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The Money Moon(Chapter4)

2006-08-28 23:14

  Chapter IV. How Small Porges in looking for a fortune for another, found an Uncle for Himself instead

  The meeting of George Bellew and Small Porges, (as he afterward came to be called), was sudden, precipitate, and wholly unexpected; and it befell on this wise:

  Bellew had opened his knap-sack, had fished thence cheese, clasp-knife, and a crusty loaf of bread, and, having exerted himself so far, had fallen a thinking or a dreaming, in his characteristic attitude, i.e.:——on the flat of his back, when he was aware of a crash in the hedge above, and then, of something that hurtled past him, all arms and legs, that rolled over two or three times, and eventually brought up in a sitting posture; and, lifting a lazy head, Bellew observed that it was a boy. He was a very diminutive boy with a round head covered with coppery curls, a boy who stared at Bellew out of a pair of very round, blue eyes, while he tenderly cherished a knee, and an elbow. He had been on the brink of tears for a moment, but meeting Bellew's quizzical gaze, he manfully repressed the weakness, and, lifting the small, and somewhat weather-beaten cap that found a precarious perch at the back of his curly head, he gravely wished Bellew "Good afternoon!"

  "Well met, my Lord Chesterfield!" nodded Bellew, returning the salute, "are you hurt?"

  "Just a bit——on the elbow; but my name's George."

  "Why——so is mine!" said Bellew.

  "Though they call me 'Georgy-Porgy.'"

  "Of course they do," nodded Bellew, "they used to call me the same, once upon a time,——

  Georgy Porgy, pudding and pie Kissed the girls, and made them cry,

  though I never did anything of the kind,——one doesn't do that sort of thing when one is young,——and wise, that comes later, and brings its own care, and——er——heart-break." Here Bellew sighed, and hacked a piece from the loaf with the clasp-knife. "Are you hungry, Georgy Porgy?" he enquired, glancing up at the boy who had risen, and was removing some of the soil and dust from his small person with his cap.

  "Yes I am."

  "Then here is bread, and cheese, and bottled stout,——so fall to, good comrade."

  "Thank you, but I've got a piece of bread an' jam in my bundle,——"

  "Bundle?"

  "I dropped it as I came through the hedge, I'll get it," and as he spoke, he turned, and, climbing up the bank, presently came back with a very small bundle that dangled from the end of a very long stick, and seating himself beside Bellew, he proceeded to open it. There, sure enough, was the bread and jam in question, seemingly a little the worse for wear and tear, for Bellew observed various articles adhering to it, amongst other things, a battered penknife, and a top. These, however, were readily removed, and Georgy Porgy fell to with excellent appetite.

  "And pray," enquired Bellew, after they had munched silently together, some while, "pray where might you be going?"

  "I don't know yet," answered Georgy Porgy with a shake of his curls.

  "Good again!" exclaimed Bellew, "neither do I."

  "Though I've been thinking of Africa," continued his diminutive companion, turning the remain of the bread and jam over and over thoughtfully.

  "Africa!" repeated Bellew, staring, "that's quite a goodish step from here."

  "Yes," sighed Georgy Porgy, "but, you see, there's gold there, oh, lots of it! they dig it out of the ground with shovels, you know. Old Adam told me all 'bout it; an' it's gold I'm looking for, you see, I'm trying to find a fortune."

  "I——er——beg your pardon——?" said Bellew.

  "Money, you know," explained Georgy, Porgy with a patient sigh, "pounds, an' shillings, an' bank-notes——in a sack if I can get them."

  "And what does such a very small Georgy Porgy want so much money for?"

  "Well, it's for my Auntie, you know, so she won't have to sell her house, an' go away from Dapplemere. She was telling me, last night, when I was in bed,——she always comes to tuck me up, you know, an' she told me she was 'fraid we'd have to sell Dapplemere an' go to live somewhere else. So I asked why, an' she said ''cause she hadn't any money,' an' 'Oh Georgy!' she said, 'oh Georgy, if we could only find enough money to pay off the——the——'"

  "Mortgage?" suggested Bellew, at a venture.

  "Yes,——that's it, but how did you know?"

