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its size, and drowsy in the dullest degree.
The quietest little dwellings with the largest
of window-shutters (to shut up Nothing as
carefully as if it were the Mint, or the Bank of
England) had called in the Doctor's house so
suddenly, that his brass door-plate and three
stories stood among them as conspicuous
and different as the Doctor himself in his
broadcloth, among the smock-frocks of his
patients. The village residences seemed to
have gone to law with a similar absence of
consideration, for a score of weak little lath-
and-plaster cabins clung in confusion about the
Attorney's red-brick house, which, with glaring
door-steps and a most terrific scraper, seemed
to serve all manner of ejectments upon them.
They were as various as labourershigh-
shouldered, wry-necked, one-eyed, goggle-eyed,
squinting, bow-legged, knock-knee'd,
rheumatic, crazy. Some of the small tradesmen's
houses, such as the crockery-shop and the
harness-maker's, had a Cyclops window in the
middle of the gable, within an inch or two of
its apex, suggesting that some forlorn rural
Prentice must wriggle himself into that apartment
horizontally, when he retired to rest, after
the manner of the worm. So bountiful in its
abundance was the surrounding country,and so lean
and scant the village, that one might have thought
the village had sown and planted everything it
once possessed, to convert the same into crops.
This would account for the bareness of the little
shops, the bareness of the few boards and trestles
designed for market purposes in a corner of
the street, the bareness of the obsolete Inn and
Inn Yard, with the ominous inscription "Excise
Office," not yet faded out from the gateway, as
indicating the very last thing that poverty could
get rid of. This would also account for the
determined abandonment of the village by one
stray dog, fast lessening in the perspective
where the white posts and the pond were, and
would explain his conduct on the hypothesis
that he was going (through the act of suicide)
to convert himself into manure, and become a
part proprietor in turnips or mangold-wurzel.

Mr. Traveller having finished his breakfast
and paid his moderate score, walked out to the
threshold of the Peal of Bells, and, thence
directed by the pointing finger of his host,
betook himself towards the ruined hermitage of
Mr. Mopes the hermit.

For, Mr. Mopes, by suffering everything
about him to go to ruin, and by dressing
himself in a blanket and skewer, and by steeping
himself in soot and grease and other nastiness,
had acquired great renown in all that countryside
far greater renown than he could ever
have won for himself, if his career had been that
of any ordinary Christian, or decent Hottentot.
He had even blanketed and skewered and sooted
and greased himself, into the London papers.
And it was curious to find, as Mr. Traveller
found by stopping for a new direction at this
farm-house or at that cottage as he went along,
with how much accuracy the morbid Mopes had
counted on the weakness of his neighbours to
embellish him. A mist of home-brewed marvel
and romance surrounded Mopes, in which (as in
all fogs) the real proportions of the real object
were extravagantly heightened. He had
murdered his beautiful beloved in a fit of jealousy
and was doing penance; he had made a vow
under the influence of grief; he had made a
vow under the influence of a fatal accident; he
had made a vow under the influence of religion;
he had made a vow under the influence of
drink; he had made a vow under the influence
of disappointment; he had never made any
vow, but "had got led into it" by the possession
of a mighty and most awful secret; he was
enormously rich, he was stupendously
charitable, he was profoundly learned, he saw
spectres, he knew and could do all kinds of
wonders. Some said he went out every night,
and was met by terrified wayfarers stalking along
dark roads, others said he never went out, some
knew his penance to be nearly expired, others
had positive information that his seclusion was
not a penance at all, and would never expire but
with himself. Even, as to the easy facts of how
old he was, or how long he had held verminous
occupation of his blanket and skewer, no
consistent information was to be got, from those
who must know if they would. He was
represented as being all the ages between five-and-
twenty and sixty, and as having been a hermit
seven years, twelve, twenty, thirtythough
twenty, on the whole, appeared the favourite

"Well, well!" said Mr. Traveller." At any
rate, let us see what a real live Hermit looks

So, Mr. Traveller went on, and on, and on,
until he came to Tom Tiddler's Ground.

It was a nook in a rustic by-road, which the
genius of Mopes had laid waste as completely, as
if he had been born an Emperor and a Conqueror.
Its centre object was a dwelling-house,
sufficiently substantial, all the window-glass of which
had been long ago abolished by the surprising
genius of Mopes, and all the windows of which
were barred across with rough-split logs of
trees nailed over them on the outside. A rick-
yard, hip-high in vegetable rankness and ruin,
contained outbuildings, from which the thatch
had lightly fluttered away, on all the winds of
all the seasons of the year, and from which the
planks and beams had heavily dropped and rotted.
The frosts and damps of winter, and the heats
of summer, had warped what wreck remained,
so that not a post or a board retained the position
it was meant to hold, but everything was
twisted from its purpose, like its owner, and
degraded and debased. In this homestead of the
sluggard, behind the ruined hedge, and sinking
away among the ruined grass and the nettles,
were the last perishing fragments of certain ricks:
which had gradually mildewed and collapsed,
until they looked like mounds of rotten honeycomb,
or dirty sponge. Tom Tiddler's ground
could even show its ruined water; for, there was
a slimy pond into which a tree or two had
fallen onesoppy trunk and branches lay across

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