A few nights after this, Diamond woke
up suddenly, believing he heard North Wind thundering
But it was something quite different.
South Wind was moaning round the chimneys, to be sure,
for she was not very happy that night, but it was
not her voice that had wakened Diamond.
would only have lulled him the deeper asleep.
It was a loud, angry voice, now growling like that
of a beast, now raving like that of a madman; and
when Diamond came a little wider awake, he knew that
it was the voice of the drunken cabman, the wall of
whose room was at the head of his bed.
anything but pleasant to hear, but he could not help
At length there came a cry from the
woman, and then a scream from the baby.
Diamond thought it time that somebody did something,
and as himself was the only somebody at hand, he must
go and see whether he could not do something.
So he got up and put on part of his clothes, and went
down the stair, for the cabman’s room did not
open upon their stair, and he had to go out into the
yard, and in at the next door.
the cabman, being drunk, had left open.
time he reached their stair, all was still except the
voice of the crying baby, which guided him to the
He opened it softly, and peeped in.
There, leaning back in a chair, with his arms hanging
down by his sides, and his legs stretched out before
him and supported on his heels, sat the drunken cabman.
His wife lay in her clothes upon the bed, sobbing,
and the baby was wailing in the cradle.
very miserable altogether.
Now the way most people do when they
see anything very miserable is to turn away from the
sight, and try to forget it.
But Diamond began
as usual to try to destroy the misery.
boy was just as much one of God’s messengers
as if he had been an angel with a flaming sword, going
out to fight the devil.
The devil he had to fight
just then was Misery.
And the way he fought him
was the very best.
Like a wise soldier, he attacked
him first in his weakest point that was
the baby; for Misery can never get such a hold of
a baby as of a grown person.
Diamond was knowing
in babies, and he knew he could do something to make
the baby, happy; for although he had only known one
baby as yet, and although not one baby is the same
as another, yet they are so very much alike in some
things, and he knew that one baby so thoroughly, that
he had good reason to believe he could do something
for any other.
I have known people who would
have begun to fight the devil in a very different
and a very stupid way.
They would have begun by
scolding the idiotic cabman; and next they would make
his wife angry by saying it must be her fault as well
as his, and by leaving ill-bred though well-meant shabby
little books for them to read, which they were sure
to hate the sight of; while all the time they would
not have put out a finger to touch the wailing baby.
But Diamond had him out of the cradle in a moment,
set him up on his knee, and told him to look at the
Now all the light there was came only
from a lamp in the yard, and it was a very dingy and
yellow light, for the glass of the lamp was dirty,
and the gas was bad; but the light that came from
it was, notwithstanding, as certainly light as if
it had come from the sun itself, and the baby knew
that, and smiled to it; and although it was indeed
a wretched room which that lamp lighted so
dreary, and dirty, and empty, and hopeless! there
in the middle of it sat Diamond on a stool, smiling
to the baby, and the baby on his knees smiling to
The father of him sat staring at nothing,
neither asleep nor awake, not quite lost in stupidity
either, for through it all he was dimly angry with
himself, he did not know why.
It was that he
had struck his wife.
He had forgotten it, but
was miserable about it, notwithstanding.
this misery was the voice of the great Love that had
made him and his wife and the baby and Diamond, speaking
in his heart, and telling him to be good.
that great Love speaks in the most wretched and dirty
hearts; only the tone of its voice depends on the
echoes of the place in which it sounds.
Sinai, it was thunder; in the cabman’s heart
it was misery; in the soul of St. John it was perfect
By and by he became aware that there
was a voice of singing in the room.
course, was the voice of Diamond singing to the baby song
after song, every one as foolish as another to the
cabman, for he was too tipsy to part one word from
all the words mixed up in his ear in
a gurgle without division or stop; for such was the
way he spoke himself, when he was in this horrid condition.
But the baby was more than content with Diamond’s
songs, and Diamond himself was so contented with what
the songs were all about, that he did not care a bit
about the songs themselves, if only baby liked them.
But they did the cabman good as well as the baby and
Diamond, for they put him to sleep, and the sleep
was busy all the time it lasted, smoothing the wrinkles
out of his temper.
At length Diamond grew tired of singing,
and began to talk to the baby instead.
soon as he stopped singing, the cabman began to wake
His brain was a little clearer now, his temper
a little smoother, and his heart not quite so dirty.
