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´╗┐Title: Alone in London
Author: Smith, Sarah K.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alone in London" ***

[Illustration: Cover art]

[Frontispiece: PLAYMATES.  Page 38]

[Illustration: Title page]

  _Alone in London_

  _By the Author of
  "Jessica's First Prayer," "Little Meg's Children," etc._


  Right of Translation Reserved.
























[Illustration: Chapter I headpiece]



It had been a close and sultry day--one of the hottest of the
dog-days--even out in the open country, where the dusky green leaves
had never stirred upon their stems since the sunrise, and where the
birds had found themselves too languid for any songs beyond a faint
chirp now and then.  All day long the sun had shone down steadily
upon the streets of London, with a fierce glare and glowing heat,
until the barefooted children had felt the dusty pavement burn under
their tread almost as painfully as the icy pavement had frozen their
naked feet in the winter.  In the parks, and in every open space,
especially about the cool splash of the fountains at Charing Cross,
the people, who had escaped from the crowded and unventilated back
streets, basked in the sunshine, or sought every corner where a
shadow could be found.  But in the alleys and slums the air was heavy
with heat and dust, and thick vapours floated up and down, charged
with sickening smells from the refuse of fish and vegetables decaying
in the gutters.  Overhead the small, straight strip of sky was almost
white, and the light, as it fell, seemed to quiver with the burden of
its own burning heat.

Out of one of the smaller thoroughfares lying between Holborn and the
Strand, there opens a narrow alley, not more than six or seven feet
across, with high buildings on each side.  In the most part the
ground floors consist of small shops; for the alley is not a blind
one, but leads from the thoroughfare to another street, and forms,
indeed, a short cut to it, pretty often used.  These shops are not of
any size or importance--a greengrocer's, with a somewhat scanty
choice of vegetables and fruit, a broker's, displaying queer odds and
ends of household goods, two or three others, and at the end farthest
from the chief thoroughfare, but nearest to the quiet and respectable
street beyond, a very modest-looking little shop-window, containing a
few newspapers, some rather yellow packets of stationery, and two or
three books of ballads.  Above the door was painted, in very small,
dingy letters, the words, "James Oliver, News Agent."

The shop was even smaller, in proportion, than its window.  After two
customers had entered--if such an event could ever come to pass--it
would have been almost impossible to find room for a third.  Along
the end ran a little counter, with a falling flap by which admission
could be gained to the living-room lying behind the shop.  This
evening the flap was down--a certain sign that James Oliver, the news
agent, had some guest within, for otherwise there would have been no
occasion to lessen the scanty size of the counter.  The room beyond
was dark, very dark indeed, for the time of day; for, though the
evening was coming on, and the sun was hastening to go down at last,
it had not yet ceased to shine brilliantly upon the great city.  But
inside James Oliver's house the gas was already lighted in a little
steady flame, which never flickered in the still, hot air, though
both door and window were wide open.  For there was a window, though
it was easy to overlook it, opening into a passage four feet wide,
which led darkly up into a still closer and hotter court, lying in
the very core of the maze of streets.  As the houses were four
stories high, it is easy to understand that very little sunlight
could penetrate to Oliver's room behind his shop, and that even at
noon-day it was twilight there.  This room was of a better size
altogether than a stranger might have supposed, having two or three
queer little nooks and recesses borrowed from the space belonging to
the adjoining house; for the buildings were old, and had probably
been one large dwelling in former times.  It was plainly the only
apartment the owner had; and all its arrangements were those of a man
living alone, for there was something almost desolate about the look
of the scanty furniture, though it was clean and whole.  There had
been a fire, but it had died out, and the coals were black in the
grate, while the kettle still sat upon the top bar with a melancholy
expression of neglect about it.

James Oliver himself had placed his chair near to the open door,
where he could keep his eye upon the shop--a needless precaution, as
at this hour no customers ever turned into it.  He was an old man,
and seemed very old and infirm by the dim light.  He was thin and
spare, with that peculiar spareness which results from the habit of
always eating less than one can.  His teeth, which had never had too
much to do, had gone some years ago, and his cheeks fell in rather
deeply.  A fine network of wrinkles puckered about the corners of his
eyes and mouth.  He stooped a good deal, and moved about with the
slowness and deliberation of age.  Yet his face was very pleasant--a
cheery, gentle, placid face, lighted up with a smile now and then,
but with sufficient rareness to make it the more welcome and the more
noticed when it came.

Old Oliver had a visitor this hot evening, a neat, small, dapper
woman, with a little likeness to himself, who had been putting his
room to rights, and looking to the repairs needed by his linen.  She
was just replacing her needle, cotton, and buttons in an
old-fashioned housewife, which she always carried in her pocket, and
was then going to put on her black silk bonnet and coloured shawl,
before bidding him good-bye.

"Eh, Charlotte," said Oliver, after drawing a long and toilsome
breath, "what would I give to be a-top of the Wrekin, seeing the sun
set this evening!  Many and many's the summer afternoon we've spent
there when we were young, and all of us alive.  Dost remember how
many a mile of country we could see all round us, and how fresh the
air blew across the thousands of green fields?  Why, I saw Snowdon
once, more than sixty miles off, when my eyes were young and it was a
clear sunset.  I always think of the top of the Wrekin when I read of
Moses going up Mount Pisgah and seeing all the land about him, north
and south, east and west.  Eh, lass! there's a change in us all now!"

"Ah! it's like another world!" said the old woman, shaking her head
slowly.  "All the folks I used to sew for at Aston, and Uppington,
and Overlehill, they'd mostly be gone or dead by now.  It wouldn't
seem like the same place at all.  And now there's none but you and me
left, brother James.  Well, well! it's lonesome, growing old."

"Yes, lonesome, yet not exactly lonesome," replied old Oliver, in a
dreamy voice.  "I'm growing dark a little, and just a trifle deaf,
and I don't feel quite myself like I used to do; but I've got
something I didn't use to have.  Sometimes of an evening, before I've
lit the gas, I've a sort of a feeling as if I could almost see the
Lord Jesus, and hear him talking to me.  He looks to me something
like our eldest brother, him that died when we were little.
Charlotte, thee remembers him?  A white, quiet, patient face, with a
smile like the sun shining behind clouds.  Well, whether it's only a
dream or no I cannot tell, but there's a face looks at me, or seems
to look at me out of the dusk; and I think to myself, maybe the Lord
Jesus says, 'Old Oliver's lonesome down there in the dark, and his
eyes growing dim.  I'll make myself half-plain to him.'  Then he
comes and sits here with me for a little while."

"Oh, that's all fancy as comes with you living quite alone," said
Charlotte, sharply.

"Perhaps so! perhaps so!" answered the old man, with a meek sigh;
"but I should be very lonesome without that."

They did not speak again until Charlotte had given a final shake to
the bed in the corner, upon which her bonnet and shawl had been
lying.  She put them on neatly and primly; and when she was ready to
go she spoke again in a constrained and mysterious manner.

"Heard nothing of Susan, I suppose?" she said.

"Not a word," answered old Oliver, sadly.  "It's the only trouble
I've got.  That were the last passion I ever went into, and I was hot
and hasty, I know."

"So you always used to be at times," said his sister.

"Ah! but that passion was the worst of all," he went on, speaking
slowly.  "I told her if she married young Raleigh, she should never
darken my doors again--never again.  And she took me at my word,
though she might have known it was nothing but father's hot temper.
Darken my doors!  Why, the brightest sunshine I could have 'ud be to
see her come smiling into my shop, like she used to do at home."

"Well, I think Susan ought to have humbled herself," said Charlotte.
"It's going on for six years now, and she's had time enough to see
her folly.  Do you know where she is?"

"I know nothing about her," he answered, shaking his head
sorrowfully.  "Young Raleigh was wild, very wild, and that was my
objection to him; but I didn't mean Susan to take me at my word.  I
shouldn't speak so hasty and hot now."

"And to think I'd helped to bring her up so genteel, and with such
pretty manners!" cried the old woman, indignantly.  "She might have
done so much better with her cleverness too.  Such a milliner as she
might have turned out!  Well good-bye, brother James, and don't go
having any more of those visions; they're not wholesome for you."

"I should be very lonesome without them," answered Oliver.
"Good-bye, Charlotte, good-bye, and God bless you.  Come again as
soon as you can."

He went with her to the door, and stayed to watch her along the quiet
alley, till she turned into the street.  Then, with a last nod to the
back of her bonnet, as she passed out of his sight, he returned
slowly into his dark shop, put up the flap of the counter, and
retreated to the darker room within.  Hot as it was, he fancied it
was growing a little chilly with the coming of the night, and he drew
on his old coat, and threw a handkerchief over his white head, and
then sat down in the dusk, looking out into his shop and the alley
beyond it.  He must have fallen into a doze after a while, being
overcome with the heat, and lulled by the constant hum of the
streets, which reached his dull ear in a softened murmur; for at
length he started up almost in a fright, and found that complete
darkness had fallen upon him suddenly, as it seemed to him.  A church
clock was striking nine, and his shop was not closed yet.  He went
out hurriedly to put the shutters up.



In the shop it was not yet so dark but that old Oliver could see his
way out with the shutters, which during the day occupied a place
behind the door.  He lifted the flap of the counter, and was about to
go on with his usual business, when a small voice, trembling a
little, and speaking from the floor at his very feet, caused him to
pause suddenly.

"Please, rere's a little girl here," said the voice.

Oliver stooped down to bring his eyes nearer to the ground, until he
could make out the indistinct outline of the figure of a child,
seated on his shop floor, and closely hugging a dog in her arms.  Her
face looked small to him; it was pale, as if she had been crying
quietly, and though he could not see them, a large tear stood on each
of her cheeks.

"What little girl are you?" he asked, almost timidly.

"Rey called me Dolly," answered the child.

"Haven't you any other name?" inquired old Oliver.

"Nosing else but Poppet," she said; "rey call me Dolly sometimes, and
Poppet sometimes.  Ris is my little dog, Beppo."

She introduced the dog by pushing its nose into his hand, and Beppo
complacently wagged his tail and licked the old man's withered

"What brings you here in my shop, my little woman?" asked Oliver.

"Mammy brought me," she said, with a stifled sob; "she told me run in
rere, Dolly, and stay till mammy comes back, and be a good girl
always.  Am I a good girl?"

"Yes, yes," he answered, soothingly; "you're a very good little girl,
I'm sure; and mother 'ill come back soon, very soon.  Let us go to
the door, and look for her."

He took her little hand in his own; such a little hand it felt, that
he could not help tightening his fingers fondly over it; and then
they stood for a few minutes on the door-sill, while old Oliver
looked anxiously up and down the alley.  At the green-grocer's next
door there flared a bright jet of gas, and the light shone well into
the deepening darkness.  But there was no woman in sight, and the
only person about was a ragged boy, barefoot and bareheaded, with no
clothing but a torn pair of trousers, very jagged about the ankles,
and a jacket through which his thin shoulders displayed themselves.
He was lolling in the lowest window-sill of the house opposite, and
watched Oliver and the little girl looking about them with sundry
signs of interest and amusement.

"She ain't nowhere in sight," he called across to them after a while,
"nor won't be, neither, I'll bet you.  You're looking out for the
little un's mother, ain't you, old master?"

"Yes," answered Oliver; "do you know anything about her, my boy?"

"Nothink," he said, with a laugh; "only she looked as if she were up
to some move, and as I'd nothink particular on hand, I just followed
her.  She was somethink like my mother, as is dead, not fat or rosy,
you know, with a bit of a bruise about her eye, as if somebody had
been fighting with her.  I thought there'd be a lark when she left
the little 'un in your shop, so I just stopped to see.  She bolted as
if the bobbies were after her."

"How long ago?" asked Oliver, anxiously.

"The clocks had just gone eight," he answered; "I've been watching
for you ever since."

"Why! that's a full hour ago," said the old man, looking wistfully
down the alley; "it's time she was come back again for her little

[Illustration: THE LITTLE STRANGER.]

But there was no symptom of anybody coming to claim the little girl,
who stood very quietly at his side, one hand holding the dog fast by
his ear, and the other still lying in Oliver's grasp.  The boy hopped
on one foot across the narrow alley, and looked up with bright, eager
eyes into the old man's face.

"I say," he said, earnestly, "don't you go to give her up to the
p'lice.  They'd take her to the house, and that's worse than the
jail.  Bless yer! they'd never take up a little thing like that to
jail for a wagrant.  You just give her to me, and I'll take care of
her.  It 'ud be easy enough to find victuals for such a pretty little
thing as her.  You give her up to me, I say."

"What's your name?" asked Oliver, clasping the little hand tighter,
"and where do you come from?"

"From nowhere particular," answered the boy; "and my name's Antony;
Tony, for short.  I used to have another name; mother told it me
afore she died, but it's gone clean out o' my head.  Tony I am,
anyhow, and you can call me by it, if you choose."

"How old are you, Tony?" inquired Oliver, still lingering on the
threshold, and looking up and down with his dim eyes.

"Bless yer!  I don't know," replied Tony; "I weren't much bigger nor
her when mother died, and I've found myself ever since.  I never had
any father."

"Found yourself!" repeated the old man, absently.

"Ah, it's not bad in the summer," said Tony, more earnestly than
before: "and I could find for the little 'un easy enough.  I sleep
anywhere, in Covent Garden sometimes, and the parks--anywhere as the
p'lice 'ill let me alone.  You won't go to give her up to them
p'lice, will you now, and she so pretty?"

He spoke in a beseeching tone, and old Oliver looked down upon him
through his spectacles, with a closer survey than he had given to him
before.  The boy's face was pale and meagre, with an unboyish
sharpness about it, though he did not seem more than nine or ten
years old.  His glittering eyes were filled with tears, and his
colourless lips quivered.  He wiped away the tears roughly upon the
ragged sleeve of his jacket.

"I never were such a baby before," said Tony, "only she is such a
nice little thing, and such a tiny little 'un.  You'll keep her,
master, won't you? or give her up to me?"

"Ay, ay!  I'll take care of her," answered Oliver, "till her mother
comes back for her.  She'll come pretty soon, I know.  But she wants
her supper now, doesn't she?"

He stooped down to bring his face nearer to the child's, and she
raised her hand to it, and stroked his cheek with her warm, soft

"Beppo wants his supper, too," she said, in a clear, shrill, little
voice, which penetrated easily through old Oliver's deafened hearing.

"And Beppo shall have some supper as well as the little woman," he
answered.  "I'll put the shutters up now, and leave the door ajar,
and the gas lit for mother to see when she comes back; and if mother
shouldn't come back to night, the little woman will sleep in my bed,
won't she?"

"Dolly's to be a good girl till mammy comes back," said the child,
plaintively, and holding harder by Beppo's ear.

"Let me put the shutters up, master," cried Tony, eagerly; "I won't
charge you nothink, and I'll just look round in the morning to see
how you're getting along.  She is such a very little thing."

The shutters were put up briskly, and then Tony took a long, farewell
gaze of the old man and the little child, but he could not offer to
touch either of them.  He glanced at his hands, and Oliver did the
same; but they both shook their heads.

"I'll have a wash in the morning afore I come," he said, nodding
resolutely; "good-bye, guv'ner; good-bye, little 'un."

