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commander, turning quite red in the face,
to explode a thumping oath, "I'd go and make

"Make them?" I said, mechanically.

"Aye, make 'em, and plenty of 'em, too.
You have money, and lands, and a great
house. Well, I'd go down and fill the great
house,—I wouldI'd take my hat full of
cards and go round to squire and parson, and
the whole crew. No friends!" here Captain
Sharon laughed scornfully; "you have
plenty of 'em at this living instant. I'd take
my oath of it."

For a single moment, it struck me there
might be some grains of wisdom in what the
sea-captain had said; but I looked up at the
window and the dull sky, and they were
straight washed away in floods of sleet.

"I must go," said the captain, buttoning
on his rough coat. "Will you come?—No?
Well, you're wiser to my mind for staying.
Take to the country and your own fire of a
Christmas day. Good bye." With that the
rough and ready man passed out into the

His was good and well-meant counsel; but
such as I was not yet fitted to take home
to myself. Still there kept sounding in my
ear with a certain melodious clang those
rough notes of the captain. Make yourself
friends!  Ah, 'tis not too late. For a Christmas
dream and a Christmas hearth, no, 'tis
not too late!  All that day it went on clanging
on, chiming quarter and half-hour, and three
quarter bells in my ear to the same tune. The
bells of old churches hard by seemed to take
up that shape of melody, swinging out that
old burden, Make yourself friends! Ah, no,
'tis not too late, no, 'tis not too late! But
such things were not for me. The bleak walls
and cold desolation of the Old Rodney Arms
were fitter, and more in keeping: so I fell
back into the old up and down patrol, looking
out now and again from the window.
The dripping ostler as before; the dripping
horse as before; stable-yard fast becoming
navigable. Four o'clock being told off by the
chimes of the neighbouring churches; with
which jostle discordantly those other chimes
of Captain Sharon's. It was clearing a very
little in the west; just beyond the red chimneys,
and it suddenly enters into my head to
go out and see human faces again, and be
set free, for a time at least, from those hateful
white walls. With that, I go forth into
the sleet, as the captain had done before me,
and take the road citywards.

There was a house of business in that
quarter to which I had letters, lying up a
small dark court, with its style and calling
set out on brass-plates at one side. Inside, it
found room for other houses of business,
each with its own flight and its own brass-plate.
Unhappily, the chief was absenta
little old man, very grey and shrivelled, being
left in chargegone down for the Christmas
by that morning's early mail, to return by
that day week at furthest. The little old man,
very grey and shrivelled, ventures to presume
that I and many more will be going down
that night or following morning.

"A very pleasant thing must be that
Christmas in the country," he says, looking
thoughtfully on the fire, and fitting his thin
fingers together. "Very pleasant for such
as had means. Very pleasant!"

Would he be going too?

Dear no! dear no! He had not been
out of London these forty years back. Most
likely never shouldnever should. Was
just about locking up and going out to look
at the streets. It was so curious looking at
the streets of these nights. People seemed so
busy and so happy.

I left him there, still doing joiner's
work with his poor lean fingers over the
fire, and went back again through those
streets he spoke of. The lonely waiter's
prophecy had come true; for the sleet had
departed, and it now looked very much as if it
were about to snow. By this time it had
grown dark, and the lamps were lighted.
There was a hum of voices abroad, and two
floods of dark figures hurrying by, on some
purpose bent. Shop windows were throwing
out dazzling effulgence, reflected brightly
from the many little shining pools and
ponds in the road; where, too, were reflected
cheerfully flaring lamps and flitting forms.
Round certain sheets of effulgence specially
throwing out a glare as from open furnace-doors
were gathered crowds of admiring
figures and illuminated faces viewing the
huge stores within: the holly within: the
white-capped and white-robed attendants
within: the dispensing of rare Christmas
cheer; and the file of buyers incoming and
outgoing. With a far more delighted
amphitheatre of glowing faces round certain other
sheets of effulgencetemples of confectionery
feasting their eyes on the spreading
Christmas-tree and its glittering fruit of gold and
silver, card and ribbon: on the huge white
cakes rising like towers: on the gaudy vista
reflected by mirrors many times over, down
towards the far end, of men and women
packing busily, fitting the snow cake and
Christmas-tree fruit into casesgoing down
to the country that night.

Where shall that tree be set up? What
troop of children, far down in some
well-wooded English county, be gladdened at its
coming? More glare from open furnace-
doorsmore glowing facesmore trees
more busy packing. I am jostled by hasty
men on Christmas errands. I am put aside
by men bearing Christmas packages, and
nearly run down by heavy wains laden with
strong ales for Christmas drinking. Everybody
seems to have Christmas business but
my poor lonely self. Getting absorbed in
contending floods, I am taken up through
many bye-streets into one of the great
markets, where gas is flaring nakedly, bringing