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Dorelia had sworn at him instead of comforting him. All life seemed to him like the ashes of a dead camp-fire. Suddenly he saw, through tear-swollen eyes, the astounding sight of Uncle Gilderoy limping feebly into the camp -that same Uncle Gilderoy who always seemed to him to walk proudly, like the Lord Mayor of all England. And now he came tottering forward, and sat suddenly down in the straw, his face low down between his knees. You could hardly see the color of his clothes for dust, and when he called out, "Dorelia, Dorelia," his voice was husky; you could hardly hear it. Dorelia was on her knees by his side in a moment, pushing back the damp hair from his forehead and speaking quick, low words to him. The rest came swiftly up, one by one, till there was quite a small crowd surrounding him. Consequently Poley could not see much. What he heard was mainly low, rapid Romany talk, of which he could understand but little yet. Such sentences as these were interesting, but not very illuminating: "The horse wasn't his. No, it wasn't"-"Left him him all in blood, and callin' out 'I'm dyin' '"-"Five of them runnin' after him, and de night was as black as a piece of coal"-"Oh, de dear Lord, what a runnin'!" Then Poley tried to improve his position by creeping between the people's legs into the front row, but in the effort he got entangled in his mother's skirts, and nearly overturned her into the straw. Whereupon he was abused and cuffed by all within reach, so that he was glad to crawl out of the way and make good his escape. Disconsolate, he sat down at the opening of a little passage among the tall bracken, where the light was green and cool. He caught sight of consolation in its mysterious recesses, and he crept down the passage like a rabbit. It was good to be away from tents where he was suddenly of so lit

tle account, and he had the world before him. So he trailed leisurely along narrow tracks, the glorious uncertainties of their winding course tempting him further and further from the camp. At last he stood on the broad expanse of a high road, and there he sat him down contentedly on an anthill, in delightful anticipation of watching passing motor cars, without let or hindrance. But suddenly he discovered that he was not alone. Two tall men stood eyeing him from above. Poley eyed them from below. One man, he noted, was ponderous in breadth of person and of boot, and his garb was blue.

There was no doubt about this man's category. He was unquestionably a "serpent of the roads." As to the other, who stood leaning on a bicycle, Napoleon felt in some doubt. However, he noted that in bulk and build his appearance was unsatisfactory, and, in spite of the quite inoffensive suit of clothes he wore, Poley decided that it behoved him to be on his guard towards this individual also. It was this man, with sober clothes and the subdued voice, who broke the silence.

"Hallo! Sonny. So you've got into these parts again, have you? And where do you happen to have got your van to-day, eh? Not so far from here now, I dare say."

He spoke so altogether amiably and so unlike the natural policeman that, for one perilous moment, Poley felt inclined to be communicative; but just in time there flashed across his mind Aunt Dorelia's admonition on the prevailing power of the lie. Therefore in reply, with one eye upon the serpent, he pointed a dirty finger into a safe and distant quarter of the heavens. The man in black and the man in blue looked at each other in some perplexity.

"Now look 'ere- -" began the indubitable policeman fiercely, taking a

threatening step towards Napoleon. "Don't be so 'asty, now-don't you be so 'asty, Trumper," said the other, with an air of lofty reproof; and then, in more ingratiating accents:

"Now, Sonny, you're a good lad. I can see you are. I am wanting to go and see your father, and I just want you to take me to him-quick. You see, your father and me's old friends. Wonderful what feelin' there is between your father and me. Him and me and your uncle too-Uncle Gilderoy; and I wants us all to meet together straight away. I dare say, now, it isn't so long since you've been seein' your Uncle Gilderoy, eh? Is it?"

Napoleon paused painfully to think, and then said slowly:

"I haven't ever seed no Uncle Gilderoy."

The devoted friend of Poley's father scratched his head thoughtfully, but P.C. Trumper boiled over.

