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tongue goes like the hopper of a mill!"

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.

"Please, don't let anybody hold her upside down, policeman!" cried
Clare. "She doesn't like it! - Oh, baby! baby!"

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 returned 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
probability, 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:

"Please, Mr. James, may I go back to the house for a little while?"

"Well, you _are_ an innocent!" said James; " - or," he added, "the
biggest little humbug ever I see! - No, it's not likely!"

"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 perfectly before he knew
what he was about. "The house don't belong to nobody, so far as ever I
heerd, an' the things'll 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.



Chapter XXXVIII.

The workhouse.


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 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. Indignation against wrong to another even, is no proof of
a genuine love of fair play. Clare hardly resented anything 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 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 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
removed 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 companions!

"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-butt! I washed and fed her every day! - not that I
could do it so well as you, ma'am!"

She gave him the baby, and watched him with the eye of a seeress, for
she had a wonderful insight into character, 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 for!"

"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 did it!"

"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 woman.

"I don't exactly know - though I know better than what I was put in
prison for. Nobody ever told me anything, 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 you, and you want no help
of mine. I've got no money, but - "

"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 look."

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.



Chapter XXXIX.

Away.


So Clare went once more into the street, where Abdiel was again
watching for him, and stood on the pavement, not knowing which way to
turn. The big policeman 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 throat.

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 memorial 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 present,
everything depended on his shining his glorious best.

"Come along, Abdiel," said Clare; "we're going to see 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 before 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 instead 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 drink?"

"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 _I_'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 discovered that it was to keep them from tightening on his
knees when he stooped, and so incommoding him at his work.

"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 the lot!"

He offered Clare his nearly emptied pewter.

"No, thank you, sir," answered Clara "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 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 outdoor 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 approaching death. But now and then some
tender-hearted woman, oftener one of ripe years, struck with his
look - its endurance, perhaps, or its weariness mingled with
hope - would perceive the necessity of the boy, and offer him the food
he did not ask - nor like him the less that, never doubting what came
to one was for both, he gave the first share of it to Abdiel.



Chapter XL.

Maly.


Travelling on in vague hope, meeting with kindness enough to keep him
alive, but getting no employment, sleeping in what shelter he could
find, and never missing the shelter he could not find, for the weather
was exceptionally warm for the warm season, he came one day to a
village where the strangest and hardest experience he ever encountered
awaited him. What part of the country he was in, or what was the name
of the village, he did not know. He seldom asked a question, seldom
uttered word beyond a polite greeting, but kept trudging on and on, as
if the goal of his expectation were ever drawing nigher. He felt no
curiosity as to the names of the places he passed through. Why should
the names of towns and villages strung on a road to nowhere in
particular, interest him? He did, however, long afterward, come to
know the name of this village, and its topographical relations: the
place itself was branded on his brain.

He entered it in the glow of a hot noon, and had walked nearly through
it without meeting any one, for it was the dinner-hour, and savoury
odours filled the air, when a little girl came from a neat house, and
ran farther down the street. He was very tired, very dusty, had eaten
nothing that day, had begun to despair of work, and was wishing
himself clear of the houses that he might throw himself down. But
something in the look of the child made him quicken his weary step as
he followed her. He overtook her, passed her, and saw her face.
Heavens! it was Maly, grown wonderfully bigger! He turned and caught
her up in his arms. She gave a screech of terror, and he set her down
in keenest dismay. Finding that he was not going to run away with her,
she did not run farther from him than to safe parleying distance.

"You bad boy!" she cried; "you're not to touch me! I will tell mamma!"

"Why, Maly! don't you know me?"

"No, I don't You are a dirty boy!"

"But, Maly! - "

"My name is not Maly; it's Mary; and I don't know you."

"Have you forgotten Clare, Maly? - Clare that used to carry you about
all day long?"

"Yes; I have forgotten you. You're a dirty, ragged beggar-boy! You're
a bad boy! Boys with holes in their clothes are bad boys. - Nursie told
me so, and she knows everything! She told me herself she knew
everything!"

She gave another though milder scream: involuntarily, Clare had taken
a step toward her, with his hand in his pocket, searching, as in the
old days when she cried, for something to give her. But, alas, his
pockets were now as empty as his stomach! there was _nothing_ in
them - not even a crumb saved from a scanty meal! While he was yet
searching, the little child, his heart's love - if indeed it was
she - stooped, gathered a handful of dust, and threw it at him. The big
boy burst into tears. The child mocked him for a minute, and when
Clare looked up again, drying his eyes with a rag, she was gone.

