There are not many people --
and as it is desirable that a
story-teller and a story-reader
should establish a mutual understanding
as soon as possible, beg it to
be noticed that I confine this
observation neither to young
people nor to little people,
but extend it to all conditions
of people: little and big, young
and old: yet growing up, or already
growing down again -- there are
not, I say, many people who would
care to sleep in a church. I
don't mean at sermon-time in
warm weather (when the thing
has actually been done, once
or twice), but in the night,
and alone. A great multitude
of persons will be violently
astonished, I know, by this position,
in the broad bold Day. But it
applies to Night. It must be
argued by night. And I will undertake
to maintain it successfully on
any gusty winter's night appointed
for the purpose, with any one
opponent chosen from the rest,
who will meet me singly in an
old church-yard, before an old
church-door; and will previously
empower me to lock him in, if
needful to his satisfaction,
For the night-wind has a dismal
trick of wandering round and
round a building of that sort,
and moaning as it goes; and of
trying, with its unseen hand,
the windows and the doors; and
seeking out some crevices by
which to enter. And when it has
got in; as one not finding what
it seeks, whatever that may be,
it wails and howls to issue forth
again: and not content with stalking
through the aisles, and gliding
round and round the pillars,
and tempting the deep organ,
soars up to the roof, and strives
to rend the rafters: then flings
itself despairingly upon the
stones below, and passes, muttering,
into the vaults. Anon, it comes
up stealthily, and creeps along
the walls, seeming to read, in
whispers, the Inscriptions sacred
to the Dead. At some of these,
it breaks out shrilly, as with
laughter; and at others, moans
and cries as if it were lamenting.
It has a ghostly sound too, lingering
within the altar; where it seems
to chaunt, in its wild way, of
Wrong and Murder done, and false
Gods worshipped; in defiance
of the Tables of the Law, which
look so fair and smooth, but
are so flawed and broken. Ugh!
Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly
round the fire! It has an awful
voice, that wind at Midnight,
singing in a churchl
But high up in the steeple!
There the foul blast roars and
whistles! High up in the steeple,
where it is free to come and
go through many an airy arch
and loophole, and to twist and
twine itself about the giddy
stair, and twirl the groaning
weathercock, and make the very
tower shake and shiver! High
up in the steeple, where the
belfry is, and iron rails are
ragged with rust; and sheets
of lead and copper shrivelled
by the changing weather, crackle
and heave beneath the unaccustomed
tread; and birds stuff shabby
nests into corners of old oaken
joists and beams; and dust grows
old and grey; and speckled spiders,
indolent and fat with long security,
swing idly to and fro in the
vibration of the bells, and never
loose their hold upon their thread-spun
castles in the air, or climb
up sailor-like in quick alarm,
or drop upon the ground and ply
a score of nimble legs to save
a life! High up in the steeple
of an old church, far above the
light and murmur of the town
and far below the flying clouds
that shadow it, is the wild and
dreary place at night: and high
up in the steeple of an old church,
dwelt the Chimes I tell of.
They were old Chimes, trust
me. Centuries ago, these Bells
had been baptized by bishops:
so many centuries ago, that the
register of their baptism was
lost long, long before the memory
of man, and no one knew their
names. They had had their Godfathers
and Godmothers, these Bells (for
my own part, by the way, I would
rather incur the responsibility
of being Godfather to a Bell
than a Boy), and had had their
silver mugs no doubt, besides.
But Time had mowed down their
sponsors, and Henry the Eighth
had melted down their mugs; and
they now hung, nameless and mugless,
in the church tower.
Not speechless, though. Far
from it. They had clear, loud,
lusty, sounding voices, had these
Bells; and far and wide they
might be heard upon the wind.
Much too sturdy Chimes were they,
to be dependent on the pleasure
of the wind, moreover; for, fighting
gallantly against it when it
took an adverse whim, they would
pour their cheerful notes into
a listening ear right royally;
and bent on being heard, on stormy
nights, by some poor mother watching
a sick child, or some lone wife
whose husband was at sea, they
had been sometimes known to beat
a blustering Nor'-Wester, aye,
``all to fits,'' as Toby Veck
said; -- for though they chose
to call him Trotty Veck, his
name was Toby, and nobody could
make it anything else either
(except Tobias) without a special
act of parliament; he having
been as lawfully christened in
his day as the Bells had been
in theirs, though with not quite
so much of solemnity or public
For my part, I confess myself
of Toby Veck's belief, for I
am sure he had opportunities
enough of forming a correct one.
And whatever Tobyv Veck said,
I say. And I take my stand by
Toby Veck, although he did stand
all day long (and weary work
it was) just outside the church-door.
In fact he was a ticket-porter,
Toby Veck, and waited there for
And a breezy, goose-skinned,
blue-nosed red-eyed, stony-toed,
tooth-chattering place it was,
to wait in, in the winter-time,
as Toby Veck well knew. The wind
came tearing round the corner
-- especially the east wind --
as if it had sallied forth, express,
from the confines of the earth,
to have a blow at Toby. And oftentimes
it seemed to come upon him sooner
than it had expected, for bouncing
round the corner, and passing
Toby, it would suddenly wheel
round again, as if it cried ``Why,
here he is!'' Incontinently his
little white apron would be caught
up over his head like a naughty
boy's garments, and his feeble
little cane would be seen to
wrestle and struggle unavailingly
in his hand, and his legs would
undergo tremendous agitation,
and Toby himself all aslant,
and facing now in this direction,
now in that, would be so banged
and buffeted, and touzled, and
worried, and hustled, and lifted
off his feet, as to render it
a state of things but one degree
removed from a positive miracle,
that he wasn't carried up bodily
into the air as a colony of frogs
or snails or other portable creatures
sometimes are, and rained down
again, to the great astonishment
of the natives, on some strange
corner of the world where ticket-porters
But, windy weather, in spite
of its using him so roughly,
was, after all, a sort of holiday
for Toby. That's the fact. He
didn't seem to wait so long for
sixpence in the wind, as at other
times; for the having to fight
with that boisterous element
took off his attention, and quite
freshened him up when he was
getting hungry and low-spirited.
