folds of its blanket, the greater part of his face, and the
old gentleman's eyes fell first on Tommy; and if ever
scamp was written clear on a countenance, it was written
clear on Tommy's,
"Hold your impudent tongue!" said a policeman, and
gave Clare a cuff on the head.
212 A ROUGH SHAKING.
"Hold, John," interposed the magistrate; "it is my
part to punish, not yours."
" Thank you, sir," said Clare.
" I will thank you, sir," returned the magistrate, " not
to speak till I put to you the questions I am about to
put to you. What is the charge against the pris-
" Housebreaking, sir," answered the big man.
"What! Housebreaking! Boys with a baby! House-
breakers don't generally go about with babies in their
arms! Explain the thing."
The policeman said he had received information that
unlawful possession had been taken of a building com-
monly known as The Haunted House, which had been
in Chancery for no one could tell how many years. He
had gone to see, and had found the accused in possession
of the best bedroom fast asleep, surrounded by indica-
tions that they had made themselves at home there for
some time. He had brought them along.
The magistrate turned his eyes on Clare.
"Yon hear what the policeman says?" he said.
" Yes, sir," answered Clare.
" What have you to say to it? "
" Nothing, sir."
"Then you allow it is true?"^
" Yes, sir."
" What right had you to be there? "
"None, sir. But we had nowhere else to go, and
nobody seemed to want the place. We didn't hurt any-
thing. We swept away a multitude of dead moths, and
THE MAGISTRATE. 213
killed a lot of live ones, and destroyed a whole granary
of grubs; and the dog killed a great rat."
" What is your name? "
" Clare Person," answered Clare, with a little interven-
" You are not quite sure ? ''
"Yes; that is my name; but I have another older one
that I don't know "
"A bad answer! The name you go by is not your
own! Hum! Is that boy your brother?"
" No, sir; he's not any relation of mine. He's a tramp."
"And what are you? "
" Something like one now, sir, but I wasn't always."
"What were you?"
" Not much, sir. I didn't do anything till just lately."
He could not bear at the moment to talk of his be-
loved dead. He felt as if the old gentleman would be
rude to them.
" Is the infant there your sister? "
"She's my sister the big way: God made her. She's
not my sister any other way."
" How does she come to be with you then?"
" I took her out of the water-but. Some one threw her
in, and I heard the splash, and went and got her out."
" Why did you not take her to the police ? "
" I never thought of that. It was all I could do to
keep her alive. I couldn't have done it if we hadn't got
into the house."
" How long ago is that?
" Nearly a month, sir."
214 A ROUGH SHAKING.
"And you've kept her there ever since?"
" Yes, sir as well as I could. I had only sixpence a day."
" And what's that boy's name ? "
" Tommy, sir. I don't know any other."
" Nice respectable company you keep for one who has
evidently been well brought up ! "
"Baby's quite respectable, sir!"
" And for Tommy, if I didn't keep him, he would steal.
I'm teaching him not to steal."
" What woman have you got with you? "
" Baby's the only woman we've got, sir."
" But who attends to her? "
" I do, sir. She only wants washing and rolling round
in the blanket; she's got no clothes to speak of. When
I'm away, Tommy and Abdiel take care of her."
" Abdiel ! Who on earth is that ? Where is he ? " said
the magistrate, looking round for some fourth member of
the incomprehensible family.
"He's not on earth, sir; he's in heaven the good
angel, you know, sir, that left Satan and came back
again to God."
"You must take him to the county-asylum, James!"
said the magistrate, turning to the tall policeman.
" Oh, he's all right, sir! " said James.
" Please, sir," interrupted Clare eagerly, " I didn't mean
the dog was in heaven yet. I meant the angel I named
him after! "
"They had a little dog with them, sir!"
" Yes Abdiel. He wanted to be a prisoner too, but
they wouldn't let him in. He's a good dog better than
THE MAGISTRATE. 215
" So! like all the rest of you, you can keep a dog! "
" He followed me home because he hadn't anybody to
love," said Clare. " He don't have much to eat, but he's
content. He would eat three times as much if I could
give it him; but he never complains"
" Have you work of any sort ? "
" I had till yesterday, sir."
" At Mr. Maidstone's shop."
" What wages had you ? "
" Sixpence a day."
