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“ And what affair is it of yours ?" said the youth ; “mind your own business, and keep your tongue in its proper place: who asked your advice ? 'tis quite enough if you speak when you're spoken to.” So saying, he banged his door in her face, leaving her to storm outside as much as she pleased.
At first the children were afraid of him, as indeed of late they had often been ; but he soon soothed them, and presenting them with a bun, won their good opinion again, for insensibly they looked upon him as the brother of former days. Their bed-time came and passed, and the sleep began to steal into their eyes ; still he never told them to go to bed, but seemed anxious that they should sit up with him as long as possible. He amused them in every way he could, until the house was quite quiet, and then telling them that they were to go out very softly, for fear of disturbing any one in the house, he crept along the passage with them, and they were soon in the open street. The night was cold and the children were poorly clad, so they did not object to run along as fast as they could. Little Mary got along well enough, but Eddy found it hard work to keep up, his hip pained him so much ; not a murmur, however, escaped his lips; he had determined “ to be a man,” and although he felt rather frightened at the streets in the dark, still he said nothing, but made his way along. “ Where are you going to, John ? " asked his sister, as she trotted by his side.
“Oh, you're always fond of a walk.”
“But we like to go out in the bright sunshine.”
“We're going to a new place.”
“ To a new place ? ” said Eddy," and will you be always there?”
“Oh yes, of course," said the youth, "come along;” and the poor little crippled creature hobbled on as fast as ever he could.
A long and weary walk had the children, and just as they were ready to drop from fatigue, their brother said, “Here we are !" and they stopped before a wretched-looking house, the door of which was opened by an old woman, who looked anything but a pleasant person to live with. Eddy and Mary at first shrunk back, but they soon went in, and were conducted to a garret room, where they found some bread and cheese, and some rude furniture, not near as good even as what they had left behind them. As their brother, however, signified his intention of remaining with them, and sleeping on a pallet in the corner, they did not much mind the appearance of the room, but went to bed contentedly enough.
In the morning he gave them their breakfast, and as soon as they had done, told them that they must now work for their living, for that he had left his situation and
couldn't afford to keep them any longer. “ But what's the matter with you, young one?” and he pulled Eddy to him to examine his hip.
“Oh, nothing very particular," said Eddy, who was determined to be a man;" “it will soon go off, it was only a hurt.” John Graham looked at it, but as he could only see a slight swelling—for the mark of the bruise had gone off-he told Eddy that he intended to take him out with himself, to sell fish in the early part of the day, and fruit afterwards, for John Graham had now become a costermonger, and got his bread in the streets.
Had it not been for poor little Eddy's hip, which was at times almost intolerably painful, he would have been delighted with the prospect of being useful, besides which the novelty of being out all day would have made him like his new mode of life; when, however, he heard that his duty was to cry the fish, and that he must keep up with the truck on which it was wheeled about all the morning, he could not but be alarmed at the prospect. As to Mary, she was to remain at home, and get their meals ready as before, but she was not allowed to have any spare time. John Graham said, that she too must work for her bread, and he kept her almost daily employed in making sugarsticks and painting them. This was the occupation of the old woman who had opened the door the first evening they had come to the new house, and many a blow she gave poor Mary Graham, as she tried to please her, but tried, alas ! in vain. Off set John Graham and Eddy with the fish, but every step the latter took was full of pain; indeed at times he would have cried out, but that he put all his strength into calling the fish. Some might have wondered as they passed along that so young a child could call so loud, but they little knew what gave him such unnatural strength.
Once or twice, to Eddy's great astonishment, his brother went into a public-house, and came out rubbing his sleeve across his mouth, as though he had been buying gin instead of selling fish; but Eddy was afraid to make any remark, and so they went on upon their rounds. About two o'clock they returned home, and Mary had their dinner ready for them ; it was a much better one than she had had for a long time; there was bread and some fish that had been left from the previous day, and as John Graham was in a very good humour, there were also two or three apples; and on the whole Mary thought, that, wretched and tumble-down as their garret room was, their life was destined to be a much pleasanter one than it had been for a long time.
Had John Graham kept from drink, and
poor little Eddy's hip not been in such a sad state, all might have gone on well; but the little fellow soon became so seriously injured by the continual walking, that he began to lag behind, and he had less and less strength for crying the fish. Until his brother met with a public-house, all went on very well, he was kind enough to Eddy; but as soon as he had some drink, he became altogether changed. Many a cuff and shake had the little fellow to endure, but he had determined 66 to be a man,” and he often asked God in his own simple way for help, and so he did not complain.
But things could not always go on thus ; the hip grew worse and worse, until at last poor Eddy could not stir, and was compelled to lie down all day long. John Graham was now obliged to go out alone, and very surly he was, at the extra work which thus fell upon him. Nothing would persuade him that Eddy was not lazy, and he gave Mary directions not to let him have too much to eat. It was in vain that the little fellow protested that he was willing to work, that he begged his brother to put him in some place where he could sit and mind the fruit all day long. “Wet or dry, I'll never stir," said little Eddy Graham; “I'll sit there half the night if you like, but I cannot move far with this painful leg.” But John Graham would not listen to him for a