But, if they are stealing, the crows don't know it; and if
they don't know it, they ain't thieves! Is that it?"
The same instant came the report of a gun. A crowd
of rooks rose cawing. One of them dropped and lay.
" He must have been stealing," thought Clare, " for see
what comes of it! Would they shoot me if I stole?
Better be shot than die of hunger! Yes, but better die
of hunger than be a thief!"
ON THE TRAMP. 117
He had read stories about thieves and honest boys,
and had never seen any difficulty in the matter. Nor
had he yet a notion of how difficult it is not to be a thief
that is, to be downright honest. If anybody thinks
it easy, either he has not known much of life, or he
has never tried to be honest; he has done just like other
people. Clare did not know that many a boy whose
heart sided with the honest boy in the story, has grown
up a dishonourable man a man ready to benefit him-
self to the disadvantage of others; that many a man
who passes for respectable in this disreputable world, is
counted far meaner than a thief in the next, and is going
there to be put in prison. But he began to see that it is
not enough to mean well; that he must be sharp, and
mind what he was about; else, with hunger worrying
inside him, he might be a thief before he knew. He was
on the way to discover that to think rightly to be on
the side of what is honourable when reading a story, is a
very different thing from doing right, and being honour-
able, when the temptation is upon us. Many a boy when
he reads this will say, "Of course it is!" and when the
time comes, will be a sneak.
Those crows set Clare thinking; and it was well; for if
he had not done as those thinkings taught him, he would
have given a very different turn to his history. Medita-
tion and resolve, on the top of honourable habit, brought
him to this, that, when he saw what was right, he just
did it did it without hesitation, question, or struggle.
Every man must, who would be a free man, who would
not be the slave of the universe and of himself.
118 A ROUGH SHAKING.
THE BAKER'S CART.
THE sweepings of the mill-floor did not last them long,
and by the time they saw rising before them the
spires and chimneys of the small county town to which
the road had been leading them, they were very hungry
indeed as hungry as they well could be without having
begun to grow faint. The moment he saw them, Clare
began revolving in his mind once more, as many times
on the way, what he was to do to get work: Tommy of
course was too small to do anything, and Clare must earn
enough for both. He could think of nothing but going
into the shops, or knocking at the house-doors, and ask-
ing for something to do. So filled was he with his need
of work, and with the undefined sense of a claim for
work, that he never thought how much against him must
be the outward appearance which had so dismayed him-
self when he saw it in the pond; never thought how
unwilling any one would be to employ him, or what a
disadvantage was the company of Tommy, who had every
mark of a born thief.
I do not know if, on his tramps, Tommy had been in
a town before, but to Clare all he saw bore the aspect of
perfect novelty, notwithstanding the few city-shapes that
floated in faintest shadow, like memories of old dreams,
in his brain. He was delighted with the grand look of
the place, with its many people and many shops. His
hope of work at once became brilliant and convincing.
Noiselessly and suddenly Tommy started from his side,
THE BAKER'S CART. 119
but so much occupied was he with what he beheld and
what he thought, that he neither saw him go nor missed
him when gone. He became again aware of him by find-
ing himself pulled toward the entrance of a narrow lane.
Tommy pulled so hard that Clare yielded, and went with
him into the lane, but stopped immediately. For he saw
that Tommy had under his arm a big loaf, and the steam
of newly-baked bread was fragrant in his nostrils. Never
smoke so gracious greeted those of incense-loving priest.
Tommy tugged and tugged, but Clare stood stock-still.
"Where did you get that beautiful loaf, Tommy?" he
"Off on a baker's cart," said Tommy. "Don't be skeered;
he never saw me! That was my business, an' I seed to V
" Then you stole it, Tommy?"
" Yes," grumbled Tommy, " if that's the name you
put upon it when your trousers is so slack you've got to
hold on to them or they'd trip you up ! "
"Where's the cart?"
" In the street there."
" Come along."
Clare took the loaf from Tommy, and turned to find
the baker's cart. Tommy's face fell, and he was conscious
only of bitterness. Why had he yielded to sentiment
not that he knew the word when he longed like fire to
bury his sharp teeth in that heavenly loaf? Love not
to mention a little fear had urged him to carry it straight
to Clare, and this was his reward! He was going to give
him up to the baker! There was gratitude for you! He
ought to have known better than trust anybody, even
Clare! Nobody was to be trusted but yourself! It did
seem hard to Tommy.
