The Little Clown
by Thomas Cobb
HOW IT BEGAN
JIMMY GOES TO
CHAPTER III. AT
CHAPTER IV. AUNT
SELINA AT HOME
CHAPTER V. AT
CHAPTER VI. THE
JIMMY IS TAKEN
JIMMY RUNS AWAY
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. ON
JIMMY RUNS AWAY
JIMMY SLEEPS IN
CHAPTER I. HOW IT BEGAN
Jimmy was nearly eight years of age when these strange things
happened to him. His full name was James Orchardson Sinclair Wilmot,
and he had been at Miss Lawson's small school at Ramsgate since he was
There were only five boys besides himself, and Miss Roberts was the
only governess besides Miss Lawson. The half-term had just passed, and
they did not expect to go home for the Christmas holidays for another
four or five weeks, until one day Miss Lawson became very ill, and her
sister, Miss Rosina, was sent for.
It was on Friday that Miss Rosina told the boys that she had written
to their parents and that they would all be sent home on Tuesday, and
no doubt Jimmy might have felt as glad as the rest if he had had a home
to be sent to.
But the fact was that he had never seen his father or motheror at
least he had no recollection of them. And he had never seen his sister
Winnie, who was born in the West Indies. One of the boys had told Jimmy
she must be a little black girl, and Jimmy did not quite know whether
to believe him or not.
When he was two years of age, his father and mother left England,
and although that was nearly six years ago, they had not been back
Jimmy had lived with his Aunt Ellen at Chesterham until he came to
school, but afterwards his holidays were spent with another uncle and
aunt in London.
His mother wrote to him every month, nice long letters, which Jimmy
always answered, although he did not always know quite what to say to
her. But last month there had come no letter, and the month before that
Mrs. Wilmot had said something about seeing Jimmy soon.
When he heard the other boys talk about their fathers and mothers
and sisters it seemed strange that he did not know what his own were
like. For you cannot always tell what a person is like from her
photograph; and although his mother looked young and pretty in hers,
Jimmy did not know whether she was tall or short or dark or fair, but
sometimes, especially after the gas was turned out at night, he felt
that he should very much like to know.
On Monday evening, whilst Jimmy was sitting at the desk in the
school-room sticking some postage-stamps in his Album, he was told to
go to the drawing-room, where he found Miss Rosina sitting beside a
'Is your name Wilmot?' she asked, for she had not learnt all the
boys' names yet.
'James Orchardson Sinclair Wilmot,' he answered.
'A long name for such a small boy,' said Miss Rosina. 'It is very
strange,' she continued, 'that all the boys' parents have answered my
letters but yours.'
'Mine couldn't answer,' said Jimmy.
'Why not?' asked Miss Rosina.
'Because they live such a long way off.'
'I remember,' said Miss Rosina; 'it was to your uncle that I wrote.
I asked him to send someone to meet you at Victoria Station at one
o'clock to-morrow. But he has not answered my letter, and it is very
'Is it?' asked Jimmy solemnly, with his eyes fixed on her face.
'Why, of course it is,' said Miss Rosina. 'Suppose I don't have a
letter before you start to-morrow morning! I shall not know whether any
one is coming to meet you or not. And what would Miss Roberts do with
you in that case?'
'I don't know,' answered Jimmy, beginning to look rather anxious.
'I'm sure I don't know either,' said Miss Rosina. 'But,' she added,
'I trust I may hear from your uncle before you start to-morrow
'I hope you will,' cried Jimmy; and he went back to the school-room
wondering what would happen to him if his Uncle Henry did not write.
Whilst the other boys were saying what wonderful things they intended
to do during the holidays, he wished that his father and mother were in
England the same as theirs.
He could not go to sleep very early that night for thinking of
to-morrow, and when the bell rang at seven o'clock the next morning he
dressed quickly and came downstairs first to look for Miss Rosina.
'Please, have you had a letter from Uncle Henry yet?' he asked.
'No, I am sorry to say I have not,' was the answer. 'I cannot
understand it at all. I am sure I don't know what is to be done with
'Couldn't I stay here?' cried Jimmy.
'Certainly not,' said Miss Rosina.
'Why not?' asked Jimmy, who always liked to have a reason for
'Because Miss Lawson is not going to keep a school any more. But,'
exclaimed Miss Rosina, 'go to your breakfast, and I will speak to you
CHAPTER II. JIMMY GOES TO LONDON
As he sat at breakfast Jimmy saw a large railway van stop at the
door, with a porter sitting on the board behind. The driver climbed
down from his high seat in front, and the two men began to carry out
the boxes. Jimmy saw his clothes-box carried out, then his play-box, so
that he knew that he was to go to London with the rest, although Miss
Rosina had not heard from his uncle.
'Jimmy,' said Miss Roberts after breakfast, 'Miss Rosina wants to
see you in the drawing-room. You must go at once.'
So he went to the drawing-room, tapped at the door, and was told to
'It is very annoying that your uncle has not answered my letter,'
said Miss Rosina, looking as angry as if Jimmy were to blame for it.
'He couldn't answer if he didn't get it,' cried Jimmy.
'Of course not,' said Miss Rosina, 'but I sincerely hope he did get
'So do I,' answered Jimmy.
'Perhaps he will send to meet you although he has not written to say
so,' said Miss Rosina.
'Perhaps he will,' replied Jimmy thoughtfully.
'But,' Miss Rosina continued, 'if he doesn't send to meet you, Miss
Roberts must take you to his house in Brook Street in a cab.'
'Only suppose he isn't there!' exclaimed Jimmy.
'At all events the servants will be there.'
'Only suppose they're not!'
'Surely,' said Miss Rosina, 'they would not leave the house without
any one in it!'
'If Uncle Henry and Aunt Mary have gone to France they might.'
'Do they often go to France?' asked Miss Rosina.
'They go sometimes,' said Jimmy, 'because Aunt Mary writes to me,
and I've got the stamps in my Album. And then they leave the house
empty and shut the shutters and put newspapers in all the windows, you
Whilst Jimmy stood on the hearth-rug, Miss Rosina sat in an
arm-chair staring seriously at the fire.
'Have you any other relations in London?' she asked, a few moments
'No,' said Jimmy.
'Think, now,' she continued. 'Are you sure there is nobody?'
'At least,' cried Jimmy, 'there's only Aunt Selina.'
'Where does your Aunt Selina live?' asked Miss Rosina, looking a
great deal more pleased than Jimmy felt. He put his small hands
together behind his back, and took a step closer.
'Please,' he said, 'II don't want to go to Aunt Selina's.'
'Tell me where she lives,' answered Miss Rosina.
'I think it's somewhere called Gloucester Place,' said Jimmy;' but,
please, I'd rather not go.'
'You silly child! You must go somewhere!'
'Yes, I know,' said Jimmy, 'but I'd rather not go to Aunt Selina's.'
'What is her number in Gloucester Place?' asked Miss Rosina.
'I don't know the number,' cried Jimmy much more cheerfully, because
he thought that as he did not know the number, Miss Rosina could not
very well send him to the house.
'What is your aunt's name? Is it Wilmot?' Miss Rosina asked.
'No, it isn't Wilmot,' said Jimmy.
'Do you know what it is?' she demanded, and Jimmy began to wish he
didn't know; but Aunt Selina always wrote on his birthday, although it
wasn't much use as she never sent him a present.
'Her name's Morton,' he answered.
'Mrs. Morton or Miss Morton?'
'Miss Morton, because she's never been married,' said Jimmy.
'Very well then,' was the answer, 'if nobody comes to meet you at
Victoria Station, Miss Roberts will take you in a cab to Brook Street,
and if your Uncle Henry is not there'
'I hope he will be!' cried Jimmy.
'So do I,' Miss Rosina continued, 'because Miss Roberts will not
have much time to spare. She will take you to Brook Street; but if the
house is empty, then she will go on to Miss Morton's in Gloucester
'But how can she if she doesn't know the number?' said Jimmy.
'Miss Roberts will easily be able to find your aunt's house,' was
'Oh!' cried Jimmy in a disappointed tone, and then he was sent back
to the other boys.
When it was time to start to the railway station Miss Rosina went on
first in a fly to take the tickets, and they found her waiting for them
on the platform. They all got into a carriage, and Jimmy sat next to
Miss Roberts, who asked him soon after the train started, why he looked
'I do hope that Uncle Henry will send some one to meet me,' he
'I hope so too,' said Miss Roberts, who was much younger than Miss
Rosina, 'because I have to travel to the north of England, and it is a
very long journey. I shall only just have time to drive to the other
station to catch my train.'
'But suppose you don't catch it?' asked Jimmy.
'That would be extremely inconvenient,' she explained, 'because I
should either have to travel all night or else to sleep at an hotel in
London. But I hope your uncle will come to meet you.'
Long before the train reached London, Jimmy began to look anxiously
out at the window. Presently it stopped on a bridge over the Thames,
and a man came to collect the tickets, and soon after the train moved
on again Jimmy saw that he was at Victoria. The door was opened, and
all the other boys jumped out, and whilst they were shaking hands with
their fathers and mothers Jimmy stood alone on the platform. He looked
wistfully at every face in the small crowd, but he did not know one of
them, and it was plain that nobody had been sent to meet him.
He followed Miss Roberts towards the luggage van and saw his own
boxes taken out with the rest, and then one by one the boys got into
cabs and were driven away, and Jimmy began to feel more miserable than
His boxes stood beside Miss Roberts's, and she looked up and down
the platform almost as anxiously as the boy, for she was in a great
hurry to go.
'Well, Jimmy,' she said, 'nobody seems to have come for you.'
'No,' answered Jimmy.
'It is really very annoying!' cried Miss Roberts, looking at her
'Perhaps Uncle Henry has made a mistake in the time,' said Jimmy.
'I think the best thing we can do is to take a cab to Brook Street,'
was the answer.
'Mightn't we wait just a little longer?' he asked.
'No,' said Miss Roberts, 'we have lost quite enough time already.
Hi! Cab!' she exclaimed, and a four-wheeled cab was driven up beside
the boxes. Then a porter lifted these, one by one, and put them on top
of the cab.
'Get in,' said Miss Roberts, and with a last glance along the
platform, Jimmy entered the cab and sat down. Then Miss Roberts stepped
in also, the old cab-horse started, and Jimmy was driven out of the
gloomy railway station.
'I hope Uncle Henry will be at home,' he said presently.
'So do I,' answered Miss Roberts. 'I have not a minute to spare.'
'Perhaps you won't have time to take me to Aunt Selina's!' exclaimed
'What do you suppose I am to do with you then?' she asked.
'I don't know,' he said; 'only I don't want to go there!'
'I am sure I don't want to have to take you there,' was the answer,
as the cab passed Hyde Park.
