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If I tell a tale out of school, will any harm come to my old
school-girl? Once, a lady gave her a half-sovereign, which was a
source of great pain and anxiety to Goody Twoshoes. She sewed it
away in her old stays somewhere, thinking here at least was a
safe investment -- (vestis -- a vest -- an investment, -- pardon
me, thou poor old thing, but I cannot help the pleasantry). And
what do you think? Another pensionnaire of the establishment cut
the coin out of Goody's stays -- an old woman who went upon two
crutches! Faugh, the old witch! What? Violence amongst these
toothless, tottering, trembling, feeble ones? Robbery amongst
the penniless? Dogs coming and snatching Lazarus's crumbs out of
his lap? Ah, how indignant Goody was as she told the story! To
that pond at Potsdam where the carps live for hundreds of
hundreds of years, with hunches of blue mould on their back, I
daresay the little Prince and Princess of Preussen-Britannien
come sometimes with crumbs and cakes to feed the mouldy ones.
Those eyes may have goggled from beneath the weeds at Napoleon's
jack-boots: they have seen Frederick's lean shanks reflected in
their pool; and perhaps Monsieur de Voltaire has fed them, and
now for a crumb of biscuit they will fight, push, hustle, rob,
squabble, gobble, relapsing into their tranquillity when the
ignoble struggle is over. Sans souci, indeed! It is mighty well
writing "Sans souci" over the gate; but where is the gate
through which Care has not slipped? She perches on the shoulders
of the sentry in the sentry-box: she whispers the porter
sleeping in his arm-chair: she glides up the staircase, and lies
down between the king and queen in their bed-royal: this very
night I daresay she will perch upon poor old Goody Twoshoes'
meagre bolster, and whisper, "Will the gentleman and those ladies
ask me again! No, no; they will forget poor old Twoshoes."
Goody! For shame of yourself! Do not be cynical. Do not
mistrust your fellow-creatures. What? Has the Christmas morning
dawned upon thee ninety times? For four-score and ten years has
it been thy lot to totter on this earth, hungry and obscure?
Peace and goodwill to thee, let us say at this Christmas season.
Come, drink, eat, rest awhile at our hearth, thou poor old
pilgrim! And of the bread which God's bounty gives us, I pray,
brother reader, we may not forget to set aside a part for those
noble and silent poor, from whose innocent hands war has torn the
means of labour. Enough! As I hope for beef at Christmas, I vow
a note shall be sent to Saint Lazarus Union House, in which Mr
Roundabout requests the honour of Mrs Twoshoes' company on
Friday, 26th December.