120 A ROUGH SHAKING.
They had scarcely turned the corner when they came
upon the cart. The baker was looking the other way,
talking to some one, and Clare thought to lay down the
loaf and say nothing about it: there was no occasion for
the ceremony of apology where offence was unknown.
But in the very act the baker turned and saw him. He
sprang upon him, and collared him. The baker was not
nice to look at.
"I have you! " he cried, and shook him as if he would
have shaken his head off.
" It's quite a mistake, sir ! " was all Clare could get out, so
fierce was the earthquake that rattled the house of his life.
" Mistaken am I ? I like that ! Police ! "
And with that the baker shook him again.
A policeman was not far off; he heard the man call,
and came running.
" Here's a gen'leman as wants the honour o' your ac-
quaintance, Bob!" said the baker.
But Tommy saw that, from his size, he was more likely
to get off than Clare if he told the truth.
" Please, policeman," he said, " it wasn't him ; it was me
as took the loaf."
"You little liar!" shouted the baker. "Didn't I see
him with his hand on the loaf? "
" He was a puttin' of it back," said Tommy. " I wish
he'd been somewheres else! See what he been an' got by
it! If he'd only ha' let me run, there wouldn't ha' been
nobody the wiser. I am sorry I didn't run. Oh, I ham
so 'ungry ! "
Tommy doubled himself up, with his hands inside the
"'Ungry, are you?" roared the baker. "That's what
THE BAKER'S CART. 121
thieves off a baker's cart ought to be ! They ought to be
always 'ungry 'ungry to all eternity, they ought! An'
that's what's goin' to be done to 'em!"
" Look here!" cried a pale-faced man in the front of the
crowd, who seemed a mechanic. " There's a way of tellin'
whether the boy's speakin' the truth now!"
He caught up the restored loaf, halved it cleverly, and
handed each of the boys a part.
"Now, baker, what's to pay?" he said, and drew him-
self up, for the man was too angry at once to reply.
The boys were tearing at the delicious bread, blind and
deaf to all about them.
" P'r'aps you would like to give me in charge?" pursued
" Sixpence," said the man sullenly.
The mechanic laid sixpence on the cover of the cart.
" I ought to ha' made you weigh and make up," he said.
" Where's your scales? "
" Mind your own business."
" I mean to. Here ! I want another sixpenny loaf
but I want it weighed this time!"
" I ain't bound to sell bread in the streets. You can go
to the shop. Them loaves is for reg'lar customers."
He moved off with his cart, and the crowd began to
disperse. The boys stood absorbed, each in what remained
of his half -loaf.
When he looked up, Clare saw that they were alone.
But he caught sight of their benefactor some way off, and
ran after him.
"Oh, sir!" he said, "I was so hungry, I don't know
whether I thanked you for the loaf. We'd had nothing
to-day but the sweepings of a mill."
122 A ROUGH SHAKING.
" God bless my soul! " said the man. " People say there's
a God! "he added.
" I think there must be, sir, for you came by just then!"
" How do you come to be so hard-up, my boy? Some-
body's to blame somewheres ! "
" There ain't no harm in being hungry, so long as the
loaf comes! " rejoined Clare. " When I get work we shall
be all right!"
" That's your sort ! " said the man. " But if there had
been a God, as people say, he would ha' made me fit to
gi'e you a job, i'stead o' stan'in' here as you see me, with
ne'er a turn o' work to do for myself!"
" I'll work my hardest to pay you back your sixpence,"
" Nay, nay, lad ! Don't you trouble about that. I ha'
got two or three more i' my pocket, thank God!"
" You have two Gods, have you, sir?" said Clare; " one
who does things for you, and one who don't?"
"Come, you young shaver! you're too much for me!"
said the man laughing.
Tommy, having finished his bread, here thought fit to join
them. He came slyly up, looking impudent now he was
filled, with his hands where his pockets should have been.
"It was you stole the loaf, you little rascal!" said the
workman, seeing thief in every line of the boy.
" Yes," answered Tommy boldly, " an' I don't see no
harm. The baker had lots, and he wasn't 'ungry! It
was Clare made a mull of it! He's such a dufier you don't
know! He acshally took it back to the brute! He de-
served what he got! The loaf was mine. It wasn't his!
