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Three days after Christmas-day I received
a note from Mr. Lancaster asking me to go
over to Ironville, as he wished particularly
to see me. He received me in his grave
quiet way, looked me through and through
from under his bushy grey eyebrows,
motioned me to a seat, and then spoke.

"I received yesterday morning from Mr.
Choop an account of certain events relative
to the recent burglary on my premises."

"The burglary on your premises, sir?"

"Yes. Were you not aware of it?"

"I was of course aware that a robbery had
been committed, but was not aware that you
were the sufferer."

"Such, however, is the case," replied Mr.
Lancaster. "Mr. Choop informs me that it
was through you he first obtained the clue
which enabled him to track and capture part
of the gang, and recover a portion of the
stolen property, and that he was much
indebted to your courage and activity in the
capture of Riley. Now, I am not an ungrateful
man; you have long had a liking for my
daughter, which, I believe, is returned by
her; but you are not in a position to marry.
I will tell you what I'll do for you. I will
take you as an assistant in my shop, at a
moderate salary, and if I find that you bring
into your new trade that amount of
intelligence and activity which I am told you
possess, I will advance you accordingly; and,
providing you and Cary remain in the same
mind another year, I will not object to your
marriage. Let me have your decision in
the morning. You will find Cary in the

I need hardly say, that both Cary and I
are very glad to see Mr. Choop whenever he
favours us with a call in our new home, and
brings us news of Lemonfingers: who, now
that Mr. Riley is working out his penal
servitude, is doing well as a licensed hawker in
the hosiery and Nottingham line.


'TWAS in the days of elves and fays,
   Of knights and minstrels gone;
'Twas Christmas Eve, and o'er the land
   The early sunset shone.

The great bare trees were branched with fire,
   The blue intense between,
And shimmered through a golden dew
   The glossy evergreen;

While to the purely-jewelled frost
   Such sparks and hues were given,
That earth in honour of the time
   Seemed luminous with heaven.

Save where an inky blot of shade
   Drank up the shrinking light,
'Neath one great rock a solid gloom,
   A cavern's denser night.

And there, before a woman weird,
   The Lady Mabel stood,
The darkness flowing to her feet
   Behind the shining wood.

A woman awful: fiends, they said,
   Were waiting on her nod,
But that she used their evil power
   All for the love of God.

And, sooth to say, the holy priests
   On her no ban had cast,
And ev'ry stately abbess round
   Bowed rev'rent when she passed.

Her voice went through the maiden's soul
   The echo deep of doom,
From stony lips whose very breath
   Came cold as from a tomb.

"What, maiden, need'st thou yet a charm?
   The prince of all the land
To-night will eat thy father's bread,
   And ask his daughter's hand."

"Oh, therefore, therefore am I come:
   They say God gives thee power;
Take from my face aught men think fair,
   And that within this hour.

"Dim each bright hue, the gold, the blue,
   That hair and eyes have worn;
Give me a roseless lip and cheek
   That any prince would scorn."

"Bethink thee of the wealth and state
   That wait upon his crown;
They say he hath a presence grand,
   A name of high renown."

"His crown: its gems would cut my heart;
   A weight of lonesome woe.
And for himself, a stranger now,
   Once wed to me, a foe.

"Brought by the fame of a fair face
   To win my unknown hand,
Chained in my father's, thus alone
   May I their will withstand."

Blushed to her brow the vivid shame,
   The young voice quivered long:
"I love another, royal too,
   A heaven-made prince of song.

"Swift as a stream last summer sped,
   And did with him depart,—
A lilied stream whose silver flowers
   Have floated round my heart.

"His presence haunts yon wood, where first
   I learned his lovely lays;
I know no music like his harp,
   Unless it be his praise."

"His thoughts like light, his love like dew,
   All natural things did change:
The very daisies seemed new flowers,
   As beautiful as strange.

"Once, round my hair of violets
   He twined the slender stems:—
I would not give that withered wreath
   For all this prince's gems.

"A landless minstrel wandering far,
   But I his love do own;
The richest maiden overground
   In having that alone."

"Enough, thou love-sick girl! this cup
   Might angel-beauty stain,
Once drunk: yet stay, I can destroy,
   But not bring back again."