Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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bear on the quest ; and Mr. Dutton held it wisest only to
write a note telling Mr. Egremont that he had obtained
evidence tliat the child was living, and that he was
going in pursuit, but thought it safer to say no more
at present. He gave the note to Mark at his office.
' I cannot trust myself to see your cousin,' he said. ' I
miglit be tempted to say more than was consistent
with Godfrey's honour towards his informant.'

* I think you are right,' said ]\Iark. ' You had
better leave me with only indefinite knowledge, for I
shall l)e hard pressed. Do you not go home first?'

* Yes, I go to pack up a few things and fetch
Monsieur. A run in the country will do him good,
and lie may be a valuable auxiliary. I shall find no
one at Springfield at this hour.'

* What is your plan ? '

* I shall venture so far as to apply to the ]^()lice for
tlie names of the usual attendants at races and fairs,
and for some idea of their ordinary rounds. 1 have no


doubt that these are known at the chief offices. For
the rest, I must use my eyes. But tell your cousin
that, with God's blessing, I hope to bring him back to

'He will,' said Ursula, when Mark gave her tlie
message, and from that moment she was calmer. She
did not fret Mark w^ith questions even as much as
Annaple did, she tried to prevent her father from
raoino- at the scant information, and she even en-
deavoured to employ herself with some of her ordinary
occupations, though all the time she kept up the cease-
less watch. 'Mr. Dutton w^ould not have said that
without good hope,' she averred, ' and I trust to him.'

Yet when four, five, six, eight, days had passed with
no tidings, the heart sickness grew almost more than
she could bear, though she still answered with spirit
wlien her father again took to abusing the umbrella-
fellow for choosing to keep all in his own hands.

Even Annaple could not help saying to her husband
that a precise, prim, old bachelor was the very last per-
son for a hunt in slums and the like. The very sight
of him would put the people on their guard. ' And
think of his fine w^ords,' she added. ' I wish I could
go ! If I started with a shawl over my head, yoked
to a barrel-organ, I should have a far better chance
than he will. I declare, Mark, if he does not succeed
we'll do it. We'll hire an organ, whereon you shall
play. Ah ! you shake your head. A musical
education is not required, and I know I shall do
something desperate soon, if that dear little boy is
not found.'


kuttie's kxiciit.

'Tlic night came on and tlie hairnies grat,
Their niinnie aneatli the mools heard that.'

' Lyndhurst, 4th July. — Pliilip Diitton to ^liss
Egremont. Found. Waterloo, 6.15.'

' I knew he would/ said ISTuttie, witli a strange
quietness, but as she tried to read it to her father lier
voice choked, and she had to hand it to Annaple.
But for the first time in her life she went up and
voluntarily kissed hei father's forehead. And perhaps
it was for the first time in his life that the exclamation
broke from him, * Thank God ! '

I'erhaps it was well that the telegram had not
come earlier in the day, for ]\Ir. Egremont was very
restless, showing himself much shaken in nerves and
spirits before the time for driving to the station, whicli
he greatly antedated. Nuttie could hardly keep liim
in the carriage, and indeed had to persuade him to
return thither, when he had once sprung out on the
arrival of a wrong train.

And al't(!r all, when the train did come, his blue
spectacles were directed Lo the row of duors at the

CHAP. XXXVI.] nuttie's knight. 391

other end, and Nuttie was anxiously tryinL,^ to save
liini from being jostled, when a voice said ' Here ! ' and
close beside them stood Mr. Uutton, with a little boy
by his side who looked up in her face and said
* Sister ! ' It was said in a dreamy, almost puzzled
way, not with the ecstatic joy Nuttie liad figured to
herself; and there was something passive in the mode
of his hearing his father's ' My boy, my boy ! ' In-
stinctively all turned to the harbour of the carriage ;
Mr. Dutton lifted Alwyn in, and as Nuttie received
him, a pang shot across her, as she felt how light, how
bony the little frame had become in these three

* Come in ! Come back with us ! Tell us all ! ' said
Mr. Egremont, as Mr. Dutton was about to help him

' My dog,' said Mr. Dutton, while Alwyn looked up
from nestling in Nuttie's lap to say, ' ^lithter Button
come ! And Mothu ! '

'We have room for him,' said Mr. Egremont
graciously. 'Here, poor fellow.'

' He has the right,' said Mr. Dutton, ' for he was
the real finder.'

And Monsieur, curly and shiny, occupied with great
dignity the back seat beside his master, while Alwyn,
in a silent but dreamy content, as if he only half
understood where he was, rested against his sister's
bosom with his hands in his father's.

