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                  GASLIGHT FAIRIES.

FANCY an order for five-and-thirty Fairies!
Imagine a mortal in a loose-sleeved great
coat, with the mud of London streets upon
his legs, commercially ordering, in the
common-place, raw, foggy forenoon, "five-
and-thirty more Fairies"! Yet I, the writer,
heard the order given. "Mr. Vernon, let me
have five-and-thirty more Fairies to-morrow
morningand take care they are good ones."

Where was it that, towards the close of
the year one thousand eight hundred and
fifty-four, on a dark December morning, I
overheard this astonishing commission given
to Mr. Vernon, and by Mr. Vernon accepted
without a word of remonstrance and entered
in a note-book? It was in a dark, deep gulf
of a place, hazy with fogat the bottom of a
sort of immense well without any water in
it; remote crevices and chinks of daylight
faintly visible on the upper rim; dusty palls
enveloping the sides; gas flaring at my feet;
hammers going, in invisible workshops;
groups of people hanging about, trying to
keep their toes and fingers warm, while
their noses were dimly seen through the
smoke of their own breath. It was in the
strange conventional world where the visible
people only never advance; where the
unseen painter learns and changes; where
the unseen tailor learns and changes; where
the unseen mechanist adapts to his purpose
the striding ingenuity of the age; where the
electric light comes, in a box that is carried
under a man's arm; but, where the visible flesh
and blood is so persistent in one routine
that, from the waiting-woman's apron-pockets
(with her hands in them), upward to the
smallest retail article in the "business" of
mad Lear with straws in his wig, and
downward to the last scene but one of the
pantomime, where, for about one hundred
years last past, all the characters have
entered groping, in exactly the same way, in
identically the same places, under precisely
the same circumstances, and without the
smallest reasonI say, it was in that strange
world where the visible population have so
completely settled their so-potent art, that when
I pay my money at the door I know beforehand
everything that can possibly happen to
me, inside. It was in the Theatre, that I
heard this order given for five-and-thirty
Fairies.

And hereby hangs a recollection, not out of
place, though not of a Fairy. Once, on just
such another December morning, I stood on
the same dusty boards, in the same raw
atmosphere, intent upon a pantomime-
rehearsal. A massive giant's castle arose
before me, and the giant's body-guard
marched in to comic music; twenty grotesque
creatures, with little arms and legs, and
enormous faces moulded into twenty varieties of
ridiculous leer. One of these faces in
particularan absurdly radiant face, with a
wink upon it, and its tongue in its cheek
elicited much approving notice from the
authorities, and a ready laugh from the orchestra,
and was, for a full half minute, a special
success. But, it happened that the wearer of
the beaming visage carried a banner; and, not
to turn a banner as a procession moves, so as
always to keep its decorated side towards the
audience, is one of the deadliest sins a
banner-bearer can commit. This radiant
goblin, being half-blinded by his mask, and
further disconcerted by partial suffocation,
three distinct times omitted the first duty of
man, and petrified us by displaying, with the
greatest ostentation, mere sackcloth and
timber, instead of the giant's armorial
bearings.To crown which offence he couldn't
hear when he was called to, but trotted
about in his richest manner, unconscious
of threats and imprecations. Suddenly, a
terrible voice was heard above the music,
crying, "Stop!" Dead silence, and we
became aware of Jove in the boxes.
"Hatchway," cried Jove to the director,
"who is that man? Show me that man."
Hereupon, Hatchway (who had a wooden
leg), vigorously apostrophising the defaulter
as an "old beast," stumped straight up to
the body-guard now in line before the castle,
and taking the radiant countenance by the
nose, lifted it up as if it were a saucepan-lid
and disclosed below, the features of a bald,
superannuated, aged person, very much in
want of shaving, who looked in the forlornest
way at the spectators, while the large face
aslant on the top of his head mocked him.
"What! It's you, is it?" said Hatchway, with
dire contempt. "I thought it was you." "I
knew it was that man!" cried Jove. "I

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