The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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“Well, dame, and how are you?” said Sir John.
“Blessings on you as broad as your back, Harthover,” says she—she didn’t call him Sir John, but only Harthover, for that is the fashion in the North country—“and welcome into Vendale: but you’re no hunting the fox this time of the year?”
“I am hunting, and strange game too,” said he.
“Blessings on your heart, and what makes you look so sad the morn?”
“I’m looking for a lost child, a chimney-sweep, that is run away.”
“Oh, Harthover, Harthover,” says she, “ye were always a just man and a merciful; and ye’ll no harm the poor little lad if I give you tidings of him?”
“Not I, not I, dame. I’m afraid we hunted him out of the house all on a miserable mistake, and the hound has brought him to the top of Lewthwaite Crag, and—”
Whereat the old dame broke out crying, without letting him finish his story.
“So he told me the truth after all, poor little dear! Ah, first thoughts are best, and a body’s heart’ll guide them right, if they will but hearken to it.” And then she told Sir John all.
“Bring the dog here, and lay him on,” said Sir John, without another word, and he set his teeth very hard.
And the dog opened at once; and went away at the back of the cottage, over the road, and over the meadow, and through a bit of alder copse; and there, upon an alder stump, they saw Tom’s clothes lying. And then they knew as much about it all as there was any need to know.
And Tom?