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Under the Lilacs

"Please, 'm, my name is Ben Brown, and I'm travellin'."
"Where are you going?"
"Anywheres to get work."
"What sort of work can you do?"
"All kinds. I'm used to horses."
"Bless me! such a little chap as you?
"I'm twelve, ma'am, and can ride any thing on four legs;" and the small boy gave a nod
that seemed to say, "Bring on your Cruisers. I'm ready for 'em."
"Haven't you got any folks?" asked Mrs. Moss, amused but still anxious, for the sunburnt
face was very thin, the eyes hollow with hunger or pain, and the ragged figure leaned on
the wheel as if too weak or weary to stand alone.
"No, 'm, not of my own; and the people I was left with beat me so, I -- run away." The
last words seemed to bolt out against his will as if the woman's sympathy irresistibly won
the child's confidence.
"Then I don't blame you. But how did you get here?"
"I was so tired I couldn't go any further, and I thought the folks up here at the big house
would take me in. But the gate was locked, and I was so discouraged, I jest laid down
outside and give up."
"Poor little soul, I don't wonder," said Mrs. Moss, while the children looked deeply
interested at mention of their gate.
The boy drew a long breath, and his eyes began to twinkle in spite of his forlorn state as
he went on, while the dog pricked up his ears at mention of his name: --
"While I was restin' I heard some one come along inside, and I peeked, and saw them
little girls playin'. The vittles looked so nice I couldn't help wantin' 'em; but I didn't take
nothin', -- it was Sancho, and he took the cake for me."
Bab and Betty gave a gasp and stared reproachfully at the poodle, who half closed his
eyes with a meek, unconscious look that was very droll.