What 'e

"There now, 'e's lyin', I tell you! 'E's lyin' and deceivin' us. wants to get the truth out of 'im is"

"Can't you keep quiet, Trumper? That's all I asks of you," the other said with dignity. "You ain't got no hartifice about you-no hartifice for a thing of this sort. Just you leave it to me now, and don't you be interferin'." Then he turned beamingly on Napoleon. "Well, my boy, I can see as you are a werry clever little boy, a werry clever as well as a werry good boy, and you are thinkin' perhaps that we are after doin' a mischief to your dear father, or to your dear uncle very like. But I tell you all we wishes for them is to do them good. All we wishes for them is a quiet an' 'appy life. Quiet and 'appy. See? So don't you be makin' any mistakes and be tellin' us things as isn't true about my two friends."

Poley contemplated him from the ant-hill. It was hard to write down

this man, so remarkably amiable and well-behaved-a serpent of the roads, and in the few moments of silence, Poley came as near to having a headache as ever he had been in all his life, trying to penetrate to the bottom of things. But his perplexity was dispelled by the intrusion of the irascible Trumper.

"If you don't see you're a-wastin' your time, Stackpole, you're a fool. Why, anybody can see as 'e's dissemblin', and 'e's sulky. What I say is'a stick about 'im--"

But Mr. Stackpole calmly ignored the interruption. He broadened his paternal smile and continued to nod reassuringly to Poley. It was, however, in vain now that he held Mr. Trumper out of the field by the sway of his heavy shoulders. Poley had heard the word "Stick," and the word "Stick" was an unmasking of the enemy, and Poley knew with whom he had to deal.

"Well now, Sonny," the pleasant tones of Mr. Stackpole flowed on, “if you don't believe me, I've got along with me 'ere a fine present for your Uncle Gilderoy, a present that will make him clasp his hands with joy; the best present in the world for 'im, and I've been seekin' round for 'im for days and days to give it 'im."

"Show me it," said Poley suspiciously.

"Well," said Mr. Stackpole, with caution, "I don't mind if I do, though it's a thing I don't show to everybody. It's a most beautiful pair of rings-silver rings for his wrists-just like your mother and the rest of 'em wears, only larger, of course, for a man."

He dived into his side pocket, and brought out exactly what he had described, a pair of shiny rings, which he dangled before Poley's eyes. They were linked together, which struck Napoleon as a little odd, none the less they looked distinctively decorative,

and Poley gazed upon Mr. Stackpole's dimly smouldering, for fear of the risgift with admiration.

"And now, my boy, that you've seen what I've got to give 'im, and know how pleased he'll be, I'll just ask you to take me to your Uncle Gilderoy, as quick as you can, by the very same way you came up from your father's van. For it's my belief that your uncle has just come down here to see your father on a little wisit."

Now Napoleon's brief experience of life had told him of the dangers that often lurk within the fairest gifts. He looked therefore well at the rings of bright steel dangling in Mr. Stackpole's fingers. He looked up at his radiant face, but still ever, over Mr. Stackpole's shoulder, peered the small eyes of Mr. Trumper, and those eyes told unmistakably of war within the heart. Still Napoleon was in a most painful dilemma. For to renounce his Uncle Gilderoy would doubtless mean that the attractive tribute of Mr. Stackpole's affection would never come into his uncle's possession; whereas, to lead the hateful Trumper straightway to the tents would be a deep transgression of Aunt Dorelia's commandment.

ing of tell-tale smoke above the trees.

Uncle Gilderoy lay heavily asleep in the deeper shadows of the tent. But a further cause of anxiety had arisen. Young Napoleon had disappeared and had been missing from the tents for more than three hours.

Aunt Dorelia divided the minutes between watching over the sleeper in the tent and an anxious contemplation of the darkening lane. Under the trees Napoleon's mother walked to and fro with clasped fingers, softly calling, "Poley, where are you got to, Poley?"

