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said she saw no objection, and would tell the nurse to have her ready
as often as the weather was fit; whereupon Clare left her with a
gratitude far beyond any degree of that emotion by her conceivable.
The nurse, on her part, was willing to gratify Clare, and not sorry to
be rid of the child, who was not one, indeed, to interest any ordinary
woman.

The summer came and was peculiarly fine, and almost every evening
Clare might be seen taking his pleasure - neither like bank-clerk nor
like nurse-maid, for always he had little Ann in his arms, or was
leading her along with care and entire attention: he never let her
walk except on entreaty, and not always then. To his fellow clerks
this proof of an utter lack of dignity seemed consistent with his
origin - of which they knew nothing; they knew only his late
position. To themselves they were fine gentlemen with cigars in their
mouths, and he was a lackey to the bone! To himself Clare was the
lover of a child; and about them he did not think. Theirs was the life
of a town; Clare's was a life of the universe.

The pair came speedily to understand and communicate like twin brother
and sister. Clare, as he carried her, always knew when Ann wanted a
change of position; Ann always knew when Clare began to grow
weary - knew before Clare himself - and would insist on walking.
Neither could remember how it came, but it grew a custom that, when
they walked hand in hand, Clare told her stories of his life and
adventures; when he carried her, he told her fairy-tales, which he
could spin like a spider: she preferred the former.

So neither bank nor nursery was any longer dreary.

At length came the gray, brooding winter, causing red fingers and
aches and chilblains. But it was not unfriendly to little Ann. True,
she was not permitted to go out in the evening any more, but Clare,
with the help of the cook, devoted to her his dinner-hour instead. It
was no hardship to eat from a basket in place of a table, to one who
never troubled himself as to the kind, quality, or quantity of his
food itself. He had learned, like a good soldier, to endure
hardness. I have heard him say that never did he enjoy a dinner more
than when, in those homeless days of his boyhood, he tore the flakes
off a loaf fresh from the baker's oven, and ate them as he walked
along the street. The old highlanders of Scotland were trained to
think it the part of a gentleman not to mind what he ate - sign of
scant civilization, no doubt, in the eyes of some who now occupy but
do not fill their place - as time will show, when the call is for men
to fight, not to eat.



Chapter LX.

The shoe-black.


The head-clerk, while he had not a word against him, as he confessed
to Mr. Shotover, yet thought Clare would never make a man of
business. When pressed to say on what he grounded the opinion, he
could only answer that the lad did not seem to have his heart in it.
But if, to be a man of business, it is not enough to do one's duty
scrupulously, but the very heart must be in it, then is there
something wrong with business. The heart fares as its treasure: who
would be content his heart should fare as not a few sorts of treasure
must? Mr. Woolrige passed no such judgment, however, upon certain
older young men in the bank, whose hearts certainly were not in the
business, but even worse posited.

One cold, miserable day, at once damp and frosty, on which it was
quite unfit to take Ann out, Clare, having eaten a hasty dinner, and
followed it with a walk, was returning through the town in good time
for the recommencement of business, when he came upon a little boy, at
the corner of a street, blowing his fingers, and stumping up and down
the pavement to keep his blood moving while he waited for a job: his
brushes lay on the top of his blacking-box on the curbstone. Clare saw
that he was both hungry and cold - states of sensation with which he
was far too familiar to look on the signs of them with indifference.
To give him something to do, and so something to eat, he went to his
block and put his foot on it. The boy bustled up, snatched at his
brushes, and began operations. But, whether from the coldness or
incapacity of his hands, Clare soon saw that his boots would not be
polished that afternoon.

"You don't seem quite up to your business, my boy!" he said. "What's
the matter?"

The boy made no answer, but went on with his vain attempt. A moment
more, and Clare saw a tear fall on the boot he was at work upon.

"This won't do!" said Clare. "Let me look at _your_ boots."

The boy stood up, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.

"Ah!" said Clare, "I don't wonder you can't polish my boots, when you
don't care to polish your own!"

"Please, sir," answered the boy, "it's Jim as does it! He's down wi'
the measles, an' I ain't up to it."

"Look here, then! I'll give you a lesson," said Clare. "Many's the
boot I've blacked. Up with your foot! I'll soon show you how the
thing's done!"

