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meal. The elaborate process of cooking took
a long time; but it came to an end at
last, and we were gratified by Captain
Randle's announcement that supper was
ready, this time dished up in the cabin. We
descended to find the small place lighted up
with a bright, fierce, white-heat fire, that
roared up the funnel. Like the devoted
Shadrach and Abednego, we entered the fiery
furnace. Captain Randle withdrew to take
his place again at the tiller, and we sat down
to indulge in our chosen meal. Cuddy upon
the edge of the bed: I sat upon the cabin-
bench, within a foot of the savage glare
of the stove. We had scarcely served out
our respective portions, when Cuddy
complained of a sense of fulness in his head, and
I looked towards the small doorway, and saw
it nearly closed up with Captain Randle's
short, fat legs. There was no taming the
fire, the heat must have been above anything
ever borne by puddlers at an iron-works, and
I felt with Cuddy strong symptoms of
approaching apoplexy. In less than another
minute Shadrach and Abednego gave in, and
rushed from the fiery furnace like a pair of
frightened salamanders, through Captain
Randle's legs into the grateful, open air, once
more under the glimmer of the harvest moon.
The remainder of our feast was handed to us
upon the poop.

Soon after this we reached the gauging-
house at Braunston, where the Grand Junction
Canal begins; and we took leave of our
butty-boat and the cheerful giant very cordially,
their destination being along a branch
to Stratford-on-Avon.

We glided on to the Warwickshire canals,
and passed another night in dreamy contests
with locks. In the morning we entered the
highly fashionable town of Leamington, in
our shirt-sleeves, performing a toilet, open to
the observation of every gay lounger and
taker of the waters. Luckily for us the
hour was four in the morning, and the part
of the town which we passed through
might have been the commonest quarter of
Hoxton, for any signs there were of the
fashionable dwellings and the fashionable
existence of this highly favourite English Spa.
There was a row of small, shabby houses
upon the canal bank; a policeman in the
London uniform, who looked at us for a few
moments in speechless wonder, and then
disappeared down a narrow street; a carrying
dépôt, where we rang up a man, swung
out a large crane, tore open the tarpaulin,
and landed a hogshead of sugar, which had
harboured wasps, to our great annoyance, for
the last two days. We then glided slowly and
silently upon our journey.

Round the distant outskirts of the old city
of Warwick; past more parks; up more
lock-staircases; along a tree-bordered level;
under more old red-bricked bridges; within
sight of ancient country-houses with old
crumbling walls inlaid with timber, once
perhaps palaces, but now descended to farms,
under whose old pointed roofs William
Shakespeare may have drunk and feasted;
or over whose broad acres that unscrupulous
dramatist may have shot game without a
licence; past black, smoke-grimed, town-
stamped boys, angling in the canal; past
groups of ill-favoured, smoking, half-drunken
men-youths,—a mixture of the factory-hands,
the dog-fancier, and the fighting-man; within
sight of high viaducts, over which fly the
hard-breathing enginesand clattering trains
have passed and repassed us on each side a
hundred times during our slow journey; past
a coal-dust looking towing-path, and under a
sky of smoke; past tall chimneys and dingy
gas-works; down another staircase of black
locks, opened by a poor, active, grimy girl-
child not more than ten years of age; past
groups of demon-looking men who grin at us
with white teeth from coal-heaps, and the
white, roaring mouths of furnaces; past
backs of myriad-windowed factories, whose
glass is broken, and under whose walls lie
green, sickly pools of stagnant water; past
a dozen grimy boys with large set jaws and
shrunken arms, and legs, bathing amongst the
floating dead dogs and factory scum of the inky
canal; past all this and more, and we leave
the romance and beauty of our three days*
journey far, in idea, behind us, to glide to our
final destination under the overhanging sheds
of our company's carrying wharf, in tne very
heart of the town of Birmingham.

Thus ended our canal journey. We shook
hands with Captain Randle, the straw-haired
young man, and the two able-bodied boatmen
and went our way, leaving our puzzled
commander under the mystery of our
unexplained presence, taking away much
ourselves that will be to us as a dream in after
years.

MR. CHARLES DICKENS'S
READINGS.

MR. CHARLES DICKENS will read at EDINBURGH on the
27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th of September. At DUNDEE
on the 1st and 2nd of October; at ABERDEEN on the
4th; at PERTH on the 5th; and at GLASGOW on the 6th,
7th, 8th, and 9th of October.

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.

This and the preceding volumes may be had of all
Booksellers.

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