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with his last breath, he persisted in aseerting hia innocence.
His mother bade him farewell, and was carried to this ina,
where she had stayed, raving in a frensy-fit. For many
months she was subject to restraint^ but^ recovering ia tome
measure, she was at length set at liberty. Her OBind was
still distraught, however ; she wandered back to the dales and
to her old home, but the new owner had taken posseeeioB, and
after enduring her intrusions for some time, he was compelled
to apply for her removal.

After this, her money iMing lost or exhaosted, she strayed
about the country in a purposeless way; begi^ng or doiii^



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AKD OTHEB STORIES. m

day's work in the field, uatil she strayed here agun, and
became the Pensioner of the Holly Tree. The poor demented
creature is always treated kindly, bnt her son's sentence ha«
not yet been reversed in men's judgment. Every morning
during the time the judges are in the neigboring Assize town
she waits in one of the streets through which they must pass
to reach the court ; and as the gilt coach, the noisy trumpets,
and the decrepit halberdiers, go by, she scowls at them from
beneath her shaggy brows, and mutters her formula of.
defiance. She wiD die saying it ; coml(^ting her poor, worn,
wounded heaart with its smarting balm.

Will she find, when she comes before ii%B Tribunal of Bter*
nal decrees that she has leaned thus long upon a broken reed,
or will she find fa^ son there, fi?ee fix)m the guilt of blood ?

The Great Judge (mty knows.



THE BILL.

I COULD scarcely believe, when I came to the last word of
the foregoing recital and finished it off with a fiourish, as I
am apt to do when I make an end of any writing, that I had
been snowed up a whole week. The time had hung so lightly
on my hands, and the HoUy'-Tree, so bare at first, had borne
80 many berries for me, that I should have been in grea^
doubt of the fact but for a piece of documentary evidence
that lay upon my table.

l%e road had been dug out of the snow, on the previous
day, and the document in question was my Bill. It testified,
emphatically, to my having eaten and drunk, and warmed
myself and slept, among the sheltering branches of the
Holly-Tree, seven days and nights.

I had yesterday allowed the road t^'enty-four hours to im-
prove itsd^ finding ^at I xequiml thai additional margin of



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120 THE HOLLY-TREE INN;

time for the completion of my task. I had order^ iny Bill
to be upon the table, and a chaise to be at the door, '^ at eight
o'clock to-morrow eyening." It was eight o'clock to-morrow
evening, when I buckled up my travelling writing-desk in its
leather case, paid my Bill, and got on my warm coats and
' wrappers. Of course, no time now remained for my travelling
i on, to add a frozen tear to the icicles which were dombtleaa
hanging plentifully about the farm-house where I had first
seen Angela. What I had to do^ was, to get across to Liver-
pool by the shortest open road, there to meet my heavy bag-
gage and embark. It was quite enough to do, and I had not
an hour too much time to do it in.

I had taken leave of all my HoUy-Tree Mends — almost, for
the time being, of my bashfulness too-^^uid wihs standing for
half a minute at the Inn-door, watching the ostler as he took
another turn at the cord which tied my portmanteau on the
chaise, when I saw lamps coming down towards the HoUy-
Tree. The road was so padded with snow that no wheels
were audible ; but, all of us who were standing at the Inn-
door, saw lamps coming on, and at a lively rate too, between
the walls of snow that had been heaped up, on either side of
the track. The chamber-maid instantly divined how the case
stood^ and called to the ostler : ^' Tom, this is a Gretna job ! **
The ostler, knowing that her sex instinctively scented a mar-
riage or anything in that direction, rushed up the yard, bawl-
ing, ''Next four out I " and in a moment the whole establish-
ment was thrown into commotion.

