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Christmas Penny Readings Original Sketches for the Season   By: (1831-1909)

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Christmas Penny Readings Original Sketches for the Season By George Manville Fenn Published by George Routledge and Sons This edition dated 1867

Christmas Penny Readings, by George Manville Fenn.

CHRISTMAS PENNY READINGS, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.

CHAPTER ONE.

CUTTING TIMES; OR, A FROST AND THAW.

ONE FREEZING SHARP.

Twenty years ago, Hezekiah Thornypath was in Luck's way so much so, that Luck kicked him out of it. Hez went up to London to make his fortune, and he took his wife and children with him to help to make it: Hez meant "to make his crown a pound," as the old song says, but he did not. Either times, trade, or Hez's management was bad; things went contrary; and, as though it were a punishment for marrying against old Thornypath's wish, Hezekiah's few hundred pounds melted away, troubles came upon him, friends forsook him, and when he considered that his affairs could be no worse, he had to fetch the doctor, who came, shook his head, and in a few hours Hez and his wife were weeping bitterer tears than they had ever shed before, for the rigour of death was fast stealing away the beauty from the features of their youngest child.

The house looked sad and sombre with the blinds drawn down; footsteps were hushed, and voices were heard but in a whisper how needlessly Hez too well knew, as he gazed, with his weeping wife, upon the little sleeper. The world looked in advance one dreary desert, while hope seemed to have parted from them for ever. No friendly word of comfort was spoken, no whispered consolation they were alone in the great city, and the tears that fell had no earthly witness.

A few days dragged slowly past, and then the lid of the little painted deal coffin hid from aching eyes the tiny spirit's cast off robe. Blinding tears, breasts heaving while the thrilling words of the Apostle fell upon the grieving parents' ears, a last long look at the deep cold grave, and a catching of the breath as the earth fell heavily upon their infant's breast, and then, slowly, sadly, hand in hand, away from the little grave.

Three months passed away, and the shabby mourning had grown more rusty three months of sorrow and struggles for the bare necessaries of life and then again the slow, creaking step of the doctor; the same anxious faces watching the hard drawn breath and fevered countenance of another little sufferer watching with aching hearts, and moaning in the bitterness of their spirit at their helplessness, their utter impotence to give relief. Gazing with awe at the wild eye, unearthly look, and startled mien; ever and anon trying to soothe the child, whose spirit seemed to hold communion with another world. The same sad, sad scene: the creaking step departing, with the assurance, "nothing can be done;" and then, by the gloomy light of the wretched candle, the shades of that deepest night were seen to gather upon the little brow, as the eyes were closed in the sleep whose waking is into life eternal.

Through the crowded streets again, to the crowded habitation of the dead, a shabby funeral, with shabby mourners, hardly noticed but by the children, who cease their play and cling to the churchyard rails, or follow the sad procession amongst the mouldering graves. Another little coffin close beside the first in the cold, black earth, while hearts filled to bursting mourn for the lost ones, drinking deeply of affliction of those bitter waters of Marah; and then on again, toiling through life's weary way.

Months of struggling months of privation and misery; and after a day spent in a vain effort to gain employ, Hez slunk through the gaily lighted streets of the West End, shrinking within himself as though it were dishonest of him to be poor, and to show his haggard face amid so much wealth... Continue reading book >>




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