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“And do you think it was a reg'ler well, Rip; then was my father's rage, and his extravagant a reg'ler out-and-out well, right into the bowels offer of a shilling for my apprehension, accounted of the earth, like Sir Gasper said it was ?" for. Now I came to think of it, Jerry Pape had “No doubt on it,” responded Ripston. shown a great deal of confusion when I asked

I didn't hear no splash,” urged Mouldy. him concerning my little sister. Perhaps Polly “That was 'cos you listened too quick,” said was dead, and Jerry knew it. Perhaps the tumRipston. ' Bein' so precious deep, you couldn't ble on the cobbled stones had killed her, and she 'spect to hear the splash all at once. I heard it was lying all alone in the room, quiet, and dead as about three minutes arterwards."

Joe Jenkins's bullfinch! Mouldy breathed very hard, but made no reply. This last reflection was of so terrible a nature He continued to breathe hard for a considerable that it stopped my tears, and set my thoughts in time, as though he had something on his mind. altogether a new channel—a very melancholy Presently he gently called Ripston again, but Rip-channel, as in it appeared my mother, with all the ston instantly began to snore in a manner that strange and terrible circumstances connected put all chance of waking him, by any means short with her burial. So I lay awake in the dark until of actual assault, quite out of the question. After Mouldy was asleep, and snoring as contentedly as a second attempt he desisted, and inclining his Ripston; and the card players and the lads that head towards me, whispered my name. But I were tossing halfpence were interrupted in the was in no humour for conversation, and I, too, midst of their wrangling, and cursing, and swearaffected to be asleep, and made him no reply. ing, by the approach of heavy footsteps, and sent

But I was not asleep by a very long way. With scuttling and climbing into the vans and carts, my cheek all wet with tears, as it lay pressing the crying one to the other, "Dowse the glim! here calf of Ripston's leg, I remained awake thinking come the nippers." of my past career, the foolish step I had taken, That a nipper was a 'policeman, I well knew; and what were my prospects. How different and dreading that Mrs. Burke had placed her case might everything have been by this time, if I had in the hands of the station-house people, I was only found pluck enough to have taken the suddenly filled with a fright that put all my tender thrashing that Mrs. Burke gave me, as I had thoughts to the rout, and brought to the fore the taken thrashings almost if not quite as violent, whole reserve of my selfish solicitude for my own dozens and scores of times! How much better personal safety. As the regular tramping came it would have been, even, if when Jerry Pape nearer and nearer, I was so hard driven by apseized me I had gone home, and once more faced prehension as to be of a great mind to slip over my father and his terrible waist strap! By this the back of the van, and hide until the police had time at least it would have been all over, and I passed. How I now wished that I had accepted should have been snug in my warm bed, in the the proposition of my two friends, and become back-room-snug in bed, and cuddling little Polly. “ pillow," so that they might be lying on and conNo doubt I should have as yet not quite have done cealing me! Tramp ! tramp! not of one nipper, smarting; but at that moment it would have been but of three at least, and coming straight up to difficult to have shown me a smart that I would our van! Straight up, so that my limbs are all not cheerfully have accepted and endured, the atremble, and my face wet with sweat instead of reward for which was that I should be immediate- tears; and now the leading nipper hauls himself ly afterwards translated to Fryingpan Alley, with by the tail-board chain, and with his flashing free admission at Number Nineteen, and all my bull's-eye lantern lights up the van, as though it iniquities forgiven.

were on fire. Poor little Polly! I could not bear to think But to my inexpressible relief he jumps down about her, and yet she was constantly uppermost again without a word, and on the policemen go, in my mind. I am sure that the leg of Ripston's talking about nobody's business but their own, trousers must have been saturated with the tears till their tramping grows fainter and fainter still

, that I shed, as I called to mind her sweet little and then dies away altogether, as does every other ways-how pretty she looked when I dressed her sound except the snoring of the sleepers and the up in the night and pretended that we were going squealing of the rats, till presently, and all una-walking, and how she would nestle down and expected, I drop into forgetfulness. kiss me when Mrs. Burke came in to bring her more bread and butter, and to wrongfully punch me about for eating the first lot. Where was Polly now? What was she doing ?