A hard frost too, or a fall of
snow, was an Event; and it seemed
to do him good, somehow or other
-- it would have been hard to
say in what respect though, Toby!
So wind and frost and snow, and
perhaps a good stiff storm of
hail, were Toby Veck's red-letter
Wet weather was the worst; the
cold damp, clammy wet, that wrapped
him up like a moist great-coat
-- the only kind of great-coat
Toby owned, or could have added
to his comfort by dispensing
with. Wet days, when the rain
came slowly, thickly, obstinately
down; when the streets's throat,
like his own, was choked with
mist; when smoking umbrellas
passed and re-passed, spinning
round and round like so many
teetotums, as they knocked against
each other on the crowded footway,
throwing off a little whirlpool
of uncomfortable sprinklings;
when gutters brawled and waterspouts
were full and noisy; when the
wet from the projecting stones
and ledges of the church fell
drip, drip, drip, on Toby, making
the wisp of straw on which he
stood mere mud in no time; those
were the days that tried him.
Then indeed, you might see Toby
looking anxiously out from his
shelter in an angle of the church
wall -- such a meagre shelter
that in summer time it never
cast a shadow thicker than a
good-sized walking-stick upon
the sunny pavement -- with a
disconsolate and lengthened face.
But coming out, a minute
afterwards, to warm himself by
exercise: and trotting up and
down some dozen times: he would
brighten even then, and go back
more brightly to his niche.
They called him Trotty from
his pace, which meant speed if
it didn't make it. He could have
Walked faster perhaps; most likely;
but rob him of his trot, and
Toby would have taken to his
bed and died. It bespattered
him with mud in dirty weather;
it cost him a world of trouble;
he could have walked with infinitely
greater ease; but that was one
reason for his clinging to it
so tenaciously. A weak, small,
spare old man, he was a very
Hercules, this Toby, in his good
intentions. He loved to earn
his money. He delighted to believe
-- Toby was very poor, and couldn't
well afford to part with a delight
-- that he was worth his salt.
With a shilling or an eighteenpenny
message or small parcel in hand,
his courage, always high, rose
higher. As he trotted on, he
would call out to fast Postmen
ahead of him, to get out of the
way; devoutly believing that
in the natural course of things
he must inevitably overtake and
run them down; and he had perfect
faith -- not often tested -- in his being able to carry anything that man could lift.
Thus, even when he came out
of his nook to warm himself on
a wet day, Toby trotted. Making,
with his leaky shoes, a crooked
line of slushy footprints in
the mire; and blowing on his
chilly hands and rubbing them
against each other, poorly defended
from the searching cold by threadbare
mufflers of grey worsted, with
a private apartment only for
the thumb, and a common room
or tap for the rest of the fingers;
Toby, with his knees bent and
his cane beneath his arm, still
trotted. Falling out into the
road to look up at the belfry
when the Chimes resounded, Toby
He made this last excursion
several times a day, for they
were company to him; and when
he heard their voices, he had
an interest in glancing at their
lodging-place, and thinking how
they were moved, and what hammers
beat upon them. Perhaps he was
the more curious about these
Bells, because there were points
of resemblance between themselves
and him. They hung there, in
all weathers, with the wind and
rain driving in upon them; facing
only the outsides of all those
houses; never getting any nearer
to the blazing fires that gleamed
and shone upon the windows, or
came puffing out of the chimney
tops; and incapable of participation
in any of the good things that
were constantly being handed,
through the street doors and
the area railings, to prodigious
cooks. Faces came and went at
many windows: sometimes pretty
faces, youthful faces, pleasant
faces: sometimes the reverse:
but Toby knew no more (though
he often speculated on these
trifles, standing idle in the
streets) whence they came, or
where they went, or whether,
when the lips moved, one kind
word was said of him in all the
year, than did the Chimes themselves.
Toby was not a casuist -- that
he knew of, at least -- and I
don't mean to say that when he
began to take to the Bells, and
to knit up his first rough acquaintance
with them into something of a
closer and more delicate woof,
he passed through these considerations
one by one, or held any formal
review or great field-day in
his thoughts. But what I mean
to say, and do say is, that as
the functions of Toby's body,
his digestive organs for example,
did of their own cunning, and
by a great many operations of
which he was altogether ignorant,
and the knowledge of which would
have astonished him very much,
arrive at a certain end; so his
mental faculties, without his
privity or concurrence, set all
these wheels and springs in motion,
with a thousand others, when
they worked to bring about his
liking for the Bells.
And though I had said his love,
I would not have recalled the
word, though it would scarcely
have expressed his complicated
feeling. For, being but a simple
man, he invested them with a
strange and solemn character.
