The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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ploughman, the keeper, and the Irishwoman, all ran up the park, shouting, “Stop thief,” in the belief that Tom had at least a thousand pounds’ worth of jewels in his empty pockets; and the very magpies and jays followed Tom up, screaking and screaming, as if he were a hunted fox, beginning to droop his brush.
And all the while poor Tom paddled up the park with his little bare feet, like a small black gorilla fleeing to the forest. Alas for him! there was no big father gorilla therein to take his part—to scratch out the gardener’s inside with one paw, toss the dairymaid into a tree with another, and wrench off Sir John’s head with a third, while he cracked the keeper’s skull with his teeth as easily as if it had been a cocoa-nut or a paving-stone.
However, Tom did not remember ever having had a father; so he did not look for one, and expected to have to take care of himself; while as for running, he could keep up for a couple of miles with any stage-coach, if there was the chance of a copper or a cigar-end, and turn coach-wheels on his hands and feet ten times following, which is more than you can do. Wherefore his pursuers found it very difficult to catch him; and we will hope that they did not catch him at all.
Tom, of course, made for the woods. He had never been in a wood in his life; but he was sharp enough to know that he might hide in a bush, or swarm up a tree, and, altogether, had more chance there than in the open. If he had not known that, he would have been foolisher than a mouse or a minnow.
But when he got into the wood, he found it a very different sort of place from what he had fancied. He pushed into a thick cover of rhododendrons, and found himself at once caught in a trap. The boughs laid hold of his legs and arms, poked him in his face and his stomach, made him shut his eyes tight (though that was no great loss, for he could not see at best a yard before his nose); and when he got through the rhododendrons, the hassock-grass and sedges tumbled him over, and cut his poor little fingers afterwards most spitefully; the birches birched him as soundly as if he had been a nobleman at Eton, and over the face too (which is not fair swishing as all brave boys will agree); and the lawyers tripped him up, and tore his shins as if they had sharks’ teeth—which lawyers are likely enough to have.
“I must get out of this,” thought Tom, “or I shall stay here till somebody comes to help me— which is just what I don’t want.”
But how to get out was the difficult matter. And indeed I don’t think he would ever have got out at all, but have stayed there till the cock-robins covered him with leaves, if he had not suddenly run his head against a wall.
Now running your head against a wall is not pleasant, especially if it is a loose wall, with the stones all set on edge, and a sharp cornered one hits you between the eyes and makes you see all manner of beautiful stars. The stars are very beautiful, certainly; but unfortunately they go in the twenty-thousandth part of a split second, and the pain which comes after them does not. And so Tom hurt his head; but he was a brave boy, and did not mind that a penny. He guessed that over the wall the cover would end; and up it he went, and over like a squirrel.
And there he was, out on the great grouse-moors, which the country folk called Harthover Fell— heather and bog and rock, stretching away and up, up to the very sky.