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She knelt before God's throne*
The accents of her childhood

Rose to her lips alone.

And so she dwelt ; tne valley

More peaeeAil year by year;
Yet suddenly strange portents

Of some great deed seemed near.
The golden com was bending

Upon Its iWbgile sUlk,
While farmers, heedless of their fleld^

Paced up and down in talk.

The men eeemed stem and stltered*

With looks cast on the ground}
With anxious faces, one hy one*

The women gathered round ;
13



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«10 THB SEVENTH POOR TRAVELER.

All talk of flax, or apinniDg^

Or work, was put aw»j ;
The Tory ehildron aoemed afraid

To go alone to play.

One day, out in the meadow,

With ttrangerfl from the town,
8ome Mcret plan diieusting.

The men walked up and down.
Yet, now and then teemed watehiaft

A strange uneertain gleam,
That looked like lances 'mid the treoi^

Thai stood below the stream.

At eye thej all assembled.

All oare and doubt were fled }
With Jovial laugh they feasted.

The board was nobly spread.
The elder of the Tillage

Rose np, bis glass in haad.
And cried, *' We drink the downfkll

Of an aocvrsed land !

^The night is growing darker.

Ere one more day is flown,
Bregenz, our foeman's strongbo M

Bregeni shall be our own !"
The women shrank in terror

(Tet Pride, too, had her part).
But one poor Tyrol maiden

Felt death within her heart

Befbre her stood f^ir Bregent ;

Once more her towers arose |
What were the fHends beside bar?

Only her country's foes !
The faces of her kinsfolk,

The days of childhood flown.
The echoes of her mountains.

Reclaimed her as their own t

Nothing she heard around her,

(Though shouts rang forth again)
Gone were the green Swiss Tallej^

The pasture, and the plain ;
Before her eyes one vision.

And in her heart one cry:
That said, *' Go forth, save BngmB,

And then, if need be, dieT



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9HE SEVENTH POOR TftAVELEE. 211

* With trembling baste and bre&tblesty

With noiseloM step she sped;
Horses and weary cattle

Were standing in the shed.
She loosed the atrong white chargei^

That fed from out her band ;
She mounted, and she turned hit bttd

Toward her native land.

Out— out into the darkness*-

Faster, and still more fast;
The smooth grass flies behind ber^

The chestnut wood ia pMt;
She k>oka up ; clouds are beiiTj ;

Why is her steed so slow?
Scarcely the wind beside them.

Can pass them aa they go.

«< Faster V* she ertet, '< £Mter T

Eleven the ehureb-belU chime ;
« God," she cries, '' help Bregeai

And bring me there in time I"
But loader than bells' riagiogy

Or lowing of the kine,
Grows nearer, in the midnighly

The nuhing of the Rhine.

She striree te pieree the bladitt««,

And looser tiirows the rein ;
Her steed mast breast the wnttn

That dash abore bis mane.
Bow gallantly, bow nobly,

He struggles through the tonm^
And see — in the far distance,

Shine out the lights of home t

Shall not the faring waters

Their headlong gallop check?
The steed draws back in terror I

She leans abore bis neok
To watch the flowing darkness

The bank is high and steep ;
Ctie pause^be staggers forward^

^nd plunges in the deep.

Up '^e steep bank be bears berf

And now, they rush again
Toward the heights of Bregeni,

That tower above the plain.



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212 THB SEVENTH POOR TRAVBLBE.

Tb«j reach the gate of Bregeni
Just aa the midnight ring%

And ont oomes serf and toldler
To meet the newf she bringi.

Bregens ii lared ! Bre daylight

Her battlements are manned:
Defiance greets the armj

That marches on the land^
And if to deeds heroic

Should endless fame be paid^
Bregeni does well to honor

The noble Tjrol maid.

Three hundred jwn are TUifhed,

And yet npon the hill
An old stone gateway rises^

To do her honor stilL
And there, when Bregeni womeo

Sit spioning in the shade.
They see in qnaint old caning

The charger and the Maid.

And wbea to guard eld Bregent
By gateway, street, and tower

The warder paces all night long^
And calls each passing hoor ;

«Nlne," " ten," "eleven," he crict aloiia.

» And then (0 crown of Fame I)

When midnight pauses in the sMWj
H« oaUfl the maldea'a namt I



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CHAPTER VIIL

THS BOAD.

