haste to take her up. A series of difficulties followed, which I will
leave to the imagination of mothers and aunts, and nurses in
general - the worst being that there was no warm water to wash her in,
and cold water would be worse than dangerous after what she had gone
through with it the night before. Clare comforted himself that washing
was a thing non-essential to existence, however desirable for
Then came a more serious difficulty: the milk must be mixed with
water, and water as cold as Clare's legs would kill the drug-dazed
shred of humanity! What was to be done? It would be equally dangerous
to give her the strong milk of a cow undiluted. There was but one way:
he must feed her as do the pigeons. First, however, he must have
water! The well was almost inaccessible: to get to it and return would
fearfully waste life-precious time! The rain-water in the little pool
must serve the necessity! It was preferable to that in the butt!
Until many years after, it did not occur to Clare as strange that
there should be even a drop of water in that water-butt. Whence was it
fed? There was no roof near, from which the rain might run into it. If
there had ever been a pipe to supply it, surely, in a house so long
forsaken, its continuity must have given way One always sees such
barrels empty, dry, and cracked: this one was apparently known to be
full of water, for what woman in her senses, however inferior those
senses, would throw her child into an empty butt! How did it happen to
be full? Clare was almost driven to the conclusion that it had been
filled for the evil purpose to which it was that night put. Against
this was the fact that it would not have been easy to fill such a huge
vessel by hand. I suggested that the blacksmith and his predecessors
might have used it for the purposes of the forge, and kept it and its
feeder in repair. Mr. Skymer endeavoured repeatedly to find out what
had become of the blacksmith, but never with any approach to success;
the probability being that he had left the world long before his
natural time, by disease engendered or quarrel occasioned through his
Clare laid the baby down, and fetched water from the pool. Then he
mixed the milk with what seemed the right quantity, again took the
baby up, who had been whimpering a little now and then all the time,
laid a blanket, several times folded, on his wet knees, and laid her
in her blanket upon it. These preparations made, he took a small
mouthful of the milk and water, and held it until it grew warm. It was
the only way, I condescend to remind any such reader as may think it
proper to be disgusted. When then he put his mouth to the baby's,
careful not to let too much go at once, they managed so between them
that she successfully appropriated the mouthful. It was followed by a
second, a third, and more, until, to Clare's delight, the child seemed
satisfied, leaving some of the precious fluid for another meal. He put
her in the bed again, and covered her up warm. All the time, Tommy had
been watching the loaf with the eyes of a wild beast.
"Now, Tommy," said Clare, "how much of this loaf do you think you
ought to have?"
"Half, of course!" answered Tommy boldly, with perfect conviction of
his fairness, and pride in the same.
"Are you as big as I am?"
Tommy held his peace.
"You ain't half as big!" said Clare.
"I'm a bloomin' lot hungrier!" growled Tommy.
"You had eggs last night, and I had none!"
"That wurn't my fault!"
"What did you do to get this bread?"
"I staid at home with baby."
"That's true," answered Clare. "But," he went on, "suppose a horse and
a pony had got to divide their food between them, would the pony have
a right to half? Wouldn't the horse, being bigger, want more to keep
him alive than the pony?"
"Don't know," said Tommy.
"But you shall have the half," continued Clare; "only I hope, after
this, when you get anything given to you, you'll divide it with me. I
try to be fair, and I want you to be fair."
Tommy made no reply. He did not trouble himself about fair play; he
wanted all he could get - like most people; though, thank God, I know a
few far more anxious to give than to receive fair play. Such men, be
they noblemen or tradesmen, I worship.
Clare carefully divided the loaf, and after due deliberation, handed
Tommy that which seemed the bigger half. Without a word of
acknowledgment, Tommy fell upon it like a terrier. He would love Clare
in a little while when he had something more to give - but stomach
before heart with Tommy! His sort is well represented in every
rank. There are not many who can at the same time both love and be
"Now, Tommy," said Clare, having eaten his half loaf, "I'm going out
to look for work, and you must take care of baby. You're not to feed
her - you would only choke her, and waste the good milk."
"I want to go out too," said Tommy.
"To see what you can pick up, I suppose?"
"That's my business."