They were so mysterious, often
heard and never seen; so high
up, so far off, so full of such
a deep strong melody, that he
regarded them with a species
of awe; and sometimes when he
looked up at the dark arched
windows in the tower, he half
expected to be beckoned to by
something which was not a Bell,
and yet was what he had heard
so often sounding in the Chimes.
For all this. Toby scouted with
indignation a certain flying
rumour that the Chimes were haunted,
as implying the possibility of
their being connected with any
Evil thing. In short, they were
very often in his ears, and very
often in his thoughts, but always
in his good opinion; and he very
often got such a crick in his neck by staring with his mouth wide open, at the
steeple where they hung, that
he was fain to take an extra
trot or two, afterwards, to cure
The very thing he was in the
act of doing one cold day, when
the last drowsy sound of Twelve
o'clock, just struck, was humming
like a melodious monster of a
Bee, and not by any means a busy
bee, all through the steeple.
``Dinner-time, eh!'' said Toby,
trotting up and down before the
Toby's nose was very red, and
his eyelids were very red, and
he winked very much, and his
shoulders were very near his
ears, and his legs were very
stiff, and altogether he was
evidently a long way upon the
frosty side of cool.
``Dinner-time, eh!'' repeated
Toby, using his right-hand muffler
like an infantine boxing-glove,
and punishing his chest for being
He took a silent trot, after
that, for a minute or two.
``There's nothing,'' said Toby,
breaking forth afresh -- but
here he stopped short in his
trot, and with a face of great
interest and some alarm, felt
his nose carefully all the way
up. It was but a little way (not
being much of a nose) and he
had soon finished.
``I thought it was gone,'' said
Toby, trotting off again. ``It's
all right, however. I am sure
I couldn't blame it if it was
to go. It has precious hard service
of it in the bitter weather,
and precious little to look forward
to; for I don't take snuff myself.
It's a good deal tried, poor
creetur, at the best of times;
for when it does get
hold of a pleasant whiff or so
(which an't too often), it's
generally from somebody else's
dinner, a-coming home from the
The reflection reminded him
of that other reflection, which
he had left unfinished
``There's nothing,'' said Toby,
``more regular in its coming
round than dinner-time, and nothing
less regular in its coming round
than dinner. That's the great
difference between 'em. It's
took me a long time to find it
out. I wonder whether it would
be worth any gentleman's while
now, to buy that obserwation
for the Papers; or the Parliament!''
Toby was only joking, for he
gravely shook his head in self-depreciation.
``Why! Lord!'' said Toby. ``The
Papers is full of obserwations
as it is; and so's the Parliament.
Here's last week's paper, now``;
taking a very dirty one from
his pocket, and holding it from
him at arm's length; ``full of
obserwations! Full of obserwations!
I like to know the news as well
as any man,'' said Toby, slowly;
folding it a little smaller,
and putting it in his pocket
again; ``but it almost goes against
the grain with me to read a paper
now. It frightens me almost.
I don't know what we poor people
are coming to. Lord send we may
be coming to something better
in the New Year nigh upon us!''
``Why, father, father!'' said
a pleasant voice, hard by.
But Toby, not hearing it, continued
to trot backwards and forwards;
musing as he went, and talking
``It seems as if we can't go
right, or do right, or be righted,''
said Toby. ``I hadn't much schooling,
myself, when I was young; and
I can't make out whether we have
any business on the face of the
earth, or not. Sometimes I think
we must have a little; and sometimes
I think we must be intruding.
I get so puzzled sometimes that
I am not even able to make up
my mind whether there is any
good at all in us, or whether
we are born bad. We seem to be
dreadful things; we seem to give
a deal of trouble; we are always
being complained of and guarded
against. One way or other, we
fill the papers. Talk of a New
Year!'' said Toby, mournfully.
``I can bear up as well as another
man at most times; better than
a good many, for I am as strong
as a lion, and all men an't;
but supposing it should really
be that we have no right to a
New Year -- supposing we really are intruding
``Why, father, father!'' said
the pleasant voice again.
Toby heard it this time; started;
stopped; and shortening his sight,
which had been directed a long
way off as seeking for enlightenment
in the very heart of the approaching
year, found himself face to face
with his own child, and looking
close into her eyes.
Bright eyes they were. Eyes
that would bear a world of looking
in, before their depth was fathomed.
Dark eyes, that reflected back
the eyes which searched them;
not flashingly, or at the owner's
will, but with a clear, calm,
honest, patient radiance, claiming
kindred with that light which
Heaven called into being. Eyes
that were beautiful and true,
and beaming with Hope. With Hope
so young and fresh; with Hope
so buoyant, vigorous, and bright,
despite the twenty years of work
and poverty on which they had
looked that they became a voice
to Trotty Veck, and said. ``I
think we have some business here
-- a little!''
Trotty kissed the lips belonging
to the eyes, and squeezed the
blooming face between his hands.
``Why, Pet,'' said Trotty. ``What's
to-do? I didn't expect you to-day,
``Neither did I expect to come,
father,'' cried the girl, nodding
her head and smiling as she spoke.
``But here I am! And not alone;
``Why you don't mean to say,''
observed Trotty, looking curiously
at a covered basket which she
carried in her hand, ``that you
``Smell it, father dear,'' said
Meg. ``Only smell it!''
