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dried fish!"

The housemaid, being fat, was inclined to think the remark personal;
but Clare looked up at her with such clear, honest, simple eyes, that
she forgot the notion, and thought what a wonderfully nice boy he
looked.

"He's shamefully poor, though! His clothes ain't even decent!" she
remarked to herself.

And certainly the white skin did look through in several places.

"You won't let him put his nose in anything, will you?" she said quite
gently, returning his smile with a very pleasant one of her own.

"Abdiel is too much of a gentleman to do it," he answered.

"A dog a gentleman!" rejoined the housemaid with a merry laugh,
willing to draw him out.

"Abdiel can be hungry and not greedy," answered Clare, and the young
woman was silent.

Miss Tempest and Mrs. Mereweather had all this time been turning over
the question of what was to be done with the strange boy. They agreed
it was too bad that anyone willing to work should be prevented from
earning even a day's victuals by the bad temper of a gardener. But his
mistress did not want to send the man away. She had found him
scrupulously honest, as is many a bad-tempered man, and she did not
like changes. The cook on her part had taken such a fancy to Clare
that she did not want him set to garden-work; she would have him at
once into the house, and begin training him for a page. Now Miss
Tempest was greatly desiring the same thing, but in dread of what the
cook would say, and was delighted, therefore, when the first
suggestion of it came from Mrs. Mereweather herself. The only obstacle
in the cook's eyes was that same long, spectral dog. The boy could not
be such a fool, however, - she said, not being a lover of animals - as
let a wretched beast like that come betwixt him and a good situation!

"It's all right, Clare," said Mrs. Mereweather, entering her queendom
so radiant within that she could not repress the outshine of her
pleasure. "Mis'ess an' me, we've arranged it all. You're to help me in
the kitchen; an' if you can do what you're told, an' are willin' to
learn, we'll soon get you out of your troubles. There's but one thing
in the way."

"What is it, please?" asked Clare.

"The dog, of course! You must part with the dog."

"That I cannot do," returned Clare quietly, but with countenance
fallen and sorrowful. " - Come, Abdiel!"

The dog started up, every hair of him full of electric vitality.

"You don't mean you're going to walk yourself off in such a beastly
ungrateful fashion - an' all for a miserable cur!" exclaimed the cook.

"The lady has been most kind to us, and we're grateful to her, and
ready to work for her if she will let us; - ain't we, Abdiel? But
Abdiel has done far more for me than Miss Tempest! To part with
Abdiel, and leave him to starve, or get into bad company, would be
sheer ingratitude. I should be a creature such as Miss Tempest ought
to have nothing to do with: I might serve her as that young butler I
told her of! It's just as bad to be ungrateful to a dog as to any
other person. Besides, he wouldn't leave me. He would be always
hanging about."

"John would soon knock him on the head."

"Would he, Abdiel?" said Clare.

The dog looked up in his master's face with such a comical answer in
his own, that the cook burst out laughing, and began to like Abdiel.

"But you don't really mean to say," she persisted, "that you'd go off
again on the tramp, to be as cold and hungry again to-morrow as you
were yesterday - and all for the sake of a dog? A dog ain't a
Christian!"

"Abdiel's more of a Christian than some I know," answered Clare: "he
does what his master tells him."

"There's something in that!" said the cook.

"If I parted with Abdiel, I could never hold up my head among the
angels," insisted Clare. "Think what harm it might do him! He could
trust nobody after, his goodness might give way! He might grow worse
than Tommy! - No; I've got to take care of Abdiel, and Abdiel's got to
take care of me! - 'Ain't you, Abby?"

"We can't have him here in the kitchen nohow!" said the cook in
relenting tone.

"Poor fellow!" said the housemaid kindly.

The dog turned to her and wagged his tail

"What wouldn't I give for a lover like that!" said the housemaid - but
whether of Clare or the dog I cannot say.

"I know what I shall do!" cried Clare, in sudden resolve. "I will ask
Miss Tempest to have him up-stairs with her, and when she is tired of
either of us, we will go away together."

"A probable thing!" returned the cook. "A lady like Miss Tempest with
a dog like that about her! She'd be eaten up alive with fleas! In ten
minutes she would!"