"I fancy it mine while you are with me. If you don't take care of baby
and be good to her, I'll put you in the water-butt I took her out
of - as sure as you ain't in it now!"
"That you shan't!" cried Tommy; "I'll bite first!"
"I'll tie your hands and feet, and put a stick in your mouth," said
Clare. "So you'd better mind."
"I want to go with you!" whimpered Tommy.
"You can't. You're to stop and look after baby. I won't be away longer
than I can help; you may be sure of that."
With repeated injunctions to him not to leave the room, Clare went.
Before going quite, however, he must arrange for returning. To swarm
up between the two walls as he had done before, would be to bid
good-bye to his jacket at least, and he knew how appearances were
already against him. Spying about for whatever might serve his
purpose, he caught sight of an old garden-roller, and was making for
it, when Tommy, never doubting he was gone, came whistling round the
corner of the house with his hands in his pocket-holes, and an
impudent air of independence. Clare away, he was a lord in his own
eyes! He could kill the baby when he pleased! Plainly his mood was,
"He thinks I'm going to do as he tells me! Not if I knows it!" Clare
saw him before he saw Clare, and rushed at him with a roar.
"You thought I was gone!" he cried. "I told you not to leave the room!
Come along to the water-butt!"
Tommy shivered when he heard him, and gave a shriek when he saw him
coming. He shook till his teeth chattered. But terror not always
paralyzes instinct in the wild animal. As Clare came running, he took
one step toward him, and dropped on the ground at his feet. Clare shot
away over his head, struck his own against a tree, and lay for a
minute stunned. Tommy's success was greater than he had hoped. He
scudded into the house, and closed and bolted the door to the kitchen.
When Clare came to himself, he found he had a cut on his head. It
would never do to go asking for work with a bloody face! The little
pool served at once for basin and mirror, and while he washed he
He had no inclination to punish Tommy for the trick he had played him;
he had but done after his kind! It would serve a good end too: Tommy
would imagine him lurking about to have his revenge, and would not
venture his nose out. He discovered afterward that the little wretch
had made fast the cellar-door, so that, if he had entered that way, he
would have been caught in a trap, and unable to go or return.
He got the iron roller to the foot of the wall, where he had come over
the night before, and where now first he perceived there had once been
a door; managed, with its broken handle for a lever, to set it up on
end, filled it with earth, and heaped a mound of earth about it to
steady it, placed a few broken tiles and sherds of chimney-pots upon
it, and from this rickety perch found he could reach the top easily.
The next thing was to arrange for getting up from the other side. For
this he threw over earth and stones and whatever rubbish came to his
hand, the sole quality required in his material being, that it should
serve to lift him any fraction of an inch higher. The space was so
narrow that his mound did not require to be sustained by the width of
its base except in one direction; everywhere else the walls kept in
the heap, and he made good speed. At length he descended by it, sure
of being able to get up again.
He had been gone an hour before Tommy dared again leave the room where
the baby was. He had planned what to do if Clare got into it: he would
threaten, if he came a step nearer, to kill the baby! But if he had
him in the coal-cellar, he would make his own conditions! A tramp
would not keep a promise, but Clare would! and until he promised not
to touch him, he should not come out - not if he died of hunger!
At length he could bear imprisonment no longer. He opened the
room-door with the caution of one who thought a tiger might be lying
against it. He saw no one, and crept out with half steps. By slow
degrees, interrupted by many an inroad of terror and many a swift
retreat, he got down the stair and out into the garden; whence, after
closest search, he was at length satisfied his enemy had departed. For
a time he was his own master! To one like Tommy - and such are not
rare - it is a fine thing to be his own master. But the same person who
is the master is the servant - and what a master to serve! Tommy,
however, was quite satisfied with both master and servant, for both
were himself. What was he to do? Go after something to eat, of course!
He would be back long before Clare! He had gone to look for work - and
who would give _him_ work? If Tommy were as big as Clare, lots of
people would give him work! But catch him working! Not if he knew
it! - not Tommy!
Never till she was grown up, never, indeed, until she was a
middle-aged woman and Mr. Skymer's housekeeper, did the baby know in
what danger she was that morning, alone with surnameless Tommy.