The shadows lengthened, and thicket and bush and winding track were caught, one by one, into the solemn sleep of the woods. Every disappearing patch of sunlight made Mrs. Boswell shiver. Every tree that was claimed by the shadows made her quicken her step up and down the lane. Still she kept up her low cry, "Poley, Poley, where are you got to?" Then the sun sank right down behind the trees, and the woods lay in twilight. Twilight gave place to darkness, and with the darkness there came a little lonely figure, winding in and out among the great trunks of the trees. Mrs. Boswell gave a scream of joy. "Oh, my dear, blessed boy! Oh, my dear, blessed little boy! What have

Poley breathed heavily and watched a crow uncertainly hovering in the air above the tree tops. By the time that the crow had alighted on a branch Poley had made up his mind. He struggled slowly up from the you been a-doing?" And she ran and ant-hill.

"Come on," said he. Then he took Mr. Stackpole's proffered hand, and, turning his back on his father's caravans, he set off, with the two at his heels, down a side lane in exactly the opposite direction from the path by which he had found his way into the road.

The camp of the Romany wore an air of suppressed excitement as evening drew on. It was a silent and tense group that crouched round the campfire, which was kept low and only

stooped to catch him in her open arms.

Strongly reminiscent of the way in which Uncle Gilderoy had entered the camp in the morning, was the manner of Napoleon's entrance at nightfall. Gilderoy had moved unsteadily on his feet. Poley simply staggered as if he were drunk. Gilderoy's breath had come in short and quick puffs. Poley's ragged coat simply heaved with the pantings of his heart. There had been a curious hunted look in Gilderoy's eyes. Poley's eyes were rolling wildly, but closed under tremulous lids,

when the women's hands had seized him.

Then came the chorus.

"Oh, de dear Lord! Where has de blessed boy been? We've been half crazy 'bout you. Wherever in de world, 'Poleon, did you get to?"

Then he opened his eyes, and gazed vacantly round the ring of faces and round the camp till his eye fell upon the teapot. When a good deal of pleasant warm tea had flowed down his throat, he raised himself painfully. "I've been through the woods to the Public," he answered.

"Dordi! Whatever did you go there for, boy?"

"I've been gone to get a present for Uncle Gilderoy."

"Whatever do you talk like that for? What does de strange boy mean?"

"I got these" he said, and he dragged out of his pocket the glittering token of Mr. Stackpole's regard for his absent friend. A solemn awestruck silence fell upon the gypsies, a silence and a rigidity, and every eye seemed frozen to the object Poley was holding out in his hands.

"My dear Lord God! Handcuffs!" broke out the elder Napoleon, leaping to his feet, and kicking over his mug of beer in his haste, sending it hissing into the ashes.

"Where, in de dear Lord's name, did you get them cussed things?" he demanded hoarsely.

"I got 'em off a prasterméngero," Poley whimpered, with a fist in his eye, for this was not exactly the popularity he had anticipated. "The prasterméngero told me he was bringing them along for Uncle Gilderoy, as he was a friend of his. 'Deed, my dad, dat's de truth."

"Ho! Gilderoy, Gilderoy, atch apré!" (wake up), screamed Aunt Dorelia, tumbling Poley hurriedly off her knees, where he had found a comfortable rest

ing-place. She shook herself free from him and ran to the tent door. "Here's the prastermengeri after you, and quite nigh the place, and the little Poley has brought in a pair of handcuffs he's got off them. Make haste, my Gilderoy, and don't lose a blessed minute!"

Then Gilderoy put his head out of the tent, and looked cheerfully round him. Strange to say, he was once more the splendid Gilderoy of old. The boldness of his face had returned to him again. He wore the old look of gay serenity. And he stood in the tent door, chuckling softly.

"Oh, go! Go, Gilderoy!" cried Aunt Dorelia, getting hold of his arm. "You've no time to stand there laughin' like that. They'll be here after you in the leastest minute very like. You're very near crazy, man!"