Jimmy had been the same way every holiday since he had gone to Miss
Lawson's school, so that he knew he was drawing near to Brook Street.
As the cab turned the corner, he put his head out at the window and
looked anxiously for his uncle's house.
'Oh!' he cried, drawing it in again.
'What is the matter?' asked Miss Roberts.
'I believe the shutters are up,' said Jimmy.
CHAPTER III. AT AUNT SELINA'S
Jimmy was quite right. Miss Roberts leaned forward to put her head
out at the window on his side of the cab, and she saw that every
shutter was shut, and that there was a sheet of newspaper in each
'What a nuisance!' she exclaimed, sitting down again as the horse
The cabman got down to open the door, and Jimmy jumped out, on to
'I daresay they've gone to France,' he said, as she followed him.
'Still there may be some one left in the house,' answered Miss
'I don't suppose there is,' said Jimmy, looking as if he were going
'At all events I will ring the bell,' she answered, and Miss Roberts
pulled the bell. Jimmy heard it ring quite distinctly, but nobody came
to open the door.
'Do ring again,' he said, and once more Miss Roberts pulled the
bell. Then a policeman came along the street, and she went to meet him.
'Do you know whether this house is empty?' she asked.
'Been empty the last fortnight,' said the policeman.
'Thank you,' said Miss Roberts. And then she turned to Jimmy: 'Go
back into the cab,' she continued, and very unwillingly he took his
seat again. 'Gloucester Place, cabman,' she said, with her hand on the
'What number?' asked the cabman.
'Wewe don't know the number,' cried Jimmy, putting his head out.
'Stop at a shop on the way,' said Miss Roberts as she entered the
cab and sat down; 'if I waste any more time I shall lose my train.'
'But suppose Aunt Selina isn't at home either?' exclaimed Jimmy, as
the horse started once more.
'In that case I don't know what is to become of you,' said Miss
'Because she may have gone to France with Uncle Henry!' Jimmy
'We will not imagine anything of the kind, if you please!'
'No,' said Jimmy, 'but suppose she has gone to France, you know.'
As he spoke, the cab stopped before a large grocer's shop, and
without losing a moment Miss Roberts stepped out of the cab, followed
'Will you kindly let me look at a Directory?' she asked; and the
tall young man behind the counter said
'Certainly, miss.' He brought the thickest red book which Jimmy had
ever seen, and Miss Roberts opened it at once.
'Miss Selina Mortonis that your aunt's name?' she asked, looking
round at Jimmy.
'Yees,' he answered sorrowfully, for he guessed that she had found
out the number.
'Come along then,' said Miss Roberts, and Jimmy walked slowly
towards the door. 'Thank you, I am very much obliged,' she continued,
smiling at the shopman; but Jimmy did not feel in the least obliged to
him. Miss Roberts told the cabman the number, and when the horse
started again she turned cheerfully to the boy
'We shall soon be there now!' she said.
'I wish we shouldn't,' answered Jimmy.
'Don't you like your Aunt Selina?' asked Miss Roberts.
'Not at all,' said Jimmy.
'Why don't you like her?' asked Miss Roberts. 'You ought to like an
aunt, you know.'
'I don't know why, only I don't,' was the answer.
It did not take many minutes to drive to Gloucester Place, and
although Jimmy did not know what would happen to him if Aunt Selina was
out of town, still he almost hoped she had gone to France.
But the shutters were not shut at this house, although each of the
blinds was drawn exactly a quarter of the way down. Jimmy saw a large
tortoise-shell cat lying on one of the window sills, whilst a black cat
watched it from inside the room.
'If they do not keep us long at the door,' said Miss Roberts, as she
rang the bell, 'I can manage just to catch my train.'
It was past two o'clock, and Jimmy thought he could smell something
like hot meat. He supposed that if he stayed at Aunt Selina's he should
have some dinner, and that would be a good thing at any rate.
The door was opened by a tall, thin butler, who looked very solemn
and important. He did not stand quite upright, and he had gray whiskers
and a bald head. If he had not opened the door, so that Jimmy knew he
was the butler, he might have been mistaken for a clergyman.
'Is Miss Morton at home?' asked Miss Roberts.
'No, miss,' said the butler; and he stared at Jimmy first and then
at the boxes on the cab.
'How extremely annoying!' cried Miss Roberts. 'Can you tell me how
long she will be?'
'I don't think Miss Morton will return before half-past three,' said
the butler, whose name was Jones. 'Miss Morton has gone out to
'This is her nephew,' answered Miss Roberts.
'Good-morning, sir,' said Jones, rubbing his hands.
'Good-morning,' said Jimmy.
'I have brought him from Miss Lawson's school at Ramsgate,' Miss
Roberts explained, whilst Jimmy stared into the butler's face.
'I don't fancy Miss Morton expected him,' said Jones.
'No,' cried Jimmy, 'she didn't.'
'Miss Lawson is so ill,' Miss Roberts continued, 'that all the boys
have been sent home. I took Master Wilmot to his uncle's house in Brook
Street, but it was shut up. So I have brought him here.'
'I don't know what Miss Morton will say'
Miss Roberts looked at her watch and interrupted the butler before
he had time to finish his sentence. He spoke rather slowly and required
a long time to say anything.
'I am not going back to Ramsgate,' said Miss Roberts, 'but I have no
doubt Miss Rosina will write to Miss Morton.'
'I beg pardon,' answered Jones, 'but I don't think Miss Morton would
like you to leave the young gentleman here.'
'II don't want to be left,' cried Jimmy.
'Miss Morton is not particular fond of young gentlemen,' said the
'Cabman,' exclaimed Miss Roberts in a greater hurry than ever,
'carry in the boxes. The two smaller boxes, please.'
Jimmy stood on the doorstep, and Jones stood just inside the hall,
and Miss Roberts held her watch in her right hand, whilst the cabman
got off his seat and took down the trunks.
'Please be quick,' she said, 'or I shall miss my train after all.'
The butler stroked his chin as the cabman carried the clothes-box
into the house and put it down near the dining-room door; then he
brought in the play-box, and after that he wiped his forehead with a
large red handkerchief and climbed up to his seat again.
'Good-bye,' said Miss Roberts, putting away her watch and taking
'I wish you would take me too,' answered Jimmy rather tearfully.
'I can't do that,' she said, 'and I am sure you will be very happy
with your aunt.'
Jimmy felt quite sure he shouldn't be happy, and he certainly did
not look very happy as Miss Roberts was driven away in the cab; and
when he saw it turn the corner, he felt more lonely than he had ever
'Well, this is a nice kettle of fish,' said the butler.
'Is it?' asked Jimmy, not understanding in the least what he meant.
'I wonder what Miss Morton will say about it?' cried Jones.
'What do you think she'll say?' asked Jimmy, staring up at the
'Well,' was the answer, 'you had better come indoors, anyhow,' and
Jimmy entered the house and stood leaning against his clothes-box,
whilst Jones shut the street door.
'Step this way, sir,' said Jones; but although he took Jimmy to the
dining-room, unfortunately there was no sign of dinner.
He saw the black cat still sitting on a chair watching the
tortoise-shell cat outside the window, and on the hearth-rug lay a
tabby one, with its head on the fender, fast asleep.
'You had better sit here until Miss Morton comes home,' said the
'Do you think she'll be very long?' asked Jimmy.
'About half-past three,' was the answer, and Jones opened the
coal-box to put some more coal on the fire as he spoke.
'Because I haven't had any dinner at all,' said Jimmy.
'Oh, you haven't, haven't you?' cried Jones, as he stood holding the
'No,' said Jimmy, 'and I'm rather hungry.'
'Well, I don't know what Miss Morton'll say about you,' was the
answer. 'So,' he added, as he put away the shovel, 'you think you'd
like something to eat?'
'I'm sure I shouldvery much,' cried Jimmy.
The butler went away, but he soon came back with a folded white
cloth in his hands. Whilst Jimmy kneeled down on the hearth-rug rubbing
the head of the tabby cat, Jones laid the cloth, and then he went away
again and returned with a plate of hot roast-beef and Yorkshire pudding
and potatoes and cauliflower.
He placed a chair with its back to the fire, and told Jimmy to ring
when he was ready for some apple-tart.
When Jimmy was alone eating his dinner and enjoying it very much, he
began to think it might not be so bad to stay at Aunt Selina's after
all. The black cat came from the chair by the window and meowed on one
side of him, and the tabby cat meowed on the other, and Jimmy fed them
both whilst he fed himself. When his plate was quite empty, he rang the
bell and Jones brought him a large piece of apple-tart, with a brown
jug of cream. Then presently the butler took away the things, and Jimmy
sat down in an arm-chair by the fire with one of the cats on each knee.
Every few minutes he looked over his shoulder to see whether Aunt
Selina was coming, and by and by the bell rang. Jimmy rose from his
chair and the cats jumped to the floor, and, going close to the window,
he saw his aunt's tall, thin figure on the doorstep.
CHAPTER IV. AUNT SELINA AT HOME
Miss Morton had been to lunch with a friend, and she naturally
expected to find her house exactly the same as she had left it. She was
a lady who always liked to find things exactly the same as she left
them; she did not care for fresh faces or fresh places, and she
certainly did not care to see two boxes in her hall.
Miss Morton was a little short-sighted, but the moment that she
entered the house she noticed something unusual. So she stopped just
within the door before the butler could shut it and put on her double
eye-glasses, and then she stared in astonishment at Jimmy's boxes.
'What are those?' she asked.
'Boxes, miss,' was the answer.
'Please don't be stupid,' said Miss Morton.
'I beg pardon,' replied the butler.
'I see quite distinctly that they are boxes,' she said. 'What I wish
to know is, whom the boxes belong to.'
'To Master Wilmot,' said the butler.
Miss Morton gave such a violent start that her eye-glasses fell from
'Master Wilmot!' she exclaimed.
'You do not mean to tell me that the boy is here!'
'He's been here since about two o'clock,' said the butler.
'Surely he did not come alone?' cried Miss Morton.
'Who brought him?'
'A young lady who seemed to be his governess,' the butler explained.
'She said that Miss Lawson was ill, and that she'd sent all the young
'This is certainly not his home,' said Miss Morton.
'No, miss,' answered Jones. 'I told the young lady you wouldn't be
best pleased, but she insisted on leaving him.'
'Where is Master Wilmot?' asked Miss Morton.
'In the dining-room,' was the answer, and the butler opened the
Miss Morton had spoken rather loudly, quite loudly enough for Jimmy
to overhear every word she had said. It made him feel uncomfortable,
and as the door opened he stood with his back to the window, with his
hands in his jacket pockets, waiting until his Aunt Selina entered the
room, and the butler shut the door after her.
She put on her eye-glasses again, and it seemed a long time before
either she or Jimmy spoke. She moved her head as if she were looking at
him all over from top to toes. Jimmy began to feel more uncomfortable
than ever, and at last he thought he really must say something.