Old Oliver went in, leaving his door ajar, and his gas lit, as he had
said.  He fed the hungry child with bread and butter, and used up his
half-pennyworth of milk, which he bought for himself every evening.
Then he lifted her on to his knee, with Beppo in her arms, and sat
for a long while waiting.  The little head nodded, and Dolly sat up,
unsteadily striving hard to keep awake; but at last she let Beppo
drop to the floor, while she herself fell upon the old man's breast,
and lay there without moving.  It chimed eleven o'clock at last, and
Oliver knew it was of no use to watch any longer.

He managed to undress his little charge with gentle, though trembling
hands, and then he laid her down on his bed, putting his only pillow
against the wall to make a soft nest for the tender and sleepy child.
She roused herself for a minute, and stared about her, gazing
steadily, with large, tearful eyes, into his face.  Then as he sat
down on the bedstead beside her, to comfort her as well as he could,
she lifted herself up, and knelt down, with her folded hands laid
against his shoulder.

"Dolly vewy seepy," she lisped, "but must say her prayers always."

"What are your prayers, my dear?" he asked.

"On'y God bless ganpa, and father, and mammy, and poor Beppo, and
make me a good girl," murmured the drowsy voice, as Dolly closed her
eyes again, and fell off into a deep sleep the next moment.



It was a very strange event which had befallen old Oliver.  He went
back to his own chair, where he smoked his Broseley pipe every night,
and sank down in it, rubbing his legs softly; for it was a long time
since he had nursed any child, and even Dolly's small weight was a
burden to him.  Her tiny clothes were scattered up and down, and
there was no one beside himself to gather them together, and fold
them straight.  In shaking out her frock a letter fell from it, and
Oliver picked it up, wondering whoever it could be for.  It was
directed to himself, "Mr. James Oliver, News-agent," and he broke the
seal with eager expectation.  The contents were these, written in a
handwriting which he knew at first sight to be his daughter's:--


"I am very very sorry I ever did anything to make you angry with me.
This is your poor Susan's little girl, as is come to be a little
peacemaker betwixt you and me.  I'm certain sure you'll never turn
her away from your door.  I'm going down to Portsmouth for three
days, because he listed five months ago, and his regiment's ordered
out to India, and he sails on Friday.  So I thought I wouldn't take
my little girl to be in the way, and I said I'll leave her with
father till I come back, and her pretty little ways will soften him
towards me, and we'll live all together in peace and plenty till his
regiment comes home again, poor fellow.  For he's very good to me
when he's not in liquor, which is seldom for a man.  Please do
forgive me for pity's sake, and for Christ's sake, if I'm worthy to
use his name, and do take care of my little girl till I come home to
you both on Friday.  From your now dutiful daughter,


The tears rolled fast down old Oliver's cheeks as he read this letter
through twice, speaking the words half aloud to himself.  Why! this
was his own little grandchild, then--his very own!  And no doubt
Susan had christened her Dorothy, after her own mother, his dear
wife, who had died so many years ago.  Dolly was the short for
Dorothy, and in early times he had often called his wife by that
name.  He had turned his gas off and lighted a candle, and now he
took it up and went to the bedside to look at his new treasure.  The
tiny face lying upon his pillow was rosy with sleep, and the fair
curly hair was tossed about in pretty disorder.  His spectacles grew
very dim indeed, and he was obliged to polish them carefully on his
cotton handkerchief before he could see his grand-daughter plainly
enough.  Then he touched her dimpled cheek tremblingly with the end
of his finger, and sobbed out, "Bless her! bless her!"  He returned
to his chair, his head shaking a good deal before he could regain his
composure; and it was not until he had kindled his pipe, and was
smoking it, with his face turned towards the sleeping child, that he
felt at all like himself again.

"Dear Lord!" he said, half aloud, between the whiffs of his pipe,
"dear Lord! how very good thou art to me!  Didst thee not say, 'I'll
not leave thee comfortless, I'll come to thee?'  I know what that
means, bless thy name; and the good Spirit has many a time brought me
comfort, and cheered my heart.  I know thou didst not leave me alone
before.  No, no! that was far from thee, Lord.  Alone!--why, thou'rt
always here; and now there's the little lass as well.
Lonesome!--they don't know thee, Lord, and they don't know me.
Thou'rt here, with the little lass and me.  Yes, yes,--yes."

He murmured the word "yes" in a tone of contentment over and over
again, until, the pipe being finished, he prepared for sleep also.
But no sleep came to the old man.  He was too full of thought, and
too fearful of the child waking in the night and wanting something.
The air was close and hot, and now and then a peal of thunder broke
overhead; but a profound peace and tranquillity, slightly troubled by
his new joy, held possession of him.  His grandchild was there, and
his daughter was coming back to him in three days.

Oh, how he would welcome her!  He would not let her speak one word of
her wilfulness and disobedience, and the long, cruel neglect which
had left him in ignorance of where she lived, and what had become of
her.  It was partly his fault, for having been too hard upon her, and
too hasty and hot-tempered.  He had learnt better since then.



Very early in the morning, before the tardy daylight could creep into
the darkened room, old Oliver was up and busy.  He had been in the
habit of doing for himself, as he called it, ever since his daughter
had forsaken him, and he was by nature fastidiously clean and neat.
But now there would be additional duties for him during the next
three days; for there would be Dolly to wash, and dress, and provide
breakfast for.  Every few minutes he stole a look at her lying still
asleep; and as soon as he discovered symptoms of awaking, he hastily
lifted Beppo on to the bed, that her opening eyes should be greeted
by some familiar sight.  She stretched out her wonderful little
hands, and caught hold of the dog's rough head before venturing to
lift her eyelids, while Oliver looked on in speechless delight.  At
length she ventured to peep slyly at him, and then addressed herself
to Beppo.

"What am I to call ris funny old man, Beppo?" she asked.

"I am your grandpa, my darling," said Oliver, in his softest voice.

"Are you God-bless-ganpa?" inquired Dolly, sitting up on her pillow,
and staring very hard with her blue eyes into his wrinkled face.

"Yes, I am," he answered, looking at her anxiously.

"Dolly knows," she said, counting upon her little fingers; "rere's
father, and mammy, and Beppo; and now rere's gan-pa.  Dolly 'll get
up now."

She flung her arms suddenly about his neck and kissed him, while old
Oliver trembled with intense joy.  It was quite a marvel to him how
she helped him to dress her, laughing merrily at the strange mistakes
he made in putting on her clothes the wrong side before; and when he
assured her that her mother would come back very soon, she seemed
satisfied to put up with any passing inconvenience.  The shop, with
its duties, and the necessity of getting in his daily stock of
newspapers, entirely slipped his memory; and he was only recalled to
it by a very loud rapping at the door as he was pouring out Dolly's
breakfast.  To his great surprise he discovered that he had forgotten
to take down his shutters, though it was past the hour when his best
customers passed by.

[Illustration: Tony]

The person knocking proved to be none other than Tony, who greeted
the old man's appearance with a prolonged whistle, and a grave and
reproachful stare.

"Come," he said, in a tone of remonstrance, "this'll never do, you
know.  Business is business, and must be minded.  You pretty nearly
frightened me into fits; anybody could have knocked me down with a
straw when I see the shutters up.  How is she?"

"She's very well, thank you, my boy," answered Oliver, meekly.

"Mother not turned up, I guess?" said Tony.

"No; she comes on Friday," he replied.

Tony winked, and put his tongue into his cheek; but he gave utterance
to no remark until after the shutters were in their place.  Then he
surveyed himself as well as he could, with an air of satisfaction.
His face and hands were clean, and his skin looked very white through
the holes in his tattered clothes; even his feet, except for an
unavoidable under surface of dust, were unsoiled.  His jacket and
trousers appeared somewhat more torn than the evening before; but
they bore every mark of having been washed also.

"Washed myself early in the morning, afore the bobbies were much
about," remarked Tony, "in the fountains at Charing Cross; but I
hadn't time to get my rags done, so I did 'em down under the bridge,
when the tide were going down; but I could only give 'em a bit of a
swill and a ring out.  Anyhow, I'm a bit cleaner this morning than
last night, master."

"To be sure, to be sure," answered Oliver.  "Come in, my boy, and
I'll give you a bit of breakfast with her and me."

"You haven't got sich a thing as a daily paper, have you?" asked
Tony, in a patronizing tone.

"Not to-day's paper, I'm afraid," he said.

"I'm afraid not," continued Tony; "overslept yourself, eh?  Not as I
can read myself; but there are folks going by as can, and might
p'raps buy one here as well as anywhere else.  Shall I run and get
'em for you, now I'm on my legs?"

Oliver looked questioningly at the boy, who returned a frank, honest
gaze, and said, "Honour bright!" as he held out his hand for the
money.  There was some doubt in the old man's mind after Tony had
disappeared as to whether he had not done a very foolish thing; but
he soon forgot it when he returned to the breakfast-table; and long
before he himself could have reached the place and returned, Tony was
back again with his right number of papers.

Before many minutes Tony was sitting upon an old box at a little
distance from the table, where Oliver sat with his grandchild.  A
basin of coffee and a large hunch of bread rested upon his knees, and
Beppo was sniffing round him with a doubtful air.  Dolly was shy in
this strange company, and ate her breakfast with a sedate gravity
which filled both her companions with astonishment and admiration.
When the meal was finished, old Oliver took his daughter's letter
from his waistcoat pocket and read it aloud to Tony, who listened
with undivided interest.

"Then she's your own little 'un," he said, with a sigh of
disappointment.  "You'll never give her up to me, if you get tired of
her,--nor to the p'lice neither," he added, with a brightening face.

"No, no, no!" answered Oliver, emphatically.  "Besides, her mother's
coming on Friday.  I wouldn't give her up for all the world, bless

"And he's 'listed!" said Tony, in a tone of envy "They wouldn't take
me yet a while, if I offered to go.  But who's that she speaks
of?--'for Christ's sake, if I am worthy to use his name.'  Who is he?"

"Don't you know?" asked Oliver.

"No, never heard tell of him before," he answered, "Is he any friend
o' yours?"[*]

[*] It may be necessary to assure some readers that this ignorance is
not exaggerated.  The City Mission Reports, and similar records, show
that such cases are too frequent.

"Ay!" said Oliver; "he's my only friend, my best friend.  And he's my
master, besides."

"And she thinks he'd be angry if you turned the little girl away?"
pursued Tony.

"Yes, yes; he'd be very angry," said old Oliver, thoughtfully; "it
'ud grieve him to his heart.  Why, he's always loved little children,
and never had them turned away from himself, whatever he was doing.
If she hadn't been my own little girl, I daren't have turned her out
of my doors.  No, no, dear Lord, thee knows as I'd have taken care of
her, for thy sake."

He spoke absently, in a low voice, as though talking to some person
whom Tony could not see, and the boy was silent a minute or two,
thinking busily.

"How long have you worked for that master o' yours?" he asked, at

"Not very long," replied Oliver, regretfully.  "I used to fancy I was
working for him years and years ago; but, dear me! it was poor sort
o' work; and now I can't do very much.  Only he knows how old I am,
and he doesn't care so that I love him, which I do, Tony."

"I should think so!" said the boy, falling again into busy thought,
from which he aroused himself by getting up from his box, and rubbing
his fingers through his wet and tangled hair.

"He takes to children and little 'uns?" he said, in a questioning

"Ay, dearly!" answered old Oliver.

"I reckon he'd scarcely take me for a man yet," said Tony, at the
same time drawing himself up to his full height; "though I don't know
as I should care to work for him.  I'd rather have a crossing, and be
my own master.  But if I get hard up, do you think he'd take to me,
if you spoke a word for me?"

"Are you sure you don't know anything about him?" asked Oliver.

"Not I; how should I?" answered Tony.  "Why, you don't s'pose as I
know all the great folks in London, though I've seen sights and
sights of 'em riding about in their carriages.  I told you I weren't
much bigger nor her there when mother died, and I've picked up my
living up and down the streets anyhow, and other lads have helped me
on, till I can help 'em on now.  It don't cost much to keep a boy on
the streets.  There's nothink to pay for coals, or rent, or beds, or
furniture, or anythink; only your victuals, and a rag now and then.
All I want's a broom and a crossing, and then shouldn't I get along
just?  But I don't know how to get 'em."

"Perhaps the Lord Jesus would give them to you, if you'd ask him,"
said Oliver, earnestly.

"Who's he?" inquired Tony, with an eager face.

"Him--Christ.  It's his other name," answered the old man.

"Ah!  I see," he said, nodding.  "Well, if I can't get 'em myself,
I'll think about it.  He'll want me to work for him, you know.  Where
does he live?"

"I'll tell you all about him, if you'll come to see me," replied

"Well," said the boy, "I'll just look in after Friday, and see if the
little 'un's mother's come back.  Good-bye,--good-bye, little miss."

He could take Dolly's hand into his own this morning, and he looked
down curiously at it,--a small, rosy, dimpled hand, such as he had
never seen before so closely.  A lump rose in his throat, and his
eyelids smarted with tears again.  It was such a little thing, such a
pretty little thing, he said to himself, covering it fondly with his
other hand.  There was no fear that Tony would forget to come back to
old Oliver's house.

"Thank you for my breakfast," he said, with a choking voice; "only if
I do come to see you, it'll be to see her again--not for anythink as
I can get."



The next three days were a season of unmixed happiness to old Oliver.
The little child was so merry, yet withal so gentle and
sweet-tempered, that she kept him in a state of unwearied delight,
without any alloy of anxiety or trouble.  She trotted at his side
with short, running footsteps, when he went out early in the morning
to fetch his daily stock of newspapers.  She watched him set his room
tidy, and made believe to help him by dusting the lees and seats of
his two chairs.  She stood with folded hands and serious face,
looking on as he was busy with his cooking.  When she was not thus
engaged she played contentedly with Beppo, prattling to him in such a
manner, that Oliver often forgot what he was about while listening to
her.  She played with him, too, frolicsome little games of
hide-and-seek, in which he grew as eager as herself; and sometimes
she stole his spectacles, or handkerchief, or anything she could lay
her mischievous fingers upon to hide away in some unthought-of spot;
while her shrewd, cunning little face put on an expression of
profound gravity as old Oliver sought everywhere for them.

As Friday evening drew near, the old man's gladness took a shade of
anxiety.  His daughter was coming home to him, and his heart was full
of unutterable joy and gratitude; but he did not know exactly how
they should go on in the future.  He was averse to change; yet this
little house, with its single room, to which he had moved when she
forsook him, was too scanty in its accommodation.  He had made up a
rude sort of bed for himself under the counter in the shop, and was
quite ready to give up his own to Susan and his little love, as he
called Dolly; but would Susan let him have his own way in this, and
many other things?  He provided a sumptuous tea, and added a fresh
salad to it from the greengrocer's next door; but though he and Dolly
waited and watched till long after the child's bed-time, taking
occasional snatches of bread and butter, still Susan did not arrive.
At length a postman entered the little shop with a noise which made
Oliver's heart beat violently, and tossed a letter down upon the
counter.  He carried it to the door, where there was still light
enough to read it, and saw that it was in Susan's handwriting.