Thb stories being all ^nished, and tbe wassail too, we broke
op as the cathedral bell struck twelve. I did not take leave of
my Travelers that night ; for it had come into my head to re-
appear in coDJunctioD with some hot cofifee, at seven in the
moniiDg.

As I passed along the High-street, I heard the waits at a
distance, and struck off to find them. They were playing near
one of the old gates of the city, at the comer of a wonderfully
quaint row of red-brick tenements, which the clarionet oblig-
ingly informed me were inhabited by the Minor-Canons.
They had odd little porches over the doors, like sounding-
boards over old pulpits ; and I thought I should like to see
one of the Minor-Canons come out upon his top step, and
favor us with a little Christmas discourse about the poor scholars
of Rochester; taking for his text the words of his Master,
relative to the devouring of widows' houses.

The clarionet was so communicative, and my inclinations
were (as they generally are), of so vagabond a tendency, that I
accompanied the waits across an open green called The Vines,
and assisted — ^in the French sense — at the performance of two
waltzes, two polkas, and three Irish melodies, before I thought
of my inn any more. However, I returned to it then, and
found a fiddle in the kitchen, and Ben, the wall-eyed young
man, and two chambermaids, circling round the great deal
table with the utmost animation.

I had a very bad night. It cannot have been owing to the
turkey, or the beef— and the wassail is out of the question —
but, in every endeavor that I made to sleep, I failed most dis-
mally. Now, I was at Badajoz with a fiddle ; now, haunted
by the widow's murdered sister. Now, I was riding on a little
blind girl to save my native town from sack and ruin. Now, I
was expostulating with the dead mother of the unconscious

(213)



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214 THE ROAD.

little sailor-boj ; now dealing in diamonds in Skj Fair ; now,
for life or death hiding mince pies under bedroom carpets.
For all this, I was never asleep ; and in whatsoever anreason-
able direction my mind rambled, the effigy of Master Richard
Watts perpetually embarrassed it.

In a word, I only got out of the Worshipful Master Richard
Walts' way, by getting ont of bed in •the dark at six o'clock,
and tumbling, as my custom is, into all the cold water that
could be accumulated for the purpose. The outer air was dull
and cold enough in the street, when I came down there ; and
the one candle in our supper-room at Watts' Charity looked at
pale in the borniug, as if it had had a bad night too. But my
Travelers had all slept soundly, and they took to the hot coffee^
and the piles of bread and butter which Ben had arranged Ilka
deals in a timber-yard, as kindly as I could desire.

While it was yet scarcely daylight, we all come oat into tLe
street together, and there shook hands. The widow took the
little sailor toward Chatham, where he was to find a steamboat
for Sheemess : the lawyer, with an extremely knowing look,
went his own way, without committing himself by announcing
his intentions ; two more struck off by the cathedral and old
castle for Maidstone; and the book-pedler accompanied ne
over the bndge. As for me, I was going to walk, by Cobhaa
Woods, as far upon my way to London as I fancied.

When I came to the stile and footpath by which I was to
diverge from the main road, I bade farewell to my last remain*
ing Poor Traveler, and pursued my way alone. And now th«
mist began to rise in the most beautiful manner, and the sua to
shine; and as I went on through the bracing air, seeing the
hoar frost sparkle everywhere, I felt as if all Nature shared in
the joy of the great birthday.

Going through the woods, the softness of my tread upon the
mossy ground and among the brown leaves, enhanced th«
Christmas sacredness by which I felt surrounded. As the
whitened stems environed me, I thought how the fonoder
of the time had never raised his benignant hand, save to bless
and heal, except in the case of one unconscious tree. By Cob-
ham Hall, I came to the village and the church-yard where tbe
dead had been quietly buried, '' in the sure and certain hope*



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TH£ BOAD. 215

which Christmas time inspired. What children could I see at
plaj, and not be loving of, recalling who hud loved them I No
garden that I passed, was out of unison with the day, for I
remembered that the tomb was in a garden, and that ** she, sup-
posing him to be the gardener,'' had said, " Sir, if thou hast
borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will
take him away." In time, the distant river with the ships,
came fall in view, and with it pictures of the poor fishermen
mending their nets, who arose and followed him — of the teach-
ing of the people from a ship pushed off a little way from
shore by reason of the multitude — of a majestic figure walking
on the water in the loneliness of night. My very shadow on
the groand was eloquent of Christmas ; for did not the people
lay their sick where the mere shadows of the men who had
heard and seen him, might fall as they passed along f

Thns Christmas begirt me, far and near, until I had come to
Blackheath, and had walked down the long vista of gnarled
old trees in Greenwich Park, and was being steam-rattled,
through the mists now closing in once more, toward the lights
of Loudon. Brightly they shone, but not so brightly as my
own fire and the brighter faces around it, when we came to-
gether to celebrate the day. And there I told of worthy Mas-
ter Richard Watts, and of my supper with the Six Poor Trav-
elers who were neither rogues nor proctors, and from that hour
to this I have never seen one of them again.



