Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

7 articles on this Page

A Reclaimed Pickpocket.j


A Reclaimed Pickpocket.j It was a bright, clear, Sunday morning I that 1 stood lingering on the Pont des Inva-I tides, looking at the interesting view that lay to the eastward. Towering above the green and lurbid waters of the Seine, the frails of the Louvre stretched in gray perspec- tive, while beyond was seen the dome of the Institute, the pointed turrets of that famous prison the Concierge, the bulky towers of Notre Dame, the dome of the Sorbonne. and the sharp, serrated spire of St. Chapelle, each and all historical. Memory was very busy with the scene, and the thoughts which it suggested, when, sud- denly, I felt a hand at my pocket, and turn- ing suddenly I grasped the hand of a lad at my side. He struggled fur a moment to escape from me, but when he found this im- possible he stood silent and sulky. I know not why, but as I regarded the little rogue I did not feel the least anger at bis audacity, but watched him with not a little interest. He wore the inevitable blouse, coming half down to his knees, the type of the humble class of artisans, wiih a slouched hat much the worse for wear. The fellow might have been good-looking, though it was difficult to judge upon this point, so thick was the coating of dirt upon his face. As I looked at his bands, his wrist being grasped firmly in my right, I observed that they were small and well formed; not one of those accus- tomed to labour, though, in the matter of want of cleanliness, they rivalled his face. He was rather tall, quite slim, and I should have judged not over seventeen or eighteen years of age. Neither of as bad spoken a word while I was making these observations; and I waa rather surprised that the fellow did not show fight, or at least struggle to get away. But he saw that I was more than a match for him, and 1 kept a firm grip upon his wrist, deter- mined not to let him go. (l You are hurting my wrist," he said, at last. I; Very likely," I replied. "You put iu where you had no right to just now." I didn't take anything." No; I was too quick for you." What are you going to do wit h me ?'' Hand you over to the police. IC Don't do that," said he, drawing closer to my side. You are not a hard man--l CIIA see that." <! I'ou deserve punishment." 61 Ah, but you will also punish those at home; they are not to blame, poor things." I was interested at once, and told the lad I would like to see his home. If he would show me to it, and promise not to run away, I would let go his wrist and not hand him over to the police. He looked at ms with a search- ing glance, and thought for a moment before he answered, then said, Y ou have a right to make terms. I don't see what good it will do, make terms. I don't see what good it will do, but I promise, and you can follow me." I released his wrist, and followed him 1 across the bridge to the other side of the Seine. After crossing the Boulevard St. Michael we struok into a labyrinth of streets that lie in this part of the city, the famous St. Giles of Paris, and finally stopped before a tumble-down house, into which my guide entered; and I followed him up a narrow flight of stairs to the garret. Here, taking a key from his pocket, he unlocked a door, and we entered a low room, in the middle of which, upon the floor, were a little girl and a boy at play with some toys. "My guide disappeared at once through a side door into what appeared to be an ante- room, saying he would be back in one moment; and I turned towards the children, both of whom had left their play to regard me with curious eyes. The oldest could not have been more than four years of age, a bright and pretty-faced boy, while this sister was perhaps a year younger, and extremely beautiful. They were coarsely dressed, but were clean and neat in appearance. The apartment, which contained little or no furniture beyond a bedstead and two ohaira, with a sort of bureau, surmounted by a looking-glass, showed unmistakable evi- dences of poverty; but yet no want of neat- ness outraged the eye. I had hardly made these observations when the door opened again, and there entered the room a young woman, scarcely more than twenty years of age. She was rather delicate in appearanoe, and quite pretty, not to say handsome her dress, like that of her ohildren, was coarse, but ne-it; she was very clean in her person and as she sat down upon one of the chairs, after plaoing the other for me, the two ohildren ran to her knees with the instinct and affection of offspring of their tender years. I had looked at her but a moment before I discovered that the pick- pocket of the Pont des Invalides was a woman "Did jou not suspect my sex ? she asked, after a moment. Ii I certainly did not." <! It is my one resort," she said, sadly, and never adopted until 1 am driven to it to fill those little mouths "Dangerous business—you might