Perry used to take Ralph to task for not saving Ham from his iniquities, and Ralph would reply that Ham was going to the devil anyway, and not even the devil himself could stop him. "You can stop him, and you know it," Perry retorted indignantly. "What do you want me to do with him?" asked Ralph. "Convert him to the saintly life I lead?" This was a poser.
"If you want any better evidence than that, you will have to send to Texas after it. His trying to lay it to me is the best proof I want." "Ham Fishley, you know that what I have said is true," I continued indignantly. "You know that you opened that mail-bag after you came home from Crofton's, put the money in your pocket, and burned the letter."
We shook hands in a very cordial way; and I laughed and laughed, until I pulled out my pocket-handkerchief and wiped my eyes. Mr. 'Cheer up, Mas'r Davy bor'! said Ham, in his simpering way. 'Why, how you have growed! 'Am I grown? I said, drying my eyes. I was not crying at anything in particular that I know of; but somehow it made me cry, to see old friends.
I can't stand any more than I am standing, I should lose my mind." Here the letter was blotted, and some words scratched out. I was unable to reconstruct them. "Ralph and I," she proceeded irrelevantly, "have got Ham to agree to go to Buzzard's Bay, and we have taken a house near Wareham. Write and tell me that you forgive and pity me.
Now, wouldn't you like to join us to-night, because it'll be a lonely time for you here, and it may start in and rain again? We want to get something to eat the worst kind, and have money to buy whatever you happen to have handy, chickens, ham, potatoes or anything at all. The girls are nearly starved they say. Now how about it, ma'm?"
There was much controversy over the question as to whether or not Ham Durrett's reform would be permanent; but most people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt; it was time he settled down and took the position in the community that was to be expected of one of his name; and as for Nancy, it was generally agreed that she had done well for herself.
History of Factory Legislation, Harrison and Hutchins. Macmillan. Revised edition. Frederic Keeling, Child Labour in the United Kingdom. P.S. King. Clementina Black, Sweating. Duckworth. G. Bell & Sons. J.A. Hobson, Work and Wealth. Macmillan. Edward Howarth and Mona Wilson, West Ham: A Study. Dent. Sir Thomas Oliver, M.D., Dangerous Trades. John Murray.
I saw through the mill-stone. The postmaster had heard from Miss Larrabee, or her brother, in regard to the missing letter, and I was accused of purloining it! No doubt Captain Fishley thought I was the robber. Probably Ham had charged the crime upon me, and his father was willing to believe him. "I have not robbed the mail," I replied, smartly. "Yes, you did; and I can prove it.
No, John, not ham; I will have some bread and marmalade. Do the children always wait on you, John, at breakfast?" There was something peculiarly sweet and penetrative in the voices of Brandon and his sister; but this second quality sometimes appeared to give more significance to their words than they had intended. "Always. Does it appear an odd arrangement in your eyes?"
They soon returned with bread, dried meat, ham, &c., and in a brief space, a comfortable meal was prepared for the starving family. Conscience felt about the heart of Mrs. Williams that night, with touches of pain, and she repented of her cruel neglect, and unkind treatment of her sister.