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THE Picciola turned from Angelo Stewart's door a homeless if not a friendless little creature; but she did not moralise on the subject-she simply knew that she was parted again from the “minister," (as she now called him, baving found that no one at the school ever called bim “parson,") and forgot at first that he had put some money into her hand; this she slipped into ber pocket, and fearing to remain in London Wall, she put a good mile between herself and it, and coiled herself up under a deep portico in a by-street, where at this time of night there was little or no traffic; there sleep soon relieved her of thought or sorrow; but she awoke bright and early, and repairing to a neighbouring pump, performed the lavatory process which her attendance at the school had taught her to value; this ablution finished, she set out for Covent Garden, intending to buy some flowers and sell them about the West End, where she would be most likely to find customers. But how was she to make this compatible with going to school? she could not miss that. "She paused abruptly as this difficulty presented itself, and promptly decided that she must go to the " Garden at a later hour in the day after school, and meanwhile lounge about till nine o'clock. So she wandered about, and punctually, almost on the stroke of nine her little bare feet crossed the threshold of the school-house, and she took her unfailing place among the learners. At ten she was free, and once
VOL. VI. (n. 8.)
more turned her steps towards Covent Garden. Out of the half-crown which the priest had given her, she expended eighteen pence in flowers, sixpence in an old halfbroken basket, threepence in breakfast, and threepence was kept as a reserve fund.
Behold Curly-nut then seated at about twelve o'clock upon a door-step in Bedford Street, Strand, tastefully putting together and arranging her flowers, and occasionally taking a bite from a slice of bread which she had kept from her morning meal. She looked as grave and earnest about her task as if she had been preparing a speech for the House of Commons, and to her it was of quite equal importance, for after all importance is relative. Quickly and deftly the delicate little fingers accomplished their duty, and in a short time the basket was stocked with glowing flowers, “stars that in earth’s firmament do shine," and the child rose up and took her way towards Regent Street. In the hurryingtide of life there, there seemed danger of our poor little Bedouin being altogether overlooked, but her beauty, and her winning manner and plaintive voice obtained her more customers than she had hoped for, and before she had reached the top of the Quadrant she had sold three or four bunches of lowers, and when she reached Archbishop Tenison's Chapel she had only a few bunches left, and sat down on the steps to rest, for the day was very bot, and her feet were chafed and weary. So depositing her basket beside her, and leaning her face on her hands, she drew out a little spelling-book, which one of the ladies at the school bad given her, and began to spell out the words, (for she could to her immense delight read short words now,) whispering to herself, and looking up now and then to offer her graceful wares to the passers by.
“What do you ask for your flowers, my pretty child P" said a deep clear man's voice, that made her look up hastily into a very handsome face.
“ Them little bunches, sir, is twopence each, and the big uns is fourpence," she said quickly, taking from her basket a specimen of each price.
“Well, give me this one," said the gentleman, select
ing the most expensive bunch, and bestowing on the lovely vendor a sixpence in payment.
“ Thank you, sir,” she said, instantly bringing forth twopence which she tendered him, but he smiled and answered,
“Keep it all, my bonnie lassie, for the sake of your great bright eyes,—where did you get such eyes from ?” Tbank you for the pence, sir,
I do' know 'bout my eyes," said the child innocently, "I s'pose God guv 'em to me, sir.”
“ There is no doubt about that,” said the gentleman, surprised to hear a barefooted Arab mention the Name of the Creator with any knowledge of His attributes ; “ can you read ?” he added, bending down to look at the book in her hand.
'Yes, sir, a bit.”
“ Very well, pretty one. The Incumbent of S. Michael's is my friend, you know him, I know, for I think I have heard of you from him; and do you like him ?"
The child's answer was eloquent enough ; she did not speak, but her whole heart was in the magnificent dark eyes lifted to the speaker's face, and he smiled as he patted her glittering curls and said,
“ Well, Angelo Stewart bas one more heart added to the many that love him. Good-bye, my little one." And with these words he passed on, and was soon lost to the straining gaze of the Picciola amid the ever revolving crowds.
