A NEW HOME

WE have now to request our readers to follow Dick to a very different
scene to that of Roan’s Court. His parents were glad he had found
such grand friends, and were quite willing to part with him. They
were not improving in their habits, but rather the reverse. Walters
did as Sir John had requested, and bought the boy suitable clothes
and other necessaries for his new position in life. He looked so
different when dressed in a cloth suit, with a white collar and black
necktie, that he could scarcely be recognised for the same boy who
had worn the old garments out of the blue clothes bag. The children
in Roan’s Court gathered round him when he first appeared in his new
attire on the day he was to leave altogether, and stared at their old
playmate with astonishment. A few of the elder ones, amongst whom was
Larkins (who had never got over the hot dinner disappointment),
derided him, called after him “Gentleman Dick,” and other nicknames.
He was not sorry when he was fairly out of hearing, and on his way to
Walters, who had promised to go with him to Grosvenor Square, and say
good-bye there. An omnibus was standing at the door when they
arrived, which was to take the servants to the station. It was being
loaded under the eye of a manservant. When he saw Walters and Dick,
he directed them to go down into the kitchen, where all was bustle
and confusion from the hurry of departure. Amongst the servants going
away was Susan, who had been so terrified lest Dick should prove an
accomplice of burglars. She looked at him with very complacent
feelings now, for Sir John had told the story of the bright farthing,
and explained that he had spoken truth when he said he wanted to give
the gentleman some money and not to beg of him. With his usual kind
thoughtfulness, the baronet had been anxious that the servants should
feel an interest in their young fellow-traveller, who would naturally
be strange and shy amongst them all.

At length all was ready, and Dick was told to take his place in the
omnibus with the others. He was very sorry to say farewell to his
dear old friend, who, in his turn, felt as if his home would be
lonely without the bright, merry face he was so accustomed to see
popping in constantly.

“God bless you, my lad,” he said. “Never forget your prayers.
Remember, those are my parting words to you.”

Then came the rumbling of the omnibus, and the arrival at the
station; and after that the puffing of the steam-engine, and for the
first time Dick saw houses and churches rushing away from them, as it
seemed to him. Soon, great, busy London was left behind, and houses
and churches only came at intervals, but green fields and trees took
their place, and they were in the country, which was far more
beautiful than Dick’s wildest dreams had ever pictured it. He was
quite surprised that all the servants talked away to each other, and
scarcely ever turned their heads to look out of the window. Susan was
the only one who seemed to understand his admiration. She was very
kind, and gave him her place in the corner that he might see better;
and she pointed out things to him, and told him the names of the
places they passed through, for she had been so often backwards and
forwards that the road was quite familiar to her and her
fellow-servants.

Towards evening they arrived at a station, where they stopped. Here
an open carriage was waiting, large enough to hold them all, and the
luggage followed in a cart. Dick had a delightful place on the box
between the driver and the footman, from which he could see the
hedges and trees, etc., to perfection as they drove rapidly past
them. After a drive of about a mile, they came in sight of a large
mansion standing on a rising ground in the midst of beautiful
gardens, which glowed with flowers of every colour. The carriage
stopped at a lodge, and now Dick was told he was to get down, as here
he was to live with the gardener and his wife. A pleasant,
motherly-looking woman appeared at the door, who was addressed as Mrs
Naylor. She gave the servants a kindly greeting, and as the carriage
drove on, took hold of Dick’s hand, and said she was sure he must be
tired and hungry, and had better have some tea directly. She took him
into a nice pleasant kitchen, where a table was spread with a
substantial tea. Her little lads came running in to look at the new
boy, and to do justice to the viands. They were followed by Mr
Naylor, the gardener–a tall, fine-looking man, with a rather grave
face.

He spoke kindly to Dick, and said he had heard all about him from Sir
John, and he hoped he would be a good boy, and then he should be glad
to have him to lodge in his house.

Dick thought he had never been so hungry or tasted such good food.
After tea, Mrs Naylor showed him a room in which he was to sleep. It
was very small, little more than a large closet, but there was in it
everything he could want, and it had a window looking into a garden
full of flowers. He was so thoroughly tired with his journey and with
the day’s excitement, that Mrs Naylor proposed he should go to bed,
and he was thankful to do so. Probably no little boy in England slept
a sounder sleep or had a happier heart than our young hero that
night.

