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  • 1891
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Chapter XLV.

The menagerie.

A strange smell was in Clare’s nostrils, and as he went down the steps inside, it grew stronger. He did not dislike it; but it set him thinking why it should so differ from that of domestic animals. He was presently in the midst of a vision attractive to all boys, but which few had ever looked upon with such intelligent wonder as he; for Clare had read and re-read every book about animals upon which he could lay his hands. He had a great power too of remembering what he read; for he never let a description glide away over the outside of his eyes, but always put it inside his thinking place. What with pictures and descriptions, he seemed to know, as he looked around him, every animal on which his eyes fell.

The area was by no means crowded. There had been many visitors during the day, but now it was late. He could see into all the cages that formed the sides of the enclosure. Many of the creatures seemed restless, few sleepy: night was the waking time for most of them. How should a great roaming, hunting cat go to sleep in a little cube of darkness! “Oh,” thought Clare, “how gladly would I help them to bear it! I could bear it myself with somebody near to be kind to me!”

He had begun to feel that the quiet happiness to which he was once so accustomed that he did not think much about it, was his because it was _given_ him. He had begun to see that it did not come to him of itself, but from the love of his father and mother. He had yet to learn that it was given to them to give to him by the Father of fathers and mothers. But he was beginning to prize every least kindness shown him. This re-acted on his desire to make the happiness greater and the pain less everywhere about him. He had little chance of doing much for people, he thought; but he knew how to do things for some animals, and perhaps it was only necessary to know others to be able to do something for them too!

Thoughts like these passing through his mind, and his gaze wandering hither and thither over the shifting shapes, his eyes rested on the tenant of one of the cages, and his heart immediately grew very sore, for he seemed unable to lift his head. He was a big animal, alone in his prison, of a blackish colour, and awkward appearance. He went nearer, and found he had a big ring in his nose like Nimrod. But to the ring was fastened a strong chain, and the chain was bolted down to the floor of the cage, which was of iron covered with boards, in their turn covered with a thick sheet of lead. The chain was so short that it held the poor creature’s head within about a foot of the floor. He could not lift it higher, or move it farther on either side; but he kept moving it constantly. It was a pitiful sight, and Clare went nearer still, drawn far more by compassion, and indeed sympathy, than by curiosity. He was a terrible brute, a big grizzly bear, ugly to repulsiveness. The snarling scorn, the sneering, lip-writhing hate of the demoniacal grin with which he received the boy, was hideous; the rattling, pebble-jarring growl that came from his devilish throat was loathing embodied. What if spirits worse than their own get into some of the creatures by virtue of the likeness between them! One day will be written, perhaps, a history of animals very different from any attempted by mere master in zoology. Clare spoke to the beast again and again, but was unvaryingly answered by the same odious snarl, curling his lip under his nose-ring. It seemed to express the imagined delight of tearing him limb from limb.

“Poor fellow!” said Clare, “how can he be good-tempered with that torturing ring and chain! His unalterable position must make his every bone ache!”

But had his nose been set free, such a raging-bear-struggle to get at the nearest of his fellow-prisoners would have ensued, as must soon have torn to shreds the partition between them. For he was a beast-bedlamite, an animal volcano, a furnace of death, an incarnate paroxysm of wrath. The inspiration of the creature, so far as one could see, was pure hate.

The boy turned aside with quivering heart–sore for the grizzly’s nose, and sorer still for the grizzly himself that he was so unfriendly.

Right opposite, a creature of a far differing disposition seemed casting defiance to all the ills of life. As he turned with a sad despair from the grizzly, Clare caught sight of his pranks, and hastened across the area. The creature kept bounding from side to side of his cage, agile and frolicsome as a kitten. But the light was poor, and Clare could not even conjecture to which of the cat-kinds he belonged. When he came near his cage, he saw that he was yellowish like a lion, and thought perhaps he might be a young lion. He had no mane. Clare judged him four feet in length without the tail–or perhaps four and a half. A little way off was the real lion–a young one, it is true, but quite grown, with a thin ruffy mane, and lordly carriage and gaze. It was he whose roar had challenged Nimrod, giving the topmost flutter to the flame of his wrath. But Clare was so taken with the frolicsome creature before him, that he gave but a glance at the grand one as he walked up and down his prison, and turned again to the merry one disporting himself alone, who seemed to find the pleasure of life in great games with companions no one saw but himself. For minutes he stood regarding the gladness of God’s creature. A wild thing of the woods and plains, he made the most of the bars and floor and roof of his cage. No one careless of liberty could make such bounds as those; yet he was joyous in closest imprisonment! His liberty gone, his freedom contracted to a few cubic feet, his space diminished almost to the mould of his body, the great wild philosopher created his own liberty, made it out of his own love of it. Like a live, erratic shuttle he went to and fro, unweaving, unravelling, unwinding, drawing out the knot of confinement, flinging out, radiating and spreading and breathing out space in all directions, by multitudinous motion of disentanglement! Space gone from him, space in the abstract should replace it! He would not be slave to condition! Space unconditioned should be his! For him liberty should not lie in space, but in his own soul. Room should be but the poor out-aide symbol of his inward freedom! He would spin out, he would weave, he would unroll essential liberty into spiritual space! His mind to him a kingdom was. Not a grumble, not a snarl! He left discontent to men, to build their own prisons withal. A proud man with everything he longs for, if such a man there be, is but a slave; this creature of the glad creator was and would be free, because he was a free soul. Prison bars could not touch that by whose virtue he was and would be free!

The germ of this thinking was in the mind of Clare while he stood and gazed; and as he told me the story, its ripeness came thus, or nearly thus, from his lips; for he had thought much in lonely places.

As he gazed and sympathized, there awoke within him that strange consciousness which my reader must, at one time or another, have known–of being on the point of remembering something. It was not a memory that came, but a memory of a memory–the shadow of a memory gone, but trying to come out from behind a veil–a sense of having once known something. It gave another aspect to the blessed creature before him. The creature and himself seemed for a moment to belong together to another time. Could he have seen such an animal before? He did not think so! He could never have visited a menagerie and forgotten it! If he had known such a creature, his after-reading would have recalled it, he would know it now! He could tell the lion and the tiger and the leopard, although he seemed to know he had never seen one of them; he could not tell this animal, and yet–and yet!–what was it? The feeling itself lasted scarce an instant, and went no farther. No memory came to him. The foiled expectation was all he had. The very reasoning about it helped to obliterate the shape of the feeling itself. He could not even recall how the thing had felt; he could only remember it had been there. It was now but the shadow of the shadow of a dream–a yet vaguer memory than that thinnest of presences which had at the first tantalized him. We remember what we cannot recall.

Perhaps the rousing of the odd, fantastic feeling had been favoured by the slumber beginning to encroach on tody and brain. While he stood looking at the one creature, all the wonderful creatures began to get mixed up together, and he thought it better to go and search for some field of sleep, where he might mow a little for his use. He said good-night to the great, gentle, jubilant cat, turned from him unwillingly, and went up the steps. Almost every spectator was gone. At the top of them he turned for a last look, but could distinguish nothing except the dim form of the young lion, as he thought him, still gamboling in the presence of his maker.

He thought to see the mistress of the menagerie, but she was no longer in her curtained box. He went out on the deserted platform, and down the steps. Abdiel was already at the foot when he reached it, wagging his weary little tail.

They set out to look for a shelter. Their search, however, was so much in vain, that at last they returned and lay down under one of the wagons, on the hard ground of the public square. Sleeping so often out of doors, he had never yet taken cold.

Chapter XLVI.

The angel of the wild beasts.

When Clare looked up he saw nothing between him and the sky. They had dragged the caravan from above him, and he had not moved. Abdiel indeed waked at the first pull, but had lain as still as a mouse–ready to rouse his master, but not an instant before it should be necessary.

Clare saw the sky, but he saw something else over him, better than the sky–the face of Mrs. Halliwell, the mistress of the menagerie. In it, as she stood looking down on him, was compassion, mingled with self-reproach.

Clare jumped up, saying, “Good morning, ma’am!” He was yet but half awake, and staggered with sleep.

“My poor boy!” answered the woman, “I sent you to sleep on the cold earth, with a sovereign of your own in my pocket! I made sure you would come and ask me for it! You’re too innocent to go about the world without a mother!”

She turned her face away.

“But, ma’am, you know I couldn’t have offered it to anybody,” said Clare. “It wasn’t good!–Besides, before I knew that,” he went on, finding she did not reply, “there was nobody but you I dared offer it to: they would have said I stole it–because I’m so shabby!” he added, looking down at his rags. “But it ain’t in the clothes, ma’am–is it?”

Getting the better of her feelings for a moment, she turned her face and said,–

“It was all my fault! The sov. is a good one. It’s only cracked! I ought to have known, and changed it for you. Then all would have been well!”

“I don’t think it would have made any difference, ma’am. We would rather sleep on the ground than in a bed that mightn’t be clean–wouldn’t we, Abby?” The dog gave a short little bark, as he always did when his master addressed him by his name.–“But I’m so glad!” Clare went on. “I was sure Mr. Goodenough thought the sovereign all right when he gave it me!–Were you ever disappointed in a sovereign, ma’am?”