' Come, old chap,' said his father cheerily, ' tell us
all about it.'

But Alwyn only shuddered a little, raised his eye-
lids slightly, and gave a tiny faint smile.

' I think he is very much tired,' said ^h: Dutton.
' There was a good deal to be done to make him present-

302 NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

able this morning. You must forgive me for sacrificing
his curls, there ^vi^s nothing else to be done with them.'

' Ah ! ' and Xuttie looked again. The boy was in a
new, rather coarse, ready-made, sailor suit that hung
loosely upon his little limbs, his hair was short, and he
was very pale, the delicate rosy tiush quite gone, and
with it the round outline of the soft cheek; and there
were puri)le marks under the languid eyes. She bent
down and kissed him, saying, ' Was Mr. Button nurse
to you, Wynnie ? '

He smiled again and murmured, ' ]\Ir. lUitton made
me boy again.'

After a question and answer or two as to main
facts of place and time of the discovery, ]\Ir. Button
told his story. ' I did not effect much with my in-
quiries after the circuses. All I heard of were of too
superior an order for kidnapping practices. However,
I thought the only way would be to haunt fairs and
races, and look at their camp-followers. At a place in
Hertfordshire I saw a performance advertised with
several children as fairies, so I went to see it. I was
soon satisfied that Alwyn was not there ; but it struck
me that I had known the face of the prime hero, a
fine handsome supple fellow, who was called in the
programme Herr Adalbert Steinfuggen, or some such
name. Well, it seemed that he knew me, for as I
struggled out after a considerable interval, I heard
myself accosted, " Mr. Dutton ! Sir, surely I have the
honour of speaking to Mr. Dutton of ]\Iicklethwayte ?"
1 assure you lie was the very pink of politeness. Do
you remember, ]\Iiss Egremont, Abel Stone ?'

' Oh, Abel Stone ! He was a choir boy at Mickle-
thwayte, I remember ! He was very handsome, and
had a splendid voice ; but he was a real monkey for


mischief, and nobody could nianauc liini but mother.
She was always pleading that he should not be turned
out, and at last he ran away.'

* Yes ; he went off with a circus, and there he found
his vocation, rose and throve, married the prima-donna,
and is part owner. He seems very respectable, and
was so friendly and affectionate that I ventured to
consult him; when, on hearing whom I was seeking,
he became warmly interested, and gave me just
the information I wanted. He said he had little
doubt that Funny Frank was a clown called Brag,
with whom he had had words some years back for
misusing the children. He said he did not hold with
harshness to the little ones in teaching them to do the
feats, which certainly were wonderful. If they were
frightened, they were nervous and met with accidents ;
but make much of them, and they thought it all fun,
and took a pride and pleasure in their performances.
However this Brag, though a clever fellow, could not
be hindered from bullying, and at last he went off
with a girl of the troupe and set np on their own
account. Stone, or whatever he pleases to call
himself, had met them several times, but he spoke
of them with great contempt as " low," and they did
not frequent the same places as he does. However, he
referred to one of his men, and found that they had
been at Epsom on the Derby day, and moreover, that
there w^as a report of them having lately narrowly
escaped being in a scrape about a child who had been
injured. There was no scruple as to advising me where
to look for them, or as to the best means of detection.
Stone was very indignant, and made me understand
that all his young people were either to the manner
born, or willingly hired out by their parents. I saw

394 XUTTIE'S father. [chap.

them in private life, and tliey looked happy and well-
fed, but that was no guarantee for Funny Frank.
Well, I followed him up without success, trying each
place Stone had set down for me, till I came last
night to Lyndliurst, a very pretty place in the New
Forest, where there is to he a fan* to-morrow, be-
ginning this afternoon. Stone advised me to look
about before the afftiir opened, while unpacking and
arranging was going on. Well, after all, it was very
simple. I strolled out with my dog round the field
where the vans and booths were getting into order.
There was what I thought a little girl in a faded red
petticoat sitting on the steps at the bottom of a yellow
van with her head on her hands.'

' That was me,' said Alwyn, lighting up. ' And
Mothu came and kissed Fan !'

* Yes,' said Mr. Button ; * I verily believe we might
liave missed one another, but Monsieur ran up to him
and, as I was actually whistling him off, I heard a
little voice say, " Mothu! Mothu !" and saw they were —
well, embracing one another, and then came " Mithter
Button, Mithter Button, oh, take me home!'"