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DICK’S MISTAKE

FROM that day Dick had a friend in old Walters–a very humble one,
but of priceless worth to the neglected child. He encouraged him to
come often to his room to see him, and finding he could not read, he
commenced to try to teach him. He bought a spelling-book, and began
what was in truth a most difficult and arduous task to one of his
age. But Dick was quick, and Walters persevering, and in course of
time the letters were mastered, and then came words of one syllable.
After that progress was rapid. A copy-book next appeared on the
scene, and the constant inky state of Dick’s fingers bore grimy
testimony to the industry of both master and pupil. It was a proud
day for them both when the boy could write his name quite legibly and
neatly in the little Prayer-book which Walters had promised should be
his whenever he could do so.

But it was not only the art of reading and writing that Dick was
acquiring from his newly-found friend. Lessons of far higher value
were being constantly given to him by Walters, whose heart was full
of love for his Saviour, and who longed to bring this little lamb
into His fold, and secure him against all the temptations that, with
such parents and in such a neighbourhood as Roan’s Court, he would be
subjected to as he grew older. Fortunately for Dick, his father’s and
mother’s carelessness about him turned to good account by enabling
him to be a great deal with Walters. On Sundays he went often with
him to church, instead of as formerly playing all day in the court or
back streets with other idle, uncared-for children. This was a real
pleasure to him, for the music possessed as great a fascination for
him as flowers.

For some time things went on thus. Dick was getting older and taller,
and Walters thought it was time for him to have some regular
employment. He was so interested in the lad that he took a walk to
Roan’s Court one day to speak to his parents about him; but it was
unfortunately an evening when they were neither of them quite in a
state to be talked to on the subject. He left them in disgust, and
with feelings of deep pity for their child. He did not know how to
help him, for he lived his own lonely life, knowing scarcely any one;
certainly no one who could be of use to Dick. He consulted his
landlady, but she could give no advice, and only remarked that “boys
were troublesome creatures, and of no use whilst young.” The poor
woman had two of her own, for whom she had difficulty in providing,
so she spoke feelingly. But though Walters was unable to serve the
lad in this respect, he had been unconsciously paving the way for a
bright future for him by teaching him honesty and the fear of God.

One morning as Dick was going down the Strand with another boy, they
stopped to look in at a shop window just as a gentleman drew up his
horse at the door, and looked round for some one to come and hold it
whilst he entered the shop. Dick ran forward and offered himself.
The gentleman gave one look at his pleasant face and put the bridle
into his hand, saying, “There, my lad, hold it firmly; the horse is
quiet enough.”

He was some time in the shop, which was a bookseller’s, and he was
looking over books. Once or twice he came to the door to see that all
was right with his horse, and finding that Dick was holding him
carefully, he gave him a nod and returned into the shop. Dick thought
his face was a very kind one. When he had finished his business and
came out to remount his horse, he put his hand into his pocket and
took out some coppers wrapped in paper, and giving them to Dick,
said–

“There, my lad, take these. I don’t know how many pence you will find
inside the paper, but the more there are the better for you.”

He was just going to ride off, when the shopman came to the door and
asked him some question, to which he replied in a loud voice–

“Let them be sent to No.– Grosvenor Square.”

Dick eagerly opened the paper; there were four pennies inside–and he
stared with amazement, there was also a small, very bright yellow
coin!

He had only once or twice seen a sovereign in his life, and never had
had one in his hand. His companion, a boy named Larkins who lived
near Roan’s Court, uttered an exclamation. “Why, Dick, he’s given you
a bit of yellow money; you lucky fellow!” Dick gave quite a shout of
joy.

[Illustration: “THERE, MY LAD, HOLD IT FIRMLY; THE HORSE IS QUIET
ENOUGH.”]

He felt almost giddy, and as if a large fortune had fallen into his
hands.

“I tell you what, Dick,” said Larkins, who secretly hoped he might
come in for a share of the money, “don’t you be looking at it like
that here in the street, or people will think you’ve no business with
it. Yellow money doesn’t often come to the like of us; and, I say,
don’t you go telling your father or mother of your luck, or they’ll
take it from you and go and spend it in drink.”

Dick did not reply; he was wrapping up the coppers and the yellow bit
as carefully in the paper as when they were given him, and he put the
little parcel in his jacket pocket.

“I say, Dick,” continued Larkins, “what are you going to do with it?
How shall you spend it? Won’t you go and have a good feed at the
cook-shop to begin with?”

Dick heard, and a savoury thought about hot meat and potatoes crossed
his mind; but he put it away again, for more important ideas were
floating there. His countenance was grave and thoughtful. “I don’t
think,” said he, “that the gentleman _meant_ to give me yellow money.
He said there were pence inside the paper. I’m quite sure he did not
know there was any gold there.”

