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I'd lost sight of her then for a bit, when one day

I met with a pal—limping Joe-
And he told me as how she'd been locked up,

Which it staggered me like a blow.

She'd took some fruit for her poor sick kid,

In a sort of fit o' despair;
So they had her up an' giv her a month

Of prison work and fare.

I see her again, in a little while,

Lookin' whiter and wuss than afore; But the weaker she grow'd, poor soul, she seem'd

To cling to her boy the more.

Now there came the “Peddlers' Hact” just then,

That has caused such a deal o' fuss ;A Hact for turnin' men into thieves,

And women into wuss!

“ Once a thief-allers a thief

Brand 'em an' stop their bread,
And starve 'em all into being good—”

That's how the Hact's to be read !

When I heard as how they'd stopp'd her rounds,

And writ" convicted” agin her name,
I felt a chokin' like i' the throat,

heart was all aflame.


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Well, I'd come one bitter night, dead-beat,

To a lodging crib I knew,
And the tramps was singin' and hollerin' out

As only tramps can do.

I'd sot me down in a weary mood,

Sick of their oaths and lies,
When the missis come in an' pray'd em all

To try and stop their noise.
For there was a poor young stranger gal

A dyin' just over their head,
An' they wanted to keep her quiet, poor soul,

And coax her boy to bed.

“For God's sake, missis," I whisper'd hoarse,

“Show me this woman that's ill; For I think I know her of old, yer see,

Both her and her little Will."

“Come and see her, an' welcome," she said,

“For p'raps before she goes, It might be a comfort, like, to her,

To see a face she knows."

Yes, it was her ; the poor wrong'd gal,

Once pure, and bonnie, and blessed, With a far-off look in her great blue eyes,

Soon to close in their last long rest.

A woman was bathing her aching head,

Another walked to and fro,
Hushing the boy, who knew me again,

And began to laugh and crow.

She looked up then, and saw me, and smiled

Such a weariful smile and drear;
And her white lips mutter'd the old, old cry,

“Oh, mother! Oh, mother, dear!”

“Poor soul!"_'twas the missis as whisper'd the words

"That's how she's been all through; She thinks o' nought but her mother and boy;

But I dunno what we can do.”

When the parson ask'd her name, she sobbed,

66 I've no name now to own; You see what I am, sir, a sinful girl,

That looks to Christ alone."

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I fell on my knees afore them all,

By the side of her dyin' bed;
And it seemed as if words was given me,

And this was what I said :

“My lass, I don't ask you who you are,

So you need'nt tremble and start;
It's enough for me that you're lyin' here,

And that you and your boy must part.

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“Will you trust your pretty boy to me?

Ab, you shudder—and well you may; But I, too, had a dear mother once,

Who taught me how to pray.

“ And I'll shield him, ay, as a mother would,

From sorrow, and sin, and strife;
And the honest bread I earn for the boy

Shall sweeten and bless my life.

“So, if you can trust your boy to me,

Only make me a sign."
She smiled, an' tried to give me her hand,

And I knew that the boy was mine.

She died next day, with a perfect trust

In Him who alone can save;
And I carried her orphan boy in my arms

To his mother's parish grave.

The parson offer'd to take the boy; ;

He said as my heart was kind; But mine was hardly the sort o' life For a child to be consigned.


But I said “Look here, sir, I'm bad, no doubt,

Low, lazy, and drunken, and wild ;
But I mean, please God, to begin afresh,

For the sake o' this little child.”

So I took the boy, and I went my way

And I tried, and I kept my word; And in teaching them baby lips to pray, My own poor

heart was stirr'd. I got a place as a hostler fust,

At Grantham, in Linkunsheer,
And I just work’d on till I'd saved enough

To buy this horgan here.
"Were shy o'the reg’lar lodgin' cribs,

And in decent houses lie;
And I'm savin' a trifle, don't yer see,

To 'prentice him by and by.

And so we jogs on, my Willie and I,

I carries the horgan and plays,
And the pennies fall fast in his little hat,

While the women fondle and praise.

There! I must ha' tired you out, I'm 'fraid,

With my wearisome yarn and drawl; Come, Will, we must be off, my lad,

So, good night, gentlemen all!



THE old card-maker's face was sharp and withered; and his nightcap half removed from his head showed a few short white hairs, like goose-down. The old man's face had in it nothing venerable: it was mere old age-mere decay, without that sweet, serene light which gives to years a halo of holiness. The young wife looked at her

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sleeping mate in silence, and then a deep, deep sigh broke from her almost unconsciously. She retreated from the bedside as the man awoke.

“ Who's there? Devils again?” cried the sick man in a hoarse trembling voice.

The wife made no answer, and walked on tiptoe out of the room.

“Who's there?” again cried the card-maker; and then he mumbled: “Devils—devils—more devils. And I shall go among 'em-I must go among 'em-no help. Damned -damned-ha! ha!-damned.”

For an hour and more the old man raved, groaned, and muttered to himself.

He had, as I heard, committed no peculiar wickedness in life, but his imagination had caught a disease from a spiritual counsellor, who, in the anxiety of his soul for the dying man, felt it a duty to convince him that he must be damned. He had dealt in cards; he had made gold by the devil's tools, and there was no help for him; the devil must have him. This comfortable assurance Mr. Uriah Cloudy conceived it to be his Christian duty to pour once a day at least into the ears of the departing tradesman, who had such confidence in the authority of the Muggletonian—for Cloudy was said to be of that enlightened sect—that he gave himself up to inevitable perdition. Hence, to his crazed perception, his chamber was beset by devils, male and female; all of them wearing the faces, forms, and habits of the kings, queens, and knaves of cards; all of them, by such masquerade, torturing the remorseful spirit of the dying dealer.

“Oh! Ugh!” he groaned—“and there, peeping between the curtains—there's that cat, the Queen of Diamonds !” Then he sat bolt upright in his bed; and, throwing his nightcap into the room, he screamed, “ Jack of Clubs, my time's not up-I defy you!

At this moment Becky entered the room. “ Here's Mr. Cloudy come to see you,”

The name seemed to awaken new terror in the cardmaker, for he fell back in his bed, and howled like a wolf. In an instant the Muggletonian was at the bedside.

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