As he said this Mr. Grossmith led the way out of the room in which we had been talking, and which he told me was his own special sanctum, “into which no one is ever allowed to come except my wife, for anyone rushing in here when I was composing or thinking out a sketch would inevitably drive every single idea from my head,” and we went upstairs together. Here in the drawing-room he set himself down to a spinet which bore the date of 1770, and he struck a few exceedingly sweet-sounding, if slightly tinkling, chords from it. “And this,” said he, “is the oldest Broadwood in England. You can see for yourself the date—1795.” Downstairs he showed me a beautiful model of a steam engine, upon which he was enabled to ride, and which he could drive himself. “I thoroughly understand locomotives,” said he, as he pointed to a shelf full of all the works upon the subject which he had been able to discover.
* * * * *
A BLIND BEGGARMAN
BY FRANK MATHEW.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY F. PEGRAM.
“Left dark among mine enemies.”
Long ago, the Fairies often stole children; they chose the prettiest, and carried them to Fairyland—the Kingdom of Tyrnanoge,—leaving hideous Changelings instead. In those days no man had call to be ashamed of his offspring, since it a baby was deformed or idiotic it was known to be a Changeling.
[Illustration: “THE PIG WAS A FRIENDLY ANIMAL.”]
It is sixty years now since old Mike Lonergan, who lived in a hovel in Moher Village, was robbed of his child. It was his wife first found out the theft, for she had seen her unborn son in a dream, and he was beautiful; so when she saw the sickly and ugly baby, she knew that he was not hers, and that the Fairies had stolen the child of her dream. Many advised her to roast the Changeling on the turf-fire, but the White Witch of Moher said it would be safer to leave him alone. So the child Andy grew up as a stranger in his father’s hovel and had a dreary time of it, he got little food and no kindness. The Lonergans gave him neither offence nor welcome, hoping that he might see fit to go home to Tyrnanoge and yet bear them no grudge. He grew up an odd wizened little wretch, and everyone shunned him. The children loathed him because they were afraid of him, so they hooted him from a distance, or stoned him from behind walls.
Indeed, at this time his only ally was the pig that lived in one corner of the hovel. The pig was a friendly animal, his front half was a dull white and the other half black, and this gave him a homely look as if he was sitting in his shirt-sleeves. Andy would shrink into the corner, and sit cuddled there with one arm round the pig’s neck. Old Mike Lonergan took to drink, and spent every evening at the Shebeen—small blame to him—for how could a man be expected to stay at home with a Changeling sitting in a corner and staring at him?