Image from page 358 of "Street Arabs and gutter snipes. The pathetic and humorous side of young vagabond life in the great cities, with records of work for their reclamation" (1884)
Publisher: Boston : D. L. Guernsey
Contributing Library: University of California Libraries
Digitizing Sponsor: MSN
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d left their native home on the tramp, withhopes and ideas no more absurd than those which inciteother boys in their vagrant life. I had many opportunitiesof talking with Charlie, who was fast learning the language,habits, and manners of England. Still he would mix thingsbadly. Between his efforts tospeak our native tongue, his ex-citement in relating some episodeof his own history, and his cluck-ing noises and dramatic action,he often failed to make himselfintelligible. I could at times im-agine myself in Kamrland listen-ing to the natives narrating theirdeeds of war, as I watched hismotion and action, keeping up atthe same time a peculiar soundmade with his tongue, and inter-jecting his broken English. I fearI often started Charlie on thoseexciting topics relating to hishome life for my personal enjoy-ment. To see him speak was towitness natural pantomime; tohear him, I considered a great treat. But Mrs. Guinness charming pen will give us thehope and history of this Kaffir Arab: —
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It was astonishing to observe how the enacting of theselong familiar scenes seemed to change the decorous andalmost gentlemanly young man—for Charlie acquired withsingular facility the ease of manners and the politeness ofdeportment of a real gentleman — back again, in a moment, 352 STREET ARABS AND GUTTER SNIPES. into the wild and ferocious young savage. The almostsupernatural variety of unearthly noises he was capable ofproducing, in moments of intense excitement, gave theimpression that a score of savages, instead of one, wereshouting and yelling simultaneously in the room, while thesudden and peculiar leaps of kangaroo-like length, which hewas capable of unexpectedly making, strengthened theimpression, for he seemed to be in two or three places ata time. Yet he never failed to explain that he really couldnot do these things in true style, on account of his clothes: Too heavy! too hot! It needed a man to be nicelygreased up to the shining point, and clad solely in red tattoo,to
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