'Good-morning,' he cried.
'Why did the people send you here?' asked Aunt Selina.
'You see,' said Jimmy, 'Aunt Mary and Uncle Henry were out and the
house was shut up.'
'I always said it was foolish to travel at this time of year,' was
'So Miss Roberts brought me here,' said Jimmy.
'Well,' exclaimed Aunt Selina, 'I am sure I don't know what is to be
done with you.'
'I didn't want to come,' answered Jimmy.
'Don't be rude,' said his aunt. 'Now you are here, I suppose I must
keep you for to-night. But there is no accommodation here for boys.'
'I had a very nice dinner, though,' said Jimmy.
'Have you washed your face?' she asked suddenly.
'No,' he answered, for washing his face was a thing he never felt
Miss Morton walked to the bell and rang it. A few moments later the
butler re-entered the room, standing with one hand on the door.
'Jones,' she said, 'take Master Wilmot to the spare bedroom to wash
his face; and give him a comb and brush to do his hair.'
Jones took Jimmy upstairs to a large bedroom, and poured some water
into a basin. Then he brought a clean towel, and showed Jimmy where to
find the soap and the comb and brush. The butler then left him alone,
and the boy took off his jacket and dipped his hands in the water. When
he thought his hands were clean enough, he washed a round place on his
face, and having wiped this nearly dry, he went to the looking-glass
and brushed the front of his hair where he had made it wet. When he had
put his coat on again he wondered whether he ought to wait for the
butler or to go downstairs alone; but as Jones did not come back, Jimmy
opened the door and went down.
He saw Miss Morton sitting in an arm-chair, and now that she had
taken off her bonnet and veil he thought she looked more severe than
'Come here, James,' she said, as he stood near the door. No one else
had ever called him James. 'When did you hear from your mother?' she
'I didn't have a letter last month,' he answered.
'I asked when you did have a letter,' said Aunt Selina,'not when
you didn't have one.'
'I think it was about two months ago,' said Jimmy.
'Did she say anything about coming home?' asked Aunt Selina.
'She said I might see her soon,' cried Jimmy. 'I do hope I shall.'
'Very likely you will,' said his aunt, 'although your mother has not
written to me for six months.'
'Then how do you know?' asked Jimmy.
'Because she wrote to your Aunt Ellen at Chesterham, and your Aunt
Ellen wrote to me. I should not be surprised if your father and mother
were on their way home now. They may arrive in England quite soon.'
'It would be nice,' said Jimmy, and he began to laugh. 'Will they
come here?' he asked.
'Certainly not,' was the answer. 'I have no accommodation for
'There's the spare bedroom,' cried Jimmy.
'I have no doubt,' said Aunt Selina, 'that they will go to Aunt
Ellen's at Chesterham'
'Couldn't I go to Aunt Ellen's?' asked Jimmy eagerly.
'And pray who is to take you?' demanded Miss Morton.
'Why, couldn't I go alone?' said Jimmy.
Miss Morton did not answer, but she put on her eye-glasses again,
and looked Jimmy up and down from head to foot.
'Ring the bell,' she said, and when he had rung the bell and the
butler had come, Aunt Selina told him to send Hannah. Jimmy stood on
the hearth-rugwhilst the black cat rubbed its back against his
legwondering who Hannah might be. When she came, he saw that she was
one of the servants, with a red, kind-looking face; and Aunt Selina
told her to take him away and to give him some tea. When they were
outside the door Hannah took his hand, and he felt that he liked having
his hand taken, and she led him downstairs to a small room near the
kitchen where she gave him such a tea as he had never had before. There
were cake and jam, and hot scones, and buttered toast, and although it
was not very long since dinner, Jimmy ate a good meal.
He told Hannah all about his father and mother and Winnie, and how
that Miss Morton had said perhaps they were on their way home; and he
told her he hoped that his aunt would send him to Chesterham.
'Because,' he said, 'I know I could go all right alone.'
Hannah put an arm round him and kissed him, but Jimmy did not much
like being kissed; still he felt lonely this afternoon, and he did not
mind it so much as he would have done sometimes, especially if any of
his schoolfellows had been there.
'Now,' said Hannah presently, 'I think you had better go back to
'Must I?' asked Jimmy. 'Because I like being here best.'
But she led him back to the dining-room, and as soon as he entered
the door Aunt Selina asked what time he went to bed.
'Eight o'clock at school,' he answered, 'but when I am at Aunt
Mary's she always lets me stay till half-past.'
'Aunt Mary always spoils you,' said Miss Morton. 'Sit down,' she
added, and Jimmy took a chair on the opposite side of the fire-place.
'I suppose you don't remember your mother,' she said.
'No,' answered Jimmy.
'Shall you be glad to see her?' asked Aunt Selina.
'Yes, very glad,' said Jimmy. 'Shan't you?' he asked, looking into
his aunt's face.
'Of course I shall be pleased to see my sister,' was the answer.
'And I shall be glad to see Winnie, too,' said Jimmy. But Aunt
Selina's words had put a fresh idea into his mind. He seemed never to
have realised until now that the mother whom he had never seen,
although he had thought about her so much, was his Aunt Selina's
sister. He thought that sisters must surely be very much alike; but if
his mother was like her sister, why, Jimmy did not feel certain it
would be nice to have her home again after all. He forgot that he was
staring at his aunt until she asked him what he was looking at.
'Is my mother as old as you?' he asked.
'I cannot say they teach politeness at Miss Lawson's,' Aunt Selina
'But is she?' asked Jimmy, for it seemed very important that he
should know at once.
'Your mother is a few years younger than I am,' said his aunt, 'but
she would be very angry with you for asking such a question.'
'Can she be angry?' asked Jimmy.
'She will be very angry indeed when you are naughty,' said Miss
Morton. For a few minutes Jimmy sat staring into the fire.
'Isis she like you?' he asked.
'She is not quite so tall.'
'But is she like you?' asked Jimmy.
'We used to be considered very much alike,' was the answer, and
Jimmy felt inclined to cry. Then Aunt Selina said it was his bed-time,
and he came close to her and kissed her cheek.
'Am I to go to Aunt Ellen's?' he asked.
'I shall not tell you until to-morrow morning,' said Aunt Selina;
and Jimmy fell asleep in the large spare room wondering whether he
should go to-morrow to Chesterham or not.
CHAPTER V. AT THE RAILWAY STATION
When Jimmy awoke the next morning he found that Hannah was drawing
up his blind. The sun-light fell into the room, and the smoke rose from
the can of hot water on the wash-stand.
'You must get up at once,' said Hannah, 'or you will be late for
breakfast, and Miss Morton won't like that.'
He would have liked to lie in the warm bed a little longer, and when
at last he jumped out he felt rather cold. Jimmy was not used to
dressing himself quite without help, for at school Miss Roberts had
always come to tie his necktie and button his collar. He found it
difficult to button it this morning with his cold little fingers; and
as for the necktie, it was not tied quite so nicely as it might have
Still he was ready when he heard a bell ring, and he ran downstairs
two steps at a time, and almost ran against Aunt Selina at the bottom.
She looked more stiff and severe in the morning than she had looked
last night, and not at all the sort of person you would like to run
'Good-morning,' said Jimmy, as she entered the dining-room.
She shook hands with Jimmy and her hand felt very cold; but when
once he was seated at the table the coffee was nice and hot, and so
were the eggs and bacon, and Jimmy had no time to think of anything
else just yet. But just as he was wondering whether he should ask for
another rasher of bacon, his aunt spoke to him.
'When you have quite finished,' she said, 'I wish to speak to
you,' and after that he did not like to ask for any more.
So Jimmy pushed back his chair, and his Aunt Selina rose from hers
and went to stand by the fire.
'I did not wish to tell you last night for fear of exciting you and
keeping you awake,' she said, 'but I wrote to your Aunt Ellen while you
were having tea.'
'Oh, thank you, I'm glad of that,' answered Jimmy.
'I told her I should send you to Chesterham by the half-past twelve
train,' Miss Morton explained, 'and I asked her to meet you at the
'Hurray,' cried Jimmy, 'then I am to go this morning.'
'It is not quite certain yet,' was the answer. 'I asked your Aunt
Ellen to send me a telegram if she could receive you. If the telegram
arrives before twelve, you will go by the half-past twelve train.'
'But suppose it doesn't come?' said Jimmy.
'I sincerely trust it will,' was the answer.
'So do I,' cried Jimmy.
'I have ordered a packet of sandwiches to be prepared,' said Miss
'Ham or beef?' asked Jimmy.
'Hamdo you like ham?'
'Oh yes, when there's no mustard,' said Jimmy.
'I told Jones not to have any mustard put on them,' answered his
aunt; 'and,' she continued, 'if you go to-day I shall give you
'Shan't I have the half-crown if I don't go to-day?' asked Jimmy
'I hope you will go,' she said. 'But you must not spend it in
'I won't,' cried Jimmy.
'I don't suppose you will stay with your Aunt Ellen long,' said Miss
Morton, 'because there is no doubt your father and mother will soon be
in England, and then they will be able to look after you. Now,' she
added, 'if you think you can keep still and not fidget, you may sit
down by the window and watch for the telegram.'
Jimmy lifted the tabby cat off the chair, and took it on his knees
as he sat down. While he sat stroking the cat he really did not feel
much doubt about the telegram. He wanted it to come so much that he
felt sure it would come soon, and surely enough it arrived before
Jimmy rose from his chair as Jones brought it into the room on a
tray, and the tabby cat dug its claws into his jacket and clung to him,
so that Jimmy found it rather difficult to put it down. He did not take
his eyes from Miss Morton's face all the time she was reading the
'It is extremely fortunate I wrote yesterday,' she exclaimed.
'Am I to go?' asked Jimmy eagerly.
'Yes,' she answered, 'and who do you think will meet you at
'Not mother!' cried Jimmy, very excitedly.
'Your father and mother,' said Miss Morton.
'They are not likely to take a child to meet you,' she answered.
'They arrived only last night, and if they had not received my letter
they would have gone to Ramsgate to-day. As it is they will meet you at
the station, and they think it will be quite safe for you to travel
alone if I see you safely in the train.'
'Shall you?' asked Jimmy.
'I shall send Jones,' was the answer.
'What time does the train get to Chesterham?' asked Jimmy.
'At four o'clock,' she said; and then she took out her purse and
found two shillings and a sixpence, which she gave to Jimmy. 'Where
will you put them?' she asked.