“Why, then, all the better for you that he made a mistake,” said
Larkins. “What a lucky thing that he did not look to see what there
was inside the paper before he gave it you!”

Time was, before he knew old Walters, that Dick would have thought so
too, but now he could not feel any pleasure in taking possession of
what it was not intended he should have.

“I should like to give it back to the gentleman,” he said. “It would
be like stealing, I think, if I kept it.”

“Well, you _would_ be a silly chap to do that,” exclaimed
Larkins–“but one good thing is, you can’t give it back; you don’t
know where he lives.”

“Yes, I think I do,” said Dick. “He said that something was to be
sent to No.– Grosvenor Square; so he lives there, I daresay, and I
can find him, perhaps.”

Larkins’ indignation was very great at his stupid folly, as he called
it. His visions of being treated to a hot dinner at the cook-shop
were melting away. Then he tried ridicule: called him “A young
saint,” “Pious Dick,” “Parson Dick,” “Preaching Dick,” but all to no
purpose. At length Dick escaped from his teasing by taking the
turning which led to Walters’ lodging, whose advice he wished to ask.

He was out. Then he went and looked for him in the market, but he was
not to be found.

“I know he would tell me I ought to try and find the gentleman,” he
said to himself, “so I’ll go at once.”

He knew his way about London pretty well, though it was not often he
had been to the West End, and he had to ask his road once or twice
before he could find Grosvenor Square. When he got there it was some
time before he could discover the number he wanted, and when he did
at last pause before No.–, he felt quite frightened at seeing what a
grand house it was. The doors looked so tall, and the knockers so
high up, it was impossible to reach them. Then he remembered it would
not be right for a poor boy to go to the front door, so he turned and
went to the area gate and looked down the flight of steps that led to
the kitchen. It took a great deal of courage to descend them and
knock at the door below–more than he could all at once summon to his
aid–and he stood irresolute, with the handle of the gate in his
hand.

He went down at length and knocked timidly at the kitchen door. No
one came, so after some time he knocked again and louder. It was
opened by a girl, who asked him what he wanted.

“Please, I want to see the gentleman who said he lived here,” said
Dick.

The girl stared, and made him repeat his words. This time he spoke
rather plainer, and said he wanted to see a gentleman who had given
him some money an hour or two ago, in the Strand, for holding his
horse.

A servant in livery crossed the passage at this moment, and heard
what he said. He came to the door and exclaimed harshly–

“And so, because he gave you some money, you have come here hoping to
get more, you young vagabond. That’s always the way with you
beggars.”

“I’m not come to beg,” replied Dick, indignantly. “I’m come to give
the gentleman money, not to ask him for it.”

“Did the gentleman bid you come?” asked the man.

“No,” said Dick.

“Did any one send you?”

“No,” was again the reply.

“And yet you say you’ve come to give the gentleman money, and not to
beg,” said the servant. “Now, youngster, take my advice–get off
from here as fast as you can go, for it strikes me you are lurking
about for no good. There’s a bobby not far off who will come if I
call him.”

He shut the door in Dick’s face, and the servant girl went back into
the kitchen, and amused her companions by telling them that a boy had
just come under the pretence of wanting to give some money to the
master.

“That’s just what those young rascals do,” remarked the cook. “They
are taught by the thieves who employ them to go to gentlemen’s houses
with some pretence that shall get them admitted inside–and then,
whilst waiting, they take notice of doors and windows and bolts and
keys, and go and tell their masters, who know how to set to work at
night with their instruments when they come to break in. I daresay
that that boy has been taking stock of the lower part of the house,
for now I think of it, I saw a boy some time ago standing on the top
of the area steps and looking down at the door and windows. This lad
is the same, no doubt. He’ll be as likely as not to come to-night
with a practised house-breaker or two and try to get in.”

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Susan, the before-named girl, who slept in a
room on the area floor with another kitchen domestic. “Dear me, cook!
do you really think so? I’m sure I shan’t dare to go to bed
to-night.”

“Take the poker to bed with you, and never fear,” said the cook. “I
should take a real pleasure in bringing it down on the back of a man
if he had got in. I wish I’d the chance.”

“Then do please, cook, change rooms with me to-night,” exclaimed poor
Susan, who was pale with fright, and too inexperienced in the study
of human character to know that bragging was not courage. “I’m sure I
should only scream if they came. I’m not brave like you.”

But cook shirked exchanging rooms, saying the reason was that she
could not sleep comfortably in any bed but her own, or else she’d do
it with the greatest of pleasure.