"My heart is almost broke, betwixt one thing and another.  His
regiment is to set sail immediate, and the colonel's lady has offered
me very handsome wages to go out with her as lady's maid, her own
having disappointed her at the last moment; which I could do very
well, knowing the dressmaking.  He said, 'Do come, Susan, and I'll
never get drunk again, so help me God; and if you don't, I shall go
to the bad altogether; for I do love you, Susan.'  I said, 'Oh my
child!'  And the colonel's lady said, 'She's safe with her
grandfather; and if he's a good man, as you say he is, he'll take the
best of care of her.  I'll give you three pounds to send him from
here, and we'll send more from Calcutta.'  So they overpersuaded me,
and there isn't even time to come back to London, for we are going in
a few hours.  You'll take care of my little dear, I know, you and
aunt Charlotte.  I've sent a little box of clothes for her by the
railway, and what more she wants aunt Charlotte will see to, I'm
sure, and do her mending, and see to her manners till I come home.
Oh! if I could only hear you say 'Susan, my dear, I forgive you, and
love you almost as much as ever,' I'd go with a lighter heart, and be
almost glad to leave Dolly to be a comfort to you, She will be a
comfort to you, though she is so little, I'm sure.  Tell her mammy
says she must be a good girl always till mammy comes back.  A hundred
thousand kisses for my dear father and my little girl.  We shall come
home as soon as ever we can; but I don't rightly know where India is.
I think it's my bounden duty to go with him, as things have turned
out.  Pray God take care of us all.

  "Your loving, sorrowful daughter,



It was some time before the full meaning of Susan's letter penetrated
to her father's brain; but when it did, he was not at first
altogether pained by it.  True, it was both a grief and
disappointment to think that his daughter, instead of returning to
him, was already on her way across the sea to a very distant land.
But as this came slowly to his mind, there came also the thought that
there would now be no one to divide with him the treasure committed
to his charge.  The little child would belong to him alone.  They
might go on still, living as they had done these last three days, and
being all in all to one another.  If he could have chosen, his will
would certainly have been for Susan to return to them; but, since he
could not have his choice, he felt that there were some things which
would be all the happier for him because of her absence.

He put Dolly to bed, and then went out to shut up the shop for the
night.  As he carried in his feeble arms a single shutter at a time,
he heard himself hailed by a boy's voice, which was lowered to a low
and mysterious whisper, and which belonged to Tony, who took the
shutter out of his hands.

"S'pose the mother turned up all right?" he said pointing with his
thumb through the half open door.

"No," answered Oliver.  "I've had another letter from her, and she's
gone out to India with her husband, and left the little love to live
alone with me."

"But whatever'll the Master say to that?" inquired Tony.

"What master?" asked old Oliver.

"Him--Lord Jesus Christ.  What'll he say to her leaving you and the
little 'un again?" said Tony, with an eager face.

"Oh! he says a woman ought to leave her father, and keep to her
husband," he answered, somewhat sadly.  "It's all right, that is."

"I s'pose he'll help you to take care of the little girl," said Tony.

"Ay will he; him and me," replied old Oliver; "there's no fear of
that.  You never read the Testament, of course, my boy?"

"Can't read, I told you," he answered.  "But what's that?"

"A book all about him, the Lord Jesus," said Oliver, "what he's done,
and what he's willing to do for people.  If you'll come of an
evening, I'll read it aloud to you and my little love.  She'll listen
as quiet and good as any angel."

"I'll come to-morrow," answered Tony, readily; and he lingered about
the doorway until he heard the old man inside fasten the bolts and
locks, and saw the light go out in the pane of glass over the door.
Then he scampered noiselessly with his naked feet along the alley in
the direction of Covent Garden, where he purposed to spend the night,
if left undisturbed.

Old Oliver went back into his room, where the tea-table was still set
out for his Susan's welcome; but he had no heart to clear the things
away.  A chill came over his spirit as his eye fell upon the
preparations he had made to give her such a cordial greeting, that
she would know at once he had forgiven her fully.  He lit his pipe,
and sat pondering sorrowfully over all the changes that had happened
to him since those old, far-away days when he was a boy, in the
pleasant, fresh, healthy homestead at the foot of the Wrekin.  He
felt all of a sudden how very old he was; a poor, infirm, hoary old
man.  His sight was growing dim even, and his hearing duller every
day; he was sure of it.  His limbs ached oftener, and he was earlier
wearied in the evening; yet he could not sleep soundly at nights, as
he had been used to do.  But, worst of all, his memory was not half
as good as it had been.  Sometimes, of late, he had caught himself
reading a newspaper quite a fortnight old, and he had not found it
out till he happened to see the date at the top.  He could not
recollect the names of people as he did once; for many of his
customers to whom he supplied the monthly magazines were obliged to
tell him their names and the book they wanted every time, before he
could remember them.  And now there was this young child cast upon
him to be thought of, and cared and worked for.  It was very
thoughtless and reckless of Susan!  Suppose he should forget or
neglect any of her tender wants!  Suppose his dull ear should grow
too deaf to catch the pretty words she said when she asked for
something!  Suppose he should not see when the tears were rolling
down her cheeks, and nobody would comfort her!  It might very easily
be so.  He was not the hale man he was when Susan was just such
another little darling, and he could toss her up to the ceiling in
his strong hands.  It was as much as he could do to lift Dolly on to
his feeble knee, and nurse her quietly, not even giving her a ride to
market upon it; and how stiff he felt if she sat there long!

Old Oliver laid aside his pipe, and rested his worn face upon his
hands, while the heavy tears came slowly and painfully to his eyes,
and trickled down his withered cheeks.  His joy had fled, and his
unmingled gladness had faded quite away.  He was a very poor, very
old man; and the little child was very, very young.  What would
become of them both, alone in London?

He did not know whether it was a voice speaking within himself in his
own heart, or words whispered very softly into his ear; but he heard
a low, quiet, still small voice, which said, "Even to your old age I
am he, and even to hoar hairs I will carry you: I have made, and I
will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."  And old Oliver
answered, with a sob, "Yes, Lord, yes!"



In the new life which had now fairly begun for Oliver, it was partly
as he had foreseen; he was apt to forget many things, and he had a
fretting consciousness of this forgetfulness.  When he was in the
house playing with Dolly, or reading to her, the shop altogether
slipped away from his memory, and he was only recalled to it by the
loud knocking or shouting of some customer in it.  On the other hand,
when he was sitting behind the counter looking for news from India in
the papers, news in which he was already profoundly concerned, though
it was impossible that Susan could yet have reached it, he grew so
absorbed, that he did not know how the time was passing by, and both
he and his little grand-daughter were hungry before he had thought of
getting ready any meal.  He tried all kinds of devices for
strengthening his failing memory; but in vain.  He even forgot that
he did forget; and when Dolly was laughing and frolicking about him
he grew a child again, and felt himself the happiest man in London.

The person who took upon himself the heaviest weight of anxiety and
responsibility about Dolly was Tony, who began to make it his daily
custom to pass by the house at the hour when old Oliver ought to be
going for his morning papers; and if he found no symptom of life
about the place, he did not leave off kicking and butting at the
shop-door until the owner appeared.  It was very much the same thing
at night, when the time for shutting up came; though it generally
happened now that the boy was paying his friends an evening visit,
and was therefore at hand to put up the shutters for Oliver.  Tony
could not keep away from the place.  Though he felt a boy's
contemptuous pity for the poor old man's declining faculties as
regarded business, he had a very high veneration for his learning.
Nothing pleased him better than to sit upon the old box near the
door, his elbows on his knees, and his chin upon his hands, while
Oliver read aloud, with Dolly upon his knee, her curly hair and small
pretty features making a strange contrast to his white head and
withered, hollow face.  Tony, who had never had anything to love
except a stray cur or two, which he had always lost after a few days'
friendship, felt as if he could have suffered himself to be put to
death for either of these two; while Beppo came in for a large share
of his unclaimed affections.  The chief subject of their reading was
the life of the Master, who was so intimately dear to the heart of
old Oliver.  Tony was very eager to learn all he could of this great
friend who did so much for the old man, and who might perhaps be
persuaded some day or other to take a little notice of him, if he
should fail to get a crossing for himself.  Oliver, in his long,
unbroken solitude of six years, had fallen into a notion, amounting
to a firm belief, that his Lord was not dead and far off, as most of
the world believed, but was a very present, living friend, always
ready to listen to the meanest of his words.  He had a vague
suspicion that his faith had got into a different course from that of
most other people; and he bore meekly the rebukes of his sister
Charlotte for the unwholesomeness of his visions.  But none the less,
when he was alone, he talked and prayed to, and spoke to Tony of this
Master, as one who was always very near at hand.

[Illustration: Dolly on Oliver's knee]

"I s'pose he takes a bit o' notice o' the little un," said Tony,
"when he comes in now and then of an evening."

"Ay, does he!" answered Oliver, earnestly.  "My boy, he loves every
child as if it was his very own, and it is his own in one sense.
Didn't I read you last night how he said, 'Suffer the little children
to come unto me, and forbid them not.'  Why, he'd love all the young
children in the world, if they weren't hindered from coming to him."

"I should very much like to see him some day," pursued Tony,
reflectively, "and the rest of them,--Peter, and John, and them.  I
s'pose they are getting pretty old by now, aren't they?"

"They are dead," said Oliver.

"All of 'em?" asked Tony.

"All of them," he repeated.

"Dear, dear!" cried Tony, his eyes glistening.  "Whatever did the
Master do when they all died?  I'm very sorry for him now.  He's had
a many troubles, hasn't he?"

"Yes, yes," replied old Oliver, with a faltering voice.  "He was
called a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.  Nobody ever bore
so many troubles as him."

"How long is it ago since they all died?" asked Tony.

"I can't rightly say," he answered.  "I heard once, but it is gone
out of my head.  I only know it was the same when I was a boy.  It
must have been a long, long time ago."

"The same when you was a boy!" repeated Tony, in a tone of
disappointment.  "It must ha' been a long while ago.  I thought all
along as the Master was alive now.

"So he is, so he is!" exclaimed old Oliver, eagerly.  "I'll read to
you all about it.  They put him to death on the cross, and buried him
in a rocky grave; but he is the Prince of Life, and he came to life
again three days after, and now he can die no more.  His own words to
John were, 'I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive
for evermore.'  What else can it mean but that he is living now, and
will never die again?"

Tony made no answer.  He sat with his sharp, unboyish face gazing
intently into the fire; for by this time autumn had set in, and the
old man was chilly of an evening.  A very uncertain, dim idea was
dawning upon him that this master and friend of old Oliver's was a
being very different from an ordinary man, however great and rich he
might be.  He had grown to love the thought of him, and to listen
attentively to the book which told the manner of life he led; but it
was a chill to find out that he could not look into his face, and
hear his voice, as he could Oliver's.  His heart was heavy, and very

"I s'pose I can't see him, then," he murmured to himself, at last.

"Not exactly like other folks," said Oliver.  "I think sometimes that
perhaps there's a little darkness of the grave where he was buried
about him still.  But he sees us, and hears us.  He himself says,
'Behold, I am with you always.'  I don't know whatever I should do,
even with my little love here, if I wasn't sure Jesus was with me as

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Tony, after another pause.  "I'm
going to ask him to give me somethink, and then if he does, I shall
know he hears me.--I should very much like to have a broom and a
crossing, and get my living a bit more easy, if you please."

He had turned his face away from Oliver, and looked across into the
darkest corner of the room, where he could see nothing but shadow.
The old man felt puzzled, and somewhat troubled, but he only sighed
softly to himself; and opening the Testament, he read aloud in it
till he was calmed again, and Tony was listening in rapt attention.

"My boy," he said, as the hour came for Tony to go, "where are you
sleeping now?"

"Anywhere as I can get out o' the wind," he answered.  "It's cold
now, nights--wery cold, master.  But I must get along a bit farder
on.  Lodgings is wery dear."

"I've been thinking," said Oliver, "that you'd find it better to have
some sort of a shake-down under my counter.  I've heard say that
newspapers stitched together make a coverlid pretty near as warm as a
blanket; and we could do no harm by trying them, Tony.  Look here,
and see how you'd like it."

It looked very much like a long box, and was not much larger.  Two or
three beetles crawled sluggishly away as the light fell upon them,
and dusty cobwebs festooned all the corners; but to Tony it seemed so
magnificent an accommodation for sleeping, that he could scarcely
believe he heard old Oliver aright.  He looked up into his face with
a sharp, incredulous gaze, ready to wink and thrust his tongue into
his cheek, if there was the least sign of making game of him.  But
the old man was simply in earnest, and without a word Tony slipped
down upon a heap of paper shavings strewed within, drew his ragged
jacket up about his ears, and turned his face away, lest his tears
should be seen.  He felt, a minute or two after, that a piece of an
old rug was laid over him, but he could say nothing; and old Oliver
could not hear the sob which broke from his lips.

[Illustration: Chapter VIII headpiece]



As some weeks went by, and no crossing and broom had been given to
Tony, he began to suspect that Oliver was imposing upon him.  Now
that he slept under the counter, he could often hear the old man
talking aloud to his invisible Friend as he smoked his pipe; and once
or twice Tony crept noiselessly to the door and watched him, after he
had finished smoking, kneel down and hide his face in his hands for
some minutes together.  But the boy could see nothing, and his wish
had not been granted; even though, as he grew more instructed, he
followed Oliver's example, and, kneeling down behind the counter,
whispered out a prayer for it.  To be sure his life was easier,
especially the nights of it; for he never now went hungry and starved
to bed upon some cold, hard door-step.  But it was old Oliver who did
that for him, not old Oliver's Master.  So far as he knew, the Lord
Jesus had taken no notice whatever of him; and the feeling, at first
angry, softened down into a kind of patient grief, which was quickly
dying away into indifference.

Oliver had done himself no bad turn by offering a shelter to the
solitary lad.  Tony always woke early in the morning, and if it
rained he would run for the papers, before turning out to "find for
himself" in the streets.  He generally took care to be out of the way
at meal-times; for it was as much as the old man could do to provide
for himself and Dolly.  Sometimes Tony saw him at the till, counting
over his pence with rather a troubled face.  Once, after receiving a
silver four-penny piece, an extraordinary and undreamed of event,
Tony dropped it, almost with a feeling of guilt, through the slit in
the counter which communicated with the till.  But Oliver was so
bewildered by its presence among the coppers, that he was compelled
to confess what he had done, saying it would have cost him more than
that for lodgings these cold nights.

"No, no, Tony," said Oliver; "you're very useful, fetching my papers,
and taking my little love out a-walking when the weather's fine.  I
ought to pay you something, instead of taking it of you."

"Keep it for Dolly," said Tony, bashfully, and pushing the coin into
her little hand.

"Sank 'oo," answered Dolly, accepting it promptly; "me'll give 'oo
twenty kisses for it."

It seemed ample payment to Tony, who went down on his knees to have
the kisses pressed upon his face, which had never felt a kiss since
his mother died.  But Oliver was not satisfied with the bargain,
though he drew Dolly to him fondly, and left the money in her hand.

"It 'ud buy you a broom, Tony," he said.

"Oh, I've give up asking for a crossing," he answered dejectedly;
"for he never heard, or if he heard, he never cared; so it were no
use going on teazing either him or me."

"But this money 'ud buy the broom," said Oliver; "and if you looked
about you, you'd find the crossing.  You never got such a bit of
money before, did you?"

"No, never," replied Tony.  "A tall, thin gentleman, with a dark face
and very sharp eyes, gave it me for holding his horse, near Temple
Bar.  He says, 'Mind you spend that well, my lad.'  I'd know him
again anywhere."

"You ought to have bought a broom," said Oliver, looking down at
Dolly's tightly-closed hand.