His first sense of relation to any creature too weak to protect
itself, was the consciousness of power to torment that creature. But
in this case the exercise of the power brought him into another
relation, one with the water-butt! He went back to the room where the
child lay in her blankets like a human chrysalis, and stood for a
moment regarding her with a hatred far from mild: was he actually
expected to give time and personal notice to that contemptible thing
lying there unable to move? _He_ wasn't a girl or an old woman! He
must go and get something to eat! that was what a man was for! Better
twist her neck at once and go!
But he could not forget the water-butt - proximate mother of the
child. Its idea came sliding into Tommy's range, grew and grew upon
Tommy, came nearer and nearer, until the baby was nowhere, and nothing
in the world but the water-butt. His consciousness was possessed with
it. It was preparing to swallow him in its loathsome deep! All at once
it jumped back from him, and stood motionless by the side of the
wall. Now was his chance! Now he must mizzle! Not a moment longer
would he stop in the same place with the horrible thing!
But the baby! Clare would bring him back and put him in the butt! No,
he wouldn't! What harm would come to the brat? She was not able to
roll herself off the bed! She could do nothing but go to sleep again!
Out he must and would go! He wanted something to eat! He would be in
again long before Clare could get back!
He left the room and the house, ran down the garden, scrambled up the
door, got on the top of the wall, and dropped into the waste land
behind it - nor once thought that the only way back was by the very
jaws of the water-butt.
Clare went over the wall and the well without a notion of what he was
going to do, except look for work. He had eaten half a loaf, and now
drew in his cap some water from the well and drank. He felt better
than any moment since leaving the farm. He was full of hope.
All his life he had never been other than hopeful. To the human being
hope is as natural as hunger; yet how few there are that hope as they
hunger! Men are so proud of being small, that one wonders to what
pitch their conceit will have arrived by the time they are nothing at
all. They are proud that they love but a little, believe less, and
hope for nothing. Every fool prides himself on not being such a fool
as believe what would make a man of him. For dread of being taken in,
he takes himself in ridiculously. The man who keeps on trying to do
his duty, finds a brighter and brighter gleam issue, as he walks, from
the lantern of his hope.
Clare was just breaking into a song he had heard his mother sing to
his sister, when he was checked by the sight of a long skinny mongrel
like a hairy worm, that lay cowering and shivering beside a heap of
ashes put down for the dust-cart - such a dry hopeless heap that the
famished little dog did not care to search it: some little warmth in
it, I presume, had kept him near it. Clare's own indigence made him
the more sorry for the indigent, and he felt very sorry for this
member of the family; but he had neither work nor alms to give him,
therefore strode on. The dog looked wistfully after him, as if
recognizing one of his own sort, one that would help him if he could,
but did not follow him.
A hundred yards further, Clare came to a baker's shop. It was the
first he felt inclined to enter, and he went in. He did not know it
was the shop from whose cart Tommy had pilfered. A thin-faced,
bilious-looking, elderly man stood behind the counter.
"Well, boy, what do you want?" he said in a low, sad, severe, but not
"Please, sir," answered Clare, "I want something to do, and I thought
perhaps you could help me."
"What can you do?"
"Not much, but I can _try_ to do anything."
"Have you ever learned to do anything?"
"I've been working on a farm for the last six months. Before that I
went to school."
"Why didn't you go on going to school?"
"Because my father and mother died."
"What was your father?"
"Why did you leave the farm?"
"Because they didn't want me. The mistress didn't like me."
"I dare say she had her reasons!"
"I don't know, sir; she didn't seem to like anything I did. My mother
used to say, 'Well done, Clare!' my mistress never said 'Well done!"'
"So the farmer sent you away?"
"No, sir; but he boxed my ears for something - I don't now remember
"I dare say you deserved it!"
"Perhaps I did; I don't know; he never did it before."
"If you deserved it, you had no right to run away for that."
The baker taught in a Sunday-school, and was a good teacher, able to
make a class mind him.
"I didn't run away for that, sir; I ran away because he was tired of
me. I couldn't stay to make him uncomfortable! He had been very kind
to me; I fancy it was mistress made him change. I've been thinking a
good deal about it, and that's how it looks to me. I'm very sorry not
to have him or the creatures any more."