  "Never mind how, go on with your tale, Georgy Porgy."

  "'If——we could only find enough money, or somebody would leave us a fortune,' she said,——an' she was crying too, 'cause I felt a tear fall on me, you know. So this morning I got up, awful' early, an' made myself a bundle on a stick,——like Dick Whittington had when he left home, an' I started off to find a fortune."

  "I see," nodded Bellew.

  "But I haven't found anything——yet," said Georgy Porgy, with a long sigh, "I s'pose money takes a lot of looking for, doesn't it?"

  "Sometimes," Bellew answered. "And do you live alone with your Auntie then, Georgy Porgy?"

  "Yes;——most boys live with their mothers, but that's where I'm different, I don't need one 'cause I've got my Auntie Anthea."

  "Anthea!" repeated Bellew, thoughtfully. Hereupon they fell silent, Bellew watching the smoke curl up from his pipe into the warm, still air, and Georgy Porgy watching him with very thoughtful eyes, and a somewhat troubled brow, as if turning over some weighty matter in his mind; at last, he spoke:

  "Please," said he, with a sudden diffidence, "where do you live?"

  "Live," repeated Bellew, smiling, "under my hat,——here, there, and everywhere, which means——nowhere in particular."

  "But I——I mean——where is your home?"

  "My home," said Bellew, exhaling a great cloud of smoke, "my home lies beyond the 'bounding billow."

  "That sounds an awful' long way off."

  "It is an awful' long way off."

  "An' where do you sleep while——while you're here?"

  "Anywhere they'll let me. To-night I shall sleep at some inn, I suppose, if I can find one, if not,——under a hedge, or hay-rick."

  "Oh!——haven't you got any home of your own, then,——here?"

  "No."

  "And——you're not going home just yet,——I mean across the 'bounding billow?'"

  "Not yet."

  "Then——please——" the small boy's voice was suddenly tremulous and eager, and he laid a little, grimy hand upon Bellew's sleeve, "please——if it isn't too much trouble——would you mind coming with me——to——to help me to find the fortune?——you see, you are so very big, an'——Oh!——will you please?"

  George Bellew sat up suddenly, and smiled; Bellew's smile was, at all times, wonderfully pleasant to see, at least, the boy thought so.

  "Georgy Porgy," said he, "you can just bet your small life, I will,——and there's my hand on it, old chap." Bellew's lips were solemn now, but all the best of his smile seemed, somehow, to have got into his gray eyes. So the big hand clasped the small one, and as they looked at each other, there sprang up a certain understanding that was to be an enduring bond between them.

  "I think," said Bellew, as he lay, and puffed at his pipe again, "I think I'll call you Porges, it's shorter, easier, and I think, altogether apt; I'll be Big Porges, and you shall be Small Porges,——what do you say?"

  "Yes, it's lots better than Georgy Porgy," nodded the boy. And so Small Porges he became, thenceforth. "But," said he, after a thoughtful pause, "I think, if you don't mind, I'd rather call you——Uncle Porges. You see, Dick Bennet——the black-smith's boy, has three uncles an' I've only got a single aunt,——so, if you don't mind——"

  "Uncle Porges it shall be, now and for ever, Amen!" murmured Bellew.

  "An' when d'you s'pose we'd better start?" enquired Small Porges, beginning to re-tie his bundle.

  "Start where, nephew?"

  "To find the fortune."

  "Hum!" said Bellew.

  "If we could manage to find some,——even if it was only a very little, it would cheer her up so."

  "To be sure it would," said Bellew, and, sitting up, he pitched loaf, cheese, and clasp-knife back into the knap-sack, fastened it, slung it upon his shoulders, and rising, took up his stick.

  "Come on, my Porges," said he, "and, whatever you do——keep your 'weather eye' on your uncle."

  "Where do you s'pose we'd better look first?" enquired Small Porges, eagerly.

  "Why, first, I think we'd better find your Auntie Anthea."

  "But,——" began Porges, his face falling.

  "But me no buts, my Porges," smiled Bellew, laying his hand upon his new-found nephew's shoulder, "but me no buts, boy, and, as I said before,——just keep your eye on your uncle."

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