'I've got a purse, too,' he answered, and he put his hand in his
jacket pocket and brought out a piece of string, a crumpled
handkerchief, a knife, and last of all a small purse. In this he put
the two shillings and the sixpence, and then he could think of nothing
but the joy of seeing his mother and father. He stood by the window
watching the passers-by and wondering whether his mother was like any
of them, and at least he hoped that she might not be so very much like
his Aunt Selina. He went in search of Hannah and told her all about the
telegram. He longed for the time to come to start for the station, and
when he saw his boxes being taken out to the cab, he danced about the
hall in a manner which made Miss Morton feel very pleased he was going.
He put on his overcoat, and held open the pocket whilst Hannah forced
in the large packet of sandwiches, and although they bulged out a good
deal Jimmy did not mind that at all. He shook hands with his aunt and
entered the cab, and Jones stepped in after him.
'My father and mother are going to meet me at Chesterham,' said
Jimmy as soon as the horse started. He talked of them all the way to
the railway stationnot the same station at which he had arrived with
Miss Roberts yesterday, but a much larger and a rather dirtier looking
one, with a great glass roof. But before Jimmy reached that part of it,
he went with Jones to take his ticket.
'You are to put it in your purse,' said the butler, 'and mind you
don't lose it.'
'I shan't lose it,' answered Jimmy, taking out his purse, and as he
put the ticket away he looked to make sure that the half-crown was all
'Now,' said the butler, 'we'll go and find the train.'
It was not very difficult to find the train for Chesterham, because
it was waiting all ready at the platform; but when they got to the
train it took Jones a long time to find Jimmy a suitable first-class
compartment. At last he stopped at one which contained an old gentleman
and two ladies. The old gentleman was sitting next to the door, reading
a newspaper, and he did not look at all glad when Jimmy sat down
opposite to him.
'I think you'll do now,' said Jones.
'Very nicely, thank you,' answered Jimmy, as the butler stood by the
door, but he was beginning to feel just a little nervous. You must
remember he was not quite eight years of age; he was only a small boy,
and he had never travelled quite alone before. He felt sure he should
like travelling alone, and in fact he did not much mind how he
travelled so that his mother met him at the end of his journey. Still,
now that he had taken his seat and the butler was going away in a few
minutes, Jimmy began to feel a little nervous.
'Got your sandwiches?' asked Jones, with a hand on the door.
'Yes, I've got them,' answered Jimmy, feeling them to make certain.
'I've never seen them before, you know,' Jimmy added.
'What, the sandwiches?' asked Jones.
'No, my father and mother,' said Jimmy. 'They're going to meet me.'
'Oh, I see,' answered the butler, and he ought to have understood,
for Jimmy had told him a great many times since they left Aunt Selina's
'You're just going to start,' Jones added.
'Good-bye,' cried Jimmy, and he put his hand out of the window and
the butler shook it.
'Good-bye, sir,' he answered, and Jimmy felt quite sorry when Jones
let go his hand.
But the train was beginning to move; the butler stepped back and
took out his pocket-handkerchief and waved it, but it was to dry his
eyes that Jimmy took out his; for when the train glided away and he
could not see Jones any more Jimmy felt very much alone, especially as
the old gentleman opposite kept lowering his paper and looking down at
his trousers and then frowning at him.
CHAPTER VI. THE JOURNEY
For the first quarter of an hour after the train started Jimmy was
contented to gaze out of the window, but presently, growing tired of
doing that, he turned to look at the two ladies at the farther end of
As Jimmy moved in his seat, his boots touched the old gentleman's
black trousers. Laying aside his newspaper the old gentleman leaned
forward to look at them, and then he brushed off the mud. A few moments
later Jimmy's boots touched his trousers again, and the old gentleman
began to cough.
'I should feel greatly obliged,' he said in a loud voice, 'if you
would not make a door-mat of my legs.'
'I beg your pardon,' answered Jimmy, and he tucked his feet as far
under his seat as they would go.
'You should be more careful,' said the old gentleman, and then one
of the ladies suggested that Jimmy should sit by her side.
'I wanted to look out at the window,' he answered.
'Well, you can look out at my window,' she said, and so Jimmy went
to the other end of the compartment, and she gave him her seat; and for
an hour or more the train went on its way, stopping at one or two
stations, until presently it came to a standstill again.
'Where is this?' asked one of the ladies. The other looked out at
the window and said
'We ought not to stop here,' answered her friend.
At the other end of the compartment the old gentleman let down his
window: 'Hi, Hi! Guard, Guard!' he cried, and the guard came to the
'Why are we stopping here?' asked the old gentleman.
'Something's gone wrong with the engine, sir.'
'How long shall we stay?' asked the gentleman.
'Maybe a quarter of an hour, sir,' said the guard. 'We've got to
wait for a fresh engine, but it won't be long.'
'We may as well get out,' cried one of the ladies, and as soon as
they had left the carriage the old gentleman also stepped on to the
platform, and Jimmy did not see why he should not do the same. So he
got out, and seeing a small crowd near the engine he walked along the
platform towards it.
The engine-driver stood with an oil-can in one hand talking to the
station-master, but there being nothing interesting to see, Jimmy began
to look about the large station.
It was then that he began to feel hungry. His feet were very cold,
and the wind blew along the platform, so that Jimmy turned up his
overcoat collar as he stamped about to get warm. As he walked up and
down he noticed a good many people going in and out at a door, and
looking in he saw that it led to the refreshment room.
Now, Jimmy had two shillings and a sixpence in his purse, and had no
doubt that lemonade could be bought at the counter where a good many
persons were standing. Feeling a little shy, he went to the counter,
and presently succeeded in making one of the young women behind it see
'What do you want?' she asked.
'A bottle of lemonadehave you got any ginger-beer?' asked Jimmy.
'Which do you want?' said the young woman.
Jimmy could not make up his mind for a few moments, but he stood
thinking with his hands in his pockets.
'Is it stone-bottle ginger-beer?' he asked.
'Yes,' was the answer.
'I think I'll have lemonade,' cried Jimmy, and she turned away
impatiently to get the bottle.
It was rather cold, but still Jimmy enjoyed his lemonade very much,
and before he had half finished it, he put his sixpence on the counter.
He thought it was a little dear at fourpence, and he looked sorry when
he received only twopence change. Then he emptied his glass, and went
outside again, thinking he would eat his ham-sandwiches. But the wind
blew colder than ever, and seeing another open door a little farther
along the platform Jimmy cautiously peeped in. The large room was quite
empty, and an enormous fire was burning in the grate.
He thought it would be far pleasanter to sit down to eat his
sandwiches comfortably beside the fire than to eat them whilst he
walked about the cold, windy platform. Before he entered the room he
looked towards the train, which still stood where it had stopped. There
was quite a small crowd near the engine, and whilst some persons had
re-entered their carriages, others walked up and down in front of
Pushing back the door of the waiting-room, Jimmy went to the farther
end, and sat down on a bench close to the fire. Then he tugged the
sandwiches out of his pocket, untied the string, and began to eat them.
He did not stop until the last was finished, and by that time he began
to feel remarkably comfortable and rather sleepy. He made up his mind
that he would not on any account close his eyes, but they felt so heavy
that they really would not keep open; his chin dropped on to his chest,
and in a few moments he was sound asleep.
Then for some time all the busy life of the great railway station
went on: trains arrived, stopped, and started again; other trains
whistled as they dashed past without stopping; porters hurried hither
and thither with piles of luggage, and still a small dark-haired boy
sat on the bench in the waiting-room, unconscious of all that was
Presently Jimmy awoke. He opened his eyes and began to rub them,
thinking at first that the bell which he heard was rung to call the
boys at Miss Lawson's school. But when he looked around him, he soon
discovered that he was not in the school dormitory, and then as he
became more wide-awake he remembered where he really was and began to
fear that he had slept too long and missed his train. Starting up in a
hurry, Jimmy ran out to the platform, and there to his great joy he saw
a train standing exactly where he had left one. A good many people were
waiting by the doors, but Jimmy looked in vain for the two ladies and
the old gentleman.
'Take your seats!' cried a porter, 'just going on;' so that, afraid
of being left behind, Jimmy jumped into a carriage close at hand. It
happened to be empty, but he did not mind that, and he was only just in
time, for the next minute a whistle blew and the train began to move.
It had not long started, before he noticed that the afternoon had
become much darker; he did not possess a watch, but as far as he could
tell it must be very nearly tea-time. However, he supposed that it
could not be long now before he arrived at Chesterham, and he began to
look forward more eagerly than ever to seeing his father and mother on
The train went on, stopping at several stations, and at each one
Jimmy looked out at the window and tried to read the name on the lamps.
But he felt no fear about going too far, because he knew that the train
stopped altogether when it reached Chesterham. It seemed a long time
reaching there, however, much longer than he had imagined; but at last
it came to a standstill, and, looking through the window, Jimmy saw
that many more persons got out than usual. He leaned back in his seat,
feeling tired and cold, and waiting for the train to go on again, when
presently a porter stopped at the window.
'All change here!' he said.
'But I don't want to change,' answered Jimmy. 'This isn't
Chesterham, is it?' for he had read the name of Barstead on one of the
'Chesterham!' cried the porter, 'I should say not. Chesterham is
fifty miles away on another line. This is Barstead. And if you don't
want to stay all night on the siding the best thing you can do is to
CHAPTER VII. JIMMY IS TAKEN INTO
Jimmy stared at the porter in great astonishment. His eyes and his
mouth were opened very widely, and he felt extremely frightened. He
rose from the seat and stepped out on to the dark platform.
'I want to go to Chesterham,' he said.
'Well, you can't go to Chesterham to-night,' was the answer.
'Where's your ticket?'
Jimmy felt in his pocket for his purse, and opening it took out his
'You'd better come to speak to the station-master,' said the porter;
and Jimmy, feeling more frightened than ever, followed him to a small
room, where a tall red-bearded man sat writing at a table which seemed
to be covered all over with papers. When Jimmy entered with the porter
the station-master rose and stood with his back to the fire, whilst the
porter began to explain.
'You can't get to Chesterham without going back to Meresleigh,' said
the station-master presently. 'Chesterham is on a different line, and
there is no train to-night.'
'Then what am I to do?' asked Jimmy, turning very pale.
'That's just what I should like to know!' was the answer. 'But you
can't get back to Meresleigh until to-morrow morning, that's certain.'
'But where shall I sleep?' cried Jimmy.
'How was it you got out of the train at Meresleigh?' asked the
'You see,' faltered Jimmy nervously, 'there was an accident to the
engine and we all got out.'
'Then why didn't you get in again?'
'I did,' said Jimmy.
'You didn't get into the right train,' answered the station-master,
'or you wouldn't be here. Tell me just what you did, now.'
'Why,' Jimmy explained, 'I went into the waiting-room to eat my
sandwiches and then I fell asleep.'
'How long were you asleep?'
'I don't know. It didn't seem very long. When I woke I went on to
the platform and saw a train waiting just in the same place, and I
thought it was the same train.'
