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THE HOLLY-TREE INN

BEING THE EXTRA CHRISTMAS NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS.

CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.

CONTAINING THE AMOUNT OF ONE NUMBER AND A HALF.

CHRISTMAS, 1855.

Price

3d.

INDEX TO THE HOLLY-TREE INN.

The Guest . . Page 1  The Landlord . . Page 22

The Ostler . . [Page] 9 The Barmaid . . [Page] 30

The Boots . .  [Page]18 The Poor Pensioner . . [Page] 31

The Bill . . . Page 35.

THE GUEST.

I HAVE kept one secret in the course of my
life. I am a bashful man. Nobody would
suppose it, nobody ever does suppose it,
nobody ever did suppose it. But, I am naturally
a bashful man. This is the secret which I
have never breathed until now.

I might greatly move the reader, by some
account of the innumerable places I have not
been to, the innumerable people I have not
called upon or received, the innumerable social
evasions I have been guilty of, solely because
I am by original constitution and character,
a bashful man. But, I will leave the reader
unmoved, and proceed with the object
before me.

That object is, to give a plain account of my
travels and discoveries in the Holly-Tree
Inn; in which place of good entertainment
for man and beast, I was once snowed up.

It happened in the memorable year when
I parted for ever from Angela Leath whom
I was shortly to have married, on making
the discovery that she preferred my bosom
friend. From our school days I had freely
admitted Edwin, in my own mind, to be far
superior to myself, and, though I was grievously
wounded at heart, I felt the preference to be
natural, and tried to forgive them both. It
was under these circumstances that I
resolved to go to Americaon my way to the
Devil.

Communicating my discovery neither to
Angela nor to Edwin, but resolving to write
each of them an affecting letter conveying my
blessing and forgiveness, which the steam-
tender for shore should carry to the post
when I myself should be bound for the New
World, far beyond recall;—I say, locking up
my grief in my own breast, and consoling
myself as I could, with the prospect of being
generous, I quietly left all I held dear, and
started on the desolate journey I have
mentioned.

The dead winter-time was in full dreariness
when I left my chambers for ever, at
five o'clock in the morning. I had shaved by
candle-light, of course, and was miserably
cold, and experienced that general all-
pervading sensation of getting up to be hanged,
which I have usually found inseparable from
untimely rising under such circumstances.

How well I remember the forlorn aspect of
Fleet Street when I came out of the Temple!
The street-lamps flickering in the gusty
north-east wind, as if the very gas were
contorted with cold; the white-topped houses;
the bleak, star-lighted sky; the market
people and other early stragglers, trotting,
to circulate their almost frozen blood; the
hospitable light and warmth of the few coffee-
shops and public-houses that were open for
such customers; the hard, dry, frosty rime
with which the air was charged (the wind
had already beaten it into every crevice), and
which lashed my face like a steel whip.

It wanted nine days to the end of the
month, and end of the year. The Post-
office packet for the United States was to
depart from Liverpool, weather permitting,
on the first of the ensuing month, and I
had the intervening time on my hands. I
had taken this into consideration, and had
resolved to make a visit to a certain spot
(which I need not name), on the further
borders of Yorkshire. It was endeared to
me by my having first seen Angela at a farm-
house in that place, and my melancholy was
gratified by the idea of taking a wintry leave
of it before my expatriation. I ought to
explain, that to avoid being sought out before
my resolution should have been rendered
irrevocable by being carried into full effect, I
had written to Angela overnight, in my usual
manner, lamenting that urgent business of
which she should know all particulars by-
and-bytook me unexpectedly away from
her for a week or ten days.

There was no Northern Railway at that
time, and in its place there were stage-
coaches: which I occasionally find myself, in

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