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KEW STOlilES BY THE CHRISTMAS FIRE.



CHAPTER I.

THE SCHOOLBOT'S STOBT



Being rather yoang at present— II am getting on m jearq,
but still I am rather yoang — I have no particular adrentares of
taj own to fall back upon. It woaldn't much interest anybody
here, I suppose, to know what a screw the Reverend is, or
what a griffin she is, or how they do stick it into parents — par*
ticnlarly hair-cutting and medical attendance. One of our
fellows was charged in his halfs account twelve and six-pence
for two pills — tolerably profitable at six and three pence a-piece^
I should think — and he never took them either, but put them up
the sleeve of his jacket.

As to the beef, it's shameful. It's not beef. Regular beefis't
reins. Ton can chew regular beef. Besides which, there's
gravy to regular beef, and you never see a drop to ours. An-
other of our fellows went home ill, and heard the family doctor
tell his father that he couldn't account for his complaint unless
it was the beer. Of course it was the beer, and well it might be I

However, beef and Old Cheeseman are two different things.
So is beer. It was Old Cheeseman I meant to tell about ; not
the manner in which our fellows get their constitutions destroyed
for the sake of profit.

Why, look at the pie-crust alone. There's no flakiness in it.

It's solid — like damp lead. Then our fellows get nightmares,

and are bolstered for calling out and waking other fellows.

Who can wonder 1

(217)



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5ri8 THB SCH00LB0Y»8 STORT.

Old Cbeeseman one night waked in his sleep, pat his hat on
over his night-cap, got hold of a fishing-rod and a cricket-hat,
and went down into the parlor, where they naturally thonght
from his appearance he was a ghost. Why, he never would
have done that, if his meals had been wholesome. When we
all begin to walk in our sleeps, I suppose they'll be sorrj
for it

Old Cheeseman wasn't secoad Latin Master then ; he was i
fellow himself. He was first brought there, very small, in i
post-chaise, by a woman who was always taking snniT and
shaking him — and that was the most he remembered about it
He never went home for the holidays. His accounts (he never
learnt any extras) wefe sent to a Bank, and the Bank paid them;
and he had a brown suit twice a year, and went into boots at
twelve. They were always too big for him, too.

In the midsummer holidays, some of our fellows who lived
within walking distance, used to come back and climb the tieei
outside the playground wall, on purpose to look at Old Cheeie-
man reading there by himself. He was always as mild as the
tea — and ihaPa pretty mild, I should hope I So when they
whistled to him, he looked up and nodded ; and when they said
** Halloo Old Cheeseman, what have you had for dinner f" be
said '' Boiled mutton ;" and when they said " An't it solitaiy,
Old Cheeseman ?" he said '^ It is a little dull sometimes ;'' and
then they said " Well, good-by. Old Cheeseman 1" and climbed
down again. Of course it was imposing on Old Cheesemaa to
give him nothing but boiled mutton through a whole vacation,
but that was just like the system* When they didnt give bim
boiled mutton they gave him rice pudding, pretending it wu a
treat. And saved the butcher.

So Old Cheeseman went on. The holidays brought him into
other troubles besides the loneliness ; because when the fellovi
began to come back, not wanting to, he was always glad to see
them : which was aggravating when they were not at all glad
to see him, and so he got his head knocked against walla, and
that was the way his nose bled. But he was a favorite in gen*
oral. Once, a subscription was raised for him ; and, to keep
up his spirits, he was presented before the holidays with two
white mice, a rabbit, a pigeon, and a beautiful poppy* Old



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THE SCHOOLBOY'S 8T0EY. 219

Cbeeaeman cried abont it, especially soon afterward, when they
all ate one another.

Of course Old Cheeseman used to be called by the names of
all sorts of cheeses, Donble Glo'sterman, Family Gheahireman,
Dutchmao, North Wiltshireman, and all that. Bat he nerer
minded it. And I don't mean to say he was old in point of
years, becanse he wasn't^ only he was called, from the first. Old
Cheeseman.