I had a melancholy interest in seeing the hai^>y man who
loved and was beloved ; and, therefore, instead of driving off
at once, I remuned at the Inn-door, when the fugitives drove
up. A bright-eyed fellow, muffled in a mantle, jun^>ed out so
briskly that he almost overthrew me. He turned to i^mIo-
gize, and, by Heaven, it was Edwin I

'' Charley I " said he recoiling. '' Gracious powers, what do
you do here ? *'

^ Edwin," said I, recoiling^ '' Gracioue powers, what do yon



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AHD OTHEB 8T0RIE3. 121

do here!'' I strudc my forehead, as I said it, and ah insiip-*
portable blase of li^it seemed to shoot before my eyes.

He hurried me into the little parlor (always kept wiih a
b]ow fire in it and no poker), where- posting company waited
irhile their horses were putting to ; and^ shotting the .door,
8aid:

"Charley, forgive me I '^

"Edwin!" I returned. "Was this well? When I loved
her so deady I When I hud garnered up my heart so bngi "
I could say no more.

He was shoeked whoi he saw how moved I was, and made
the cmiel observation, that he had not thought I should have
taken it so much to heart.

I looked at him. I reproached himnomore. Bu^ Ilooked
athim.

• "My. dear, dear Ohadey/' said he; <^ don't think ill of mey
I beseech you I I know you have a right to my utmost eonfi<^
denee, a»d, helibv^ ine, you have ever had it until now. I
abhor secresy. Its meanness is intolerable to me. But I and
my dear girl have observed it for your sake.''

He and his dear girl ! It steeled me.
. " You have observed it for my sake, sir ? " said I wondering
how his frank foce could face it out so.

" Yes I and Angela's," said he.

I found the room reeling round in an uncertain way, Hke a
laboring homniing-top. " Explain yourself" said I, holding
<m by one hand to an ann-<^air.

"Dear old darling Charley 1" retomed Edwin in his cor-
dial manner, " consider I When you were going on so happily
with Angela, why should I compromise you with the old gen-
tleman by making you a par^ to our engagement, and (after
be had declined my proposals) to our secret intention I Surely
it was better that you should be able honorably to say, 'He
never took counsel with me, never told me, never breathed a
word of it' If Angela su3pected it and showed me all the
&vor and support she could — God bless her for a precious crea-



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122 THE HOLLY-TREE IKK.

tare and a priceless wife ! — I couldn't help tiiat. Neidier I
nor Emnieline ever told ber^ any more than we told joo.
And for the same good reason, Charley; trust me, hr the
same good reason, and no other upon earth ! ''

Emmeline was Angela's cousin. Lived with her. Had heen
brought up with her. Was her father's ward. Bbd property.

" Emmeline is in the chaise, my dear Edwin?'' said I, em-
bracing him with the greatest affection.

'* My good fellow ! " said he, ^^ Do you suppose I should be
going to Gretna Green without her ? "

I ran out with Edwin, I opened the diaise door, I took
Emmeline in my arms, I folded her to my heart. She was
wrapped in soft, white fur, like the snowy landsci^ ; but wm
warm, and young, and lovely. I put th^ leaders to with my
own hands, I gave the boys a five-pound note a>pieoe, I
cheered them as they drove away^ I drove tlie other way my-
self as hard as I oookl pelt

I never went to Liverpool, I never went to America, I went
straight back to London, and I married Angela. I ba?e
never until this time, even to her, disolosed the secret of my
character, and the mistrust and the mistaken journey into
whidi it lad me. When she, and they, and our eight diildreii
and their seven — ^I mean Edwin's and Emmeline's, whose
eldest girl is old enough now to wecff white fur herself, and to
look very like her mother in it — come to read these pages, as
of course they wiU, I shall hardly fail to be found out at last
Never mind ! I can bear it. I began at the HoUy^Tree, by
idle accident, to associate the Christmas time of year with
human interest, and with some inquiry into^ and some caie
for, the lives of thosQ by whom I find myself sumMUided. I
hope that I am none the worse fw it, and that no one near m^
or n£at ofi^ is the worse for it. And I ss^, May the green
Holly-Tree fiourish, striking its roots deep into our Engfish
ground, and having its germinating qualities carried by the
birds of Heaven all over the worid.