"Please, sir," objected the boy, "there ain't enough boot left to take
a polish!"

"We'll see about that!" returned Clare. "Put it up. I've worn worse in
my time."

The boy obeyed. The boot was very bad, but there was enough leather to
carry some blacking, and the skin took the rest.

Clare was working away, growing pleasantly hot with the quick, sharp
motion, while two of his fellow clerks were strolling up on the other
side of the corner, who had been having more with their lunch than was
good for them. Swinging round, they came upon a well dressed youth
brushing a ragged boy's boots. It was an odd sight, and one of them,
whose name was Marway, thought to get some fun out of the phenomenon.

"Here!" he cried, "I want my boots brushed."

Clare rose to his feet, saying,

"Brush the gentleman's boots. I will finish yours after, and then you
shall finish mine."

"Hullo, Nursie! it's you turned boot-black, is it? - Nice thing for the
office, Jack!" remarked Marway, who was the finest gentleman, and the
lowest blackguard among the clerks.

He put his foot on the block. The boy began his task, but did no
better with his boots than he had done with Clare's.

"Soul of an ass!" cried Marway, "are you going to keep my foot there
till it freezes to the block? Why don't you do as Nursie tells you?
_He_ knows how to brush a boot! _You_ ain't worth your salt! You ain't
fit to black a donkey's hoofs!"

"Give me the brushes, my boy," said Clare.

The boy rose abashed, and obeyed. After a few of Clare's light rapid
strokes, the boots looked very different.

"Bravo, Nursie!" cried Marway. "There ain't a flunkey of you all could
do it better!"

Clare said nothing, finished the job, and stood up. Marway, turning on
the other heel as he set his foot down, said, "Thank you, Nursie!"
and was walking off.

"Please, Mr. Marway, give the boy his penny," said Clare.

But Marway wanted to _take a rise out of_ Clare.

"The fool did nothing for me!" he answered. "He made my boot worse
than it was."

"It was I did nothing for you, Mr. Marway," rejoined Clare. "What I
did, I did for the boy."

"Then let the boy pay you!" said Marway.

The shoe-black went into a sudden rage, caught up one of his brushes,
and flung it at Marway as he turned. It struck him on the side of the
head. Marway swore, stalked up to Clare and knocked him down, then
strode away with a grin.

The shoe-black sent his second brush whizzing past his ear, but he
took no notice. Clare got up, little the worse, only bruised.

"See what comes of doing things in a passion!" he said, as the boy
came back with the brushes he had hastened to secure. "Here's your
penny! Put up your foot."

The boy did as he was told, but kept foaming out rage at the bloke
that had refused him his penny, and knocked down his friend. It did
not occur to him that he was himself the cause of the outrage, and
that his friend had suffered for him. Clare's head ached a good deal,
but he polished the boy's boots. Then he made him try again on his
boots, when, warmed by his rage, he did a little better. Clare gave
him another penny, and went to the bank.

Marway was not there, nor did he show himself for a day or two. Clare
said nothing about what had taken place, neither did the others.



Chapter LXI.

A walk with consequences.


Clare had been in the bank more than a year, and not yet had
Mr. Shotover discovered why he did not quite trust him. Had Clare
known he did not, he would have wondered that he trusted him with such
a precious thing as his little Ann. But was his child very precious to
Mr. Shotover? When a man's heart is in his business, that is, when he
is set on making money, some precious things are not so precious to
him as they might be - among the rest, the living God and the man's own
life. He would pass Clare and the child without even a nod to indicate
approval, or a smile for the small woman. He had, I presume,
sufficient regard for the inoffensive little thing to be content she
should be happy, therefore did not interfere with what his clerks
counted so little to the honour of the bank. But although, as I have
said, he still doubted Clare, true eyes in whatever head must have
perceived that the child was in charge of an angel. The countenance of
Clare with Ann in his arms, was so peaceful, so radiant of simple
satisfaction, that surely there were some in that large town who,
seeing them, thought of the angels that do alway behold the face of
the Father in heaven.

One evening in the early summer, when they had resumed their walks
after five o'clock, they saw, in a waste place, where houses had been
going to be built for the last two years, a number of caravans drawn
up in order.

