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He's got some notions that you might
think queer about beasts and birds going
to heaven, and such and sometimes I'm
half inclined to think he's right, though I
do git up a kind of mild argeyment with
him. " Crook," says I one day, " can
you show me a verse in the Bible that
says they'll go to heaven ? " " Mr Jones,"
says he, "can you show me a verse that
says they won't?" " By-the-by," says I,
" there is something about beasts in the
Revelations." But Crook is a bit of a



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 197

scholar, and a thorough honest feller. He
wasn't going to take advantage of me. He
told me that " beasts " wasn't the proper
word to be used there. I should like you
to know Crook, \ sir he's very pleasant
company.'

1 Did he ever tell you how he trained
his animals ? '

' I've often talked to him about his
secret, but he al'ays says that it's only
patience and not being harsh to 'em. He
ain't a joking man in a general way, but
says he one day he's a bachelor like my-
self " I believe, Mr Jones, you might
tame the worst wife that ever was, if you'd
only be patient with her and kind to her
lettirf her know at the same time that you was
her master" I'm not so sure that Crook
could manage a scolding wife he'd be too
soft-hearted for her, I fancy, but I don't
doubt that that's his system with his 'Appy
Family. It's a mystery to me, though,



198 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

how he can manage such things so much
better than me, that have lived all my life
amongst 'em though I'm fond of 'em, too.
If he gits his living by 'em, so do I ; and
I've been at it almost since I can remem-
ber: now he didn't take to his present
business till he was quite a man I don't
suppose he's been in the country a dozen
times in his life ; and the chap that started
the 'Appy Families was a towney, too, he
says some kind of a weaver out Brum-
magem or Manchester way.'

' I should certainly like to see Mr
Crook.'

1 If you'd like to see him, sir, I'm sure
he'd like to see you, sir 'specially if you
told him that I'd ast you to have the kind-
ness to call. You'd git on well together. I
won't offer to go with you, because I think
you'd git on better by yourselves. He
ain't like old Snap, sir it would ha' been
a sin to take you there, without lettin' you



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 199

have some one with ye that wasn't too
polite to growl back again at the old
bear.'

1 Is he in my parish ? '

' Yes, Thompson Street, leading out of
James Street, is where he lives first
house on the right as you go in, and the
first door on the right as you go into the
house. You'd better call latish, sir.'

I followed Mr Jones's advice when I
paid my visit to Thompson Street, but
found that Mr Crook was out. * Wantin'
to see Mr Crook, sir ? ' inquired the woman
of the house, coming out of a back room,
when I had knocked a second time at Mr
Crook's door. ' He ain't come in yet, but
I expect him in every minute. I've got
his kittle bilin' for him. Will you come
and set down in my place till he comes ?
if you'll excuse the muddle I'm in, sir.'

Whilst I was sitting with his landlady,
I heard more good opinions of Mr Crook.



200 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

He was l sich reg'lar pay,' and so ' quiet-
behaved,' and so kind to everybody. ' I
biles his kittle reg'lar for him,' said the
woman. ' It saves him a bit o' coals, and
then he can git his tea as soon as he likes,
and he must want it, poor feller. I'm
bound to do all I can for him as '11 do any-
thin' he can for me. Any thin' he can do,
he will do, for anybody, if it comes to
that.'

As it was clearly impossible to hear
much about the lodger without hearing a
great deal more about the landlady, I
allowed her to speak on without inter-
ruption.

* I ain't 'zackly 'appy with my 'usband.
Take him through and through, from
year's end to year's end, and there's 'un-
dreds of women wuss off than me, but still
he's fond of drink, I can't deny, and when
he's in his tantrums he thinks nothin' o'
smashing the furnitur', and wallopin' me



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 201

with the back of a chair, or anythin' else
that comes 'andy. He's a wery 'igh-sper-
rited man. He'd be wery sorry if he 'urt
me, for he's very fond o' me in his 'eart,
is Stubbs ; but I should horfen be mur-
dered if it wasn't for Mr Crook. Hout
he'll come, and he'll quiet Stubbs down,
though my 'usband could eat him, 'ead
and all, like a shrimp, if he chose. And
when there's rows in the house amongst
the other lodgers, they'll mind Mr Crook,
somehow, ten times more than they will
Stubbs, or me either, though I'm screechin'
my heyes out to git 'em to 'old their n'ise.
It's queer, and him that's sich a mite of a
man, and don't speak much louder than a
mouse. But he's a deal o' sperrit, in a
quiet way, has Mr Crook, though you
mightn't think it to look at him. Up he'll
walk to big blackguards I'm not speakin'
o' Stubbs at his wust nobody can say as
Stubbs is a blackguard but reg'lar bully-