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THE

SE7EN POOR TRAYELERS.



CHAPTEE I.

TBS fIBST POOR TRAYXLER.



arRunOiT speakiQg there were only six Poor Tmyelers ; but^.
being a Traveler myael^ tboagh aa idle one, and beijig withal
aa poor aa I hope to be^ I brought the aniober up to ^eveo.
Tfai« word of expfamation is doe at once, for what says the ia«
iGriptioo over the qoaiat old door f

BiQHARD WaTT8^£6Q.,

faj his Will, dated 22 Aug., 1579,

foooded this Charity

for Six Poor Travelers,

who not heiag Koouss or Pboctori^

liay receive gratis for one Night

Lodging, Botertainineat,

aod four-pence each.

It was in tihe aneieBt little city of Boehester, in Kent; of al]
the good days w the year «poa a Christmas Eve, thi^ I stood
Yeadiiig ibia inscfiptioii ^ter the qoaiot old door in qnestion,
I had been waaderinc About the ueigliboariBg Cathedra], and
kad seeft tbe tomb of Biobanl Watts, with the jsffigy of worthy
Master Biehard rtarting oat of it like a ship's figure-head, and
I had fttt that I eoidd do no less, as I gave the Vei-ger his fe^
let Inifim the V«y to Watt* ' Charity. The way being

(123)



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124 THE FIRST POOR TRAVBLER.

yery abort and verj plain, I had come prosperously to the in-
Bcription and the quaint old door.

"Now," said I to myself, as I looked at the knocker, "I
know I am not a Proctor ; I wonder whether I am a Rogue V

Upon the whole, though CjffDfteionce reproduced two or three
pretty faces which might have had smaller attraction for a
mora) Goliatli thau- they had- had for me, who sjm bat a Tom
Thumb in tb^t way, I 'came t^ the eonclnsioa that I waA not a
Rogue. So, beginning to regard the establishment as in some
sort my property, bequeathed tp me and divers co-legatees,
share and share alike, by the Worshipful Master Richard Watts.
I stepped backward into the road to survey my inheritance.

I found it to be a clean white hooise, of a staid and venerable
air, with the quaint old door, already three times mentioned, (an
arched door,) choice, little, long, low, lattfce^^windows, and a roof
of three gables. The silent High street of Rochester is fall
of gables, with old beams and timbers carved into strange faces.
It is oddly ga>^ished with a queer old dock, tliat projects over
the pavement out of a grave red brick building,- as if TioM
darrfed on business tfaere, and hung out his ^ign. Sooth to
say, he did an active stroke of work In Rochester, in the oUI
days of the Romans, and the Saxons, and the Nonnans, and
down to the times of King John, when the rugged castle — I
will not undertake to say how many hundreds of years old then
—was abandoned to the centuries of weather which have so
defaced the dark apertures In its walls, that the ruin looks as if
the rooks and daws had picked it^ eyes out.

I was very well pleased both with my property and itJ situ-
ation. While I was yet surveying ft with growing content, I
espied at one of the upper lattices, which stood open, a decent
body, of a wholesome matronly appearance, whose eyes I canght
inquirtngly addressed Co mine. They saki so plainly, ** Do yon
wish to see the bouse T' that I answered aloud, "Yes, if yot
please." And within a minute the oTd door opened, and I beot
my head and went down two steps into ^ eotqr.

"This," said the matronly presence, hsbertng Ine into m lov
room on the right» "is where the trttvelers sU by the fire, mM
cook what bits of sappers they buy witli tiheff tonruj^eMea.''
• "^ Ob t Then they have no eAterialnmentf^Mitti lor life



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THE PIBST *00R *RAVELEE; 125

lAoeril^tioii over tbe outer door was still ranning ii^ my hejad, and
I was mentally repeating in a kind of tone, ' Lodging, enter-
tnnmeat aad foc^pence each.''

