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Master Humphrey's Clock

Chapter 2
Master Humphrey, From His Clock-Side In The
Chimney Corner
MY old companion tells me it is midnight. The fire glows brightly, crackling with a
sharp and cheerful sound, as if it loved to burn. The merry cricket on the hearth
(my constant visitor), this ruddy blaze, my clock, and I, seem to share the world
among us, and to be the only things awake. The wind, high and boisterous but
now, has died away and hoarsely mutters in its sleep. I love all times and
seasons each in its turn, and am apt, perhaps, to think the present one the best;
but past or coming I always love this peaceful time of night, when long-buried
thoughts, favoured by the gloom and silence, steal from their graves, and haunt
the scenes of faded happiness and hope.
The popular faith in ghosts has a remarkable affinity with the whole current of our
thoughts at such an hour as this, and seems to be their necessary and natural
consequence. For who can wonder that man should feel a vague belief in tales of
disembodied spirits wandering through those places which they once dearly
affected, when he himself, scarcely less separated from his old world than they,
is for ever lingering upon past emotions and bygone times, and hovering, the
ghost of his former self, about the places and people that warmed his heart of
old? It is thus that at this quiet hour I haunt the house where I was born, the
rooms I used to tread, the scenes of my infancy, my boyhood, and my youth; it is
thus that I prowl around my buried treasure (though not of gold or silver), and
mourn my loss; it is thus that I revisit the ashes of extinguished fires, and take my
silent stand at old bedsides. If my spirit should ever glide back to this chamber
when my body is mingled with the dust, it will but follow the course it often took in
the old man's lifetime, and add but one more change to the subjects of its
contemplation.
In all my idle speculations I am greatly assisted by various legends connected
with my venerable house, which are current in the neighbourhood, and are so
numerous that there is scarce a cupboard or corner that has not some dismal
story of its own. When I first entertained thoughts of becoming its tenant, I was
assured that it was haunted from roof to cellar, and I believe that the bad opinion
in which my neighbours once held me, had its rise in my not being torn to pieces,
or at least distracted with terror, on the night I took possession; in either of which
cases I should doubtless have arrived by a short cut at the very summit of
popularity.
 
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