202 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

in' blackguards. Up Mr Crook 'ill walk to
'em as cool as a cowcumber, though I don't
s'p'ose he ever give a man a black heye in
all his born days, or 'ud know how if he'd
got the chance. And then he's sich a kind
chap. I'd a poor boy he's gone now,
thank God that was a great burden to us.
He'd 'urt his back, and couldn't do nothin'
when he come out of the hospital ; he was
a great trial to us he was that peevish
let alone his not bein' able to do nothin'
for hisself. But Mr Crook would come in
of a night and a Sunday, and set with
poor Tom, talkin' an' readin' by the hour
together and he'd bring him horanges.
I do believe poor Tom loved Mr Crook
better than his own father, or me either.
A mother's 'eart, sir, can't 'elp feelin' soft
to them as 'as been kind to her dead
children, though p'r'aps she 'addi much
reason to be proud on 'em when they was
alive. There he is, sir I'll take him in



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 203

his kittle, and tell him you're 'ere.'

When Mrs Stubbs came back, Mr Crook
came with her. I gave him Mr Jones's
viva voce introduction, and was instantly
asked, with a good-humoured smile, to
step into his room. A good part of it was
filled up by the Happy Family cage that
had been wheeled into it. The kettle
stood upon the hob.

1 Perhaps you'll excuse me, sir,' said Mr
Crook, ' if I make up a bit of a fire before
I begin to talk, to keep the kettle on the
boil, and then, perhaps, you'll do me the
honour to take a cup of tea with me. I
let my fire go out when I leave in the
morning.'

When the chips had been blown into a
blaze, and the coals had caught, he put
the kettle on them, and it soon began to
bubble, hiss, puff, and fume as merrily as
when Mrs Stubbs had taken it off her fire.
In the mean time he had brought out a



204 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

little black teapot, and a couple of blue
and white cups and saucers, &c. When
he had made tea, and put the pot on the
hob to ' draw,' he said, ' And now, sir, if
you'll excuse me, I'll look after my young
people. They want their suppers, and to
go to bye-bye.'

The feathered and furred inmates of
the cage were crowded about its door, jab-
bering, squeaking, grunting, croaking, and
chirping very impatiently. As soon as Mr
Crook approached them, however, they
fell back, and then, when he had opened
the door, hopped, and dropped, and flop-
ped, and fluttered, and floundered out in
single file. As soon as they were out they
instantly made their way to the perches,
and holes, and hutches which they had
chosen for themselves, or their master had
supplied them with, about his room. It
wasn't exactly pleasant to feel two or three
rats slipping between one's legs to a snug



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 205

hollow by the fire-place. The cat marched
up to the fender, stretched herself, gaped,
mewed, as much as to say, ' I'm ready for
my milk,' and then lay down in the fire-
light to wait for it. Some of the birds
perched on the rail of their master's bed.
The monkey shambled to the foot of the
bed, threw back the clothes, jumped up,
and tucked himself in, instantly untucking
himself to put out his paw and jabber for
his nightly rations. It was some time be-
fore all the animals had been served with
their supper. When they had got it, the
menagerie atmosphere smells of mice and
stale cabbage-leaves being the dominant
tones of its malodour was somewhat over-
powering.

When Mr Crook came back to give me
the cup of tea to which he had hospitably
invited me, I did not feel much inclined
for any refreshment except fresh air.
' Shall I open the window again, sir ? ' Mr



206 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

Crook said anxiously, when be noticed iny
white face. ' I always leave it a bit open
when I go out, to keep the room as sweet
as I can, but I forgot you weren't used to
animals. Would you like to have a smoke,
sir ? If you haven't a cigar with you, I
can get you a clean pipe in a minute. It
won't hurt the youngsters they like it. I
smoke myself, and so does Mr Jones when
he comes here, though he is used to ani-
mals, but his is a great deal airier place
than mine. Do have a pipe, sir I can
assure you it won't annoy the youngsters.
If I weren't to watch him, my monkey
there would often be having a smoke. I've
caught him taking a pipe, and downright
he seemed to enjoy it. Have a smoke, sir,
and the sickness will be gone in a second.'
Not being a smoker, I was not so sure of
that. I took a cup of tea instead, and
when the window had been opened, gradu-



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 207

ally accustomed myself to my surround-
ings.