hare fallen into very different hands, as you must be aware." "True, but I work by instinct. I saw your face, and 1 said, I must have money. He is not a hard man if detected, I may, perhaps, appeal to his meroy." Why do you not ask for aid in place of I being thus a thief?" "That is a hard word, but it is merited. Do you not know that beggars are treated in Paris like thieves? Tue law punishes both nearly alike," I fear that you speak truly. Are these your ohildren r" Yes and she kissed them both tenderly. Are you mari-ied Monsieur I mean no reproach." I am a widow." I ff How did you lose your husband ?" Ho was one of the Comnvine, was tried, condemned, and fell by the muskets of the I loldiery on the plains of Satorp," I Alas for these eivi! tvarg Ab, but he was s ight," said she, with t'1 the dbstinaoy of.conviction and loyalty to his 1 memory. I then listened to her sto:y. He: husband had been an engraver, with £ C0*J wages, and Lad been alio to suf.pott his little family comfortAbly until the war, which was followed by the intestine troubles. He was arrested with tho; CcmiinumU, and sufTered I' the punishment of .death, Since then she had lived and supported her children by selling off everything that sroyld bring money. Had got isome wori: to do with he; needle occasionally, but it last all seemed to fail her, and by means of disguising het sex, she had successfully consummated several small robberies of money, arid once or twice had made attempts similar to that which had failed in my instance. She reasoned with me very ooollj, and said, If it were not for these dear children I should oe&se to sufter very soon • for," said she, the Seine is always there with open arms!" I found that her sense of morality, or con- scientiousness, could not be aroused, except in the matters of personal parity there she was immreulate. she said tenderly, « My husband is in heaven, but he is my husband •till, and I shall live Md die faithful to him." N otwithstanding her liolile sens o! honour in this respect, she felt aooomponottoct at V9 stealing. I' ¡be worM ewt;1 m m øq o&Mrw 4 u- bread. I take nothing from the poor; only 1 from suoh as can well afford to lose it." Honesty, as a matter of principle, she could not recognise. Have you no ft lendi r" None here." It nave you any any where else ?" "I have a sister at Kouen, the wife of a farmer. If I could get there she would give me a home for myself and children, in return for the work I could do for her." (( You shall go there," said 1. Monsieur II I say you shall go to your sister." fl It will cost fifty franes," II Just about." You will pay this for me, who would Have robbed you half an hour since ? I will. But I exact from you one pro- mise." She looked at me suspiciously for a mo- ment. "What is it?" That you will le-arn to be as honest and true in relation to the rights and property of others as you are with regard to your honour." "I believe I understand you," she said, thoughtfully, "and I will promise to try and dc as you have said." "That is all 1 oan a*k." She came towards me now, leading the children, and said, Monsieur, let them kiss you. I believe after all that there is disin- terested benevolence in the world, 1 have been more than once offered assistance, but it has been ooupled with conditions so hateful that I have felt insulted. Kiss him, Marie; kiss him, Gustavo; he is good—good, like your papa!" I bad been surprised at the excelleut manner in which she expressed herself, while, as she stood there now, her cheeks suffused with a slight colour and her eyes lighted by anima- tion and a feeling of trust and gratitude, l thought that she was extremely beautiful. "I am going to Havre to-morrow, by the way of Houen," said (j can you be ready so soon with your children?" I can be ready in one hour." "Pack up whatever is necessary for you to oarry. Ilere is money to get you a good- sized trunk. Ee ready to-morrow at noon, and I will come for you." She attempted to thank me, but her lips quivered, and she turned liway to hide the tears that coursed down her cheeks. As I passed towards the door she followed, and, taking my hand between her own, pressed it earnestly as she said Tbert* is a reward somewhere for such kind ncss." As I looked upon her now it seemed im- possible that this was the pickpocket of the Pont des Invalides-the dirty lad in a blouse, whom I hai detained be force. Stopping over for a few hours at llouen enabled me to witness the meeting of the young mother with her sister at a very com- fortable Norman farmhouse, as she described. Pressing a purse of fifty francs upon her, I left the sisters together, both happy at the re-union which should make them share the same home together, even as they had done in childhood. "Keep your resolve and the secret of the past," I said to her in a low voice, With heaven's help I will she replied .Et ol —Evening World,


[No title]


IRescued From the Grave.