He felt no resentment; love, old memories, his strange gentleness, and
pity for Maly and Maly's mother, saved him from it. The child was big
and plump and rosy, but oh, how fallen from his little Maly! And, her
child grown such, the mother was poor indeed, though up in the dome of
the angels! If she did not know the change in her, it was the worse,
for she could not help! Clare, like most of my readers, had not yet
learned to trust God for everything. But he was true to
Maly. Miserable over her backsliding, he said to himself that evil
counsellors were more to blame than she.

"Did she know me at all?" he pondered; "or has she forgot me
altogether?"

He began to doubt whether the girl was really Maly, or one very like
her. About half an hour after, he met a poor woman with a bundle on
her bowed back, who gave him a piece of bread. When he had eaten that,
he began to doubt whether he had met any little girl. He remembered
that he had often come to himself, as he wandered along the road, to
find he had been lost in fancies of old scenes or imaginary new ones;
waked up, he did not at once realize himself a poor lad on the tramp
for work he could not find: his conceptions were for a time stronger
than the things around him. He was thereupon comforted with the hope
that he had not in reality seen Maly, but had imagined the whole
affair. How was it possible, though, that he should imagine such
horrible things of his little sister? On the other hand, was it not
more possible for a fainting brain to imagine such a misery, than for
the live child to behave in such a fashion? Every day for many days he
tormented himself with like reasonings; but by degrees the occurrence,
whether fancy or fact, receded, and he grew more conscious of
tramping, tramping along. He grew also more hopeless of getting work,
but not more doubtful that everything was right. For he knew of
nothing he had done to bring these things upon him.

His quiet content never left him. At the worst pinch of hunger and
cold, he never fell into despair. I do not know what merit he had in
this, for he was constituted more hopeful and placid than I ever knew
another. What he had merit in was, that not for a hungry boy's most
powerful temptation, something to eat, would he even imagine himself
doing what must not be done. He would not lead himself into
temptation. Thus he pleased the Power - let me rather say, ten times
more truly - the Father from whom he came.



Chapter XLI.

The caravans.


Within a fortnight or so after the police had dismissed him, blowing
him loose on the world like a dandelion-seed in the wind, Clare had an
adventure which not only gave him pleasure, but led to work and food
and interest in life.

Passing one day from a cross-country road into the highway, he came
straight on the flank of a travelling menagerie. It was one of some
size, and Clare saw at a glance that its horses were in fair
condition. The front part of the little procession had already gone
by, and an elephant was passing at the moment with a caravan - of
feline creatures, as Clare afterwards learned, behind him. He drew it
with absolute ease, but his head seemed to be dragged earthward by the
weight of his trunk, as he plodded wearily along. A world of delight
woke in the heart of the boy. He had read much about strange beasts,
but had never seen one. His impulse was to run straight to the
elephant, and tell him he loved him. For he was a live beast, and
Clare loved every creature, common or strange, wild or tame, ordinary
or wonderful. But prudent thought followed, and he saw it better to
hover around, in the hope of a chance of being useful. Oh, the
treasures of wonder and knowledge on the other side of those thin
walls of wood, so slowly drawn along the dusty highway! If but for a
moment he might gaze on their living marvels! He had no money, but
things came to him without money - not so plentifully as he could
sometimes wish - but they came, and so might this! Employment among
those animals would be well worth the long hungry waiting! This might
be the very work he had been looking for without knowing it! It was
for this, perhaps, he had been kept so long waiting - till the caravans
should come along the road, and he be at the corner as they passed! He
did not know how often a man may think thus and see it come to
nothing - because there is better yet behind, for which more waiting is
wanted.

At the end of the procession came a bear, shuffling along
uncomfortably. It went to Clare's heart to see how far from
comfortable the poor beast appeared. "What a life it would be," he
thought, "to have all the creatures in all those caravans to make
happy! That would be a life worth living!"

It was a worthy ambition - infinitely higher than that of boys who want
to do something great, or clever, or strong. As to those who want to
be rich - for their ambition I have an utter contempt. How gladly would
I drive that meanness out of any boy's heart! To fall in with the work
of the glad creator, and help him in it - that is the only ambition
worth having. It may not look a grand thing to do it in a caravan, but


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