Chapter 12: Return to the Workhouse
When I had gone a few Miles on the Road I had to pull off my Shoes and Stockings, for my great toe on my right foot got greatly inflamed. So I had to cut a hole in my right Shoe, and hobbled on as well as I could and got to Chatham at night, weary and sad. But, looking about I spied a Bible on the Table which sent a Thrill of Joy to my Heart.
For it put me in mind of Old Times when I was at home with my Father and Mother, when I used to read to my Father 15 or 16 Chapters of a Winter's Night, and also at other times on my own account, for, being fond of reading, and having no opportunity of getting Books, I used to read it like any other Book, beginning at Genesis and going on to Revelation. As our Bible had the Apocrypha I read that also. But the Epistles I did not read, for I could not make anything of them. But from the five Books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Ruth, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Proverbs and all the Prophets I got continual entertainment. From the Story of the Creation, which filled me with awe and Wonder at the Greatness and Goodness of God, the Beautiful Stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his twelve Sons, with the Story of Joseph being sold into Egypt, and afterwards, Jacob going there with all his House, their Sojourn there And Moses sent by God to fetch them out of Egypt - going through the Red Sea and their travelling through the Wilderness and being fed with Manna Forty Years. How I used to be on the Fidgets, to see what God would do to his Rebelious People. "Oh", I think, "He will strike them all dead!" But No, instead of that, when they wanted Bread he orders Manna to come every morning for their Use, and brings Water out of the Rock for them and their Cattle to drink. "Oh", I thought, "what a Wonderful God is this! Well may the Prophets say "Who is a Pardonning God? Thee who has Mercy so rich, so free!," Thus far have I digressed, seeing the Bible on the Table.
Now for my Journey from Chatham to Chelsea. After staying the night at ??? I set off the next day, and came to Gravesend late in the Afternoon. It was a Rainy, blustering night, as Usual, no money in my Pocket. My first thought was "what was I to do for the Night?" Looking about, I saw the Lock-up: and the Door was open. Says I to myself; "I will go in there, and sleep for the Night". While I was entering, a Violent gust of Wind sprang up, and caught my little finger in the door, and took a bit off, with half the Nail. I put my little Finger in my Mouth, and so fell asleep. Next morning, about six o'clock, I turned out and saw some Boiled Potatoes lying in the Road. Them I took up and ate for Breakfast and walked on for Chelsea. I got there some time in the Afternoon while the Board was sitting.
When my turn came and I went in, they asked me what I wanted. I told them that I had left the House in April last, getting work where I could, but was now disabled by a Boil coming on my right Toe. Would they give me Harbour till Spring, when I hoped to be out again to seek my Fortune. They allowed my request, and turned me over to the Vagrant Ward until I had a Bath and fresh clothes on.
After this they sent me to the Tailor Shop with Mr Tomkins, where I was before. Mr Tomkins was glad of my return, for it added much to his comfort (I suppose) for I was always ready to serve him. It was a great change to me, for now I had a comfortable bed and regular meals; it was like coming home.