CHAPTER XIV. Was she sound asleep-bless her little heart in the front-room, or was she at that very moment IN WHICH I ENTER INTO PARTNERSHIP WITH MESSRS. lying awake in my bed, in the back-room, and ex

RIPSTON AND MOULDY, AND AGREE TO DO AS THEY pecting me?

Was she all right, as Jerry Pape had assured me she was ? How could I trust Jerry? He had I was still sound asleep when the “pillow" shown himself a treacherous rascal. Suppose wriggled himself away, and let my heavy head that instead of looking as well as ever she had in fall, with a tremendous bump, against the waggon her life—as Jerry had said—she was lying ill! floor. Perhaps that fall down the steps had broken her Rubbing my eyes open, I perceived that Mouldy arms or legs, and she had them bound up with had already risen. In the semi-darkness, I could rags, and sticks of wood, as I had seen the limbs dimly make him out, sitting on the top ledge of of the people who went in and out at the hospital the waggon side, yawning, and stirring his great gate, as I sat in the early part of the day keeping crop of red hair with his fingers in a savage sort watch in the pig market!

of way. For a few moments I felt altogether bePerhaps Polly was dead! If such was the case, / wildered. It seemed to me but five minutes ago

1

DO.

when the policeman had flashed his lantern light “How do you know you can bark ?" asked amongst us. Besides, I felt stiff and tired, and Ripston. as though, as yet, I had had no sleep at all. “Because I've tried it." Without

considering the matter further, I curled “Well, cert'ny, you are a jolly liar! Why, up into the corner again, with my folded arms for you just said that you never had barked for noa pillow.

body." “Now, Smiffield !” exclaimed Ripston, who was “More I haven't. I've tried it, though. I was no doubt cramped, and excusably cross; “pull trying it last night, in the market, when you come yourself together, without you means to stay here behind me." all day.”

"'Course he was," observed Mouldy. “Don't “But it isn't day yet,” I grumbled. “How can you 'member, Rip? Oh, yes ! you've got a werry it be day, when it's quite dark ?”

tidy voice for barkin', Smiffield; no mistake about “Oh! don't get a-askin' me none of your rid- that." dles. Get up and see if it isn't daylight. Why, I was very glad to hear him say this. it's sunshine. Get up here and have a look." “You think, then, that I should do at it, Moul.

As he was speaking, Ripston had climbed up dy ?” to where Mouldy was perched, and, with a little “How do yer mean—'do at it'?" trouble, I, too, climbed up.

“Please the man what I worked for-earn my “Now, where's the sunshine ?”

livin'." “Where? Why, on the river down there; see,” “Well, you might please the man what you

All round about us was dark and dismal indeed; worked for, but as for earning your livin' "_and but looking in the direction in which Ripston was Mouldy finished his remark by jerking his thumb pointing, there could be made out what at first over his shoulder with a manner that was not to seemed like a ball of bright silver. As you look- be misunderstood. ed, however, you found that it was nothing but a : “It might suit some coves, don't yer know," round hole, in at which the sun was pouring. It he continued ; " but it didn't suit me. Likewise was a wonderful sight-better than any peep-it didn't suit Ripston." show it had been my lot to see. Looking out at “ Then you've tried it ?" I asked, with sinking the bright hole, you could see the water of the spirits. river all trembling, and, as it were, a-light, and a “ 'Course we have. There's very little we hain't little bit of blue sky, and a barge laden with hay tried-eh, Ripston ? Yes, we've tried it, and so leisurely floating by.

has a whole lot of chaps we knows; and what “Come on," said I, putting a leg over the side they say is just what we say, and that is, that you of the van.

won't ketch 'em at it again. There! I'd sooner “ Come on where ?" asked Mouldy.

be a doctor's cove, and go about in a skillington “Down there where the sun is; it is better suit with roly buttons. Wouldn't you, Rip ?” than stopping here in the dark.”