"No fear of that!" rejoined Clare. "Abdiel catches all his _own_
fleas! - Don't you, Abby?"

The dog instantly began to burrow in his fell of hair - an answer which
might be taken either of two ways: it might indicate comprehension and
corroboration of his master, or the necessity for a fresh hunt. The
women laughed, much amused.

"Look here!" said Clare. "Let me have a tub of water - warm, if you
please - he likes that: I tried him once, passing a factory, where a
lot of it was running to waste. Then, with the help of a bit of soap,
I'll show you a body of hair to astonish you."

"What breed is he?" asked the housemaid.

"He's all the true breeds under the sun, I fancy," returned his
master; "but the most of him seems of the sky-blue terrier sort."

The more they talked with Clare, the better the women liked him. They
got him a tub and plenty of warm water. Abdiel was nothing loath to be
plunged in, and Clare washed him thoroughly. Taken out and dried, he
seemed no more for a lady's chamber unmeet.

"Now," said Clare, "will you please ask Miss Tempest if I may bring
him on to the lawn, and show her some of his tricks?"

The good lady was much pleased with the cleverness and instant
obedience of the little animal. Clare proposed that she should keep
him by her.

"But will he stay with me? and will he do what _I_ tell him?" she
asked.

Clare took the dog aside, and talked to him. He told him what he was
going to do, and what he expected of him. How much Abdiel understood,
who can tell! but when his master laid him down at Miss Tempest's
feet, there he lay; and when Clare went with the cook, he did not
move, though he cast many a wistful glance after the lord of his
heart. When his new mistress went into the house, he followed her
submissively, his head hanging, and his tail motionless. He soon
recovered his cheerfulness, however, and seemed to know that his
friend had not abandoned him.



Chapter LV.

The wheel rests for a time.


That part of the human race which is fond of dolls, may now imagine
the pleasure of the cook in going to the town in the omnibus to buy
everything for a live doll so big as Clare! In a very few days she had
him dressed to her heart's content, and the satisfaction of her
mistress, who would not have him in livery, but in a plain suit of
dark blue cloth: for she loved blue, all her men-people being, or
having been in the navy. Thus dressed, he looked as much of a
gentleman as before: his look of refinement had owed nothing to the
contrast of his rags. Better clothes make not a few seem commoner.

When Mrs. Mereweather came back from the town the first day, she found
that the ragged boy had got her kitchen and scullery as nice and
clean, and everything as ready to her hand, as if she had got her work
done before she went, which the omnibus would not permit. This
rejoiced her much; but being a woman of experience, she continued a
little anxious lest his sweet ways should go after his rags, lest his
new garments should breed bumptiousness and bad manners. For such a
change is no unfrequent result of prosperity. But such had been
Mr. Porson's teaching and example, such Mrs. Person's management, and
such the responsiveness of the boy's disposition, that the thought
never came to him whether this or that was a thing fit for him to do:
if the thing was a right thing, and had to be done, why should not he
do it as well as another! To earn his own and Abdiel's bread, he would
do anything honest, setting up his back at nothing. But when about a
thing, he forgot even his obligation to do it, in the glad endeavour
to do it well.

As the days went on, Mrs. Mereweather was not once disappointed in
him. He did everything with such a will that both she and the
housemaid were always ready to spare and help him. Very soon they
began to grow tender over him; and on pretence of his being the
earlier drest to open the door, did certain things themselves which he
had been quite content to do, but which they did not like seeing him
do. Many - I am afraid most boys would have presumed on their
generosity, but Clare was nowise injured by it.

Nothing could be kinder than the way his mistress treated him. Having
lent him some books, and at once perceived that he was careful of
them, she let him have the run of her library when his day's work was
over. For he not only read but respected books. Nothing shows
vulgarity more than the way in which some people treat books. No
gentleman would write his remarks on the margins of another person's
book; no lady would brush her hair as she read one of her own.

From hungry days and cold nights, Clare and Abdiel found themselves
_in clover_ - the phrase surely of some lover of cows! - and they were
more than content. Clare had longed so much for work, and had for so
many a weary day sought it in vain, that he valued it now just because
it was work. And he seemed to know instinctively that a man ranks, not
according to the thing he does, but according to the way he does
it. In life it is far higher to do an inferior thing well than to do a
superior thing passably.

