Imágenes de páginas

best cambric muslin. Well, we'll see. He'll be wanting his dinner; I only wish he may get it.


Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,

Eating his Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb and pulled out a pluin,

And cried, what a good boy am I !"

Good boy am I !' good-for-nothing brat, just like his father. O dear! — if I could but get rid of him!

“ There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She'd so many children she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread,
She whipped them all round, and sent them to bed.”

And if I don't whip him, it's my fault, that's all. Virginia, my love, don't spit — that's not genteel. It's only sailors and Yankees who spit. — Nasty littlo brute!- oh! here you are, are you?

1 ?” cried my mother, as I entered. “Do you see what a dirty mess you have made, you little ungrateful animal? Take that, and that, and that," continued she, running the wet bristles of the long broom into my face, with sufficient force to make my nose bleed. I stood the first push, and the second ; but the third roused my indignation – and I caught hold of the end of the broom towards me, and tried to force it out of her hands. It was push against push; for I was very strong - she screaming as loud as she could, as she tried to wrest the broom from my clutches ;-I shoving at her with all my force - like Punch and the devil at the two ends of the stick. At last, after she had leid me in a corner for half a minute, I made a rush upon her, drove her right to the opposite corner, so that the end of the handle gave her a severe poke in the body, which made her give up the contest, and exclaim as soon as she recovered her breath, —“Oh! you nasty, ungrateful, ungenteel brute! You little viper! Is that the way you treat your mother -- and nearly kill her? Oh, dear me!”

“Why don't you leave me alone, then ? you never beats Jenny."

“Who's Jenny, you wicked good-for-nothing boy you mean your sister Virginia ? Well, you'll have no dinner, I can tell you."

I put my hand in my pocket, took out a sixpence which I had received, and held it up



thumb and finger. “Won't I ?"

“ You oudacious boy!- that's the way you're spoiled by foolish people giving you money."

“Good-bye, mother.” So saying, I leaped over the board fixed up at the door, and was again down at the beach. Indeed I was now what is termed a regular Nud-larker, picking up halfpence by running into the water, offering my ragged arm to people getting out of the wherries, always saluting them with, “You haven't got never a halfpenny for poor Jack, your honour?" and sometimes I did get a halfpenny, sometimes a shove, according to the temper of those whom I addressed. When I was not on the beach I was usually in company with Ben the Whaler, who, after my father's visit, was more kind to me than ever; and there were several other pensioners who were great friends of mine; and I used to listen to their long yarns, which were now becoming a source of great delight to me; at other times, I would be with the watermen, assisting them to clean out their wherries, or pay the seams. In fact, I was here, there, and everywhere except at home - always active, always employed, and, I may add, almost always wet. My mother used to scold whenever I came in; but that I did not mind : her greatest punishment was refusing me a clean shirt on a Sunday; at last, I picked halfpence enough to pay, not only for my food, such as it was, but for my own washing, and cvery day I became more independent and more happy.

There were other ways by which money was to be obtained during the summer season; which were from the company who used to come down to the whitebait parties at the Ship and other taverns. There were many other boys who frequented the beach, besides me; and we used to stand under the windows, and attract attention by every means in our power, so as to induce the company to throw us halfpence to scramble for. This they would do to while away their time until their dinner was ready, or to amuse themselves and the ladies by seeing us roll and tumble one over the other. Sometimes they would throw a sixpence into the river, where the water was about two feet deep, to make us wet ourselves through in groping for it. Indeed, they were very generous when they wished to be amused; and every

kind of offer was made to them which we thought suited to their tastes, or likely to extract money from their pockets.

“Dip my head in the mud for sixpence, sir ?" would one of us cry out; and then he would be outbid by another.

“Roll myself all over and over in the mud, face and all, sir-only give me sixpence !"

Sometimes I would perceive a lovely countenance, beaming with pity and compassion at our rags and apparent wretchedness; and then the money thrown to me gave me much more pleasure ; but the major portion of those who threw us silver for their own amusement would not have given us a farthing if we had asked charity for the love of God.

It must not, however, be supposed that I gained the enviable situation of Poor Jack antil I had been some time on the beach. There are competitors for every place, even the most humble; and there was no want of competitors for this office among the many idle boys who frequented the beach. When I first plied there, I was often pushed away by those who wero older and stronger than myself, with a “Go along with you !

He's not poor Jack—I'm poor Jack, your honour." This, at first, I submitted to, taking my chance for a stray halfpenny, which was occasionally thrown to me, trusting to my activity in being the first down to the boat, or to my quickness in a scramble. I never quarrelled with the other boys, for I was remarkable for my good temper. The first idea I had of resistance was from oppression. One of the boys, who was older and taller than myself, attempted to take away a sixpence which I had gained in a scramble. Before that, I had not resented being pushed away, or even when they threw water or mud at me; but this was an act of violence which I could not put up with :—the consequence was a fight; in which, to my surprise (for I was not aware of my strength), as well as to the surprise of the bystanders, I proved victorious, beating my opponent, until ho reeled into the water, following him up until he tumbled, and then holding his head down in the mud until he was almost stifled. I then allowed him to get up; and he went home crying to his mother. For this feat I was rewarded with the plaudits of the old pensioners and others who were looking on, and with a shilling, which was thrown to me from the window of the inn. Ben the Whaler, who had witnessed the fray, told me, the next day, that I handled my fists remarkably well, and that I had but to keep a higher guard, and I should fight well. He was an old pugilist himself, and he gave me a few directions, which I did not forget. I soon had occasion to put them into practice; for, two days afterwards, another boy, bigger than myself, as I was plying as "Poor Jack," pushed me back so hard that I fell off the steps into the deep water, and there was a general laugh against me. I did not care for the ducking, but the laugh I could not bear; as soon as I gained the steps again I rushed upon him, and threw him off, and he fell into the wherry, and, as it afterwards appeared, he strained his back very much ; nevertheless he came out to thrash me; and this time it was a regular fight, as the pensioners and watermen interfered, taking us both up ou the higher ground, and seeing that it was fair play. Ben the Whaler acted as my second, and we set to. The boy was too powerful for me, had it not been for the hurt he had received and the instructions I obtained from Ben every time that I sat on his knee between each round. Still it was a very hard fight,

« AnteriorContinuar »