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Ensphered within the calmness. Thankfully,
Yet grave at heart, as one whose mortal eye
Had seen the curtains of the soul withdrawn,
The king went down the mountains in the dawn.


FIVE years ago, I was telegraph-clerk at
Newstone Station. I had a week of day
duty, and a week of night duty, alternately.
Christmas-eve had come round, of all nights
in the year, and there I found myself, cooped
up as usual in the little office; two great
staring instruments in front of me, a flaring
gaslight overhead, and a well-heaped grate
by my side; not forgetting a three-volume
novel to assist me in wiling away the long
dark hours.

The night messages at Newstone were
never very numerous. There were rarely any
for private people; they referred, mostly, to
the business of the railway company. That
evening, I felt very low-spirited. It went
against the grain to work on Christmas-eve,
when everybody else seemed to be keeping
holiday, and enjoying themselves. Cary and
I had been engaged about two years; and,
for any prospect of marriage, we might be
engaged for twenty years longer. Mr.
Lancaster, Cary's father, was a tradesman in a
good way of business, and naturally refused
to let his daughter marry a fellow who was
getting only seventy pounds a-year. He several
times advised Cary to give me up; but, as
she would not do that, he contented himself
with forbidding me the house; trusting to
time and distancefor they lived several
miles from Newstoneto aid his cause.

I knew that Mr. Lancaster always invited
a number of young people to his house on
Christmas-eve, and I pictured them there,
dancing; Cary flitting about in her white
muslin dress, with the very riband round
her waist that I had given her only a
month before. Would any thought of my
miserable self ever cross her mind, as she
moved among the gay company? Perhaps
my detested rival, Binks the draper, might
be even dancing with her, and pressing her
waist with his arm at that very moment.
Thought not calmly to be borne; so away I
went on the platform for change of scene.

A clear, starlit night, with a keen breeze
that whistled shrill and dry through the
telegraph-wires above my head, and brought
to my ear the faint sounds, made soft
and sweet by distance, of the Christmas
waits. Lanterns, flitting like fireflies among
the waggons in the station-yard; hoarse
uncouth shouts of men, and wild shrieks from
distracted locomotives, that seemed tearing
madly up and down, merely to keep
themselves in a glow on such a bitter night, and
not because they had anything particular to
do. So into the office again, with numbed
fingers, glad of such a haven.

The long dark hours sped slowly; each
hour chinked out by the valorous little clock
in the corner. Midnight came and went:
one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock. I
had grown tired of the charming heroine,
and had again become weakly despondent on
the subject of Binks, when I was roused by
the quick tinkle of the electric-bell. A
private message:

Mr. Korf, Ironville, to Mr. Darke, 39, High Street,
Lemonfingers starts by the mail to-night. All
C.rene. Take care of the black dwarf.

I was accustomed to queer messages, but
this was the oddest I had seen, I spelled
it over twice, to see that I had got it down
correctly; then copied it out on one of
the printed forms; signed it; entered at the
foot the time I had received itthree,
forty-fiveand placed it in an envelope.

Number thirty-nine, High Street, was the
residence of Mr. Breem the tailor, and was
only five minutes' walk from the station.
Mr. Breem generally had apartments to let,
and Mr. Darke was probably a lodger.
Having locked the office-door, I proceeded at
a rapid trot towards Mr. Breem's. I
concluded that Mr. Darke was a showman, and
that somebody was sending him a dwarf
perhaps a giant alsobut certainly a dwarf,
to put in his caravan. There was a light in
the second-floor of number thirty-nine. Was
Mr. Darke waiting, expectant of a message?
It looked like it.

I gave a loud knock, and stepped back to
note the effect. The light in the second floor
was not moved, but the window was opened,
a head popped out, and a gruff voice

"Who's there?"

"Does Mr. Darke live here?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"I've got a telegraphic message for him."

"Ugh! All right. Wait a moment."

A very gruff voice, certainly. Next
moment, the door was opened, as far as the chain
would admit; and a great muscular hand waa
thrust out.

"Hand it here," said Mr. Darke.

Accordingly I placed the note in his hand.

"Wait a bit, till I see whether any
answer's required."

In a minute or two the window was again,
opened; "No answer," and the casement
was slammed down. With the exception,
of his voice, I had no more idea of Mr.
Darke when I left number thirty-nine, than
I had when I went. I had merely seen the
outline of his head when he looked out of
the window. Whether he was a young man
or an old man; a fair man or a dark man, I
was equally at a loss to know.

Ironville is thirty-five miles from
Newstone. The mail-train runs the distance in
rather under an hour, and reaches the
latter place at half-past five. As the
clock pointed to half-past five, I set off