Clare made good use of his privileges, and read much, educating
himself none the worse that he did it unconsciously. He read whatever
came in his way. He read really - not as most people read, leaving the
sentences behind them like so many unbroken nuts, the kernel of whose
meaning they have not seen. He learned more than most boys at school,
more even than most young men at college; for it is not what one
knows, but what one uses, that is the true measure of learning.
Whatever he read, he read from the point of practice. In history or
romance he saw - not merely what a man ought to be or do, but what he
himself must, at that moment, be or do. There is a very common sort of
man calling himself practical, but neglecting to practise the most
important things, who would laugh at the idea of Clare being
practical, seeing he did not trouble his head about money, or "getting
on in the world" - what servants call "bettering themselves;" but such
a practical man will find he has been but a practical fool. Clare took
heed to do what was right, and grow a better man. Such a life is the
only really practical one.

People wondered how Miss Tempest had managed to get hold of such a
nice-looking page, and the good lady was flattered by their
wonder. But she knew the world too well to be sure of him yet. She
knew that it is difficult, in the human tree, to distinguish between
blossom and fruit. Deeds of lovely impulse are the blossom; unvarying,
determined Tightness is the fruit.



Chapter LVI.

Strategy.


Miss Tempest was the last of an old family, with scarce a relation,
and no near one, in the world. Hence the pieces of personal property
that had continued in the possession of various branches of the family
after land and money, through fault or misfortune, were gone, had
mostly drifted into the small pool of Miss Tempest's life now slowly
sinking in the sands of time, there to gleam and sparkle out their
tale of its old splendour. She did not think often of their
money-worth: had she done so, she would have kept them at her
banker's; but she valued them greatly both for their beauty and their
associations, constantly using as many of them as she could. More than
one of her friends had repeatedly tried to persuade her that it was
not prudent to have so much plate and so many jewels in the house, for
the fact was sure to be known where it was least desirable it should:
she always said she would think about it. At times she would for a
moment contemplate sending her valuables to the bank; but her next
thought - by no means an unwise one - would always be, "Of what use will
they be at the bank? I might as well not have them at all! Better sell
them and do some good with the money! - No; I must have them about me!"

There are predatory persons in every large town, who either know or
are learning to know the houses in it worth the risk of robbing. When
it falls to the lot of this or that house to be attempted, one of the
gang will make the acquaintance of some servant in it, with the object
of discovering beforehand where its treasure lies, and so reducing the
time to be spent in it, and the risk of frustration or capture. Often
they seduce one of the household to let them in, or hand out the
things they want. Any such gang, however, must soon have become
convinced that at Miss Tempest's corruption was impossible, and that
they could avail themselves solely of their own internal resources.

It was well now for Miss Tempest that she was so faithful herself as
to encourage faithfulness in others: gladly would she have had Abdiel
sleep in her room, but she would not take the pleasure of his company
from his old master and companion in suffering. The dog therefore
slept on Clare's bed, just as he did when the bed was as hard to
define as to lie upon, only now he had to take the part neither of
blanket nor hot bottle.

One night, about half-past twelve, watchful even in slumber, he sprang
up in his lair at his master's feet, listened a moment, gave a low
growl, again listened, and gave another growl. Clare woke, and found
his bed trembling with the tremor of his little four-footed
guardian. Telling him to keep quiet, he rose on his elbow, and in his
turn listened, but could hear nothing. He thought then he would light
his candle and go down, but concluded it wiser to descend without a
light, and listen under cloak of the darkness. If he could but save
Miss Tempest from a fright! He crept out of bed, and went first to the
window - a small one in the narrowing of the gable-wall of his attic
room: the night was warm, and, loving the night air, he had it
open. Hearkening there for a moment, he thought he heard a slight
movement below. Very softly he put out his head, and looked
down. There was no moon, but in the momentary flash of a lantern he
caught sight of a small pair of legs disappearing inside the scullery
window, which was almost under his own. Swift and noiseless he hurried
down, and reached the scullery door just in time for a little fellow
who came stealing out of it, to run against him.