“I been oftener disappointed in them as owed ’em!” she answered. “But to think o’ me snug in bed, an’ you sleepin’ out i’ the dark night! I can’t abide the thought on it!”

“Don’t let it trouble you, ma’am; we’re used to it. Ain’t we, Abby?”

“Then you oughtn’t to be! and, please God, you shall be no more! But come along and have your breakfast We don’t start till the last.”

“Please, ma’am, may Abdiel come too?”

“In course! ‘Love me, love my dog!’ Ain’t that right?”

“Yes, ma’am; but some people like dogs worse than boys.”

“A good deal depends on the dog. When folk brings up their dogs as bad as they do their childern, I want neither about me. But your dog’s a well-behaved dog. Still, he must learn not to come in sight o’ the animals.”

“He will learn, ma’am!–Abdiel, lie down, and don’t come till I call you.”

At the word, the dog dropped, and lay.

The house-caravan stood a little way off, drawn aside when they began to break up. They ascended its steps behind, and entered an enchanting little room. It had muslin curtains to the windows, and a small stove in which you could see the bright red coals. On the stove stood a coffee-pot and a covered dish. How nice and warm the place felt, after the nearly shelterless night!

The breakfast-things were still on the table. Mr. Halliwell had had his breakfast, but Mrs. Halliwell would not eat until she had found the boy. She had been unhappy about him all the night. Her husband had assured her the sovereign was a good one, and the boy had told her he had no money but the sovereign! She little knew how seldom he fared better than that same night! When he got among hay or straw, that was luxury.

They sat down to breakfast, and the good woman was very soon confirmed in the notion that the boy was a gentleman.

“Call your dog now,” she said, “an’ let’s see if he’ll come!”

“May I whistle, ma’am?”

“Why not!–But will he hear you?”

“He has very sharp ears, ma’am.”

Clare gave a low, peculiar whistle. In a second or two, they heard an anxious little whine at the door. Clare made haste to open it. There stood Abdiel, with the words in his eyes, as plain almost as if he spoke them–“Did you call, sir?” The woman caught him and held him to her bosom.

“You blessed little thing!” she said.

And surely if there be a blessing to be had, it is for them that obey.

Clare heard and felt the horses put-to, but the hostess of this Scythian house did not rise, and he too went on with his breakfast. When they were in motion, it was not so easy to eat nicely, but he managed very well. By the time he had done, they had left the town behind them. He wanted to help Mrs. Halliwell with the breakfast-things, but whether she feared he would break some of them, or did not think it masculine work, she would not allow him.

Nothing had been said about his going with them; she had taken that for granted. Clare began to think perhaps he ought to take his leave: there was nothing for him to do! He and Abdiel ought at least to get out and walk, instead of burdening the poor horses with their weight, when they were so well rested, and had had such a good breakfast! But when he said so to Mrs. Halliwell, she told him she must have a little talk with him first, and formally proposed that he should enter their service, and do whatever he was fit for in the menagerie.

“You’re not frightened of the beasts, are you?” she said.

“Oh no, ma’am; I love them!” answered Clare. “But are you sure Mr. Halliwell thinks I could be of use?”

“Don’t you think yourself you could?” asked Mrs. Halliwell.

“I know I could, ma’am; but I should not like him to take me just because he was sorry for me!”

“You innocent! People are in no such hurry to help their neighbours. My husband’s as good a man as any going; but it don’t mean he would take a boy because nobody else would have him. A fool of a woman might–I won’t say; but not a man I ever knew. No, no! He saw the way you managed that bull!–a far more unreasonable creature than any we have to do with!”

“Ah! you don’t know Nimrod, ma’am!”

“I don’t, an’ I don’t want to!–Such wild animals ought to be put in caravans!” she added, with a laugh.

“Well, ma’am,” said Clare, “if you and Mr. Halliwell are of one mind, nothing would please me so much as to serve you and the beasts. But I should like to be sure about it, for where husband and wife are not of one mind–well, it is uncomfortable!”

Thereupon he told her how he had stood with the farmer and his wife; and from that she led him on through his whole story–not unaccompanied with tears on the part of his deliverer, for she was a tender-souled as well as generous and friendly woman. In her heart she rejoiced to think that the boy’s sufferings would now be at an end; and thenceforward she was, as he always called her, his third mother.

“My poor, ill-used child!” she said. “But I’ll be a mother to you–if you’ll have me!”

“You wouldn’t mind if I thought rather often of my two other mothers, ma’am–would you?” he said.

“God forbid, boy!” she answered. “If I were your real mother, would I have my own flesh and blood ungrateful? Should I be proud of him for loving nobody but me? That’s like the worst of the beasts: they love none but their little ones–and that only till they’re tired of the trouble of them!”

“Thank you! Then I will be your son Clare, please, ma’am.”

The next time they stopped, she made her husband come into her caravan, and then and there she would and did have everything arranged. When both her husband and the boy would have left his wages undetermined, she would not hear of it, but insisted that so much a week should be fixed at once to begin with. She had no doubt, she said, that her husband would soon be ready enough to raise his wages; but he must have his food and five shillings a week now, and Mr. Halliwell must advance money to get him decent clothes: he might keep the wages till the clothes were paid for!

Everything she wished was agreed to by her husband, and at the next town, Clare’s new mother saw him dressed to her satisfaction, and to his own. She would have his holiday clothes better than his present part in life required, and she would not let his sovereign go toward paying for them: that she would keep ready in case he might want it! Her eyes followed him about with anxious pride–as if she had been his mother in fact as she was in truth.

He had at once plenty to do. The favour of his mother saved him from no kind of work, neither had he any desire it should. Every morning he took his share in cleaning out the cages, and in setting water for the beasts, and food for the birds and such other creatures as took it when they pleased. At the proper intervals he fed as many as he might of those animals that had stated times for their meals; and found the advantage of this in its facilitating his friendly approaches to them. He helped with the horses also–with whose harness and ways he was already familiar. In a very short time he was known as a friend by every civilized animal in and about the caravans.

He did all that was required of him, and more. Not everyone of course had a right to give him orders, but Clare was not particular as to who wanted him, or for what. He was far too glad to have work to look at the gift askance. He did not make trouble of what ought to be none, by saying, with the spirit of a slave, “It’s not my place.” He did many things which he might have disputed, for he never thought of disputing them. Thus, both for himself and for others, he saved a great deal of time, and avoided much annoyance and much quarrelling. Thus also he gained many friends.

Chapter XLVII.

Glum Gunn.

He had but one enemy, and he did not make him such: he was one by nature. For he was so different from Clare that he disliked him the moment he saw him, and it took but a day to ripen his dislike into hatred. Like Mr. Maidstone, he found the innocent fearlessness of Clare’s expression repulsive. His fingers twitched, he said, to have a twist at the sheep-nose of him. Unhappily for Clare, he was of consequence in the menagerie, having money in the concern. He was half-brother to the proprietor, but so unlike him that he might not have had a drop of blood from the same source. An ill-tempered, imperious man, he would hurt himself to have his way, for he was the merest slave to what he fancied. When a man _will_ have a thing, right or wrong, that man is a slave to that thing–the meanest of slaves, a willing one. He was the terror of the men beneath him, heeding no man but his brother–and him only because he knew “he would stand no nonsense.” To his sister-in-law he was civil: she was his brother’s wife, and his brother was proud of her! Also he knew that she was perfect in her part of the business. So it was reason to stand as well as he might with her!

Clare had no suspicion that he more than disliked him. It took him days indeed to discover even that he did not love him–notwithstanding the bilious eye which, when its owner was idle, kept constantly following him. And idle he often was, not from laziness, but from the love of ordering about, and looking superior.

It was natural that such a man should also be cruel. There are who find their existence pleasant in proportion as they make that of others miserable. He had no liking for any of the animals, regarding them only as property with never a right;–as if God would make anything live without thereby giving it rights! To Glum Gunn, as he was commonly called behind his back, the animals were worth so much money to sell, and so much to show. Yet he prided himself that he had a great influence as well as power over them, an occult superiority that made him their lord. It was merely a phase of the vulgarest self-conceit. He posed to himself as a lion-tamer! He had never tamed a lion, or any creature else, in his life; but when he had a wild thing safe within iron bars, then he “let him know who was his master!” By the terror of his whip, and means far worse, he compelled obedience. The grizzly alone, of the larger animals, he never interfered with.

From the first he received Clare’s “_Good-morning, sir_,” with a silent stare; and the boy at last, thinking he did not like to be so greeted, gave up the salutation. This roused Gunn’s anger and increased his hate. But indeed any boy petted by his sister-in-law, would have been odious to him; and any boy whatever would have found him a hard master. Clare was for a while protected by the man’s unreadiness to have words with his brother, who always took his wife’s part; but the tyrant soon learned that he might venture far.

For he saw, by the boy’s ready smile, that he never resented anything, which the brute, as most boys would have done, attributed to cowardice; and he learned that he never carried tales to his sister, of which, instead of admiring him for his reticence, he took advantage, and set about making life bitter to him.