Eager caressing hands were held out to jMonsieur,
who jumped off the seat to receive the pats and lauda-
tions lavished on his curly round pate, and had to be
reduced to order before Mr. Dutton could answer the
question whether he had any further ditliculty or

' I t()(jk him u]) in my arms, and a handsome
truculent-looking woman burst out on me, tlemanding
what I was about with her child. To whicli 1
answered that she knew very well lie Mas no such
thing. Her man came swaggering up, declaring im-
pudently that I liad better be off — but 1 believe he

xxxvi.] nuttie's knight. 395

saw tliat the people who came round wouhl not take
liis part, for he gave in much more easily tluiu I ex-
pected. I explained as loud as I couhl that tliis was
a gentleman's son who had been stolen from liis nurse
in the Park. The man began to protest that they had
found him deserted, and taken liim with them out of
charity, requesting to be paid for his keep. So 1
thought it better to give them a sovereign at once, so
as to have no further trouble, and get him away as
fast as I could. The woman came after me, making
further demands, but the sight of a policeman in tlie
distance turned her back. I went np to him and
explained. I found lie knew all about the loss and
the reward, and looked regretfully at my prize. We
went back to the hotel, wliere I set Alwyn to rights as
well as I could, sent out for some clothes, such as the
place would produce, and which at least, as he says,
made a boy of him again. I'm afraid the process
was rather trying from such unaccustomed hands,
though he was very good, and he has been asleep
almost all the way home, and, his senses all as in a
dream bound up.'

The heaviness — whether weariness or content, still
continued. Alwyn seemed to find it too much trouble
to talk, and only gave little smiles, more like his
mother than himself. He clung quite desperately to
his sister when ]\Iark offered to lift him from the
carriage, but nurse was close behind, and it was good
to see the little arms stretched out, and the head laid
on her shoulder, the hand put up to stroke her cheek,
and the lips whispering 'Wyn's own nursie.' The
jubilant greeting and triumphant procession with
wliich he was borne upstairs seemed almost to oppress
him. He appeared almost as if he was afraid of

396 xtttik's FATin-n. [niAP.

weakening from a liajjpy dream, aud liis lively merri-
ment seemed all gone ; there were only beams of recog-
nition and gladness at * Wyn's own nursery/ * "Wyn's
own pretty cup,' touching it as if to make sure that it
was real, aud pleased to see the twisted crusts, his
special treat.

But he could not eat much of them, and soon laid
his head down, as one weary, with tlie exhaustion of
content ; and nurse, who had allowed that ]\Ir. Button
had, considering all things, done much for the outward
restoi*ation of the daintiness of her recovered child,
was impatient to give him the hot bath and night's
rest that was to bring back the bright joyous Alwyn.
So Xuttie only lingered for those evening prayers she
had yearned after so sorely. When she held his
mother's picture to him to be kissed, he raised his eyes
to her and said : ' Will she come to me at night now ? '

' Who, my darling V

* She, mother dear.'

* Here's her picture, dear boy.*

'Xot only the picture — she came out of it, when
I cried, up on the nasty-smelling bundle in the van
all in the dark.'

'She came ?'

'Yes, she came, and made it so nice, and hushed
me. I wasn't afraid to go to by-by when she came.
And she sang. Sister, can't you sing like that ?'

* Not here, I'm afraid, dear, dear boy,' she whispered,
holding him so tight that he gave a little cry of * It
hurts.* Then came the prayers, not a word forgotten,
and the little voice joined in her murmured thanks-
giving for bringing liim liome.

She was much moved antl awe -stricken at these
words of her little brother ; but she had to dress in

xxxvi.] nuttik's knight. 39V

liaste for dinner, listenin*,^ llie wlnhi to lier maid's
rejoinings and vituperations of tlie wretches ^yll() had
maltreated the child.

When she came down she found no one in the
dra\ving-room but Mr. Duttou, wdiom her fatlier had
asked to the happiest meal that had perhaps ever been
eaten in that house.

She went towards him with winged steps in her
wliite dress : * Oh ! Mr. Dutton, we have not said half
enough to you, but we never, never can.'

He gave a curious, trembling half smile, as she
held out her hands to him, and said: 'The joy is
great in itself,' speaking in a very low voice.

' Oh ! I am so glad that you did it,' cried Ursula.
' It would not have been half so sweet to owe it to
any one else.'

'Miss Egremont, do you know what you are
saying ? ' he exclaimed.

' Don't call me Miss Egremont ! You never used
to. Why should you ? '

' I have not dared ' he began.

