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A TUG T chanced one sunny day in spring,
When every little feathered thing
Looks out for all that can be pressed Into its service for a nest, Two birds at the same instant found A piece of wool upon the ground; And, quick as thought, with one accord, Each sought to take it for his hoard. “ 'Tis mine!" said one. “Mine!” cried the other. One angry speech led to another, Till, seeing that all argument Was quite in vain, each bird, intent On gaining what he thought his right, Tugged at the wool with all his might.
And now began a trial of strength.
“ BUY A BROOM ?”
“I want one very
lers' cart I mean?” “No," replied the girl. “Tommy, my little “Yes, dear, if the people brother, did.” come round again."
“How clever he must be !” said Alice. How "I wish I could go round old is your little brother?” the country like they,” said “Nine,” replied the girl. “ He is an invalid. Alice Farmer, the eldest of He can't walk properly; and the doctors can't the children. " It would be do him good without knives, and mother says they great fun moving from place shan't cut his feet off.” to place."
“Oh, dear !” exclaimed Alice, in her turn. “You would not find it What's
name?" so pleasant as you imagine,” replied Mrs. Farmer, Betsy Jordan. There's mother and little smiling. “Those poor people have to put up with Tommy in the house with Bob, the baby.” many trials. You only think so now because you “And haven't you any father?” inquired Alice. are ignorant of the troubles they endure.”
“Yes ; but we don't see much of him now," she “Well, I should like to try, at any rate,” replied replied, hastily. “Thankye, miss; Tommy will be so Alice, who was of an adventurous turn of glad to get his pennies.” mind ; “and when the cart comes I will ask the She was turning away, when a brilliant thought girl
came into Alice's head. Why couldn't her father “ Nonsense,” interrupted Mrs. Farmer. “You cure Tommy? Certainly he was only a country must not think of such a thing. What do you: doctor, and employed by the parish-not like a fancy people would say to you if they saw you in a great man. Still, Alice knew he was clever. basket-seller's van ?”
she said suddenly“I did not mean to go in the van, mother; I “Where are you going to stop to-night?” meant I would ask the girl all about it."
“On the heath, at the upper end of the Nothing more was said upon the subject at that town.” time, but Alice kept watch for the broom-sellers. “Well, then, I'll tell father, and ask him to go But they did not come for some time after ; till and see your little brother. Father's the doctor, and one afternoon Alice thought she heard them at a he can cure him, perhaps.” distance. The street was quite quiet in the sleepy “Thankye kindly, miss, but I'm afraid we haven't little town, and Alice was walking by herself money for payment. Mother has taken very little over the bridge which crosses the stream at the the last week, and a grand gentleman would want end.
more than we have." Alice Farmer was quite right. In a few moments
"Papa isn't a grand gentleman," replied Lily; the van came up slowly, the little horse having quite he doesn't mind what he does." enough to do to pull it and its occupants along. Little Eva quite approved, but Alice reproved A tall, well-grown girl was walking beside the cart, her sister. The van girl smiled, and said-and a small white dog was fastened to it.
“I'm sure we're very thankful, miss; I'll tell As Alice stopped to watch the caravan approach, mother. Mother! mother !" she cried. her sisters came running up.
The woman, carrying a little child, came out and “Oh, here you are, Alice; mother wondered where stood beside them. The few passers-by took little you had got to. How did you know the van was notice, and the children of the village only stared. coming ?”
When all had been explained, the woman thanked “ I didn't know it was coming," replied Alice, the girls, but she didn't expect the doctor would “but I thought it was.”
come to "the likes o' her." “Buy a broom, miss?” said the tall girl who was “Well, you'll see. He's not poor, and doesn't walking in the road. “Please to buy a broom.” want money ; he's got plenty now, and there are
grand things in our house,” said simple Lily, proudly. *Such lovely gold and silver things.”
“Nonsense, Lily!” replied Alice. “Don't talk such nonsense ; come along. Good evening to you," she added.
“Good evening, and heaven bless ye, miss," re. plied the woman. “Gee up, Dick !”
This was said to the horse, which toiled slowly with his load up the hill, and the woman re-entered the “house on wheels."