Trotty was going to lift up
the cover at once, in a great
hurry, when she gaily interposed
``No, no, no,'' said Meg, with
the glee of a child. ``Lengthen
it out a little. Let me just
lift up the corner; just the
lit-tle ti-ny cor-ner, vou know,''
said Meg, suiting the action
to the word with the utmost gentleness,
and speaking very softly, as
if she were afraid of being overheard
by something inside the basket;
``there. Now. What's that?''
Toby took the shortest possible
sniff at the edge of the basket,
and cried out in a rapture:
``Why, it's hot!''
``It's burning hot!'' cried
Meg. ``Ha, ha, ha! It's scalding
``Ha, ha, ha!'' roared Toby,
with a sort of kick. ``It's scalding
``But what is it, father?''
said Meg. ``Come. You haven't
guessed what it is. And you must
guess what it is. I can't think
of taking it out, till you guess
what it is. Don't be in such
a hurry! Wait a minute! A little
bit more of the cover. Now guess!''
Meg was in a perfect fright
lest he should guess right too
soon; shrinking away, as she
held the basket towards him;
curling up her pretty shoulders;
stopping her ear with her hand,
as if by so doing she could keep
the right word out of Toby's
lips; and laughing softly the
Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand
on each knee, bent down his nose
to the basket, and took a long
inspiration at the lid; the grin
upon his withered face expanding
in the process, as if he were
inhaling laughing gas.
``Ah! It's very nice,'' said
Toby. ``It an't -- I suppose
it an't Polonies?''
``No, no, no!'' cried Meg, delighted.
``Nothing like Polonies!''
``No,'' said Toby, after another
sniff. ``It's -- it's mellower
than Polonies. It's very nice.
It improves every moment. It's
too decided for Trotters. An't,
Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have
gone wider of the mark than Trotters
-- except Polonies.
``Liver?'' said Toby, communing
with himself. ``No. There's a
mildness about it that don't
answer to liver. Pettitoes? No.
It an't faint enough for pettitoes.''
``It wants the stringiness of
Cock's heads. And I know it an't
sausages. I'll tell you what
it is. It's chitterlings!''
``No, it an't!'' cried Meg,
in a burst of delight. ``No,
``Why, what am I a-thinking
of!'' said Toby, suddenly recovering
a position as near the perpendicular
as it was possible for him to
assume. ``I shall forget my own
name next. It's tripe!''
Tripe it was; and Meg, in high
joy, protested he should say,
in half a minute more, it was
the best tripe ever stewed.
``And so,'' said Meg, busying
herself exultingly with the basket,
``I'll lay the cloth at once,
father, for I have brought the
tripe in a basin, and tied the
basin up in a pocket-handkerchief;
and if I like to be proud for
once, and spread that for a cloth,
and call it a cloth, there's
no law to prevent me; is there,
``Not that I know of, my dear,''
said Toby. ``But they're always
a bringing up some new law or
``And according to what I was
reading you in the paper the
other day, father; what the Judge
said, you know; we poor people
are supposed to know them all
Ha, ha! What a mistake! My goodness
me, how clever they think us!''
``Yes, my dear,'' cried Trotty;
``and they'd be very fond of
any one of us that did know
'em all. He'd grow fat upon the
work he'd get, that man, and
be popular with the gentle-folks
in his neighbourhood. Very much
``He'd eat his dinner with an
appetite, whoever he was, if
it smelt like this,'' said Meg,
cheerfully ``Make haste, for
there's a hot potato besides.
and half a pint of fresh-drawn
beer in a bottle. Where will
you dine, father? On the Post,
or on the Steps? Dear, dear,
how grand we are. Two places
to choose from!''
``The steps to-day, my Pct,''
said Trotty. ``Steps in dry weather.
Post in wet. There's a greater
conveniency in the steps at all
times, because of the sitting
down; but they're rheumatic in
``Then here,'' said Meg, clapping
her hands, after a moment's bustle;
``here it is, all ready! And
beautiful it looks! Come, father.
Since his discovery of the contents
of the basket, Trotty had been
standing looking at her -- and
had been speaking too -- in an
abstracted manner, which showed
that though she was the object
of his thoughts and eyes, to
the exclusion even of tripe,
he neither saw nor thought about
her as she was at that moment,
but had before him some imaginary
rough sketch or drama of her
future life. Roused, now, by
her cheerful summons, he shook
off a melancholy shake of the
head which was just coming upon
him, and trotted to her side.
As she was stooping to sit down,
the Chimes rang.
``Amen!'' said Trotty, pulling
off his hat and looking up towards
``Amen to the Bells, father?''
``They broke in like a grace,
my dear,'' said Trotty, taking
his seat. ``They'd say a good
one, I am sure, if they could.
Many's the kind thing they say
``The Bells do, father!'' laughed
Meg, as she set the basin, and
a knife and fork before him.
``Seem to, my
Pet,'' said Trotty, falling
to with great vigour.
``And where's the difference?
If I hear 'em, what does it matter
whether they speak it or not?
Why bless you, my dear,'' said
Toby, pointing at the tower with
his fork, and becoming more animated
under the influence of dinner,
``how often have I heard them
bells say &onq;Toby Veck, Toby
Veck, keep a good heart, Toby!
Toby Veck, Toby Veck, keep a
good heart, Toby!&cnq; A million
``Well, I never!'' cried Meg.
She had, though -- over and
over again. For it was Toby's
is very bad,'' said Trotty;
``very bad indeed,
I mean; almost at the worst;
then it's &onq;Toby Veck, Toby
Veck, job coming soon, Toby!
Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming
soon, Toby!&cnq; That way.''
