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excited my interest than did the skeleton
that danced and fell to pieces produce in
me a feeling of wonder and admiration.
The young lady in the short light frock
and soiled stockings, who used to dance
upon the slack-wire, waving first two flags,
and afterwards playing upon a pair of
cymbals, inspired me with almost a tender
passion. I used to watch anxiously for her
days of appearance, and I always felt very
jealous of the man who accompanied her
in the capacity of guardian and moneytaker.

The showman who earned, in a box upon
his back, the dramas of Mazeppa and the
Wild Horse, and Jonathan Bradford, was
another object of interest. His entertainment
was exclusive, and only to be enjoyed
by the possessor of one halfpenny. I used to
see it as often as I could afford it, standing
on a step in front and looking through the
bull's-eye glasses. The interior was lighted
up with a candle in the middle of the day,
and the different highly-coloured tableaux
were let down with a heavy flop by strings
at the side. Mazeppa was dragged across
the stage on a wooden slide; wonderful
atmospheric effects were introduced at the
back, by lifting a lid, and the whole was
made more interesting by a running description
pronounced in a thick voice by the proprietor,
who was always suffering from a cold
in the head through exposure to the weather.
My experience out-of-doors gave a tone to
my conduct at home. Mazeppa was got up
inside a bandbox with tolerable success; I
broke a great number of plates and saucers
trying to spin them on the top of walkingsticks
in imitation of the juggler; and my
experiments upon the bed, trying to achieve
the feat of a back summersault, were carried
out to the utter destruction of the sacking.
The introduction of Jim Crow as a character-song
was fatal to more than one tolerable
suit of clothes. I blacked my face three
times a day; I destroyed one of my father's
best hats, making the crown hang down
like the lid of a snuff-box; and I made
ragged the sleeves and tails of a coat, and
covered with patches a pair of very wearable

I was not a gluttonous boy, but constant
exercise and exposure to the air had given
me a good appetite, and I liked to eat. I
was fairly supplied with pocket-money, and
I was also lucky in finding small sums. I
once found three-and-sixpence; I once found
one-and-twopence; and once sixpence, a
pen-knife, and a bit of sealing-wax. I was not
altogether devoted to the lighter delicacies of
the palate. I knew the different flavours
of cheesecakes, Banbury tarts, and
three-cornered jam tartlets. I knew how much
more was to be got for a penny when I
bought the stale pastry from the tea-tray
placed at the side of the doorway. I knew
exactly how far a pennyworth of pieces
would fill my cap. I knew all this; and it
was not, therefore, ignorance but choice that
often sent me to the more substantial viands
of the cookshop. Good, greasy Yorkshire
pudding was a favourite, sometimes plain,
sometimes with an occasional raisin stack at
rare intervals on the surfacealways on the
surface. Next to this stood baked potatoes,
brown and crisp; and, after this, peas-pudding,
in warm and heavy lumps upon a
cabbage-leaf. My regular shop used to cook
twice a day; once at twelve in the morning,
and again at eight in the evening. No delicacy
that I could have had at home was half
so choice in my eyes as these pennyworths of
pudding and potatoes, bought amidst a crowd
of cabmen, carters, and coalheavers, and
dirty women receiving their dinners or
suppers in yellow basinsmeat, pudding, greens,
potatoes, gravy, and mustard, all mixed up

The places that I loved to patronise most
were the stalls. There was a pieman who
sold kidney puddings of a most delicious
flavour - at least I thought so then - and he
had the field to himself for many months.
But, at last, capital and enterprise came in
competition with him, in the shape of a rival
pieman, who professed to sell kidney
puddings superior to pieman number One, at
two-thirds of his price. Thereupon,
pieman number One stuck up a large
paper lanthorn on his stall, on which was
written in sufficiently legible characters,
" The original inventor of the kidney puddings."
This had the desired effect with
the majority of boys, who were very bad
political economists, and liked to buy in
the oldest, rather than the cheapest market
At least, I judge by myself and companions,
for we stuck to the inventor nobly
through his troubles, until his dastardly
opponent was driven ignominiously from the

There were hundreds of fruit stalls, but I never
dealt with any but one, kept by an old lady,
who was a widow, and wore what I afterwards
learned was a widow's cap. She sold ribstone
pippins, two for a penny; little red apples,
several seasons old, four for a penny; hard
Brazil nuts, that punished your teeth fearfully
to crack them, and, sometimes, would
not give in, except under the heel of the
boot; she sold, occasionally, curds and whey
ladled out into a saucer with a clean, broad
shell; and she sold slices of sweet cocoanut.
In the winter-time, she had a chimneypot
pan, with holes in it full of burning
charcoal, at which she warmed her hands
and roasted chestnuts. She had an exceedingly
almshouse-resident appearance, as she
sat in an old hall-porter's leather chair,
with an old bonnet that came over her
face, and a well darned brown cloak that
reached to her feet. She suffered much in
the cold weather, from chilblains and
rheumatism; and, sometimes, her place was