"Don't you go to take it of her," cried Tony.  "Bless you!  I'll get
another some way.  I never thought that were the way he'd give me a
broom and a crossing.  I thought it 'ud be sure to come direct."

"Well," said Oliver, after a little pause, "I'll save the fourpence
for you.  It'll only be going without my pipe for a few nights,
that's all.  That's nothing, Tony."

It did not seem much to Tony, who had no idea as yet of the pleasures
of smoking; yet he roused up just before falling into his deep sleep
at night to step softly to the door, and look in upon Oliver.  He was
sitting in his arm-chair, with his pipe between his lips, but there
was no tobacco in it; and he was holding more eager converse than
ever with his unseen companion.

"Dear Lord!" he said, "I'd do ten times more than this for thee.
Thou hast said, 'Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these,
ye did it unto me.' Tony's one of thy little ones.  Dear Lord, do
thee give him a crossing, if it be thy blessed will.  Do thee now,

Tony could hear no more, and he stole back to bed, his mind full of
new and vague hopes.  He dreamed of the fourpenny piece, and the
gentleman who had given it, and of Dolly, who bought a wondrous broom
with it, in his dream, which swept a beautiful crossing of itself.
But old Oliver sat still a long time, talking half aloud; for his
usual drowsiness did not come to him.  It was nearly five months now
since Dolly was left to him, and he felt his deafness and blindness
growing upon him slowly.  His infirmities were not yet so burdensome
as to make him dependent upon others; but he felt himself gradually
drawing near to such a state.  Dolly's clothes were getting sadly in
want of mending; there was scarcely a fastening left upon them, and
neither he nor Tony could sew on a button or tape.  It was a long
time--a very long time--since his sister had been to see him; and,
with the reluctancy of old age to any active exertion, he had put off
from week to week the task of writing to her, to tell her of Susan's
departure, and the charge he had in his little grandchild.  He made
up his mind that he would do it to-morrow.



The morning was a fine soft, sunny December day, such as comes
sometimes after a long season of rain and fog, and Tony proposed
taking Dolly out for a walk through the streets, to which Oliver
gladly consented, as it would give to him exactly the undisturbed
leisure he needed for writing his letter to Charlotte.  But Dolly was
not in her usual spirits; on the contrary, she was grave and sober,
and at length Tony, thinking she was tired, sat down on a door-step,
and took her upon his knee, to tell her his dream of the wonderful
broom which swept beautifully all by itself.  Dolly grew more and
more pensive after hearing this, and sat silent for a long time, with
her small head resting thoughtfully upon her hand, as she looked up
and down the street.

"Dolly 'ud like to buy a boom," she said, at last, "a great, big
boom; and granpa 'ill smoke his pipe again to-night.  Dolly's growing
a big girl; and me must be a good girl till mammy comes back.  Let us
go and buy a big boom, Tony."

For a few minutes Tony tried to shake her resolution, and persuade
her to change her mind.  He even tempted her with the sight of a doll
in a shop-window; but she remained stedfast, and he was not sorry to
give in at last.  Since the idea had entered his head that the money
had been given to him for the purpose of buying a broom, he had
rather regretted parting with it, and he felt some anxiety lest he
should not be allowed a second chance.  Dolly's light-heartedness had
returned, and she trotted cheerfully by his side as they walked on in
search of a shop where they could make their purchase.  It was some
time before they found one, and they had already left behind them the
busier thoroughfares, and had reached a knot of quieter streets where
there were more foot-passengers, for the fine morning had tempted
many people out for pleasure as well as business.  Tony was
particular in his choice of a broom, but once bought, he carried it
over his shoulder, and went on his way with Dolly in triumph.

They were passing along chattering busily, when Tony's eyes fell upon
a child about as old as Dolly, standing on the kerb-stone with a
lady, who looked anxiously across to the other side of the broad and
very dirty road, for the day before had been rainy.  They were both
finely dressed, and the little girl had on new boots of shining
leather, which it was evident she was very much afraid of soiling.
For a minute Tony only looked on at their perplexity, but then he
went up to them, holding Dolly by the hand.


"If you'll take care of my little girl," he said, "I'll carry your
little girl across the road.  I'm wery clean for a street-boy, all
but my feet, 'cos I've got this little girl to take care of; and I'll
do it wery gentle."

Both the lady and the child looked very searchingly into Tony's face.
It was pale and meagre; but there was a pleasant smile upon it, and
his eyes shone down upon the two children with a very loving light in
them.  The lady took Dolly's hand in hers, nodding permission for him
to carry her little child over to the other side, and she waited for
him to come back to his own charge.  Then she took out her purse, and
put two-pence into his hand.

"Thank ye, my lady," said Tony; "but I didn't do it for that.  I'm
only looking out for a crossing.  Me and Dolly have bought this
broom, and I'm looking out for a place to make a good crossing in."

"Why not make one here?" asked the lady.

It seemed a good place to try one in; there were four roads meeting,
and a cab-stand close by.  Plenty of people were passing to and fro,
and the middle of the road was very muddy.  Tony begged a wisp of
straw from a cabman, to make a seat for Dolly in the sunshine under a
blank bit of wall, while he set to work with a will, feeling rather
pleased than not that the broom would not sweep of itself.  A
crossing was speedily made, and for two or three hours Tony kept it
well swept.  By that time it was twelve o'clock, and Dolly's dinner
would be ready for her before they could reach home, if old Oliver
had not forgotten it.  It seemed a great pity to leave his new post
so early.  Most passers-by, certainly, had appeared not to see him at
all; but he had already received fivepence halfpenny, chiefly in
halfpence, from ladies who were out for their morning's walk; and
Dolly was enjoying herself very much in the sunshine, receiving all
the attention which he could spare from his crossing.  However a
beginning was made.  The broom and the crossing were his property;
and Tony's heart beat fast with pride and gladness as he carried the
weary little Dolly all the way home again.  He resolved to put by
half of his morning's earnings towards replacing the fourpenny-piece
she had given back to him; or perhaps he would buy her a beautiful
doll, dressed like a real lady.



As old Oliver was stooping over his desk on the counter, and bringing
his dim eyes as close as he could to the letter he was writing, his
shop-door was darkened by the unexpected entrance of his sister
Charlotte herself.  She was dressed with her usual extreme neatness,
bordering upon gentility, and she carried upon her arm a small fancy
reticule, which contained some fresh eggs, and a few russet apples,
brought up expressly from the country.  Oliver welcomed her with more
than ordinary pleasure, and led her at once into his room behind.
Charlotte's quick eyes detected in an instant the traces of a child's
dwelling there; and before Oliver could utter a word, she picked up a
little frock, and was holding it out at arm's length, with an air of
utter surprise and misgiving.

"Brother James!" she exclaimed, and her questioning voice, with its
tone of amazement, rang very clearly into his ears.

"It's my little Dolly's," he answered, in haste; "poor Susan's little
girl, who's gone out with her husband, young Raleigh, to India,
because he's 'listed, and left her little girl with me, her
grandfather.  She came on the very last day you were here."

"Well, to be sure!" cried his sister, sinking down on a chair, but
still keeping the torn little frock in her hand.

"I've had two letters from poor Susan," he continued, in a tremulous
voice, "and I'll read them to you.  The child's such a precious
treasure to me, Charlotte--such a little love, a hundred times better
than any gold; and now you're come to mend up her clothes a bit, and
see what she wants for me, there's nothing else that I desire.  I was
writing about her to you when you came in."

"I thought you'd gone and picked up a lost child out of the streets,"
said Charlotte, with a sigh of relief.

"No, no; she's my own," he answered.  "You hearken while I read poor
Susan's letters, and then you'll understand all about it.  I couldn't
give her up for a hundred gold guineas--not for a deal more than

He knew Susan's letters off by heart, and did not need his
spectacles, nor a good light to read them by.  Charlotte listened
with emphatic nods, and many exclamations of astonishment.

"That's very pretty of Susan," she remarked, "saying as Aunt
Charlotte 'll do her sewing, and see to her manners.  Ay, that I
will! for who should know manners better than me, who used to work
for the Staniers, and dine at the housekeeper's table, with the
butler and all the head servants? to be sure I'll take care that she
does not grow up ungenteel.  Where is the dear child, brother James?"

"She's gone out for a walk this fine morning," he answered.

"Not alone?" cried Charlotte.  "Who's gone out with her?  A child
under five years old could never go out all alone in London: at least
I should think not.  She might get run over and killed a score of

"Oh! there's a person with her I've every confidence in," replied

"What sort of person; man or woman; male or female?" inquired

"A boy," he answered, in some confusion.

"A boy!" repeated his sister, as if he had said a monster.  "What

"His name's Tony," he replied.

"But where does he come from?  Is he respectable?" she pursued,
fixing him with her glittering eyes in a manner which did not tend to
restore his composure.

"I don't know, sister," he said in a feeble tone.

"Don't know, brother James!" she exclaimed.  "Don't you know where he

"He lives here," stammered old Oliver; "at least he sleeps here under
the counter; but he finds his own food about the streets."

Charlotte's consternation was past all powers of speech.  Here was
her brother, a respectable man, who had seen better days, and whose
sister had been a dressmaker in good families, harbouring in his own
house a common boy off the streets, who, no doubt, was a thief and
pickpocket, with all sorts of low ways and bad language.  At the same
time there was poor Susan's little girl dwelling under the same roof;
the child whose pretty manners she was to attend to, living in
constant companionship with a vulgar and vicious boy!  What she might
have said upon recovering her speech, neither she nor Oliver ever
knew; for at this crisis Tony himself appeared, carrying Dolly and
his new broom in his arms, and looking very haggard and tattered
himself, his bare feet black with mud, and his bare head in a
hopeless condition of confusion, and tangle.

"We've bought a geat big boom, ganpa," shouted Dolly, as she came
through the shop, and before she perceived the presence of a
stranger; "and Tony and Dolly made a great big crossing, and dot ever
so much money----"

She was suddenly silent as soon as her eye fell upon the stranger;
but Aunt Charlotte had heard enough.  She rose with great dignity
from her chair, and was about to address herself vehemently to Tony,
when old Oliver interrupted her.

[Illustration: Charlotte speaking to Tony and Dolly]

"Charlotte," he said, "the boy's a good boy, and he's a help to me.
I couldn't send him away.  He's one of the Lord's poor little ones as
are scattered up and down in this great city, without father or
mother, and I must do all I can for him.  It isn't much; it's only a
bed under the counter, and a crust now and then, and he more than
pays for it.  You musn't come betwixt me and Tony."

Old Oliver spoke so emphatically, that his sister was impressed and
silenced for a minute.  She took the little girl away from Tony, and
glared at him with a sternness which made him feel very
uncomfortable; but her eye softened a little, and her face grew less

"You can't read or write?" she said, in a sharp voice.

"No," he answered.

"And you've not got any manners, or boots, or a cap on your head.
You are ragged and ignorant, and not fit to live with this little
girl," she continued, with energy.  "If this little girl's mother saw
her going about with a boy in bare feet and a bare head, it 'ud break
her heart I know.  So if you wish to stay here with my brother, Mr.
Oliver, and this little girl, Miss Dorothy Raleigh, as I suppose her
name is, you must get all these things.  You must begin to learn to
read and write, and talk properly.  I shall come here again in a
month's time--I shall come every month now--and if you haven't got
some shoes for your feet, and a cap for your head, before I see you
again, I shall just take the little girl away down into the country,
where I live, and you'll never see her again.  Do you understand?"

"Yes," answered Tony, nodding his head.

"Then you may take yourself away now," said the sharp old woman, "I
don't want to be too hard upon you; but I've got this little girl to
look after for her mother, and you must do as I say, or I shall carry
her right off to be out of your way.  Take your broom and go; and
never you think of such a thing as taking this little girl to sweep a
crossing again.  I never heard of such a thing.  There, go!"

Tony slunk away sadly, with a sudden downheartedness.  He returned so
joyous and triumphant, in spite of his weariness, that this
unexpected and unpleasant greeting had been a very severe shock to
him.  With his broom over his shoulder, and with his listless,
slouching steps, he sauntered slowly back to his crossing; but he had
no heart for it now.



The night fell early, for a thick fog came on in the afternoon.  Tony
cowered down upon his broom under the wall where Dolly had sat in the
sunshine all the morning to watch him sweep his crossing.  It was all
over now.  She was lost to him; for he should never dare to go back
to old Oliver's house, and face that terrible old woman again.  There
was nothing for him but to return to his old life and his old haunts;
and a chill ran through him, body and spirit, as he thought of it.
His heap of paper shavings under the counter, where the biting winds
could not reach him, came to his mind, and the tears rushed to his
eyes.  But to-night, at least, there would be no need to sleep out of
doors, for he had some money in the safest corner of his ragged
pocket, tied up in it securely with a bit of string.  He could afford
to pay for a night's lodging, and he knew very well where he could
get one.

About nine o'clock Tony turned his weary feet towards a slum he knew
of in Westminster, where there was a cellar open to everybody who
could pay two-pence for a night's shelter.  His heart was very full
and heavy with resentment against his enemy; and a great longing to
see Dolly.  He loitered about the door of the cellar, reluctant and
almost afraid to venture in; for it was so long since he had been
driven to any of these places that he felt nearly like a stranger
among them.  Besides, in former times he had been kicked, and beaten,
and driven from the fire, and fought with by the bigger boys; and he
had become unaccustomed to such treatment of late.  How different
this lodging-house was to the quiet peaceful home where Dolly knelt
down every evening at her grandfather's knee, and prayed for him; for
now she always put Tony's name into her childish prayers!  He should
never, never hear her again, nor see old Oliver seated in his
arm-chair, smoking his long pipe, while he talked with that strange
friend and master of his.  Ah! he would never hear or know any more
of that unseen Christ, who was so willing to be his master and
friend, for the Lord Jesus Christ could never come into such a wicked
place as this, which was the only home he had.  He had given him the
crossing and the broom, and that was the end of it.  He must take
care of himself now, and keep out of gaol if he could, and if not,
why then he had better make a business of thieving, and become as
good a pickpocket as "Clever Dog Tom," who had once stolen a watch
from a policeman himself.

Clever Dog Tom was the first to greet Tony when he slipped in at
last, and he seemed inclined to make much of him; but Tony was too
troubled for receiving any consolation from Tom's friendly advances.
He crept away into the darkest corner, and stretched himself on the
thin straw which covered the damp and dirty floor, but he could not
fall asleep.  There was a good deal of quarrelling among the boys,
and the men who wished to sleep swore long and loudly at them.  Then
there followed a fight, which grew so exciting at last that every
person in the place, except Tony, gathered about the boys in a ring,
encouraging and cheering them.  It was long after midnight before
silence and rest came, and then he fell into a broken slumber,
dreaming of Dolly and old Oliver, until he awoke and found his face
wet with tears.  He got up before any of his bed-fellows were
aroused, and made his way out into the fresh keen air of a December

Day after day went by, and night after night.  Tony was growing more
indifferent again to the swearing and fighting of his old comrades.
He began to listen with delight to the tales of Clever Dog Tom, who
told him that hands like his would work well in his line, and his
innocent-looking face would go a long way towards softening any judge
and jury, or would bring him favour with the chaplain, and easy times
in gaol.  He kept his crossing still, and did tolerably well, earning
enough to keep himself in food, and to pay for his night's shelter;
but he was beginning to hanker after something more.  If he could not
be good, and be on the same side as old Oliver and Dolly, he thought
it would be better to be altogether on the other side, like Tom, who
dressed well, and lived well, and was looked up to by other boys.  It
was a week after he had left old Oliver's house, and he was about to
leave his crossing for the night, when a gentleman stopped him
suddenly, and looked keenly into his face.

