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Oh yes, I do, sir -- thoroughly, thoroughly. My husband is in his grave; my children are going after him, and the best place for them; but they shall not be murdered. I will lock them up, so that they never shall be murdered.'

My dear lady, I agree with you entirely. You do the very wisest thing, in these bad times. But you know me well. I have had the honour of making your acquaintance in a pleasant manner. I feel for your children, quite as if I was-I mean, ma'am, a very fine old gentleman's affection. Geraldine, come and kiss me, my darling. Tommy, you may have the other side ; never mind the coal, my boy; there is a coal-wharf quite close to my windows at home.'

These children, who had been hiding behind Mr. Mordacks and Molly (who was now come back), immediately did as he ordered them; or rather Jerry led the way, and made Tommy come as well, by a signal which he never durst gainsay. But while they saluted the general factor (who sat down upon a box to accommodate them), from the corners of their eyes they kept a timid, trembling, melancholy watch upon

their own mother. Poor Mrs. Carroway was capable of wondering. Her power of judgment was not so far lost as it is in a dream—where we wonder at nothing, but cast off sceptic misery—and for the moment she seemed to be brought home from the distance of roving delusion, by looking at two of her children kissing a man, who was hunting in his pocket for his card.

“Circumstances, madam,' said Mr. Mordacks, ' have deprived me of the pleasure of producing my address. It should be in two of my pockets, but it seems to have strangely escaped from both of them. However, I will write it down, if required. Geraldine, dear, where is your school-slate ? Go and look for it, and take Tommy with you.'

This surprised Mrs. Carroway, and began to make her think. These were her children-she was nearly sure of that—her own poor children, who were threatened from all sides with the likelihood of being done away with. Yet here was a man, who made much of them, and kissed them, and they kissed him, without asking her permission !

'I scarcely know what it is about,' she said ; "and my husband is not here to help me.'

• You have hit the very point, ma'am. You must take it on yourself. How wonderfully clever the ladies always are! Your family is waiting for a Government supply ; everybody knows that everybody in the world may starve, before Government thinks of

supplying supply. I do not belong to the Government—although if I had

my deserts, I should have done so—but fully understanding them, I step in, to anticipate their action. I see that the children of a very noble officer and his admirable wife, have been neglected; through the rigour of the weather, and condition of the roads.

I am a very

taught us to say our prayers to. And there was nothing for baby to draw ever since.'

For once in his life Mr. Mordacks held his tongue; and his face, which was generally fiercer than ủis mind, was now far behind it in ferocity. He thought within himself, Well, I am come to something, to have let such things be going on in a matter which pertains to my office-pigeon-hole 100! This comes of false delicacy-my stumbling-block perpetually! No more of that. Now for action.'

Geraldine looked up at him, and said, ' Oh, please, sir.' And then she ran off, to show the way towards little Tommy.

The coal-cellar flew open before the foot of Mordacks, but no Tommy appeared till his sister ran in. The poor little fellow was quite dazzled with the light, and the grime on his cheeks made the inrush of fresh air come like

wasps

to him. • Now, Tommy, you be good,' said Geraldine ; “trouble enough has been made about you.'

The boy put out his underlip, and blinked with great amazement. After such a quantity of darkness and starvation to be told to be good was a little too bad ; his sense of right and wrong became fluid with confusion; he saw no sign of anything to eat; and the loud howl of an injured heart began to issue from the coaly rampart of neglected teeth.

“Quite right, my boy,' Mr. Mordacks said ; “you have had a bad time, and are entitled to lament. Wipe your nose on your sleeve, and have at it again.'

• Dirty, dirty things I hear. Who is come into my house like this? My house and my baby belong to me. Go away all of you. How can I bear this noise ?"

