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want ? don't you want a key to your chest, or something of that sort ?”
“ I've no chest, mother; and therefore don't want a key.”
“ But you want something out of all the pretty things in my shop ; boys always fancy something."
I laughed at the idea of “ pretty things" in her shop; for it contained nothing but old iron, empty bottles, dirty rags and vials ; so I told her there was nothing that I wanted.
“ Well,” says she, “ sit down a little, and look about you; there's no hurry. So Mrs. East has got another boy, worse luck for the parish, with six children already! -- Look about you, and take
your time. — Did you hear of Peter James giving his wife a black
eye last night, because she wanted to get him out of the alehouse. I wonder who that letter was from that Susan Davis had from the post office. I think I could guess ;
-poor girl ! she has looked rather peaking for some weeks. — Don't be in a hurry, Jack; look about; there's plenty of pretty things in my shop. — So Davis the butcher has been pulled up for bad meat; I thought it would come to that, and I'm glad of it. - There's a capital lock and key, Jack, to put to your chest, when you get one; suppose you take that.
What's the Doctor about? They say he is always sitting with the widow. — Does your mother make plenty of money by clear-starching ? I know your sister had a spotted muslin frock on last Sunday, and that must have cost something. - There's a spade, Jack; very useful to dig on the beach ; you may find something - money perhaps, - who knows? Take the spade, Jack, and then you 'll owe me sixpence. - So Bill Freeman pawned his wife's best gown last Saturday night. I thought it would be so. He may say it's because he's caught no fish this bad weather. But I know more than people think. - Here's a nice glass bottle, Jack, wouldn't you like to give it to your mother, to put pickles in ; it's white glass, you see. Look about, Jack ; there's plenty of pretty things, you see.- So the Governor's daughter's going to be married ; at least I suppose so, for I met her riding with a young gentleman; and now-a-days the quality always make love on horseback. – Well, Jack, have you found any thing ?”
“ No, mother, I hav’n’t; and I must have my shilling or go. Unless, indeed, you're inclined to help me to what I want, and then I'll give you the rope for nothing."
“ Give me the rope for nothing !" replied old Nanny. down, Jack, and let me know what it is you want.”
I thought it was of little use to make the application, but I determined to try; so I explained my wishes.
“ Humph !" said she, after a minute's thought, “so you want thirty-three shillings to buy clothes - to go to church in. Your mother dresses your sister in spotted muslin, and leaves you in rags; - suppose you wait till your father comes home again ?”
“ That may not be for years.”
“Why, Jack, I don't go to church - I am too old to dress myself to go to church, even if I could go so far, — why should you go ?”
“ Well, mother,” said I, rising up, “if you will not do it, I'm very sorry; I would have paid you honestly, and have given you good bargains, so good bye.”
“ Not so fast, Jack,-sit down, sit down, boy, -look about the shop and see if you can find something that will suit you.” Here Nanny communed with herself aloud:—“ Thirty-three shillings ! that's a great deal of money, - pay me honestly, - and good bargains! His mother called me an old cat the other day ; - I think they could be got cheaper, they always cheat boys ; — she'd be vexed to see him dressed clean at church; — honest boy, I do believe ; -'a boy that wants to go to church must be a good boy. - Oh, dear me, it is so much money !”
“I'll work day and night to pay you, Nanny.”
“ And mind, Jack, I'm to have good bargains, - and this piece of rope for nothing ; — something paid every week.”
“ If I can earn it, mother, as sure as I sit here."
“ Well, the old cat will do more for you, Jack, than your mother would. You shall have the money; but, Jack, I must bargain for the things."
“ Thank you, Nanny, thank you!" replied I, jumping off my seat with delight.
“ Well, we can do nothing to-night, Jack. Come to me on Monday, and if I don't change my mind --"
“ Change your mind!” said I, sorrowfully. “I thought you had promised !”
“ Well, so I did — and — and I'll keep my promise, Jack. Come on Monday, and as you can't go to church to-morrow, see if you can't pick up a little money."