"Hollo, my lad!" he said, "you're the boy I gave fourpence to a week
ago for holding my horse, I told you to lay it out well.  What did
you do with it?"

"Me and Dolly bought this broom," he answered, "and I've kept this
crossing ever since."

"Well done!" said the gentleman.  "And who is Dolly?"

"It's a little girl as I was very fond of," replied Tony, with a deep
sigh.  It seemed so long ago that he spoke of his love for her as if
it was a thing altogether passed away and dead, yet his heart still
ached at the memory of it.

"Well, here's another fourpenny-bit for you," said his friend, "quite
a new one.  See how bright it is; no one has ever bought anything
with it yet.  Dolly will like to see it."

Tony held it in the palm of his hand long after the gentleman was out
of sight, gazing at it in the lamplight.  It was very beautiful and
shining; and oh! how Dolly's eyes would shine and sparkle if she
could only see it!  And she ought to see it.  By right it belonged to
her; for had he not given her his first fourpenny-piece freely, and
had twenty kisses for it, and then had she not given it him back to
buy a broom with? she had never had a single farthing of all his
earnings.  How he would like to show her this beautiful piece of
silver, and feel her soft little arms round his neck, when he said it
was to be her very own!  He felt that he dare not pass the night in
the cellar with such a treasure about him, for Tom, who was so
clever, would be sure to find out that his pocket was worth the
picking, and Tony had not found that there was much honour among
thieves.  What was he to do?  Where was he to go?



Almost without knowing where his feet were carrying him, Tony
sauntered through the streets until he found himself at the turn into
the alley within a few yards of Oliver's home, and his beloved Dolly.
At any rate he could pass down it, and, if the shop-door was not
shut, he would wrap his beautiful silver coin in a rag, and throw it
into the inside; they would be sure to guess who had done it, and
what it was for.  It was dark down the alley, only one lamp and the
greengrocer's gas lighting it up, and Tony stole along quietly in the
shadow.  It was nearly time for Dolly to be going to bed, he thought,
and old Oliver was sure to be with her in the inner room; but just as
he came into the revealing glare of the greengrocer's stall, his ears
rang and his heart throbbed violently at the sound of a shrill little
scream of gladness, and the next moment he felt himself caught by
Dolly's arms, and dragged into the house by them.

"Tony's come home, Tony's come home, gan-pa!" she shouted with all
her might.  "Dolly's found Tony at last!"

Dolly's voice quivered, and broke down into quick, childish sobs,
while she held Tony very fast, lest he should escape from her once
again; and old Oliver came quickly from the room beyond, and laid his
hand fondly upon the boy's shoulder.

"Why have you kept away from us so long, Tony?" he asked.

"Oh, master!" he cried, "I've been a wicked boy, and a miserable boy.
Do forgive me, and I'll never do so no more.  I s'pose you'll never
let me sleep under the counter again?"

"Come in, come in!" answered Oliver, pushing him gently before him
into the house.  "We've been waiting and watching for you every
night, me and my little love.  You ought not to have served us so, my
lad; but we're too glad to be angry with you.  Charlotte's sharp, and
she's very much afraid of low ways and manners; but she isn't a hard
woman, and she didn't know anything about you.  When I told her as
you'd been left no bigger than my little love here to take care of
yourself, alone, in London,--mother dead, and no father,--she shed
tears about you, she did.  And she left you the biggest of her eggs
to be kept for your supper, with her kind love; and we've put it by
for you.  You shall have it this very night.  Dolly, my love, bring
me the little saucepan."

"I'm not so clean as I could wish," said Tony, mournfully; for he had
neglected himself during the last week, and looked very much like
what he had done when he had first seen old Oliver and his little

"Take a bowl full of water into the shop, then," answered Oliver,
"and wash yourself, while I boil the egg.  Dolly'll find you a bit of
soap and a towel; she's learning to be grand-pa's little housekeeper,
she is."

When Tony returned to the kitchen he looked a different being; the
gloom was gone as well as the grime.  He felt as if he had come to
himself after a long and very miserable dream.  Here was old Oliver
again, looking at him with a kindly light in his dim eyes, and Dolly
dancing about, with her pretty, merry little ways; and Beppo wagging
his tail in joyous welcome, as he sniffed round and round him.  Even
the egg was a token of forgiveness and friendliness.  That terrible
old woman was not his enemy, after all.  He recollected what she had
said he must do, and he resolved to do it for Dolly's sake, and old
Oliver's.  He would learn to read and write, and he would pinch
himself hard to buy some better clothing, lest he should continue to
be a disgrace to them; shoes he must have first of all, as those were
what the sharp but friendly old woman had particularly mentioned.  At
any rate, he could never run away again from this home, where he was
so loved and cared for.

Oliver told him how sadly Dolly had fretted after him, and watched
for him at the door, hour after hour, to see him come home again.  He
said that in the same way, only with a far greater longing and love,
his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, was waiting for Tony to go to him.
He could not half understand it, but a vague feeling of a love
passing all understanding sank deeply into his heart.  He fell asleep
that night under the counter with the tranquil peacefulness of one
who has been tossed about in a great storm and tempest, and has been
brought safely to the desired haven.



It was several weeks before Tony could scrape together enough money
for his new boots, though he pinched and starved himself with heroic
courage and endurance.  He did not mean to buy them at a shop; for he
knew a place in Whitechapel where boots quite good enough for him
were to be had for two or three shillings.  He was neither ambitious
nor fastidious; old boots patched up would do very well to start
with, if he could only manage to get them before aunt Charlotte came
up to town again.  She had sent word she was coming the last Saturday
in January; and early in the afternoon of that day, before the train
could come in from Stratford, Tony started off to the place where he
intended to make his purchase.

It was a small open space in one of the streets of Whitechapel, where
there was an area of flags, lying off the pavement.  Several traders
held possession of this square, sitting on low stools, or
cross-legged on the ground, with their stock in trade around them.
One dealer bought and sold all kinds of old and rusty pieces of iron;
another, a woman, ill clad and with red eyes, displayed before her a
dingy assortment of ragged clothes, which were cheapened by other
spare and red-eyed women, who held almost naked children by the hand.
It was cold, and a bitter, keen east wind was searching every corner
of London streets.  The salesman Tony was come to deal with had a
tolerable selection of old boots, very few of them pairs, some with
pretty good upper-leathers, but with no soles worth speaking of; and
others thickly cobbled and patched, but good enough to keep the feet
dry, without presenting a very creditable appearance.  For the first
time in his life Tony found out the perplexity of having a choice to
make.  There were none which exactly fitted him; but a good fit is a
luxury for richer folks than Tony, and he was not troubled about it.
His chief anxiety was to look well in the eyes of Dolly's aunt, who
might possibly let him see her on her way back to the station, if she
approved of him; and who would not now be obliged to carry Dolly off
with her, to be out of the way of his naked feet.

He fixed upon a pair at last, urged and coaxed to them by the dealer.
They were a good deal too large, and his feet slipped about in them
uncomfortably; but the man assured him that was how everybody, even
gentlefolks, bought them, to leave room for growing.  There was an
awkward, uneven patch under one of the soles, and the other heel was
worn down at the side; but at least they covered his feet well.  He
shambled away in them slowly and toilsomely, hardly knowing how to
lift one foot after another, yet full of pride in his new
possessions.  It was a long way home to old Oliver's alley, between
Holborn and the Strand; but he was in no hurry to arrive there before
they had finished and cleared away their tea; so he travelled
painfully in that direction, stopping now and then to regale himself
at the attractive windows of tripe and cow-heel shops.  He watched
the lamplighters kindling the lamps, and the shopkeepers lighting up
their gas; and then he heard the great solemn clock of St. Paul's
strike six.  Tea would be quite over now, and Tony turned down a
narrow back street, which would prove a nearer way home than the
thronged thoroughfares, and set off to run as fast as he could in his
awkward and unaccustomed boots.

It was not long before he came to a sudden and sharp fall off the
kerb-stone, as he trod upon a bit of orange-peel, and slipped upon
it.  He felt stunned for a few seconds, and sat still rubbing his
forehead.  These back streets were very quiet, for the buildings were
mostly offices and warehouses, and most of them were already closed
for the night.  He lifted himself up at length, and set his foot upon
the flags; but a shrill cry of pain broke from his lips, and rang
loudly through the quiet street.  He fell back upon the pavement,
quivering and trembling, with a chilly moisture breaking out upon his
skin.  What hurt had been done to him?  How was it that he could not
bear to walk?  He took off his new boots, and tried once more, but
with no better success.  He could not endure the agony of standing or

Yet he must move; he must get up and walk.  If he did not go home,
they would think he had run away again, for fear of meeting Dolly's
aunt.  At that thought he set off to crawl homewards upon his hands
and knees, with suppressed groans, as his foot trailed uselessly
along the ground.  Yet he knew he could not advance very far in this
manner.  What if he should have to lie all night upon the hard
paving-stones! for he could not remember ever having seen a policeman
in these back streets: and there did not seem to be anybody else
likely to pass that way.  It was freezing fast, now the sun was gone
down, and his hands scraped up the frosty mud as he dragged himself
along.  If he stayed out all night, he must die of cold and pain
before morning.

But if that was true which old Oliver said so often, that the Lord
Jesus Christ loved him, and that he was always with those whom he
loved, then he was not alone and helpless even here, in the deserted
street, with the ice and darkness of a winter's night about him.  Oh!
if he could but feel the hand of Christ touching him, or hear the
lowest whisper of his voice, or catch the dimmest sight of his face!
Perhaps it was he who was helping him to crawl towards the stir and
light of a more frequented street, which he could see afar off,
though the pain he felt made him giddy and sick.  It became too much
for him at last, however, and he drew himself into the shelter of a
warehouse door, and crouched down in a corner, crying, with clasped
hands, and sobbing voice, "Oh!  Lord Jesus Christ!  Lord Jesus

After uttering this cry Tony lay there for some minutes, his eyes
growing glazed and his ears dull, when a footstep came briskly up the
street, and some one, whom he could not now see for the strange
dimness of his sight, stopped opposite to him, and then stooped to
touch him on the arm.

"Why," said a voice he seemed to know, "you're my young friend of the
crossing,--my little fourpenny-bit, I call you.  What brings you
sitting here this cold night?"

"I've fell down and hurt myself," answered Tony, faintly.

"Where?" asked the stranger.

"My leg," he answered.

The gentleman stooped down yet lower, and passed his hand gently
along Tony's leg till he came to the place where his touch gave him
the most acute pain.

"Broken!" he said to himself.  "My boy, where's your home?"

"I haven't got any right home," answered Tony, more faintly than
before.  He felt a strange numbness creeping over him, and his lips
were too parched and his tongue too heavy for speaking.  The
gentleman took off his own great-coat and wrapped it well about him,
placing him at the same time in a more comfortable position.  Then he
ran quickly to the nearest street, hailed the first cab, and drove
back to where Tony was lying.

[Illustration: TONY'S ACCIDENT.]



The pain Tony was suffering kept him partially conscious of what was
happening to him.  He knew that he was carried gently into a large
hall, and that two or three persons came to look at him, to whom his
new friend spoke in eager and rapid tones.

"I know you do not take in accidents," he said; "but what could I do
with the little fellow?  He told me he had no home, and that was all
he could say.  You have two or three cots empty; and I'll double my
subscription if it's necessary, rather than take him away.  Come,
doctor, you'll admit my patient?"

"I don't think I could send him away, Mr. Ross," answered another
hearty voice.  "We must get him into bed as soon as possible."

Tony felt himself carried up stairs into a large room, where there
were a number of small beds, with a pale little face lying on every
pillow.  There was a vacant cot at the end, and he was laid upon it,
after having his tattered clothes taken off him.  His new boots were
gone altogether, having been left behind on the steps of the
warehouse.  His hands and knees, bruised with crawling along the
frosty stones, were gently bathed with a soft sponge and warm water.
He was surrounded by kind faces, looking pitifully down upon him, and
the gentleman who had brought him there spoke to him in a very
pleasant and cheering voice.

"My boy," he said, "you have broken your leg in your fall; but the
doctor here, who is a great friend of mine, is going to mend it for
you.  It will give you a good deal of pain for a few minutes; but
you'll bear it like a man, I know."

"Yes," murmured Tony; "but will you let me go as soon as it's done?"

"You could not do that," answered Mr. Ross, smiling.  "It will be
some weeks before you will be well enough to go; but you will be very
happy here, I promise you."

"Oh! but I must go!" cried Tony, starting up, but falling back again
with a groan.  "There's Dolly and Mr. Oliver,--they'll think I've run
away again, and I were trying all I could to get back to 'em.  She'll
be watching for me, and she'll fret ever so.  Oh!  Dolly, Dolly!"

He spoke in a tone of so much grief, that the smile quite passed away
from the face of Mr. Ross, and he laid his hand upon his, and
answered him very earnestly:

"If you will tell me where they live," he said, "I will go at once
and let them know all about your accident; and they shall come to see
you to-morrow, if you are well enough to see them."

Tony gave him very minute and urgent directions where to find old
Oliver's shop; and then he resigned himself, with the patience and
fortitude of most of the little sufferers in that hospital, to the
necessary pain he had to bear.

It was Sunday afternoon when old Oliver and Dolly entered the hall of
the Children's Hospital and inquired for Tony.  There was something
about the old man's look of age and the little child's sweet face
which found them favour, even in a place where everybody was received
with kindness.  A nurse, who met them slowly climbing the broad
staircase, turned back with them, taking Dolly's hand in hers, and
led them up to the room where they would find Tony.  There were many
windows in it, and the sunshine, which never shone into their own
home, was lighting it up gaily.  The cots were all covered with white
counterpanes, and most of the little patients, who had been asleep
the night before, were now awake, and sitting up in bed, with little
tables before them, which they could slide up and down as they wished
along the sides of their cots.  There was no sign of medicine, and
nothing painful to see, except the wan faces of the children
themselves.  But Oliver and Dolly had no eyes but for Tony, and they
hurried on to the corner where he was lying.  His face was very
white, and his eyelids were closed, and his lips drawn in as if he
were still in pain.  But at the very gentle and almost frightened
touch of Dolly's fingers his eyes opened quickly, and then how his
face changed!  It looked as if all the sunshine in the room had
centred upon it, and his voice shook with gladness.

"Dolly hasn't had to fret for Tony this time," he said.

"But Dolly will fret till Tony gets well again," she answered,
clasping both her small hands round his.

"No, no!" said old Oliver; "Dolly's going to be a very good girl, and
help grand-pa to mind shop till Tony comes home again."

This promise of promotion partly satisfied Dolly, and she sat still
upon Oliver's knee beside Tony's cot, where his eyes could rest with
contentment and pleasure upon them both, though the nurse would not
let them talk much.  When they went away she took them through the
girls' wards in the story below; for the girls were more sumptuously
lodged than the boys.  These rooms were very lofty, with windows
reaching to the cornice of the ceiling, and with grand marble
chimney-pieces about the fireplaces; for in former times, the nurse
told them, this had been a gentleman's mansion, where gay parties and
assemblies had been held; but never had there been such a party and
assembly as the one now in it.