While this conversation was going on in the kitchen, the innocent
subject of it had ascended the steps, and was walking away from the
house, when he heard the clatter of horse’s hoofs behind him, and,
looking round, he saw the very gentleman he was in search of coming
through the square at a rapid pace. Dick recognised him in a moment,
and was rejoiced to see him stop in front of No.–.

He jumped off his horse, and, as he was about to enter the house, he
caught sight of Dick, who was bowing and trying to attract his
attention.

“Ah, my little man,” he said; “why, are not you the same small chap
that held my horse in the Strand this morning?”

“Yes, sir; and, please, I have come to tell you that you gave me
yellow money by mistake amongst the pence–a whole sovereign! So I
have brought it for you.” And he took the little packet out of his
pocket and held it to him.

“What do you mean, my boy?” said Sir John Tralaway, for such was the
name of the gentleman. “There surely was no gold amongst the coppers
I gave you?” and he undid the paper.

A smile passed over his lips as he examined the contents. Then he
looked attentively at Dick. “And so,” said he, “you have brought the
money back to me because you thought I had given you more than I
intended. How did you find out where I lived?”

“I heard you tell the shopman to send some things to No.– Grosvenor
Square,” said Dick, “and so I thought I had better come here.”

“You are an honest, good boy,” said Sir John; “and though you have
made a mistake, and taken a bright new farthing fresh from the Mint
for a sovereign, yet it is all the same thing in the sight of God,
and in my eyes too, as if it had been indeed a piece of gold. Did you
ever see a sovereign?” he asked.

“Never but once or twice,” replied Dick, “and they looked exactly
like that;” and he pointed to the bright yellow farthing in Sir
John’s fingers.

“Your mistake is a very natural one, my boy. Eyes more accustomed
than yours to look at gold might easily have been deceived. Now come
in with me and tell me all about yourself, and where you learned to
be so honest.”

Sir John took him into a little room by the side of the hall door,
and asked him many questions. He was a man of well-known benevolence,
who was ever doing some deed of public or private charity. The
circumstance of Dick bringing him what he supposed to be a sovereign
given by mistake touched him greatly. He listened with interest to
what he told him about Walters, who was evidently a character rarely
to be met with in his class of life, and told Dick to ask him to call
and see him the next day at a given hour.

When he dismissed him, he gave him half-a-crown, and said he should
not lose sight of him. Dick did not quite understand what he meant by
that, but was sure it was something kind, and he ran off, one of the
happiest little boys in all London.

He had so much to tell Walters, he scarcely knew where to begin. The
old man was indeed pleased to hear that Dick’s principles had stood
fire under a strong temptation, and he hoped he might find a friend
in Sir John at the very time he most needed one.

The next morning, Walters gave an extra brushing to his coat, an
extra polish to his boots, and an extra smoothing to his Sunday hat
before setting forth to Grosvenor Square. He seldom now went near the
mansions of the rich, though in former days his duties had lain
amongst them almost entirely.

Sir John received him with great kindness, nay, even with respect,
for what Dick had said had filled him with admiration for him.
Walters told him about Dick’s miserable home, and of the sad example
set him by his parents and the other inmates of Roan’s Court. He
mentioned his is love for flowers, which had first made him hover so
constantly about Covent Garden Market, and so had brought him under
his notice.

“Then it is to you,” said Sir John, “that this little fellow is
indebted for the high principle which brought him here yesterday with
the supposed sovereign?”

“It’s little I have been able to do for him,” replied the old man,
“but God has blessed that little, and He has given the child a
tender, teachable mind, and a grateful, loving heart. But I wish he
could be taken out of that wicked Roan’s Court, where they are a
drunken, dishonest lot, and his parents are as good as no parents to
him.”

“He _shall_ be taken away, my good man,” replied Sir John. “I will
think the matter over, and see you again. I suppose his parents will
not object to any plan for the boy’s good?”

“Not they, Sir John. They never look after him; they leave him to
play about and shift for himself. I believe they would be glad enough
to have him taken off their hands.”

“Do you think he would like to be brought up as a gardener?” asked
Sir John. “As he is so fond of flowers, I should think his tastes
would lie that way.”

“It would be just what would suit him,” said Walters. “The lad is
wild after flowers. The first thing he did yesterday after you gave
him half a-crown, was to go and spend a shilling of it in buying a
rose-tree in a pot for my window. The little chap wanted to give me
something, so he bought what he cared most about himself.”

“Well, Walters, you have been a true friend to this boy, and God will
bless you for it; he shall be my care now, and I will try and follow
up the good work you have begun. I have a plan in my head which, if
it can be carried out, will, I think, be all you could wish for your
little friend. Will you come here again next Monday and bring Dick
with you? and by that time I hope I shall have arranged matters.”

