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by [?]

A bundle of old clothes sent yearly from a rich cousin in Kent was an epoch. Sugar in the house was out of the question, and once when the rich cousin in Kent, who was an omnibus-inspector, sent a pound of brown sugar in the pocket of an old coat, the sweets suddenly vanished. Charles was accused and stubbornly denied the theft. He was then punished with the handy strap for both the denial and the larceny. Later, it turned out that a little girl next door stole the sugar, and when Charles refused to inform on her, she informed on herself. Then the boy was again whipped because he had not informed on the girl. Charles got all of the disgrace and none of the sugar.

Charles was sent to a “ragged school,” and became, at the mature age of ten, so exact a penman that he almost rivaled his father, who could write the Lord’s Prayer on the back of a postage-stamp. At this school, beside getting an education, Charles got pedagogic scars on his body which ten years later, when he enlisted in the army, were noted in the physical description.

The daughter of Bradlaugh has in her possession a beautiful motto from Scripture done into antique text by the lad for his mother when the boy was nine years old. All around the motto are flying birds penned in pure Spencerian. The motto is this: “Then said Joab, I may not tarry long with thee. And he took three darts in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men of Joab’s smote Absalom and slew him.” This was before the art of working mottoes with worsted in perforated cardboard had been perfected.

When ten years of age Charles was taken from school and hired out as an office-boy at five shillings a week, the money being paid to the father and duly used for the support of the family. It is good to see, though, that at that early day the expense-account was made to serve its legitimate use. When the boy had bundles to deliver and was given money for ‘bus-fare, he walked and kept the fare. The bridge-toll was a half-penny, and by climbing aboard of a wagon this was saved. To be back on time he would run. He became an expert in catching on ‘buses and riding on the axle of cabs, well out of reach of the driver’s whip. With the money so saved he bought penny tracts on politics, history and religion. One day he was sent to deliver a bundle to Mark Marsden, a writer and publisher. Charles did not know the man, but in his hand, all unconsciously, he carried a tract written by Marsden. Nothing interests an author like a copy of his own amusing works. Marsden gave the boy two pats on the head, a bun, a half-crown and three penny pamphlets on political economy.

Charles went away stepping high, but his tongue was so paralyzed with surprise and joy that he forgot to thank the man. Twenty years after he remembered the transaction vividly–it was the first real human kindness that had ever come his way. He told of it, standing on the same platform with Marsden and speaking to two thousand people. Marsden had forgotten the incident–happy Marsden, who gave out love and joy as he journeyed and made no notes. This little story proves two things: That authors are not wholly bad, and that kindness to a boy is a good investment. Boys grow to be men–at least some do, and I trust it will not be denied that all men were once boys. Bradlaugh, to the day of his death, was always kind to boys. He realized that with them he was dealing with soul-stuff, and that Destiny awaited just around the corner.