Old Oliver walked down between the rows of cots, with his little love
clinging shyly to his hand, smiling tenderly upon each poor little
face turned to look at them.  Some of the children smiled back to
him, and nodded cheerfully to Dolly, lifting up their dolls for her
to see, and calling to her to listen to the pretty tunes their
musical boxes were playing.  But others lay quietly upon their
pillows half asleep, with beautiful pictures hanging over their
feeble heads,--pictures of Christ tarrying a lamb in his arms; and
again, of Christ with a little child upon his knee; and again, of
Christ holding the hand of the young girl who seemed dead, but whose
ear heard his voice saying "Arise!" and she came to life again in her
father's and mother's house.  The tears stood in old Oliver's eyes,
and his white head trembled a great deal before he had seen all, and
given one of his tender glances to each child.

"I wonder whatever the Lord 'ud have said," he exclaimed, "if there'd
been such a place as this in his days!  He'd have come here very
often.  He does come, I know, and walks to and fro here of nights
when the little ones are asleep, or may be awake through pain, and he
blesses every one of them.  Ah, bless them!  Bless the little
children, and the good folks who keep a place like this.  Bless them

He felt reluctant to go away; but his time was gone, and the nurse
was needed elsewhere.  She kissed Dolly before she went, putting a
biscuit in her hand, and told Oliver the house was open every Sunday
afternoon for the friends of the children, if he chose to come again;
and then they walked home with slow, short footsteps, and all the
Sunday evening they talked together of the beautiful place they had
seen, and how happy Tony would be in the Children's Hospital.



Old Oliver and Dolly made several visits to Tony while he was in the
hospital.  Every Sunday afternoon they went back to it, until its
great door, and wide staircase, and sunny ward, became almost as
familiar to them as their own dull little house.  Tony recovered
quickly, yet he was there some weeks before the doctor pronounced him
strong enough to turn out again to rough it in the world.  As he grew
better he learned a number of things which were making him a wiser,
as well as a stronger boy, before the time came for him to leave.

The day before he was to go out of hospital, his friend, Mr. Ross,
who had been often to see him, called for the last time, and found
him in the room where the little patients who were nearly well were
at play together.  Some of them were making believe to have a feast,
with a small dinner-service of wooden plates and dishes, and a few
bits of orange-peel, and biscuits; but Tony was sitting quietly and
gravely on one side, looking on from a distance.  He had never
learned to play.

"Antony," said Mr. Ross--he was the only person who ever called him
Antony, and it seemed to make more of a man of him--"what are you
thinking to do when you leave here to-morrow?"

"I s'pose I must go back to my crossing," answered Tony, looking very

"No, I think I can do better for you than that," said his friend, "I
have a sister living out in the country, about fifty miles from
London; and she wants a boy to help the gardener, and run on errands
for the house.  She has promised to provide you with a home, and
clothing, and to send you to school for two years, till you are about
twelve, for we think you must be about ten years old now; and after
that you shall have settled wages."

Tony listened with a quick throbbing of his heart and a contraction
in his throat, which hindered him from speaking all at once when Mr.
Ross had finished.  What a grand thing it would be for himself!  But
then there were old Oliver and Dolly to be remembered.

"It 'ud do first-rate for me," he said at last, "and I'd try my best
to help in the garden: but I couldn't never leave Mr. Oliver and the
little girl.  She'd fret ever so; and he's gone so forgetful he'd
lose his own head, if he could anyhow.  Why! of a morning they sell
him any papers as they've too many of.  Sometimes it's all the
'Star,' and sometimes it's all the 'Standard;' and them as buys one
won't have the other.  I don't know why, I'm sure.  But you see when
I go for 'em I say twenty-five this, and thirteen that, and I count
'em over pretty sharp, I can tell you; though I couldn't read at all
afore I came here, but I could tell which was which easy enough.
Then he'd never think to open his shop some mornings; and other
mornings he'd open at four or five o'clock, just when he woke of
hisself.  No.  I must stay and take care of 'em a bit; but thank you,
sir, all the same."

He had spoken so gravely and thoughtfully that his reasons went
directly to the heart of Mr. Ross; but he asked him one more
question, before he could let his good plan for the boy drop.

"What has he done for you, Antony?  Is he any relation of yours?"

"No, no!" cried Tony, his eyes growing bright, "I haven't got any
relation in all the world; but he took me in out of love, and let me
sleep comfortable under the counter, instead of in the streets.  I
love him, and Dolly, I do.  I'll stay by 'em as long as ever I live,
if I have to sweep a crossing till I'm an old man like him.  Besides,
I hear him speak a good word for me often and often to his Master;
and I s'pose nobody else 'ud do that."

"What master?" inquired Mr. Ross..

"Him," answered Tony, pointing to a picture of the Saviour blessing
young children, "he's always talking to him as if he could see him,
and he tells him everythink.  No, it 'ud be better for me to stay
with him and Dolly, and keep hard by my crossing, than go away from
'em, and have clothes, and lodging, and schooling for nothink."

"I think it would," said Mr. Ross, "so you must go on as you are,
Antony, till I can find you something better than a crossing.  You
are looking very well, my boy; that's a nice, warm suit of clothes
you have on, better than the rags you came in by a long way."

It was a sailor's suit, sent to the hospital by some mother, whose
boy had perhaps outgrown it; or, it may be, whose boy had been taken
away from all her tender care for him.  It was of good, rough, thick
blue cloth, and fitted Tony well.  He had grown a good deal during
his illness, and his face had become whiter and more refined; his
hair, too, was cut to a proper length, and parted down the side, no
longer lying about his head in a tangled mass.  He coloured up with
pleasure as Mr. Ross looked approvingly at him.

"They've lent it me till I go out," he said, with a tone slightly
regretful in his voice, "I only wish Dolly could have seen me in it,
and her aunt Charlotte.  My own things were too ragged for me to wear
'em in a place like this."

"They've given it to you, Antony," replied Mr. Ross, "those are the
clothes you will go home in to-morrow."

It seemed too much for Tony to believe, though a nurse who was
sitting by and sewing away busily, told him it was quite true.  He
was intensely happy all the rest of the day, often standing up, and
almost straining his neck to get a satisfactory view of his own back,
and stroking the nap of his blue trousers with a fondling touch.
They would all see him in it; old Oliver, Dolly, and aunt Charlotte.
There would be no question now as to his fitness for taking Dolly out
for a walk; he would be dressed well enough to attend upon a
princess.  This made famous amends for the pair of old boots he had
lost the night he broke his leg; a loss he had often silently
lamented over in his own mind.  The nurse told him she was patching
up his old clothes, and making him a cap, to wear when he was at work
on his crossing, for the new ones were much too good for that; and
Tony felt as rich as if a large fortune had been left to him.

It was a very joyful thing to go home again.  Dolly was a little shy
at first of this new Tony, so different from the poor, ragged,
wild-looking old Tony; but a very short time was enough to make her
familiar with his nice blue suit, and the anchor-buttons upon it.  He
found his place under the counter all nicely papered to keep the
draughts out; and a little chaff mattress, made by aunt Charlotte,
laid down instead of the shavings upon the floor.  It was even
pleasanter to be here than in the hospital.

But Tony found it hard work to go back to his crossing in the
morning; and he could not make out what was the matter with himself,
he felt so cross and idle.  His old clothes seemed really such horrid
rags that he could scarcely bear to feel them about him; and if any
passer-by looked closely at him, he went red and hot all over.  He
was not so successful as he thought he had been before his accident,
or as he thought he ought to be; for the roads were getting cleaner
with the drier weather, and few persons considered it necessary to
give him a copper for his almost needless labour.  Worst of
all,--Clever Dog Tom found him out, and would come often to see him;
sometimes jeering him for his poor spirit in being content with such
low work, and sometimes boasting of the fine things he could do, and
displaying the fine clothes he could wear.  It was truly very hard
work for Tony, after his long holiday at the hospital, where he had
had as much luxury and attention as a rich man's son.

But at home in the evening Tony felt all right again.  Old Oliver set
him to learn to read and write, and he was making rapid progress,
more rapid than Dolly, who began at the same time, but who was apt to
look upon it all as only another kind of game, of which she grew more
quickly tired than of hide-and-seek.  There was no one to check her,
or to make her understand it was real, serious work: neither old
Oliver nor Tony could find any fault with their darling.  Now and
then there came letters from her mother, full of anxious questions
about her, and loving messages to her, telling her to be a good girl
till she came back, but never saying a word as to when there was any
chance of her returning to England.  In one of these letters she sent
word that a little sister was come for her out in India, who was just
like what Dolly herself had been when she was a baby; but neither
Oliver nor Tony could quite believe that.  There never had been such
a child as Dolly; there never would be again.



A second summer went by with its long, hot days, when the sun seemed
to stand still in the sky, and to dart down its most sultry beams
into the dustiest and closest streets.  Out in the parks, and in the
broad thoroughfares where the fresh breeze could sweep along early in
the morning, and in the evening as soon as the air grew cooler, it
was very pleasant weather; and the people who could put on light
summer dresses enjoyed it very much.  But away among the
thickly-built and crowded houses, where there were thousands of
persons breathing over and over again the same hot and stagnant
atmosphere, it seemed as if the most delicate and weakly among them
must be suffocated by the breathless heat.  Old Oliver suffered very
greatly, but he said nothing about it; indeed he generally forgot the
cause of his languor and feebleness.  He never knew now the day of
the week, nor the month of the year.  If any one had told him in the
dog-days of July that it was still April, he would only have answered
gently that it was bright, warm weather for the time of year.

But about old times his memory was good enough; he could tell long
stories of his boyhood, and describe the hills of his native place in
such a manner as to set Tony full of longings after the country, with
its corn-fields, and meadows, and hedge-rows, which he had never
seen.  He remembered his Bible, too, and could repeat chapter after
chapter describing his Master's life, as they sat together in the
perpetual twilight of their room; for now that it was summer-time it
did not seem right to keep the gas burning.

Tony's crossing had failed him altogether, for in dry weather nobody
wanted it; but in this extremity Mr. Ross came to his aid, and
procured him a place as errand-boy, where he was wanted from eight
o'clock in the morning till seven at night; so that he could still
open old Oliver's shop, and fetch him his right papers before he went
out, and put the shutters up when he came back.  To become an
errand-boy was a good step forwards, and Tony was more than content.
He never ran about bare-headed and bare-footed now as he had done
twelve months before; and he had made such good progress in reading
and writing that he could already make out the directions upon the
parcels he had to deliver, after they had been once read over to him.
He did not object to the dry weather and clean streets as he had done
when his living depended upon his crossing; on the contrary, he
enjoyed the sunshine, and the crowds of gaily-dressed people, for he
could hold up his head amongst them, and no longer went prowling
about in the gutters searching after bits of orange-peel.  He kicked
them into the gutters instead, mindful of that accident which had
befallen him, but which turned out so full of good for him.


But, if there had been any eye to see it, a very slow, and very sad
change was creeping over Dolly; so slowly indeed, that perhaps none
but her mother's eye could have seen it at first.  On the first of
every month, which old Oliver knew by the magazines coming in, he
marked how much his little love had grown by placing her against the
side-post of the door, and making a thick pencil line where her curly
head reached to.  He looked at this record often, smiling at the rate
his little woman was growing taller; but it was really no wonder that
his dim eyes, loving as they were, never saw how the rosy colour was
dying away out of her cheeks, as gradually as the red glow fades away
in the west after the sun has set, nor how the light grew fainter and
fainter in her blue eyes, until they looked at him very heavily from
under her drooping eyelids.  The house was too dark for any sight to
see very clearly; the full, strong, healthy light of the sun, could
not find its way into it, and day after day Dolly became more like
one of those plants growing in shady places, which live and shoot up,
but only put out pale and sickly leaves, and feeble buds.  One by
one, and by little and little, with degrees as small as her own tiny
footsteps, she lost all her merry ways, dropping them, here one and
there another, upon the path she was silently treading; as little
children let fall the flowers they have gathered in the meadows,
along their road homewards.  Yet all the time old Oliver was loving
and cherishing her as the dearest of all treasures, second only to
the Master whom he loved so fully; but he never discovered that there
was any change in her.  Dolly fell into very quiet ways, and would
sit still for hours together, her arm around Beppo, and her sweet,
patient little face, which was growing thin and hollow, turned
towards the flickering light of the fire, while Oliver pottered
toilsomely about his house, forgetting many things, but always ready
with a smile and a fond word for his grand-daughter.

Just as Oliver was too old to feel any anxiety about Dolly, so Tony
was too young, and knew too little of sickness and death.  Moreover,
when he came home in the evening, full of the business of the day,
with a number of stories to tell of what had happened to him, and
what he had seen, Dolly was always more lively, and had a feverish
colour on her face, and a brilliant light in her eyes.  He seemed to
bring life and strength with him, and she liked him to nurse her on
his knee, which did not grow tired and stiff like her grandfather's.
How should Tony detect anything amiss with her?  She never complained
of feeling any pain, and he was glad for her to be very quiet and
still while he was busy with his lessons.

But when the summer was ended, and after the damp warm fogs of
November were over, and a keen, black frost set in sharply before
Christmas--a frost which had none of the beauty of white rime and
clear blue skies, but which hung over the city like a pall, and
penetrated to every fireside with an icy breath; when only the strong
and the healthy, who were well clothed and well fed, could meet it
bravely, while the delicate, and sickly, and poverty-stricken, shrank
before it, and were chilled through and through, then Dolly drooped
and failed altogether.  Even old Oliver's dull ears began to hear a
little cough, which seemed to echo from some grave not very far away;
and when he drew his little love between his knees, and put on his
spectacles to gaze into her face, the dearest face in all the world
to him, even his eyes saw something of its wanness, and the hollow
lines which had come upon it since the summer had passed away.  The
old man felt troubled about her, yet he scarcely knew what to do.  He
bought sweetmeats to soothe her cough, and thought sometimes that he
must ask somebody or other about a doctor for her; but his
treacherous memory always let the thought slip out of his mind.  He
intended to take counsel with his sister when she came to see him;
but aunt Charlotte was herself very ill with an attack of rheumatism,
and could not get up to old Oliver's house.



The Christmas week passed by, and the new year came in, cold and
bleak, but Tony was well secured against the weather, and liked the
frosty air, which made it pleasant to run as fast as he could from
place to place as he delivered his parcels.  When boxing day came,
which was half-holiday for him, he returned to the house at mid-day,
carrying with him three mince-pies, which he had felt himself rich
enough to buy in honour of the holiday.  He had for a long time been
reckoning upon shutting up shop for the whole afternoon, and upon
going out for a long stroll through the streets with old Oliver and
Dolly; and now that the hour was positively come he felt very
light-hearted and full of spirits, defying the wind which wrestled
with him at every turn.  Dolly must be wrapped up well, he said to
himself, and old Oliver must put on his drab great coat, with mother
o' pearl buttons, which he had brought up from the country forty
years ago, and which was still good for keeping out the cold.  He ran
down the alley, and passed through the shop whistling cheerily, and
disdaining to lift the flap of the counter, he took a running vault
over it, and landed at once inside the open kitchen-door.