" They have a fire provided for 'em," rotamed the matron—^
a mighty civil per^n, not, as I conld make oat, overpaid^-" and
these cooking ntensils. And this what's painted on a board is
the rules for their behavior. They have their four-pences when
they get their tickets from the steward over the way — for I
4oiiH luimit ^m myself, they mast get their tickets first^-and
sometinies one buys a rasher of bacoh, and another a herring/
^pd ABOther a pound of potatoes, or what not. Sometimes two
or three of 'em will club their foar-pences together, and makef
a sapper that way. Bat not much of any thing is to be got
for foup^pence, at present, when provisions is so dear."

" True, indeed," I remarked. I had been looking abont tlle^
room, admiring its snug fireside at the upper end, its glimpse
of the street through the low mallioned window, and its beams'
overhead. " It is very comfortable," said I.

** Ill-conweui49nt," observed the matronly presence.
I liked to hear her say so, for it showed a commendablef
anxiety to execute, in no niggardly spirit, the intentions' of
Master Ridiard Watts. But the room was really so well
adapted to' its purpose, that I protested quite enthusiastically
against her dispiaragement.

• " Nay, ma*am," said I, " I am sure it fe warm in winter arid
oool in summer. It has a look of homely welcome and sooth-
ing rest. It has a remarkably cosy fireside, the very blink of
whish, gleaming out into the street upon a winter night, is
tnoogh to warm all Rochester's heart. And as to the conve-

oience of the six Poor Travelers "

" I don't mean them," returned the presence; "I speak of
its being an ill-con wenience to myself and my daughter, having
no other room to sit in of a night."

This was true enough, but there was another quaint room of
corresponding dimensions on the opposite side of the ^ntry, so
I stepped across to it, through the open doors of both rooms,
and asked what this chamber was for ?"

" l?hw," returned the presence, " is the Board Room, where
tk^ geutlemer. meet when they come here: "



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12& TAB FIRST POOE TRAYELBE,

Let me see : I bad oonnted from tbe aireet «ix upper vi»-
dow8, besides tkese op the groQDd story, Makiog a perplexed
calciilatioD in mj mind, I rejoined ; '* Tben tbe six Poor Trat*
elers sleep up stairs ?''

Mj new friend sbook ber bead. " Thej ^eep," sbe answen^
"in two little oater galleries at the baek, wbere their bada basal*
ways been ever sioGe tbe Cbaritj was founded. It being so reiy
ill^onwenient to me as things is at present, tbe gentlemen aro
going to take off a bit of tbe back yard and make m slip of a
room for 'em there to sit in before they go to bed.''

*\ And then the six Poor Tra?eler3," said I, *' will be entirely
out of the honse ?"

** Entirely out of tbe bouse," assented tbe presence, eosfort*
ably smoothing ber bands, '' which is considered moeb better
tor all parties, and much mone conwenleat."

I bad been a little startled in the cathedral by tbe emphaas
with whicb tbe effigy of Master Kicbard Watu was borstiiig
out of his tomb ; but I began to think, now, th^t it mgbi be
expected to come across the Higb street some stonoy tight
and make a disturbance heroi.

Howbeit, I kept my thoughts to myself and aocompanied tbt
presence to tbe little galleries at tbe baok. I foead then at
a tiny scale, like the gaUeries in old inn-yards, and tbey wen
very clean. While I was looking at tbem tbe matroa ga^ve nt
to understand that tbe prescribed number of Poor TrarelerB
were forthcoming every nighty from year's ^nd to yetar'a led,
and that the beds were always occupied* My questions epoa
this, and her replies^ brought us back to the Board Room, se
essential to the dignity of "the gentlemep," where sbe showed
me the printed accounts of the Charity hanging up by the
window. From them I gathered that the greater pan of the
property bequeathed by the Worshipful Master Biebard Watta»
for the maintenance of this foundatioa^ was, at tbe period of
his death, mere marsh land ; but that, in course of time, it bad
been reclaimed and built upon, and was ?ery eousiderabJy in*
creased in vaUie. I found, too, that about a tbirtietb pari o|
the annual revenue was now expended on the purposes ^ooh
^)emorated in the inscription over the door — tlie rest being
handsomely laid out in chancery, law expeuses, coUeotocsbif^



