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The servant thanked me, as I thought,
with impertinent good-nature and cleared the
table.

About this time, sounds of merriment began
to resound from the Christmas party. The
shrill laughter of children was mingled with
the hoarse guffaws of their parents; and the
house shook at intervals with the romps of
both parties. In the height of my desolate
agony it gave me no little consolation to think
that those children who were at their games,
would probably dance to the tune of a tutor's
cane at no distant interval. Such was my
envy at the exuberant mirth that reached me
in fitful gusts as the doors were opened or
shut, that I felt all sorts of uncharitableness.
Presently there was a lull in the laughter-
storm. I began to hope that the party was
about to break up. A gentle footstep was
audible, descending the stairs. There was a
smothered call for Mary. Mary obeyed the
summons; and the following dialogue was
whispered in the passage:

"Did he eat the pudding?"

"No, Mumhe was afraid of it: and he
was so cross!"

"Cross! I was going to ask him to join
us: do you think he would, Mary?"

"Bless you, no Mum! He jine! I think
I see him a jining! Nothing pleases him.
He's too high for anybody. I never see the
likes of him!"

The feet then ascended the stairs, and after
another pause of a few moments, the din of
merriment was resumed. I was furious at
the sympathy which my loneliness created.
I could bear the laughter and shouting of
the Christmas party no longer, and once more
with a determination of having my revenge,
I went to bed. I lay there for several hours;
and did not close my eyes before I had vowed
solemnly that I would not pass another
Christmas Day in solitude, and in lodgings
and I didn't.

In the course of the following year, I
married the lovely daughter of Mr. Serjeant
Shuttleface. My angel was a most astonishing
pianoforte performer, and copied high art
pictures in Berlin wool with marvellous skill,
but was curiously ignorant of housekeeping;
so, we spent the beginning of our wedded
bliss in furnished apartments in order that
she might gain experience gradually.

On one point, however, I was resolute; I
would NOT spend a second Christmas Day in
lodgings. I took a house, therefore, towards
the close of the year, and repeatedly urged
my wife to vacate our apartments that we
may set up for ourselves. This responsibility
she shrunk from with unremitting reluctance.
There were besides innumerable delays. Carpets
wouldn't fit; painters wouldn't work above
one day a week: paper-hangers hung fire;
and blacksmiths, charging by the day, did no
more than one day's work in six. Time wore
on. December came, advanced, and it seemed
to be my fate to undergo another Christmas
torment. However, to my inexpressible joy,
everything was announced to be in readiness
on the twenty-fourth. My sposa had by
this time learnt enough of housekeeping to
feel strong enough for its duties, and on
Christmas Eve we left our rooms in Bedford
Square, and took our Christmas pudding,
in a cab, to my suburban villa near
Fulham. And a merry Christmas we made
of it! I don't think I ever ate a better
pudding, though I have eaten a good many
since then.

CHRISTMAS IN THE NAVY.

If there be any fire, above all fires, in which
one ought to be able to see pleasant " figures,"
it is a Christmas fire. So I will just plant
myself opposite my log, and look for some
pleasant images of memory, to recal Christmas
at sea.

"Lash up hammocks! " The pipe of the
boatswain's mate thrills shrilly through the
lower-deck some winter morning, at four
o'clock. You begin to be gradually aware
that you are an officer in Her Majesty's
service once more; that you belong to the
"Bustard;" and that you have got the morning
watch. Of the last fact, the quartermaster
makes you most thoroughly aware, by routing
away at the "nettles" of your hammock (very
much like a boy routing out a blackbird's
nest); and so does the young gentleman you
are to relieve, who, having called the lieutenant
of the next watch, glides alongside you,
and says, " Be quick up, Charley. I 'm very
sleepy."

"Is it cold?"

"Infernally!"

You temporise for five minutes. You think
about Lord Nelson. At last you hear " Watch
to muster!" You have to muster that watch.
Out you jump, fling yourself into blanket
trousers and a tremendous coat, and run up
on deck. The watch are gathering aft; the
quartermaster brings a lantern; you produce
your watch-bill, and commence calling over
the names. If you are a man of idle habits,
your watch-bill is probably in an incorrect
state. Among the main-top-men you come
to the name " Tomkins." " Tomkins! " you
cry. No answer. " Tomkins! " (with indignation).
A voice answers " Dead." There is
a kind of solemnity about that, which touches
you rather poetically. But the lieutenant of
your watch is affected by it in a more homely
way, and indulges in a growl. However, a
man's watch-bills, and quarter-bills, and division-
lists, can't be always right. I remember
that my friend Childers, of the " Rhinoceros,"
who had no division-list at all, used to bring
up a copy of " Thomson's Seasons," which
looked rather like one, and by judiciously
asking the men what their names were, first,
and then roaring them out, afterwards,
rubbed on very well.

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