A rush of hope filled the heart of Clare: what if it should be the
menagerie he knew so well! And, sure enough, there was Mr. Halliwell
superintending operations! But if Glum Gunn were about, he might find
it awkward with the child in his arms! Gunn might not respect even
her! Besides he ought to ask leave to take her! He would carry her
home first, and come again to see his third mother and all his old
friends, with Pummy and the lion and the rest of the creatures.

Little Ann was eager to know what those curious houses on wheels
were. Clare told her they were like her Noah's ark, full of beasts,
only real, live beasts, not beasts made of bits of stick. She became
at once eager to see them - the more eager that her contempt of things
like life that wouldn't come alive had been growing stronger ever
since she threw her doll out of the window. Clare told her he could
not take her without first asking leave. This puzzled her: Clare was
her highest authority.

"But if _you_ take me?" she said.

"Your papa and mamma might not like me to take you."

"But I'm yours!"

"Yes, you're mine - but not so much," he added with a sigh, "as
theirs!"

"Ain't I?" she rejoined, in a tone of protesting astonishment mingled
with grief, and began to wriggle, wanting to get down.

Clare set her down, and would have held her, as usual, by the hand,
but she would not let him. She stood with her eyes on the ground, and
her little gray face looking like stone. It frightened Clare, and he
remained a moment silent, reviewing the situation.

"You see, little one," he said at length, "you were theirs before I
came! You were sent to them. You are their own little girl, and we
must mind what they would like!"

"It was only till you came!" she argued. "They don't care _very_ much
for me. Ask them, please, to sell me to you. I don't think they would
want much money for me! How many shillings do you think I am worth,
Clare? Not many, I hope! - Six?"

"You are worth more than all the money in your papa's bank," answered
Clare, looking down at her lovingly.

The child's face fell.

"Am I?" she said. "I'm so sorry! I didn't know I was worth so
much! - and not yours!" she added, with a sigh that seemed to come from
the very heart of her being. "Then you're not able to buy me?"

"No, indeed, little one!" answered Clare. "Besides, papas don't sell
their little girls!"

"Oh, yes, they do! Gus said so to Trudie!" Clare knew that _Trudie_
meant her sister Gertrude.

"Who is Gus?" he asked.

"Trudie calls him Gus. I don't know more name to him. Perhaps they
call him something else in the bank."

"Oh! he's in the bank, is he?" returned Clare. "Then I think I know
him."

"He said it to her one night in my nursery. Jane went down; I was in
my crib. They talked such a long time! I tried to go to sleep, but I
couldn't. I heard all what he said to her. It wasn't half so nice as
what you talk to me!"

This was not pleasant news to Clare. Augustus Marway was, if half the
tales of him were true, no fit person for his master's daughter to be
intimate with! He had once heard Mr. Shotover speak about gambling in
such terms of disapprobation as he had never heard him use about
anything else; and it was well known in the bank that Marway was in
the company of gamblers almost every night. He was so troubled, that
at first he wished the child had not told him. For what was he to do?
Could it be right to let the thing go on? Clare felt sure Mr. Shotover
either did not know that Marway gambled, or did not know that he
talked in the nursery with his daughter. But, alas, he could do
nothing without telling, and they all said none but the lowest of cads
would carry tales! For the young men thought it the part of gentlemen
_to stick by each other_, and hide from Mr. Shotover some things he
had a right to know. But Clare saw that, whatever they might think, he
must act in the matter. Little Ann wondered that he scarcely spoke to
her all the way home. But she did not say anything, for she too was
troubled: she did not belong to Clare so much as she had thought she
did!

Clare reflected also as he went, how much he owed Ann's sister for
letting him have the little one. She had always spoken to him kindly
too, and never seemed, like the clerks, to look down upon him because
he had been a page-boy - though, he thought, if they were to be as
often hungry as he had been, they would be glad to be page-boys
themselves! For himself, he liked to be a page-boy! He would do
anything for Miss Tempest! And he must do what he could for Miss
Shotover! It would be wicked to let her marry a man that was wicked!
He had himself seen him drunk! Would it be fair, knowing she did not
know, not to tell? Would it not be helping to hurt her? Was he to be a
coward and fear being called bad names? Was he, for the sake of the
good opinion of rascals, to take care of the rascal, and let the lady
take care of herself? There was this difficulty, however, that he
could assert nothing beyond having seen him drunk!

