THE HISTORY OF DWARF LONG NOSE 235
surprise, for he did not seem to know him. 'Business does not go well. I am all alone, and am getting old, and a workman is costly.'
' But haven't you a son who could learn your trade bydecrees?' asked Jem.
' I had one: he was called Jem, and would have been a tall sturdy lad of twenty by this time, and able to help me well. AVhy, when he was only twelve he was quite sharp and quick, and had learnt many little things, and a good-looking boy too, and pleasant, so that customers were taken by him. Well, well! so goes the world! '
' But where is your son ?' asked Jem, with a trembling voice.
' Heaven only knows! ' replied the man ; ' seven years ago he was stolen from the market-place, and we have heard no more of him.'
' Seven years ago ! ' cried Jem, with horror.
' Yes, indeed, seven years ago, though it seems but yesterday that my wife came back howling and crying, and saying the child had not come back all day. I always thought and said that something of the kind would happen. Jem was a beautiful boy, and everyone made much of him, and my wife was so proud of him, and liked him to carry the vegetables and things to grand folks' houses, where he was petted and made much of. But I used to say, " Take care ó the town is large, there are plenty of bad people in itó keep a sharp eye on Jem." And so it happened ; for one day an old woman came and bought a lot of things ó more than she could carry; so my wife, being a kindly soul, lent her the boy, andówe have never seen him since.'
' And that was seven years ago, you say ? '
' Yes, seven years : we had him cried ó we went from house to house. Many knew the pretty boy, and were fond of him, but it was all in vain. No one seemed to know the old woman who bought the vegetables either;