A Respected Friend in a New Aspect

IN the evening of this same foggy day when the yellow window-blind of Pubsey and Co. was drawn down upon the day’s work, Riah the Jew once more came forth into Saint Mary Axe. But this time he carried no bag, and was not bound on his master’s affairs. He passed over London Bridge, and returned to the Middlesex shore by that of Westminster, and so, ever wading through the fog, waded to the doorstep of the dolls’ dressmaker.

Miss Wren expected him. He could see her through the window by the light of her low fire — carefully banked up with damp cinders that it might last the longer and waste the less when she was out — sitting waiting for him in her bonnet. His tap at the glass roused her from the musing solitude in which she sat, and she came to the door to open it; aiding her steps with a little crutch-stick.

“Good evening, godmother!” said Miss Jenny Wren.

The old man laughed, and gave her his arm to lean on.

“Won’t you come in and warm yourself, godmother?” asked Miss Jenny Wren.

“Not if you are ready, Cinderella, my dear.”

“Well!” exclaimed Miss Wren, delighted. “Now you ARE a clever old boy! If we gave prizes at this establishment (but we only keep blanks), you should have the first silver medal, for taking me up so quick.” As she spake thus, Miss Wren removed the key of the house-door from the keyhole and put it in her pocket, and then bustlingly closed the door, and tried it as they both stood on the step. Satisfied that her dwelling was safe, she drew one hand through the old man’s arm and prepared to ply her crutch-stick with the other. But the key was an instrument of such gigantic proportions, that before they started Riah proposed to carry it.

“No, no, no! I’ll carry it myself,” returned Miss Wren. “I’m awfully lopsided, you know, and stowed down in my pocket it’ll trim the ship. To let you into a secret, godmother, I wear my pocket on my high side, o’ purpose.”

With that they began their plodding through the fog.

“Yes, it was truly sharp of you, godmother,” resumed Miss Wren with great approbation, “to understand me. But, you see, you are so like the fairy godmother in the bright little books! You look so unlike the rest of people, and so much as if you had changed yourself into that shape, just this moment, with some benevolent object. Boh!” cried Miss Jenny, putting her face close to the old man’s. “I can see your features, godmother, behind the beard.”

“Does the fancy go to my changing other objects too, Jenny?”

“Ah! That it does! If you’d only borrow my stick and tap this piece of pavement — this dirty stone that my foot taps — it would start up a coach and six. I say! Let’s believe so!”

“With all my heart,” replied the good old man.

“And I’ll tell you what I must ask you to do, godmother. I must ask you to be so kind as give my child a tap, and change him altogether. O my child has been such a bad, bad child of late! It worries me nearly out of my wits. Not done a stroke of work these ten days. Has had the horrors, too, and fancied that four copper- coloured men in red wanted to throw him into a fiery furnace.”

“But that’s dangerous, Jenny.”

“Dangerous, godmother? My child is always dangerous, more or less. He might” — here the little creature glanced back over her shoulder at the sky — “be setting the house on fire at this present moment. I don’t know who would have a child, for my part! It’s no use shaking him. I have shaken him till I have

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