' Dared ! Don't you know you ahvays w^ere our
own Mr. Dutton — best, wisest friend of all, and now
more than ever.'

' Stay,' he said, ' I cannot allow^ you in your fervour
to say such things to me, unaware of the strength of
feeling you are stirring within me.'

'You! you! Mr. Dutton!' cried Nuttie, with a
moment's recoil. ' You don't mean that you care for

' I know it is prei)osterous ' he began.

' Preposterous ! Yes, that you should care one bit
for silly, foolish, naughty, self-willed me. Oh, Mr.
Dutton, you can't mean it 1'

398 NUTTIE'S FATHKU. [.hap. xxxvi.

* Indeed, I would liave kept silence, and not dis-
turbed you "svitli my presumption, if '

'Hush!' she cried. 'Why, it makes me so j,dad
and so proud, I don't know what to do. I didn't
tliink anybody was good enough for you — unless it
was dear, dear mother — and that it should be me.'

' It is true,' he said gravely, ' my younger days
were spent in a vain dream of that angel, then when
all that was ended, I thouglit such things were not for
me ; but the old feeling has wakened, it seems to me
in greater force than ever, though I meant to have kept
it in control '

' Oh, I am glad you didn't ! It seems as if the
world swam round with wonder and happiness,' and
she held his hand as if to steady herself, starting how-
ever as Annaple opened the door saying, ' We've been
sending telegrams with the good news.'

Then an arch light came into her bright eyes, but
the others were behind her, and she said no more.



' The angels of the gatewcay
Bent softly to the child,
And stretched glad hands to take him
To the kingdom undcfiled.' — B. JVI.

' Come up and see him/ said Nuttie, as the dining-
room door was sliiit. ' I must feast my eyes on him.'

Annaple replied by throwing an arm round her
and looking into her eyes, kissing her on each cheek,
and then, as they reached the landing in the summer
twilight, waltzing round and round that narrow space
with her.

'You ridiculous person!' said Nuttie. *Do you
mean that you saw!'

' Of course I did ; I've seen ever so long '

' Nonsense ! That's impossible '

' Impossible to owls and bats perhaps, but to
nothing else not to see that there was one sole and
single hero in the world to you, and that to him there
was one single bemg in the world ; and that being the
case '

' But, Annaple, you can't guess what he has always
been to me.'

400 NUTTIE'S father. [ciiap.

'Oil! don't I know? — a sort of Archbishop of
Canterbury and George Heriot rolled into one. So
much the more reason, my dear, I don't know when
I've been so glad in my life than that your good times
should be conn'ng.'

* They are come in knowing this ! It is only too
wonderful,' said Xuttie, as they stood together among
tlie plants in the little conservatory on the way up-
stairs. ' I always thouglit it insulting to him when
they teased me about liim.'

'They did, did they?'

* My father, incited l)y poor Gregorio. Oh, Annaple !
don't let any one guess till we know how my father
will take it. What is it, Ellen ? ' as the nursery-maid
appeared on the stairs.

' If you please, ma'am, Mrs. Poole would be glad
if you are coming up to the nursery.'

They both hastened up and nurse came out to
meet them in the day nursery, making a sign to Ellen
to take her place by the cot, and withholding the two
ladies. She made them come as far off as possible,
and then said that she was not at all satisfied about
Master Alwyn. There had been the same drowsiness
and disinclination to speak, and when she had un-
dressed and washed him, he had seemed tender all
over, and cried out and moaned as if her toucli hurt
him, especially on one side where, she felt convinced,
there was some injury ; but wlien she asked about it
liis eyes grew friglitened and bewildered, and he only
cried in a feeble sort of way, as if sobs gave him pain.

She had soothed him, and he had gone into his
own bed with the same gentle languid gladness, but
liad ])resontly begun moaning, and im])l()ring in his
slee]), wakening witli screams and entreaties, ' Oh,


I'll do it! I'll try!' and she thought him very
feverish. Would it not be better that a doctor should
see him ?

Nurse was always an alarmist, and Kuttie could
not helj^ thinking that to wake the child to see a
stranger to-night would only add to his terror and
distress, while Annaple declared her entire belief that
though no doubt the poor little fellow had been cruelly
knocked about and bruised, a niglit's rest would probably
restore his bright self, and make all that was past only
like a bad dream. There was no judging to-night, and
sleep was wonderful reparation to those little beings.