He carried Ann to the nursery, and set out for the menagerie. When he
knocked at the door of the house-caravan, Mrs. Halliwell opened it,
stared hardly an instant, threw her arms round his neck, and kissed
him.

"Come in, come in, my boy!" she said. "It makes me a happy woman to
see you again. I've been just miserable over what might have befallen
you, and me with all that money of yours! I've got it by me safe,
ready for you! I lie awake nights and fancy Gunn has got hold of you,
and made away with you; then fall asleep and am sure of it. He's been
gone several times, a looking for you, I know! I think he's afraid of
you; I know he hates you. Mind you keep out of his sight; he'll do you
a mischief if he has the chance. He's the same as ever, a man to make
life miserable."

"I've never done him wrong," said Clare, "and I'm not going to keep
out of his way as if I were afraid of him! I mean to come and see the
animals to-morrow."

A great deal more passed between them. They had their tea
together. Mr. Halliwell, who did not care for tea, came and went
several times, and now the night was dark. Then they spoke again of
Gunn.

"Well, I don't think he'll venture to interfere with you," said
Mrs. Halliwell, "except he happens to be drunk. - But what's that
talking? _We_'re all quiet for the night. Listen."

For some time Clare had been conscious of the whispered sounds of a
dialogue somewhere near, but had paid no attention. The voices were
now plainer than at first When his mother told him to listen, he did,
and thought he had heard one of them before. It was peculiar - that of
an old Jew whom he had seen several times at the bank. As the talking
went on, he began to think he knew the other voice also. It was that
of Augustus Marway. The two fancied themselves against a caravan full
of wild beasts.

Marway was the son of the port-admiral, who, late in life, married a
silly woman. She died young, but not before she had ruined her son,
whose choice company was the least respectable of the officers who
came ashore from the king's ships.

He had of late been playing deeper and having worse luck; and had
borrowed until no one would lend him a single sovereign more. His
father knew, in a vague way, how he was going on, and had nearly lost
hope of his reformation. Having yet large remains of a fine physical
constitution, he seldom failed to appear at the bank in the
morning - if not quite in time, yet within the margin of lateness that
escaped rebuke. Mr. Shotover was a connection by marriage, which gave
Marway the privilege of being regarded by Miss Shotover as a cousin - a
privilege with desirable possibilities contingent, making him anxious
to retain the good opinion of his employer.

Clare heard but a portion here and there of the conversation going on
outside the wooden wall; but it was plain nevertheless that Marway was
pressing a creditor to leave him alone until he was married, when he
would pay every shilling he owed him.

The young fellow had a persuasive tongue, and boasted he could get the
better of even a Jew. Clare heard the money-lender grant him a renewal
for three months, when, if Marway did not pay, or were not the
accepted suitor of the lady whose fortune was to redeem him, his
creditor would take his course.

The moment he perceived they were about to part, Clare hastened from
the caravan, and went along the edge of the waste ground, so as to
meet Marway on his road back to the town: at the corner of it they
came jump together. Marway started when Clare addressed him. Seeing,
then, who claimed his attention, he drew himself up.

"Well?" he said.

"Mr. Marway," began Clare, "I heard a great deal of what passed
between you and old Lewin."

Marway used worse than vulgar language at times, and he did so now,
ending with the words,

"A spy! a sneaking spy! Would you like to lick my boot? By Jove, you
shall know the taste of it!"

"Nobody minds being overheard who hasn't something to conceal! If I
had low secrets I would not stand up against the side of a caravan
when I wanted to talk about them. I was inside. Not to hear you I
should have had to stop my ears."

"Why didn't you, then, you low-bred flunkey?"

"Because I had heard of you what made it my duty to listen."

Marway cursed his insolence, and asked what he was doing in such a
place. He would report him, he said.

"What I was doing is my business," answered Clare. "Had I known you
for an honest man I would not have listened to yours. I should have
had no right."

"You tell me to my face I'm a swindler!" said Marway between his
teeth, letting out a blow at Clare, which he cleverly dodged.

"I do!"

"I don't know what you mean, but bitterly shall you repent your
insolence, you prying rascal! This is your sweet revenge for a blow
you had not the courage to return! - to dog me and get hold of my
affairs! You cur! You're going to turn informer next, of course, and
bear false witness against your neighbour! You shall repent it, I
swear!"