'Well, it wasn't,' said the station-master. 'Whilst you were asleep
the Chesterham train must have started, and the train you got into was
the Barstead train, which is more than an hour later. A nice mistake
At this Jimmy put his sleeve to his face and began to cry. He really
couldn't help it, he felt very tired, very cold, very miserable, and
very frightened. He could not imagine what would happen to him, where
he should spend the night, or how he should ever reach Chesterham. He
thought of his father and mother going to meet the train and finding no
Jimmy there, and he felt far more miserable than he had ever felt in
his life before.
The station-master began to ask him questions, and amongst others
where his friends in Chesterham lived. Jimmy did not know the exact
address, but he told the station-master his aunt's name, and he said
that would most likely be enough for a telegram.
'I shall send a telegram at once to say you're all safe here,' he
said; 'and then to-morrow morning we must send you on.'
'But how about to-night?' cried Jimmy. 'Where am I to sleep?'
'I must think about that,' was the answer; and then there was a good
deal of noise as if another train had arrived, and the station-master
left his room in a great hurry. He was a very busy man and had very
little time to look after boys who went to sleep in waiting-rooms and
missed their trains. At the same time he did not intend Jimmy to be
left without a roof over his head. So he saw the train start again, and
then he sent for Coote.
Coote was tall and extremely fat, with an extraordinarily large red
face, and small eyes. He was dressed as a policeman, but he did not
really belong to the police. He was employed by the railway company to
look after persons who did not behave themselves properly, and
certainly his appearance was enough to frighten them. But the
station-master knew him to be a respectable man, with a wife and
children of his own, and a clean cottage about half a mile from the
station. So he thought that Coote would be the very man to take charge
of Jimmy until the next morning. He explained what had happened, and
Coote said he would take the boy home with him.
'I'll see he's well looked after,' he said, 'and I'll bring him in
time to catch the 7.30 train to Meresleigh in the morning.'
'You'll find him in my office,' answered the station-master, and to
the office Coote went accordingly.
Now, if he had acted sensibly in the matter he would have spared
Jimmy a good deal of unpleasantness, and Jimmy's father and mother much
anxiety. But Coote was fond of what he called a 'joke,' and instead of
telling the boy that he was going to take him home and give him a bed
and some supper, he opened the office-door, put his great red face into
the room, and stared hard at Jimmy. Jimmy was already so much upset
that very little was required to frighten him still more. When he saw
the face, with a policeman's helmet above it, he drew back farther
against the wall.
'None o' your nonsense now, you just come along with me!' cried
Coote, speaking in a very deep voice, and looking very fierce.
'II don't want to come,' answered Jimmy.
'Never mind what you want,' said Coote, 'you just come along with
'Wherewhere to?' asked Jimmy.
'Ah, you'll see where to,' was the answer. 'Come along now. No
Very unwillingly Jimmy accompanied Coote along the platform and out
into the street. It was quite dark and very cold, as the boy trotted
along by the policeman's side, looking up timidly into his red face.
'Nice sort of boy you are and no mistake,' said Coote, 'travelling
over the company's line without a ticket. Do you know what's done to
them as travels without a ticket?'
'What?' faltered Jimmy.
'Ah, you wait a few minutes, and you'll see fast enough,' said
What with his policeman's uniform, his red cheeks, his great size,
Jimmy felt more and more afraid, and he really believed that he was
going to be locked up because he had travelled in the wrong train.
Instead of that the man was thinking what he should do to make the boy
more comfortable. He naturally supposed that Jimmy's friends would
reward him, and as it seemed likely that Mrs. Coote might not have
anything especially tempting for supper he determined to buy something
on the way home. After walking along several quiet streets they came to
one which was much busier. There were brilliant lights in the shop
windows, and in front of one of the brightest Coote stopped.
CHAPTER VIII. JIMMY RUNS AWAY
It was a ham and beef shop, and in Jimmy's cold and hungry condition
the meat pies and sausages and hams in the window looked very tempting.
'You just wait here a few moments,' said Coote, as he came to a
standstill, 'and mind it's no use your thinking o' running away,
because I can run too.' With that he entered the ham and beef shop,
leaving Jimmy outside alone on the pavement. Perhaps Jimmy would never
have thought of running away if the man had not suggested it; but he
was so frightened that he felt it would be better to do anything rather
than go with the policeman. You know that sometimes a boy does not stay
to consider what is really the best, and Jimmy did not stay to think
now. Whilst he saw Coote talking to the shopman in the white apron,
through the window, he suddenly turned to make a dash across the road.
'Look out!' cried a man, and Jimmy only just escaped being run over
by a one-horse omnibus. He dodged the horse, however, and running
towards the opposite pavement, he knocked against an old woman with a
basket. The basket grazed his left arm, and to judge by what she said
he must have hurt the woman a good deal. But Jimmy did not wait to hear
all she had to say; he only thought of getting away from Coote, and ran
on and on without the slightest notion where he was going. Up one
street and down another the boy ran, often looking behind to see
whether he was being followed, and at last stopping altogether, simply
because he could not run any farther. He sat down on the kerb-stone,
and then he saw for the first time that it had begun to rain quite
It was a great relief to know that Coote must have taken a wrong
direction, for if the policeman had taken the right one he would have
caught Jimmy by this time. Still he did not intend to sit there many
minutes in case Coote should be following him after all, so a few
minutes later Jimmy got up again and walked on quickly.
He felt very miserable; it must be past his usual bed-time, and yet
he had nowhere to sleep. He wished he were safely at Chesterham; and he
made up his mind that he would never fall asleep in a waiting-room
again as long as he lived.
Until now Jimmy had been making his way along streets, but very soon
he saw that there were houses only on one side of the way. He had in
fact come to what looked, as well as he could see in the dark, like a
small common, with furze bushes growing on it, and a pond by the
But a little farther on, Jimmy fancied he heard a band playing, and
then he saw what appeared to be an enormous tent, and there were lights
burning near, and curious shadowy things which he could not make out at
Jimmy was always an inquisitive boy, and now he almost forgot his
troubles in his wish to find out what was happening on the common. So
he walked towards the large round tent, and the band sounded more
loudly every moment.
By one part of the tent stood a cart, and in this a man was shouting
at the top of his voice. And around the cart a crowd had gathered,
chiefly of rather shabbily-dressed people, and one or two of them
stepped out every minute or so and went inside an opening in the tent,
where a stout woman stood to take their money.
Near the cart was a large picture, and Jimmy stared at it with a
great deal of interest. The picture represented a lion and a clown, and
the clown's head was inside the lion's mouth; whilst a little way off a
very small clown, of about Jimmy's own age, stood laughing.
Jimmy had always an immense liking for lions, and also for clowns,
and when they both came together and the head of the one happened to be
in the mouth of the other, the temptation was almost more than he could
'Now, ladies and gentlemen, walk up, walk up!' cried the man in the
cart. 'All the wonders of the world now on view. Now's the time, the
very last night; walk up, ladies and gentlemen, walk up.'
Jimmy thought that he really might do worse than to walk up. For one
thing he would be able to sit down inside the tent, and for another he
could take shelter from the rain, which now was falling fast. He put
his hand into his pocket to feel for his purse, and recollected that he
had still two shillings and twopence left out of Aunt Selina's
'How much is it?' he asked, going towards the stout woman at the
'Well,' she answered, 'you can go in for twopence, and you can have
a first-class seat for sixpence. But if you ask me, a young gent like
you'd sooner pay a shilling.'
'Yes, I think I should,' said Jimmy proudly; and, taking out a
shilling, he gave it to the woman and at once entered the tent.
There were so few persons in the best seats that a great many of
those in the cheaper ones turned to look at Jimmy as he walked in. But
Jimmy was quite unaware of this, for no sooner had he sat down than he
began to laugh as if he had not a trouble in the world. He forgot that
he had nowhere to sleep, he forgot the red-faced policeman, he even
forgot that he ought to be at Chesterham.
It was the clown who made Jimmy laugh. He was a little man with a
tall, pointed white felt hat like a dunce's cap; he wore the usual
clown's dress, and generally kept his hands in his pockets as if he
were a school-boy.
A girl in a green velvet riding-habit had just finished a wonderful
performance on horseback, and after she had kissed her hands to the
people a good many times, she jumped off the horse, which began to trot
round the ring alone. The clown was evidently trying to repeat her
performance on his own account, but each time he tried to mount the
horse it trotted faster, and the clown always fell on his back in the
sawdust. Nothing could be more comical than the way he got up, as if he
were hurt very much indeed, and rubbed himself; unless, indeed, it was
his alarm when the two elephants were brought into the ring and he
jumped over the barrier close to Jimmy in the front seats. Jimmy felt a
little disappointed not to see the clown put his head into the lion's
mouth, but then there were plenty of things to make up for this; and
besides, Jimmy was beginning to feel really very sleepy again, when the
band played 'Rule Britannia' out of tune, and all the people rose to
leave the tent.
As it became empty, Jimmy began to feel very wretched again. He
wondered where he should sleep, and he could hear that it was raining
faster than ever outside.
Why shouldn't he wait until everybody else had gone and then lie
down on one of the seats and sleep where he was? Of course he had never
slept in such a place before, and he did not much like the idea of
sleeping there now, but then he had nowhere else to go, and at any rate
it would be better than going outside in the rain.
So Jimmy made up his mind to stay where he was, and he would have
been lying down and perhaps asleep in another moment, for he was very
tired, when he saw the clown enter the tent.
He had taken off his pointed hat, and had put on a long loose
overcoat over his clown's dress. As he had been laughing or making fun
all the time he was in the ring, Jimmy thought that he never did
anything else; but the clown looked quite solemn now, and the paint on
his face had become smudged after getting wet outside in the rain.
'Hullo!' he exclaimed on seeing Jimmy. 'What are you doing here?'
'Nothing,' answered the boy.
'Suppose you do it outside!'
'But I shall get so wet outside,' said Jimmy.
'Lor! Where's your nurse?' asked the clown.
'I haven't got one,' cried Jimmy, a little indignantly. 'I go to
'Be quick then and go,' said the clown.
'But I've nowhere to go,' answered Jimmy sadly, 'and I don't know
where anybody is.'
'Mean to say they've gone away and left you?' asked the clown.
'They haven't been here.'
'Oh, so you came to the show by yourself?' said the clown.
'Yes,' replied Jimmy.
'Well,' was the answer, 'you're a nice young party'; and the clown
sat down on the barrier. 'Come now,' he said, 'suppose you tell us all
So, in a very sleepy voice, Jimmy began to tell the clown his story.
He told him how he had fallen asleep in the waiting-room, and where he
had been going to; but he did not say anything about Coote, because he
felt afraid that the clown might send for the policeman, who would,
after all, put him into prison for travelling in the wrong train.
