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A stone was thrown; and as if this were a signal for a general attack, a shower of stones was hurled at the actor. One of them hit him on the forehead ; hit him so badly that he staggered, and, releasing his hold of Billy, raised his hand to his head, while an expression of pain passed into his face. Hooting and yelling, 'Look at the mad actor!''Hoo, hoo! look at the crazy fool !'—the crowd of boys and girls scampered away, and left the man standing in the road, with only Susan and Joshua for an audience. Joshua was hot with indignation, and Susan, spell-bound by awe and fear, stood motionless by Joshua's side, while large tears trickled from her eyes into her open mouth. ,
The blood was oozing from the wound in the man's forehead, and his long fair hair was crimsonstained. His eyes wandered around distressfully, and a sighing moan died upon his lips. The fire of enthusiasm had fled from his countenance, and in the place of the inspired actor, Joshua saw a man whose face was of a deathly hue, and from whose eyes the light seemed to have departed. With his hand pressed to his forehead, he staggered a dozen yards, and then leant against the wall for support.
He is badly hurt, I am afraid,' said Joshua. Susan walked swiftly up to the man. . Shall we assist you home?' she said.
• Home !' he muttered. “No, no! Money! I want money !
As he spoke he drooped, and would have fallen to the ground but for Joshua, who caught the man on his shoulder, and let him glide gently on to a door-step. Susan wiped the blood from his face with her apron. He looked at her vacantly, closed his eyes, and fainted.
'He is dying, Joshua ! cried Susan, her trembling fingers wandering about the man's face. 0, the wicked boys! O, the wicked boys !'
A woman here came out of a house with a cup of cold water, which she sprinkled upon his face. Presently the man sighed, and struggled to his feet, murmuring, 'Yes, yes; I must go home.'
• Where do you live?' asked Joshua. “We will assist you.'
He did not answer, but walked slowly on like one in a dream. Assisting but not guiding his steps, Joshua and Susan walked on either side of him, and supported him. Although he scarcely seemed to be awake, he knew his way, and turning down a street even commoner than
its fellows, he stopped at the entrance to a miserable court. Waving his hand as if dismissing them, he walked a few steps down the court, and entered a house, the door of which was open. Impelled partly by curiosity, but chiefly by compassion, Joshua and Susan followed the man into a dark passage, and up & rheumatic flight of stairs, into a room where want and wretchedness made grim holiday.
• Minnie !' he muttered hoarsely, and all his strength seemed to desert him as he spokeMinnie, child! where are you?
He sank upon the ground with a wild shudder, and lay as if death had overtaken him. At the same moment there issued from the corner of the room where the deepest shadows gathered, a childgirl, so marvellously like him, with her fair waving hair, her large beautifully-shaped mouth, her white teeth, and her great restless gray eyes, that Joshua knew at once that they were father and daughter.
Minnie crept to the man, and sat beside him. She spoke to him, but he did not reply. And then she looked at Joshua and Susan, whose forms were dimly discernible in the gathering gloom.
• What is the matter with father ?' she asked of them in a faint moaning voice.
Some bad boys threw a stone at him and hit him on the forehead,' Joshua answered. He will be better presently, I hope.'
Minnie did not heed what he said, but felt eagerly in her father's pockets, and, not finding what she searched for, began to cry.
No, no,' she said, beating her hands together; it is not that. He is weak and ill because he has had nothing to eat. I thought he would have brought home enough to buy some bread, but he hasn't a penny.'
Joshua remembered the man's words, Money! I want money!' and he immediately realised that the
poor creatures were in want.
'I have not had any breakfast, she answered wearily. "No more has father. Nor any dinner. We had some bread last night. We ate it all up. Father went out to-day, hoping to earn a little money, and he has come home without any. We shall die, I suppose. But I should like something to eat first.'
How do you know he has had nothing to eat?' asked Joshua ; the words almost choked him.
Minnie looked up with a plaintive smile.
'If he had had only a hard piece of bread given him,' she said in a tender voice, he would have put it into his pocket for me.'
Stop here, Susan,' said Joshua, a great sob rising in his throat. 'I will be back in ten minutes.'
He ran out of the room and out of the house. Never in his life had he run so fast as he ran now. He rushed into Dan's room, and said, almost breathlessly,
Where is the money-box, Dan? How much is there in it ?'
*Fourteenpence,' said the faithful treasurer, producing the box. What a heat you are in, Jo!
Never mind that I want every farthing of the money, Dan. Don't ask me any questions. I will tell you all by and by.'
Dan emptied the money - box upon the table, and Joshua seized the money, and tore out of the house as if for dear life. Soon he was in the actor's room again, with bread and tea. Susan had not been idle during his absence. She had bathed the man's wound, and had wiped the blood and mud from his face and hair. He had recovered from his swoon, and was looking at her gratefully.