But there was old Oliver sitting close to the fire, with Dolly on his
knee, and her little head lying upon his breast, while the tears
trickled slowly down his furrowed cheeks on to her pretty curls.
Beppo was standing between his legs, licking Dolly's small hand,
which hung languidly by her side.  Her eyelids were closed, and her
face was deadly white; but when Tony uttered a great cry of trouble,
and fell on his knees before her, she opened her heavy eyes, and
stretched out her cold thin hand to stroke his cheeks.  "Dolly's so
very ill, Tony," she murmured, "poor Dolly's very ill indeed."

"I don't know whatever is the matter with my little love," said the
old man, in a low and trembling voice; "she fell down all of a
sudden, and I thought she was dead, Tony; but she's coming round
again now.  Isn't my little love better now?"

"Yes, gan-pa, yes; Dolly's better," she answered faintly.

"Let me hold her, master," said Tony, his heart beating fast; "I can
hold her stronger and more comfortable, maybe, than you.  You're
tired ever so, and you'd better get yourself a bit of dinner.  Shall
Tony nurse you now, Dolly?"

The little girl raised her arms to him, and Tony took her gently into
his own, sitting down upon the old box in the chimney-corner, and
putting her to nestle comfortably against him.  Dolly closed her eyes
again, and by-and-bye he knew that she had fallen into a light sleep,
while old Oliver moved noiselessly to and fro, only now and then
saying half aloud, in a tone of strange earnestness and entreaty,
"Lord! dear Lord!"

After awhile the old man came and bent over them both, taking Dolly's
arm softly between his withered fingers, and looking down at it with
a shaking head.

"She's very thin, Tony; look at this little arm," he said, "wasting
away! wasting away!  I've watched all my little ones waste away
except my poor Susan.  Couldn't there anything be done to save her?"

"Ay!" answered Tony, in an energetic whisper, while he clasped Dolly
a little tighter in his arms; "ay! they could cure her easily at the
hospital.  Bless yer! there were little 'uns ten times worse than her
as they sent home cured.  Let us take her there as soon as ever she
wakes up, and she'll be quite well directly, I promise you.  The
doctor knows me, and I'll speak to Mr. Ross for her.  Do you get a
bit of dinner, and hearten yourself up for it; and we'll set off as
soon as she's awake."

Old Oliver turned away comforted, and prepared his own and Tony's
dinner, and put a mince-pie into the oven to be ready to tempt
Dolly's appetite when she awoke.  But she slept heavily all the
afternoon till it was almost dark outside, and the lamps were being
lit, when she awoke, restless and feverish.

"Would Dolly like to go to that nice place, where the little girls
had the dolls and the music?" asked Tony, in a quavering voice which
he could scarcely keep from sobs; "the good place where Tony got well
again, and they gave him his new clothes?  Everybody 'ud be so wery
kind to poor little Dolly, and she'd come home again, quite cured and
strong, like Tony was."

"Yes, yes!" cried, Dolly, eagerly, raising herself up in his arms;
"it's a nice place, and the sun shines, and Dolly 'ud like to go.
Only she'll be sure to come back to gan-pa."

It was some time yet before they were quite ready to start, though
Dolly could not be coaxed to eat the hot mince-pie, or anything else.
Old Oliver had to get himself into his drab overcoat, and the ailing
child had to be protected in the best way they could against the
searching wind.  After they had put on all her own warmest clothing,
Tony wrapped his own thick blue jacket about her, and lifting her
very tenderly in his arms, they turned out into the streets, closely
followed by Beppo.

It was now quite night, but the streets were well lighted from the
shop windows, and throngs of people were hurrying hither and thither;
for it was boxing-night, and all the lower classes of the inhabitants
were taking holiday.  But old Oliver saw and heard nothing of the
crowd.  He walked on by Tony's side; with feeble and tottering steps,
deaf and blind, but whispering all the while, with trembling lips, to
One whom no one else could see or hear.  Once or twice Tony saw a
solemn smile flit across his face, and he nodded his head and raised
his hand, as one who gives his assent to what is said to him.  So
they passed on through the noisy streets till they reached quieter
ones, were there were neither shops nor many passers-by, and there
they found the home where they were going to leave their treasure for
a time.



Old Oliver rang the house-bell very quietly, for Dolly seemed to be
asleep again, and lay quite still in Tony's arms, which were growing
stiff, and benumbed by the cold.  The door was opened by a porter,
whose face was strange to them both, for he had only come in for the
day while the usual one took holiday.  Old Oliver presented himself
in front, and pointed at his little grandchild as Tony held her in
his arms while he spoke to the porter in a voice which trembled

"We've brought you our little girl, who is very ill," he said, "but
she'll soon get well in here, I know.  I'd like to see the doctor,
and tell him all about her."

"We're quite full," answered the porter, filling up the doorway.

"Full?" repeated old Oliver, in a tone of questioning.

"Ay! all our cots are full," he replied, "chockfull.  There ain't no
more room.  We've turned two or three away this morning, when they
came at the right time.  This isn't the right time to bring any child

"But my little love is very ill," continued old Oliver; "this is the
right place, isn't it?  The place where they nurse little children
who are ill?"

"It's all right," said the porter, "it's the right place enough, only
it's brimful, and running over, as you may say.  We couldn't take in
one more, if it was ever so.  But you may come in and sit down in the
hall for a minute or two, while I fetch one of the ladies."

Old Oliver and Tony entered, and sat down upon a bench inside.  There
was the broad staircase, with its shallow steps, which Dolly's tiny
feet had climbed so easily, and it led up to the warm, pleasant
nurseries, where little children were already falling asleep, almost
painlessly, in their cosy cots.  Tony could not believe that there
was not room for their darling, who had been so willing to come to
the place she knew so well, yet a sob broke from his lips, which
disturbed Dolly in her sleep, for she moaned once or twice, and
stirred uneasily in his arms.  The old man leaned his hands upon the
top of his stick, and rested his white head upon them, until they
heard light footsteps, and the rustling of a dress, and they saw a
lady coming down stairs to them.

"I think there's some mistake here, ma'am," said Oliver, his eye
wandering absently about the large entrance-hall; "this is the
Hospital for Sick Children, I think, and I've brought my little
grandchild here, who is very ill indeed, yet the man at the door says
there's no room for her.  I think it must be a mistake."

"No," said the lady; "I am sorry to say it is no mistake.  We are
quite full; there is not room for even one more.  Indeed, we have
been obliged to send cases away before to-day.  Who is your
recommendation from?"

"I didn't know you'd want any recommendation," answered old Oliver,
very mournfully; "she's very ill, and you could cure her here, and
take better care of her than Tony and me, and I thought that was
enough.  I never thought of getting any recommendation, and I don't
know where I could get one."

"Mr. Ross 'ud give us one," said Tony, eagerly.

"Yet even then," answered the lady, "we could not take her in until
some of the cots are empty."

"You don't know me," interrupted Tony, eagerly; "but Mr. Ross brought
me here, a year ago now, and they cured me, and set me up stronger
than ever.  They was so wery kind to me, that I couldn't think of
anythink else save bringing our little girl to 'em.  I'm sure they'd
take her in, if they only knew it was her.  You jest say as it's Tony
and Dolly, as everybody took such notice of, and they'll never turn
her away, I'm sure."

"I wish we could take her," said the lady, with tears in her eyes;
"but it is impossible.  We should be obliged to turn some other child
out, and that could not be done to-night.  You had better bring her
again in the morning, and we'll see if there is any one well enough
to make room for her.  Let me look at the poor child for a minute."

She lifted up the collar of Tony's bluejacket, which covered Dolly's
face, and looked down at it pitifully.  It was quite white now, and
was pinched and hollow, with large blue eyes shining too brightly.
She stretched out her arms to the lady, and made a great effort to

"Put Dolly into a pretty bed," she murmured, "where the sun shines,
and she'll soon get well and go home again to gan-pa."

"What can I do?" cried the lady, the tears now running down her face.
"The place is quite full; we cannot take in one more, not one.  Bring
her here again in the morning, and we will see what can be done."

"How many children have you got here?" asked old Oliver.

"We have only seventy-five cots," she answered, sobbing; "and in a
winter like this they're always full."

"Only seventy-five!" repeated the old man, very sorrowfully.  "Only
seventy-five, and there are hundreds and hundreds of little children
ill in London!  They are ill in houses like mine, where the sun never
shines.  Is there no other place like this we could take our little
love to?"

"There are two or three other Hospitals," she answered, "but they are
a long way off, and none of them as large as ours.  They are sure to
be full just now.  I think there are not more than a hundred and
fifty cots in all London for sick children."

"Then there's no room for my Dolly?" he said.

The lady shook her head without speaking, for she had her
handkerchief up to her face.

"Eh!" cried old Oliver in a wailing voice, "I don't know whatever the
dear Lord 'ill say to that."

He made a sign to Tony that they must be going home again; and the
boy raised himself up with a strange weight and burden upon his
heart.  Old Oliver put his stick down, and took Dolly into his own
arms, and laid her head down on his breast.

[Illustration: NO ROOM FOR DOLLY.]

"Let me carry her a little way, Tony," he said.  "She's as light as a
feather, even to poor old grandpa.  I'd like to carry my little love
a bit of the way home."

"I'll tell you what I can do," said the lady, wrapping Dolly up and
kissing her before she covered her pale face, "if you will tell me
where you live I will speak to the doctor as soon as he comes in--for
he is out just now--and perhaps he will come to see her.  He knows a
great deal about children, and is fond of them."

"Thank you, thank you kindly, ma'am," answered old Oliver, feeling a
little comforted.  But when they stood outside, and the bleak wind
blew about them, and he could see the soft glimmer of the light in
the windows, within which other children were safely sheltered and
carefully tended, his spirit sank again.  He tottered now and then
under his light burden; but he could not be persuaded to give up his
little child to Tony again.  These streets were quiet, with handsome
houses on each side, and from one and another there came bursts of
music and laughter as they passed by; yet Tony could catch most of
the words which the old man was speaking.

"Dear Lord," he said, "there's only room for seventy-five of thy
little lambs that are pining and wasting away in every dark street
and alley like mine.  Whatever can thy people be thinking about?
They've got their own dear little children, who are ill sometimes,
spite of all their care; and they can send for the doctor, and do all
that's possible, never looking at the money it costs; but when they
are well again they never think of the poor little ones who are sick
and dying, with nobody to help them or care for them as I care for
this little one.  Oh, Lord, Lord! let my little love live!  Yet thou
knows what is best, and thou'lt do what is best.  Thou loves her more
than I do; and see, Lord, she is very ill indeed."

They reached home at last, after a weary and heartbroken journey, and
carried Dolly in and laid her upon old Oliver's bed.  She was wide
awake now, and looked very peaceful, smiling quietly into both their
faces as they bent over her.  Tony gazed deep down into her eyes, and
met a glance from them which sent a strange tremor through him.  He
crept silently away, and stole into his dark bed under the counter,
where he stretched himself upon his face, and buried his mouth in the
chaff pillow to choke his sobs.  What was going to happen to Dolly?
What could it be that made him afraid of looking again into her
patient and tranquil little face?



Tony lay there in the dark, overwhelmed by his unusual terror and
sorrow, until he heard the voice of old Oliver calling his name
feebly.  He hurried to him, and found him still beside the bed where
Dolly was lying.  He had taken off most of her clothes, and put her
white nightgown over the rest, that she might sleep warmly in them
all the night, for her little hands and feet felt very chilly to his
touch.  The fire had gone out while they were away, and the grate
looked very black and cheerless, The room was in great disorder, just
as they had left it, and the gas, which was burning high, cast a
cruel glare upon it all.  But Tony saw nothing except the clear face
of Dolly, resting on one cheek upon the pillow, with her curly hair
tossed about it in confusion, and her open eyes gathering a strange
film.  Beppo had made his way to her side, and pushed his head under
her lifeless little hand, which tried to pat it now and then.  Old
Oliver was sitting on the bedstead, his eyes fastened upon her, and
his whole body trembled violently.  Tony sank down upon his knees,
and flung his arm over Dolly, as if to save he?  from the unseen
power which threatened to take her away from them.

"Don't ky, gan-pa," she said, softly; "don't ky more than a minute.
Nor Tony.  Are I going to die, gan-pa?"

"Yes, my little love," cried old Oliver, moaning as he said it.

"Where are I going to?" asked Dolly, very faintly.

"You're going to see my Lord and Master," he said; "him as loves
little children so, and carries them in his arms, and never lets them
be sorrowful or ill or die again."

"Does he live in a bootiful place?" she asked, again.

"It's a more beautiful place than I can tell," answered old Oliver.
"The Lord Jesus gives them light brighter than the sun; and the
streets are all of gold, and there are many little children there,
who always see the face of their Father."

"Dolly's going rere," said the little child, solemnly.

She smiled for a minute or two, holding Beppo's ear between her
failing fingers, and playing with it.  Tony's eyes were dim with
tears, yet he could see her dear face clearly through them.  What
could he do?  Was there no one to help?

"Master, master!" he cried.  "If the Lord Jesus is here he can save
her.  Ask him, master."

But old Oliver paid no heed to him.  For the child who was passing
away from him he was all eye and ear, watching and listening as
keenly as in his best and strongest days; but he was blind and deaf
to everything else around him.  Tony's voice could not reach his

"Will gan-pa come rere?" whispered the failing and faltering voice of

"Very soon," he answered; a radiant smile coming to his face, which
made her smile as her eyes caught the glory of it.  "Very, very soon,
my little love.  You'll be there to meet me when I come."

"Dolly 'll watch for gan-pa," she murmured, with long pauses between
the words, which seemed to drop one by one upon Tony's ear; "and
Dolly 'll watch at the door for Tony to come home; and she'll fret
ever so if he never comes."

Tony felt her stir restlessly under his arm, and stretch her tiny
limbs upon the bed as if she were very tired, and the languid eyelids
drooped slowly till they quite hid her blue eyes, and she sighed
softly as children sigh when they fall asleep, weary of their play.
Old Oliver laid his shaking hand tenderly upon her head.

"Dear Lord!" he said, "take my little love to thyself.  I give her up
to thee."

It seemed to Tony as if a thick mist of darkness fell all about him,
and as if he were sinking down, down, very low into some horrible pit
where he would never see the light of day again.  But by-and-bye he
came to himself, and found old Oliver sobbing in short, heavy sobs,
and swaying himself to and fro, while Beppo was licking Dolly's hand,
and barking with a sharp, quiet bark, as he had been wont to do when
he wanted her to play with him.  The child's small features were
quite still, but there was an awful smile upon them such as there had
never been before, and Tony could not bear to look upon it.  He
crossed her tiny hands lightly over one another upon her breast, and
then he lifted Beppo away gently, and drew the bed-clothes about her,
so as to hide her smiling face.

"Master," he cried, "master, is she gone?"

Old Oliver only answered by a deep moan; and Tony put his arm about
him, and raised him up.

"Come to your own chair, master," he said.

He yielded to Tony like a child, and seated himself in the chair,
where he had so often sat and watched Dolly while he smoked his pipe.
The boy put his pipe between his fingers; but he only let it fall to
the ground, where it broke into many pieces.  Tony did not know what
to do, nor where to go for any help.

"Lord," he said, "if you really love the old master, do something for
him; for I don't know whatever to do, now little Dolly's gone."