" And you lived, all three of you, on that? "
"Yes; all four of us, sir."
" What do you do at the shop ? "
"Please your worship," interposed policeman James,
" he was sent about his business yesterday."
"Yes," rejoined Clare, who did not understand the
phrase " I was sent with a lady to carry her bandbox to
"And when you came back, you was turned away,
wasn't you ? " said Jamea
" Yes, sir."
" What had you done ? " asked the magistrate.
" I don't quite know, sir."
"A likely story!"
Clare made no reply.
" Answer me directly."
" Please, sir, you told me not to speak unless you asked
me a question."
" I said, ' A likely story ! ' which meant, ' Do you expect
me to believe that?"
" Of course I do, sir."
216 A ROUGH SHAKING.
" Because it is true."
" How am I to believe that? "
"I don't know, sir. I only know I've got to speak
the truth. It's the person who hears it that's got to
believe it, ain't it, sir?"
" You've got to prove it."
"I don't think so, sir; I never was told so; I was only
told I must speak the truth; I never was told I must
prove what I said. I've been several times disbelieved,
" I should think so indeed! "
" It was by people who did not know me."
" Never by people who did know you? "
" I think not, sir. I never was by the people at home."
"Ah! you could not read what they were thinking!"
"Were you not believed when you were at home,
The magistrate's doubt of Clare had its source in the
fact that, although now he was more careful to speak the
truth than are most people, it was not his habit when a
boy, and he had suffered severely in consequence. He
was annoyed, therefore, at his question, set him down as
a hypocritical, boastful prig, and was seized with a strong
desire to shame him.
" I remand the prisoner for more evidence. Take the
children to the workhouse," he said.
Tommy gave a sudden full-sized howl. He had heard
no good of the workhouse.
"The baby is mine! " pleaded Clare.
" Are you the father of it? " said the big policeman.
"Yes, I think so: I saved her life. She would have
THE MAGISTRATE. 217
been drowned if I hadn't looked for her when I heard
the splash ! " reasoned Clare, his face drawn with grief
and the struggle to keep from crying.
" She's not yours," said the magistrate. " She belongs
to the parish. Take her away, James."
The big policeman came up to take her. Clare would
have held her tight, but was afraid of hurting her. He
did draw back from the outstretched hands, however,
while he put a question or two.
" Please, sir, will the parish be good to her? " he asked.
" Much better than you."
" Will it let me go and see her? " he asked again, with
an outbreaking sob.
"You can't go anywhere till you're out of this,"
answered the big policeman, and, not ungently, took the
baby from him.
" And when will that be, please?" asked Clare, with his
empty arms still held out.
" That depends on his worship there."
" Hold your tongue, James," said the magistrate. " Take
the boy away, John."
" Please, sir, where am I going to? " asked Clare.
" To prison, till we find out about you."
" Please, sir, I didn't mean to steal her. I didn't know
the parish wanted her!"
"Take the boy away, I tell you!" cried the magis-
trate angrily. "His tongue goes like the hopper of a
James, carrying the baby on one arm, was already
pushing Tommy before him by the neck. Tommy howled,
and rubbed his red eyes with what was left him of cuffs,
but did not attempt resistance.
218 A ROUGH SHAKING.
"Please, don't let anybody hold her upside down,
policeman!" cried Clare. "She doesn't like it! Oh,
John tightened his grasp on his arm, and hurried him
away in another direction.
Where the big policeman issued with his charge, there
was Abdiel hovering about as if his spring were wound
up so tight that it wouldn't go off. How he came to be
at that door, I cannot imagine.
When he spied Tommy, he rushed at him. Tommy
gave him a kick that rolled him over.
"Don't want you,, you mangy beast!" he said, and tried
to kick him again.
Abdiel kept away from him after that, but followed
the party to the workhouse, where also, to his disgust,
plainly expressed, he was refused admittance. He re-
turned to the entrance by which Clare had vanished
from his eyes the night before, and lay down there. I
suspect he had an approximate canine theory of the
whole matter. He knew at least that Clare had gone in
with the others at that door; that he had not come out
with them at the other door; that, therefore, in all proba-
bility, he was within that door still.
The police made inquiry at Mr. Maidstone's shop.
Reasons for his dismissal were there given involving no
accusation: there was little desire in that quarter to have
the matter searched into. There was therefore nothing
to the discredit of the boy, beyond his running to earth
in the neglected house like a wild animal. After three
days he was set at liberty.