Mrs. Carroway stood in the passage behind them, looking only fit to die. One of her husband's watch-coats hung around her, falling nearly to her feet; and the long clothes of her dead baby, which she carried, hung over it, shaking like a white dog's tail. She was standing with her bare feet well apart, and that swing of hip and heel alternate, which mothers, for a thousand generations, have supposed to lull their babies into sweet sleep.

For once in his life the general factor had not the least idea of the proper thing to do. Not only did he not find it, but he did not even seek for it, standing aside rather out of the way, and trying to look like a calm spectator. But this availed him to no account whatever. He was the only man there, and the woman naturally fixed upon him.

* You are the man,' she said, in a quiet and reasonable voice, and coming up to Mordacks with the manner of a lady; “you are the gentleman, I mean, who promised to bring back my husband. Where is he? Have you fulfilled your promise ? '

My dear madam, my dear madam, consider your children, and how cold you are. Allow me to conduct you to a warmer place You

Oh yes, I do, sir -- thoroughly, thoroughly. My husband is in his grave; my children are going after him, and the best place for them; but they shall not be murdered. I will lock them up, so that they never shall be murdered.'

My dear lady, I agree with you entirely. You do the very wisest thing, in these bad times. But you know me well. I have had the honour of making your acquaintance in a pleasant manner. I feel for your children, quite as if I was—I mean, ma'am, a very fine old gentleman's affection. Geraldine, come and kiss me, my darling. Tommy, you may have the other side ; never mind the coal, my boy; there is a coal-wharf quite close to my windows at home.'

These children, who had been hiding behind Mr. Mordacks and Molly (who was now come back), immediately did as he ordered them; or rather Jerry led the way, and made Tommy come as well, by a signal which he never durst gainsay. But while they saluted the general factor (who sat down upon a box to accommodate them), from the corners of their eyes they kept a timid, trembling, melancholy watch upon

their own mother. Poor Mrs. Carroway was capable of wondering. Her power of judgment was not so far lost as it is in a dream-where we wonder at nothing, but cast off sceptic misery—and for the moment she seemed to be brought home from the distance of roving delusion, by looking at two of her children kissing a man, who was hunting in his pocket for his card.

• Circumstances, madam,' said Mr. Mordacks, “have deprived me of the pleasure of producing my address. It should be in two of

my pockets, but it seems to have strangely escaped from both of them. However, I will write it down, if required. Geraldine, dear, where is your school-slate ?

Go and look for it, and take Tommy with you.

This surprised Mrs. Carroway, and began to make her think. These were her children—she was nearly sure of that—her own poor children, who were threatened from all sides with the likelihood of being done away with. Yet here was a man, who made much of them, and kissed them, and they kissed him, without asking her permission!

“I scarcely know what it is about,' she said ; "and my husband is not here to help me.'

"You have hit the very point, ma’am. You must take it on yourself. How wonderfully clever the ladies always are! Your family is waiting for a Government supply; everybody knows that everybody in the world may starve, before Government thinks of supplying supply. I do not belong to the Government—although if I had my deserts, I should have done so—but fully understanding them, I step in, to anticipate their action. I see that the children of a very noble officer and his admirable wife, have been neglected; through the rigour of the weather, and condition of the roads. I am a very

such cases.

I step in; circumstances favour me; I discover a good stroke of business; my very high character, though much obscured by diffidence, secures me universal confidence. The little dears take to me, and I to them. They feel themselves safe under my protection, from their most villanous enemies. They are pleased to kiss a man of strength, and spirit, who represents the Government.

Mrs. Carroway scarcely understood a jot of this. Such a rush of words made her weak brain go round ; and she looked about vainly for her children, who had gladly escaped upon the chance afforded. But she came to the conclusion she was meant to come to—that this gentleman before her was the Government.

"I will do whatever I am told,' she said, looking miserably round, as if for anything to care about; only I must count my children first ; or the Government might say there was not the proper number.'