“A’most," replied Ripston. " It is a life! “It is all werry well for them as likes it,” re-You're up in the mornin' afore you can see, and plied Mouldy, in a surly tone. “If you likes it, fust thing it's drivin' the barrow to market while you had better go to it.”

the man what you works for walks on the path ; “But ain't you goin' too-you and Ripston ?". then it's mindin' the barrow while he goes and

“We are a-goin' to where we always goes,” buys and loads up; then it's home agin with it, observed Ripston.

and, if it's wegetables, washin' it and settin' of it " Where's that?"

out; then it's paddlin' about all day long a-holWhy, to Common Garden, to be sure. Where's lerin' of it out." the use of going down to the river ?”

“And that hain't all,” said Mouldy. “ Unless you've got a callin' that way, which it has been a bad day, and the stock's a handy p'r'aps you have,” put in Mouldy.

sort, what'll go in a basket-such as inguns for “Praps he's goin' a-tottin',” (picking up bones,) picklin', or turmut reddishes--out you go agin by said Ripston.

yourself in the evenin', a-hawkin' and a-hollerin “Much good might it do him !-a farden a of it, till there ain't no lights in the houses 'cept pound when he gets 'em, and pelted by the barge in the top winders, and it's too late to try any coves, who puts it down that everybody as goes longer. And arter all, what'll you get ? Why, for a walk on the shore is arter priggin' coals. your wittles. That's right-ain't it, Ripston ?" Are you goin' a-tottin', Smiffield ?”

“ 'Cept about the wittles; them you don't al“No," I replied ; “Í don't know how."

ways get.' “ Then what caper are you up to ?”

This was not a little alarming. From the very “Well, I ain't pertickler. All I want is, some first I had made up mind to become a barker ; it thing to do to get me a livin'. Barkin' was what was that resolution, indeed, and the fancy that it I was thinking of. It ain't such a bad way of could be brought about so easily-provided I had gettin' a livin', is it ?”

any music in my voice-which had all along Mouldy looked at Ripston, and both boys backed up my yearning to leave home. It was laughed.

the conviction that I had got a musical voice, as "You was thinkin' of barkin', oh!" said Moul- was proved by my trials of it in the pig market dy. “What put barkin' into your head, Smif- at Smithfield, which had induced me to go along field ?"

with Mouldy and the other boy as soon as I was “My father."

given to understand that they were going near to “Father a coster, then ?”

Covent Garden. Nobody, however, had told me “No; my father is a— -isn't a coster." that a barker's life was a jolly one. The young “Did you ever bark for anybody ?

man who had assisted at my father's marriage “Oh, no! Father's pal put me up to it. Never with Mrs. Burke had merely mentioned that he barked for anybody yet. I want to."

had taken to barking to escape from a job which,

“S’pose

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to his mind, was worse than shoring oysters; and “Names is nothink,” observed Mouldy. “Look Mrs. Winkship had, after all, said very little in at 'Bleareye, the Bloodsucker,' wot we went to its praise. True, she had drawn a very nice pic- see-wot we went without a bit of wittles all day ture of herself, with her silk handkerchief over long to see; and wot did it turn out? Why, her shoulders, and without a bonnet, and with Bleareye wasn't a bloodsucker at all; he was half a sieve of ripe greengages under her arm, on'y a common sort of a cove as lent money and making a pretty pocket by strolling round the a-purpose to ruin young lords, and bring 'em to squares with them on a summer's afternoon, and the work’us. Jigger such pieces as that !” she had related the little incident to me while de “Did you ever see a play, Smiffield ?” asked scribing the particulars of the barking business ; | Ripston. but really it had no more to do with barking than Only in a show," I replied. with bricklaying. Now here were two boys who “What? a carrywan what a horse draws, I had tried the trade of barking, and both of them s’pose! It's werry little you knows about plays had abandoned it in disgust. They had found then, Smiffield,” said Ripston, laughing contemptusomething better to do. What was it ?