At last. Old Cheeseman was made second Latin Master. He
was brought in one morning at the beginning of a new half,
and presented to the school in that capacity as '' Mr. Cheese-
man." Then our fellows all agreed that Old Cheeseman was a
spy, and a deserter, who had gone over to the enemy's camp,
and sold himself for gold. It was no excuse for him that he
had sold himself for very little gold — two pound ten a quarter,
and his washing, as was reported. It was decided by a Parlia*
meut which sat about it, that Old Cheeseman's mercenary
motives could alone be taken into account, and that he had
"coined our blood for drachmas." The Parliament took the
expression out of the quarrel scene between Brutus and
Cassius.

When it was settled in this strong way that Old Cheeseman
was a tremendous traitor, who had wormed himself into our
fellows' secrets on purpose to get himself into favor by giving
up every thing he knew, all courageous fellows were invited to
come forward and enrol themselves in a Society for making a
set against him. The President of the Society was first boy,
named Bob Tartar. His father was in the West Indies, and he
owned, himself, that his father was worth millions. He had
great power among our fellows, and he wrote a parody, begin*
ning,

** Who made beliere to be so meek
That we ooald hardlj hear him ipeak,
Yet tamed oat an Informing Sneak f
Old Cheeeeman."

—and on in that way through more than a dozen verses, which
he used to go and sing, every morning, close by the new mas*
ter's desk. He trained one of the low boys too, a rosy-cheeked
little Brass who didn't care what he did, to go up to him with



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220 THE SCHOOLBOY»S STORT.

bis Latin Oramniar odo morning, and say it so : — Nominalivia
pronominum — Old Cheeseman, raro exprimilur — was neTer
saspected, nisi dMnctionis — of being an informer, avd emj^
818 gratia — until he proved one. Ul — ^for instance, Vos dam'
nastis — when he sold the boys, Qua^t— as though, </ico/— ha
should say, Pretoerea nemo — I'm a Judas ! All this prodnccd
a great effect on Old Cheeseman. He had never had much hair ;
but what he had began to get thinner and thinner every day. He
grew paler and more worn ; and sometimes of an evening he
was seen sitting at his desk with a precious long snuff to his
candle, and his hands before his face, crying. But no merobe.
of the Society could pity him, even if he felt inclined, because,
the President said it was Old Cheeseman's conscience.

So Old Cheeseman went on, and didn't he lead a miserable
life 1 Of course the Reverend turned up his nose at him, ind
of course she did — because both of them always do at all the
masters, but he suffered fh)m the fellows most, and he suffered
from them constantly. He never told about it, that the society
could find out ; but he got no credit for that, because the Pre-
sident said it was Old Cheeseman's cowardice.

He had only one friend in the world, and that one was almost
a^ powerless as he was, for it was only Jane. Jane was a sort
of wardrobe-woman to our fellows, and took care of the boxes.
She came, at first, I believe, as a kind of apprentice, some of
our fellows say from a Charity, but / don't know, and after her
time was out, had stopped at so much a year. So little a yetr,
perhaps I ought to say, for ft is far more likely. Howerer,
she had put some pounds in the Savings Bank, and she was a
very nice young woman. She was not quite pretty ; but she
had a very frank, honesty bright face, and all our fellows were
fond of her. She was uncommonly neat and cheerful, and m*
commonly comfortable and kind. And if any thing was the
matter with a fellow's mother, he always went and showed the
letter to Jane.

Jane was Old Cheeseman's friend. The more the Society
went against him, the more she stood by him. She »ed to give
him a good-humored look out of her still-room window, sone-
times, that seemed to set him up for the day. She used to pan
out of the orchard and the kitc^«n-gariea ^always kept loeka^



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THB SCHOOLBOY'S STORY 221

I believe you !) through the play-ground, when she might have
gone the other way, only to give a turn of her head, as much
as to say, " Keep up your spirits I" to Old Cheeseraan. His
slip of a room was so fresh and orderly, that it was well known
who looked after it while he was at his desk ; and when our
fellows saw a smoking hot dumpling on his plate at dinner, they
knew with indignation who had sent it up.