I did not neglect her injunctions, and was fortunate enough to be able to bring her sixpence on the Monday morning. Nanny went with me to the clothing shop, haggled and fought until she reduced the articles to twenty-eight shillings, and then they were ordered to be made and sent to her house. I earned but little money that week, and more than once Nanny appeared to be very unhappy, and repent of her kind offices; but when Sunday came she was very cheerful; she washed me herself very carefully, and then put on my clothes. I cannot express the delight I felt at that moment ; when Nanny said to me, as she placed the hat on
“ Well, Jack, I wouldn't have thought that you were such a handsome boy as you are. Why, you may walk with your sister Virginia, and she will have nothing to be ashamed of, pretty as she • is. There, now, go and show yourself ; and, Jack, don't forget your promise to pay me back soon, and give me good bargains !”
I repeated my promise, and hastened to the Hospital to find Peter Anderson. He did not know me when I came up to him. I told him how and why I had got the clothes; he patted my head, said I was a good lad, and that he would take me to the chapel at the Hospital, where I could sit with the school children; he could manage that. Then I met Ben and others, and they were all so surprised. I went to the chapel, and although I could not hear well what was said, for I was a long way off from the parson, and the old pensioners coughed so much, I was very much pleased, although a little tired before it was over. When the service was finished, I was proceeding to my mother's, when I met her and little Virginia coming home from the town church.
“ There's a nice little boy, Virginia,” said my mother ; “would'nt you like to walk with him ?”
My mother did not know me, but Virginia did immediately ; she burst away from her mother and ran into my arms, laughing and crying as she clung to me, and then she cried out, –
“ Mother, yes, mother, I will walk with him !” and she hastened me away with her, much to my mother's annoyance, who would have run after us to stop her, but she didn't think it genteel to go so fast; so Virginia and I went off together, leaving my mother very angry indeed. We walked along towards the Hospital, Virginia crying out to every one she knew, her large hazel eyes beaming with delight, “Look, this is brother Jack!” and I went with her to Peter Anderson and old Ben. I was so proud to have my sister with me; and Peter Anderson said,
“ This is as it should have been a long while ago.” And then he continued, “ Jack, you may happen not to earn any money in the week, and if so, come to me, for old Nanny must not be disappointed ; but, recollect, you must pay for your own clothes out
your own earnings."
When it was dinner-time Virginia and I went home together. As we came to Fisher’s Alley I said to her, “ Mother will be angry with you."
“ I can't help it, Jack,” replied she; “you are my own brother, and we are not doing wrong."
When we went in, my mother looked hard at me, but, to my surprise, said nothing: she was sulky, but whether it was with Virginia or with me, or with my new clothes, or whether her conscience smote her for her neglect of me, I do not know. She put the dinner on the table in silence; and after it was over, she went up stairs. Virginia and I did not neglect this opportunity ; she put on her bonnet, we slipped out, and walked about together till tea-time. When we came back, my mother seized my sister by the arm and carried her up to bed. Little Virginia made no resistance, but turned her head and smiled at me as she was led away. I never felt so happy in my life as I did when I went to bed, and thought over the events of the day.
I AM SO UNFASHIONABLE AS TO PAY MY DEBTS. Ben's OPINION AS TO
MY FATHER'S RETURN. THE CHANCES EXEMPLIFIED IN THE LIST OF
Nor was my
Time passed; and three years of it certainly were not unprofitably
To me, Sunday was a day of rejoicing; I was so glad to throw off my ragged apparel of “ Poor Jack," and put on my best clothes, that I might walk with my sister; for my mother gradually softened down her asperity (perhaps out of prudence), as she could raise no objection to Virginia walking with her brother when he was clean and well dressed, and Virginia was very firm in supporting me when I requested permission. Indeed, latterly, my requests were more like demanding a right than a favour, and my mother appeared to wish to avoid a contest with me. She knew that I was a good scholar, very independent of her, and very much liked : the favourable opinion of others induced her to treat me