Sir John was as good as his word. When Walters and Dick went to
Grosvenor Square at the time appointed, he asked the boy whether he
would like to live in the country, and learn gardening and the
management of flowers. Dick’s face was worth looking at, so full was
it of intense happiness at the idea. There was no occasion for him to
express his assent in words.

“I have a very clever head gardener at my country house,” said Sir
John; “and I have written to him about you. I shall board you in his
house; and if you continue to be a good boy, and try to please him by
your attention and industry, I am sure you will be very happy with
him and his wife; and in the gardens you will find yourself in the
midst of abundance of your friends the flowers.” Sir John then gave
Walters money with which to buy Dick two suits of clothes and such
other things as he would require, and asked him to settle the matter
with his parents.

The London season being nearly over, the family were going out of
town in a fortnight, and Dick was to go down to Denham Court, Sir
John’s country place, with some of the servants, a short time before
the rest of the party.

It was not in Dick’s power to say much by way of thanks; his heart
was too full. But Walters, who was scarcely less pleased, spoke for
him. When they had left the house and were walking down the Square,
Walters said–

“Dick, you are proving the truth of those words in your copy-book
which you wrote yesterday, that ‘Honesty is the best policy.'”

Continue Reading

DICK AND THE APPLES

FEW children, if any, who read this tale will probably be able to
form any idea of such a wretched home as that in which lived little
Dick Nason, the ragman’s son. There are houses and rooms in some of
the back streets in London where men, women, and children herd almost
like wild beasts–haunts of iniquity and misery, and where the name
of God is never heard except in the utterance of terrible oaths or
execrations. Such was Roan’s Court, a place which gave the police
continual trouble, and many a hard blow in the execution of their
duty. The houses were let out in rooms, of which the upper ones were
the most healthy, as possessing a little more light and air than the
others; but the cellar floors were almost destitute of both these
common luxuries of life, being sunk considerably below the level of
the court, and the windows, consisting of four small panes of glass,
begrimed with dirt, or if broken, as was generally the case, stuffed
up with dirty rags or paper.

It was in one of these cellar rooms that Dick Nason had been born,
and in which he lived till he was twelve years old. _How_ he had
lived, _how_ he had been fed, and _how_ clothed, it would be
difficult to imagine. His mother had been a tidy sort of woman in her
younger days, gaining her living as a servant in the family of a
small tradesman. But she married a man who was not of sober habits,
and who in consequence lost all steady employment, and sank lower and
lower till he was reduced to the position of a ragman, going about to
collect clothes, bones, rabbit-skins, and such odds and ends as he
could scrape together from the servants. The trade was not an
unlucrative one on the whole, but Nason spent so much in drink, and
his wife having fallen into the same bad habit, kept so little of
what she could contrive to get from her husband for household
purposes, that they seldom sat down to a regular meal, but scrambled
on in a wretched way, becoming every year more degraded and more
confirmed in their habits of intemperance.

Such was the home in which little Dick was reared. Fortunately he was
the only child. His father took little notice of him. His mother was
not without affection for him, but it was constantly deadened by the
almost stupefied state in which she lived. The child seldom knew real
hunger, for there was generally something to be found in the
three-cornered cupboard to which he had free access, nor did he often
get the hard words and blows that are so apt to fall to the lot of
the unfortunate children of drinking parents. Neither Nason nor his
wife were ranked amongst the more brawling and disorderly inhabitants
of Roan’s Court; though drink stupefied and rendered them helpless
and good-for-nothing often for days together, especially after Nason
had had a good haul into his big clothes-bag, and had turned its
contents into money. But as for the dirt, untidiness, and general
discomfort of their abode, they might have won the prize in this
respect had one been offered for the most wretched room.