Under these circumstances, the Society resolved, after a quan-
tity of meeting and debating, that Jane should be requested to
cut Old Gheeseman dead ; and that if she refused, she must be
sent to Coventry herself. So a deputation, headed by the Pre-
sident, was appointed to wait on Jane, and inform her of the
vote the Society had been under the painful necessity of passing.
She was very much respected for all her good qualities, and
there was a story of her having once waylaid the Reverend in
his own study, and got a fellow off from se?ere punishment, of
her own kind comfortable heart. So the deputation didn't
much like the job. However, they went up, and the President
told Jane all about it. Upon which Jane turned very red,
burst into tears, informed the President and deputation, in a
way not at all like her usual way, that they were a parcel of
malicious young savages, and turned the whole respected body
out of the room. Consequently, it was entered in the Society's
book (kept in astronomical cypher, for fear of detection), that
ail communication with Jane was interdicted ; and the Presi-
dent addressed the members on this con wincing instance of Old
Cheeseman'g undermining.

But Jane was true to Old Cheeseman as Old Cheeseman was
fahe to our fellows — in their opinion at all events — and steadily
eontinued to be his only friend. It was a great exasperation
to the Society, because Jane was as much a loss to them as she
sras a gain to him ; and being more inveterate against him than
ever, they treated him worse than ever. At last, one morning,
his desk stood empty, his room was peeped into and found to
be vacant, and a whisper went about among the pale faces of
oar fellows that Old Cheeseman, unable to bear it any longer,
had got up early and drowned himself.

The mysterious looks of the other masters after breakfast^
and the evident fact that Old Cheeseman was not expected, con



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222 THB SCHOOLBOY'S STORY.

firmed tLe Society io this opinion. Some beguk to dacm
whether the President was liable to .tanging or only trauspor-
tation for life, and the President's face showed a great anxiety
to know which. However, he said that a jory of his eoantiy-
men should find him game ; and that in his address he sboald
put it to them to lay their hands upon their hearts, and sty
whether they, as Britons, approved of Informers, aud bow they
thought they would like it themselves. Some of the Society
considered that he had better run away until he found a forest,
where he might change clothes with a woodcutter, and stain hit
face with blackberries ; but the majority believed thai if bo
stood his ground, his father — belonging, as he did, to tbeWctf
Indies, and being worth millions — could buy him off.

All our fellows' hearts beat fast when the Reverend came ia,
and made a sort of a Iloman, or a Field Marshal, of hittself
with the ruler ; as he always did before delivering an addroa.
But their fears wei*e nothing to their astonishment when bt
came out with the Rtory that Old Cheeseman, "so long our it-
spected friend and fellow-pilgrim in the pleasant plaiut of
knowledge," he called him — O yes I I dare say I arach of
that I — was the orphan child of a disinherited young lady wbo
bad married against her father's wish, and whose young bat*
band had died, aud who had died of sorrow herself, and wbon
unfortunate baby (Old Cheeseman) had been broaght np at the
cost of a grandfather who would never consent to see it, babf,
boy, or man : which grandfather was now dead, aud aerre bia
right — that's my putting in — and which grandfather's btfge
property, there being no will, was aow, and all of a saddea
and forever, Old Cheeseman's I Our so long respected friead
and fellow-pilgrim in the pleasant plains of knowledge, tbi
Reverend wound up a lot of bothering quotations by sayivg.
would *' come among ns once more" that day fortnight, when
he desired to take leave of us himself in a more particular laaa-
ner. With these words, he stared severely round at oar M-
lows, and went solemnly out.

There was precious cousteruatioB among tbe members of tbt
Society now. Lots of them wanted to resign, and lots aoit
began to try to make out that they had never beloagcd to it
however, the President st ick up, and said that they lauat staai



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THE SCHOOLBOY'S STORY. 223

or fa]i together, and that if a breach was made it should ba
over his bod j — which was meant to encourage the Society :
but it didn't. The President further said, he would consider
the position in which they stood, and wouid give them his best
opinion and adrioe in a few days. Tiiis was eagerly looked
for, as ho knew a good deal of the world on account of his
fitther's being in the West Indies.

After days and days of iiard thinking, and drawing armies
dl OYer his slate, the President called our fellows together, and
made the matter clear. He said it was plain that when Old
Oheeaeman oame on the appointed day, his first rerenge would
be to impeach the Society, and have it flogged all round.
After witnessing with joy the torture of his enemies, and gloat*
ing over tke cries which agony would extort fVom them, the
probability was that he would invite the Reverend, on pre-
tense of conversation, into a private room — say the parlor into
which parents were shown, where the two great globes were
which wore never osed — and wonld there reproach him with
the various frauds and oppressions he had endured at his
bands. At the close of his observations, he would make a
signal to a prise-fighter concealed in the passage, who would



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