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'I don't think that would do,' said Dan, echoing Joshua's laugh.
• Here's another,' said Joshua, and he played a prelude to 'Poor Tom Bowling,' and sang the first verse :
Here a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Bowling,
The darling of our crew;
For death has broach'd him too.
His heart was kind and soft,
But now he's gone aloft,
Joshua sang the words with much tender feeling, but Dan shook his head.
The birds would never be able to get the spirit of the song into them,' he said, "and the tune is nothing without that. Never mind—we'll teach them something, and then the Old Sailor shall have them.'
“And I shall tell him they are a present from you alone.'
No,' said Dan energetically; 'that would spoil it all. They are from you and me together. Can't you guess the reason why ?
'I believe I can,' replied Joshua, after a little VOL. I.
consideration. The Old Sailor likes me, and you
• want him to like you because of me, not because of yourself alone; you want him to like me more because of you—as I am sure he will when he knows you.'
That's it. I want him to know that we love each other, and that we shall always love each other, whether we are together or separated. I want everybody who likes you, Jo, to like me.'
Joshua laid his hand upon Dan's, which rested on the table, and Dan placed his other hand upon Joshua's playfully. Their hands were growing to be very unlike. Dan's hand, as it grew, became more delicate, while Joshua's grew stronger and more muscular. Dan laughed another pleasant laugh as he remarked the difference between them. * That is a proper kind of hand for a hero,' he said. And then, in a more serious voice, Joshua, do you know I think we can see each other's thoughts.' And so, indeed, it appeared as if they could.
The next day the bullfinches were bought, and Dan began to train them. They were a pair of very young birds, not a dozen days old, and the air Dan fixed upon to teach them first was Rule, Britannia.'
So much for Joshua's supplemental contributions to the general fund. Now for Dan's.
• Another sixpence in a piece of paper, Jo!'
* That makes eighteenpence this month, Dan. Poor Susan !'
Poor Susan ! echoed Dan.
Susan was very much to be pitied. Looking upon herself as her brother's destroyer, she endeavoured, by offerings of sixpences as often as she could afford them, to atone for the crime—for so she now regarded it-by which she had made him a helpless cripple. These sixpences were not given openly; they were laid, as it were, upon the sacrificial altar in secret. Sometimes the altar was one of Ellen's shoes, and Ellen, when she dressed herself, would feel something sticking in her heel, and discover it to be a sixpence tightly screwed up in a piece of paper, with the words, For Dan; from Susan,' written on it; sometimes the altar was one of Dan's pockethandkerchiefs, and the sixpence was tied up in a knot; sometimes it was a bag of birdseed; sometimes Dan's cap. She was so imbued with a sense of guilt, that she trembled when she met Dan's eye. He was as kind and gentle to her, ' when he had the opportunity, as he was to all
around him; and, divining her secret remorse, he tried by every means in his power to lessen it. But the feeling that, if Dan died, she was a murderess, was too deeply implanted in her to be ever removed. She lived in constant fear. She was afraid of the dark, and could not sleep without a rushlight near her bedside. Often in the night, on occasions when Dan was weaker than usual, she would creep downstairs, and listen at his bedroom-door to catch the sound of his breathing. If she did not hear it at first, the ghostly echo of the old terrible cry, “Ah-h-h-h! who killed her little brother? Ah-h-h-h!' filled the staircase and the passage with dreadful shadowsshadows that seemed to thicken and gather about her as if possessed with a desire to stifle herand she would press her hands tightly upon her eyes so that she should not see them. Then perhaps she would open Dan's door quietly, and hearing him breathe, ever so softly, would creep upstairs again, a little more composed; always closing her door quickly, to prevent the shadows on the stairs from coming into her room.
The supplemental contributions from Susan and the Old Sailor were very acceptable to Dan and Joshua, who were both fond of reading. What was not spent in birds' food was spent in books. They subscribed to two magazines, the Penny Magazine and the Mirror, which came out weekly; the subscription was a serious one for them, and made a great hole in their pocketmoney : it swallowed up threepence per week. The addition of a new book to their modest library was one of the proudest events in their quiet lives. 'New' books is not a strictly correct phrase, for the collection consisted of second-hand volumes, picked up almost at random at old-book stalls. Although their library was a small one, not numbering in its palmiest days more than fifty volumes, it was wonderfully miscellaneous. Now it was a book of travels that Joshua bought; now a book of poems; now an odd volume of a magazine ; now a book on natural history ; now a speculative book which neither of the boys could understand not at all a weak reason in favour of its being purchased. Over these books the boys would pore night after night, and extract such marrow from them as best suited their humour. The conversations which arose out of their readings were worth listening to; Dan's observations, especially, were very quaint and original, and gave evidence, not only of good