“What was she a-sayin' about money, and gold, and silver," inquired a harsh voice from inside the * house."
"Nothin', Jack-nothin' particular. Never mind, the doctor is to come to put the darling boy on his pretty legs again, bless him!” " Ah! a likely story that !” grumbled the man.
"I wish Joe wasn't comin' to-night,” said the mother in an undertone to her daughter. “He'll put your father alongside of some mischief.
He's never content now," she sighed ; and then added, " Do you think the doctor will come, Betty ?”
" I'm sure the young lady will ask him," she answered. “But perhaps he won't come. "Here he is,” cried the woman.
But she sat down again in disappointment. It was only " Long Joe," as he was called, who came upon them in the gloom.
Nobody made way for him to pass, so he leaped up on the top step, and entered the inner chamber, where his friend was smoking.
There we may leave these men to consult, and plan what were to be wicked deeds, and return to the doctor and his daughters.
As soon as he came in, Alice told him about the " house on wheels," and the sick child ; ending up with a request that her father would go to the boy.
Go and see the child! Why, my dear Alice, do you expect me to turn out and trudge up to the moor to-night?”
“Of course you will go, Arthur,” said his wife. * Think of the poor mother's delight if you can assure her of her child's eventual recovery.”
"Well, well ; I'll go. I must, I suppose," replied the worthy doctor, smiling. “But Alice, my dear, you need not go about promising my services to every tramp in the neighbourhood."
" I'll never do it again, father. But the broomgirl was so glad, and
" Very well, I'm off. I shall not be long," re. plied the doctor. Good-night, Alice."
Alice kissed her father, and shut the street door.
Half-past nine struck; then the three-quarters past from the clock on the top of the Market House ; then ten strokes warned the town it was time to go to bed, for they were very early folk in
Downton. Quarter past-half-past ten ! Eleven! Twelve! and still Mrs. Farmer sat up listening for her husband's footfall on the pavement-the firm tread she always could recognise—but it came not. Was anything wrong ? Had he been suddenly called elsewhere? She was not anxious, yet she felt nervously watchful in spite of herself. She would go to bed. One o'clock ! A quarter past ! No husband. What could be the matter? Ah, here he was at last. Footsteps stopped at the door. A knock. That was not her husband; for he always had a key.
Mrs. Farmer hurried down. A man on the stepa policeman, the policeman, the only one in Downton, was outside.
Can I speak to you, mum ?”
Certainly. What is it?" exclaimed the doctor's wife, anxiously. “ Come in."
" Don't be alarmed, mum, if you can help it; but the doctor-_-"
“Well ?-quick-what about Doctor Farmer? Make haste."
“Ye see, mum, he's been set upon and hurt a little. I've took him to the chemist's, and he's quite nicely now, mum. He isn't badly hurt.”
“Let me go !” cried Mrs. Farmer, “let me go !” And she was about to hurry away, when the police. man, who acted with much sense, said-
“Don't you stir, mum, please ; the doctor will be here in a minute or so. He's coming all right.”
In a few moments the doctor made his appearance. He was looking pale, and marks of a violent struggle were evident. But he was not vitally injured. There was a mark upon his throat, and a bruise on his cheek, but no other outward injuries. He was, however, very exhausted. It was as much as they could do to convey him upstairs.
There he was taken the greatest care of, as you may easily imagine. Mrs. Farmer asked no questions, but the doctor could not rest till he had told her. She wished him to sleep first; but he related, in a disconnected way, how he had gone up to the heath, and had found the van. He had seen the child, and found the case better than he had expected ; but crossing the lonely road he had been set upon by two men, and robbed of his watch and money, and almost garrotted in the process. The policeman had found him lying half-insensible in the road, and had brought him to the chemist's.
“And this comes of helping the tramps," thought Mrs. Farmer. “No doubt it was all arranged beforehand.”
Next morning the policeman called, and said that the whole of the family were in custody, and when the doctor was well enough to relate the circumstances the men would be charged with the
robbery. But there was nothing against the women, and they were discharged that afternoon.