It was some time before he began to succeed, for Clare was hard to annoy. Patient, and right ready to be pleased, he could hardly imagine offence intended; the thought was all but unthinkable to Clare’s nature; so he let evil pass and be forgotten as if it had never been. Once, as he ran along with a heavy pail of water, Gunn shot out his foot and threw him down: he rose with a cut in his forehead, and a smile on his lips. He carried the mark of the pail as long as he carried his body, but it was long before he believed he had been tripped up. Had it been proved to him at the time, he would have taken it as a joke, intending no hurt. He did not see the lurid smile on the man’s face as he turned away, a smile of devilish delight at the discomfiture of a hated fellow-creature. Gunn put him to the dirtiest work–only to find that it did not trouble him: the boy was a rare gentleman–unwilling another should have more that he might have less of the disagreeable. I have two or three times heard him say that no man had the right to require of another the thing he would think degrading to himself. He said he learned this from the New Testament. “But,” he said, “nothing God has made necessary, can possibly be degrading. It may not be the thing for this or that man, at this or that time, to do, but it cannot in itself be degrading.”

The boy had to take his turn with several in acting showman to the gazing crowd, and by and by the part fell to him oftenest. Each had his own way of filling the office. One would repeat his information like a lesson in which he was not interested, and expected no one else to be interested. Another made himself the clown of the exhibition, and joked as much and as well as he could. Gunn delighted in telling as many lies as he dared: he must not be suspected of making fools of his audience! Clare, who from books knew far more than any of the others concerning the creatures in their wild state, and who, by watching them because he loved them, had already noted things none of the others had observed, and was fast learning more, talked to the spectators out of his own sincere and warm interest, giving them from his treasure things new and old–things he had read, and things he had for himself discovered. Group after group of simple country people would listen intently as he led them round, eager after every word; and as any peg will do to hang hate upon, even this success was noted with evil eye by Glum Gunn. Almost anything served to increase his malignity. Whether or not it grew the faster that he had as yet found no wider outlet for it, I cannot tell.

At last, however, the tyrant learned how to inflict the keenest pain on the tender-hearted boy, counting him the greater idiot that he could so “be got at,” as he phrased it, and promising himself much enjoyment from the discovery. But he did not know–how should he know–what love may compel!

Chapter XLVIII.

The puma.

I need hardly say that by this time all the beasts with any friendliness in them had for Clare a little more than their usual amount of that feeling. But there was one between whom and him–I prefer _who_ to _which_ for certain animals–a real friendship had begun at once, and had grown and ripened rapidly till it was strong on both sides. Clare’s new friend–and companion as much as circumstance permitted–was the same whose lonely gambols had so much attracted him the night he first entered the menagerie. The animal, whom Clare had taken for a young lion–without being so far wrong, for he has often been called the American lion–was the puma, or couguar, peculiar to America, with a relation to the jaguar, also American, a little similar to that of the lion to the tiger. But while the jaguar is as wicked a beast as the tiger, the puma possesses, in relation to man, far more than the fabulous generosity of the lion. Like every good creature he has been misunderstood and slandered, but a few have known him, He has doubtless degenerated in districts, for as the wild animal must gradually disappear before the human, he cannot help becoming in the process less friendly to humanity; but an essential and distinctive characteristic of the puma is his love for the human being–a love persistent, devoted, and long-suffering.

Between such an animal and Clare, it is not surprising that friendship should at once have blossomed. He stroked the paw of the Indian lion the first morning, but the day was not over when he was stroking the cheek of the puma; while all he could do with the grizzly at the end of the month was to feed him a little on the sly, and get for thanks a growl of the worse hate. There are men that would soonest tear their benefactors, loathing them the more that they cannot get at them. I suspect that in some mysterious way Glum Gunn and the bear were own brothers. With the elephant Clare did what he pleased–never pleasing anything that was not pleasing to the elephant.

They came to a town where they exhibited every day for a week, and there it was that the friendship of Clare and the puma reached its perfection. One night the boy could not sleep, and drawn by his love, went down among the cages to see how his fellow-creatures were getting through the time of darkness. There was just light enough from a small moon to show the dim outlines of the cages, and the motion without the form of any moving animal. The puma, in his solitary yet joyous gymnastics, was celebrating the rites of freedom according to his custom. When Clare entered, he made a peculiar purring noise, and ceased his amusement–a game at ball, with himself for the ball. Clare went to him, and began as usual to stroke him on the face and nose; whereupon the puma began to lick his hand with his dry rough tongue. Clare wondered how it could be nice to have such a dry thing always in his mouth, but did not pity him for what God had given him. He had his arm through between the bars of the cage, and his face pressed close against them, when suddenly the face of the animal was rubbing itself against what it could reach of his. The end was, that Clare drew aside the bolt of the cage-door, and got in beside the puma. The creature’s gladness was even greater than if he had found a friend of his own kind. Noses and cheeks and heads were rubbed together; tongue licked, and hand stroked and scratched. Then they began to frolic, and played a long time, the puma jumping over Clare, and Clare, afraid to jump lest he should make a noise, tumbling over the puma. The boy at length went fast asleep; and in the morning found the creature lying with his head across his body, wide awake but motionless, as if guarding him from disturbance. Nobody was stirring; and Clare, who would not have their friendship exposed to every comment, crept quietly from the cage, and went to his own bed.

The next night, as soon as the place was quiet, Clare went down, and had another game with the puma. Before their sport was over, he had begun to teach him some of the tricks he had taught Abdiel; but he could not do much for fear of making a noise and alarming some keeper.

The same thing took place, as often as it was possible, for some weeks, and Clare came to have as much confidence, in so far at least as good intention was concerned, in the puma as in Abdiel. If only he could have him out of the cage, that the dear beast might have a little taste of old liberty! But not being certain how the puma would behave to others, or if he could then control him, he felt he had no right to release him.

Now and then he would fall asleep in the cage, whereupon the puma would always lie down close beside him. Whether the puma slept, I do not know.

On one such occasion, Clare started to his feet half-awake, roused by a terrific roar. Right up on end stood the couguar, flattening his front against the bars of the cage, which he clawed furiously, snarling and spitting and yelling like the huge cat he was, every individual hair on end, and his eyes like green lightning. Clatter, clatter, went his great feet on the iron, as he tore now at this bar now at that, to get at something out in the dim open space. It was too dark for Clare to see what it was that thus infuriated him, but his ear discovered what his eye could not. For now and then, woven into the mad noise of the wild creature, in which others about him were beginning to join, he heard the modest whimper of a very tame one–Abdiel, against whose small person, gladly as he would have been “naught a while,” this huge indignation was levelled. Must there not be a deeper ground for the enmity of dogs and cats than evil human incitement? Their antipathy will have to be explained in that history of animals which I have said must one day be written.

Clare had taken much pains to make Abdiel understand that he was not to intrude where his presence was not desired–that the show was not for him, and thought the dog had learned perfectly that never on any pretence, or for any reason, was he to go down those steps, however often he saw his master go down. This prohibition was a great trial to Abdiel’s loving heart, but it had not until this night been a trial too great for his loving will.

When Clare left him, he thought he had taken his usual pains in shutting him into a small cage he had made to use on such occasions, lest he might be tempted to think, when he saw nobody about, that the law no longer applied. But he had not been careful enough; and Abdiel, sniffing about and finding his door unfastened, had interpreted the fact as a sign that he might follow his master. Hence all the coil. For pumas–whereby also must hang an explanation in that book of zoology, have an intense hatred of dogs. Tame from cubhood, they never get over their antipathy to them. With pumas it is “Love you, hate your dog.” In the present case there could be no individual jealousy, of which passion beasts and birds are very capable, for Pummy had never seen Abby before. There may be in the puma an inborn jealousy of dogs, as a race more favoured than pumas by the man whom yet they love perhaps more passionately.

As soon as Clare saw what the matter was, he slipped out of the cage, and catching up the obnoxious offender–where he stood wagging all over as if his entire body were but a self-informed tail–sped with him to his room, and gave him a serious talking-to.

The puma was quiet the moment the dog was out of his sight. Doubtless he regarded Clare as his champion in distress, and blessed him for the removal of that which his soul hated. But, alas, mischief was already afoot! Gunn, waked by the roaring, came flying with his whip, and the remnants of poor Pummy’s excitement were enough to betray him to the eyes of the tamer of caged animals. Clare would have recognized by the roar itself the individual in trouble; but Glum Gunn had little knowledge even of the race. He counted the couguar a coward, because he showed no resentment. A man may strike him or wound him, and he will make no retaliation; he will even let a man go on to kill him, and make no defence beyond moans and tears. But Gunn knew nothing of these facts; he only knew that this puma would not touch _him_. He was not aware that if he turned the two into the arena of the show, the puma would kill the grizzly; or that in their own country, the puma persecutes the jaguar as if he hated him for not being like himself, the friend of man: the Gauchos of the Pampas call him “The Christians’ Friend.” Gunn did not even know that the horse is the puma’s favourite food: he will leap on the back of a horse at full speed, with his paws break his neck as he runs, and come down with him in a rolling heap. Neither did he know that, while submissive to man–as if the maker of both had said to him, “Slay my other creatures, but do my anointed no harm,”–he could yet upon occasion be provoked to punish though not to kill him.

