As it was still foggy and dark, and as the shop was blinded besides by the wall of Lincoln’s Inn, intercepting the light within a couple of yards, we should not have seen so much but for a lighted lantern that an old man in spectacles and a hairy cap was carrying about in the shop. Turning towards the door, he now caught sight of us.
‘Hi, hi!’ said the old man, coming to the door. ‘Have you anything to sell?’
‘Stop him, stop him!’ cries the woman, almost breathless. ‘Stop him, sir!’
He darts across the road into the boy’s path, but the boy is quicker than he, makes a curve, ducks, dives under his hands, comes up half-a-dozen yards beyond him, and scours away again. Still the woman follows, crying, ‘Stop him, sir, pray stop him!’
It was a thing to look at. The three children close together, and two of them relying solely on the third, and the third so young and yet with an air of age and steadiness that sat so strangely on the childish figure. “Charley, Charley!” said my guardian. “How old are you?” “Over thirteen, sir,” replied the child. “Oh! What a great age,” said my guardian. “What a great age, Charley!” I cannot describe the tenderness with which he spoke to her, half playfully yet all the more compassionately and mournfully.