"Will it be bearing false witness to say that Miss Shotover does not
know the sort of man who wants to marry her? Does she know why he
wants to marry her? Does her father know that you are in the clutches
of a money-lender?"

Marway caught hold of Clare and threatened to kill him. Clare did not
flinch, and he calmed down a little.

"What do you want to square it?" he growled.

"I don't understand you," returned Clare.

"What's the size of your tongue-plaster?"

"I don't know much slang."

"What bribe will silence you then? I hope that is plain enough - even
for _your_ comprehension!"

"If I had meant to hold my tongue, I should have held it."

"What do you want, then?"

"To keep you from marrying Miss Shotover."

"By Jove! And suppose I kick you into the gutter, and tell you to mind
your own business - what then?"

"I will tell either your father or Mr. Shotover all about it."

"Even you can't be such a fool! What good would it do you? You're not
after her yourself, are you? - Ha! ha! - that's it! I didn't nose
that! - But come, hang it! where's the _use_? - I'll give you four
flimsies - there! Twenty pounds, you idiot! There!"

"Mr. Marway, nothing will make me hold my tongue - not even your
promise to drop the thing."

"Then what made you come and cheek me? Impudence?"

"Not at all! I should have been glad enough not to have to do it! I
came to you for my own sake."

"That of course!"

"I came because I would do nothing underhand!"

"What are you going to do next, then?"

"I am going to tell Mr. Shotover, or Admiral Marway - I haven't yet
made up my mind which."

"What are you going to tell them?"

"That old Lewin has given you three months to get engaged to Miss
Shotover, or take the consequences of not being able to pay what you
owe him."

"And you don't count it underhand to carry such a tale?"

"I do not. It would have been if I hadn't told you first. I would tell
Miss Shotover, only, if she be anything of a girl, she wouldn't
believe me."

"I should think not! Come, come, be reasonable! I always thought you a
good sort of fellow, though I _was_ rough on you, I confess. There!
take the money, and leave me my chance."

"No. I will save the lady if I can. She shall at least know the sort
of man you are."

"Then it's war to the knife, is it?"

"I mean to tell the truth about you."

"Then do your worst. You shall black my boots again."

"If I do, I shall have the penny first."

"You cringing flunkey!"

"I haven't cringed to you, Mr. Marway!"

Marway tried to kick him, failed, and strode into the dark between him
and the lamps of the town.



Chapter LXII.

The cage of the puma.


Marway was a fine, handsome fellow, whose manners, where he saw
reason, soon won him favour, and two of the young men in the office
were his ready slaves. Every moment of the next day Clare was
watched. Marway had laid his plans, and would forestall
frustration. Clare could hardly do anything before the dinner-hour,
but Marway would make assurance double sure.

At anchor in the roads lay a certain frigate, whose duty it was to
sail round the islands, like a duck about her floating brood. Among
the young officers on board were two with whom Marway was intimate. He
had met them the night before, and they had together laid a plot for
nullifying Clare's interference with Marway's scheme - which his
friends also had reason to wish successful, for Marway owed them both
money. Clare had come in the way of all three.

Now little Ann was a guardian cherub to the object of their enmity,
and he and she must first of all be separated. Clare had asked leave
of Miss Shotover to take the child to Noah's ark, as she called it,
that evening, and Marway had learned it from her: Clare's going would
favour their plan, but the child's presence would render it
impracticable.

One thing in their favour was, that Mr. Shotover was from home. If
Clare had resolved on telling him rather than the admiral, he could
not until the next evening, and that would give them abundant time. On
the other hand, having him watched, they could easily prevent him from
finding the admiral. But Clare had indeed come to the just conclusion
that his master had the first right to know what he had to tell. His
object was not the exposure of Marway, but the protection of his
master's daughter: he would, therefore, wait Mr. Shotover's return.
He said to himself also, that Marway would thereby have a chance to
bethink himself, and, like Hamlet's uncle, "try what repentance can."

As soon as he had put the bank in order for the night, he went to find
his little companion, and take her to Noah's ark. The child had been
sitting all the morning and afternoon in a profound stillness of
expectation; but the hour came and passed, and Clare did not appear.

"You never, never, never came," she said to him afterward. "I had to


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