it was of great importance to him to have the last word. The people always said he had a good head of his own. At last his hour came, and he died, and came to the gates of Paradise. Souls always enter there two and two, and he came up with another soul that wanted to get into Paradise too ; and who should this be but old Dame Margaret from the house upon the sea wall.
'1 suppose this is done for the sake of contrast, that I and this wretched soul should arrive here at exactly the same time,' said the critic. ' Pray, who are you, my good woman ? ' he asked. ' Do you want to get in here too ? '
And the old woman curtsied as well as she could : she thought it must be St. Peter himself talking to her.
1 I'm a poor old woman of a very humble family,' she replied. ' I'm old Margaret that lived in the house on the sea wall.'
I Well, and what have you done ? What have you accomplished down there ? '
II have really accomplished nothing at all in the world : nothing that can open the door for me here. It would be a real mercy to allow me to slip in through the gate.'
' In what manner did you leave the world ? ' asked he, just for the sake of saying something ; for it was wearisome work standing there and waiting.
1 Why, I really don't know how I left it. I was sick and poorly during my last years, and could not well bear creeping out of bed, and going out suddenly into the frost and cold. It was a hard winter, but I have got out of it all now. For a few days the weather was quite calm, but very cold, as your honour must very well know. The sea was covered with ice as far as one could look. All the people from the town walked out upon the ice, and I think they said there was a dance there, and skating. There was beautiful music and a great feast there too ; the sound came into my poor little room, where I lay ill. And it was towards evening; the moon had risen, but was not yet in its full splendour ; I looked from my bed out over the wide sea, and far off, just where the sea and sky join, a strange white cloud came up. I lay looking at the cloud, and I saw a little black spot in the middle of it, that grew larger and larger ; and now I knew what it meant, for I am old and