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was mentally repeating in a kind of tune,
"Lodging, entertainment, and fourpence

"They have a fire provided for 'em," returned
the matron: a mighty civil person,
not, as I could make out, overpaid: "and
these cooking utensils. And this what's
painted on a board, is the rules for their
behaviour. They have their fourpences when
they get their tickets from the steward over
the wayfor I don't admit 'em myself, they
must get their tickets firstand sometimes
one buys a rasher of bacon, and another a
herring, and another a pound of potatoes, or
what not. Sometimes, two or three of 'em
will club their fourpences together, and make
a supper that way. But, not much of anything
is to be got for fourpence, at present, when
provisions is so dear."

"True indeed," I remarked. I had been
looking about the room, admiring its snug
fireside at the upper end, its glimpse of the
street through the low mullioned window,
and its beams overhead. "It is very comfortable,"
said I.

"Ill-conwenient," observed the matronly

I liked to hear her say so; for, it showed
a commendable anxiety to execute in no niggardly
spirit the intentions of Master
Richard Watts. But, the room was really so
well adapted to its purpose that I protested,
quite enthusiastically, against her disparagement.

"Nay, ma'am," said I, "I am sure
it is warm in winter and cool in summer.
It has a look of homely welcome and
soothing rest. It has a remarkably cosey
fireside, the very blink of which, gleaming
out into the street upon a winter night, is
enough to warm all Rochester's heart. And
as to the convenience of the six Poor

"I don't mean them," returned the presence.
"I speak of its being an ill-conwenience
to myself and my daughter having
no other room to sit in of a night."

This was true enough, but there was
another quaint room of corresponding dimensions
on the opposite side of the entry:
so, I stepped across to it, through the open
doors of both rooms, and asked what this
chamber was for?

"This," returned the presence, "is the
Board Room. Where the gentlemen meet
when they come here."

Let me see. I had counted from the street
six upper windows besides these on the
ground-story. Making a perplexed calcula-
tion in my mind, I rejoined, "Then the six
Poor Travellers sleep upstairs?"

My new friend shook her head. "They
sleep," she answered, "in two little outer
galleries at the back, where their beds has
always been, ever since the Charity was
founded. It being so very ill-conwenient to me
as things is at present, the gentlemen are going
to take off a bit of the back yard and make
a slip of a room for 'em there, to sit in before
they go to bed."

"And then the six Poor Travellers," said I,
"will be entirely out of the house?"

"Entirely out of the house," assented the
presence, comfortably smoothing her hands.
"Which is considered much better for all
parties, and much more conwenient."

I had been a little startled, in the cathedral,
by the emphasis with which the effigy of
Master Richard Watts was bursting out of
his tomb; but, I began to think, now, that it
might be expected to come across the High
Street some stormy night, and make a disturbance

Howbeit, I kept my thoughts to myself,
and accompanied the presence to the little
galleries at the back. I found them, on a tiny
scale, like the galleries in old inn yards;
and they were very clean. While I was
looking at them, the matron gave me to
understand that the prescribed number of
Poor Travellers were forthcoming every night
from year's end to year's end; and that the
beds were always occupied. My questions
upon this, and her replies, brought us back
to the Board Room so essential to the dignity
of "the gentlemen," where she showed me
the printed accounts of the Charity hanging
up by the window. From them, I gathered
that the greater part of the property
bequeathed by the Worshipful Master Richard
Watts for the maintenance of this foundation,
was, at the period of his death, mere
marsh-land; but that, in course of time, it
had been reclaimed and built upon, and was
very considerably increased in value. I found,
too, that about a thirtieth part of the annual
revenue was now expended on the purposes
commemorated in the inscription over the
door: the rest being handsomely laid out in
Chancery, law expenses, collectorship, receivership,
poundage, and other appendages of management,
highly complimentary to the importance
of the six Poor Travellers. In short,
I made the not entirely new discovery that
it may be said of an establishment like this,
in dear Old England, as of the fat oyster in
the American story, that it takes a good
many men to swallow it whole.

"And pray, ma'am," said I, sensible that
the blankness of my face began to brighten
as a thought occurred to me, "could one
see these Travellers?"

Well! she returned dubiously; no! "Not
to-night, for instance ?" said I. Well! she
returned more positively; no. Nobody ever
asked to see them, and nobody ever did see

As I am not easily baulked in a design
when I am set upon it, I urged to the good
lady that this was Christmas Eve; that
Christmas comes but once a yearwhich is
unhappily too true, for when it begins to
stay with us the whole year round, we shall
make this earth a very different place; that