Then however the moans and murmurs becjan a^^ain,
and now the awakening cry. They started forward,
and as Nuttie came to the cot- side the child threw
himself into her bosom with, ' Sister ! Sister ! It is
sister !' but his eyes grew round with terror at sight
of Annaple, and clinging tightly to Nuttie he gasped,
* Send her away I don't let her touch me ! Fan's not
here !'

To tell him she was Cousin Annaple, Billy's mamma,
had no effect ; he did not seem able to understand, and
she could only retire — nurse being thus convinced that
to let him see another stranger to-night would only do
further harm. Nuttie and nurse succeeded in reassur-
ing him that he was safe at home and with them, and
in hushing him off into what they hoped would be a
quiet wholesome sleep in spite of the hot sultry night,
on which Annaple laid a good deal of the blame of his
restlessness and feverishness.

Nuttie only came down for a short time before the
visitors went away ; and then she wrote a note to Dr.
Brownlow, which Mark promised to leave as he went
to the city in the morning, Mr. Egremont, in his

2 D

402 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

present relief, pooli-pooliing all fears, and backing np
Annaple's belief in the powers of * tired nature's soft
restorer' ; but ]Mr. ])utton looked grave and said that
he had remarked the extreme tenderness, but had hoped
that much was due to his own inexperience in handling
little children. The parting clasp of the hand had a
world of meaning in it, and Xuttie openly said that
she hoped to tell him after matins at St. Michael's
how the boy was. But she could not l)e there. When
she went upstairs at night the half- delirious terrors
had returned, and there was another difficult soothing
and comforting before the child slept again. Xurse
fancied the unwonted presence might disturb him, and
insisted on her going to her own room.

When she returned in the morning it was to find
that since daylight he had been more quietly asleep ;
])ut there was a worn sunken look about his face, and
she could not l)e satisfied to leave him alone while the
nurses stirred about and breakfasted.

He awoke smiling and happy ; he looked about
and said gladly, ' Wyn at home ! AVyn's own nurser},'
but he did not want to get up ; ' Wyn so tired,' he
said, speaking of himself in the baby form that he
had for several months discarded, but he said his ])rotty
* thank you,' and took delight iu l)reakfasting iu his
cot, though still in a subdued way, and showing great
reluctance to move or be touched.

Kuttie was sent for to report of him to his father,
who would not hear for a moment of anxiety, declaring
that the boy would be quite well if they let him alone,
lie only w^anted rest, and insisting on following out his
intention of seeing a police superintendent to demand
whether the kidna])ping rascals could not be prosecuted.

Neither by Nuttie nor nurse could nuich be ex-

xxxvri.] FOUND AND TAKEN. 403

tractcd from the \)()()y little fellow liimself about his
adventures. He could not bear to think of tlieni, and
there was a mist of confusion over his mind, partly
from weakness, partly, they also thoufjjht, from the
drugged spirits with which he had been more than
once dosed. He dimly remembered missing Gregorio
in the park, and that he had tried to find his way
home alone, but some one, a big boy, he thought, had
said he would show him the way, took hold of his
hand, dragged him, he knew not where, into dreadful
dirt and stench, and apparently had silenced him with
a blow before stripping him. But it was all very
indistinct, he conld not tell how Mother Bet got hold
of him, and the being dressed in the rags of a girl had
somehow loosed his hold of his own identity. He did
not seem at all certain that the poor little dirty petti-
coated thing who had wakened in a horrible cellar,
or in a dark jolting van who had been dubbed Fan,
who had been forced by the stick to dance and
twist and compelled to drink burning, choking stuff,
was the same with Alwyn in his sailor suit or in his
white cot.

It was Dr. Brownlow who at once detected that
there had been much of this dosing, and drew forth
the fact. It had probably been done whenever it was
expedient that he should be hidden, or unable to make
any appeal to outsiders. Alwyn was quite himself by
day, and showed no unreasonable fear or shyness, but
he begged not to be touched, and though he tried to
be good and manly, could not keep from cries and
screams when the doctor examined him.

Then it came out. ' It's where he kicked me.'

' Who ? '

' That man — master, she said I must call him. He

404 NUTTIE's father, [chap.

kicked poor little Pan with his great heavy big boots
— 'cause Fan would say Wyn's prayers.'

* Who was Fan ? ' asked the puzzled doctor.

* Himself/ whispered Xuttie. ' Alas ! himself! '

' Wyn was Fan/ said Alwyu. ' Fan's gone now 1 '
'And did the man kick poor little Fan,' repeated
the doctor — ' here ? '

* Oh don't — don't ! It hurts so. Master said he
would have none of that, and he kicked with his big

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 26 of 28)