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A London Baby: The Story of King Roy

L. T. Meade

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  A London BabyThe Story of King RoyBy L.T. MeadePublished by James Nisbet and Co, London.This edition dated 1882.

  A London Baby, by L.T. Meade.


  ________________________________________________________________________A LONDON BABY, BY L.T. MEADE.


  I first saw King Roy on a lovely summer's evening near Hyde Park. Itwas a Sunday evening, and I recollect there was a light pleasant breeze,which just tempered the heat, and once in a playful moment caught KingRoy's small velvet cap and tossed it off his curly head. Then ensued arace, a scuffle, and a laugh, in which I, although a stranger to hisMajesty, joined. This induced me to consider him more attentively, andthus to study well one of the bonniest baby faces it has ever been mylot to behold. For--yes, it is true--King Roy was only a king in rightof his babyhood, being no higher up in this world's social scale than acarpenter's son.

  A brawny, large, and handsome man was the father, on whose shoulder thelittle fellow was riding, while a demure, pale-faced sister of aboutten, walked by the side of the two. Father and little sister might havebeen met with anywhere, any day, but the baby once in a lifetime.

  He was a rounded and curved creature--not an angle anywhere about him;his chin was a dimple, his lips rose-buds, his eyes sapphires; hislittle head was a mass of tangled golden curls; sunshine seemed to kisshim all over--hair, eyes, lips, even to the small pink toes--for he hadpulled off his shoes and stockings, which were held tightly in two fathands. He was full of heart-sunshine too, for his gay voice babbledcontinually, saying words, to our deaf ears meaningless, but which,doubtless, the angels understood very well.

  "Ah boo!" was his remark to me, and he pointed with his small finger.Following the direction of the tiny finger, I saw a fly sailing slowlythrough space. Between King Roy and that fly there was doubtless someuntold sympathy. As though attracted by his admiration it came nearer.Yes, he must have been giving it some message, for he babbled moresweetly than before. The fly sailed away; it looked important with bigtidings, as it went higher into the blue, and the little group of threeturning Hyde Park Corner disappeared from my sight.

  I never saw King Roy again, but afterwards I heard a story about him--astory which so moved me that it may some others; so I tell it here.


  John Henry Warden was a carpenter by trade; he was a well-to-do workman,employed constantly in a profitable and moneymaking business. God hadalso endowed him with excellent mental and physical powers. Sicknesswas unknown to this man, and as to the many heart-aches which come intothe daily measure of most other lives, they were strangers to hisnature. He did not understand moping; he had no sympathy with gloom.He considered himself a successful man, he was also ambitious; he meant,if he lived, to leave this world in a much higher position than when hehad entered it. He was very much respected by his neighbours, for hewas a strictly honourable, upright, and honest man. But thoughrespected he was not loved. It was his misfortune that never yet in allhis life had he either awakened or given love. And yet he was notwithout those closest ties which knit hearts to hearts. He had been ahusband; he was now a widower and a father. He had married a young andbeautiful girl, a sensitive creature who needed love as the plants needsunshine. She lived with him for a little over ten years, all the time,year after year, fading slowly but surely. Then she died; no one saidshe died of a broken heart--Warden least of all suspected it. Heregretted her loss, for he considered a mother the right person to bringup her children, and he felt it a pity that she should have left all thegood things of this life, which by-and-by he might have provided forher. He had even expressed this regret to her as she lay on herdeath-bed, and her answer had surprised him.

  "But there'll be love up in heaven. I'm so _hungry_ for love."

  The wife and mother died, and Warden did not fret. It would have beenvery sinful to fret, for although he scarcely considered himselfreligious, yet he had a respect for God's dispensations. Yes, he wasoutwardly a model character: he worked early and late; he saved money;he was never in debt; he defrauded no man; his evenings were spenteither in attending lectures of working men like himself or studying thesubjects he loved at home; he never drank; he never swore; he was lookedup to, and brought forward as an example to follow for many a poordrunken wretch. But yet in God's sight that poor drunkard, struggling,though struggling feebly, to repent, was far nearer, far dearer thanthis Pharisee, who had never yet known love, human or divine.

  Warden's wife died, leaving to his care two children. Faith, the elder,nine years of age at the time, was a pale, silent child. She knewenough of her father's character to suppress all her real self beforehim. Roy, the younger, aged three months when his mother left him,showed from his earliest moments a disposition differing widely fromeither father or mother. By-and-by that sweet soul would develop thelove of the one parent without her weakness, the strength of the otherwithout his hardness. Warden, in reality loving no one, having never inall his existence experienced either the joy or the pain of true love,yet believed that he had this feeling for his boy. He was undoubtedlyvery proud of the little child; he was his son, he was beautiful.Warden, when he looked at him, dreamed dreams, in which he saw himselfthe founder of a house and a name. He would make his boy a gentleman;he worked ever harder and harder as this thought grew and gatheredstrength within him. As to Faith, she was useful in helping andtraining Roy. For her own individual existence he had no specialthought. She was but a girl; she would grow up another weak, good,loving creature like her mother. She might or might not marry. It didnot greatly matter. Of course he would do his duty by her--for wheneverhad John Warden, in his own opinion, neglected that? She should beeducated; she should have her chance in life. But he had no highopinion of women, and, though he thought he loved his son, he did noteven pretend to his own heart that he cared for little Faith.

  It was to this man--this hard, hard man--who lived so uprightly in theeyes of his fellow men, but so far from his God, that the same God oflove and pity and infinite compassion would yet reveal Himself. He musthear the voice of God; but, alas! for his hardness of heart, it must bein the whirlwind and the storm; not in the still small accents.


  It was a Sunday morning--nearly a year after my first and last sight ofKing Roy. He was nearly two years old at the time, and his littlesister Faith was laboriously and with infinite care dressing him toaccompany her for a walk. Warden was out, and the two children had thepleasant and cheerful sitting-room to themselves. The moments ofWarden's absence were the moments of Faith's sunshine. Her object nowwas to get out before he returned, and take Roy with her. She thoughther father a very good and wonderful man; but it was quite impossiblefor her to feel absolutely at home with him. She had a keen perceptionof his real indifference to her; she was not surprised, for Faiththought very humbly of herself. But his absence took away a sense ofrestraint which she could not shake off, and now the glorious sunshineof this autumn morning seemed to beckon her out, to beckon and lure herinto the fulness of its own beautiful life. No summer's day that evercame was too hot for little Faith; she would get into the full power ofthe sun herself, and Roy should have the shelter of the trees. Yes, itwas Sunday morning; there was nothing whatever to keep them at home;they would go into Regent's Park, and sit under the trees, and be very,very happy. "'Tis _such_ a lovely day, Roy," she said to her littlebrother. Roy, seated on the floor, was rebelling at his shoes andstockings being put on, and Faith had to use all her powers ofimagination in describing th
e outside world, to induce him to submit tothe process. At last, however, he was ready, and taking his hand, theywent down together into the street. Roy was such a lovely child thatpeople turned to look at him as he trotted along. Those who often sawhim have told me that he had by no means perfect features, but thebrightness and sweetness of the little face were simply indescribable.He babbled as much as of old; but his babbling was now intelligible toother creatures besides the flies. Faith looked nearly as happy as hedid as they walked together. In process of time, as fast as the littlelegs would permit they arrived at Regent's Park, and Faith, choosing asheltering tree, placed her little brother in a shady corner, and cameclose to his side. Roy picked bits of grass, which he flung intoFaith's lap. Faith laughed and caressed him. They were both in a mostblissful child-world, and thought of no darker days at hand.

  "Please, I _should_ like to kiss the baby," said a voice suddenly