Now Clare had heard the housemaid read enough from the newspapers to
guess, the moment he looked from the garret window, that the legs he
saw were those of a boy sent in to open a door or window, and when the
boy, feeling his way in the dark, came against him, he gripped him by
the throat with the squeeze that used to silence Tommy. The prowler
knew the squeeze. The moment Clare relaxed it, in a piping whisper
came the words,

"Clare! Clare! they said they'd kill me if I didn't!"

"Didn't what?"

"Open the door to them."

"If you utter one whimper, I'll throttle you," said Clare.

He tightened his grasp for an instant, and Tommy, who had not
forgotten that what Clare said, he did, immediately gave in, and was
led away. Clare took him in his arms and carried him to his room, tied
him hand and foot, and left him on the floor, fast to the bedstead.
Then he crept swiftly to the servants' room, and with some difficulty
waking them, told them what he had done, and asked them to help him.

Both women of sense and courage, they undertook at once to do their
part. But when he proposed that they should open a window, as if it
were done by Tommy, and so enticing the burglars to enter, secure the
first of them, they, naturally enough, and wisely too, declined to
encounter the risk.

The burglars, perplexed by the lack of any sign from Tommy yet the
utter quiet of the house, concluded probably that he had fallen
somewhere, and was lying either insensible, or unable to move and
afraid to cry out - in which case they would be at the mercy of what he
might say when he was found.

Those within could hear as little noise without. They went from door
to window, wherever an attempt might be made, but all was still. Then
it occurred to Clare that he had left the scullery window
unwatched. He hastened to it - and was but just in time: two long thin
legs were sticking through, and showed by their movements that
considerable effort was being made by the body that belonged to them,
to enter after them. Legs first was the wrong way, but the youth
feared the unknown fate of Tommy, and being pig-headed, would go that
way or not at all.

A boy in courage equal to Clare, but of less coolness, would at once
have made war on the intrusive legs; but Clare bethought him that, so
long as that body filled the window, no other body could pass that
way; so it would be well to keep it there, a cork to the house, making
it like the nest of a trap-door-spider. He begged the women,
therefore, who had followed him, to lay hold each of an ankle, and
stick to it like a clamp, while he ran to get some string.

The women, entering heartily into the business, held on bravely. The
owner of the legs made vigorous efforts to release them, more anxious
a good deal to get out than he had been to get in, but he was not very
strong, and had no scope. His accomplices laid hold of him and pulled;
then, with good mother-wit, the women pulled away from each other, and
so made of his legs a wedge.

Clare came back with a piece of clothes-line, one end of which he
slipped with a running knot round one ankle, and the other in like
fashion round the other. Then he cut the line in halves, and drawing
them over two hooks in the ceiling, some distance apart, so that the
legs continued widespread like a V upside down, hauled the feet up as
high as he could, and fastened the ends of the lines. Hold lines and
hooks, it was now impossible to draw the fellow out.

Leaving the women to watch, and telling them to keep a hand on each of
the lines because the scullery was pitch-dark, he went next to his
room and looked again from the window. He feared they might be trying
to get in at some other place, for they would not readily abandon
their accomplices, and doubtless knew what a small household it was!
He would see first, therefore, what was doing outside the scullery,
and then make a round of doors and windows!

Right under him when he looked out, stood a short, burly figure;
another man was taking intermittent hauls at the arms of their
leg-tied companion, regardless of his stifled cries of pain when he
did so. Clare went and fetched his water-jug, which was half full, and
leaning out once more, with the jug upright in his two hands, moved it
this way and that until he had it, as nearly as he could determine,
just over the man beneath him, and then dropped it. The jug fell
plumb, and might have killed the man but that he bent his head at the
moment, and received it between his shoulders. It knocked the breath
out of him, and he lay motionless. The other man fled. The
window-stopper, hearing the crash of the jug, wrenched and kicked and
struggled, but in vain. There he had to wait the sunrise, for not a
moment sooner would the cook open the door.

When they went out at last, the stout man too was gone. He had risen
and staggered into the shrubbery, and there fallen, but had risen once
more and got away.

