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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 277 pages of information about Essays in Rebellion.
It was a model dormitory.  So many cubic feet of air were allowed for each child.  The temperature was regulated according to thermometers hung on the wall.  Windows and ventilators opened on each side of the room to give a thorough draught across the top.  The beds had spring mattresses of steel, and three striped blankets each, and spotted red and white counterpanes such as give pauper dormitories such a cheerful look.  Looney and Clem slept side by side.  Before midnight the dormitory was full of suffocating smoke.  The alarm was raised.  For a time it was thought that all the boys had escaped down an iron staircase lately erected outside the building.  But when the flames had been put out in the store-room below, the bodies of Looney and Clem were found clasped together on Clem’s bed.  Looney’s arms were twisted very tightly around Clem’s neck, and people said he had perished in trying to save his friend.  Next Sunday the chaplain preached on the text, “And in death they were not divided.”  Their names were inscribed side by side on a little monument set up to commemorate the event, and underneath was carved a passage from the Psalms:  “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

EPILOGUE

At last Alfred’s discharge paper came from the workhouse, and he trudged down the road to the station, carrying a wooden box with his outfit, valued at L7.  He had been in charge of the State for six years, and had quite forgotten the outside world.  His nurture and education had cost the ratepayers L180.  He was now going to a home provided by benevolent persons as a kind of featherbed to catch the falling workhouse boy.  Here the manager found him a situation with a shoemaker, since shoemaking was his trade, but after a week’s trial his master called one evening at the home.

“Look ’ere, Mr. Waterton,” he said to the manager.  “I took on that there boy Reeve to do yer a kindness, but it ain’t no manner of good.  I suppose the boy ’ad parents of some sort, most likely bad, but ’e seems to me kind of machine-made, same as a Leicester boot.  I can’t make out whether you’d best call ‘im a sucklin’ duck or a dummercyle.  And as for bootmakin’—­I only wish ’e knowed nothing at all.”

So now Alfred is pushing a truck for an oilman in the Isle of Dogs at a shilling a day.  But the oilman thinks him “kind of dormant,” and it is possible that he may be sent back to the school for a time.  Next year he will be sixteen, and entitled to the privileges of a “pauper in his own right.”

Meanwhile little Lizzie is slowly getting her outfit ready for her departure also.  A society of thoughtful and energetic ladies will spend much time and money in placing her out in service at L6 a year.  And, as the pious lady said to herself when she wrote out a good character for her servant, God help the poor mistress who gets her!

But in all countries there is a constant demand of one kind or another for pretty girls, even for the foster-children of the State.

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