A Day's Tour eBook

Percy Hethrington Fitzgerald
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 50 pages of information about A Day's Tour.
I had already seen in a shop window, a blue ribbon reposing in degage fashion across it.  If a tumbler of the precious metal could be called a magnificent goblet—­it was scarcely bigger—­it deserved the title.  The poor operator was declaiming as I entered, in unmistakable Scotch, the history of ‘Little Breeches,’ and giving it with due pathos.  I am bound to say that a sort of balcony which hung out at the end was well filled by the unwashed takers, or at least donees, of sixpenny tickets.  There was a purpose in this, as will be seen.  After being taken through ‘The Raven,’ and ‘The Dying Burglar,’ the competition began.  This was certainly the most diverting portion of the entertainment, from its genuineness, the eagerness of the competitors, and their ill-disguised jealousy.  There were four candidates.  A doctor-looking man with a beard, and who had the air either of reading familiar prayers to his household with good parsonic effect, or of having tried the stage, uttered his lines with a very superior air, as though the thing were not in doubt.  Better than he, however, was one, probably a draper’s assistant, who competed with a wild and panting fashion, tossing his arms, now raising, now dropping his voice, and every h, too.  But a shabby man, who looked as if he had once practised tailoring, next stepped on the platform, and at once revealed himself as the local poet.  Encouraged by the generous applause, he announced that he would recite some lines ’he ’ad wrote on the great storm which committed such ‘avoc on hour pier.’  There were local descriptions, and local names, which always touched the true chord.  Notably an allusion to a virtuous magnate then, I believe, at rest: 

    ’Amongst the var’ous noble works,
      It should be widely known,
    ‘Twas William Brown(applause) ’that gave this town
      The Dover’s Sailors’ ‘OME!’ (applause).

Need I say that when the votes came to be taken, this poet received the cup?  His joy and mantling smiles I shall not forget, though the donor gave it to him with unconcealed disgust; it showed what universal suffrage led to.  The doctor and the other defeated candidates, who had been asked to retire to a private room during the process of decision, were now obliged to emerge in mortified procession, there being no other mode of egress.  The doctor’s face was a study.  The second part was to follow.  But it was now growing late, and time and mail-packets wait for no man.

III.

THE PACKET.

As I come forth from the Elocution Contest, I find that night has closed in.  Not a ripple is on the far-stretching blue waste.  From the high cliffs that overhang the town and its amphitheatre can be seen the faintly outlined harbour, where the white-chimneyed packet snoozes as it were, the smoke curling upwards, almost straight.  The sea-air blows fresh and welcome, though it does not beat on a ‘fevered brow.’  There is a busy hum and clatter in the streets, filled with soldiers and sailors and chattering sojourners.  Now do the lamps begin to twinkle lazily.  There is hardly a breath stirring, and the great chalk-cliffs gleam out in a ghostly fashion, like mammoth wave-crests.

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A Day's Tour from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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