THE BAKER'S CART. 123
"Oh, ho! it wasn't his! it was yours, was it? Why do
you go about with a chap like this, young gentleman ? "
said the man, turning to Clare. " I know by your speech
you 'ain't been brought up alongside o' sech as him ! "
" I had to go away, and he came with me," answered
"You'd better get rid of him. He'll get you into
" I can't get rid of him," replied Clare. " But I shall
teach him not to take what isn't his. He don't know
better now. He's been ill-used all his life."
"You don't seem over well used yourself," said the
He saw that Clare's clothes had been made for a boy
in good circumstances, though they had been long worn,
and were much begrimed. His face, his tone, his speech
convinced him that they had been made for him, and that
he had had a gentle breeding.
"Look you here, young master," he continued; "you
have no right to be in company with that boy. He'll
bring you to grief as sure as I tell you."
" I shall be able to bear it," answered Clare with a sigh.
" He'll be the loss of your character to you."
"I 'ain't got a character to lose," replied Clare. "I
thought I had; but when nobody will believe me, where's
my character then ? "
" Now you're wrong there," returned the man. " I'm
not much, I know ; but I believe every word you say, and
should be very sorry to find myself mistaken."
" Thank you, sir," said Clare. " May I carry your bag
If Clare had seen what then passed in Tommy's mind,
124 A ROUGH SHAKING.
at the back of those glistening ferret-eyes of his, he would
have been almost reconciled to taking the man's advice,
and getting rid of him. Tommy was saying to himself
that his pal wasn't such a duffer after all he was on the
lay for the man's tools!
Tommy never reasoned except in the direction of
cunning self-help of fitting means and intermediate
ends to the one main object of eating. It is wonderful
what a sharpener of the poor wits hunger is !
"I guess I'm the abler-bodied pauper!" answered the
man; and picking up the bag he had dropped at his feet
while they conversed, he walked away.
There are many more generous persons among the poor
than among the rich a fact that might help some to
understand how a rich man should find it hard to enter
into the kingdom of heaven. It is hard for everybody,
but harder for the rich. Men who strive to make money
are unconsciously pulling instead of pushing at the heavy
gate of the kingdom.
"Tommy!" said Clare, in a tone new to himself, for a
new sense of moral protection had risen in him, " if ever
you steal anything again, either I give you a hiding, or
you and I part company."
Tommy bored his knuckles into his red eyes, and began
to whimper. Again it was hard for Tommy! He had
followed Clare, thinking to supply what was lacking to
him; to do for him what he was not clever enough to do
for himself; in short, to make an advantageous partner-
ship with him, to which he should furnish the faculty of
picking up unconsidered trifles. Tommy judged Clare
defective in intellect, and quite unpractical. He was of
the mind of the multitude. The common-minded man
THE BAKER'S CAKT. 125
always calls the man who thinks of righteousness before
gain, who seeks to do the will of God and does not seek
to make a fortune, unpractical. He will not see that the
very essence of the practical lies in doing the right thing.
Tommy, in a semi-conscious way, had looked to Clare
to supply the strength and the innocent look, while he
supplied the head and the lively fingers; and here was
Clare knocking the lovely plan to pieces! He did well
to be angry! But Clare was the stronger; and Tommy
knew that, when Clare was roused, though it was not
easy to rouse him, he could and would and did fight
not, indeed, as the little coward said to himself he could
fight, like a wild cat, but like a blundering hornless old
cow defending her calf from a cur.
In the heart of all his selfishness, however, Tommy did
a little love Clare; and his love came, not from Tommy,
but from the same source as his desire for food, namely,
from the God that was in Tommy, the God in whom
Tommy lived and had his being with Clare. Whether
Tommy's love for Clare would one day lift him up beside
Clare, that is, make him an honest boy like Clare, re-
mained to be seen.
Finding his demonstration make no impression, Tommy
took his knuckles out of his eye-holes and thrust them
into his pocket-holes, turned his back on his friend, and
began to whistle with a lump of self-pity in his throat.
126 A ROUGH SHAKING.
BEATING THE TOWN.
HHHEY turned their faces again toward the centre of
J_ the town, and resumed their walk, taking in more
of what they saw than while they had not yet had the
second instalment of their daily bread. What a thing is
food! It is the divineness of the invention the need for
the food, and the food for the need that makes those
who count their dinner the most important thing in the
day, such low creatures: nothing but what is good in
itself can be turned into vileness. It is a delight to see
a boy with a good honest appetite; a boy that loves his
dinner is a loathsome creature. Eat heartily, my boy,
but be ready to share, even when you are hungry, and
have only what you could eat up yourself, else you are
no man. Remember that you created neither your hun-
ger nor your food; that both came from one who cares
for you and your neighbours as well.