Glum Gunn rushed across the area, jumped into the cage of the puma, and began belabouring him with his whip. The beast whimpered and wept, and the brute belaboured him. Clare heard the changed cry of his friend, and came swooping like the guardian angel he was. When he saw the patient creature on his haunches like a dog, accepting Gunn’s brutality without an attempt to escape it–except, indeed, by dodging any blows at his head so cleverly that the ruffian could not once hit it–he bounded to the cage, wild with anger and pity. But Gunn stood with his back against the door of it, and he was reduced to entreaty.

“Oh, sir! sir!” he cried, in a voice full of tears; “it was all my fault! Abby came to look for me, and I didn’t know Pummy disliked dogs!”

“Do you tell me, you rascal, that you were down among the hanimals when I supposed you in your bed?”

“Yes, sir, I was. I didn’t know there was any harm. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“Hold your jaw! What _was_ you doing?”

“I was only in the cage with the puma.”

“You was! You have the impudence to tell me that to my face! I’ll teach you, you cotton-face! you milk-pudding! to go corrupting the hanimals and making them not worth their salt!”

He swung himself out of the cage-door in a fury, but Clare, with his friend in danger, would not run. The wretch seized him by the collar, and began to lash him as he had been lashing the puma. Happily he was too close to him to give him such stinging blows.

With the first hiss of the thong, came a tearing screech from the puma, as he flung himself in fury upon the door of his cage. Gunn in his wrath with Clare had forgotten to bolt it. Dragging with his claws, he found it unfastened, pulled it open, and like a huge shell from a mortar, shot himself at Gunn. Down he went. For one moment the puma stood over him, swinging his tail in great sweeps, and looking at him, doubtless with indignation. Then before Clare could lay hold of him, for Clare too had fallen by the onset, Pummy turned a scornful back upon his enemy, and walking away with a slow, careless stride, as if he were not worth thinking of more, leaped into his cage, and lay down. The thing passed so swiftly that Clare did not see him touch the man with his paw, and thought he had but thrown him down with his weight. The beast, however, had not left the brute without the lesson he needed; he had given him just one little pat on the side of the head.

Gunn rose staggering. The skin and something more was torn down his cheek from the temple almost to the chin, and the blood was streaming. Clare hastened to help him, but he flung him aside, muttering with an oath, “I’ll make you pay for this!” and went out, holding his head with both hands.

Clare went and shot the bolt of the cage. Pummy sprang up. His tail and swift-shifting feet showed eager expectation of a romp. He had already forgotten the curling lash of the terrible whip! But Clare bade him good-night with a kiss through the bars.

Glum Gunn kept his bed for more than a week. When at length he appeared, a demonstration of the best art of the surgeon of the town, he was not beautiful to look upon. To the end of his evil earthly days he bore an ugly scar; and neither his heart nor his temper were the better for his well deserved punishment.

Mrs. Halliwell questioned Clare about the whole thing, inquiring further and further as his answers suggested new directions. Her catechism ended with a partial discovery of Gunn’s behaviour to her _protege_, whom she loved the more that he had been so silent concerning it. She stood perturbed. One moment her face flushed with anger, the next turned pale with apprehension. She bit her lip, and the tears came in her eyes.

“Never mind, mother,” said Clare, who saw no reason for such emotion; “I’m not afraid of him.”

“I know you’re not, sonny,” she answered; “but that don’t make me the less afraid for you. He’s a bad man, that brother-in-law of mine! I fear he’ll do you a mischief. I’m afraid I did wrong in taking you! I ought to have done what I could for you without keeping you about me. We can’t get rid of him because he’s got money in the business. Not that he’s part owner–I don’t mean that! If we’d got the money handy, we’d pay him off at once!”

“I don’t care about myself,” said Clare. “I don’t mean I like to be kicked, but it don’t make me miserable. What I can’t bear is to see him cruel to the beasts. I love the beasts, mother–even cross old Grizzly.–But Mr. Gunn don’t meddle much with _him_!”

“He respects his own ugly sort!” answered Mrs. Halliwell, with a laugh.

For a while it was plain to Clare that the master kept an eye on his brother, and on himself and the puma. On one occasion he told the assembled staff that he would have no tyranny: every one knew there was among them but one tyrant. Gunn saw that his brother was awake and watching: it was a check on his conduct, but he hated Clare the worse. For the puma, he was afraid of him now, and went no more into his cage.

With the rest of the men Clare was a favourite, for they knew him true and helpful, and constantly the same: they could always depend on him! Abdiel shared in the favour shown his master. They said the dog was no beauty, and had not a hair of breeding, but he was almost a human creature, if he wasn’t too good for one, and it was a shame to kick him.

Chapter XLIX.

Glum Gunn’s revenge.

They had opened the menagerie in a certain large town. It was the evening-exhibition, and Clare was going his round with his wand of office, pointing to the different animals, and telling of them what he thought would most interest his hearers, when another attendant, the most friendly of all, came behind him, and whispered that Glum Gunn had got hold of Abby, and must be going to do the dog a mischief. Clare instantly gave him his wand, and bolted through the crowd, reproaching himself that, because Abby seemed restless, he had shut him up: if he had not been shut up, Gunn would not have got hold of him!

When he reached the top of the steps, there was Gunn on the platform, addressing the crowd. It was plain to the boy, by this time not inexperienced, that he had been drinking, and, though not drunk, had taken enough to rouse the worst in him. He had the poor dog by the scruff of the neck, and was holding him out at arm’s-length. Abdiel was the very picture of wretchedness. Except in colour and size, he was more like a flea than like any sort of dog–with his hind legs drawn up, his tail tucked in tight between them, and his back-bone curved into a half circle. In this uncomfortable plight, the tyrant was making a burlesque speech about him.

“Here you see, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, resuming a little, for a few fresh spectators were in the act of joining the border of the crowd, “as I have already had the honour of informing you, one of the most extraordinary productions of the vegetable kingdom. It is not unnatural that you should be, as I see you are, inclined to dispute the assertion. I am, indeed, far from being surprised at your scepticism; the very strangeness of the phenomenon consists in his being to all appearance neither more nor less than a dog. But when I have the honour of leaving you to your astonishment, I shall have convinced you that he is in reality nothing but a vegetable. I would plainly call him what he is–a cucumber, did I not fear the statement would demand of you more than your powers of credence, evidently limited, could well afford. But when I have, before your eyes, cut the throat of this vegetable, so extremely like an ugly mongrel, and when those eyes see no single drop of blood follow the knife, then you will be satisfied of the truth of my assertion; and, having gazed on such a specimen of Nature’s jugglery, will, I hope, do me the honour to walk up and behold yet greater wonders within.”

He ceased, and set about getting his knife from his pocket.

Clare, watching Gunn’s every motion, had partially sheltered himself behind the side of the doorway. One who did not know Gunn, might well have taken the thing for a practical joke, as innocent as it was foolish, the pretended conclusion of which would be met by some comical frustration, probably the dog’s escape; but Clare saw that his friend was in mortal peril. With the eye of one used to wild animals and the unexpectedness of their sudden motions, he stood following every movement of Gunn’s hands, ready to anticipate whatever action might indicate its own approach: he watched like the razor-clawed lynx. While Gunn held Abdiel as he did, he could not seriously injure him; and although he was hurting him dreadfully, his hate-possessed fingers, like a live, writhing vice, worrying and squeezing the skin of his poor little neck, it yet was better to wait the right moment.

When he saw the arm that held the dog drawn in, and the other hand move to the man’s pocket, he knew that in a moment more, with a theatrical cry of dismay from the murderer, the body of his friend would be dashed on the ground, his head half off, and the blood streaming from his neck. They were mostly a rather vulgar people that stood about the platform, not a few of them capable of being delighted with such an end to a joke poor without some catastrophe.

The wretch had stooped a little, and slightly relaxed his hold on the dog to open his knife, when with a bound that doubled the force of the blow Clare struck him on the side of the head. He had no choice where to hit him, and his fist fell on the spot so lately torn by the claws of Pummy. The tyrant fell, and lay for a moment stunned. Abdiel flung himself on his master, exultant at finding the thing after all the joke he had been trying in vain to believe it. Clare caught him up and dashed down the steps, one instant before Glum Gunn rose, cursing furiously. Clare charged the crowd: it was not a time to be civil! Abdiel’s life was in imminent danger! That his own was in the same predicament did not occur to him.

His sudden rush took the crowd by surprise, or those next the caravans would, I fear, have stopped him. Some started to follow him, but the portion of the crowd he came to next, had more in it of a better sort, and closed up behind him. There all the women and most of the men took the part of the boy that loved his dog.

“What be you a-shovin’ at?” bawled a huge country-man, against whom Gunn made a cannon as he rushed in pursuit. “Aw’ll knock ‘ee flat–aw wull! Let little un an’s dawg aloan! Aw be for un! Hit me an’ye choose–aw doan’t objec’!”

Every attempt Gunn made to pass him, the man pushed his great body in his way, and he soon saw there was no chance of overtaking Clara The wings of Hate are swift, but not so swift as those of rescuing Love; and Help is far readier to run to Love than to Hate.

Chapter L.

Clare seeks help.