As the big policeman led the way to the door to send
him out, Clare addressed him thus:
THE WORKHOUSE. 219
" Please, Mr. James, may I go back to the house for a
"Well, you are an innocent!" said James; " or," he
added, "the biggest little humbug ever I see! No, it's
" I only wanted," explained Clare, " to set things
straight a bit. The house is cleaner than it was, I know,
but it is not in such good order as when we went into it.
I don't like to leave it worse than we found it."
"Never you heed," said James, believing him per-
fectly before he knew what he was about. " The house
don't belong to nobody, so far as ever I heerd, an' the
things '11 rot all the same wherever they stand."
" But I should like," persisted Clare.
"I couldn't do it off my own hook, an' his worship
would think you only wanted to steal something. The
best thing you can do is to leave the place at once, an'
go where nobody knows nothing agin you."
Thought Clare with himself, "If the house doesn't
belong to anybody, why wouldn't they let me stay in it? "
But the policeman opened the door, and as he was
turning to say good-bye to him, gave him a little shove,
and closed it behind him.
HE went into the street with a white face and a dazed
look not from any hardship he had experienced
during his confinement, for he had been in what to him
220 A ROUGH SHAKING.
was clover, but because he had lost the baby and Abdiel,
and because his mind had been all the time in perplexity
with regard to the proceedings of justice: he did not
and could not see that he had done anything wrong.
Throughout his life it never mattered much to Clare to
be accused of anything wrong, but it did trouble him,
this time at least, to be punished for doing what was
right. He took it very quietly, however.
Indignation may be a sign of innocence, but it is no
necessary consequence of innocence any more than it is
a proof of righteousness. A man will be fiercely indignant
at an accusation that happens to be false, who did the
very thing last week, and is ready to do it again. In-
dignation against wrong to another even, is no proof of a
genuine love of fair play. Clare hardly resented any-
thing done to himself. His inward unconscious purity
held him up, and made him look events in the face with
an eye that was single and therefore at once forgiving
and fearless. The man who has no mote in his own eye
cannot be knocked down by the beam in his neighbour's;
while he who is busy with the mote in his neighbour's
may stumble to destruction over the beam in his own.
White and dazed as he came out, the moment he
stepped across the threshold, Clare met the comfort of
God waiting for him. His eyes blinded with the great
light, for it was a glorious morning in the beginning of
June, he found himself assailed in unknightly fashion
below the knee: there, to his unspeakable delight, was
Abdiel, clinging to him with his fore-legs, and wagging
his tail as if, like the lizards for terror, he would shake
it off for gladness ! What a blessed little pendulum was
Abdiel's tail! It went by that weight of the clock of the
THE WORKHOUSE. 221
universe called devotion. It was the escapement of that
delight which is of the essence of existence, and which,
when God has set right " our disordered clocks," will be
its very consciousness.
Clare stood for a moment and looked about him. The
needle of his compass went round and round. It had no
north. He could not go back to the shop; he could not
go back to the house; baby was in the workhouse, but
he could not stay there even if they would let him!
Neither could he stop in the town; the policeman said he
must go away! Where was he to go? There was not in
the world one place for him better than another! But
they would let him see baby before he went ! and off he
set to find the workhouse.
Abdiel followed quietly at his heel, for his master
walked lost in thought, and Abdiel was too hungry to
make merry without his notice. Clare, fresh to the
world, had been a great reader for one so young, and
could encounter new experience with old knowledge. In
his mind stood a pile of fir-cones, and dried sticks, and old
olive wood, which the merest touch of experience would
set in a blaze of practical conclusion. But the workhouse
was so near that his reflections before he reached it
amounted only to this that there are worse places than
a prison when you have done nothing to deserve being put
in it. A palace may be one of them. You get enough to
eat in a prison; in a palace you do not; you get too much!
The porter at the workhouse informed him it was not
the day for seeing the inmates; but the tall policeman
had given Clare a hint, and he requested to see the
matron. After much demur and much entreaty, the man
went and told the matron. She, knowing the story of
222 A ROUGH SHAKING.
the baby, wanted to see Clare, and was so much pleased
with his manners and looks, that his sad clothes pleaded
for and not against him. She took him at once to the
room where the baby was with many more, telling him
he must prove she was his by picking her out. It was
not wonderful that Clare, who knew the faces of animals
so well, should know his own baby the moment he saw
her, notwithstanding that she was decently clothed, and
had already improved in appearance. But the nurses
declared they had never before seen a man, not to say a
boy, who could tell one baby from another.
