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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Rough Shaking - Chapter 21. Tommy Is Found And Found Out
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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 21. Tommy Is Found And Found Out Post by :glolo Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2345

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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 21. Tommy Is Found And Found Out

Chapter XXI. Tommy is found and found out

When Clare woke from his first sleep, which he did within an hour--for he was too hungry to sleep straight on, and the door, imperfectly closed by Tommy, had come open, and let in a cold wind with the moonlight--he raised himself on his elbow, and peered from his stone shelf into the dreary hut. He could not at once tell where he was, but when he remembered, his first thought was Tommy. He looked about for him. Tommy was nowhere. Then he saw the open door, and remembered he had gone out. Surely it was time he had come back! Stiff and sore, he turned on his longitudinal axis, crept down from the forge, and went out shivering to look for his imp. The moon shone radiant on the rusty iron, and the glamour of her light rendered not a few of its shapes and fragments suggestive of cruel torture. Picking his way among spikes and corners and edges, he walked about the hideous wilderness searching for Tommy, afraid to call for fear of attracting attention. The hen too was walking about, disconsolate, but she took no notice of him, neither did the sight of her give him any hint or rouse in him the least suspicion: how could he suspect one so innocent and troubled for the avenging genius through whom Tommy's white face lay upturned to the white moon! Her egg-shells lay scattered, each a ghastly point in the moonshine, each a silent witness to the deed that had been done. Tommy scattered and forgot them; the moon gathered and noted them. But they told Clare nothing, either of Tommy's behaviour or of Tommy himself.

He came at last to the heap of metal, and there lay Tommy, caught in its skeleton protrusions. A shiver went through him when he saw the pallid face, and the dark streak of blood across it. He concluded that in trying to get over the wall he had failed and fallen back. He climbed and took him in his arms. Tommy was no weight for Clare, weak with hunger as he was, to carry to the smithy. He laid him on the hearth, near the fire, and began to blow it up. The roaring of the wind in the fire did not wake him. Clare went on blowing. The heat rose and rose, and brought the boy to himself at last, in no comfortable condition. He opened his eyes, scrambled to his feet, and stared wildly around him.

"Where is it?" he cried.

"Where's what?" rejoined Clare, leaving the bellows, and taking a hold of him lest he should fall off.

"The head that flew out of the water-but," answered Tommy with a shudder.

"Have you lost your senses, Tommy?" remonstrated Clare. "I found you lying on a heap of old iron against the wall, with the moon shining on you."

"Yes, yes!--the moon! She jumped out of the water-but, and got a hold of me as I was getting down. I knew she would!"

"I didn't think you were such a fool, Tommy!" said Clare.

"Well, you hadn't the pluck to go yourself! You stopt in!" cried Tommy, putting his hand to his head, but more sorely hurt that an idiot should call him a fool.

"Come and let me see, Tommy," said Clare.

He wanted to find out if he was much hurt; but Tommy thought he wanted to go to the water-but, and screamed.

"Hold your tongue, you little idiot!" cried Clare. "You'll have all the world coming after us! They'll think I'm murdering you!"

Tommy restrained himself, and gradually recovering, told Clare what he had discovered, but not what he had found.

"There's something yellow on your jacket! What is it?" said Clare. "I do believe--yes, it is!--you've been eating an egg! Now I remember! I saw egg-shells, more than two or three, lying in the yard, and the poor hen walking about looking for her eggs! You little rascal! You pig of a boy! I won't thrash you this time, because you've fetched your own thrashing. But--!"

He finished the sentence by shaking his fist in Tommy's face, and looking as black at him as he was able.

"I do believe it was the hen herself that frighted you!" he added. "She served you right, you thief!"

"I didn't know there was any harm," said Tommy, pretending to sob.

"Why didn't you bring me my share, then?"

"'Cos I knowed you'd ha' made me give 'em back to the hen!"

"And you didn't know there was any harm, you lying little brute!"

"No, I didn't."

"Now, look here, Tommy! If you don't mind what I tell you, you and I part company. One of us two must be master, and I will, or you must tramp. Do you hear me?"

"I can't do without wictuals!" whimpered Tommy. "I didn't come wi' _you a purpose to be starved to death!"

"I dare say you didn't; but when I starve, you must starve too; and when I eat, you shall have the first mouthful. What did you come with me for?"

"'Acos you was the strongest," answered Tommy, "an' I reckoned you would get things from coves we met!"

"Well, I'm not going to get things from coves we meet, except they give them to me. But have patience, Tommy, and I'll get you all you can eat. You must give me time, you know! I 'ain't got work yet!--Come here. Lie down close to me, and we'll go to sleep."

The urchin obeyed, pillowed his head on Clare's chest, and went fast asleep.

Clare slept too after a while, but the necessities of his relation to Tommy were fast making a man of him.

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