Clare got out of the crowd, and was soon beyond sight of anyone that knew what had taken place, his heart exulting that he had saved his friend who trusted in him. He hurried on, heedless whither, his only thought to get away from the man that would murder Abby; and the town was a long way behind ere the question of what they were to do for supper and shelter presented itself. This had grown a strange thought, so long had the caravan been to him a house of warmth and plenty. But comfort has its disadvantages; and Clare discovered, with some dismay, that he was not quite so free as ere the luxurious life of the last few weeks began: both Abby and he would be less able, he feared, to bear hunger and cold. It was but to start afresh, however, and grow abler! One consolation was, that, if they felt hunger more, it could not do them so much harm: they had more capital to go upon. He must not gather cowardice instead of courage from a season of prosperity! He was glad for Abdiel, though, that he grew his own clothes: he had left his warmest behind him.

It made him ashamed to find himself regretting his clothes when he had lost a mother! Then it pleased him to think that she had his sovereign, and the wages due since his clothes were paid for. They would help to give Glum Gunn his own, and set the beasts free from him! Then he would go back and spend his life with his mother and Pummy! Poor Pummy! But though Gunn hated him, he was now afraid of him too; and his fear would be the creature’s protection! He had imagined it his might that cowed the puma, when it was the animal’s human gentleness that made him submissive to man: he knew better now! Clare clasped Abdiel to his bosom, and trudged on. They had gone miles ere it occurred to him that it might be more comfortable for both if each carried his individual burden. He set Abdiel down, and the dog ran vibrating with pleasure. Clare felt himself set down, but with no tail to wag.

It was late in the autumn: they could do without supper, but they must if possible find shelter! A farm-house came in sight. It recalled so vividly Clare’s early experiences of houselessness, that beasts and caravans, his mother and Glum Gunn, grew hazy and distant, and the old time drew so near that he seemed to have waked into it out of a long dream. They were back in the old misery–a misery in which, however, his heart had not been pierced as now with the pangs of innocent creatures unable or unwilling to defend themselves from their natural guardian! It was long before he learned that for weeks Gunn was unable to hurt one of them; that his drinking, his late wound, and the blow Clare had given him, brought on him a severe attack of erysipelas.

When they reached the farm-yard, Clare knew by the aspect of things that the cattle were housed and the horses suppered. He crept unseen into one of the cow-houses: the bodies and breath of the animals would keep them warm! How sweet the smell seemed to him after that of the caravans! An empty stall was before him, like a chamber prepared for his need. He gathered a few straws from under each of the cows, taking care that not one of them should be the less comfortable, and spread with them for Abby and himself a thin couch.

But with the excitement of what had happened, his wonder as to what would come next, and the hunger that had begun to gnaw at him, Clare could not sleep. And as he lay awake, thoughts came to him.

Whence do the thoughts come to us? Of one thing I am sure–that I do not make or even send for my own thoughts. If some greater one did not think about us, we should not think about anything. Then what a wonder is the night! How it works compelling people to think! Surely somehow God comes nearer in the night! Clare began to think how helpless he was. He was not thinking of food and warmth, but of doing things for the beings he loved. It seemed to him hard that he could but love, and nothing more. There was his mother! he could do nothing to deliver her from that villainous brother-in-law! There was Pummy, exposed to the cruelty of the same evil man! and again he could do nothing for him! There was Maly! he could do nothing for her–nothing to make her father and mother glad for her up in the dome of the angels!

Was it possible that he really could do nothing?

Then came the thought that people used to say prayers in the days when he went with his mother to church. He had been taught to say prayers himself, but had begun to forget them when there was no bed to kneel beside. What did saying prayers mean? In the Bible-stories people prayed when they were in trouble and could not help themselves! Did it matter that he had no church and no bedside? Surely one place must be as good as another, if it was true that God was everywhere! Surely he could hear him wherever he spoke! Neither could there be any necessity for speaking loud! God would hear, however low he spoke! Then he remembered that God knew the thoughts of his creatures: if so, he might think a prayer to him; there was no need for any words!

From the moment of that conclusion, Clare began to pray to God. And now he prayed the right kind of prayer; that is, his prayers were real prayers; he asked for what he wanted. To say prayers asking God for things we do not care about, is to mock him. When we ask for something we want, it may be a thing God does not care to give us; but he likes us to speak to him about it. If it is good for us, he will give it us; if it is not good, he will not give it to us, for it would hurt us. But Clare only asked God to do what he is always doing: his prayer was that God would be good to all his mothers, and to his two fathers, and Mr. Halliwell, and Maly, and Sarah, and his own baby, and Tommy–and poor Pummy, and would, if Glum Gunn beat him, help him to bear the blows, and not mind them very much. He ended with something like this:

“God, I can’t do anything for anybody! I wish I could! You can get near them, God: please do something good to every one of them because I can’t. I think I could go to sleep now, if I were sure you had listened!”

Having thus cast all his cares on God, he did go to sleep; and woke in the morning ready for the new day that arrived with his waking.

Chapter LI.

Clare a true master.

It would take a big book to tell all the things of interest that happened to Clare in the next few weeks. They would be mainly how and where he found refuge, and how he and Abdiel got things to eat. Verily they did not live on the fat of the land. Now and then some benevolent person, seeing him in such evident want, would contrive a job in order to pay him for it: in one place, although they had no need of him, certain good people gave him ten days’ work under a gardener, and dismissed him with twenty shillings in his pocket.

One way and another, Clare and Abdiel did not die of hunger or of cold. That is the summary of their history for a good many weeks.

One night they slept on a common, in the lee of a gypsy tent, and contrived to get away in the morning without being seen. For Clare feared they might offer him something stolen, and hunger might persuade him to ask no questions. Many respectable people will laugh at the idea of a boy being so particular. Such are immeasurably more to be pitied than Clare. No one could be hard on a boy who in such circumstances took what was offered him, but he would not be so honest as Clare–though he might well be more honest than such as would laugh at him.

Another time he went up to a large house, to see if he might not there get a job. He found the place, for the time at least, abandoned: I suppose the persons in charge had deserted their post to make holiday. He lingered about until the evening fell, and then got with Abdiel under a glass frame in the kitchen-garden. But the glass was so close to them that Clare feared breaking it; so they got out again, and lay down on a bench in a shed for potting plants.

Clare was waked in the morning by a sound cuff on the side of the head. He got off the bench, took up Abdiel, and coming to himself, said to the gardener who stood before him in righteous indignation,

“I’m much obliged to you for my bedroom, sir. It was very cold last night.”

His words and respectful manner mollified the gardener a little.

“You have no business here!” he returned.

“I know that, sir; but what is a boy to do?” answered Clare. “I wasn’t hurting anything, and it was so cold we might have died if we had slept out of doors.”

“That’s no business of mine!”

“But it is of mine,” rejoined Clare; “–except you think a boy that can’t get work ought to commit suicide. If he mustn’t do that, he can’t always help doing what people with houses don’t like!”

The gardener was not a bad sort of fellow, and perceived the truth in what the boy said.

“That’s always the story!” he replied, however. “Can’t get work! No idle boy ever could get work! I know the sort of you–well!”

“Would you mind giving me a chance?” returned Clare eagerly. “I wouldn’t ask much wages.”

“You wouldn’t, if you asked what you was worth!”

“We’d be worth our victuals anyhow!” answered Clare, who always counted the dog.

“Who’s we?” asked the man. “Be there a hundred of you?”

“No; only two. Only me and Abdiel here!”

“Oh, that beast of a mongrel?”

The gardener made a stride as if to seize the dog. Clare bounded from him. The man burst into a mocking laugh.

“He’s a good dog, indeed, sir!” said Clare.

“You’ll give him the sack before I give you a job.”

“We’re old friends, sir; we can’t be parted!”

“I thought as much!” cried the gardener. “They’re always ready to work, an’ so hungry! But will they part with the mangy dog? Not they! Hard work and good wages ain’t nowhere beside a mongrel pup! Get out! Don’t I know the whole ugly bilin’ of ye!”

Clare turned away with a gentle good-morning, which the man did not get out of his heart for a matter of two days, and departed, hugging Abdiel.

He was often cold and always hungry, but his life was anything but dull. The man who does not know where his next meal is to come from, is seldom afflicted with ennui. That is the monopoly of the enviable with nothing to do, and everything money can get them. A foolish west-end life has immeasurably more discomfort in it than that of a street Arab. The ordinary beggar, while in tolerable health, finds far more enjoyment than most fashionable ladies.

Thus Clare went wandering long, seeking work, and finding next to none–all the time upheld by the feeling that something was waiting for him somewhere, that he was every day drawing nearer to it. Not once yet had he lost heart. In very virtue of unselfishness and lack of resentment, he was strong. Not once had he shed a tear for himself, not once had he pitied his own condition.

Chapter LII.

Miss Tempest.