All the creatures had so thoroughly
enjoyed their supper that I expressed my
astonishment at creatures so sharp-set ab-
staining from the chances the cage afforded
them of preying on their natural food.
Mr Crook was a bit of a fanatic, in a harm-
less way. i I'm not sure,' said he, ' that
animals are animals' natural food that is,
when they are brought back to an upright
state of nature. Teach them to love one
another, and they won't eat one another ;
though I'll own that if I put a thing they
haven't been taught to love into the cage,
they'll be down upon him fast enough.'

1 Isn't that natural instinct asserting
itself?'

' In my belief, it's rather half-mastered
depravity cropping up again. I don't give
my youngsters what you call their natural



208 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

food. My principle is this not to eat or
drink anything that costs any animal its
life, or pain, and I bring up my youngsters
in the same way of thinking. We're al-
most vegetarians. Of course we drink
milk, and eat cheese and butter, but then
it's no pain to a cow to be milked, but a
relief instead. What does the great poet,
Wordsworth, tell us ? " Never to mix our
pleasure or our pride with suffering of the
meanest thing that breathes."

' But he says, too, Mr Crook,

" And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes."

So why do you boil cauliflowers, instead
of letting them go on enjoying the air
they breathe ? '

' I don't like to argue with a clergy-
man, sir, but it seems to me that that is
quite different. A vegetable's breath isn't
like an animal's. That was a poetical
fancy of Wordsworth's, I'm inclined to



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 209

think. We read in the Bible that we may
eat freely of every tree and green herb.'

1 But we read in the Bible also, " Every
moving thing that liveth shall be meat for
you."

' Yes, sir ; but go on with the verse, if
I may make so bold.'

I " even as the green herb have I

given you all things." What do you say
to that, Mr Crook ? '

I 1 hope you won't think me forward,
sir. It seems impudent in a man like me
to dispute about the meaning of the Bible
with a clergyman that has spent I don't
know how many years in studying it in the
original tongues at college.' [No satire
was intended, but, remembering the pro-
fundity of my Biblical research at Cam-
bridge, I could not help feeling severely
lashed, ' for self and university.'] ' I don't
like to seem forward, but I don't take that
text as you do, sir. The meaning I should

VOL. II. 14



210 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

give to it is this, You don't take any
animal life away when you eat a vegetable,
and so long as you remember that, you
may eat what animals will give you. I'm
doubtful about eggs. The chances of life
are out of them long before they get to
the shop, but still if they'd been properly
hatched they'd have been chickens. So I
don't eat them myself. I'll confess, though,
I've given chopped-up hard-boiled egg to
my birds, and they relished it, but that's
not their sin, but mine for giving it to
them. I wasn't always a vegetarian, and
I feel frightened when I think of the ani-
mals I have helped to eat. If God, as
the Bible goes on to say, will require the
blood of our lives at the hand of every
beast, of course he will require the blood
of the life of every beast at our hand.
We're on an equality so far, it seems
to me.'



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER, 211

A craze of this kind was too amiable
to wrangle over. ' "Well, well, Mr Crook,'
I said, ' I will leave you to think as you
like about Noah's time ; but farther on in
the Bible, you know, there are orders
about the slaughtering of birds and beasts,
and farther back, you know, Abel brought
the firstlings of his flock for an offering,
and they were accepted when Cain's fruit
of the ground found no favour.'

' I can't believe, sir, that Abel killed
his lambs. Mightn't he have set them
apart, called them Grod's lambs, and made
special pets of them, till God took them
back to himself ? '

' Ah, Mr Jones told me that you believed
beasts had a hereafter.'

' I do, sir, and a happy hereafter ; be-
cause I believe in Grod. He wouldn't have
created things to suffer for no fault of their
own, and then not make it up to them ten



212 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

times over somewhere. I needn't tell you,
sir, that God means good. And would
that be good ? '

By this time, to use a slang phrase, I
had taken Mr Crook's measure, and felt no
inclination to controvert anything he might
say ; merely wishing to get him to mani-
fest his idiosyncracy as openly as possible.