"Not I go, my girl," he said, shaking her appealing hand off his arm. "Not I go till young Poley has told me how he came by these 'ere things. How was it brother?"

"I chored (stole) 'em!" said Poley, with a ring of conscious pride in his voice.


"I just told you! It was on the bench by the 'Red Lion' Public." "Dear Lord! And how did you get there all that way off?"

"I took 'em out there-them two policemen. They said they were a-wanting you, to give you those fine bracelets, and so I took 'em right down towards the Public."

"And why, in mi-duvel's name, did you take 'em there?"

"'Cause Aunt Dorelia said I was always to lie to 'em," Poley made reply. "Lor!" cried Aunt Dorelia, aghast. "Well, brother, and when you come to the Public?"

"Oh, then they went in and swore most awful as I had led 'em wrong. And then they said bad, terrible things

to me about not movin' off that bench, and they frightened me near out of my life."

"And them handcuffs?"

"They was in the man's pocket, and the man's coat was on the bench. You see he'd been a mendin' of his ole broken bike before he went in to drink."

"And then?"

"Oh, then I just happened kick against his coat and heard them things rattle inside, and so I just fetched them out of his pocket. After that, didn't I just run and run! They took after me, too, I know, 'cause I heard 'em come running up the road, like as they was mad-just by where I was hid."

"Oh, my blessed boy! Weren't you really too 'fraid of the men to do all that?" cried his mother with wide open eyes.

Poley thought. Afraid. Yes! Hadn't he just been afraid, nearly shook himself out of his boots with fear? But what other line of action had been left to him, and what other pathway lay open at once to loyalty and to safety? But he could not explain all that. Therefore he only said,

"Well, they was Uncle own things, wasn't they? said so his-self."


The man

"Is that all truth, 'Poleon, you're talking the dear God's truth?" cried his father, catching him by the coat collar and shaking him excitedly in his grasp.

"Oh, my dad, yes. It's true as my blessed eyes. Isn't them the bracelets there to show?" and Poley began to whimper a little. But Uncle Gilderoy burst out with a great laugh, and he picked Poley up from the ground and held him shoulder high.

"Ho! Ho, Poley! you're a fine great choréngero (thief) for your size," he laughed. "You and me together, brother, you and me together are good to beat all the mischief of all the pras

termengeri of this 'ere county. Give me them 'wastengeri' now, little Poley, if so be they're mine."

"Oh go, Gilderoy! 'Deed you must go!" cried Dorelia. She was all the time straining her ears to hear sounds of pursuers coming in upon them from the woods.

Gilderoy gave a last lingering look at the spoil from the enemy's land, and then he put his arm around Dorelia, and with the other hand, slipped one handcuff over her wrist. Then he said in a low voice, for her ear alone, "Well, I'm off now, my girl, but you can keep them fine stolen goods for me, and when next you and me meet, I'll fasten you to me tighter nor ever them there handcuffs could fasten us, and that's true as my dad. So, good-bye, my girl."

He stooped down, and slipped in among the tall bracken, and was quickly lost to sight among the gathering shadows of the wood. Then, with a small sigh, Dorelia departed with the handcuffs into the caravan.

The Romany were on the road betimes next day, and were slipping quickly and quietly along the narrower and more remote roads of the woodland country. Mrs. Boswell peered with nervous eyes down every lane they crossed, and into the gaps in the hedgerows.

"Now, don't you be 'fraid, woman," called Napoleon the elder, from the caravan shaft, "and don't you go on like that. There ain't no fear for our little Poley."

"I carn't help it, man," she said tearfully. "It were such a terrible thing for him to do. I carn't help being frightened."

"You're a foolish woman," he replied scornfully. "It's not in reason they'll think of having the law upon him about the handcuffs. You can take my word for gorspel on that. Why, they darn't say anywhere one blessed little

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