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by [?]

“This creature, Deputy, is behind us,” says Jasper, looking back. “Is he to follow us?”

The relations between Durdles and Deputy seem to be of a capricious kind, for on Durdles turning to look at the boy, Deputy makes a wide circuit into the road and stands on the defensive.

“You never cried Widdy Warning before you begun tonight,” cries Durdles, unexpectedly reminded of, or imagining an injury.

“Yer lie; I did,” says Deputy, in his only polite form of contradiction, whereupon Durdles turns back again and forgets the offence as unexpectedly as he had recalled it, and says to Jasper, in reference to Deputy.

“Own brother, sir, to Peter, the Wild Boy! But I gave him an object in life.”

“At which he takes aim?” Mr. Jasper suggests.

“That is it, sir,” returns Durdles; “at which he takes aim. I took him in hand and gave him an object. What was he before? A destroyer. What work did he do? Nothing but destruction. What did he earn by it? Short terms in Cloisterham jail. Not a person, not a piece of property, not a winder, not a horse, nor a dog, nor a cat, nor a bird, nor a fowl, nor a pig, but that he stoned for want of an enlightened object. I put that enlightened object before him, and now he can turn his honest halfpenny by the three pennorth a week.”

“I wonder he has no competitors.”

“He has plenty, Mr. Jasper, but he stones ’em all away.”

“He still keeps behind us,” repeats Jasper, looking back, “is he to follow us?”

“We can’t help going round by the Travellers Twopenny, if we go the short way, which is the back way,” Durdles answers, “and we’ll drop him there.”

So they go on; Deputy attentive to every movement of the Stony One, until at length nearly at their destination Durdles whistles, and calls–“Holloa, you Deputy!”

“Widdy!” is Deputy’s shrill response, standing off again.

“Catch that ha’penny. And don’t let me see any more of you to-night, after we come to the Travellers Twopenny.”

“Warning!” returns Deputy, having caught the halfpenny, and appearing by this mystic word to express his assent to the arrangement, then off he darts.

Such was the occupation of the small boy, Deputy, night after night, week after week, month after month, during the year when we catch a glimpse of him, and it is reasonable to suppose that the remainder of his life, after we lose sight of him was spent, in making a cock-shy of everything that came in his way, whether Durdles or inanimate objects. When he had nothing living to stone, I believe that he used to stone the dead, through the railing of the churchyard. He found this a relishing and piquing pursuit; firstly, because their resting place is supposed to be sacred, and, secondly, because the tall headstones are sufficiently like themselves to justify the delicious fancy that they are hurt when hit.

We have nothing told us to support the theory that Deputy’s life ever changed in its routine of work, and I am sure you agree with me that there were never an odder pair than the two: Durdles, the stone-mason, and Deputy, his servant.

Perhaps you will be in Cloisterham at some not far distant time; if so, wander out at night in the old graveyard, when the moon is up, and in among the cathedral crypts, if you can gain access to them; and see if from some shadowy corner of lane or building does not start out before you the wraith of the hideous small boy, Deputy, eluding your touch, and chanting as he dances in front of you the old song which was the badge of his office as the keeper of Durdles,—-

Widdy widdy wen!


Widdy widdy wy!


Widdy widdy Wakecock Warning!