ously. “The place where we go is a reg'ler thea“What do you chaps do for a livin'?” I asked. tre, don't yer know-reg'ler stage, and fightin' “What do we do? Oh, anythink !” replied with real swords, and characters dressed up realMouldy, vaguely.

all welvet, and gold, and diamonds—and blue fire, By this time we all three had got out of the and that! You ought to go, Smiffield, if you've van, and were making our way towards the pas never been.” sage through which we had come the night be By this time we had got out into the Strand, fore.

which was very quiet, as well it might be, for just “What do you mean by anythink ?"

then the churches chimed out five o'clock. Then “Well, we picks it up,” Ripston explained. Mouldy brought us to a stand-still. “We keeps our eyes open, and when we sees a “Look here,” said he to me;

afore we goes chance we grabs at it.”

any furder, how are we goin' on? Are you goin' “ Then you don't go at anything reg'ler ?” down to the river, or to Common Garden along

“Oh yes, we goes at everythink reg'ler,” replied with me and Ripston ?” Mouldy, laughing. “It's no use bein' pertickler, “I should like to go with you, if you'll let don't you know, you're 'bliged to do it to pick a me." crust up. It's all chance work. Sometimes it'll “Let you ! there ain't no lettin's in it. Comrun as high as roast pork-sittin' down to it, mon Garden is as free to you as to us. The mind yer ? not eatin' it goin' along—and another thing is, how are you goin' to work ?” time it hain't a lump of bread from the time you “I don't know anything about the work, let turns out in the mornin' till you turns in again at alone how I am goin' to do it," I replied ; “that's night. It's all luck."

what I want to go with you for, so that you might “Ah! but the best on it is, you never knows put me in the way of it.” when the luck is goin' to change,” interposed “What Mouldy means,” observed Ripston, "is Ripston. “It's that wot keeps the pluck in you. this—are you goin' to work on your own hook, You thinks that your luck is dead out, and that or are you goin' pardeners with us ?” it is no use expectin' it ever to come back again; Such an offer, under the circumstances, was of you turns round a corner, and steps into it slap course extremely welcome. up to your neck. Why, look on'y at yesterday “I should like to go pardeners," I replied; "and arternoon! All day long not a mag ;no drop you are good sorts of fellows to ask it of me.” of coffee the fust thing; no breakfus', no dinner “Regʻler pardeners, don't you know,” said Ripsno nothink, 'cept wegetables and that sweepin's ! ton, in a whisper; "you works with us, and you Mouldy he gets down on his luck-which you do, grubs with us, and you lodges with us !" Mouldy, sooner than you ought sometimes—and “I understand." ses he, Wot's the use of us a-prowlin' and a-shiv “Fact, you are willin' to go with us, and do erin' out here any longer, Rip? I thinks we'd | 'zactly what we do ?” said Mouldy impressively. better make our ways back to the 'Delphi ; it's “ Yes." warmer there than out here.' 'Let's try a bit “ Whack all you finds, or gets, or haves give longer,' ses I; 'let's go round the market three you,” said Ripston, with the utmost gravity; times, and then if nothing don't turn up, we'll go “never sneak off and spend nothink unbehome.' When, scarcely was the words out of my known !" mouth, when somebody hollers, 'Hi !' and there “Never. 'Tisn't likely." was a gen'lman under the columade as wanted a “ Whenever the beadle catches you, you agree cab fetched. Mouldy fetched it, which was six- to take your gruel, and never split on your pals; pence for hisself, and a penny the cabman, made even though splitting would get you off. You sevenpence. So there we was, you see ! Stead agrees to all that ?” of goin' miser'ble back to the arches, and having “All of it," I replied; although, to tell the to wait p'r'aps three or four hours till your wan truth, I was not quite clear as to some of the came in, there was fippence for grub, and tup- terms proposed by Mouldy. pence for the gaff which you see us a-comin' from “You'll stick fast to us, and never funk nor last night. We often goes to the gaff—don't we, flinch ?” Mouldy ?”

