+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

cheek which had a smear of brickdust upon
it, had a most innocent and prepossessing face.

"What is the matter, my little girl?"
inquired Mr. Brown.

The child turned one shoulder half round,
and displayed the red and purple marks of
blows from a whip or stick.

"What cruel wretch has done this?" asked
Mr. Brown. "Tell me, child; tell me directly."

"It was mother," sobbed the child.

"AhI'm sorry to hear this. Perhaps
you have been naughty?"

"Yes, Sir;" answered the child.

"Poor child," ejaculated Mr. Brown; "but
you will not be naughty again. What was
your offence. Come, tell me?"

"I shook it, Sir; oh, yes, it's quite true; I
did shake it very much."

"What did you shake?" inquired Mr.

"I shook the doll, Sir."

"The doll! Oh, you mean you shook the
baby; that, certainly was naughty of you;"
said Mr. Brown.

"No, Sir; it was not the baby I shookit
was the doll; and I'm afraid to go home
mother will be sure to beat me again."

An impulse of benevolence led Mr. Brown's
hand to search for his purse. Had he tried
the wrong pocket? His purse was on the
other side. No, it was not it must be in
this inner pocket. Where is Mr. Brown's
purse? It is not in any of his pockets!
He tries them all over again. And his
pocket-book!—chiefly of memorandums, but
also having a few bank-notes. This is gone
tooand his silk handkerchiefboth his
handkerchiefs!—also his silver-gilt snuff-box,
filled with rappee only five minutes before he
left the hotel this morninghe is certain
he had it when he came outbut it is
certainly gone! Every single thing he had in
his pockets is gone.

The child alsonow she is gone! Mr.
Brown looks around him, and yonder he sees
the poor child flying with frequent looks
behind of terror,—and now a shrill and
frightful voice causes him to start. Turning
in that direction, the sudden flight of the little
girl is immediately explained. Over the
rubbish and refuse, at a swift, wild pace,
courses a fiendish woman, with a savage eye
and open mouth, her cheeks hollow, her teeth
projecting, her thin hair flying like a bit of
diseased mane over her half-naked shoulder;
she has a stick in her hand, with which she
constantly threatens the flying child, whom
her execrations follow yet more swiftly than
her feet.

Mr. Brown remained watching them till
they were out of sight. He once more
searched all his pockets, but they were all
empty. He called to mind the man with the
fixed smile on his hollow cadaverous cheek,
and several other faces of men whom he had
casually noticed in the course of the last half
hour, thinking what a pity it was that something
could not be done for them. He now
began to think it was a very great pity that
something had not already been done for them
or with them, for they had certainly "done"
him. Poor Mr. Brown!

Some six or seven months after this most
disagreeable adventure, it chanced that Mr.
Brown was going over the prison at Coldbath
Fields, accompanied by the Governor. As
they entered one of the wards, the voice of a
child sobbing, attracted the ears of our
philanthropist. In answer to his inquiries, the
Governor informed him that it was a child of
about eleven years of age, who had been,
detected in the act of picking a lady's pocket
in one of the most crowded thoroughfares.

On a few kind words being spoken to her,
she looked up; and in the blue eye, glossy
flaxen hair, and pretty features, Mr. Brown
at once recognised the little girl who had
"shaken the doll."

"This child is an innocent creature!" cried
he, turning to the Governor, "the victim of
ignorance and cruel treatment at home. I
recollect her well. Her mother had beaten her
most shamefully; and the last glimpse I had
of her was in her flight from a still more savage
assault. And for what crime do you suppose?"

"For not picking pockets expertly, I dare
say:" replied the Governor.

"Nothing of the sort!" exclaimed Mr.
Brown. "Would you believe it, Sir; it was
for nothing more than a childish bit of
pretence-anger with her doll, on which occasion
she gave the doll a good shaking. Mere
pretence, you know."

"My dear Sir," said the Governor, smiling,
"I fancy I am right, after all. She was
beaten for not being expert in the study and
practice of pocket-picking at home. You are
not, perhaps, aware that the lesson consists
in picking the pockets of a figure which is
hung up in the room, in such a way that the
least awkwardness of touch makes it shake,
and rings a little bell attached to it. This
figure is called the 'doll.' Those who ring
the bell, shake it in emptying its pockets, are
punished according to the mind and temper
of the instructor."

"Good heavens!" ejaculated Mr. Brown,
"to what perfection must the art be brought!
Then it is all accounted for. The sallow
gentleman with the fixed smile must have been
master of the craft of not shaking the doll,
when he took my purse, pocket-book, snuff-
box, and both handkerchiefs from me, without
my feeling so much as the motion of the air!"

    Monthly Supplement of "HOUSEHOLD WORDS,"'
             Conducted by CHARLES DICKENS.

                    Price 2d., Stamped, 3d.,
                      CURRENT EVENTS.

The Number, containing a history of the past month, was
                 issued with the Magazines.