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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Rough Shaking - Chapter 31. An Addition To The Family
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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 31. An Addition To The Family Post by :glolo Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :1034

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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 31. An Addition To The Family

Chapter XXXI. An addition to the family

The door to the kitchen was open: Tommy must be in the garden again! When he reached the nursery, as he called it to himself, he found the baby as he had left her, but moaning and wailing piteously. She looked as if she had cried till she was worn out. He threw down the clothes to take her. A great rat sprang from the bed. On one of the tiny feet the long thin toes were bleeding and raw. The same instant arose a loud scampering and scuffling and squealing in the room. Clare's heart quivered. He thought it was a whole army of rats. He was not a bit afraid of them himself, but assuredly they were not company for baby! Already they had smelt food in the house, and come in a swarm! What was to be done with the little one? If he stayed at home with her, she must die of hunger; if he left her alone, the rats would eat her! They had begun already! Oh, that wretch, Tommy! Into the water--but he should go!

I hope their friends will not take it ill that, all his life after, Clare felt less kindly disposed toward rats than toward the rest of the creatures of God.

But things were not nearly so bad as Clare thought: the scuffling came from quite another cause. It suddenly ceased, and a sharp scream followed. Clare turned with the baby in his arms. Almost at his feet, gazing up at him, the rat hanging limp from his jaws, stood the little castaway mongrel he had seen in the morning, his eyes flaming, and his tail wagging with wild homage and the delight of presenting the rat to one he would fain make his master.

"You darling!" cried Clare, and meant the dog this time, not the baby. The animal dropped the dead rat at his feet, and glared, and wagged, and looked hunger incarnate, but would not touch the rat until Clare told him to take it. Then he retired with it to a corner, and made a rapid meal of it.

He had seen Clare pass the second time, had doubtless noted that now he carried a loaf, and had followed him in humble hope. Clare was too much occupied with his own joy to perceive him, else he would certainly have given him a little peeling or two from the outside of the bread. But it was decreed that the dog should have the honour of rendering the first service. Clare was not to do _all the benevolences.

What a happy day it had been for him! It was a day to be remembered for ever! He had work! he had sixpence a day! he had had a present of milk for the baby, and two presents of bread--one a small, and one a large loaf! And now here was a dog! A dog was more than many meals! The family was four now! A baby, and a dog to take care of the baby!--It was heavenly!

He made haste and gave his baby what milk and water was left. Then he washed her poor torn foot, wrapped it in a pillow-case, for he would not tear anything, and laid her in the bed. Next he cut a good big crust from the loaf and gave it to the dog, who ate it as if the rat were nowhere. The rest he put in a drawer. Then he washed his face and hands--as well as he could without soap. After that, he took the dog, talked to him a little, laid him on the bed beside the baby and talked to him again, telling him plainly, and impressing upon him, that his business was the care of the baby; that he must give himself up to her; that he must watch and tend, and, if needful, fight for the little one. When at length he left him, it was evident to Clare, by the solemnity of the dog's face, that he understood his duty thoroughly.

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Chapter XXXII. Shop and babyOnce clear of the well and the wall, Clare set off running like a gaze-hound. Such was the change produced in him by joy and the satisfaction of hope, that when he entered the shop, no one at first knew him. His face was as the face of an angel, and none the less beautiful that it shone above ragged garments. But Mr. Maidstone, the moment he saw him, and before he had time to recognize him, turned from the boy with dislike. "What a fool the beggar looks!" he said to himself;--then aloud to one of
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Chapter XXX. The draperAt the shop of a draper and haberdasher one might buy almost anything sold, Clare's new friend stopped and walked in. He asked to see Mr. Maidstone, and a shopman went to fetch him from behind. He came out into the public floor. "I heard you were in want of a boy, sir," said the baker, who carried himself as in the presence of a superior; and certainly fine clothes and a gold chain and ring did what they could to make the draper superior to the baker. "Hm!" said Mr. Maidstone, looking with contempt at Clare.
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