CHAPTER IX. THE CIRCUS
The clown listened to the story very attentively, but Jimmy gaped a
great deal while he told it. By the time he finished he could scarcely
keep his eyes open.
'You seem a bit sleepy,' said the clown.
'I'm hungry, too,' answered Jimmy.
'Well, you can't sleep here,' said the clown, 'and you don't see
much to eat, do you?'
'No, there isn't much to eat,' Jimmy admitted. 'But,' he added, 'I
don't see why I couldn't sleep here.'
'Because the tent's going to be taken down,' said the clown. 'We've
been here three days, and we're going on somewhere else.'
Jimmy looked disappointed. He rather liked the clown; at all events
he liked him a great deal better than Coote, and he did not feel at all
afraid of him.
'Just you come along with me,' said the clown, 'and I'll see what I
can do for you. Here, jump over! That's right,' he added, as Jimmy
climbed over the barrier which separated the seats from the ring in
which the performance had taken place. 'You come with me,' said the
clown, 'and we'll soon see whether we can't find you something to eat
and a place to lie down in.'
They left the tent, and outside the clown stopped to speak to the
man who had shouted from the cart and to the stout woman who had taken
the money. They often glanced at Jimmy while they talked, so that he
guessed they were talking about him.
'All right,' said the man, 'do as you like; it's no business of
mine'; and then the clown came back to Jimmy and they walked away from
the tent together.
They seemed to be walking in and out amongst a number of
curious-looking carts and ornamental cars, the colour of gold, with
pictures on their sides. There were several vans too, like small houses
on wheels, with windows and curtains painted on them, such as Jimmy had
often seen at Ramsgate, with men selling brooms and baskets, walking by
There were no men selling brooms or baskets here, although they all
seemed to be very busy: some being dressed just as they had left the
ring, and others leading cream-coloured and piebald horses, instead of
going to bed, as Jimmy thought it was time to do.
'Come along,' said the clown, as the boy seemed inclined to stop to
'Where are we going?' asked Jimmy.
'You'll see,' was the answer.
'But where is it?' asked Jimmy.
'Where I live,' said the clown.
'Oh, we're going to your house,' cried Jimmy, feeling pleased at the
chance of entering a house again, for it seemed a very long time since
he had left Aunt Selina's.
'Well,' said the clown, 'it's a sort of house. You might call it a
house on wheels, and you wouldn't be far out.'
Suddenly Jimmy seized the clown's arm and gave a jump.
'What's that?' he exclaimed.
'Don't be frightened,' said the clown.
'Only what is it?' asked Jimmy, with a shaky voice.
'He won't hurt you,' was the answer. 'It's only old Billy, the
Jimmy heard him roar as if he were only a yard or two away, and he
felt rather alarmed, until they had left his cage farther behind.
'Is that the lion who had your head in his mouth?' asked Jimmy.
'Well,' said the clown, 'it isn't in his mouth now, is it?'
'I didn't see the little clown,' exclaimed Jimmy, and the clown
stared down at the ground.
'No,' he answered, as if he felt rather miserable, 'we shan't see
him again ever.'
Then they stopped at the back of one of the vans, and Jimmy saw that
there was a light inside it.
'Up you get,' said the clown, and Jimmy scrambled up a pair of wide
steps which put him in mind of a bathing-machine.
The door seemed to be made in halves, and whilst the lower part was
shut the upper part was open. Through this Jimmy could see inside the
van, and it looked exactly like a small room, only rather dirty and
untidy. As Jimmy stood on the steps staring into the van, with the
clown close behind him, a girl came out from what seemed to be a second
room behind the first. She had yellow hair, and her face looked very
white; but although she must have changed her dress, Jimmy felt certain
she was the same girl who had worn the green velvet riding-habit.
'Hullo!' she cried, seeing Jimmy, but not seeing her father. 'What
do you want?'
'All right, Nan, all right,' said the clown, and he put an arm in
front of Jimmy to push open the door. Whilst Jimmy felt glad to find
shelter from the rain, the clown went to the back room, which must have
been extremely small, and carried on a conversation with the girl whom
he called Nan. Jimmy felt certain he was telling her all about himself.
Presently they both came out again, and Nan went to a shelf and
brought some rather fat bacon and bread, and a knife and fork with
black handles. There were two bedsone in the back part of the van and
one in the front. Jimmy sat down on the one in the front to eat his
supper, and before he had finished Nan gave him a mug of tea, which
made him feel much warmer, although it did not taste very pleasant.
The clown had gone away again, and Jimmy wondered why there was such
a noise outside the van.
'They're only putting the horses in,' said Nan, when he questioned
'I should have thought they would be taking them out at this time of
night,' answered Jimmy.
'We always travel at night,' she explained, 'and then we're ready
for the performance in the daytime.'
'But when do you go to sleep?' asked Jimmy.
'When we get a chance,' she said. 'But the best thing you can do's
to go to sleep now. Suppose you lie down in there,' and she pointed to
the room which was boarded off behind.
'Whose bed is it?' he asked.
'Father's, when he gets time to lie in it,' was the answer.
'But he can't if I'm there,' said Jimmy.
'He's got a lot to do before he thinks of bed,' exclaimed Nan. 'He's
got to see to the horses. But I'll lie down as soon as we start, and
presently father and I'll change places.'
CHAPTER X. ON THE ROAD
It all seemed very strange to Jimmy, and he would not have felt very
much surprised if he had suddenly awakened to find himself back in the
dormitory at Miss Lawson's, and all his adventures a dream.
The bed did not look very clean, and Jimmy thought at first that he
should not care to lie down on it. He felt too tired to waste much
time, however, and he did not even take off his clothes, but lay down
just as he was, and in half a minute he fell fast asleep.
And though the horse was put between the shafts, and there was a
loud shouting as the long line of carts and vans began to move, Jimmy
did not open his eyes for some time.
He might not have opened them even then if Nan, who had also been
asleep, had not risen and opened the door and let in a whiff of cold
air. As Jimmy sat up in the dark and rubbed his eyes, he thought at
first that he must be in a boat, because whatever he might be in, it
rolled about from side to side. Remembering presently where he really
was, he got off the bed, and peeped into the other half of the van.
Seeing that Nan was not there, he went to the door, the upper half of
which she had left open. The rain had quite left off, and the night was
very beautiful. A great many stars shone in the sky; Jimmy had never
looked out so late before, he had never seen the heavens such a dark
blue nor the stars so large and bright. It was four o'clock in the
morning, the air felt very cold, and he could see that they were going
slowly along a country road.
About a yard from the back of his own van, a grey horse jogged along
between the shafts of another van, with a rough brown pony tied beside
it. Feeling curious to see as much as he could, Jimmy opened the door,
and climbed carefully down the steps. Then he ran to the side of the
road, although he always took care to keep close to the clown's van.
In front he saw ever so many carts and vans, and behind there were
as many more. There were horses in groups of five or six, and men
walking sleepily along by the hedge. Now and then the lion roared, but
not very loudly; now and then one of the men spoke to his horses; now
and then a match was struck to light a pipe. But for the most part it
seemed strangely silent as the long line wound slowly along the country
road. For a good while Jimmy scarcely heard a sound, but presently,
after he had been in the road a few minutes, he did hear something, and
that was the clown's voice.
'Hullo,' it said, 'what are you doing out here? Just you get inside
again'; and Jimmy scampered away and ran up the steps and lay down on
the bed. He was soon asleep again, and when he re-opened his eyes it
was broad daylight. He found that the caravan had come to a standstill,
but when he looked out at the door everything seemed as quiet as when
they were on the march. It was not so quiet inside the house, for the
clown lay on the bed which Nan had occupied earlier, and he was snoring
loudly. Jimmy wondered where Nan had gone, but whilst he stood
shivering by the door he saw her carrying a wooden pail full of water.
'Is that for me to wash in?' asked Jimmy, for he was surprised to
find that there were no basins and towels in the van.
'Not it,' answered Nan. 'That's to make some tea for breakfast.' He
watched whilst she brought out three pieces of iron like
walking-sticks, tied together at the ends and forming a tripod. Having
stuck the other ends in the ground, Nan collected some sticks, and
heaping these together, she soon made a good fire.
'Can I warm my hands?' asked Jimmy; and leaving the van, he crouched
down to hold his small hands over the blaze. Then Nan hung a kettle
over the fire and stood watching whilst it boiled. And men and women
gradually came out of the other vans, which stood about anyhow, and
they all looked very sleepy and rather dirty, especially the children
who soon began to collect round Jimmy as if he were the most
extraordinary thing in the caravan. If he had felt less cold and hungry
Jimmy might have enjoyed it all, for there was certainly a great deal
They seemed to have stopped on another common, but there were small
houses not very far away. The worst of it was that wherever he went he
was followed by a small crowd of children who made loud remarks about
him. Still he wandered in and out amongst the vans, and stopped a long
time before the cage which contained the lion. The lion was lying down
licking his fore-paws, but he left off to stare at Jimmy, who quickly
drew farther away from the cage. A little farther he met two elephants,
a big one and a little one, with three men who were taking them down to
a pond to drink. Jimmy saw some comical-looking monkeys too; and what
interested him almost more than anything were the men who had already
begun to fix the large tent in an open space. It looked rather odd at
present, because they had only fixed the centre pole, and the canvas
hung loosely in the shape of the cap which the clown had worn last
night. On returning to the van, still followed by the boys, Jimmy saw
the clown sitting on the steps eating an enormous piece of bread and
cheese, and drinking hot tea out of a mug.
'Come along,' said the clown, 'come and have some breakfast'; and
Jimmy sat down on the muddy ground, and Nan gave him another mug and a
thick slice of bread; but Jimmy was by this time so hungry that he
could have eaten anything. Still he felt very anxious to hear how he
was to reach Chesterham without meeting Coote again.
'I should like to see my father and mother to-day,' he said,
as he ate his breakfast.
'Not to-day,' answered the clown, 'but it won't be long, so don't
you worry yourself. We're working that way, and we're going to have a
'At Chesterham!' cried Jimmy, feeling extremely relieved.
'You'll be there before the end of the week,' said the clown; 'and I
should think your father would come down handsome.'
Now Jimmy began to feel quite contented again, and there was so much
to look at that he forgot everything else.
When he was at school at Ramsgate he had seen a circus going in a
procession through the town, and now Nan told him that this circus was
going in a procession, and that it would start at half-past twelve.
Everybody seemed very busy making ready for it, men were attending to
the horses, and the gilded chariots were being prepared, and presently
Nan began to dress.
'What are you going to be?' asked Jimmy, as she took a
bright-looking helmet from under her bed.
'Don't you know?' she answered. 'Why, I'm Britannia.'