Without knowing it, he was approaching the sea. Walking along a chain of downs, he saw suddenly from the top of one of them, for the first time in his memory though not in his life, the sea–a pale blue cloud, as it appeared, far on the horizon, between two low hills. The sight of it, although he did not at first know what it was, brought with it a strange inexplicable feeling of dolorous pleasure. For this he could not account. It was the faintest revival of an all but obliterated impression of something familiar to his childhood, lying somewhere deeper than the memory, which was a blank in regard to it. But that feeling was not all that the sight awoke in him. The pale blue cloud bore to him such a look of the eternal, that it seemed the very place for God to live in–the solemn, stirless region of calm in which the being to whom now of late he had first begun in reality to pray, kept his abode. The hungry, worn, tattered boy, with nothing to call his own but a great hope and a little dog, fell down on his bare knees on the hard road, and stretched out his hands in an ecstasy toward the low cloud.

The far-off ringing tramp of a horse’s feet aroused him. He rose light as an athlete, the great hope grown twice its former size, and hunger forgotten.

The blue cloud kept in sight, and by and by he knew it was the sea he saw, though how or at what moment the knowledge came to him he could not have told. The track was leading him toward one of the principal southern ports.

By this time he was again very thin; but he had brown cheeks and clear eyes, and, save when suffering immediately from hunger, felt perfectly well. Hunger is a sad thing notwithstanding its deep wholesomeness; but there is immeasurably more suffering in the world from eating too much than from eating too little.

Well able by this time to read the signs of the road, he perceived at length he must be drawing near a town. He had already passed a house or two with a little lawn in front, and indications of a garden behind; and he hoped yet again that here, after all, he might get work. To door after door he carried his modest request: some doors were shut in his face almost before he could speak; at others he had a civil word from maid, or a rough word from man; from none came sound of assent. It had become harder too to find shelter. Ever as he went, space was more and more appropriated and enclosed; less and less room was left for the man for whom had been made no special cubic provision of earth and air, and who had no money–the most disreputable of conditions in the eyes of such as would be helpless if they had none. A rare philosopher for eyes capable of understanding him, he was a despicable being in the eyes of the common man. To know a human being one must be human–that is, the divine must be strong in him.

For some days now, neither Clare nor Abdiel had come even within sight of food enough to make a meal. The dog was rather thinner than his master.

“Abdiel,” said Clare to him one day, “I fear you will soon be a serpent! Your body gets longer and longer, and your legs get shorter and shorter: you’ll be crawling presently, rubbing the hair off your useless little belly on the dusty road! Never mind, Abdiel; you’ll be a good serpent. Satan was turned into a bad serpent because he was a bad angel; you will be a good serpent, because you are a good dog! I hope, however, we shall yet put a stop to the serpent-business!”

Abdiel wagged his tail, as much as to say, “All right, master!”

The nights were now very cold; winter was coming fast. Had Clare been long enough in one place for people to know him, he would never have been allowed to go so cold and hungry; but he had always to move on, and nobody had time to learn to care about him. So the terrible sunless season threatened to wrap him in its winding-sheet, and lay him down.

One evening, just before sunset, grown sleepy in spite of the gathering cold, he sat down on one of the two steep grassy slopes that bordered the road. His feet were bare now, bare and brown, for his shoes had come to such plight that it was a relief to throw them away; but his soles had grown like leather. They rested in the dry shallow rain-channel, and his body leaned back against the slope. Abdiel, instead of jumping on the bank and lying in the soft grass, lay down on the leathery feet, and covered them from the night with his long faithful body and its coat of tangled hair.

The sun was shooting his last radiance along the road, and its redness caressed the sleeping companions, when an elderly lady came to her gate at the top of the opposite slope, and looked along the road with the sun. Her reverting glance fell upon the sleepers–the Knight of Hope lying in rags, not marble, his feet not upon his dog, but his dog upon his feet. It was a touching picture, and the old lady’s heart was one easily touched. She looked and saw that the face of the boy, whose hunger was as plain as his rags, was calm as the wintry sky. She wondered, but she needed not have wondered; for storm of anger, drought of greed, nor rotting mist of selfishness, had passed or rested there, to billow, or score, or waste.

Her mere glance seemed to wake Abdiel, who took advantage of his waking to have a lick at the brown, dusty, brave, uncomplaining feet, so well used to the world’s _via dolorosa_. She saw, and was touched yet more by this ministration of the guardian of the feet. Gently opening the gate she descended the slope, crossed the road, and stood silent, regarding the outcasts. No cloudy blanket covered the sky: ere morning the dew would lie frozen on the grass!

“You shouldn’t be sleeping there!” she said.

Abdiel started to his four feet and would have snarled, but with one look at the lady changed his mind. Clare half awoke, half sat up, made an inarticulate murmur, and fell back again.

“Get up, my boy,” said the old lady. “You must indeed!”

“Oh, please, ma’am, must I?” answered Clare, slowly rising to his feet. “I had but just lain down, and I’m so tired!–If I mayn’t sleep _there_,” he continued, “where _am_ I to sleep?–Please, ma’am, why is everybody so set against letting a boy sleep? It don’t cost them anything! I can understand not giving him work, if he looks too much in want of it; but why should they count it bad of him to lie down and sleep?”

The lady wisely let him talk; not until he stopped did she answer him.

“It’s because of the frost, my boy!” she said. “It would be the death of you to sleep out of doors to-night!”

“It’s a nice place for it, ma’am!”

“To sleep in? Certainly not!”

“I didn’t mean that, ma’am. I meant a nice place to go away from–to die in, ma’am!”

“That is not ours to choose,” answered the old lady severely, but the tone of her severity trembled.

“I sha’n’t find anywhere so nice as this bank,” said Clare, turning and looking at it sorrowfully.

“There are plenty of places in the town. It’s but a mile farther on!”

“But this is so much nicer, ma’am! And I’ve no money–none at all, ma’am. When I came out of prison,–“

“Came out of _where_?”

“Out of prison, ma’am.”

He had never been in prison in a legal sense, never having been convicted of anything; but he did not know the difference between detention and imprisonment.

“Prison!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands in horror. “How dare you mention prison!”

“Because I was in it, ma’am.”

“And to say it so coolly too! Are you not ashamed of yourself?”

“No, ma’am.”

“It’s a shame to have been in prison.”

“Not if I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Nobody will believe that, I’m afraid!”

“I suppose not, ma’am! I used to feel very angry when people wouldn’t believe me, but now I see they are not to blame. And now I’ve got used to it, and it don’t hurt so much.–But,” he added with a sigh, “the worst of it is, they won’t give me any work!”

“Do you always tell people you’ve come out of prison?”

“Yes, ma’am, when I think of it.”

“Then you can’t wonder they won’t give you work!”

“I don’t, ma’am–not now. It seems a law of the universe!”

“Not of the universe, I think–but of this world–perhaps!” said the old lady thoughtfully.

“But there’s one thing I do wonder at,” said Clare. “When I say I’ve been in prison, they believe me; but when I say I haven’t done anything wrong, then they mock me, and seem quite amused at being expected to believe that. I can’t get at it!”

“I daresay! But people will always believe you against yourself.–What are you going to do, then, if nobody will give you work? You can’t starve!”

“Indeed I _can_, ma’am! It’s just the one thing I’ve got to do. We’ve been pretty near the last of it sometimes–me and Abdiel! Haven’t we, Abby?”

The dog wagged his tail, and the old lady turned aside to control her feelings.

“Don’t cry, ma’am,” said Clare; “I don’t mind it–not _much_. I’m too glad I didn’t _do_ anything, to mind it much! Why should I! Ought I to mind it much, ma’am? Jesus Christ hadn’t done anything, and they killed _him_! I don’t fancy it’s so very bad to die of only hunger! But we’ll soon see!–Sha’n’t we, Abby?”

Again the dog wagged his tail.

“If you didn’t do anything wrong, what _did_ you do?” said the old lady, almost at her wits’ end.

“I don’t like telling things that are not going to be believed. It’s like washing your face with ink!”

“I will _try_ to believe you.”

“Then I will tell you; for you speak the truth, ma’am, and so, perhaps, will be able to believe the truth!”

“How do you know I speak the truth?”

“Because you didn’t say, ‘I will believe you.’ Nobody can be sure of doing that. But you can be sure of _trying_; and you said, ‘I will _try_ to believe you.'”

“Tell me all about it then.”

“I will, ma’am.–The policeman came in the middle of the night when we were asleep, and took us all away, because we were in a house that was not ours.”

“Whose was it then?”

“Nobody knew. It was what they call in chancery. There was nobody in it but moths and flies and spiders and rats;–though I think the rats only came to eat baby.”

“Baby! Then the whole family of you, father, mother, and all, were taken to prison!”

“No, ma’am; my fathers and my mothers were taken up into the dome of the angels.”–What with hunger and sleepiness, Clare was talking like a child.–“I haven’t any father and mother in this world. I have two fathers and two mothers up there, and one mother in this world. She’s the mother of the wild beasts.”

The old lady began to doubt the boy’s sanity, but she went on questioning him.

“How did you have a baby with you, then?”

“The baby was my own, ma’am. I took her out of the water-but.”

Once more Clare had to tell his story–from the time, that is, when his adoptive father and mother died. He told it in such a simple matter-of-fact way, yet with such quaint remarks, from their very simplicity difficult to understand, that, if the old lady, for all her trying, was not able quite to believe his tale, it was because she doubted whether the boy was not one of God’s innocents, with an angel-haunted brain.

“And what’s become of Tommy?” she asked.