1 Well, but, Mr Crook,' I asked, < what
about the beasts and birds that were
ordered to be slain ? '

( It's a mystery to me, sir,' he answered,
1 that God should give in to the hardness
of men's hearts. But we've Christ's word
for it that He did any way, that He let
Moses say so in his name. It's a mystery,
sir that's my answer to your question.
But what a deal of kindness to animals
there is in the Bible about the sparrows
not falling to the ground, and God feeding
the young ravens when they cry, and look-
ing after your enemy's ox, and not muz-



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 213

zling your own when he treadeth out the
corn ! Don't you think there was a Happy
Family in the Garden of Eden, sir ? Adam
didn't stick the young lambs when they
ran up to rub their little noses against his
legs, and skin them, and give them to Eve
to roast. And if the devil did get inside
the serpent and leave his venom in him, it
won't be always so. Some snakes have
worked the poison off already ; and don't
we read that " the sucking-child shall play
on the hole of the asp, and the weaned
child shall put his hand on the cockatrice'
den " ? And what does the Prophet Isaiah
say just before ? " The wolf also shall
dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall
lie down with the kid ; and the calf, and
the young lion, and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them. And the
cow and the bear shall feed ; their young
ones shall lie down together ; and the lion
shall eat straw like an ox." What's that.



214 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

sir, but a Happy Family ? as things were
before sin came into the world, and as
they'll be again when it's washed out of it ?
Learned folks say that the lion could not
eat straw, but there, you see, he will.
They'd say that mice is my cat's natural
food, but she lets them run all over her,
and nibble for fun at her tail, without ever
thinking of hurting them.'

' And you think, Mr Crook, that animals
might be educated into millennial peace ? '

1 1 really think they might, sir, if men
would take the pains, arid set them a better
example. So far as eating one another
goes, look at mine, sir. I've a hawk, and
an owl, and a crow, and a monkey, and a
cat, and I used to have a dog, and a coati-
mundi, and I've a jackdaw, and a jay, and a
starling, and a couple of pigeons, and a
bantam cock and hen, and a magpie, and
rats, and rabbits, and ferrets, and mice,
and three guinea-pigs, and sparrows, and a



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 215

hedgehog; and they'd starve before one
of them would make a meal of another.'
1 Have you ever tried them ? '
1 Well, no, of course, I wouldn't be so
cruel. But I've let them go long enough
without food, to be sure I'm only saying
what's correct. Why, just look behind
you, sir the rats and the ferrets have gone
to sleep together cuddled up in a heap, and
my cat here suckled some of those rats.
You'll read of cats doing that, too, in
natural-history books. So you see some-
times, without being trained, they can get
the better of what you call their natural
instinct. I mentioned that to Mr Jones
once, but he said it was only because the
cat wanted to relieve herself, or because she
was fattening up the young rats as a farmer
fats bullocks ; but that seems a low view to
take and I fancy it's only Mr Jones's
joke, for he's very fond of animals, and has
tamed that rat of his in a surprising man-



216 EPISODES IN AI\ OBSCURE LIFE.

ner considering that he never gave any
particular thought to the subject.'

1 It seems to be your belief that animals
are very much like men.'

1 Yes, I believe they might all be
brought to a proper way of thinking and
feeling if they'd proper pains taken with
them. I'd a deal of trouble with the hawk
I've got at present, but now he'll let the
sparrows take the food right out of his beak,
and never say a word.'

' You haven't cured your young friends
of stealing, then ? '

' Well, sir, you know men have very
different opinions on the subject of proper-
ty. There's a Frenchman, I've read in the
papers, thinks it's robbery ; and that may
be the sparrows' opinion, when they see the
hawk eating something they'd like to have.
It's the hawk, you see, sir, they may think
the thief. But now you mention it, I'll
own that it doesn't seem pretty of the



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 217

sparrows to take the hawk's food away just
because they know he won't hurt them.
My system falls short a long way of what
I want it to do ; but that's my fault and
not the animals'. If the teacher was a bit
nearer perfection himself, why, then, per-
haps, he'd have a better right to grumble
that his scholars weren't. My crow, I'm
sorry to say, is very spiteful still, and very
deceitful. He'll give his neighbour a nasty
dig, and then look away as innocent and as
sleepy as an old Quaker gentleman twid-
dling his thumbs. The magpie, too, is
very fond of scaring anything that will let
itself be bullied ; and the monkey is an
awful tease. He'll shake the owl off its
perch when it's dozing, and pinch the cat,
and take a mouse up by the tail and swing
it round and round like a sling. And yet
there's a deal of goodness in Jacko. He'll
drive the magpie off when it's bullying,
and if he takes a fancy to a little thing,



218 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

he'll toss it and hug it and feed it like a
mother.'