A little later she left the van with the helmet on her head, and a
large thing which looked like a pitchfork in one hand. In the other she
carried a shield, and her white dress had flags all over it. By this
time one of the gilded chariots had been made very high; it seemed to
be almost as high as a house, and on the top was a seat. Nan climbed up
to this seat and sat down, and then a black man led Billy the lion out
of his cage with a chain round his neck, and it was funny to see the
lion climb up to the place where Nan was sitting and quietly lie down
by her side.
The clown was standing on a white horse, with a long pair of reins
driving another white horse; but the black man who had led the lion
drove eight horses, and then there was a band, in red, and two
elephants, and everybody in the circus except some of the children and
a few women formed a part of the long procession.
CHAPTER XI. JIMMY RUNS AWAY AGAIN
Now, Jimmy thought that he also would like to be in the procession.
He would have liked to dress up as Nan had done, although perhaps he
would not have cared to sit quite so close to the lion. They seemed to
have forgotten all about him, and he was left to do just as he liked.
So what he did was to walk beside the procession into the town, and
then to run on ahead to find a good place to see it pass.
He got back to the van long before Nan and her father, and being
quite alone, he began to look about him. Hanging on a peg, he saw a lot
of old clothes, which seemed rather interesting, especially one suit
that must have belonged to the little clown.
Jimmy looked at the dress again and again. There were long things
like socks, of a dirty white colour, with a kind of flowery pattern in
red along the sides. Then he saw what looked like a very short and
baggy pair of light red and blue knickerbockers, and also the jacket of
light red and blue too, with curious loose sleeves.
He would very much have liked to put them all on just to see how he
looked in them, only that he felt afraid that Nan or her father might
return before he had time to take them off again.
No sooner did they come back than they began to prepare for the
evening performance, and still everybody seemed too busy to give many
thoughts to Jimmy.
'Whose is that little clown's suit?' he asked, while Nan was busy
about the van.
'Ah,' she answered, 'that was my little brother's,' and she spoke so
unhappily that he did not like to say any more about it.
But Jimmy wanted more and more to try the suit on himself only just
for a few moments, and he thought it could not possibly do any harm.
Presently Nan, who had taken off Britannia's dress, put on her green
velvet riding-habit, and Jimmy could hear the band playing close by,
and he guessed that the performance was soon going to begin.
'You can go to bed whenever you like,' said Nan, before she left the
'Thank you,' he answered, and when she had gone he stood at the door
looking out into the darkness. He could see the flaming naphtha lamps,
and hear the music and a loud clapping inside the great tent, and now
they seemed all so busy that it might be a good time to put on the
little clown's dress.
First of all Jimmy shut the upper part of the door, so that nobody
who happened to look that way could see inside the van. He took down
the clothes from the peg, and removed his own jacket and waistcoat and
knickerbockers as quickly as possible. Then he found that he must take
off his boots and stockings, and he sat down on the floor of the van to
draw on those with the pattern on each side. They did not go on very
easily, but he managed it at last, and then it was a simple matter to
put on the loose knickerbockers and the jacket.
As his feet felt cold, he put on his own boots again, and then he
stood on a chair without a back to take down the piece of broken
looking-glass which he had seen Nan use that day. He could not get a
very good view of himself, but he could see that his face was much
dirtier than it had ever been before in his life, and this was not to
be wondered at, because he had not washed it since he left his Aunt
Selina's yesterday morning. And yesterday morning seemed a very long
He stood in the middle of the van, trying to look at himself in the
glass, when suddenly it fell from his hand and broke, and Jimmy gave a
violent jump. For to his great alarm he heard distinctly the voice of
Coote, the railway policeman, just outside the van.
Now Coote had been greatly astonished last night, on coming out of
the ham and beef shop, to see no sign of Jimmy. He had spent two hours
looking for him, and then he gave him up as a bad job. When he told the
station-master what had happened, he was ordered to do nothing else
until he found the boy again, and so Coote had spent the whole day
searching for him. And Coote's instructions were, on finding the boy,
to take him direct to his aunt's house at Chesterham.
Coote, after looking all over Barstead, thought that perhaps Jimmy
had gone away with the circus people, so he took a train and followed
them. But Jimmy felt as much afraid as ever; he made sure that if Coote
caught him he would be locked up in prison. Thinking that the policeman
was coming into the van, he looked about for a place to hide himself,
and at last he made up his mind to crawl under the bed. It was not at
all easy, because the bed was close to the floor; but still, Jimmy
managed it at last, and lay quite still on the floor, expecting every
moment that Coote would enter. Then he remembered that he had left his
own clothes on the floor, so that if Coote saw them he would guess that
their owner was hiding. Jimmy felt that he would do anything to get
safely away, and he lay on the floor scarcely daring to breathe, until
Coote's voice sounded farther off.
Crawling out from under the bed again, presently, without stopping
to think, Jimmy opened the door of the van, ran down the steps, and on
putting his feet to the grass, he at once dodged round the van and set
off at a run away from the tent.
He ran and ran until he was quite out of breath. He seemed to have
reached a country lane; it was very quiet and dark, and the stars shone
in the sky. Jimmy sat down by the wayside, feeling very hot and tired,
and then he remembered that he was wearing the clown's clothes. He
remembered also that he had left all his money and his knife behind
him; but still he did not think of going back, because if he went back
he would be certain to fall into the hands of Coote.
No, he would not go back; what he would do was to make his way to
Chesterham. It could not be very far, for the clown had said he should
be there in a few days, although the caravan travelled slowly. Why
shouldn't he walk to his aunt's house, and then he would see his mother
and father, who no doubt would look surprised to see him dressed as a
clown. If his mother was really like Aunt Selina she might be very
angry, but then he hoped she wasn't like his aunt, and, at all events,
Jimmy thought she could not be angry with him just the first time she
But, then, he might not be in the right road for Chesterham, and he
did not wish to lose his way, because he had no money to buy anything
to eat, and already he was beginning to feel hungry. The sooner he got
along the better, so he rose from his seat beside the road and walked
on in the hope of seeing some one who could tell him the way. He walked
rather slowly, but still he went a few miles, passing a cottage with
lights in the windows now and then, but not liking to knock at the
door. But presently he felt so tired that he made up his mind to knock
at the next. When he came to it he walked up to the garden gate, but
then his courage failed. He stood leaning against the gate, hoping that
some of the people whose voices he could hear might come out; but
presently the windows became dark, and Jimmy guessed that, instead of
coming out, the people in the cottage had gone to bed.
Now that he knew it must be very late, Jimmy began to feel a little
afraid. It seemed very dull and lonely, and he longed to meet somebody,
never mind who it was. There was only one thing which seemed to be
moving, and that was a windmill standing on a slight hill a little way
from the road. It seemed very curious to watch the sails going round in
the darkness, but Jimmy could see them rise and fall, because they
looked black against the blue sky. The mill was so near that he could
hear the noise of the sails as they went round, it sounded like a very
loud humming-top, and there were one or two patches of light to be seen
in the mill.
Jimmy thought that perhaps he might be able to lie down near to it,
although the difficulty was to get to it. But when he had walked on a
little farther, he saw a dark-looking lane on his right hand, and after
stopping to think a little, he walked along it. With every step he took
the humming sounded louder, but presently Jimmy stopped suddenly.
CHAPTER XII. JIMMY SLEEPS IN A
'Hullo!' said a voice close in front of him, and looking up Jimmy
saw a man smoking a pipe. Of course it was too dark for him to see
anything very distinctly, but still his eyes had become used to the
darkness, and he could see more than you would imagine.
'What are you after?' asked the man.
'Please I was looking for somewhere to sleep,' answered Jimmy.
'Well, you're a rum sort of youngster,' said the man. 'Here, come
along o' me.'
Jimmy followed him along a path which led to the mill, and as they
drew near to it the great sails seemed to swish through the air in a
rather alarming manner. The man opened a door and Jimmy looked in. The
floor was all white with flour, and dozens of sacks stood against the
walls. The man also looked nearly as white as the floor, and he began
to smile as the light fell upon Jimmy. But the boy did not feel at all
inclined to smile.
'Why,' he asked, 'you look as if you've come from a circus?'
'I have,' answered Jimmy, feeling quite stupid from sleepiness.
'Run away?' said the man. 'Have you?'
'Yes,' answered Jimmy, gaping.
'Got nowhere to sleep?' asked the miller.
'No,' was the answer.
'Hungry?' asked the miller.
'I only want to go to sleep,' said Jimmy, gaping again.
'Come in here,' said the man, and without losing a moment, Jimmy
followed him into the mill. There the man threw two or three sacks on
to the floor, and told Jimmy to lie down. There seemed to be a great
noise at first, but Jimmy shut his eyes and soon fell sound asleep, too
sound asleep even to dream of Coote or the clown.
He was awakened by the miller's kicking one of the sacks on which he
lay, and looking about to see where he was, Jimmy saw that it was broad
daylight, and that the sun was shining brightly.
'Now, then, off with you,' cried the miller, 'before I get into
'What time is it, please?' asked Jimmy sleepily, as he stood
'It'll soon be six o'clock,' was the answer.
Jimmy thought it was a great deal too early to get up, and he felt
so tired that he would very much have liked to lie down again, but he
did not say so.
'Here, take this,' said the man, and he put twopence into Jimmy's
hand. 'Mind they don't catch you,' he added.
'Please can you tell me the way to Chesterham?' asked Jimmy.
'Chesterham's a long way,' answered the miller; 'but you've got to
get to Sandham first. Go back into the road and keep to your left. When
you get to Sandham ask for Chesterham.'
'Thank you,' said Jimmy, and with the twopence held tightly in his
hand he walked along the lane until he reached the road.
It was a beautiful morning, but Jimmy could do nothing but gape; his
feet felt very heavy, and he wished that he had never put on the
clown's clothes and left his own behind. Still he made sure that he
should be able to reach Chesterham some day, and presently he passed a
church and an inn and several small houses and poor-looking shops. With
the twopence in his hand he looked in at the shop windows wondering
what he should buy for breakfast, and seeing a card in one of them
which said that lemonade was a penny a bottle, Jimmy determined to buy
some of that.
The woman who served him looked very much astonished, and she called
another woman to look at him too. But Jimmy stood drinking the cool,
sweet lemonade, and thought it was the nicest thing he had ever tasted.
As he stood drinking it his eyes fell on some cakes of chocolate cream.
'How much are those?' he asked.
'Two a penny,' said the woman.
'I'll have two, please,' said Jimmy, and he began to eat them as
soon as he left the shop. But he was glad to leave the village behind,
because everybody he met stared at him and he did not like it. Three
boys and a girl followed him some distance along the road, no doubt
expecting that he was really and truly a clown, and would do some
tumbling and make them laugh. But at last they grew tired of following
him, and they stopped and began to call him names, and one boy threw a
stone at him, but Jimmy felt far too miserable to throw one back.