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THE FIRST POOR TRAVELER. 127

reeeirership, povndage, and other appendages of managementi
higblj eompiijDentary to the iinportanoe of the six Poor Trav-
6J«rs. In short, I made the not entirely new disoovery, that ife
may he said of an old establishment like thin, in dear Old £ng«
land, as of the fat oyster in the Aroericaii story, that it takea
a good many men to swallow it whole.

'' And pray, ma'am," said J, sensible that the blanbness of
my face began to brighten aa a thought ocoarred to me, " could
one see these Travelers ?"

" Well 1" she returned dubiously, " no I"

"Not to-night, for instance ?" said I.

" Well I" she returned more positively, " no I Nobody ever
asked t^ see them aftd nobody ever did see them."

As I am not easily baulked in a design when I am set upon it,
I arged to the good lady that this was Christmas Eve ; thai
Chistmas cornea bat once a year — which is unhappily too true,
for when it begins to stay with us the whole year round, we
ahaU make this earth a very different place ; thai I was pos**
sealed by tbe d«ire to tmat the Travelers to a supper and a
emperate glass of hot Wassail ; that the voice of Fame had
been beard in the laed, declaring my ability to make hot
Wassail ; that if I were permitted to hold tbe feast, I should
be found oonfomaWe to reason, sobriety, and good hours : iu
a word, that I could be merry and wise myself, aad had been
tvea kaowa at a piach to keep others so, although I was decorated
with no badge or medal» and was not a brother, orator, apostle^
sunt or prophet of any deaomiaalion whatever. In the end
I prevailed, to my great joy. It was settled that at nine
oVsloek that night a turkey and a piece of roast^bt^ shoukl
jaoke upon the boards and that I, faint and unworthy miiitster
fsr onoe of Master Richard Watts, should preside as tbe
Ofaristmas^aapper host of the six Poor Travelers.

I went back ta ray inn, to give the aecesaary dsrectiona for
tile turkey and roast beef, and, during the remainder of the
day, could settle to nothing for thinking of the Poor Travelers.
When tbe wfad lAem hard against the windows-^it was a coki
day, with dark gusts of sleet alternating with periods of wild
br^hflness, as if the year were dying fitfally— I pictured them
advaoetng toward their resting-place, aloug various cold roods,



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128 THB FIRST POOR TRAVBLBR:

and felt delighted to think hQw little thej foresaw the sapper
that awaited them. I painted their portraits in my miad, and
iiidolged in little heightening touches. I made them fbotsore ;
I made them weary; I msde them carry packs and bandies; 1
made them stop by finger-posts and mile-stones, leaning on
their bent sticks, and looking wistfully at what was written
there ; I made them lose their way, and filled their §Te wtti
with apprehensions of lying out aH night, and being frozen to
death. I took np my hat and went out, eKmbed to the top of
the old castle, and looked over the windy hills that slope down
to the Medwaj ; almost believing that I conld descry some of
my travelers in the distance. After it fell dark, and the Ca-
thedral bell was heard in the invisible steeple — quite a bower
of ft'osty rime when I had last seen it — striking five, six, seven,
I became so fall of my travelers that I eould eat no dionerp and
felt constrained to watch them still, in the red coals of my fire
They were all arrived by this time, J thought^ had g^ their
tickets, and were gone in. There, my pleasure was dashed by
the re&ection that probably some travelers had come too late,
and were shut out.

