“’Bert,” said Nicky-Nan after a pause, “you’ve done a Kind Action this day, if you never do another.”
“But the clivverness started with ’Biades,” insisted ’Beida. “I hope you’ll bear that in mind, though I say nothing against the child’s sinfulness.”
“You’re the best friends, all three, I ever met in this world,” said Nicky-Nan gratefully.
On his homeward road, and half-way up the hill, Mr Pamphlett at the same moment turned, looked aloft, and accused Providence.
“What blisters me,” said Mr Pamphlett to the welkin, “is the thought that I subscribed no less than two guineas to the Boy Scouts Movement!”
ENLIGHTENMENT, AND RECRUITING.
“Was there ever a woman on this earth so tried?” demanded Mrs Penhaligon, lifting her eyes to two hams and a flitch of bacon she had just suspended from the rafters, and invoking them as Cleopatra the injurious gods. “As if ‘twasn’ enough to change the best kitchen in all Polpier for quarters where you can’t swing a cat, but on top of it I must be afflicted with a child that’s taken wi’ the indoors habit; and in the middle of August month, too, when every one as means to grow up a comfort to all concerned is out stretchin’ his legs an’ makin’ himself scarce an’ gettin’ a breath o’ nice fresh air into his little lungs.”
“What’s lungs?” asked ’Biades.
“There was a boy in the south of Ireland somewhere,” his mother answered, collecting a few wash-cloths she had hung to dry on the door of the cooking apparatus, “as took to his bed with nothing the matter at the age o’ fourteen. Next day, when his mother called him to get up, he said he wasn’t took very well. An’ this went on, day after day, until now he’s forty years old an’ the use of his limbs completely gone from him. That’s a fact, for I read it on the newspaper with names an’ dates, and only three nights ago I woke up dreamin’ upon that poor woman, workin’ her fingers to the bone an’ saddled with a bed-riding son. Little did I think at the time—”
Mrs Penhaligon broke off and sighed between desperation and absent-mindedness.
“I like this stove,” answered ’Biades. “It’s got a shiny knob on the door, ’stead of a latch.”
“How the child does take notice! . . . Yes, a nice shiny knob it is, and if you won’t come out to the back-yard an’ watch while I pin these things on the clothes-line, you must stay here an’ study your disobedient face in it. The fire’s out, so you can’t tumble in an’ be burnt to a coal like the wicked children in Nebuchadnezzar: which is a comfort, so far as it goes. Nor I can’t send you out to s’arch for your sister, wi’ the knowledge that it’ll surely end in her warmin’ your little sit-upon. . . . I’d do it myself, this moment,”— the mother grew wrathful only to relent,—“if I could be sure you weren’t sickenin’ for something. You’re behavin’ so unnatural.” She eyed him anxiously. “If it should turn out to be a case o’ suppressed measles, now, I’d hate to go to my grave wi’ the thought that I’d banged ’em in.”