The child sighed heavily, and went back to her book, but she had hardly got successfully through the word “ girl” and commenced "spake,” when she was again interrupted, but this time it was by no voice or step of a biped, but a touch upon her ragged skirt, and the child looking up again, beheld a shaggy shabby mongrel terrier dog who looked half starved; he had paused, and now looked wistfully into the child's face, wagging the little stump of shaggy hair which he was probably in the habit
of considering a tail. The Picciola's heart went out at once to the outcast street dog, for he was like herself. She stretched out her hand and patted him on the head.
“Poor old doggy," she said in a fond cooing voice, “ dear old fellow ! you look as if you 'adn't ’ad no breakfast-you shall ’ave some," and she drew forth the remains of a slice of bread which she had put into her pocket, and breaking off a piece, offered it to him. The hungry animal snatched the morsel from her band, and waited eagerly for more.
“Poor old feller, you shall ’ave it all,” said the child, and in half a minute the rest of the bread was resigned, or rather cheerfully bestowed upon the cur, who sat himself down, and with his republican looking head on one side, and his hair tumbling into his eyes, evidently expected more.
“I ain't got no more !" said the Picciola, lifting her hands to show him that they were empty ; "you shall ’ave some more by-and-by, if you'll stay."
Doggy seemed to comprehend, and licked the little hands gratefully, then mounting up with his paws on her knees, he proceeded to satisfy himself of her veracity by smelling all about the child and her basket, and concluded by licking her face. The Picciola was delighted, and clasped the dog round the neck, hugging him as if he had been a child.
“Dear old doggy!" she cried, "you shall come along with me! I don't believe you've got a master; come on, doggy!” She rose up, and the creature, apparently as pleased as she was, followed her, running close to her, and occasionally jumping up for the caress which he never failed to obtain. The Picciola was so overjoyed at her new acquisition, that she had got nearly half way to the Park before she remembered to offer her flowers for
she only sold one more bunch in Oxford Street, and had but three remaining, and the green trees and grass of the Park tempted her to enter to rest, and have a game with the dog, who seemed determined to join his fortunes to hers.
It was now near four o'clock, and the sun was at its
bottest, glaring down upon the broad expanse of the Park with a brilliance and power which made even lounging pedestrians seek the shade, and did not dispose our hot and weary little wayfarer to remain in the sunlight, although she liked to lie down in the shade and look on it, 80 climbing over the railing which separated her from the clump of trees near the Marble Arch, she flung herself full length on the cool grass, and rolled and kicked
about, inviting her four-footed friend to a game, but the dog seemed as tired as his new mistress, and after indulging, like her, in a “roll,” be stretched himself at her feet, and with his head on her dress, closed his eyes, and seemed inclined to slumber.
“ You're tired, dear old doggie,” said the child, pressing her soft cheek against his rough coat; "go to sleep then, and may be I shall too.” And she put one arm round the poor car, and lying so that her golden curls mingled with his fur, she composed herself to sleep; but her large dreamy eyes were more often gazing out upon tree and sky, and her little mind was busy.
Was not this child a true republican ? was she not as free as the light breeze that fanned ber brow and rippled among her ringlets ? she depended on no man for her bread; there was no one she was bound to obey, and
; above all she had no thought for the morrow; the day's work was the day's bread, and her couch was the Park or the door-step. For the future she had neither hope nor care; she lived only in the present, and she had only one sorrow—the separation from Mr. Stewart; if she
could be always with him then she would be actually in Elysium; was she not free? She had even something to love now-a companion to talk to and caress and play with, and she could kick her bare feet on the grass and cry, what perhaps not one of the well-dressed people who passed her by in carriages could say,—“Who is my master? who can say to me, Come or go p” The freest citizen in London is the street Arab.
The Picciola did not sleep, however, and when the sinking sun warned her of the approaching evening, she lifted herself, re-arranged the flowers that remained, and turned her face eastwards again. In Oxford Street she