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I thought so too, at the time, and now I
know it. We sat up all night to be ready
for the news when it came from Dewcester.
Early next morning a messenger arrived.
Thomas let him in; and before he told us
what had brought him to Brownham, Thomas
said to him, "Alderman Playford is dead."
The messenger was astonished, as well he
might be, and said "Lor, how could you know
that?"—"He died last night," said Thomas,
"as the clock was striking twelve, and I heard
his footstep cross the hall, and go up the staircase.
The Alderman's step is like nobody
else's, and I knew by that he must be

And wishing we may all live happy ever


I DON'T know how you have all managed,
or what you have been telling. I have been
thinking all this time, what I could tell that
was interesting; and I don't know anything
very particular that has happened to me,
except all about Charley Felkin, and why he
has asked me to go and stay there. I will
tell you that story, if you like.

You know Charley is a year younger than
I am, and I had been at Dr. Owen's a year
when he came. He was to be in my room;
and he did not know anything about school;
and he was younger, and uncomfortable at
first; and altogether, he fell to my share;
and so we saw a great deal of each other.
He soon cheered up, and could stand his
ground; and we were great friends. He
soon got to like play, and left off moping;
and we used to talk a great deal in wet
weather, and out on long walks. Our best
talks, though, were after we were gone to
bed. I was not deaf then; and we used to
have such talks about home, and ghosts, and
all sorts of things; and nobody ever overheard
us that we know of, but once; and then
we got nothing worse than a tremendous rap
at the door, and the Doctor bidding us go to
sleep directly.

Well; we went on, just so, for a good while,
till I began to have the ear-ache. At first,
Charley was very kind to me. I remember
his asking me, once, to lean my head on his
shoulder, and his keeping my head warm till
the pain got better; and he sat quite still the
whole time. But perhaps he got tired; or
I don't knowperhaps I grew cross. I
used to try not; but sometimes the pain was
so bad, and lasted so long, that I used to
wish I was dead; and I dare say I might be
cross enough then, or dismal, which boys
like worse. Charley used to seem not to
believe there was anything the matter with
me. I used to climb up the apple-tree, and
get on the wall, and pretend to be asleep, to
get out of their way; and then the boys used
to come running that way, and say, "Humpty
Dumpty sat on the wall;" and one day when
I heard Charley say it, I said "Oh, Charley!"
and he said, "Well, why do you go dumping
there?" and he pretended that I made a
great fuss about nothing. I know he did not
really think so, but wanted to get rid of
it all. I know it, because he was so kind
always, and so merry when I got well again,
and went to play with the rest. And then, I
was pleased, and thought I must have been
cross, to have thought the things I had; and
so we never explained. If we had, it might
have saved a great deal that happened
afterwards. I am sure I wish we had.

When Charley came, he was a good deal
behind mebeing a year younger, and never
having been to school. I used to think I
could keep a-head of all but three boys in
my class; and I used to try, hard, to keep
a-head of them. But, after a time, I began
to go down. I used to learn my lessons as
hard as ever; still, somehow the boys were
quicker in answering, and half-a-dozen of
them used to get my place, before I knew
what it was all about. Dr. Owen saw me,
one day, near the bottom of the class; and
he said he never saw me there before; and
the usher said I was stupid; and the Doctor
said, then I must be idle. And the boys said
so too, and gave me nicknames about it; I even
thought so myself, too, and I was very miserable.
Charley got into our class before I got
out of it; and indeed I never did get out of
it. I believe his father and mother used to
hold me up to himfor he might easily
speak well of me while he was fond of me.
At least, he seemed bent upon getting above
me in class. I did try hard against that; and
he saw it, and tried his utmost. I could not
like him much then. I dare say I was very
ill-tempered, and that put him out. After I
had tried till I was sick, to learn my lesson
perfect, and then to answer questions, Charley
would get the better of me; and then he
would triumph over me. I did not like to
fight him, because he could not have stood up
against me: and besides, it was all truehe
did beat me at lessons. So we used to go to
bed without speaking. We had quite left
off telling stories at night, some time before.
One morning, Charley said, when we got up,
that I was the most sulky fellow he ever saw.
I had been afraid, lately, that I was growing
rather sulky, but I did not know of any
particular reason that he had for saying so
just then (though he had a reason, as I found
out afterwards). So, I told him what I
thoughtthat he had grown very unkind,
and that I would not bear with it if he did
not behave as he used to do. He said that
whenever he tried to do so, I sulked. I did
not know, then, what reason he had to say
that, nor what this was all about. The thing
was, he had felt uncomfortable, the night
before, about something in his behaviour to
me, and he had whispered to me, to ask me
to forgive him. It was quite dark, and I
never heard him: he asked me to turn and