“He’s in the same workhouse with baby. I’m very glad; for what I should have done with Tommy, and nothing to give him to eat, I can’t think. He would have been sure to steal! I couldn’t have kept him from it!”

“You must be more careful of your company.”

“Please, ma’am, I was very careful of Tommy. He had the best company I could give him: I did try to be better for Tommy’s sake. But my trying wasn’t much use to Tommy, so long as he wouldn’t try! He was a little better, though, I think; and if I had him now, and could give him plenty to eat, and had baby as well as Abdiel to help me, we might make something of Tommy, I think.–_You_ think so–don’t you, Abdiel?”

The dog, who had stood looking in his master’s face all the time he spoke, wagged his tail faster.

“What a name to give a dog! Where did you find it?”

“In Paradise Lost, ma’am. Abdiel was the one angel, you remember, ma’am, who, when he saw what Satan was up to, left him, and went back to his duty.”

“And what was his duty?”

“Why of course to do what God told him. I love Abdiel, and because I love the little dog and he took care of baby, I call him Abdiel too. Heaven is so far off that it makes no confusion to have the same name.”

“But how dare you give the name of an angel to a dog?”

“To a _good_ dog, ma’am! A good dog is good enough to go with any angel–at his heels of course! If he had been a bad dog, it would have been wicked to name him after a good angel. If the dog had been Tommy–I mean if Tommy had been the dog, I should have had to call him Moloch, or Belzebub! God made the angels and the dogs; and if the dogs are good, God loves them.–Don’t he, Abdiel?”

Abdiel assented after his usual fashion. The lady said nothing. Clare went on.

“Abdiel won’t mind–the angel Abdiel, I mean, ma’am–he won’t mind lending his name to my friend. The dog will have a name of his own, perhaps, some day–like the rest of us!”

“What is _your_ name?”

“The name I have now is, like the dog’s, a borrowed one. I shall get my own one day–not here–but there–when–when–I’m hungry enough to go and find it.”

Clare had grown very white. He sat down, and lay back on the grass. He had talked more in those few minutes than for weeks, and want had made him weak. He felt very faint. The dog jumped up, and fell to licking his face.

“What a wicked old woman I am!” said the lady to herself, and ran across the road like some little long-legged bird, and climbed the bank swiftly.

She disappeared within the gate, but to return presently with a tumbler of milk and a huge piece of bread.

“Here, boy!” she cried; “here is medicine for you! Make haste and take it.”

Clare sat up feebly, and stared at the tumbler for a moment. Either he could hardly believe his eyes, or was too sick to take it at once. When he had it in his hand, he held it out to the dog.

“Here, Abdiel, have a little,” he said.

This offended the old lady.

“You’re never going to give the dog that good milk!” she cried.

“A little of it, please, ma’am!”

“–And feed him out of the tumbler too?”

“He’s had nothing to-day, ma’am, and we’re comrades!”

“But it’s not clean of you!”

“Ah, you don’t know dogs, ma’am! His tongue is clean as clean as anybody’s.”

Abdiel took three or four little laps of the milk, drew away, and looked up at his master–as much as to say, “You, now!”

“Besides,” Clare went on, “he couldn’t get at it so well in the bottom of the tumbler.”

With that he raised it to his own lips, drank eagerly, and set it on the road half empty, looking his thanks to the giver with a smile she thought heavenly. Then he broke the bread, and giving the dog nearly the half of it, began to eat the rest himself. The old lady stood looking on in silence, pondering what she was to do with the celestial beggar.

“Would you mind sleeping in the greenhouse, if I had a bed put up for you?” she said at length, in tone apologetic.

“This is a better place–though I wish it was warmer!” said Clare, with another smile as he looked up at the sky, in which a few stars were beginning to twinkle, and thought of the gardeners he had met. “–Don’t you think it better, ma’am?”

“No, indeed, I don’t!” she answered crossly; for to her the open air at night seemed wrong, disreputable. There was something unholy in it!

“I would rather stay here,” said Clare.


“Because you don’t quite believe me, ma’am. You can’t; and you can’t help it. You wouldn’t be able to sleep for thinking that a boy just out of prison was lying in the greenhouse. There would be no saying what he might not do! I once read in a newspaper how an old lady took a lad into her house for a servant, and he murdered her!–No, ma’am, thank you! After such a supper we shall sleep beautifully!–Sha’n’t we, Abby? And then, perhaps, you could give me a job in the garden to-morrow! I daresay the gardener wants a little help sometimes! But if he knew me to have slept in the greenhouse, he would hate me.”

The old lady said nothing, for, like most old ladies, she feared her gardener. She took the tumbler from the boy’s hand, and went into the house. But in two minutes she came again, with another great piece of bread for Clare, and a bone with something on it which she threw to Abdiel. The dog’s ears started up, erect and alive, like individual creatures, and his eyes gleamed; but he looked at his master, and would not touch the bone without his leave–which given, he fell upon it, and worried it as if it had been a rat.

Clare was now himself again, and when the old lady left them for the third time, he walked with her across the way, bread in hand, to open the gate for her. When she was inside, he took off his cap, and bade her good-night with a grace that won all that was left to be won of her heart.

Before she had taken three steps from the gate, the old lady turned.

“Boy!” she called; and Clare, who was making for his couch under the stars, hastened back at the sound of her voice.

“I shall not be able to sleep,” she said, “for thinking of you out there in the bleak night!”

“I am used to it, ma’am!”

“Oh, I daresay! but you see I’m not! and I don’t like the thought of it! You may like hoarfrost-sheets, for what I know, but I don’t! You may like the stars for a tester–because you want to die and go to them, I suppose!–but I have no fancy for the stars! You are a foolish fellow, and I am out of temper with you. You don’t give a thought to me–or to my feelings if you should die! I should never go to bed again with a good conscience!–Besides, I should have to nurse you!”

The last member of her expostulation was hardly in logical sequence, but it had not the less influence on Clare for that.

“I will do whatever you please, ma’am,” he answered humbly. “–Come, Abdiel!”

The dog came running across the road with his bone in his mouth.

“You mustn’t bring that inside the gate, Ab!” said Clare.

The dog dropped it.

“Good dog! It’s a lady’s garden, you know, Abdiel!” Then turning to his hostess, Clare added, “I always tell him when I’m pleased with him: don’t you think it right, ma’am?”

“I daresay! I don’t know anything about dogs.”

“If you had a dog like Abdiel, he would soon teach you dogs, ma’am!” rejoined Clare.

By this time they were at the house-door. The lady told him to wait there, went in, and had a talk with her two maids. In half an hour, Clare and his four-footed angel were asleep–in an outhouse, it is true, but in a comfortable bed, such as they had not seen since their flight from the caravans. The cold breeze wandered moaning like a lost thing round the bare walls, as if every time it woke, it went abroad to see if there was any hope for the world; but it did not touch them; and if through their ears it got into their dreams, it made their sleep the sweeter, and their sense of refuge the deeper.

But although the bewitching boy and his good dog were not lying in the open air over against her gate, and although never a thought of murder or theft came to trouble her, it was long before the old lady found repose. Her heart had been deeply touched.

Chapter LIII.

The gardener.

From the fact that his hostess made him no answer when he breathed the hope of a job in her garden, Clare concluded that he had presumed in suggesting the thing to her, and that she would be relieved by their departure. When he woke in the morning, therefore, early after a grand sleep, he felt he had no right to linger: he had been invited to sleep, and he had slept! He also shrank from the idea of being supposed to expect his breakfast before he went. So, as soon as he got up, he walked out of the gate, crossed the road, and sat down on the spot he had occupied the night before, there to wait until the house should be astir. For, although he could not linger within gates where he was unknown, neither could he slink away without morning-thanks for the gift of a warm night.

As he sat, he grew drowsy, and leaning back, fell fast asleep.

The thoughts of his hostess had been running on very different lines, and she woke with feelings concerning the pauper very different from those the pauper imagined in her. She must do something for him; she must give or get him work! As to giving him work, her difficulty lay in the gardener. She resolved, however, to attempt over-coming it.

She rose earlier than usual, therefore, and as the man, who did not sleep in the house, was not yet come, she went down to the gate to meet him and have the thing over–so eager was she, and so nervous in prospect of such an interview with her dreaded servant.

“Good gracious!” she murmured aloud, “does it rain beggars?” For there, on the same spot, lay another beggar, another boy, with a dog in his bosom the facsimile of the ugly white thing named after Milton’s angel! She did not feel moved to go and make his acquaintance. It could not be another of the family, could it? that had already heard of his brother’s good luck, and come to see whether there might not be a picking for him too! She turned away hurriedly lest he should wake, and went back to the house.

But looking behind her as she mounted the steps, she caught sight of the gardener at the other gate, casting a displeased look across the road before he entered: he did not like to see tramps about! Her heart sank a little, but she was not to be turned aside.

The gardener came in, and his mistress joined him and walked with him to his work, telling him as much as she thought fit concerning the boy, and interspersing her narrative with hints of the duty of giving every one a chance. She took care not to mention that he had come out of a prison somewhere.

“No one should be driven to despair,” she said, little thinking she used almost the very words of the Lord, according to the Sinaitic reading of a passage in St. Luke’s gospel.