He sat down on his old box, staring at Oliver and the motionless form
on the bed, with a feeling of despair tugging at his heart.  He could
scarcely believe it was all true; for it was not very long
since--only it seemed like long years--since he had leaped over the
counter in his light-heartedness.  But he had not sat there many
minutes before he heard a distinct, rather loud knock at the
shop-door, and he ran hastily to ask who was there.

"Antony," said a voice he knew very well, "I have come with the
doctor, to see what we can do for your little girl."

In an instant Tony opened the door, and as Mr. Ross entered the boy
flung his arms round him, and hid his face against him, sobbing

"Oh! you've come too late," he cried, "you've come too late!  Dolly's
dead, and I'm afraid the master's going away from me as well.  They
couldn't take her in, and she died after we had brought her home."

The doctor and Mr. Ross went on into the inner room, and Tony pointed
silently to the bed where Dolly lay.  Old Oliver roused himself at
the sound of strange voices, and, leaning upon Tony's shoulder, he
staggered to the bedside, and drew the clothes away from her dear,
smiling face.

"I don't murmur," he said.  "My dear Lord can't do anything unkind.
He'll come and speak to me presently, and comfort me; but just now
I'm deaf and blind, even to him.  I've not forgot him, and he hasn't
forgot me; but there's a many things ought to be done, and I cannot
think what."

"Leave it all to us," said Mr. Ross, leading him back to his chair.
"But have you no neighbour you can go and stay with for to-night?
You are an old man, and you must not lose your night's sleep."

"No," he answered, shaking his head; "I'd rather stay here in my own
place, if I'd a hundred other places to go to.  I'm not afraid of my
little love,--no, no!  When everything is done as ought to be done,
I'll lie in my own bed and watch her.  It won't be lonesome, as long
as she's here."

In an hour's time all was settled for that night.  A little
resting-place had been made for the dead child in a corner of the
room, where she lay covered with a coarse white sheet, which was the
last one left of those which old Oliver's wife had spun in her
girlhood.  The old man had given his promise to go to bed when Mr.
Ross and the doctor were gone; and he slept lightly, his face turned
towards the place where his little love was sleeping.  A faint light
burnt all night in the room, and Tony, who could not fall asleep, sat
in the chimney-corner, with Beppo upon his knees.  There was an
unutterable, quiet sorrow within him, mingled with a strange awe.
That little child, who had played with him, and kissed him only a day
since, was already gone into the unseen world, which was so very near
to him now, though it had seemed so very far away and so empty
before.  It must be very near, since she had gone to it so quickly;
and it was no longer empty, for Dolly was there; and she had said she
would watch at the door till he came home.



Old Oliver and Tony saw their darling buried in a little grave in a
cemetery miles away from their own home, and then they returned,
desolate and bereaved, to the deserted city, which seemed empty
indeed to them.  The house had never looked so very dark and dreary
before.  Yet from time to time old Oliver forgot that Dolly was gone
altogether, and could never come back; for he would call her in his
eager, quavering tones, or search for her in some of the
hiding-places, where she had often played at hide-and-seek with him.
When meal-times came round he would put out Dolly's plate and cup,
which had been bought on purpose for her, with gay flowers painted
upon them; and in the evening, over his pipe, when he had been used
to talk to his Lord, he now very often said nothing but repeat again
and again Dolly's little prayer, which he had himself taught her,
"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild."  It was quite plain to Tony that it
would never do to leave him alone in his house and shop.

"I've give up my place as errand-boy," he said to Mr. Ross, "'cause
the old master grows worse and worse for forgetting, and I must mind
shop for him now as well as I can.  He's not off his head, as you may
say; he's sharp enough sometimes; but there's no trusting to him
being sharp always.  He talks to Dolly as if she was here, and could
hear him, till I can't hardly bear it.  But I'm very fond of
him,--fonder of him than anythink else, 'cept my little Dolly; and
I've made up my mind as his Master shall be my master, and he's
always ready to tell me all he knows about him.  I'm no ways afeared
of not getting along."

Tony found that they got along very well.  Mr. Ross made a point of
going in to visit them every week, and of seeing how the business
prospered in the boy's hands; and he put as much as he could in his
way.  Sad and sorrowful as the days were, they passed over, one after
another, bringing with them at least the habit of living without
Dolly.  Every Sunday afternoon, however, old Oliver and Tony walked
slowly through the streets, for the old man could only creep along
with Tony's help, till they reached the Children's Hospital; but they
never passed the door, nor entered in through it.  Old Oliver would
stand for a few minutes leaning heavily on Tony's shoulder, and
trembling from head to foot, as his eyes wandered over all the front
of the building; and then a low, wailing cry would break from his
lips, "Dear Lord! there was no room for my little love, but thou hast
found room for her!"

It was a reopening of Tony's sorrow when aunt Charlotte came up from
the country to find that the little child had gone away altogether,
leaving only her tiny frocks and clothes, which were neatly folded up
in a drawer, where old Oliver treasured up a keepsake or two of his
wife's.  She discovered, too, that old Oliver had forgotten to write
to Susan,--indeed, his hand had become too trembling to hold a
pen,--and she wrote herself; but her letter did not reach Calcutta
before Susan and her husband had left it, being homeward bound.

It was as nearly two years as it could well be since the summer
evening when Susan Raleigh had sent her little girl into old Oliver's
shop, bidding her be a good girl till she came home, and thinking it
would be only three days before she saw her again.  It was nearly two
years, and an evening something like it, when the door was darkened
by the entrance of a tall, fine-looking man, dressed as a soldier,
but with one empty sleeve looped up across his chest.  Tony was busy
behind the counter wrapping up magazines, which he was going to take
out the next morning, and the soldier looked very inquisitively at

"Hallo! my lad, who are you?" he asked, in a tone of surprise.

"I'm Antony Oliver," he said; for of late he had taken to call
himself by his old master's name.

"Antony Oliver!" repeated the stranger; "I never heard of you before."

"Well, I'm only Tony," he answered; "but I live with old Mr. Oliver
now, and call him grandfather.  He likes it, and it does me good.
It's like somebody belonging to me."

"Why! how long have you called him grandfather?" asked the soldier

"Ever since our little Dolly died," said Tony, in a faltering voice.

"Dolly dead!" exclaimed the man, looking ready to fall down; for his
face went very white, and he leaned upon the counter with his one
hand.  "Oh! my poor Susan!--my poor, dear girl!--however can I tell
her this bad news?"

"Who are you?" cried Tony.  "Are you Dolly's father?  Oh, she's dead!
She died last January, and we are more lonesome without her than you
can think."

"Let me see poor Susan's father," he said, after a minute or two, and
with a very troubled face.

"Ay, come in," said Tony, lifting up the flap of the counter, under
which Dolly had so often played at hide-and-seek.  "He's more hisself
again; but his memory's bad yet.  I know everythink about her,
though; because she was so fond of me, and me of her.  Come in."

Raleigh entered the room, and saw old Oliver sitting in his
arm-chair, with a pipe in his hand, and a very tranquil look upon his
wrinkled face.  The gas-light shone upon the glittering epaulettes
and white sash of the soldier, and the old man fastened upon him a
very keen, yet doubtful gaze of inquiry.

"Don't you know me, father?" cried Raleigh, almost unable to utter a
word.  "It's your poor Susan's husband, and Dolly's father."

"Dolly's father!" repeated old Oliver, rising from his chair, and
resting his hand upon Raleigh's shoulder.  "Do you know that the dear
Lord has taken her to be where he is in glory?"

"Yes, I know it," he said, with a sob.

He put the old man back in his seat, and drew a chair close up to
him.  They sat thus together in sorrowful silence for some minutes,
until old Oliver laid his hand upon the empty sleeve on Raleigh's

"You've lost your arm," he said, pityingly.

"Ay!" answered Raleigh; "our colonel was set upon by a tiger in the
jungle, and I saved him; but the brute tore my arm, and craunched the
bone between his teeth till it had to come off.  It's spoiled me for
a soldier."

"Yes, yes, poor fellow," answered old Oliver, "but the Lord knew all
about it."

"That he did," answered Raleigh; "and he's taught me a bit more about
himself than I used to know.  I'm not spoiled to be His soldier.  But
I don't know much about the service yet, and I shall want you to
teach me, father.  You'll let me call you father, for poor Susan's
sake, won't you?"

"To be sure--to be sure," said old Oliver, keeping his hand still
upon the empty sleeve on Raleigh's breast.

"Well, father," he continued, "as I am not fit for a soldier, and as
the colonel was hurt too, we're all come home together.  Only Susan's
gone straight on with her lady and our little girl, and sent me
through London to see after you and Dolly."

"Your little girl?" said Oliver questioningly.

"Yes, the one born in India.  Her name's Mary, but we call her Polly.
Susan said it made her think of our little Dolly at home.  Dear!
dear!  I don't know however I shall let her know."

Another fit of silence fell upon them, and Tony left them together,
for it was time to put up the shop shutters.  It seemed just like the
night when he had followed Susan and the little girl, and loitered
outside in the doorway opposite, to see what would happen after she
had left her in the shop.  He fancied he was a ragged, shoeless boy
again, nobody loving him, or caring for him, and that he saw old
Oliver and Dolly standing on the step, looking out for the mother,
who had gone away, never, never to see her darling again.  Tony's
heart was very full; and when he tried to whistle, he was obliged to
give it up, lest he should break out into sobs and crying.  When he
went back into the house Raleigh was talking again.

"So Susan and me are to have one of the lodges of the colonel's
park," he said, "and I'm to be a sort of bailiff to look after the
other outdoor servants about the garden and premises.  It's a house
with three bedrooms, and a very pleasant sort of little parlour, as
well as a kitchen and scullery place downstairs.  You can see the
Wrekin from the parlour window, and the moon over it; and it's not so
far away but what we could get a spring-cart sometimes, and drive
over to your old home under the Wrekin.  As soon as ever the
colonel's lady told Susan where it was, she cried out, 'That's the
very place for father!'  You'd like to come and live with your own
Susan again, in your own country; wouldn't you now?"

"Yes, yes; for a little while," answered old Oliver, with a smile
upon his face.

Tony felt a strange and very painful shrinking at his heart.  If the
old man went away to live with his daughter in the country, his home
would be lost to him, and he would have to go out into the great city
again alone, with nobody to love.  He could get his living now in a
respectable manner, and there was no fear of his being driven to
sleep in Covent Garden, or under the bridges.  But he would be alone,
and all the links which bound him to Dolly and old Oliver would be
snapped asunder.  He wondered if the Lord Jesus would let such a
thing be.

"But I couldn't leave Tony," cried old Oliver, suddenly; and putting
on his spectacles to look for him.

"Come here, Tony.  He's like my own son to me, bless him!  He calls
me grandfather, and kept my heart up when I should have sunk very low
without him.  My Master gave him to me the very same night he gave me
my little love.  No, no; Dolly loved Tony, and Susan must come here
to see me, but I could never leave my boy."

Old Oliver had put his arm round Tony, drawing him closer and closer
to him as he spoke, until his withered cheek pressed fondly against
his face.  Since Dolly died neither of them had felt such a thrill of
happiness as now.

"The colonel and his lady must be told about this," said Raleigh,
after he had heard all that Tony had been and done for old Oliver;
and when he was obliged to go away for the night, the soldier gave
him such a cordial grasp of the hand, as set all his fingers
tingling, and his heart throbbing with exultation.



The lodge stood in a very lovely place, upon a slope of ground, which
rose still higher to where the colonel's grand house was situated.
There was a porch before the door, built of rough logs of pines,
covered with ivy and honeysuckle, and with seats in it, where you
could sit and look out over a wide, rich plain, with little hills and
dales in it, stretching far away towards the sky-line, where some
distant mountains lay, so like to clouds, that you could scarcely
tell which were soft and misty vapours, and which were solid and
everlasting hills.  The Severn ran through the beautiful plain with
so many windings, sometimes lying in shadow under deep banks, and
sometimes glistening and sparkling in the sunlight, that it looked
more like many little pools scattered about the meadows than one
long, continuous river.  Not very far away, as Raleigh had said,
stood the Wrekin, purple in the evening haze, but by day so plain,
that one could see the great rock on its summit, which in olden times
served as an altar to the god of fire.

Susan was very busy, and had been very busy all day over two
things--preparing the house for the reception of her father, whom she
had not seen for so many years, and in teaching her little girl, who
was now eighteen months old, to say grand-pa.  The one work was quite
finished; everything was ready for old Oliver, and now she was
waiting and watching to see the colonel's spring cart arrive from the
station with her husband, who was gone to meet old Oliver and Tony.
For Tony was not on any account to be parted from the old man--so
said the colonel and his lady--but was to be employed about the
garden, and as general errand boy for the house, and to live at the
lodge with old Oliver.  Susan's eyes were red, for as she had been
busy about her work, she had several times cried bitterly over her
lost little girl; but she had resolved within herself not to shed a
single tear after her father was come, lest she should spoil the
gladness of his coming home to her.  At last the cart came in sight,
and stopped, and Raleigh and Tony sprang out to help Oliver to get
down, while Susan put down Polly in the porch, and ran to throw her
arms round her dear old father's neck.

He was very quiet, poor old Oliver.  He had not spoken a word since
he left the station, but had gazed about him as they drove along the
pleasant lane with almost a troubled look upon his tranquil face.
When his dim eyes caught the first glimpse of the Wrekin he lifted
his hat from his white and trembling head, as if to greet it like
some great and dear friend, after so many years of absence.  Now he
stood still at the wicket, leaning upon Susan's arm, and looking
round him again with a gentle yet sad smile.  The air was so fresh,
after the close streets of London, that to him it seemed even full of
scents of numberless flowers; and the sun was shining everywhere,
upon the blossoms in the garden, and the fine old elm-trees in the
park.  and the far-off hills.  He grasped Tony's hand in his, and
bade him look well about him.

[Illustration: Oliver, leaning on Susan's arm]

"If only my little love had had a bit of sunshine!" he said, with a
mournful and tender patience in his feeble voice.

But just then--scarcely had he finished speaking--there came a
shrill, merry little scream behind them, so like Dolly's, that both
old Oliver and Tony turned round quickly.  It could not be the same,
for this little child was even smaller than Dolly; but as she came
pattering and tottering down the garden-walk towards them, they saw
that she had the same fair curly hair, and blue eyes, and rosy cheeks
that Dolly had had two years before.  She ran and hid her face in her
mother's gown; but Susan lifted her into her arms, and held her
towards old Oliver.

"Say grand-pa, and kiss him, Polly," she said, coaxingly.

The little child held back shyly for a minute, for old Oliver's head
was shaking much more than usual now; but at length she put her two
soft little hands to his face, and held it between them, while she
kissed him.

"Gan-pa!" she cried, crowing and chuckling with delight.

They went indoors to the pleasant parlour, where old Oliver's
arm-chair was set ready for him by the side of the fire, for Susan
had kindled a fire, saying that he would feel the fresh air blowing
from the Wrekin; and Polly sat first on his knee, and then upon
Tony's, who could not keep his eyes from following all her movements.
But still it was not their own Dolly who had made the old house in
the close alley in London so happy and so merry for them.  She was
gone home to the Father's house, and was watching for them there.
Tony might be a long time before he joined her, but for old Oliver
the parting would be but short.  As he sat in the evening dusk, very
peacefully and contentedly, while Susan sang Polly to sleep in the
kitchen, Tony heard him say half aloud, as his custom was, "Yet a
little, and I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that
where I am ye may be also.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alone in London" ***

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