“Of all points, that is the very one that I would urge,' Mordacks answered, without dismay. Molly, conduct this good lady to her room. Light a good fire, as the Commissioners have ordered ; warm the soup sent from the arsenal last night, but be sure that you put no pepper in it. The lady will go with you, and follow our directions. She sees the importance of having all her faculties perfectly clear, when we make our schedule, as we shall do in a few hours' time, of all the children; every one with the date of their birth, and their Christian names, which nobody knows so well as their own dear mother. Ah, how very sweet it is, to have so many of them; and to know the pride, the pleasure, the delight, which the nation feels in providing for the welfare of every little darling !'

CHAPTER XLV.

THE THING IS JUST.

as

* Was there ever such a man?' said Mr. Mordacks to himself, as he rode back to Flamborough against the bitter wind, after “fettling' the affairs of the poor Carroways, as well as might be for the present ;

if I had not got my hands too full already, now I am in for another plaguesome business, which will cost a lot of money, instead of bringing money in! How many people have I now to look after ? In the first place, two vile wretches,-- Rickon Goold, the ship-scuttler, and John Cadman, the murderer--supposing that Dr. Upandown and Mrs. Carroway are right. Then, two drunken tars, with one leg between them, who may get scared of the law, and cut and run. Then, an outlawed smuggler, who has cut and run already; and a gentleman from India, who will be wild with disappointment, through the things that have happened since I saw him last. After that, a lawyer, who will fight tooth and nail, of course, because it brings grist to his mill.

and that the worst of all—not only a woman, but a downright mad one, as well as seven starving children. Charity is a thing that pays so slowly! That this poor creature should lose her head just now, is most unfortunate. I have nothing whatever to lay before Sir Duncan, when I tell him of this vile catastrophe, except the boy's own assertion, and the opinion of Dr. Upandown. Well, well, “faint heart, &c.”-I must nurse the people round; without me they would all have been dead; virtue is its own reward. I hope the old lady has not burned my bare to death.'

The factor might well say, that without his aid, that large family must have perished. Their neighbours were not to be blamed for this, being locked out of the house, and having no knowledge of the frost and famine that prevailed within. Perhaps, when the little ones began to die, Geraldine might have escaped from a window, and got help in time to save some of them, if she herself had any strength remaining; but as it was, she preferred to sacrifice herself and obey her mother. “Father always told me,' she had said to Mr. Mordacks, when he asked her how so sharp a child could let things come to such a pitch, that when he was out of the way, the first thing I was to mind always, was to do what mother told me: and now he can't come back no more, to let me off from doing it.'

By this time, the · Cod with the Hook in his Gills' was as much at the mercy of Mr. Mordacks, as if he had landed and were crimping him. Widow Precious was a very tough lady to get over, and she liked to think the worst she could of everybody-which proves in the end the most charitable course, because of the good-will produced by explanation—and for some time she had stood in the Flamburian attitude of doubt towards the factor. But even a Flamburian may at last be pierced ; and then (as with other pachydermatous animals) the hole, once made, is almost certain to grow larger. So by dint of good offices here and there, kind interest, and great industry, among a very simple and grateful race, he became the St. Oswald of that ancient shrine (as already has been hinted) and might do as he liked, even on the Sabbath-day. And as one of the first things he always liked to do, was to enter into everybody's business, he got into an intricacy of little knowledge, too manifold even for his many-fibred brain. But some of this ran into, and strengthened, his main clue, leading into the story he was labouring to explore, and laying before him, as bright as a diamond, even the mystery of ear-rings.

My highly valued hostess and admirable cook,' he said to Widow Precious, after making noble dinner, which his long snowy ride and work at Bridlington had earned ; 'in your knowledge of the annals of this interesting town, happen you to be able to recall the name of a certain man, John Cadman?'

• Ah, that ab deah,' Widow Tapsy answered, with a heavy sigh which rattled all the dishes on the waiter ;

and sma’ gude o' uu, sma' gude whativer. Geroot wi' un!'

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