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Chapter 1

The morning had been fine but foggy, with a crimson sun glaring through pearly mist, but just before twilight the fog thickened, and as the sun sank a dark and bitter chili crept about the streets of London, and then torches were lighted, to glow like poppies in the dense yellow clouds of fog. The clattering of horses' hooves rang out sepulchrally in so much gloom, and the hoarse voices of link-boys shouting at one another sounded strangely enough, like the voices of drowned men, at the bottom of the sea.

In Kennington the streets were dark and greasy, and the fog was a black fog, a fog of soot. In the midst of so much dreariness the lights of the Kennington MusicHall winked gaily from the corner of the road like a cluster of bright tinsel twinkling on a Christmas-tree.

It was January: they were giving a pantomime at the music-hall, and the pantomime was named King Pippin.

It was 1845: the queen had reigned for eight years; pantomimes were robust, interminable and vulgar; artists slaved for a miserable salary, and audiences, the beerswilling, orange-sucking, jovial audiences of the 'forties, never really considered, even after about five hours' entertainment, that they had obtained their money's worth.

Therefore the favorite protagonists, recalled time after time before the curtain, were invariably so late changing that their relatives, longing passionately for supper, had to shiver patiently in the drafty stage-door passage, only