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God protect you, my son !' Then his hand, wet with his mother's tears, was released, and when he reopened his eyes, she was gone.
Poor mother!' he thought. She is unhappy because I am going to sea. I will ask the Old Sailor to come and tell her what a glorious thing the sea is. Perhaps that will make her more comfortable in her mind.'
He acted upon his resolution the very next day, and his efforts were successful. In the evening, he wended his way homewards from the waterside, in a state of ineffable satisfaction because. the Old Sailor had promised to come to Stepney, for the express purpose of proving to Mrs. Marvel how superior in every respect the sea was to the land, and what a wise thing Joshua had done in making up his mind to be a sailor.
The lad was in an idle happy humour as he walked down a narrow street, at no great distance from his home. It differed in no respect from the other common streets in the common neighbourhood. All its characteristics were familiar to him. The sad-looking one-story brick houses; the slatternly girls nursing babies, whose name was legion; the troops of children of various ages and in various stages of dirtiness, one of their most
distinguishing insignia being the yawning condition of their boots, there not being a sound bootlace among the lot of them; and here and there the melancholy and desponding shops where sweetstuff and cheap provisions were sold. Joshua walked down this poor wobegone street, making it bright with his bright fancies, when his attention was suddenly aroused by the occurrence of something unusual near the bottom of the street.
A large crowd of boys and girls and women was gathered around a person, who was gesticulating and declaiming with startling earnestness. Pushing his way through the throng, Joshua saw before him a tall, spare man, with light hair hanging down to his shoulders. So long and waving was his hair, that it might have belonged to a woman. His gaunt and furrowed face was as smooth as a woman's, and his mouth was large, as were also his teeth, which were peculiarly white and strong. But what most arrested attention were his eyes; they were of a light-gray colour, large even for his large face, and they had a wandering look in them strangely at variance with the sense of power and firmness that dwelt in every other feature. He was acting the Ghost scenes in Hamlet ; in his hand was a wooden sword, which he sheathed in his ragged coat, and drew and flourished when occasion needed. His fine voice, now deep as a man's, now tender as a woman's, expressed all the passions, and expressed them well. In the library which Dan and Joshua possessed there was an odd volume of Shakespeare's works, and when the street-actor said, in a melancholy dreamy tone,
• It waves me still :go on, I'll follow thee,'
Joshua remembered (as much from the intelligent action of the actor as from the words themselves) that it was a Ghost whom Hamlet was addressing. The words were so impressively spoken, that Joshua almost fancied he saw a Shade before the man's uplifted hand. Then, when Hamlet cried,
*My fate cries out,
(struggling with his visionary opponents and breaking from them, and drawing his wooden sword)
• By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!
I say, away !-Go on, I'll follow thee;'Joshua experienced a thrill of emotion that only the representation of true passion could have ex
cited. As the man uttered the last words, Joshua heard a shuddering sigh close to him. Turning his head, he saw Susan, whose face was a perfect encyclopædia of wondering and terrified admiration.
Who is he following, Joshua ?' she asked in a whisper, clutching him by the sleeve. . The Ghost. Hush !!
' • The Ghost !' (with a violent shudder.)— • Where?
Joshua pressed her hand, and warned her to be silent, so as not to disturb the man. Susan held his hand tightly in hers, and obeyed.
The Ghost that the actor saw in his mind's eye was standing behind Susan. The man advanced a step in that direction, and stood with outstretched sword, gazing at the airy nothing. Susan trembled in every limb as the man glared over her shoulder, and she was frightened to move her head, lest she should see the awful vision whose presence was palpable to her senses.
The man had commenced the platform-scene, where Hamlet says, Speak; I'll go no further;' and the Ghost says, “ Mark me!' when a tumult took place. At the words Mark me,' a vicious boy picked up a piece of mud, and threw it at the man's face, with the words, Now you're marked;'
at which several of the boys and girls laughed and clapped their hands. The actor made no answer, but, seizing the boy by the shoulder, held him fast and proceeded with the scene. The boy tried to wriggle himself away, but at every fresh attempt the man's grasp tightened, until, thoroughly desperate, the boy broke into open rebellion.
Actor. Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched :
Boy (struggling violently). Just you let me go, will you ?
Actor. Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, Unhousel'd, disappointed, unaneald;
Let me go,
Boy (beginning to cry). Come now, let me go, will you ? You're a-hurting of me! you— (bad words). Actor (calm and indiferent). No reckoning made, but sent
to my account With all my imperfections on my head.
A girl's voice. Pinch him, Billy !
Actor. O, horrible! 0, horrible! Most horrible !
Billy. Throw a stone at him, some one!
bear it not.