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NO THOROUGHFARE.

BY CHARLES DICKENS AND WILKIE COLLINS.

BEING THE EXTRA CHRISTMAS NUMBER OF ALL THE YEAR ROUND.

CONTAINING THE AMOUNT OF TWO ORDINARY NUMBERS.

CHRISTMAS 1867. Price 4d.

CONTENTS.

PAGE
THE OVERTURE1


ACT I.

THE CURTAIN RISES3
ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER6
THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS7
NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE           10
EXIT WILDING16


ACT II.

VENDALE MAKES LOVE21
VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF27


ACT III.

IN THE VALLEY32
ON THE MOUNTAIN36


ACT IV.

THE CLOCK-LOCK41
OBENREIZER'S VICTORY44
THE CURTAIN FALLS47
THE OVERTURE.

DAY of the month and year, November the
thirtieth, one thousand eight hundred and
thirty-five. London Time by the great clock of
Saint Paul's, ten at night. All the lesser London
churches strain their metallic throats.
Some, flippantly begin before the heavy bell
of the great cathedral; some, tardily begin three,
four, half a dozen, strokes behind it; all are in
sufficiently near accord, to leave a resonance
in the air, as if the winged father who devours
his children, had made a sounding sweep with
his gigantic scathe in flying over the city.

What is this clock lower than most of
the rest, and nearer to the ear, that lags so far
behind to-night as to strike into the vibration
alone? This is the clock of the Hospital
for Foundling Children. Time was, when
the Foundlings were received without question
in a cradle at the gate. Time is, when inquiries
are made respecting them, and they are taken
as by favour from the mothers who relinquish
all natural knowledge of them and claim to
them for evermore.

The moon is at the full, and the night is fair
with light clouds. The day has been otherwise
than fair, for slush and mud, thickened
with the droppings of heavy fog, lie black in the
streets. The veiled lady who flutters up and
down near the postern-gate of the Hospital for
Foundling Children has need to be well shod
to-night.

She flutters to and fro, avoiding the stand of
hackney-coaches, and often pausing in the shadow
of the western end of the great quadrangle wall,
with her face turned towards the gate. As above
her there is the purity of the moonlit sky, and
below her there are the defilements of the
pavement, so may she, haply, be divided in her mind
between two vistas of reflection or experience?
As her footprints crossing and recrossing one
another have made a labyrinth in the mire,
so may her track in life have involved itself in
an intricate and unravellable tangle?

The postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling
Children opens, and a young woman comes
out. The lady stands aside, observes closely,
sees that the gate is quietly closed again from
within, and follows the young woman.

Two or three streets have been traversed in
silence before she, following close behind the
object of her attention, stretches out her hand
and touches her. Then the young woman stops
and looks round, startled.

"You touched me last night, and, when I
turned my head, you would not speak. Why
do you follow me like a silent ghost?"

"It was not," returned the lady, in a low
voice, "that I would not speak, but that I could
not when I tried."

"What do you want of me? I have never
done you any harm?"

"Never."

"Do I know you?"

"No."

"Then what can you want of me?"

"Here are two guineas in this paper. Take
my poor little present, and I will tell you."

Into the young woman's face, which is honest
and comely, comes a flush as she replies: "There
is neither grown person nor child in all the
large establishment that I belong to, who hasn't
a good word for Sally. I am Sally. Could I
be so well thought of, if I was to be bought?"

"I do not mean to buy you; I mean only to
reward you very slightly."

Sally firmly, but not ungently, closes and puts
back the offering hand. " If there is anything
I can do for you, ma'am, that I will not do for
its own sake, you are much mistaken in me if
you think that I will do it for money. What is
it you want?"

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