Seeing me smiling, he observed, l You
may well laugh, sir, and think me weak-
minded, but there's another thing I'll tell
you about Jacko. I've read that man is
the only creature on earth that has got
reason and a notion of God. I'm by no
means sure of that I fancy it's a bit of
our conceit. If we are the only creatures
on earth that have got them, a very poor
use a good many of us make of them, at
any rate.'

1 Do you believe that animals have rea-
soning faculties, then ? '

' I can't believe that they haven't. I've
seen my things think a matter out as sensi-
bly as any man could do. I dare say you
know the story of the dog that lost his
master, and scented him to a place where
three roads met ; up two of them he ran
snuffing, but when he came back, he



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 219

galloped along the third without putting
his nose to the ground. Wasn't that rea-
son, sir? and I've seen my youngsters
do things every bit as sensible as that.'

'And I suppose you believe, too, that
animals know that God made them.'

' He's made a lot more of them than He
has of us, and so I can't see why we should
fancy that we are the only ones that He
has let know who made them. They've
as much right to call themselves His crea-
tures as we have, and what right' have we
to say that He hasn't let them know it ?
When I wake up in the summer mornings,
and hear my sparrows chirping in their
cage, and the sparrows chirping up above
on the roof, it seems to me as if they were
singing their morning hymn having
family prayers in their little way. And
they twitter in the same way, only quieter,
just before they go to sleep. Hear a lark,
too, sing in the morning ! the man on the



220 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

first-floor up above has got one that he
hangs outside his window when the wea-
ther's fine isn't that a morning hymn?
Could the singers in surplices at the Tem-
ple Church beat that, sweet as it is to hear
them?'

1 1 have not the least doubt, Mr Crook,
that it is a morning hymn, and I am in-
clined to think with you that the lark must
be in some way conscious that it is so but
you were going to tell me something about
Jacko.'

' Well, sir, it was this. Whenever
Jacko happens to wake up when I'm going
to bed, and sees me saying my prayers,
out he jumps, and kneels down by me, and
puts his paws together like a child, and
moves his lips like mine. At first I thought
it was only funny imitation, but he tires of
most of his tricks in that way after a bit,
and he keeps on at this. You may smile,
sir I expected you would but it's my



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 221

belief that Jacko has got it into his head
that, since he can do so many things that
men do, he would like to worship God in
their way instead of the way he's been ac-
customed to. I can't say what that was,
but I know that Jacko, when he's at
prayers comical though he is at most
times, looks serious enough to shame a
good many church-goers. If he doesn't
mean what he's doing, he shams to far
better than a good many men and women
do. I was saying so to Mr Jones one day.'
' And what did Mr Jones say ? '
' " Don't get into that way of talking,
Crook. I've given it up, and I don't want
you to fall into it. There's no comfort to
be got out of it." But then Mr Jones,
sensible as he is, isn't always consistent.
Directly afterwards he burst out laughing.
" You've hit it, Crook," he said. " Most
people, I believe, do get up and down
at church exactly like your monkey ; only



222 EPISODES IN AN OBSCURE LIFE.

they can't sham as well, or they won't take
the trouble to." But that, I need not tell
you, sir, wasn't my point of view. I don't
think that Jacko does sham. He only
thinks that he has found out a better
mode.'

If Mr Crook had had any money to
leave, any one to whom he had willed it
would, no doubt, have felt very anxious,
had the legatee heard him propounding such
opinions. For my own part, in spite of
his craze, I felt a hearty respect for him.

'If all people thought like you, Mr
Crook,' I said to him, when I was bidding
him good-bye, ' there would be no need of
a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals ; but are you quite sure that your
animals would not be happier out of your
cage than they are in it ? '

' I've thought that matter over seriously,
sir, and I don't think they would. It isn't
that I get my living by them. It isn't



MR JONES'S CUSTOMER. 223

much of a living nowadays, and there are
other things that I could do that would
bring me in, at any rate, as much as I get
by my cage. But I don't think they would
be better off, if I was to let them go.
They'd be quite unfit for the ways of the
world from which I've partly weaned them.
They'd starve or get killed. Some of them,
perhaps, would backslide into their old
ways, and that would be worse almost.
No, sir, I'll keep my youngsters as long as
I've food to give them. / feel like a
preacher, too, when I wheel my Family
out. There's two texts to that sermon


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