BY THE ALMSHOUSE WINDOW 349
And that is the life-drama that passes before the old maid while she looks out upon the rampart, where the children with their red cheeks and bare shoeless feet are rejoicing merrily, like the other birds of Heaven.
THE OLD STREET LAMP
Did you ever hear the story of the old Street Lamp ? It is not so remarkably entertaining, but it may be listened to for once in a way.
It was a very honest old Lamp, that had done its work for many, many years, but which was now to be pensioned off. It hung for the last time to its post, and gave light to the street. It felt as an old dancer at the theatre, who is dancing for the last time, and who to-morrow will sit forgotten in her garret. The Lamp was in great fear about the morrow, for it knew that it was to appear in the council-house, and to be inspected by the mayor and the council, to see if it were fit for further service or not.
And then it was to be decided whether it was to show its light in future for the inhabitants of some suburb, or in the country in some manufactory : perhaps it would have to go at once into an iron foundry to be melted down. In this last case anything might be made of it ; but the question whether it would remember, in its new state, that it had been a Street Lamp, troubled it terribly. Whatever might happen, this much was certain, that it would be separated from the watchman and his wife, whom it had got to look upon as quite belonging to its family. It became a lamp when he became a watchman. The wife was a little proud in those days. Only in the evening, when she went by, she deigned to glance at the Lamp ; in the daytime never. But now, in these latter years, when all three, the watchman, his wife, and the Lamp, had grown old, the wife had also tended it, cleaned it, and provided it with oil. The two old people were thoroughly honest; never had they cheated the Lamp of a single drop of the oil provided for it.
It was the Lamp's last night in the street, and to-morrow