So overwhelming, that I really
fancy if you were to ask her to name the greatest general of the future,
she would have but one answer for you. Cannot you guess what that answer
would be?


This title was published as the second half of the book _Unlucky_ by
Caroline Austin (eBook #35653). Page numbers begin with 161.

The publisher's name comes from the first half of the book, as does the

Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors; otherwise,
every effort has been made to remain true to the author's words and

A table of contents has been added for the reader's convenience.

Page 202, "Baggerly" changed to "Baggerley" ("Perhaps Miss Baggerley
would tell you").

Page 251, "Beggarly" changed to "Beggarley" ("Not even Miss Beggarley").

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "That Little Beggar" ***

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