Dick was a queer little figure to look at, though he had the
brightest face possible. He used to be clothed entirely out of his
father’s rag-bag. Nason had three of these bags, which hung up on
three nails in their cellar room. One was blue, made of strong
material, for the reception of old garments; the second, of stout
canvas, was for rabbit-skins; and the third for bones. Out of the
blue bag used to come forth jackets, which were by no means worn out,
as well as jackets well patched and darned. The latter always fell to
Dick’s share, as the better ones were more valuable to turn into
cash. As to the fit, that was considered to be utterly unimportant.
If only they were large enough for Dick to squeeze into them, or
small enough for him to be able to walk about in them, that was
deemed sufficient; so the little fellow would at one time be seen to
be almost bursting through his things from their tightness, and at
another he looked like a walking clothes-peg with his garments
hanging loosely upon him. But it was all the same to Dick, whether
they were tight or loose, and his bright eyes and curly head were
what people looked at most after all. Dick’s life for the first few
years was a very free and easy one. He made dirt pies beautifully as
soon as he was able to walk, being instructed in that art by some
children a little older than himself who lived next door. Then came
the ball-playing age–for even the poorest youngsters contrive to get
balls somehow or other–and Dick had his to roll about long before he
knew how to play with it. A little later on his amusement was to
stroll about the streets, peep in at the shop windows, look longingly
at the tempting piles of oranges and lollipops on the stalls at the
corner of the street, and occasionally, but very rarely, produce a
halfpenny from his pocket with which to purchase a scrap of the said
lollipops, or one of the smallest and most sour of the oranges.

But the greatest delight of Dick’s life was to go to Covent Garden
Market to look at the flowers, his love for which seemed born with
him in a remarkable degree. He was in a perfect ecstasy of delight
the first time he went there in company with some other children, who
like himself had nothing to do but to stroll about the streets. What
they looked at with indifference, Dick gazed upon with rapture, and
from that day he constantly found his way to the same spot, which was
at no great distance from Roan’s Court. He was there so often that
his appearance became familiar to the stall-holders, and they
sometimes employed him in running errands or doing little jobs for
them, rewarding him with an apple or orange, or, if it were towards
the evening, perhaps a bunch of flowers that had begun to fade.
Nothing ever pleased him so much as to have them to take home; and
then he tenderly put them in a cracked mug on the window seat, where
he could see them as soon as he awoke in the morning. In after years
he used to say that his first idea of God was taken from those
flowers; that their beauty carried off his mind in wonder as to the
greatness of the Power that made them. The strange contrast between
them in all their loveliness and the dingy dirty room he lived in,
had doubtless much to do with the effect they produced on his mind.

Dick knew little about religion. Once or twice he had peeped into a
church when service was going on, but had not cared to stay long; not
at all understanding what he heard, and feeling rather alarmed at the
man in the black gown whom he saw sitting near the door to keep
order.

But though Dick was a stranger to both church and Sunday-school, an
instructor was raised up for him in a quarter no one would have
expected. Not far from Covent Garden, in a single room, lived an old
man named John Walters, who had a small pension from a gentleman
whose servant he had once been, and who increased his means by doing
a variety of jobs about the market, where he was quite an
institution. This old man loved his God and loved his Bible. He lived
quite alone. His wife had been dead some years, and the only child he
ever had, a boy, died of measles when he was about twelve years of
age.

Perhaps it was the remembrance of this boy made him notice little
Dick as he lingered day after day about the market; but he might
never have spoken to him had it not been for an incident which we
will relate.

One day as a woman from the country was beginning to put up her fruit
and vegetables, she tripped and upset her basket of apples, which
rolled away in every direction. Dick was standing near and helped to
pick them up. The woman was anxious to collect them all, for they
were a valuable sort of apple which sold for a good price for
dessert, and every one was precious. Several rolled away to a
distance and lodged under a heap of empty hampers. Dick ran amongst
the hampers and picked them up; as he did so he slipped three of them
into the capacious pockets of the very loose clothes he had on, which
had lately been produced from the blue bag and would have fitted a
boy nearly twice his size. There was an Eye above that saw him commit
this theft, that Almighty Eye which never sleeps; but there was also
a human one upon the little boy at the moment, and it was that of old
John Walters. He was standing very near, but was concealed by some
tall shrubs. He saw Dick turn round to look if any one could see him
before he put the apples in his pocket, and this made him watch what
he was about; and he also saw him go up to the woman with several
apples in his hands, which he gave her. She warmly thanked him, and
returned him one as a present for the trouble he had taken. It was
getting late in the afternoon, and Walters was soon going home. He
felt unhappy about Dick, who reminded him of his own boy. He thought
he looked like a neglected lad who had no one to teach him how wrong
it is to steal. He did not like to bring him into disgrace and
trouble in the market by accusing him of taking the apples, neither
did he feel it would be right in him to see a child steal and take no
notice. “For,” thought he, “if he goes on from one thing to another
he may come to be a housebreaker in course of time; but if stopped
now, a boy with such a face as that may become an honest, good man.”
Then after a few minutes’ thought he said to himself, “‘Tis one of
Christ’s little ones, and so for the Master’s sake I’ll have a try at
him.” Meanwhile Dick was devouring the apple the woman had given him,
with the not unpleasant recollection that the pleasure to his palate
would be repeated three times over, since he had three more in his
pocket. I am afraid the said pleasure was in no way diminished by the
consciousness that they were stolen. I do not mean to say that he was
a thief habitually, for he was not. Some boys make thieving a trade
and exult in it. Dick had sometimes purloined what was not his own,
in the same manner that he had done the apples. He did not look out
for opportunities, but if one such as this came in his way he did not
try to resist the temptation.