" Why," rejoined Clare, " my dog Abdiel could pick out
the baby he was nurse to! "
"Ah, but he's a dog!"
"And I'm a boy!" said Clare.
He descried her on the lap of an old woman, seeming
to him very old, who was at the head of the nursery-
department. Old as she was, however, she had a keen eye,
and a handsome countenance, with a quantity of white
hair. Unlike the rest of the women, though not far re-
moved from them socially, she knew several languages,
so far as to read and enjoy books in them. Now and then
a great woman may be found in a workhouse, like a first
folio of Shakspere on a bookstall, among oh, such com-
"Let me take her," said Clare modestly, holding out
his hands for the baby.
" Are you sure you will not let her drop ? "
" Why, ma'am," answered Clare, " she's my own baby !
It was I took her out of the water-but! I washed and
f e<i her every day ! not that I could do it so well as you,
ma'am ! "
THE WORKHOUSE. 223
She gave him the baby, and watched him with the eye
of a seeress, for she had a wonderful insight into char-
acter, and that is one of the roots of prophecy.
" You are a good and true lad," she said at length, " and
a hard success lies before you. I don't know what you
will come to, but, with those eyes, and that forehead, and
those hands, if you come to anything but good, you will
be terribly to blame."
"I will try to be good, ma'am," said Clare simply.
" But I wish I knew what they put me in prison
" What, indeed, my lamb!" she returned; and her eyes
flashed with indignation under the cornice of her white
hair. " They'll be put in prison one day themselves that
" Oh, I don't mind ! " said Clare. " I don't want them
to be punished. You see I'm only waiting!"
" What are you waiting for, sonny ? " asked the old
"I don't exactly know though I know better than
what I was put in prison for. Nobody ever told me any-
thing, but I'm always waiting for something."
" The something will come, child. You will have what
you want! Only go on as you're doing, and you'll be a
great man one day."
"I don't want to be a great man," answered Clare;
" I'm only waiting till what is coming does come."
The woman cast down her eyes, and seemed lost in
thought. Clare dandled the baby gently in his arms, and
talked loving nonsense to her.
" Well," said the old woman, raising at length her eyes,
with a look of reverence in them, to Clare's, " I can't help
224 A ROUGH SHAKING.
you, and you want no help of mine. I've got no money,
" I've got plenty of money, ma'am," interrupted Clare.
" I've got a whole shilling in my pocket! "
"Bless the holy innocent!" murmured the woman.
" Well, I can only promise you this that as long as I
live, the baby sha'n't forget you; and I ain't so old as I
Here the matron came up, and said he had better be
going now; but if he came back any day after a month,
he should see the baby again.
" Thank you, ma'am," replied Clare. " Keep her a good
baby, please. I will come for her one day."
"Please God I live to see that day!" said the old
woman. " I think I shall."
She did live to see it, though I cannot tell that part of
the story now.
80 Clare went once more into the street, where Abdiel
was again watching for him, and stood on the pave-
ment, not knowing which way to turn. The big police-
man had told him that no one there would give him
work after what had happened; and now, therefore, he
was only waiting for a direction to present itself. In a
moment it occurred to him that, having come in at one
end of the town, he had better go out at the other. He
followed the suggestion, and Abdiel followed him his
head hanging and his tail also, for the joy of recovering
his master had used up all the remnant of wag there was
in his clock. He had no more frolic or scamper in him
now than when Clare first saw him. How the poor
thing had subsisted during the last few days, it were
hard to tell It was much that he had escaped death
from ill-usage. Meanest of wretches are the boys or
men that turn like grim death upon the helpless. Except
they change their way, helplessness will overtake them
like a thief, and they will look for some one to deliver
them and find none. Traitors to those whom it is their
duty to protect, they will one day find themselves in
yet more pitiful plight than ever were they. But I fear
they will not believe it before their fate has them by the
Clare saw that the dog was famished. He stopped at
a butcher's and bought him a scrap of meat for a penny.