In the strength of the half -loaf he had eaten, the place
looked to Clare far more wonderful, and his hopes of
earning his bread grew yet more radiant. But he passed
one shop after another, and always something prevented
him from going in. One after another did not look just
the right sort, did not seem to invite him: the next might
be better! I dare say but for that half -loaf, he would
have made a trial sooner, but I doubt if he would have
succeeded sooner. He did not think of going to parson,
doctor, or policeman for advice; he went walking and
staring, followed by Tommy with his hands in his
BEATING THE TOWN. 127
pocketless pocket-holes. Clare was not yet practical in
device, though perfect in willingness, and thorough in
design. Up one street and down another they wandered,
seeing plenty of food through windows, and in carts and
baskets, but never any coming their way, except in the
form of tempting odours that issued from almost every
house, and grew in keenness and strength toward one
o'clock. Oh those odours ! agonizing angels of invisible
yet most material good! Of what joys has not the Father
made us capable, when the poorest necessity is linked
with such pain! What a tormenting thing and what
a good must be meant to come out of it! to be hungry,
downright, cravingly hungry with the whole microcosm,
and not a halfpenny to buy a mouthful of assuagement !
to be assailed with wafts of deliriously undefined
promise, not one of which seems likely to be fulfilled!
promise true to men hurrying home to dinner or luncheon,
but only rousing greater desire in such as Clare and
Tommy. Not one opportunity of appropriation presented
itself, else it would have gone ill with Tommy, now that
the eyes and ears of his guardian were on the alert. For
Clare thought of him now as a little thievish pup, for
whose conduct, manners, and education he was respon-
The agony began at length to abate ready to revive
with augmented strength when the next hour for supply-
ing the human furnace should begin to approach. Few
even of those who know what hunger is, understand to
what it may grow how desire becomes longing, longing
becomes craving, and craving a wild passion of demand.
It must be terrible to be hungry, and not know God!
As the evening came down upon them, worn out, faint
128 A ROUGH SHAKING.
with want, shivering with cold, and as miserable in pros-
pect as at the moment, yet another need presented itself
with equally imperative requisition that of shelter that
they might rest. It was even more imperative: they
could not eat; they must lie down!
Whether it be a rudiment retained from their remote
ancestry, I cannot tell, but any kind of suffering will
wake in some a masterful impulse to burrow; and as the
boys walked about in their misery, white with cold and
hunger, Clare's eyes kept turning to every shallowest
archway, every breach in wall or hedge that seemed to
offer the least chance of covert, while, every now and
then, Tommy would bolt from his side to peer into some
opening whose depth was not immediately patent to his
ferret-gaze. Once, in a lane on the outskirts of the town,
he darted into a narrow doorway in the face of a wall,
but instantly rushed back in horror: within was a well,
where water lay still and dark. Then first Clare had a
hint of the peculiar dread Tommy had of water, especially
of water dark and unexpected. Possibly he had once
been thrown into such water to be got rid of. But Clare
at the moment was too weary to take much notice of his
It was an old town in which they were wandering, and
change in the channels of traffic had so turned its natural
nourishment aside, that it was in parts withering and
crumbling away. Not a few of the houses were, some
from poverty, some from utter disuse, yielding fast to
decay. But there were other causes for the condition of
one, which, almost directly they came out of the lane I
have just mentioned, into the end of a wide silent street,
drew the roving, questing eyes of Clare and Tommy.
THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS FORGE. 129
The moon was near the full and shining clear, so that
they could perfectly see the state it was in. Most of its
windows were broken; its roof was like the back of a
very old horse; its chimney-pots were jagged and stumped
with fracture; from one of them, by its entangled string,
the skeleton of a kite hung half-way down the front.
But, notwithstanding such signs of neglect, the red-brick
wall and the wrought-iron gate, both seven feet high,
that shut the place off from the street, stood in perfect
aged strength. The moment they saw it, the house seemed
to say to them, "There's nobody here: come in!" but the
gate and the wall said, "Begone!"
THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS FORGE.
