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unusual splendour, and gave promise of a bright and happy summer's day. The child's hollow eyes lit up with delight, and hope swelled his bosom. He looked up into the blue sky, and stretched his shrunken hands towards God. In untaught prayer his thoughts wandered away upwards, ever rising, ever rising. The summer's morning was chill, but the warmth of mid-day would come ere long. Might not the chilling poverty of his life's morning warm into prosperity and happiness with manhood? Some such thoughts crossed the child's mind, and his heart beat high with hope.

And now he set diligently to work to better his plans. Stealing quietly down into the kitchen, he provided himself with tinder and matches, determined that this time he would make a fire in the field, and thus have fresh pencils always ready. Very luckily the old woman was to be out the whole day, and, as soon as he could get away, the young artist hurried off to his studio. Hour after hour flew rapidly away. The child worked steadily on, and when the time came to go home, he could not help a feeling of pride as he stepped back a few paces to get a better view of the last drawing he had made. He knew his progress had been rapid. A spirit of self-reliance had grown up within him, and he looked manfully forward into the future.

The next day, and the next, house drudgery kept Tom fully employed, but the third day found him free, and at work at the stone again. Evening came on before he had completed the picture, which he intended should cover the whole surface. He was just on the point of rubbing out the performance, when it struck him he had better leave it. Perhaps it might remain untouched, and then he could finish it some other day. With an anxious heart he left the picture to its fate, and reached home a few minutes only before the old woman. She had been drinking, and, without saying a word, saluted the boy with so cruel a blow, that he fell flat on the floor like a dead body, and lay still and senseless.

"He'll very soon come to himself," said she, stirring him with her foot. He rose slowly, and with difficulty. "There, you'd better go to bed; I didn't think I'd hit you so hard. Be off with you," continued she, clutching a heavy stick she used when walking, "or else I'll give you another." The boy looked earnestly at her without speaking, and walked proudly away.

"Drat the child," screamed the hag in a shrill treble; "what does he mean by going like that? Be quicker, will you? I'll give it him! Ah, ah, I'll give it him!" and she laughed hideously. Going to

the cupboard she took down a spirit-bottle, and sat sucking at the neck, rocking slowly to and fro. Now and then she would remove it, and laugh and mutter with drunken glee: "I'll give it him! Ah, ah, I'll give it him!"

Her

The spirit soon took effect. The bottle dropped from her hand, and smashed to pieces on the floor, spilling the contents; but this mishap the hag was too far gone to notice. She sank slowly forwards, lower and lower, until, at last, she overbalanced herself, and fell at full length on the rug. hand was severely cut on the fragments of broken glass, and a revolting mixture of blood and gin stained the floor. Partly stunned by the fall, but still more overcome by the sleep of drunkenness, she lay without motion, until the child, awoke by the disturbance, came to her assistance. All his little strength failed to raise her, so he propped up her head with a pillow, bandaged her hand, and cleared away the bits of bottle. Then dragging his bed into the room, the generous child lay down to act protector to one who had always starved and beaten, and might, perhaps, some day kill him.

Two or three days passed before he was again free; days of burning impatience. When the happy moment came again, and the old woman had gone for the day to work, Tom darted off with a beating

heart.

On entering the field he was terrified to see a man standing near the stone; but his terror

soon changed to joy when he recognized the signpainter.

"Umph, youngster !" growled the man, as he eyed Tom rather contemptuously; "I don't wonder your mother licks if this is the way you spend

you,

your time-scribbling about on stones. I suppose it's your doing, else you wouldn't be here." "Yes, please Sir, I did it," said the child. "And don't you think you might be doing something better than idling about here?"

"Please Sir, I only does it when mother has nothing else for me."

"Nothing else, nothing else;" repeating the boy's words. "Children should always have something to do. So might you, if you liked. Did you never hear about Satan having mischief for idle hands to do?"

"Please Sir, I don't know who he is?" said the child, inquiringly.

"And a devilish good thing for you." He "The old woman

laughed gruffly at his own wit. knows how to bring you up."

Tom's solitary life, and the studious care with which all other children avoided him, had prevented him from knowing his own ignorance. No one

had ever thought to find intelligence in the little wild scarecrow. But, now that he found himself ignorant of what he was expected to know, he blushed with shame, and hung his head dejectedly. The wound smarted, but it did him good. It seemed to let into his mind a new light:-the knowledge that he could not be quite the idiot for which he was taken. No one had ever questioned him before; and when the first smart at his ignorance was passed, he felt his pride rising that a question should have been asked him.

The man eyed him with a kind of rough pity. "Don't look so stupid, youngster," said he. "Spose you had anything to do now, would you do it? I'll be bound you'd rather loiter here.”

"Oh yes, I would do it, I would," said the child, looking up eagerly. "I'm used to work, I am." And he seemed gratified to think that, at all events, he could answer this question. The man's words and manner were harsh, but they were kinder than Tom had ever experienced before. Besides, he did not strike him, which Tom fully expected he would do; and then Tom felt a great admiration for the man, and entertained a sort of half hope that he might be present at the painting of another sign-board-might, perhaps, handle the brushes himself.

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