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had made a pretty good sum, in perhaps not the most honest manner.
Though Kent abounded in Clarabuts, none of them seemed anxious to claim the penniless girl, brought up in such extraordinary fashion by an eccentric foreigner. So it was decreed that she must go to the workhouse, but Mrs. Smith came to the rescue and took her as her little servant.
She told her visitors something of this story, making little of her own kindness in the matter. Anyway she had been well repaid, for Jenny would always be able to earn her own living now, and her gratitude was most touching. At last they had to say goodbye as it was growing late, but they promised to call in again at 6. The Whim some other time when they were passing
Maher-shalal-hash-baz John Smith.
When her visitors had driven away, and Jenny had gone to wash up the tea-things, Mrs. Smith settled herself in her big armchair, and, as she had told Mrs. Fortescue, lived in the past. It was a romantic past from beginning to end. Even the late Mr. Smith's birth had been surrounded by romance. His mother, a flighty stage-struck woman had wished him to be called Romeo or Othello, but his father, a straightforward blacksmith, said he would have no such heathen names, but would be guided by the Bible, and find in that Holy Book the
the child was
intended to have. Perhaps many of my readers have never heard of “pricking " for a name. Formerly it was a very usual custom in Kent, and may have prevailed elsewhere. Anyway
how the blacksmith chose his son's name. He took the Bible, and opening it casually pressed the point of a pin haphazard upon the open page.
The pin went through the pages to a certain point and the name nearest to the last pin prick was the name which the baby in question was destined to bear through life. This method sometimes has rather awkward results, especially when the infant's name is not submitted to the Minister prior to the actual Christening ceremony.
For instance, I knew a Rector who, when he said "
name this child,” was electrified by the calm reply—“Beelzebub!” It
with some difficulty that he persuaded them to give the babe a name less fraught with sinister meaning.
But I wander from my subject and must return to the infant blessed by inheritance with the plebeian name of Smith. He, poor lad, , christened Maher-shalal-hash-baz John, the latter being his father's name. In vain did Mrs. Smith weep and protest, saying it was far worse than any name she had suggested. The Bible could not be disobeyed, and so the matter was settled.
Possibly the name, and the discussions it entailed, precipitated matters: anyway, soon after her first-born's christening, Mrs. Smith ran away to join a travelling company of play actors, leaving her husband the responsibility of the infant with the long name, and Heathersea knew
her no more.
Years passed by and Jack, as he was generally called, grew to be a fine promising lad. His father, who was a good steady man did his duty by him
by him well, and apprenticed him to a grocer in the neighbouring town. About the time the apprenticeship terminated old Smith died, and Jack had to go to Ceylon to see about some tea-planting estates in which his father had a part interest. here that he first met his wife. When he reached Ceylon he found his father's partner very ill-dying. As he had no one he could depend on, he was indeed glad to see the young man, and before he died he commended his family to Jack's care, formally appointing him guardian to his children. These consisted of a girl of 17 and a boy of 16, his children by his first wife, and a baby only five weeks old, at whose birth his young wife had died.