Their captive pretended to be all but dead, thinking to move their
pity and be set free. But Clare went to the next house and got the
man-servant there to go for the police, begging him to make haste: he
knew that his tender-hearted mistress, if she came down before the
police arrived, would certainly let the fellow go, and Tommy with him;
and he was determined the law should have its way if he could compass
it What hope was there for the wretched Tommy if he was allowed to
escape! And what right had they to let such people loose on their
neighbours! It was selfishness to indulge one's own pity to the danger
of others! He would be his brother's keeper by holding on to his
brother's enemy!

Going at last to his room, he found Tommy asleep. The boy was better
dressed, but no cleaner than when first he knew him. Clare proceeded
to wash and dress. Tommy woke, and lay staring, but did not utter a
sound.

"Have your sleep out," said Clare. "The police won't be here, I
daresay, for an hour yet."

"I believe you!" returned Tommy, as impudent as ever. His
contemplation of Clare had revived his old contempt for him. "I mean
to go. I 'ain't done nothing."

"Go, then," said Clare, and took no more heed of him.

"If it's manners you want, Clare," resumed Tommy, "_please_ let me
go!"

Clare turned and looked at him. The evil expression was hardened on
his countenance. He gave him no answer.

"You ain't never agoin' to turn agin an old pal, aire you?" said
Tommy.

"I ain't a pal of yours, Tommy, or of any other thief's!" answered
Clare.

"I'll take my oath on it to the beak!"

"You'll soon have the chance; I've sent for the police." Tommy changed
his tone.

"Please, Clare, let me go," he whined.

"I will not. I did what I could for you before, and I'll do what I can
for you now. You must go with the police."

Tommy began to blubber, or pretend - Clare could not tell which.

"This beastly string's a cuttin' into me!" he sobbed.

Clare examined it, and found it easy enough.

"I won't undo one knot," he answered, "until there's a policeman in
the room. If you make a noise, I will stuff your mouth."

His dread was that his mistress might hear, and spoil all. "It's her
house," he said to himself, "but they're my captives!"

Tommy lay still, and the police came.

When they untied and drew out the cork of the scullery window, Clare
thought he had seen him before, but could not remember where. One of
the policemen, however, the moment his eyes fell on his face, cried
out joyfully,

"Ah, ha, my beauty! I've been a lookin' for you!"

"Never set eyes on ye afore," growled the fellow.

"Don't ye say now ye ain't a dear friend o' mine," insisted the
policeman, "when I carry yer pictur' in my bosom!"

He drew out a pocket-book, and from it a photograph, at which he gazed
with satisfaction, comparing it with the face before him. In another
moment Clare recognized the lad sent by Maidstone to exchange
band-boxes with him.

"Her majesty the queen wants you for that robbery, you know!" said the
policeman.

A boy who loved romance and generosity more than truth and
righteousness, would now have regretted the chance he had lost of
doing a fine action, and sought yet to set the rascal free. There are
men who cheat and make presents; there are men who are saints abroad
and churls at home, as Bunyan says; there are men who screw down the
wages of their clerks and leave vast sums to the poor; men who build
churches with the proceeds of drunkenness; men who promote bubble
companies and have prayers in their families morning and evening; men,
in a word, who can be very generous with what is not their own; for
nothing ill-gotten is a man's own any more than the money in a thief's
pocket: Clare was not of the contemptible order of the falsely
generous.

Profiting, doubtless, by Maidstone's own example, the fellow had, as
Clare now learned, run away from his master, carrying with him the
contents of the till: whether he deserved punishment more than his
master, may be left undiscussed.

When first Miss Tempest's friends heard of the attempt to break into
her house, they said - what could she expect if she took tramps into
her service! They were consider-ably astonished, however, when they
read in the newspaper the terms in which the magistrate had spoken of
the admirable courage and contrivance of Miss Tempest's page, and the
resolution with which the women of her household had seconded him. If
every third house were as well defended, he said, the crime of
burglary would disappear.

After the trial, Clare begged and was granted an interview with the
magistrate. He told him what he knew about Tommy, and entreated he
might be sent to some reformatory, to be kept from bad company until
he was able to distinguish between right and wrong, which he thought
he hardly could at present The magistrate promised it should be done,


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