``And it comes -- at last, father,''
said Meg, with a touch of sadness
in her pleasant voice.
``Always,'' answered the unconscious
Toby. ``Never fails.''
While this discourse was holding,
Trotty made no pause in his attack
upon the savoury meat before
him, but cut and ate, and cut
and drank, and cut and chewed,
and dodged about, from tripe
to hot potato, and from hot potato
back again to tripe, with an
unctuous and unflagging relish.
But happening now to look all
round the street -- in case anybody
should be beckoning from any
door or window, for a porter
-- his eyes, in coming back again,
encountered Meg; sitting opposite
to him, with her arms folded:
and only busy in watching his
progress with a smile of bappiness.
``Why, Lord forgive me!'' said
Trotty, dropping his knife and
fork. ``My dove! Meg! Why didn't
you tell me what a beast I was?''
``Sitting here,'' said Trotty,
in penitent explanation, ``cramming,
and stuffing, and gorging myself;
and you before me there, never
so much as breaking your precious
fast, not wanting to, when --''
``But I have broken it, father,''
interposed his daughter, laughing,
``all to bits. I have had my
``Nonsense,'' said Trotty. ``Two
dinners in one day! It an't possible!
You might as well tell me that
two New Year's days will come
together, or that I have had
a gold head all my life, and
never changed it.''
``I have had my dinner, father,
for all that,'' said Meg, coming
nearer to him. ``And if you'll
go on with yours, I'll tell you
how and where; and how your dinner
came to be bought; and -- and
something else besides.''
Toby still appeared incredulous;
but she looked into his face
with her clear eyes, and laying
her hand upon his shoulder, motioned
him to go on while the meat was
hot. So Trotty took up his knife
and fork again, and went to work.
But much more slowly than before,
and shaking his head, as if he
were not at all pleased with
``I had my dinner, father,''
said Meg, after a little hesitation,
``with -- with Richard. His dinner-time
was early; and as he brought
his dinner with him when he came
to see me, we -- we had it together,
Trotty took a little beer, and
smacked his lips. Then he said
``Oh!'' -- because she waited.
``And Richard says, father --''
Meg resumed. Then stopped.
``What does Richard say, Meg?''
``Richard says, father --''
``Richard's a long time saying
it,'' said Toby.
``He says then, father,'' Meg
continued, lifting up her eyes
at last, and speaking in a tremble,
but quite plainly; ``another
year is nearly gone, and where
is the use of waiting on from
year to year, when it is so unlikely
we shall ever be better off than
we are now? He says we are poor
now, father, and we shall be
poor then, but we are young now,
and years will make us old before
we know it. He says that if we
wait: people in our condition:
until we see our way quite clearly,
the way will be a narrow one
indeed -- the common way. the
A bolder man than Trotty Veck
must needs have drawn upon his
boldness largely, to deny it.
Trotty held his peace.
``And how hard, father, to grow
old, and die, and think we might
have cheered and helped each
other! How hard in all our lives
to love each other; and to grieve,
apart, to see each other working,
changing, growing old and grey.
Even if I got the better of it,
and forgot him (which I never
could), oh father dear, how hard
to have a heart so full as mine
is now and live to have it slowly
drained out every drop without
the recollection of one happy
moment of a woman's life, to
stay behind and comfort me, and
make me better!''
Trotty sat quite still. Meg
dried her eyes, and said more
gaily: that is to say, with here
a laugh, and there a sob, and
here a laugh and sob together:
``So Richard says, father; as
his work was yesterday made certain
for some time to come, and as
I love him, and have loved him
full three years -- ah! longer
than that, if he knew it! --
will I marry him on New Year's
Day; the best and happiest day,
he says, in the whole year, and
one that is almost sure to bring
good fortune with it. It's a
short notice, father -- isn't
it? -- but I haven't my fortune
to be settled or my wedding dresses
to be made, like the great ladies,
father, have I? And he said so
much, and said it in his way;
so strong and earnest, and all
the time so kind and gentle;
that I said I'd come and talk
to you, father. And as they paid
the money for that work of mine
this morning (unexpectedly, I
am sure!) and as you have fared
very poorly for a whole week,
and as I couldn't help wishing
there should be something to
make this day a sort of holiday
to you as well as a dear and
happy day to me, father, I made
a little treat and brought it
to surprise you.''
``And see how he leaves it cooling
on the step!'' said another voice.
It was the voice of this same
Richard. who had come upon them
unobserved, and stood before
the father and daughter; looking
down upon them with a face as
glowing as the iron on which
his stout sledge-hammer daily
rung. A handsome, well-made powerful
youngster he was; with eyes that
sparkled like the red-hot droppings
from a furnace fire; black hair
that curled about his swarthy
temples rarely; and a smile --
a smile that bore out Meg's eulogium
on his style of conversation.
``See how he leaves it cooling
on the step!'' said Richard.
``Meg don't know what he likes.
Trotty, all action and enthusiasm,
immediately reached up his hand
to Richard, and was going to
address him in a great hurry,
when the house-door opened without
any warning, and a footman very
nearly put his foot into the
``Out of the vays here, will
you! You must always go and be
a-settin' on our steps, must
you! You can't go and give a
turn to none of the neighbours
never can't you! Will you
clear the road, or won't you?''
Strictly speaking, the last
question was irrelevant, as they
had already done it.