“Never." “We goes to a benefit to-morrow night, if it “Then shake hands,” said Mouldy. “Now can be made to run to it,” Mouldy replied. shake hands with Ripston: now we're pardeners.

“Stunnin' piece out too, it is,” said Ripston; Come along, and let's get to business at once." ". The Wampire Captain ; or, the Pirate of the Desert.' Leastways, it oughter to be a stunnin' piece, from the name it's got.”

IN WHICH THE TRUE NATURE OF THE BUSINESS OF

PUDDING.

CHAPTER XV.

now, or wait till we takes a brown or two, and have somethin' to eat with it?"

“Have it now, I say," replied Mouldy, “I feel OUR FIRM IS MADE APPARENT, AND I BECOME A reg'ler perished for wants of it. What do you THIEF FOR THE SAKE OF A PEN'ORTH OF HOT say, Smiffield ?”

I was quite inclined to agree with Mouldy's

proposition. What with going so short of vicTHERE was no use in hanging back. To think tuals, and getting up so early in the morning, I of returning home after being absent a day and a began to experience a strange sort of sensation, night was altogether more than I dare attempt. which I suppose was of the same sort with Moul

I was in for it, and must make the best of it. dy's. I think I never felt so starved and chilly According to their own showing, the life led by before. So we went to the coffee-stall, and RipMouldy and Ripston was not a particularly hard ston ordered three ha'p'orths of coffee, which we one,-no harder, at least, and in respect of vic- had in three separate cups, and which was delituals, than I was well used and seasoned to. Not ciously hot and sweet, though not over strong. so hard. The “lump of bread” that my partners When we had drank it, feeling very much reseemed to think such hard fare was the best I had freshed, we turned to again to look for a job. got during the past three months; and the roast

But our luck didn't seem to better. Hour afpork, never They roamed about as they liked, ter hour we tried, but nothing turned up. We and where they liked; they had nobody to whack scoured the vegetable market through and through 'em ; they had all that they earned to spend and and worked in and out of the fruit market in do as they pleased with ; and they went to the every direction. I should have been ashamed, play. All things considered, it appeared very only that Mouldy did not get on any better than lucky that I had fallen in with a pair of such jolly I did; neither did Ripston, except for that first fellows; and luckier still, that they had taken to threehalfpence. Another thing that kept me from me so kindly. The lodging was the worst part of taking my failure so very much to heart was, that it. True, I had at present only tried it without both my companions appeared to be by no means straw; and even as it was, after one night's trial, low-spirited; they went cheerily about, cracking I felt merely a little stiffish, but all right in the their jokes and larking amongst the stalls, as main, and should by and by grow quite used though their bread was already buttered, and to it.

only awaited their eating when they were tired of These and kindred reflections occupied my strolling about About ten o'clock in the mornmind until we reached Covent Garden. Here we ing we quitted the market, and made our way found business brisk enough, though Mouldy de- through several back streets and alleys to Drury clared that we were at least an hour later than we Lane. ought to have been. We didn't enter the covered “Well, Smiffield,” said Mouldy, “how do you part of the market, but sauntered about the out-like bein' a pardener ? Do you think you shall skirts of it, where the carts and barrows were be- like to keep on with it?” ing laden. We wandered about in this way for “I shall like to keep on with it if we have a so long a time, that I began to wonder when we little better luck," I replied; "we haven't done were going to begin a job. I was about to ask much this morning, Mouldy." the question, when Ripston darted away from us, “We might ha' done wuss,” observed Ripston, and towards a man who stood holding up his “considerin' how jolly late it was afore we befinger by a pile of lettuces. Where's Ripston gone ?" I asked.

