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HOW I ROSE IN THE WORLD
IN TWO VOLUMES
CHARLES J. SKEET, 10, KING WILLIAM STREET
DUBLIN: MCGLASHAN AND GILL
The right of translation is reserved.
250. v. 14.
HOW I ROSE IN THE WORLD.
CONTAINS A LITTLE OF MY EARLY LIFE.
I AM a small boy, trotting, on
a dark night, through narrow lanes and gloomy thoroughfares; thick, drizzling rain is coming down, and I am crying. A man is before me right a-head, and I strain every nerve in my little body in the bootless effort to overtake him. I shout to him at intervals scream, roar, bellow-all in vain. cough occasionally, for the unnatural exertion of a naturally weak voice causes my throat to tickle, and renders this proceeding an important and imperative one. I am breathless and in agony. Drops of moisture stand upon my brow, and trickle down my nose; they mingle with my tears, and find a common resting-place in my mouth. I
gasp, and almost choke.. My throat swells, even to suffocation, and I tug at my shirt collar in the desperation of despair. Ah! joy unutterable! the button-hole bursts, the band gives way, and I feel the keen, cold air upon my neck and bosom. I am relieved, and press on, but the man is still before me. As he passes along he flings up his arms into the damp and misty night, at one moment shouting with all his might, as if to test the strength and quality of his lungs, and the next pausing to look in at some imposing "gin palace," whose dancing lights, splendid fittings, and costly array of glass and pewter present such powerful attractions to our hardy sons, and, alas! too often daughters of toil.
Into one of those "whited sepulchres" a woman also looks with gleaming, hungry eyes. A young, shrunken, faded woman, with "want" as plainly written upon her wan face as if stamped there with a red-hot iron. Wretched-incomparably wretched -is this poor outcast in the abjectness of her unmitigated poverty-wretched, incomparably wretched, in her hollow, sunken eye and wasted
form-wretched, oh! how incomparably wretched in the little bleached skeleton she holds tightly to her breast, and which seeks to draw sustenance from that fount now for ever dry. This apparition speaks to the man; lays a fleshless hand timidly upon his arm; but with a strange oath he shakes her off, and mother and child roll together in the mud. On he passes, and his enthusiasm increases at every step. A ragged urchin, with an attenuated candle suspended by the wick, ventures, as he emerges from a chandler's shop, to congratulate him upon the execution of a favourite ballad; but he kicks the youth who told the "flattering tale," and still goes on. On, through courts, lanes, and alleys, narrow, dark, and dirty, where "Prince Pestilence" and "King Death" hold such joyous revel-on, through noble streets and broad thoroughfares, his song becoming louder, and his enthusiasm wilder, proportionate to the encouragement he receives.
Is he drunk or mad, this racing, roaring gentleman?
For the moment he is both.