The argument had little force with the rough Scotchman: his mistress was soft-hearted! He shook his head ominously at the idea of giving a tramp the chance of doing decent work, but at last consented, with a show of being over-persuaded to an imprudent action, to let the boy help him for a day, and see how he got on, stipulating, however, that he should not be supposed to have pledged himself to anything.

Miss Tempest’s plans went beyond the gardener’s scope. She had for some months been inclined to have a boy to help in the house–an inclination justified by a late unexpected accession of income: if this boy were what he seemed, he would make a more than valuable servant; and nothing could clear her judgment of him better, she thought, than putting him to the test of a brief subjection to the cross-grained, exacting Scotchman. By that she would soon know whether to dismiss him, or venture with him farther!

She had but just wrung his hard consent from the gardener, when the cook came running, to say the boy was gone. Upon poor Miss Tempest’s heart fell a cold avalanche.

“But we’ve counted the spoons, ma’am, and they’re all right!” said the cook.

This additional statement, however, did not seem to give much consolation to the benevolent old lady. She stood for a moment with her eyes on the ground, too pained to move or speak. Then she started, and ran to the gate. The cook ran after, thinking her mistress gone out of her mind–and was sure of it when she saw her open the gate, and run straight down the bank to the road. But when she reached the gate herself, she saw her standing over a boy asleep on the grass of the opposite bank.

Abdiel, lying on his bosom, watched her with keen friendly eyes. Clare was dreaming some agreeable morning-dream; for a smile of such pleasure as could haunt only an innocent face, nickered on it like a sunny ripple on the still water of a pool.

“No!” said Miss Tempest to herself; “there’s no duplicity there! Otherwise, a tree is not known by its fruit!”

Clare opened his eyes, and started lightly to his feet, strong and refreshed.

“Good morning, ma’am!” he said, pulling off his cap.

“Good morning–what am I to call you?” she returned.

“Clare, if you please, ma’am.”

“What is your Christian name?”

“That is my Christian name, ma’am–Clare.”

“Then what is your surname?”

“I am called Porson, ma’am, but I have another name. Mr. Porson adopted me.”

“What is your other name?”

“I don’t know, ma’am. I am going to know one day, I think; but the day is not come yet.”

He told her all he could about his adoptive parents, and little Maly; but the time before he went to the farm was growing strangely dreamlike, as if it had sunk a long way down in the dark waters of the past–all up to the hour when Maly was carried away by the long black aunt.

The story accounted to Miss Tempest both for his good speech and the name of his dog. The adopted child of a clergyman might well be acquainted with _Paradise Lost_, though she herself had never read more of it than the apostrophe to Light in the beginning of the third book! That she had learned at school without understanding phrase or sentence of it; while Clare never left passage alone until he understood it, or, failing that, had invented a meaning for it.

“Well, then, Clare, I’ve been talking to my gardener about you,” said Miss Tempest. “He will give you a job.”

“God bless you, ma’am! I’m ready!” cried Clare, stretching out his arms, as if to get them to the proper length for work. “Where shall I find him?”

“You must have breakfast first.”

She led the way to the kitchen.

The cook, a middle-aged woman, looked at the dog, and her face puckered all over with points of interrogation and exclamation.

“Please, cook, will you give this young man some breakfast? He wanted to go to work without any, but that wouldn’t do–would it, cook?” said her mistress.

“I hope the dog won’t be running in and out of my kitchen all day, ma’am!”

“No fear of that, cook!” said Clare; “he never leaves me.”

“Then I don’t think–I’m afraid,” she began, and stopped. “–But that’s none of my business,” she added. “John will look after his own–and more!”

Miss Tempest said nothing, but she almost trembled; for John, she knew, had a perfect hatred of dogs. Nor could anyone wonder, for, gate open or gate shut, in they came and ran over his beds. She dared not interfere! He and Clare must settle the question of Abdiel or no Abdiel between them! She left the kitchen.

The cook threw the dog a crust of bread, and Abdiel, after a look at his master, fell upon it with his white, hungry little teeth. Then she proceeded to make a cup of coffee for Clare, casting an occasional glance of pity at his garments, so miserably worn and rent, and his brown bare feet.

“How on the face of this blessed world, boy, do you expect to work in the garden without shoes?” she said at length.

“Most things I can do well enough without them,” answered Clare; “–even digging, if the ground is not very hard. My feet used to be soft, but now the soles of them are like leather.–They’ve grown their own shoes,” he added, with a smile, and looked straight in her eyes.

The smile and the look went far to win her heart, as they had won that of her mistress: she felt them true, and wondered how such a fair-spoken, sweet-faced boy could be on the tramp. She poured him out a huge cup of coffee, fried him a piece of bacon, and cut him as much bread and butter as he could dispose of. He had not often eaten anything but dry bread, in general very dry, since he left the menagerie, and now felt feasted like an emperor. Pleased with the master, the cook fed the dog with equal liberality; and then, curious to witness their reception by John, between whom and herself was continuous feud, she conducted Clare to the gardener. From a distance he saw them coming. With look irate fixed upon the dog, he started to meet them. Clare knew too well the meaning of that look, and saw in him Satan regarding Abdiel with eye of fire, and the words on his lips–

“And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.”

The moment he came near enough, without word, or show of malice beyond what lay in his eye, he made, with the sharp hoe he carried, a sudden downstroke at the faithful angel, thinking to serve him as Gabriel served Moloch. But Abdiel was too quick for him: he had read danger in his very gait the moment he saw him move, and enmity in his eyes when he came nearer. He kept therefore his own eyes on the hoe, and never moved until the moment of attack. Then he darted aside. The weapon therefore came down on the hard gravel, jarring the arm of his treacherous enemy. With a muttered curse John followed him and made another attempt, which Abdiel in like manner eluded. John followed and followed; Abdiel fled and fled–never farther than a few yards, seeming almost to entice the man’s pursuit, sometimes pirouetting on his hind legs to escape the blows which the gardener, growing more and more furious with failure, went on aiming at him. Fruitlessly did Clare assure him that neither would the dog do any harm, nor allow any one to hit him. It was from very weariness that at last he desisted, and wiping his forehead with his shirt-sleeve, turned upon Clare in the smothered wrath that knows itself ridiculous. For all the time the cook stood by, shaking with delighted laughter at his every fresh discomfiture.

“Awa’, ye deil’s buckie,” he cried, “an tak’ the little Sawtan wi’ ye! Dinna lat me see yer face again.”

“But the lady told me you would give me a job!” said Clare.

“I didna tell her I wad gie yer tyke a job! I wad though, gien he wad lat me!”

“He’s given you a stiff one!” said the cook, and laughed again.

The gardener took no notice of her remark.

“Awa’ wi’ ye!” he cried again, yet more wrathfully, “–or–“

He raised his hand.

Clare looked in his eyes and did not budge.

“For shame, John!” expostulated the cook. “Would you strike a child?”

“I’m no child, cook!” said Clare. “He can’t hurt me much. I’ve had a good breakfast!”

“Lat ‘im tak’ awa’ that deevil o’ a tyke o’ his, as I tauld him,” thundered the gardener, “or I’ll mak” a pulp o’ ‘im!”

“I’ve had such a breakfast, sir, as I’m bound to give a whole day’s work in return for,” said Clare, looking up at the angry man; “and I won’t stir till I’ve done it. Stolen food on my stomach would turn me sick!”

“Gien it did, it wadna be the first time, I reckon!” said the gardener.

“It _would_ be the first time!” returned Clara “You are very rude.–If Abdiel understood Scotch, he would bite you,” he added, as the dog, hearing his master speak angrily, came up, ears erect, and took his place at his side, ready for combat.

“Ye’ll hae to tak’ some ither mode o’ payin’ the debt!” said John. “Stick spaud in yird here, ye sall not! You or I maun flit first!”

With that he walked slowly away, shouldering his hoe.

“Come, Abdiel,” said Clare; “we must go and tell Miss Tempest! Perhaps she’ll find something else for us to do. If she can’t, she’ll forgive us our breakfast, and we’ll be off on the tramp again. I thought we were going to have a day’s rest–I mean work; that’s the rest we want! But this man is an enemy to the poor.”

The gardener half turned, as if he would speak, but changed his mind and went his way.

“Never mind John!” said the cook, loud enough for John to hear. “He’s an old curmudgeon as can’t sleep o’ nights for quarrellin’ inside him. I’ll go to mis’ess, and you go and sit down in the kitchen till I come to you.”

Chapter LIV.

The Kitchen.

Clare went into the kitchen, and sat down. The housemaid came in, and stood for a moment looking at him. Then she asked him what he wanted there.

“Cook told me to wait here,” he answered.

“Wait for what?”

“Till she came to me. She’s gone to speak to Miss Tempest.”

“I won’t have that dog here.”

“When I had a home,” remarked Clare, “our servant said the cook was queen of the kitchen: I don’t want to be rude, ma’am, but I must do as she told me.”

“She never told you to bring that mangy animal in here!”

“She knew he would follow me, and she said nothing about him. But he’s not mangy. He hasn’t enough to eat to be mangy. He’s as lean as a 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