“I believe yer," said Mouldy. “I haven't Gone to work. Didn't you see that cove with done so bad; you ought to have done werry well, his finger held up ? That means a job for a boy ; too, Smiffield.” if he had held up two fingers, he would have This I naturally took to be a little joke of meant that it was a man wot he wanted. Don't Mouldy's, so I laughed as I answered himyou never go when you see two fingers held up, "Oh, yes, I've done splendid; just about as Smiffield, else you might get a knot chucked at well as you have, Mouldy." you, or something. One finger is what you've At this my partners winked and laughed too, got to look out for. The job what Rip's got will and we trotted up Drury Lane, merry as crickets. get us the coffee; now, if we can find summat "Presently we came to the entrance to a dingy else while he's a-doin' of it, that'll be the tommy; alley somewhere near Little Wild Street, and which I hopes we shall, 'cos coffee wirout tommy there we stopped. don't make much of a breakfus'. So keep your “Come on," whispered Mouldy, first looking up eyes open, Smiffield.”

and down to see that we were not observed; So I did; but nobody held up his finger-at “ tip up, Smiffield.” least, as far as I could make out; and Mouldy “Tip up!" I repeated, in amazement, seeing was not a bit luckier. In about twenty minutes that he as well as Ripston were looking perfectly we made our way towards Bow Street, to a coffee serious. stall which stood at market end of it; and, after “Fork out,” said the boy last mentioned, a few minutes' waiting, Ripston made his appear- nudging me impatiently; “not all at once; just

a few at a time. Here you are; I'll stand before “What luck, Rip ?" asked Mouldy. " Threeha'pence. How have you been doin'?” “I'spect it's chiefly in new taters,” observed

Mouldy replied by shrugging his shoulders dis- Mouldy; “I twigg'd you rubbin' puty close to mally.

the sieves-closer than I'd ha' liked to rub. "And Smiffield the same?"

Come on, out with 'em ; they're scarce as yet, "Jes the same.”

and will fetch somethink, though nuts pays bet"Come on, then. Shall we have our coffee ter, when you come acrost 'em.”

gun.”

ance.

yer.”

“I don't know what you are talking about," I though I had known Mrs. Burke to be guilty of answered. “I haven't got no new taters.” shameless swindling as regards my father's money,

“Well, let us have it, whatever it is,” said I don't think she would have given her counteRipston; the old man wot we deals with lives nance to downright stealing. Neither would my up here."

father; as witness the terrible thrashing he gave I couldn't in the least make out what my part- me when he was led to believe that I had purners meant; especially as they pointed to the loined that half-crown. Still, however, I did not pockets of my jacket and trousers as they spoke; like to confess that I did “twig," as Ripston put and presently Mouldy commenced to stroke me it, for fear I might be mistaken. down on every side. The result didn't appear to “Yah! you might as well tickle a milestone, afford him a great amount of satisfaction, judg- and 'spect it to larf, as to try and 'int anythink to ing from the increasing anger of his countenance, him," sneered Mouldy.

“Look here, young and the air of disgust with which he turned to Smiffield, you see them apples and nuts wot RipRipston.

ston's got ? Well, he nailed 'em! prigged 'em! ** Ho! ho !” he laughed savagely; "here's a stole 'em!—is that plain enough for yer! Look pardener ! here's a stunnin' pardener for yer!" here, again,” (he opened the mouth of a sort of

“Wot's the matter with him ?” asked Ripston, roundabout pocket in his jacket) “here's some evidently suspecting what was the true state of wot I nailed, and I'm jolly sorry that I didn't find the case, but loath to give credit to so prepos- the chance to nail some more. Now we're going terous a thing

up this alley to sell our stock, and to buy some “The matter? Why, he hain't got a blessed wittles with the money." thing! Not so much even as a goosgog! That's I don't pretend that I was a particularly sensiwhat's the matter."