Chocolate creams and lemonade are very nice things, but they don't make
a very good breakfast. The morning seemed very long, and presently
Jimmy sat down by a hedge and fell asleep. He awoke feeling more hungry
than ever, and no one was in sight but a man on a hay cart. But it
happened that the cart was going towards Sandham, and Jimmy waited
until it came up, and then he climbed up behind and hung with one leg
over the tailboard and got a long ride for nothing. He might have
ridden all the way to Sandham, only that the carter turned round in a
rather bad temper and hit Jimmy with his whip, so that he jumped down
more quickly than he had climbed up.
He guessed that he was near the town, because there were houses by
the roadside, and passing carts, and even an omnibus. If Jimmy had had
any more money he would have got into the omnibus; as he had none he
was compelled to walk on. It was quite late in the afternoon when he
entered Sandham, and he had eaten nothing since the chocolate creams.
He was annoyed to find that a number of children were following him
again, and as he went farther into the town they crowded round in a
ring, so that Jimmy was brought to a standstill.
He felt very uncomfortable standing there, with dozens of children
and a few grown-up persons round him. They cried out to him to 'go on,'
and this was just what Jimmy would have liked to do. He felt so
miserable that he put an arm to his eyes and began to cry, and then the
crowd began to laugh, for they thought he was going to begin to do
something to amuse them at last. But when they saw he did nothing funny
as a clown ought to do, but only kept on crying, they began to jeer at
him, and one boy came near as if he would hit him. Jimmy took down his
arm then, and the two boys, one dressed in rags and the other in the
dirty clown's dress, stood staring at each other with their small fists
doubled, when Jimmy felt some one take hold of his arm, and looking
round he saw a rather tall, dark-haired lady, with a pretty-looking
face. Her hand was on his arm, and her eyes wore a very curious
expression, almost as if she were going to cry also, just to keep Jimmy
But from the moment that Jimmy looked at her face he felt that
things would be better with him.
'Come with me, dear,' she whispered, and taking his hand in her own
she led him out of the crowd.
'Where to?' asked Jimmy, wondering why she held his hand so tightly.
'I think the best thing to do will be to put you to bed,' she
'Yes,' said Jimmy, 'I should like to go to bedto a real bed, you
'You shall go into a real bed,' she answered.
'I think I should like to have something to eat first,' he cried.
'Oh yes, you shall have something to eat,' she said.
If a good many persons had stopped to stare at Jimmy when he was
alone, many more stared now to see a dirty-faced, poor little clown
being led away by a nicely-dressed lady. But the fact was that Jimmy
did not care what they thought. They might stare as much as they liked,
and it did not make any difference. He felt that he was all right at
last, although he did not in the least know who his friend could be.
But he felt that she was a friend, and that was the great thing;
he felt that whatever she did would be pleasant and good, and that she
was going to give him something nice to eat and a comfortable bed to
Somehow he did not feel at all surprised, only extremely tired, so
that he could scarcely keep his eyes open. Things that happened did not
seem quite real, it was almost like a dream. The lady stopped in front
of a house where lodgings were let, although Jimmy knew nothing about
that. The door was opened by a pleasant, rosy-cheeked woman in a cotton
'Well, I am glad!' she cried; and Jimmy wondered, but only
for a moment, what she had to be glad about.
'I think some hot soup will be the best thing,' said the lady, 'and
then we will put him to bed.'
'What do you think about a bath?' asked the landlady.
'The bath will do to-morrow,' was the answer. 'Just some soup and
then bed. And I shall want you to send a telegram to the Post Office.'
'You're not going to send a telegram to the policeman,' exclaimed
Jimmy; but as the landlady left the room to see about the soup, the
lady placed her arm round him and drew him towards her. Jimmy thought
that most ladies would not have liked to draw him close, because he
really looked a dirty little object, but this lady did not seem to mind
Suddenly she held him farther away from her, and looked strangely
into his face.
'What is your name?' she asked.
'JamesOrchardsonSinclairWilmot,' said Jimmy with a gape
between the words.
Then she pressed him closer still, and kissed his face again and
again, and for once Jimmy rather liked being kissed. Perhaps it was
because he had felt so tired and lonely; but whatever the reason may
have been, he did not try to draw away, but nestled down in her arms
and felt more comfortable than he had felt for ever so long.
It was not long before the landlady came back with a plate of hot
soup, and Jimmy sat in a chair by the table and the lady broke some
bread and dipped it in, and Jimmy almost fell asleep as he fed himself.
Still he enjoyed the soup, and when it was finished she took him up in
her arms and carried him to another room where there were two beds. She
stood Jimmy down, and he leaned against the smaller bed with his eyes
shut whilst she took off the clown's dress, and the last thing he
recollected was her face very close to his own before he fell sound
CHAPTER XIII. THE LAST
It was quite late when Jimmy opened his eyes the next morning, and a
few minutes afterwards he was sitting up in bed, wondering how much he
had dreamed and how much was real.
Had he actually got into the wrong train, and run away from a
policeman, and travelled in the van, and put on the little clown's
clothes, and then run away again? Had he really done all these strange
things or had he only dreamed them? But if he had dreamed them, where
was he? And if they were real, where had the clown's dress gone to?
As Jimmy sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes, he hoped that he had not
been dreaming; because if it had been only a dream, why, then, he had
only dreamed of the lady also, and he felt that he very much wished her
to be real.
Why, she was real! For there she stood smiling at the open door,
with a tray covered with a white cloth in her hand, and on it a large
cup of hot bread and milk, and two eggs.
'I am glad!' said Jimmy.
'What are you glad about?' she asked, as she placed the tray on his
'That you're quite real,' he answered.
'Well,' she said, 'your breakfast is real too, and the best thing
you can do is to eat it.'
Jimmy began at once. He began with the bread and milk, and the lady
sat at the foot of the bed watching him.
'Where am I going after breakfast?' he asked.
'Into a nice hot bath,' she said.
'But after that?'
'How should you like to go to see your father?' she asked.
'Do you know him?' asked Jimmy, laying down his spoon in his
'Very well indeed.'
'And my mother too?'
'Yes, and Winnie too.'
'Is she like Aunt Selina?' asked Jimmy, as the lady began to take
the top off his egg.
'Do you mean Winnie?' she said.
'No, my mother. Because Aunt Selina said they were like each other,
but I hope they're not.'
'Well, no,' answered the lady, 'I really don't think your mother is
very much like Aunt Selina.'
'Do you think she'll be very cross?' he asked.
'I don't think so. Why should she be cross?' As she spoke she took
away the empty cup and gave Jimmy the egg. She cut a slice of bread and
butter into fingers, and he dipped them into the egg and ate it that
'This is a nice egg,' said Jimmy. 'But,' he continued, 'I
thought perhaps she'd be cross because I got into the wrong train.'
'Why did you run away from the policeman?' asked the lady.
'Because he said he should lock me up.'
'But he was only joking, you know.'
'Was he?' asked Jimmy, opening his eyes very widely.
'That's all,' was the answer, and Jimmy looked thoughtful for a few
'I don't think I like policemen who joke,' he said solemnly.
'Then,' asked the lady, 'why did you run away from the circus? You
seem to be very fond of running away.'
'I shan't run away from you,' said Jimmy. 'Only I heard the
policeman's voice outside the van and I thought I'd better.'
'Well,' she answered, 'if you had not run away you would have found
your mother much sooner.'
'I do hope she isn't like Aunt Selina,' he said wistfully.
'What should you wish her to be like?' asked the lady.
'Why, like you, of course,' he cried, and then he was very much
surprised to see the lady lean forward and throw her arms about him and
to feel her kissing him again and again. And when she left off her eyes
'Why did you do that?' asked Jimmy.
'She is like me, you darling!' said the lady.
'My mother?' cried Jimmy.
'You dear, foolish boy, I am your mother,' she said.
'Oh,' said Jimmy, and it was quite a long time before he was able to
say anything else.
A few moments later Mrs. Wilmot rang the bell, and a servant carried
a large bath into the room, then she went away and came back with a can
of very hot water, and then she went away again to fetch a brown-paper
parcel. Mrs. Wilmot opened the parcel at once, and Jimmy sat up in bed
and looked on. He saw her take out a suit of brown clothes, a shirt,
and all sorts of things, so that he should have everything new.
Then he got out of bed, and had such a washing and scrubbing as he
had never had before. He was washed from head to foot, and dressed in
the new clothes, and when he looked in the glass he saw himself just as
he had been before he left Miss Lawson's school at Ramsgate.
'Now,' said Mrs. Wilmot, 'I think you may as well come to see your
father and Winnie.'
'Are they here?' he asked.
'Oh yes,' she explained, 'I sent to tell them last night, and they
arrived early this morning. Not both together, because we left Winnie
with Aunt Ellen at Chesterham, whilst father went to look for you one
way and I went another.'
'Then you were really looking for me?' cried Jimmy.
'Why, of course we were,' she answered. 'We knew you were walking
about the country dressed as a little clown. But come,' she said,
'because your father is anxious to see you.'
'I should like to see him too,' said Jimmy. 'I hope he's as nice as
you are,' he cried as they left the bedroom.
'He is ever so much nicer,' was the quiet answer.
'I don't think he could be,' said Jimmy, as his mother turned the
handle. Then he remembered what the boys had said at school.
'Winnie isn't really black, is she?' he asked.
'Black!' cried his mother; 'she is just the dearest little girl in
'I'm glad of that,' said Jimmy, and then he entered the room and saw
a tall man with a fair moustache standing in front of the fire, and,
seated on his shoulder, was one of the prettiest little girls Jimmy had
'There he is!' she cried. 'There's my brother. Put me down, please.'
'Good-morning,' said Jimmy, as his father put Winnie on to the
But the next moment Mr. Wilmot put his hands under Jimmy's arms and
lifted him up to kiss him, but the odd thing was that when he was
standing on the floor again he could not think of anything to say to
'I've got a dollie!' she said presently, while their father and
mother stood watching them, 'and I'm going to have a governess.'
Then they all began to talk quite freely, and Jimmy soon felt as if
he had lived with them always. Presently they went out for a walk to
buy Jimmy some more clothes, and when they came back the children's
dinner was ready.
'I do like being here,' said Jimmy during the meal.
'I am glad you got found,' cried Winnie.
'So am I,' he answered. 'But suppose,' he suggested, 'that I hadn't
been found before you went away again.'
Then Winnie solemnly laid aside her forkshe was not old enough to
use a knife.
'Why,' she said, 'you do say funny things. We're not going away
'Aren't you?' asked Jimmy, looking up at his father and mother.
'No,' answered Mrs. Wilmot, 'we're going to stay at home with you.'
'Are you reallyreally?' asked Jimmy, for he could scarcely believe
'Yes, really,' said Mr. Wilmot.
'It will be nice,' said Jimmy thoughtfully, and then he went on with