No Thoroughfare by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, No Thoroughfare, by Charles Dickens, et al

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: No Thoroughfare

Author: Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins

Release Date: April 4, 2005 [eBook #1423]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1894 Chapman and Hall "Christmas Stories" edition by
David Price, email



Day of the month and year, November the thirtieth, one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-five. London Time by the great clock of Saint Paul's,
ten at night. All the lesser London churches strain their metallic
throats. Some, flippantly begin before the heavy bell of the great
cathedral; some, tardily begin three, four, half a dozen, strokes behind
it; all are in sufficiently near accord, to leave a resonance in the air,
as if the winged father who devours his children, had made a sounding
sweep with his gigantic scythe in flying over the city.

What is this clock lower than most of the rest, and nearer to the ear,
that lags so far behind to-night as to strike into the vibration alone?
This is the clock of the Hospital for Foundling Children. Time was, when
the Foundlings were received without question in a cradle at the gate.
Time is, when inquiries are made respecting them, and they are taken as
by favour from the mothers who relinquish all natural knowledge of them
and claim to them for evermore.

The moon is at the full, and the night is fair with light clouds. The
day has been otherwise than fair, for slush and mud, thickened with the
droppings of heavy fog, lie black in the streets. The veiled lady who
flutters up and down near the postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling
Children has need to be well shod to-night.

She flutters to and fro, avoiding the stand of hackney-coaches, and often
pausing in the shadow of the western end of the great quadrangle wall,
with her face turned towards the gate. As above her there is the purity
of the moonlit sky, and below her there are the defilements of the
pavement, so may she, haply, be divided in her mind between two vistas of
reflection or experience. As her footprints crossing and recrossing one
another have made a labyrinth in the mire, so may her track in life have
involved itself in an intricate and unravellable tangle.

The postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling Children opens, and a
young woman comes out. The lady stands aside, observes closely, sees
that the gate is quietly closed again from within, and follows the young

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 2nd Jun 2023, 22:45