tive or squeamish sort of boy, even at that time; And for several seconds both my partners stood but really there was something about Mouldy's regarding me in reproachful silence.

blunt and brutal assertion that he was a thief that * And you calls that stickin' to us !-doin' as shocked me very much. we do!” remarked Ripston; "well, you are a

" Good Lor'! what a lot to snivel about!” exsort."

claimed Mouldy, mockingly. “You didn't take “Well, so I did stick to you," I replied ; "I'm us for Sunday-school kids, wot minds wot their sure I looked out all I could. If nobody wanted katekisims and their colicks tells 'm? You was nothink carryin', how could I help it ?”

werry much mistaken if you did.” “Yah !" sneered Mouldy, with the utterest con “Praps you, wot's got a home,” put in Riptempt.

ston, with polite sarcasm—"p'r’aps you, wot's got “I didn't have any money to buy goosgogs," I a home as you ran away from, and can run back continued, in explanation; "nor yet to buy new to when you finds it convenient, can afford to be taters, nor anythink. You know'd that I didn't a little more pertickler. There's one good thing have any money, didn't you?”

for yer to think on, Smiffield-you ain't in the “We didn't know you was a jolly fool." least 'bliged to have any of the puddin' what we're

“Besides, if I had got a penny, I shouldn't have a-goin' to buy presently. You are a werry good bought some goosgogs with it, I can tell you,” little boy, and are free to hook it as soon as ever said I ; "I should have bought some bread at you like." breakfus' time."

“ Which the sooner it is, the better, p'r'aps," I never in my life saw a more ferocious face observed Mouldy, with an ugly scowl. than that of Mouldy's as, on hearing my explana And disdaining further conversation with me, tion, he turned towards me. His wrath was al- they turned about and went up the alley, leaving together too great for speech; so after glaring at me standing in the road. me for a moment, he growled deeply, and turning And, indeed, there I was, as Ripton had vulgarly away, looked up the street.

but forcibly expressed it, “ free to hook it.” If Ripston laughed.

my object was simply to amuse the reader, I should “Don't get out of temper, Mouldy," said he; perhaps have refrained from making mention of “Smiffield's green, that's wot it is. See here, this important circumstance; but as it is my true Smiffield.”

history, I have no choice but to relate it. There So saying, he took from his jacket pocket, one I was, free to run away. I had tasted a vagabond after the other, seven lovely apples; and then he life; I had unwittingly fallen in with thieves; had invited me to peep into his trousers' pockets. I eaten, and drank, and slept with them; but, my did so. One of them was full of almond nuts, and lucky star prevailing, I had found them out in time, the other of Spanish nuts.

and while I was still an honest boy. It was my “My eyes, Smiffield !” said Ripston; wot a chance. I am fully aware of it; and if any one is dislot of money they must have cost me, mustn't posed to accuse me of walking into sin with my they?"

eyes open, I have nothing to say in my defence. I But why did you buy nuts and apples ?” I humbly confess that my proper course would asked, in bewilderment.

have been to have screwed up courage and run “Well, I bought 'em to sell agin' don't yer home. I didn't know the way, it is true; but I see,' replied Ripston, his whole face, excepting could easily have inquired, braving everything. his eyes, perfectly serious; “I deals in 'em." But, ladies and gentlemen, pray bear in mind the

"When did you buy 'em? I didn't see you." peculiarity of my position, and let it weigh with

“Nor did the cove as belonged to 'em. He you in your judgment. I was as miserable as the was servin' somebody else at the time, and I most severe amongst you could have desired, I do thought he wouldn't like to be disturbed; so I assure you. When I thought on how I had met served myself, and didn't wait to have 'em put in Mouldy and Ripston; how they had invited me bag. Now, do you twig?”

home to share their van; how I had slept with I began to fear that I did. I say, fear; for them, and talked with them, and shared their

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