AT the end of the wall was a rough boarded fence, in
contact with it, and reaching, some fifty yards or
so, to a hovel in which a blacksmith, of unknown ante-
cedents, had taken possession of a forsaken forge, and
did what odd jobs came in his way. The boys went
along the fence till they came to the forge, where, look-
ing in, they saw the blacksmith working his bellows. To
one with the instincts of Clare's birth and breeding, he
did not look a desirable acquaintance. Tommy was less
fastidious, but he felt that the scowl on the man's brows
boded little friendliness. Clare, however, who hardly
knew what fear was, did not hesitate to go in, for he was
drawn as with a cart-rope by the glow of the fire, and
the sparks which, as they gazed, began, like embodied
130 A ROUGH SHAKING.
joys, to fly merrily from the iron. Tommy followed,
keeping Clare well between him and the black -browed
man, who rained his blows on the rosy iron in his pincers,
as if he hated it.
"What do you want, gutter- toads?" he cried, glancing
up and seeing them approach. " This ain't a hotel."
" But it's a splendid fire," rejoined Clare, looking into
his face with a wan smile, "and we're so cold!"
"What's that to me!" returned the man, who, savage
about something, was ready to quarrel with anything.
" I didn't make my fire to warm little devils that better
had never been born!"
"No, sir," answered Clare; "but I don't think we'd
better not have been born. We're both cold, and nobody
but Tommy knows how hungry I am; but your fire is
so beautiful that, if you would let us stand beside it a
minute or two, we wouldn't at all mind."
" Mind, indeed! Mind what, you preaching little hum-
" Mind being born, sir."
"Why do you say sir to me? Don't you see I'm a
"Yes, and that's why. I think we ought to say sir
and ma'am to every one that can do something we can't.
Tommy and I can't make iron do what we please, and
you can, sir! It would be a grand thing for us if we
" Oh, yes, a grand thing, no doubt! Why?"
"Because then we could get something to eat, and
somewhere to lie down."
" Could you ? Look at me, now ! I can do the work
of two men, and can't get work for half a man!"
THE BLACKSMITH GIVES CLARE AND TOMMY A ROUGH GREETING.
THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS FORGE. 131
" That's a sad pity!" said Clare. " I wish I had work!
Then I would bring you something to eat."
The man did not tell them why he had not work
enough that his drunkenness, and the bad ways to which
it had brought him, with the fact that he so often dawdled
over the work that was given him, caused people to avoid
" Who said I hadn't enough to eat ? I ain't come to
that yet, young 'un! What made you say that? "
"Because when I had work, I had plenty to eat; and
now that I have nothing to do, I have nothing to eat.
It's well I haven't work now, though," added Clare with
a sigh, " for I'm too tired to do any. Please may I sit on
this heap of ashes ? "
"Sit where you like, so long 's you keep out o' my
way. I 'ain't got nothing to give you but a bar of iron.
I'll toast one for you if you would like a bite."
" No, thank you, sir," answered Clare, with a smile.
" I'm afraid it wouldn't be digestible. They say toasted
cheese ain't. I wish I had a try though ! "
"You're a comical shaver, you are!" said the black-
smith. " You'll come to the gallows yet, if you're a good
boy! Them Sunday-schools is doin' a heap for the gal-
lows! That ain't your brother? "
By this time Tommy had begun to feel at home with
the blacksmith, from whose face the cloud had lifted a
little, so that he looked less dangerous. He had edged
nearer to the fire, and now stood in the light of it.
" No," answered Clare, with an odd doubtfulness in his
tone. " I ought to say yes, perhaps, for all men are my
brothers; but I mean I haven't any particular one of my
132 A ROUGH SHAKING.
" That ain't no pity ; he'd ha' been no better than you.
I've a brother I would choke any minute I got a chance."
While they talked, the blacksmith had put his iron in
the fire, and again stood blowing the bellows, when his
attention was caught by the gestures of the little red-
eyed imp, Tommy, who was making rapid signs to him,
touching his forehead with one finger, nodding mysteri-
ously, and pointing at Clare with the thumb of his other
hand, held close to his side. He sought to indicate thus
that his companion was an innocent, whom nobody must
mind. In the blacksmith Tommy saw one of his own
sort, and the blacksmith saw neither in Tommy nor in
Clare any reason to doubt the hint given him. Not the
less was he inclined to draw out the idiot.
"Why do you let him follow you about, if he ain't
your brother? " he said. " He ain't nice to look at! "