He began to listen and he went on listening, and heard
Diamond saying to the baby something like this, for
he thought the cabman was asleep:
daddy takes too much beer and gin, and that makes
him somebody else, and not his own self at all.
Baby’s daddy would never hit baby’s mammy
if he didn’t take too much beer.
very fond of baby’s mammy, and works from morning
to night to get her breakfast and dinner and supper,
only at night he forgets, and pays the money away for
And they put nasty stuff in beer, I’ve
heard my daddy say, that drives all the good out,
and lets all the bad in.
Daddy says when a man
takes a drink, there’s a thirsty devil creeps
into his inside, because he knows he will always get
And the devil is always crying
out for more drink, and that makes the man thirsty,
and so he drinks more and more, till he kills himself
And then the ugly devil creeps out of
him, and crawls about on his belly, looking for some
other cabman to get into, that he may drink, drink,
That’s what my daddy says, baby.
And he says, too, the only way to make the devil come
out is to give him plenty of cold water and tea and
coffee, and nothing at all that comes from the public-house;
for the devil can’t abide that kind of stuff,
and creeps out pretty soon, for fear of being drowned
But your daddy will drink the nasty stuff,
I wish he wouldn’t, for it makes
mammy cross with him, and no wonder! and then when
mammy’s cross, he’s crosser, and there’s
nobody in the house to take care of them but baby;
and you do take care of them, baby don’t
I know you do.
Babies always take
care of their fathers and mothers don’t
That’s what they come for isn’t
And when daddy stops drinking beer
and nasty gin with turpentine in it, father says,
then mammy will be so happy, and look so pretty! and
daddy will be so good to baby! and baby will be as
happy as a swallow, which is the merriest fellow!
And Diamond will be so happy too!
And when Diamond’s
a man, he’ll take baby out with him on the box,
and teach him to drive a cab.”
He went on with chatter like this
till baby was asleep, by which time he was tired,
and father and mother were both wide awake only
rather confused the one from the beer,
the other from the blow and staring, the
one from his chair, the other from her bed, at Diamond.
But he was quite unaware of their notice, for he sat
half-asleep, with his eyes wide open, staring in his
turn, though without knowing it, at the cabman, while
the cabman could not withdraw his gaze from Diamond’s
white face and big eyes.
For Diamond’s face
was always rather pale, and now it was paler than
usual with sleeplessness, and the light of the street-lamp
At length he found himself nodding, and
he knew then it was time to put the baby down, lest
he should let him fall.
So he rose from the little
three-legged stool, and laid the baby in the cradle,
and covered him up it was well it was a
warm night, and he did not want much covering and
then he all but staggered out of the door, he was
so tipsy himself with sleep.
“Wife,” said the cabman,
turning towards the bed, “I do somehow believe
that wur a angel just gone.
Did you see him, wife?
He warn’t wery big, and he hadn’t got
none o’ them wingses, you know.
It wur one
o’ them baby-angels you sees on the gravestones,
“Nonsense, hubby!” said
his wife; “but it’s just as good.
I might say better, for you can ketch hold of him
when you like.
That’s little Diamond as
everybody knows, and a duck o’ diamonds he is!
No woman could wish for a better child than he be.”
“I ha’ heerd on him in
the stable, but I never see the brat afore.
old girl, let bygones be bygones, and gie us a kiss,
and we’ll go to bed.”
The cabman kept his cab in another
yard, although he had his room in this.
often late in coming home, and was not one to take
notice of children, especially when he was tipsy,
which was oftener than not.
Hence, if he had
ever seen Diamond, he did not know him.
wife knew him well enough, as did every one else who
lived all day in the yard.
She was a good-natured
It was she who had got the fire lighted
and the tea ready for them when Diamond and his mother
came home from Sandwich.
And her husband was
not an ill-natured man either, and when in the morning
he recalled not only Diamond’s visit, but how
he himself had behaved to his wife, he was very vexed
with himself, and gladdened his poor wife’s
heart by telling her how sorry he was.
a whole week after, he did not go near the public-house,
hard as it was to avoid it, seeing a certain rich
brewer had built one, like a trap to catch souls and
bodies in, at almost every corner he had to pass on
his way home.
Indeed, he was never quite so bad
after that, though it was some time before he began
really to reform.