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IN that part of the city of York, which is
situated on the western bank of the Ouse, there
is a narrow street, called Skeldergate, which runs
nearly north and south, parallel with the course
of the river. The postern by which Skeldergate
was formerly approached, no longer exists; and
the few old houses left in the street, are disguised
in melancholy modern costume of whitewash and
cement. Shops of the smaller and poorer order,
intermixed here and there with dingy warehouses
and joyless private residences of red brick,
compose the present aspect of Skeldergate. On the
river side the houses are separated, at intervals,
by lanes running down to the water, and
disclosing lonely little plots of open ground,
with the masts of sailing barges rising beyond.
At its southward extremity, the street ceases on
a sudden, and the broad flow of the Ouse, the
trees, the meadows, the public-walk on one
bank and the towing-path on the other, open to

Here, where the street ends, and on the side
of it farthest from the river, a narrow little lane
leads up to the paved footway surmounting the
ancient Walls of York. The one small row of buildings,
which is all that the lane possesses, is
composed of cheap lodging-houses, with an opposite
view, at the distance of a few feet, of a portion
of the massive city wall. This place is called
Rosemary-lane. Very little light enters it; very
few people live in it; the floating population of
Skeldergate passes it by; and visitors to the
Walk on the Walls, who use it as the way up or
the way down, get out of the dreary little passage
as fast as they can.

The door of one of the houses in this lost
corner of York, opened softly on the evening of
the twenty-third of September, eighteen hundred
and forty-six; and a solitary individual of the
male sex sauntered into Skeldergate from the
seclusion of Rosemary-lane.

Turning northward, this person directed his
steps towards the bridge over the Ouse and the
busy centre of the city. He bore the external
appearance of respectable poverty; he carried a
gingham umbrella, preserved in an oilskin case,
he picked his steps, with the neatest avoidance
of all dirty places on the pavement; and he
surveyed the scene around him with eyes of two
different coloursa bilious brown eye on the
look out for employment, and a bilious green eye
in a similar predicament. In plainer terms, the
stranger from Rosemary-lane was no other than
Captain Wragge.

Outwardly speaking, the captain had not
altered for the better, since the memorable spring
day when he had presented himself to Miss Garth
at the lodge-gate of Combe-Raven. The railway
mania of that famous year had attacked even the
wary Wragge; had withdrawn him from his
customary pursuits; and had left him prostrate
in the end, like many a better man. He had lost
his clerical appearancehe had faded with the
autumn leaves. His crape hatband had put itself
in brown mourning for its own bereavement of
black. His dingy white collar and cravat had
died the death of old linen, and had gone to their
long home at the paper-maker's, to live again one
day in quires at a stationer's shop. A grey
shooting-jacket in the last stage of woollen
atrophy, replaced the black frock-coat of former
times, and, like a faithful servant, kept the dark
secret of its master's linen from the eyes of a prying
world. From top to toe, every square inch of
the captain's clothing was altered for the worse;
but the man himself remained unchanged
superior to all forms of moral mildew, impervious
to the action of social rust. He was as
courteous, as persuasive, as blandly dignified as
ever. He carried his head as high without a
shirt collar as ever he had carried it with one.
The threadbare black handkerchief round his
neck, was perfectly tied; his rotten old shoes
were neatly blacked; he might have compared
chins, in the matter of smooth shaving, with
the highest Church dignitary in York. Time,
change, and poverty, had all attacked the captain
together; and had all failed alike to get him
down on the ground. He paced the streets of
York, a man superior to clothes and
circumstances; his vagabond varnish as bright on him
as ever.

Arrived at the bridge, Captain Wragge stopped,
and looked idly over the parapet at the barges in
the river. It was plainly evident that he had no
particular destination to reach, and nothing
whatever to do. While he was still loitering, the