Then he had elevenpence with which to begin the world
afresh, and was not hungry.
Out on the highway they went, in a perfect English
summer day, with all the world before them. It was
not an oyster for Clare to open with sword, pen, or
sesame; but he might find a place on the outside of it
for all that, and a way over it into a better one that he
could open and get at the heart of. The sun shone as on
the day of the earthquake deep in Clare's dimmest me-
morial cavern; shone as if he knew, come what might,
that all was well; that if he shone his heart out and
went dark, nothing would go wrong; while, for the pre-
sent, everything depended on his shining his glorious
"Come along, Abdiel," said Clare; "we're going to see
226 A ROUGH SHAKING.
what comes next. At the worst, you know what hunger
is, doggie, and that a good deal of it can be borne pretty
well though I'm not fond of it any more than you,
doggie! We'll not beg till we're downright forced, and
we won't steal. When that's the next thing, we'll just
sit down, wag our tails, and die. There!"
He gave him the last piece of his meat, and they
trudged on for some time without speaking.
The sun was very hot, for it was past noon an hour or
two, when they came to a public-house, with a pump be-
fore it, and a trough. Clare grew very thirsty when he
saw the pump, and imagined the rush of a thick sparkling
curve from its spout. But its handle was locked with a
chain, to keep men and women from having water in-
stead of beer. He went with longing to the trough, but
the water in it was so unclean that, thirsty as he was, he
could not look on it even as a last resource. He walked
into the house.
"Please, ma'am," he said to the woman at the bar,
" would you allow me to pump myself a little water to
" You think I've got nothing to do but serve tramps
with water!" she answered, throwing back her head till
her nostrils were at right angles with the horizon.
" I'm not a tramp, ma'am," said Clare.
" Show me your money, then, for a pot of beer, like
other honest folk."
" I'm afraid I told you wrong, ma'am," returned Clare.
" I'm afraid I am a tramp after all ; only /'m looking for
work, and most tramps ain't, I fancy."
" They all say they are," answered the woman. " That's
your story, and that's theirs ! "
" I've got elevenpence, ma'am ; and could, I dare say,
buy a pot of beer, though I don't know the price of one;
but I don't see where I'm going to get any more money,
and what we have must serve Abdiel and me till we do."
" What right have you to a dog, when you ain't fit to
pay your penny for a half-pint o' beer ? "
"Don't be hard on the young 'un, mis'ess; he don't
look a bad sort!" said a man who stood by with a
pewter pot in his hand.
Clare wondered why he had his cord-trousers pulled
up a few inches and tied under his knees with a string,
which made little bags of them there. He had to think
for a mile after they left the public-house before he dis-
covered that it was to keep them from tightening on his
knees when he stooped, and so incommoding him at his
"Thank you, sir," he said. "I'm not a bad sort. I
didn't know it was any harm to ask for water. It ain't
begging, is it, sir? "
" Not as I knows on," replied the man. " Here, take
He offered Clare his nearly emptied pewter.
" No, thank you, sir," answered Clare. " I am thirsty
but not so thirsty as to take your drink from you. I
can get on to the next pump. Perhaps that won't be
chained up like a bull ! "
"Here, mis'ess!" cried the man. "This is a mate as
knows a neighbour when he sees him. I'll stand him a
half-pint. There's yer money ! "
Without a word the woman flung the man's penny in the
till, and drew Clare a half -pint of porter. Clare took it
eagerly, turned to the man, said, " I thank you, sir, and
228 A ROUGH SHAKING.
wish your good health," and drained the pewter mug. He
had never before tasted beer, or indeed any drink stronger
than tea, and he did not like it. But he thanked his
benefactor again, and went back to the trough.
"Dogs don't drink beer," he said to himself. "They
know better!" and lifting Abdiel he held him over the
trough. Abdiel was not so fastidious as his master, and
lapped eagerly. Then they pursued their uncertain way.
Ready to do anything, he thought the shabbiness of
his clothes would be a greater bar to indoor than to out-
door work, and applied therefore at every farm they
came to. But he did not look so able as he was, and
boys were not much wanted. He never pitied himself,
and never entreated: to beg for work was beggary, and
to beggary he would not descend until driven by ap-
proaching death. But now and then some tender-hearted
woman, oftener one of ripe years, struck with his look