``What's the matter, what's
the matter!'' said the gentleman
for whom the door was opened;
coming out of the house at that
kind of light-heavy pace -- that
peculiar compromise between a
walk and a jog-trot -- with which
a gentleman upon the smooth down-hill
of life, wearing creaking boots,
a watch-chain, and clean linen, may come
out of his house: not only without
any abatement of his dignity,
but with an expression of having
important and wealthy engagements
elsewhere. ``What's the matter.
What's the matter!''
``You're always a-being begged,
and prayed, upon your bended
knees you are,'' said the footman
with great emphasis to Trotty
Veck, ``to let our door-steps
be. Why don't you let 'em be? CAN'T you let 'em be?''
``There! That'll do, that'll
do!'' said the gentleman. ``Halloa
there! Porter!'' beckoning with
his head to Trotty Veck. ``Come
here. What's that? Your dinner?''
``Yes, sir,'' said Trotty, leaving
it behind him in a corner.
``Don't leave it there,'' exclaimed
the gentleman. ``Bring it here,
bring it here. So! This is your
dinner, is it?''
``Yes, sir,'' repeated Trotty,
looking with a fixed eye and
a watery mouth, at the piece
of tripe he had reserved for
a last delicious tit-bit; which
the gentleman was now turning
over and over on the end of the
Two other gentlemen had come
out with him. One was a low-spirited
gentleman of middle age, of a
meagre habit, and a disconsolate
face who kept his hands continually
in the pockets of his scanty
pepper-and-salt trousers; very
large and dog's-eared from that
custom; and was not particularly
well brushed or washed. The other,
a full-sized, sleek, well-conditioned
gentleman, in a blue coat with
bright buttons, and a white cravat.
This gentleman had a very red
face, as if an undue proportion
of the blood in his body were
squeezed up into his head; which
perhaps accounted for his having
also the appearance of being
rather cold about the heart.
He who had Toby's meat upon
the fork, called to the first
one by the name of Filer; and
they both drew near together.
Mr. Filer being exceedingly short-sighted,
was obliged to go so close to
the remnant of Toby's dinner
before he could make out what
it was, that Toby's heart leaped
up into his mouth. But Mr. Filer
didn't eat it.
``This is a description of animal
food, Alderman,'' said Filer,
making little punches in it,
with a pencil-case, ``commonly
known to the labouring population
of this country, by the name
The Alderman laughed, and winked;
for he was a merry fellow, Alderman
Cute. Oh, and a sly fellow too!
A knowing fellow. Up to everything.
Not to be imposed upon. Deep
in the people's hearts! He knew
them, Cute did. I believe you!
``But who eats tripe?'' said
Mr. Filer, looking round. ``Tripe
is without an exception the least
economical, and the most wasteful
article of consumption that the
markets of this country can by
possibility produce. The loss
upon a pound of tripe has been
found to be, in the boiling,
seven-eights of a fifth more
than the loss upon a pound of
any other animal substance whatever.
Tripe is more expensive, properly
understood, than the hothouse
pineapple. Taking into account
the number of animals slaughtered
yearly within the bills of mortality
alone; and forming a low estimate
of the quantity of tripe which
the carcasses of those animals,
reasonably well butchered, would
yield; I find that the waste
on that amount of tripe, if boiled,
would victual a garrison of five
hundred men for five months of
thirty-one days each, and a February
over. The Waste, the Waste!''
Trotty stood aghast, and his
legs shook under him. He seemed
to have starved a garrison of
five hundred men with his own
``Who eats tripe?'' said Mr.
Filer, warmly. ``Who eats tripe?''
Trotty made a miserable bow.
``You do, do you?'' said Mr.
Filer. ``Then I'll tell you something.
You snatch your tripe, my friend,
out of the mouths of widows and
``I hope not, Sir,'' said Trotty,
faintly. ``I'd sooner die of
``Divide the amount of tripe
before mentioned, Alderman,''
said Mr. Filer, ``by the estimated
number of existing widows and
orphans, and the result will
be one pennyweight of tripe to
each. Not a grain is left for
that man. Consequently, he's
Trotty was so shocked, that
it gave him no concern to see
the Alderman finish the tripe
himself. It was a relief to get
rid of it, anyhow.
``And what do you say?'' asked
the Alderman jocosely, of the
red-faced gentleman in the blue
coat. ``You have heard friend
Filer. What do you say?''
``What's it possible to say?''
returned the gentleman. ``What is to
be said? Who can take any interest
in a fellow like this,'' meaning
Trotty; ``in such degenerate
times as these? Look at him!
What an object! The good old
times, the grand old times, the
great old times! Those were
the times for a bold peasantry,
and all that sort of thing. Those
were the times for every sort
of thing, in fact. There's nothing
now-a-days. Ah!'' sighed the
red-faced gentleman. ``The good
old times, the good old times!''
The gentleman didn't specify
what particular times he alluded
to; nor did he say whether he
objected to the present times;
from a distinterested consciousness
that they had done nothing very
remarkable in producing himself.
``The good old times, the good
old times,'' repeated the gentleman.
``What times they were! They
were the only times. It's no
use talking about any other times,
or discussing what the people
are in these times. You don't
call these, times, do you? I
don't. Look into Strutt's Costumes,
and see what a Porter used to
be, in any of the good old English
``He hadn't, in his very best
circumstances, a shirt to his
back, or a stocking to his foot;
and there was scarcely a vegetable
in all England for him to put
into his mouth,'' said Mr. Filer.