In the evening the doctor was sitting resting in the dining-room, when the servant announced that
person wished to see him." “I can see nobody," he replied. “ Send to Mr. Nicholl.” Mr. Nicholl was the doctor's assistant.
“She particularly wants you, sir ; I don't think it's a matter of medicine. She looks like a tramp."
It suddenly occurred to the doctor that this visit had something to do with his adventure of the evening before, so he said, “Show her in."
“Well,” said the doctor, “what do you want ?"
“You don't know what I suffer," she said. “I thought the men had gone away after the birds.' It's no use disguisin' it, sir. Here's your watch and chain, and the two pounds three shillings in money they robbed you of. Think bad of me if you will ; but, doctor, do you think I'd be a party to robbin' the man who came to help my child ?”
The doctor hesitated, but at length he answered, “No; I believe you're honest."
“Heaven bless you, sir,” she cried, “I am indeed; and Jack has been led on by bad example. Oh, if you only could help him he would be better.”
“I cannot interfere," replied the doctor;“ I must let justice take its course. If he is proved guilty he must abide by the consequences.”
This was all the doctor could do, and the men were committed for trial and sent to prison. The good doctor would not say more than he was obliged to say, but the men were found guilty and sent to penal servitude.
Meanwhile he attended the child, and did all he could for the family of the man who had so ill-treated him. After a few years he succeeded in obtaining a very good appointment, and just then the“ house on wheels” made its reappearance. The poor boy was then well and strong, the van was still the home of Betty and her mother, but the white dog had been killed-run over in the street. Thanks to the doctor's kindness, Jack, the convict, was doing his best to earn a good character in prison. He heard, when the prison rules admitted his letter, how kind Doctor and Mrs. Farmer had been, and how his child had been cured. When he first went to prison the man had been very bitter, and very angry against every one ; but when he reflected upon the kindness and Christian-like behaviour of the doctor, how he had returned good for evil, and had actually saved the life of the child of the man who had nearly taken his life-then Jack, the convict, repented, and determined to do his best.
So the years passed on. The doctor left Down. ton, and gave Spot, his own puppy, to the woman of
the van when he left the town to take up his new appointment. Poor Spot did not want to leave his master ; but the family had a long journey before them, and the dog was left behind.
Meanwhile the doctor had become celebrated, and had again removed—this time to London. The girls had grown up and had been presented at Court, and went into society. The doctor's house was in a fashionable quarter, and he was very rich.
One day, as he was about to go out to pay his afternoon round of visits, in the hope of being able to get back in good time for a dinner-party that evening, a man stopped him on the steps and said“May I speak with you, sir?—it is most important.”
Certainly,” replied the kind-hearted doctor. “ What is it?"
They were standing in the dining-room then.
“There is a deal of plate," muttered the man, as he cast his eyes upon some beautiful things arranged on the sideboard. " You don't remember me, sir?" “No," answered the doctor.
I'm a ticket-o'-leave man. I helped to rob you once, and I've repented ever since. I heard how you behaved to my wife and children, and I made up my mind that if ever the time came I would repay
what I owed you, sir.” “Well, well ; I'm glad to hear you are grateful. You had better find your wife and family, and lead an honest life. Emigrate!”
“ I'm going to try, sir; I am indeed. But I'm here to warn you first, at risk of my life. Three men are going to rob this house to-night. I know it. Now you are warned. Get assistance. Let police be hid here. I pretended to join, because I wished to save you. It's as true as I'm here."
“Thank you,' replied the doctor. “Where are you going?"
“ Far away from this, you may depend, after tonight. I must come here myself; but tell the police. The entrance will be made through the pantry.”
The man hurried away, and the doctor took the hint. He procured four constables, and posted them in convenient spots in hiding. About twelve o'clock the guests had all gone, and at two the thieves came, and were all captured. Jack, the convict, was released at once, but his associates were again sentenced to penal servitude, from which they had only just been discharged. Then Jack, quite repentant, started off into the country, to endeavour to find his wife and family.
So Jack walked into Downton, and sat upon the parapet of the bridge, near where he had first seen Alice and her sisters buying penny brooms eight years before--brooms made by his invalid little son.
“ Heaven bless them all," he said to himself. "I