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one would suppose who merely observed the operation
from the carriage; at the same instant, several
bags come tumbling into the carriage net, as if
from the moon. Before the guard has hauled
them all in, dragged up the net, and shut out
the fresh night air once more, the whole train
has shot half a mile beyond the place where the
Railway Post-office has effected this advantageous
exchange

The guard instantly plunges head first amongst
his new treasures, which he opens, and presents
to the sorting clerks. Letters that have been
brought by hand and cart from some quiet village
in the heart of Hertfordshire, and whose
destination is some quiet village in the heart of Kent,
are now careering towards the north with the
speed of the wind, to be sorted, made up, and
sent back, along their proper arteries, at the next
postal station. Local papers going to London
to set an example to the metropolitan press;
London papers sucked dry by provincial
politicians, and sent across the country to some
fourth or fifth day's reader; letters from country
grocers to their London merchants, which smell
of tobacco, cheese, and tea; dead letters from
the country post town, done up in a funeral black
bag, and money-order communications encased
in large coarse envelopes, the colour of golden
orange; neat little pink notes from Lady Fusbos
in the country to the Hon. Miss Busfos in town,
one posted close upon the other, and the latter
rendering the former null and void; letters from
country Lawyers about rents and land, addressed
in that unmistakable clear hand which is recognised
as the law clerk's with half a glance;
letters from country drapers to that firm not
far from Watling-street, stating that it will be
utterly impossible to meet that bill which will
fall due on the fourth of that month; letters
from the indefatigable Mr. Binks, the commercial
traveller, enclosed in printed envelopes,
addressed to "the firm," and containing long
sheets of orders to a highly satisfactory amount;
letters with narrow black borders, that show how
death has distantly appeared to some household,
and letters with broad black borders, that show
how his dark shadow has fallen very near;
letters with the whitest of envelopes, and the
firmest of contents, which tell of something
more cheerful than the grave; letters
brown and yellow envelopes, with equally solid
contents, which convey some country auctioneer's
card to view a property that is advertised for
sale; letters that are warm and affectionate,
free and easy, cold and dignified; letters where
compliments are presented, where Sir gradually
thaws into Dear sir, Dear sir into My dear sir,
and so on through Tomkins, Henry, Harry, Hal,
Old fellow, and Everlasting brick; letters that
are registered in heaven, letters that are registered
on earth, and letters that are registered in
the other extremethese, and many more whose
contents could not be guessed by their exteriors,
are amongst the treasures which our guard has
hauled in by the way.

Other baits were hung out at different points
of our journey, always with the same successful
result; and after we got to Rugby the work
became doubly heavy as far as Preston, and
our three clerks were increased to six. Heavy
bags, it is true, were taken out at places where
we stopped, but bags that were equally heavy
were generally taken in, and the labour was
always being renewed from the point where it
seemed to leave off. The sorting from Rugby
became more fast and furious; the ventilation
of the carriage became more doubtful, and the
scent of the sealing-wax more strong; the dust
increased in a very perceptible degree; the
sorters became more fishy-eyed and worn out,
especially as they approached Prestonthe town
where they were to be relieved. The five thousand
letters, which each officer is bound to sort during
one journey, whether it be long or short, were
just finished by each individual as the signal
whistle announced the entry into the not very
sightly station of the old Lancashire town. I
leaped off the end counter, where I had long
been sorted, out of the way, in my character as
a letter, and at once reassumed my character of
a bed-seeking, coffee-drinking man. The idle
apprentices who had been tossing restlessly
upon their costly, luxurious, first-class couches
throughout the night, might have looked with
envy upon the group of industrious apprentices
who had never found a moment of time from
London to Preston that hung, in the slightest
degree, heavily upon their hands. Another batch
of industrious apprentices were waiting to fill
the vacant places, and before the inexperienced
traveller had ascertained where he was, the Railway
Post-office and its adjuncts were again upon
their way. Dozens of such offices were at the
same moment flying all over the countryflying,
as they began to fly some twenty years agoas
they have, one or other, never ceased to fly from
that hour to this. They will never cease to
fly to the end of time.

                  Now ready, price 1s.,
Uniform with PICKWICK, DAVID COPPERFIELD, BLEAK
                       HOUSE , &c.,
            The First Monthly Part of
             A TALE OF TWO CITIES.
              BY CHARLES DICKENS.
With Two Illustrations on Steel by HABLOT K.
                         BROWNE.
      To be completed in Eight Monthly Parts.
      CHAPMAN and HALL, 193, Piccadilly, W.,
                              AND
" ALL THE YEAR ROUND" Office, 11, Wellington-street
                      North, London, W.C.

BACK NUMBERS of " HOUSEHOLD WORDS" may always
be had of Messrs. CHAPMAN and HALL, 193, Piccadilly,
W. and at the Office of "ALL THE YEAR ROUND," 11,
Wellington-street North, London, W.C.

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