"The bull, and the horses, and the cows, and the pigs - all the
creatures about the farm. They were my friends. I shall see them all
He gave a great sigh.
"What do you mean by that?" asked the baker.
"I hardly know what I mean," answered Clare.
"When I'm loving anybody I always feel I shall see that person again
some time, I don't know when - somewhere, I don't know where."
"That don't apply to the lower animals; it's nothing but a foolish
imagination," said the baker.
"But if I love them!" suggested Clare.
"Love a bull, or a horse, or a pig! You can't!" asserted the baker.
"But I _do_," rejoined Clare. "I love my father and mother much more
than when they were alive!"
"What has that to do with it?" returned the baker.
"That I know I love my father and mother, and I know I love that
fierce bull that would always do what I told him, and that dear old
horse that was almost past work, and was always ready to do his
best. - I'm afraid they've killed him by now!" he added, with another
"But beasts 'ain't got souls, and you can't love them. And if you
could, that's no reason why you should see them again."
"I _do_ love them, and perhaps they have souls!" rejoined Clare.
"You mustn't believe that! It's quite shocking. It's nowhere in the
"Is everything that is not in the Bible shocking, sir?"
"Well, I won't say that; but you're not to believe it."
"I suppose you don't like animals, sir! Are you afraid of their going
to the same place as you when they die?"
"I wouldn't have a boy about me that held such an unscriptural notion!
The Bible says - the spirit of a man that goeth upward, and the spirit
of a beast that goeth downward!"
"Is that in the Bible, sir?"
"It is," answered the baker with satisfaction, thinking he had proved
"I'm so glad!" returned Clare. "I didn't know there was anything about
it in the Bible! Then when I die I shall only have to go down
somewhere, and look for them till I find them!"
The baker was silenced for a moment.
"It's flat atheism!" he cried. "Get out of my shop! What is the world
Clare turned and went out.
But though a bilious, the baker was not an unreasonable or unjust man
except when what he had been used to believe all his life was
contradicted. Clare had not yet shut the door when he repented. He was
a good man, though not quite in the secret of the universe. He vaulted
over the counter, and opened the door with such a ringing of its
appended bell as made heavy-hearted Clare turn before he heard his
voice. The long spare white figure appeared on the threshold, framed
in the doorway.
"Hi!" it shouted.
Clare went meekly back.
"I've just remembered hearing - but mind I _know_ nothing, and pledge
myself to nothing - - "
"I didn't say I was _sure_ about it," returned Clare, thinking he
referred to the fate of the animals, "but I fear I'm to blame for not
"Come, come!" said the baker, with a twist of his mouth that expressed
disgust, "hold your tongue, and listen to me. - I did hear, as I was
saying, that Mr. Maidstone, down the town, had one of his errand-boys
laid up with scarlet fever. I'll take you to him, if you like. Perhaps
he'll have you, - though I can't say you look respectable!"
"I 'ain't had much chance since I left home, sir. I had a bit of soap,
but - - "
He bethought him that he had better say nothing about his
family. Tommy had picked his pocket of the soap the night before, and
tried to eat it, and Clare had hidden it away: he wanted it to wash
the baby with as soon as he could get some warm water; but when he
went to find it to wash his own face, it was gone. He suspected Tommy,
but before long he had terrible ground for a different surmise.
"You see, sir," he resumed, "I had other things to think of. When your
tummy's empty, you don't think about the rest of you - do you, sir?"
The baker could not remember having ever been more than decently,
healthily hungry in his life; and here he had been rough on a
well-bred boy too hungry to wash his face! Perhaps the word _one of
these little ones_ came to him. He had some regard for him who spoke
it, though he did talk more about him on Sundays than obey him in the
"I don't know, my boy," he answered. "Would you like a piece of
"I'm not much in want of it at this moment," replied Clare, "but I
should be greatly obliged if you would let me call for it by and
by. You see, sir, when a man has no work, he can't help having no
"A man!" thought the baker. "God pity you, poor monkey!"
He called to some one to mind the shop, removed his apron and put on a
coat, shut the door, and went down the street with Clare.