``I can prove it, by tables.''
But still the red-faced gentleman
extolled the good old times,
the grand old times, the great
old times. No matter what anybody
else said, he still went turning
round and round in one set form
of words concerning them; as
a poor squirrel turns and turns
in its revolving cage; touching
the mechanism, and trick of which,
it has probably quite as distinct
perceptions, as ever this red-faced
gentleman had of his deceased
It is possible that poor Trotty's
faith in these very vague Old
Times was not entirely destroyed,
for he felt vague enough, at
that moment. One thing, however,
was plain to him, in the midst
of his distress; to wit, that
however these gentlemen might
differ in details, his misgivings
of that morning, and of many
other mornings, were well founded.
``No, no. We can't go right or
do right,'' thought Trotty in
despair. ``There is no good in
us. We are born bad!''
But Trotty had a father's heart
within him; which had somehow
got into his breast in spite
of this decree; and he could
not bear that Meg, in the blush
of her brief joy, should have
her fortune read by these wise
gentlemen. ``God help her,''
thought poor Trotty. ``She will
know it soon enough.''
He anxiously signed, therefore,
to the young smith, to take her
away. But he was so busy, talking
to her softly at a little distance,
that he only became conscious
of this desire, simultaneously
with Alderman Cute. Now, the
Alderman had not yet had his
say, but he was
a philosopher, too -- practical,
though! Oh, very practical --
and, as he had no idea of losing
any portion of his audience,
he cried ``Stop!''
``Now, you know,'' said the
Alderman, addressing his two
friends, with a self-complacent
smile upon his face which was
habitual to him, ``I am a plain
man, and a practical man; and
I go to work in a plain practical
way. That's my way. There is
not the least mystery or difficulty
in dealing with this sort of
people if you only understand
'em, and can talk to 'em in their
own manner. Now, you Porter!
Don't you ever tell me, or anybody
else, my friend, that you haven't
always enough to eat, and of
the best: because I know better.
I have tasted your tripe, you
know, and you can't chaff me.
You understand what chaff means,
eh? That's the right word, isn't
it? Ha, ha, ha! Lord bless you,''
said the Alderman, turning to
his friends again, ``it's the
easiest thing on earth to deal
with this sort of people, if
you understand 'em.''
Famous man for the common people,
Alderman Cute! Never out of temper
with them! Easy, affable, joking,
``You see, my friend,'' pursued
the Alderman, ``there's a great
deal of nonsense talked about
Want -- hard up,
you know; that's the phrase,
isn't it? ha! ha! ha! and I intend
to Put It Down. There's a certain
amount of cant in vogue about
Starvation, and I mean to Put
It Down. That's all! Lord bless
you,'' said the Alderman, turning
to his friends again, you may
Put Down anything among this
sort of people, if you only know
the way to set about it!''
Trotty took Meg's hand and drew
it through his arm. He didn't
seem to know what he was doing
``Your daughter, eh?'' said
the Alderman, chucking her familiarly
under the chin.
Always affable with the working
classes, Alderman Cute! Knew
what pleased them! Not a bit
``Where's her mother?'' asked
the worthy gentleman.
``Dead,'' said Toby. ``Her mother
got up linen; and was called
to Heaven when She was born.''
``Not to get up linen there,
I suppose,'' remarked the Alderman
Toby might or might not have
been able to separate his wife
in Heaven from her old pursuits.
But query: If Mrs. Alderman Cute
had gone to Heaven, would Mr.
Alderman Cute have pictured her
as holding any state or station
``And you're making love to
her, are you?'' said Cute to
the young smith.
``Yes,'' returned Richard quickly,
for he was nettled by the question.
``And we are going to be married
on New Year's Day.''
``What do you mean!'' cried
Filer sharply. ``Married!''
``Why, yes, we're thinking of
it, Master,'' said Richard. ``We're
rather in a hurry, you see, in
case it should be Put Down first.''
``Ah!'' cried Filer, with a
groan. ``Put that down
indeed, Alderman, and you'll
do something. Married! Married!!
The ignorance of the first principles
of political economy on the part
of these people; their improvidence;
their wickedness; is, by Heavens
enough to -- Now look at that
couple, will you!''
Well? They were worth looking
at. And marriage seemed as reasonable
and fair a deed as they need
have in contemplation.
``A man may live to be as old
as Methuselah,'' sald Mr. Filer,
``and may labour all his life
for the benefit of such people
as those; and may heap up facts
on figures, facts on figures,
facts on figures, mountains high
and dry; and he can no more hope
to persuade 'em that they have
no right or business to be married,
than he can hope to persuade
'em that they have no earthly
right or business to be born.
And that we
know they haven't. We reduced
it to a mathematical certainty
Alderman Cute was mightily diverted,
and laid his right forefinger
on the side of his nose, as much
as to say to both his friends,
``Observe me, will you! Keep
your eye on the practical man!''
-- and called Meg to him.
``Come here, my girl!'' said
The young blood of her lover
had been mounting, wrathfully,
within the last few minutes;
and he was indisposed to let
her come. But, setting a constraint
upon himself, he came forward
with a stride as Meg approached,
and stood beside her. Trotty
kept her hand within his arm
still, but looked from face to
face as wildly as a sleeper in
``Now, I'm going to give you
a word or two of good advice,
my girl,'' said the Alderman,
in his nice easy way. ``It's
my place to give advice, you
know, because I'm a Justice.
