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III.

Some little while after Briscoe's departure a family named Nancarrow came to reside in the village and to be neighbours of Mrs. Briscoe's, scarcely a stone's throw separating their houses. George Nancarrow was of Cornish extraction, likewise his wife. “We be Cousin Jack and Cousin Jennie, Mrs. Briscoe. Wafe 'an I were borned not tew male apart, lass, and we're gotten fave yungsters in Ostriliar and fave in Old Contray, that'l make cloath on tane, woan't it? We're gotten one poor thilly boy; leathway he's not thilly-but dafe 'n dumb. Tookun t'arl the best doctors in Ole Contray, and last


  ― 243 ―
year tookun to Sydney, forth and back, but they kain't do-un no good; he kain't yabber, pore chap. Wafe 'll bring un raound and show thee.”

A queer-spoken fellow was Nancarrow, or so Mrs. Briscoe thought after he'd gone, nor was she less impressed with Mrs. Nancarrow when occasion brought her round with her deaf and dumb lad, Josiah Edward.

“He do be a sore trubble to we, Mrs. Briscoe, but Lord knows best.”

Strangely enough Ralph and he became fast friends. But not many hours after their acquaintance Master Ralph realised the hopelessness of trying to understand Joe. Ralph decided that Joe must understand him as best he might, and he merely pointed in the direction of his plans as it were, and ere long the big, vacant-looking boy ran hither and thither at his beck, like one devoted.

After they had gone Ralph came in with an important request.

“Cut my hair off short, like Joe's, will you, Mum?”

“What, child, have your pretty curls cut?”

“Yes, I'm too old now; they look like a girl.”

“I'll see,” said his mother, anxious to evade the task, but in vain, for Ralph kept on with the petition till it was granted. And the pretty flaxen locks were shorn and put away in a box in his mother's drawer to keep for father. The change in appearance was surprising. His closely-cropped poll looked quite dark now, his features bigger, and his mother declared “his father wouldn't know him again when he came back.”

Mrs. Nancarrow said, “he was little fayther now, right nuff, 'n no mistake,” which pleased him immensely.

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