At the shop of a draper and haberdasher, where one might buy almost
anything sold, Clare's new friend stopped and walked in. He asked to
see Mr. Maidstone, and a shopman went to fetch him from behind. He
came out into the public floor.
"I heard you were in want of a boy, sir," said the baker, who carried
himself as in the presence of a superior; and certainly fine clothes
and a gold chain and ring did what they could to make the draper
superior to the baker.
"Hm!" said Mr. Maidstone, looking with contempt at Clare.
"I rather liked the look of this poor boy, and ventured to bring him
on approval," continued the baker timidly. "He ain't much to look at,
"Hm!" said the draper again. "He don't look promising!"
"He don't. But I think he means performing," said the baker, with a
"Donnow, I'm sure! If he 'appened to wash his face, I could tell
Clare thought he had washed it pretty well that morning because of his
cut, though he had, to be sure, done it without soap, and had been at
rather dirty work since!
"He says he's been too hungry to wash his face," answered the baker.
"Didn't 'ave his 'ot water in time, I suppose! - Will you answer for
him, Mr. Ball?"
"I can't, Mr. Maidstone - not one way or another. I simply was taken
with him. I know nothing about him."
Here one of the shopmen came up to his master, and said,
"I heard Mr. Ball's own man yesterday accuse this very boy of taking a
loaf from his cart."
"Yesterday!" thought Clare; "it seems a week ago!"
"Oh! this is the boy, is it?" said the baker. "You see I didn't know
him! All the same, I don't believe he took the loaf."
"Indeed I didn't, sir! Another boy took it who didn't know better, and
I took it from him, and was putting it back on the cart when the man
turned round and saw me, and wouldn't listen to a word I said. But a
working-man believed me, and bought the loaf, and gave it between us."
"A likely story!" said the draper.
"I've heard that much," said the baker, "and I believe it. At least I
have no reason to believe my man against him, Mr. Maidstone. That same
night I discovered he had been cheating me to a merry tune. I
discharged him this morning."
"Well, he certainly don't look a respectable boy," said the draper,
who naturally, being all surface himself, could read no deeper than
clothes; "but I'm greatly in want of one to carry out parcels, and I
don't mind if I try him. If he do steal anything, he'll be caught
within the hour!"
"Oh, thank you, sir!" said Clare.
"You shall have sixpence a day," Mr. Maidstone continued, " - not a
penny more till I'm sure you're an honest boy."
"Thank you, sir," iterated Clare. "Please may I run home first? I
won't be long. I 'ain't got any other clothes, but - - "
"Hold your long tongue. Don't let me hear it wagging in my
establishment. Go and wash your face and hands." Clare turned to the
"Please, sir," he said softly, "may I go back with you and get the
piece of bread?"
"What! begging already!" cried Mr. Maidstone.
"No, no, sir," interposed the baker. "I promised him a piece of
bread. He did not ask for it."
The good man was pleased at his success, and began to regard Clare
with the favour that springs in the heart of him who has done a good
turn to another through a third. Had he helped him out of his own
pocket, he might not have been so much pleased. But there had been no
loss, and there was no risk! He had beside shown his influence with a
"I am so much obliged to you, sir!" said Clare as they went away
together. "I cannot tell you how much!"
He was tempted to open his heart and reveal the fact that three people
would live on the sixpence a day which the baker's kindness had
procured him, but prudence was fast coming frontward, and he saw that
no one must know that they were in that house! If it were known, they
would probably be turned out at once, which would go far to be fatal
to them as a family. For, if he had to pay for lodgings, were it no
more than the tramps paid Tommy's grandmother, sixpence a day would
not suffice for bare shelter. So he held his tongue.
"Thank me by minding Mr. Maidstone's interests," returned his
benefactor. "If you don't do well by him, the blame will come upon
"I will be very careful, sir," answered Clare, who was too full of
honesty to think of being honest; he thought only of minding orders.
They reached the shop; the baker gave him a small loaf, and he hurried
home with it The joy in his heart, spread over the days since he left
the farm, would have given each a fair amount of gladness.
Taking heed that no one saw him, he darted through the passage to the