You know I'm a Justice, don't
Meg timidly said, ``Yes.'' But
everybody knew Alderman Cute
was a Justice! Oh dear, so active
a Justice always! Who such a
mote of brightness in the public
eye, as Cute!
``You are going to be married,
you say,'' pursued the Alderman.
``Very unbecoming and indelicate
in one of your sex! But never
mind that. After you are married,
you'll quarrel with your husband
and come to be a distressed wife.
You may think not-- but you will,
because I tell you so. Now, I
give you fair warning, that I
have made up my mind to Put distressed
wives Down. So, don't be brought
before me. You'll have children
-- boys. Those boys will grow
up bad, of course, and run wild
in the streets, without shoes
and stockings. Mind my young
friend! I'll convict 'em summarily,
every one, for I am determined
to Put boys without shoes and
stockings, Down. Perhaps your
husband will die young (most
likely) and leave you with a
baby. Then you'll be turned out
of doors, and wander up and down
the streets. Now, don't wander
near me, my dear, for I am resolved
to Put all wandering mothers
Down. All young mothers, of all
sorts and kinds, it's my determination
to Put Down. Don't think to plead
illness as an excuse with me;
or babies as an excuse with me;
for all sick persons and young
children (I hope you know the
church-service, but I'm afraid
not) I am determined to Put Down.
And if you attempt, desperately,
and ungratefullv. and impiously,
and fraudulently attempt, to
drown yourself, or hang yourself,
I'll have no pity for you, for
I have made up my mind to Put
all suicide Down! If there is
one thing,'' said the Alderman,
with his self-satisfied smile,
``on which I can be said to have
made up my mind more than on
another, it is to Put suicide
Down. So don't try it on. That's
the phrase, isn't it? Ha, ha!
now we understand each other.''
Toby knew not whether to be
agonised or glad, to see that
Meg had turned a deadly white,
and dropped her lover's hand.
``And as for you, you dull dog,''
said the Alderman, turning with
even increased cheerfulness and
urbanity to the young smith,
``what are you thinking of being
married for? What do you want
to be married for, you silly
fellow? If I was a fine, young,
strapping chap like you, I should
be ashamed of being milksop enough
to pin myself to a woman's apron-strings!
Why, she'll be an old woman before
you're a middle-aged man! And
a pretty figure you'll cut then,
with a draggle-tailed wife and
a crowd of squalling children
crying after you wherever you
0h, he knew how to banter the
common people, Alderman Cute!
``There! Go along with you,''
said the Alderman, ``and repent.
Don't make such a fool of yourself
as to get married on New Year's
Day. You'll think very differently
of it, long before next New Year's
Day; a trim young fellow like
you, with all the girls looking
after you. There! Go along with
They went along. Not arm in
arm, or hand in hand, or interchanging
bright glances; but, she in tears;
he gloomy and down-looking. Were
these the hearts that had so
lately made old Toby's leap up
from its faintness? No, no. The
Alderman (a blessing on his head!)
had Put them Down.
``As you happen to be here,''
said the Alderman to Toby, ``you
shall carry a letter for me.
Can you be quick? You're an old
Toby, who had been looking after
Meg, quite stupidly, made shift
to murmur out that he was very
quick, and very strong.
``How old are you?'' inquired
``I'm over sixty, sir,'' said
``O! This man's a great deal
past the average, you know,''
cried Mr. Filer, breaking in
as if his patience would bear
some trying, but this really
was carrying matters a little
``I feel I'm intruding, sir,''
said Toby. ``I -- I mis-doubted
it this morning. Oh dear me!''
The Alderman cut him short by
giving him the letter from his
pocket. Toby would have got a
shilling too; but Mr. Filer clearly
showing that in that case he
would rob a certain given number
of persons of ninepence-halfpenny
a-piece, he only got sixpence;
and thought himself very well
off to get that.
Then the Alderman gave an arm
to each of his friends, and walked
off in high feather; but, he
immediately came hurrying back
alone, as if he had forgotten
``Porter!'' said the Alderman.
``Sir!'' said Toby.
``Take care of that daughter
of yours. She's much too handsome.''
``Even her good looks are stolen
from somebody or other I suppose,''
thought Toby, looking at the
sixpence in his hand, and thinking
of the tripe. ``She's been and
robbed five hundred ladies of
a bloom apiece, I shouldn't wonder.
It's very dreadful!''
``She's much too handsome, my
man,'' repeated the Alderman.
``The chances are, that she'll
come to no good, I clearly see.
Observe what I say. Take care
of her!'' With which, he hurried
``Wrong every way. Wrong every
way!'' said Trotty, clasping
his hands. ``Born bad. No business
The Chimes came clashing in
upon him as he said the words.
Full, loud, and sounding -- but
with no encouragement. No, not
``The tune's changed,'' cried
the old man, as he listened.
``There's not a word of all that
fancy in it. Why should there
be? I have no business with the
New Year nor with the old one
neither. Let me die!''
Still the Bells, pealing forth
their changes, made the very
air spin. Put 'em down, Put 'em
down! Good old Times, Good old
Times! Facts and Figures, Facts
and Figures! Put 'em down, Put
'em down. If they said anything
they said this, until the brain
of Toby reeled.
He pressed his bewildered head
between his hands, as if to keep
it from splitting asunder. A
well-timed action, as it happened;
for finding the letter in one
of them, and being by that means
reminded of his charge, he fell,
mechanically, into his usual
trot, and trotted off.