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GONE ASTRAY.

WHEN I was a very small boy indeed, both
in years and stature, I got lost one day in the
City of London. I was taken out by Somebody
(shade of Somebody forgive me for
remembering no more of thy identity!), as an
immense treat, to be shown the outside of Saint
Giles's Church. I had romantic ideas in
connection with that religious edifice; firmly
believing that all the beggars who pretended
through the week to be blind, lame, one-
armed, deaf and dumb, and otherwise
physically afflicted, laid aside their pretences
every Sunday, dressed themselves in holiday
clothes, and attended divine service in the
temple of their patron saint. I had a
general idea that the reigning successor of
Bamfylde Moore Carew acted as a sort
of churchwarden on these occasions, and sat
in a high pew with red curtains.

It was in the spring-time when these tender
notions of mine, bursting forth into new
shoots under the influence of the season,
became sufficiently troublesome to my parents
and guardians to occasion Somebody to
volunteer to take me to see the outside of
Saint Giles's Church, which was considered
likely (I suppose) to quench my romantic
fire, and bring me to a practical state. We
set off after breakfast. I have an impression
that Somebody was got up in a striking
mannerin cord breeches of fine texture and
milky hue, in long jean gaiters, in a green
coat with bright buttons, in a blue neckerchief,
and a monstrous shirt-collar. I think
he must have newly come (as I had myself)
out of the hop-grounds of Kent. I considered
him the glass of fashion and the
mould of form: a very Hamlet without the
burden of his difficult family affairs.

We were conversational together, and saw
the outside of Saint Giles's Church with sentiments
of satisfaction, much enhanced by a
flag flying from the steeple. I infer that
we then went down to Northumberland
House in the Strand to view the celebrated
lion over the gateway. At all events, I know
that in the act of looking up with mingled
awe and admiration at that famous animal I
lost Somebody.

The child's unreasoning terror of being
lost, comes as freshly on me now as it did
then. I verily believe that if I had found
myself astray at the North Pole instead of in
the narrow, crowded, inconvenient street over
which the lion in those days presided, I could
not have been more horrified. But, this
first fright expended itself in a little crying
and tearing up and down; and then I walked,
with a feeling of dismal dignity upon me,
into a court, and sat down on a step to consider
how to get through life.

To the best of my belief, the idea of asking
my way home never came into my head. It
is possible that I may, for the time, have
preferred the dismal dignity of being lost;
but I have a serious conviction that in the
wide scope of my arrangements for the
future, I had no eyes for the nearest and
most obvious course. I was but very juvenile ;
from eight to nine years old, I fancy.

I had one and fourpence in my pocket, and
a pewter ring with a bit of red glass in it on
my little finger. This jewel had been presented
to me by the object of my affections, on
my birthday, when we had sworn to marry,
but had foreseen family obstacles to our
union, in her being (she was six years old) of
the Wesleyan persuasion, while I was devotedly
attached to the Church of England.
The one and fourpence were the remains of
half-a-crown, presented on the same anniversary
by my godfathera man who knew
his duty and did it.

Armed with these amulets, I made up my
little mind to seek my fortune. When I had
found it, I thought I would drive home in a
coach and six, and claim my bride. I cried a
little more at the idea of such a triumph, but
soon dried my eyes and came out of the court
to pursue my plans. These were, first to go
(as a species of investment) and see the
Giants in Guildhall, out of whom I felt it not
improbable that some prosperous adventure
would arise; failing that contingency, to try
about the City for any opening of a
Whittington nature; baffled in that too, to go
into the army as a drummer.

So, I began to ask my way to Guildhall:
which I thought meant, somehow, Gold or Golden
Hall; I was too knowing to ask my way
to the Giants, for I felt it would make people
laugh. I remember how immensely broad
the streets seemed now I was alone, how
high the houses, how grand and mysterious

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