He was rather startled when he felt some one lay a hand firmly on his
shoulder. It was the hand of John Walters, who said to him–

“I want to speak a word to you, my man. Come home with me and I’ll
give you a cup of tea. I’m going to have mine directly.” Dick looked
up into his face. It was a very kindly one, though rough and furrowed
with years; He did not feel afraid of it; so he went off with
Walters, for the cup of tea sounded tempting. It was not often such a
chance fell in his way. He walked by the old man’s side and answered
all his questions as to his name, and where he lived, and what his
father did, etc., and by the time Walters knew all about him, they
had arrived at the room which he rented in a small back street of
some people who kept a little shop.

It was but a humble abode, but it seemed a palace to Dick compared
with his own. In the first place, it was quite clean, for the woman
of whom Walters rented it was careful to keep it well swept, and he
himself did all the tidying and dusting part. Then the furniture was
better than what Dick was accustomed to see in any of the rooms in
Roan’s Court. There was a little round table in the middle of the
room, and another at the side with two or three large books on it.

[Illustration: “I WANT TO SPEAK A WORD TO YOU, MY MAN.”]

And there was a cupboard in one corner and a narrow bedstead in
another, and over the bedstead was laid a large tiger-skin which
Walters’ master had given him many years before, and which served as
an ornament by day and a warm covering for cold nights. Also there
was a shelf over the side table with a few books on it. Walters was a
good scholar, and had always been fond of reading, but of late years
he had cared for few books except his Bible and Prayer-book, which
gave evidence of being often used.

Walters told Dick to sit down, and he gave him a book with some
pictures of animals in it to look at whilst he made tea; but the boy
could not help watching Walters and his doings, which had greater
attractions than his book, on the whole. First he put a match to the
fire, which was laid ready for lighting. Then he went out with his
kettle and fetched some water. Next he unlocked the cupboard, and
brought out a tea-pot and two blue and white cups and saucers, and a
half-loaf of bread and some butter. He set them on the table very
tidily, and then going out again, he went into the little shop on the
other side of the passage and bought two or three slices of bacon of
his landlady, who sold provisions. These he fried in a little pan
that was hung up by the fireside, and when the water was poured into
the tea-pot, and the frizzling, delicious-smelling bacon was lifted
off the fire and put on a dish on the table, Dick’s mouth watered so
that he could scarcely wait to be told to begin and eat. “Now then,
Dick, come along,” said Walters, and Dick needed no second bidding.
He pulled his chair in an instant close to the table, and taking his
seat, looked ready for action. But old Walters had something else to
do before he would begin. He told Dick he was going to say grace, and
bade him stand, which he did, and looked rather wonderingly at the
old man as he took his little black cap off his head, and raising his
hands, asked God to bless the food His goodness had given them. The
boy had never seen this done before, and it puzzled him; but the next
moment he forgot all about it in the pleasure of satisfying his
hunger with the bacon and bread, of which Walters cut him a large
slice. His kind-hearted host ate very little himself; but he enjoyed
watching Dick’s satisfaction, and perhaps wished he had not to do so
disagreeable a thing as to tell his young guest that he had seen him
stealing.

When tea was over, the methodical old gentleman washed up the cups
and saucers and plates, and put everything away in the cupboard. Then
he said–

“Now, Dick, I have something to say to you–something you won’t like
half as much as eating the bacon. You have some apples in your
pockets, which you stole from the woman when she dropped them and
they rolled under the hamper. Dick, it is a very shocking thing to be
a thief, and yet you _are_ one!”

Poor Dick’s blue eyes grew enormous, and his cheeks became scarlet.
He knew too well that when thieves were detected their fate was to be
carried off to prison. He began to suspect he had been entrapped, and
that Walters was a policeman in disguise; yet it seemed strange if he
were going to be punished that he should begin by giving him such a
good tea. He had no time to collect his ideas, for Walters was
waiting for him to speak; he could only fly to the resource of trying
to help himself by telling a falsehood, so he said that the woman had
given them to him.

“No, Dick, that is untrue; she gave you one only, which you ate.”

