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CHAPTER XXIX. Does it live in the memory of the reader that Snipeton, only a chapter since, spoke of a handmaid on her way from Kent to make acquaintance with his fire-side divinities That human flower, with a freshness of soul like the dews of Paradise


her is, reader, at this very moment in Fleet-street. Her face is beaming with happiness-her-half-opened mouth is swallowing wonders --and her eyes twinkle, as though the London pavement she at length treads upon was really and truly the very best of gold, and dazzled her with its glorifying brightness. She looks upon the beauty and wealth about her gaily, innocently, as a little child would look upon a state Coffin ; the velvet is so rich, and the plates and nails so glittering. She has not the wit to read the true meaning of the splendour ; cannot, for a moment, dream of what it covers. Indeed, she is so delighted, dazzled by what she sees, that she scarcely hears the praises of the exceeding beauty of her features, the wondrous symmetry of her form ; praises vehemently, industriously uttered by a youthful swain who walks at her side, glancing at her fairness with the libertine's felonious look. He eyes her innocence, as any minor thief would eye a brooch or chain

n; or, to give the youth his due, he now and then ventures a bolder stare ; for he has the fine intelligence to know that he

* Continued from page 506.-Vol. III. NO. XIX.-VOL. IV.



may rob that country wench of herself, and no Bridewell Newgate—will punish the larceny. Now, even the bow of sixpenny

riband on her bonnet is protected by a statute. Besides, Master Ralph Gum knows the privileges of certain people in a certain condition of life. Young gentlemen born and bred in London, and serving the nobility, are born and educated the allowed protectors of rustic girls. The pretty country things—it was the bigoted belief of the young footman-might be worn, like bouquets on a birth-day.-- And the wench at his side is a nosegay expressly sent by fortune from the country for his passing felicity and adornment. True it is, that Master Ralph Gum is scarcely looming out of boyhood ; but there is a sort of genius that soars far beyond the parish register. Ralph's age is not to be counted by the common counters, years ; but by the rarer marks of precocious intelligence. He is a liveried prodigy ; one of those terribly clever animals that, knowing everything, too often confound simple people with their fatal knowledge. Therefore was it specially unfortunate for the damsel that of all the crowd that streamed through Fleet Street, she should have asked Ralph Gum to indicate her way to St. Mary Axe. At the time, she was setting due eastward ; when the faithless vassal assured her that she was going clean wrong ; and, as happily he himself had particular business towards her destination, it would give him a pleasure he could never have hoped for, to guide her virgin steps to St. Mary Axe. And she-poor maid !—believed and turned her all-unconscious face towards Temple Bar. The young man, though a little dark, had such bright black eyes--and such very large, and very white teeth,—and wore so very fine a livery, that it would have been flying in the face of truth to doubt him. Often at the rustic fire-side had she listened to the narrated wickedness of London ; again and again had she pre-armed her soul with sagacious strength to meet and confound the deception that in so many guises prowled the city streets, for the robbery and destruction of the Arcadian stranger. She felt herself invincible until the very moment that Ralph gave smiling, courteous answer to her; and then, as at the look and voice of a charmer, the Amazonian breast-plate (forged over many teas) she had buckled on, melted like frost-work at the sun, and left her an unprotected, because believing woman,

Why, and what's them?” cried the girl, suddenly fixed before St. Dunstan's church. At the moment the sun reached the meridian, and the two wooden giants, mechanically punctual,

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