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The door had been closed, but not fastened,
and the vibration of the old floor, which went
up and down under the heavy tread of the
powerful and excited maniac, like the deck
of a ship at sea, had caused it to open
nothing more. As I still watched the
unfortunate coach-owner, I saw him stumble
and fall backward. A plank had suddenly
given way, and his right leg had gone through
into the lath and plaster underneath.

I was up in an instant, with one of the rush-
bottomed chairs in my hand. It was a matter
of life and death, for he was double my size
and strength, and he had already recovered
himself, and was made furious by seeing me.
I jobbed the chair desperately against him,
sending him staggering towards the
fireplace, and then my nerve gave way, and I
dropped my weapon, bounding out of the
door and over the railing into the yard,
without regard, in my excitement, as to where
I might fall. I came upon a large hog
slumbering in a pigstye, but before he could get
up and revenge himself upon the intruder, I
was running down the yard, and under the
low archway, shouting loudly for help, for I
heard and saw Mr. Burleigh running after
me along the gallery. I got to the showman's
drums under the shed, one of which I
struck heavily with my clenched fists, and
the whole yard was soon in activity and
motion. It was now broad daylight; drovers
came out of stables; sun-burnt showmen and
freckled women came out of vans, and out of
the dwelling-house; several inhabitants of
the small street where the clothes were
hanging up, came out partially dressed, to
swell the crowd; a very fat lady (who I
afterwards learnt was the Swiss giantess)
appeared at the door of a show van under an
outhouse, exhibiting herself regardless of
profit; tumblers in dirty pink tights, and
clowns in spotted dresses, half concealed
beneath long ragged great-coats (nearly
everybody seemed to sleep full-dressed),
bounded in amongst the throng; and the
dowdy bar-woman, who turned out to be the
landlady and widow of the late landlord,
brought up the rear, attended by the palsied
ostler.

I was surprised to find that the maniac
coach-owner, with the dagger cheese-knife,
did not appear from under the archway,
and I supposed that he was either waiting
stealthily for a spring, or had destroyed
himself with his own weapon. I told my story
to the assembled and wondering group, and
we proceeded cautiously in a body towards
the quarter of the building where the double-
bedded apartment was situated. We soon
found the cause of Mr. Burleigh's delay in
making his appearance. He had again fallen
through the rotten floorthis time the planks
of the old galleryand so fast had one of his
legs been caught by the splinters which had
wedged him up to the thigh, that all his
efforts to extricate himself were useless. He
appeared a little more calmprobably from
exhaustionand having been got out by the
exertions of one of the show-carpenters
without any broken bones, he was guarded
to bed, more peaceably than I had ever
expected. The doctor's report the next
morning, after a good bleeding operation,
was far from unfavourable.

I left a few hours afterwards, much shaken
and fatigued, to keep my business appointment,
and I did not see or hear anything of
Mr. Burleigh for some years.

I still go down to fish in the outskirts of
my nameless country town. It is, of course,
much altered, and, in a commercial sense, it
may be for the better. I get down at a
small, clean Gothic railway station, and
give up my ticket to a porter at the door,
in whom I recognise an old coaching hanger-
on, who has gone over to the enemy. I take
my place in the short, thick railway omnibus,
and jolt up to my old hotel.

One day, when I arrived as usual, I noticed
a peculiar expression in the face of this
porter, which foreboded something. As he
took the ticket, aud touched his cap, he said
to me, confidentially:

"He's come back, sir!"

"Who, Dick?" I asked.

"Muster Burleigh."

As he said this, he pointed to the driving-box
of the railway omnibus, and, glancing up,
I saw Mr. Burleigh sitting there, looking
much older, with the reins in his hand.

"He can see it now, sir," said the porter,
quietly.

"Yes, Dick," I replied; " he can see it,
now, Dick, and so can we all."

MR. CHARLES DICKENS'S
READINGS.
MR. CHARLES DICKENS will read at CLIFTON, on the 2nd
and 6th of August; at EXETER on the 3rd; at PLYMOUTH
on the 4th and 5th; at WORCESTER on the 10th; at
WOLVERHAMPTON on the 11th; at SHREWSBURY on the
12th; and at CHESTER on the 13th, of August.

Now ready, price Five Shillings and Sixpence,
bound in cloth,
THE SEVENTEENTH VOLUME
OF
HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
Containing the Numbers issued between the Nineteenth
of December last year, and the Twelfth of June in
the present year.
To be had of all Booksellers.

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