More and more alarmed at finding how thoroughly acquainted Walters
was with the late transaction, Dick began to cry and begged him to
let him off. The kind-hearted old man drew the boy to his side, and
told him he was not going to punish him or tell anybody about his
theft; and when his tears were completely dried, he said–

“But there is One who does know it, my boy, and who will one day
punish you for stealing and telling stories if you go on thus, and if
you do not feel sorry for this and other naughty deeds you have
done.”

And then he talked of things very new to little Dick. He spoke of sin
and of hell, and of Jesus Christ, and of repentance and heaven, in
such simple words as came naturally to the old man, who was simple as
a child himself, and yet was wiser and more learned in these precious
truths than many a great scholar. He talked till the blue eyes
brimmed over with tears again, but this time not with terror lest he
was going to be sent to prison, but with sorrow for having done so
wrongly. For Dick had a very tender heart, and one that was quite
ready to receive all that was said to him. He brought the three
apples out of his pockets and asked Walters to take them away from
him.

“But they are not mine; I can’t take them,” he said.

“Then I will throw them away,” said Dick.

“That will not be right,” said Walters, “for they are not yours to
throw away; they are the woman’s.”

Dick looked bewildered; he did not know what to do with them.

“I think you ought to give them back to their owner,” said Walters.
“I know her, and she is very kind and will forgive you directly, I am
sure. If you are really sorry, you will be glad to take them back to
her. Suppose you leave them here till to-morrow, and then come, and I
will go with you to her stall.” Dick promised, and then old Walters
kneeled down with the little boy by his side, and he prayed–

“O dear Lord, forgive this young child for what he has done wrong,
and help him not to steal and tell stories any more, for Thy dear Son
Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

Then Dick ran home, thinking all the way of what Walters had been
talking about.

The next morning when he woke he saw his little mug of flowers
standing on the window-sill, and the old thought came into his mind
about God making such beautiful things, and he felt very sorry that
he had offended God the day before, and ventured to say a little
prayer to Him himself, the very first that had passed his lips–

“O God, who made the flowers, please make me a good boy. I don’t mean
to steal apples any more, or tell stories.”

A little later on, Dick learnt to ask for God’s _help_ to keep him
from stealing and lying and doing wrong things.

And old Walters had his prayer that morning about Dick–

“O God, I am old and not able to do much for Thee, but help me to
teach the little boy Thy ways. Amen.”

He was very glad when Dick came running in, for he was half afraid he
might shirk the business of taking the apples back to the woman. It
showed that he was really sorry, and willing to punish himself by
doing a disagreeable thing; for it was of course very disagreeable to
go and own that he had stolen the apples. Let all children who read
this little tale remember, that when we do any wrong thing, it is
right that we should suffer for it. It is not enough merely to tell
God we are sorry and to ask His forgiveness; we must prove to God and
to ourselves that we really _are_ grieved for our sin by humbling
ourselves to ask pardon of those to whom we have done wrong, and by
trying to repair the wrong. If we shrink from this when it is in our
power to do it, we may be pretty sure that our penitence is not of
the kind to lead us to hope that our fault will be forgiven by God;
and if He does not forgive our fault, then it will rise up before us
in that day when all, both small and great, must appear before the
judgment-seat of God.

The woman, Mrs. Needham by name, was greatly surprised when Walters
came to her stall as she was laying it out, and told her that Dick
wished to return her three apples he had been tempted to put into his
pockets the day before. Poor Dick scarcely said a word himself, he
felt so frightened lest Mrs. Needham should be very angry; but she
only spoke kindly to him, and said she hoped he would never do such a
thing again. Indeed, she was just going to give him back one of the
apples; but Walters was wiser, and shook his head at her and led Dick
away. He knew it would be bad for the boy to be rewarded for taking
back the stolen fruit. That afternoon when Mrs. Needham and Walters
happened to be together for a few minutes, she talked to him about
Dick, and he told her how he had tried to show the boy the sin of
stealing.

“After all, though,” said the soft-hearted woman, who was more kind
than wise, “it was no such great thing he did. An apple or two he
just slipped into his pocket when he had the chance, that was all.”

But Walters turned to her, and laying his hand on her arm, said
almost solemnly–

“And what turned Adam and Eve out of Paradise and brought sin upon
millions and millions of us, Mrs. Needham? Why, the taking of an
apple, and ‘_that was all!_'”

“Well, Walters, you’ve your own way of talking about these things,
and you understand them better than I do, because you’re so
Bible-read.”

Mrs. Needham was prevented saying more, because a customer just then
came up to purchase some of the very apples in question.

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