After the cathedral bell had struck eight, I could sHieil a de-
licious savor of turkey and roast beeC rising t^ ^ wId4ow of
my adjoining bed-room, which looked down ivtothe ion-jrard,
just where the lights of the kitchen reddened a massife fraj^
meat of the castle wall. It was high time to make the wasstil
DOW ; therefore, I had np the materials (whieh, together with
their proportions and combioatioBS, I must deeliae to Impart,
as the only secret of my own I was ever known to. koep^) and
made a glorious jorum ; not in a bowl^^lbr a bowl onjwlMsnr
bat on a shelf, is a low siperstition, fraught with cooling and
8loppiagu*.but in a brown earthenware piteher, tenderly aoflb^
cated when full, with a coarse eloth. It being bow upon thd
stroke of nine, I set out for Watts' Charity, carrying mj brosra
beauty in my arms. I would trust Ben the waiter with aatold
gold ; but there are strings in the haman heart which mo*
never be sounded by another, and drinks that I make mjnetf afi
those strings in mine.

The travelers were all assembled, the eloth was laid, and Ben
had brought a great bU)et of wood^ and had laid it aitfaiji



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THE F»89 ^OOR TRAVSLRK* 12»

on the top of the fire, so that a touch or two of the poker,
after sapper, sboald make a roaring blaze Having deposited
my brown loeantj in a red nook of the hearth, inside the fender,
where she soon began to sing like an ether^l cricket, diffusing
at the same time, odors as of ripe tinejards, spice forests, and
orange grotes — I say, having stationed my.beanty in a place
of security and improvement, I introduced myself to my guests
by shaking hands M ronnd, and giving them a hearty welcome.
I found the party to be thus composed; — Firstly, myself.
Secondly, a very decent man, indeed, with his right arm in a
sling, who had a certain clean, agreeable smell of wood abont
him, from which I judged him to have something to do with
lihipbnildTng. Thirdly, a little sailor-boy, a mere child, iMth a
prc^usion of rich dark-brown hair, and deep, womanly-looking*
eyes. Fourthly, a shabby-genteel pet^onage, in a threadbare
black suit, and apparently in very bad circumstances, with a dry,
suspicious look ; the absent buttons on his waistcoat eked out
with red tape, and a bundle of extraordinarily tattered papers
sticking out of an inner breast-pocket Fifthly, tL foreigner by
birth, but an Bngllshman In speech, who carried hfs pipe In the
band of his hat, and lost no time in telling me, in an easy,
simple, engaging way, that he was a watchmaker from Geneva,
and traTeled all about the Conthient, mostly on foot^ working
as t^ journeyman, and seeing new countries — possfbly (I thought)
ahio smuggling a watch or so, how and then. Sixthly, a little'
widow, who had been very pretty, and was still very young, but
whose beauty had been wrecked in some great misfortune, and
whose manner was remaricably timid, scared ahd solitary.'
Bercntbly, and lastly, a traveler, of a kind familiar to my boy-
hood, but now almost obsolete r a book-pedler, who had a^
quantity of pamphlets and numbers with him, and who presently
boHsted that he could repeat more verses In an evening than he '
coiM sell In a twelvemonth.

All these I have mentioned, in the order in which they sal-
at table. I presided, and the matronly presence faced me.
We were not long In taking our places, for the supper had
arrived with me, in the following procession :— -

8
'. • . . . . c .... J



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J3a THE FIE8T FOOR TRAVELER,

Myself witb the piteher.

B«n witb B^er.

Inattentive Boy with I luatteotiTe Boj witk

bot plates, | hot plates.

TH8 TURKKT.

Female carrying sauces to he heated on the ^>ot.

THS BREF.

Han with Tray on bis head, containing Vegetables and

Snndries.

Tolanteer Hosder from Hotel, grmning; and

rendering no assistance*

Afi we passed along the High«street» comet-like, we left a long
tail of fragrance behind us, which caused the psbllc to stop,
sniflSing in wonder. We had previously left at the comer of
the innHsard a wall-eyed young man connected with the Fly
department, and well^accustomed to the sound of a railway
whistle, which Ben always carries in bis jiockot ; whose iustmc-
tions were^so soon as be should hear the whistle blown, to dash
Into the kitchen, seixe the hot plum pudding and mince p«es,
and speed with them to Watts' Charity — where they would be



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