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Bleeding Heart Yard
In London itself, though in the old rustic road towards a suburb of note where in
the days of William Shakespeare, author and stage- player, there were Royal
hunting-seats--howbeit no sport is left there now but for hunters of men--Bleeding
Heart Yard was to be found; a place much changed in feature and in fortune, yet
with some relish of ancient greatness about it. Two or three mighty stacks of
chimneys, and a few large dark rooms which had escaped being walled and
subdivided out of the recognition of their old proportions, gave the Yard a
character. It was inhabited by poor people, who set up their rest among its faded
glories, as Arabs of the desert pitch their tents among the fallen stones of the
Pyramids; but there was a family sentimental feeling prevalent in the Yard, that it
had a character.
As if the aspiring city had become puffed up in the very ground on which it stood,
the ground had so risen about Bleeding Heart Yard that you got into it down a
flight of steps which formed no part of the original approach, and got out of it by a
low gateway into a maze of shabby streets, which went about and about,
tortuously ascending to the level again. At this end of the Yard and over the
gateway, was the factory of Daniel Doyce, often heavily beating like a bleeding
heart of iron, with the clink of metal upon metal. The opinion of the Yard was
divided respecting the derivation of its name. The more practical of its inmates
abided by the tradition of a murder; the gentler and more imaginative inhabitants,
including the whole of the tender sex, were loyal to the legend of a young lady of
former times closely imprisoned in her chamber by a cruel father for remaining
true to her own true love, and refusing to marry the suitor he chose for her. The
legend related how that the young lady used to be seen up at her window behind
the bars, murmuring a love-lorn song of which the burden was, 'Bleeding Heart,
Bleeding Heart, bleeding away,' until she died. It was objected by the murderous
party that this Refrain was notoriously the invention of a tambour-worker, a
spinster and romantic, still lodging in the Yard. But, forasmuch as all favourite
legends must be associated with the affections, and as many more people fall in
love than commit murder--which it may be hoped, howsoever bad we are, will
continue until the end of the world to be the dispensation under which we shall
live--the Bleeding Heart, Bleeding Heart, bleeding away story, carried the day by
a great majority. Neither party would listen to the antiquaries who delivered
learned lectures in the neighbourhood, showing the Bleeding Heart to have been
the heraldic cognisance of the old family to whom the property had once
belonged. And, considering that the hour-glass they turned from year to year was
filled with the earthiest and coarsest sand, the Bleeding Heart Yarders had
reason enough for objecting to be despoiled of the one little golden grain of
poetry that sparkled in it.
Down in to the Yard, by way of the steps, came Daniel Doyce, Mr Meagles, and
Clennam. Passing along the Yard, and between the open doors on either hand,
all abundantly garnished with light children nursing heavy ones, they arrived at its
opposite boundary, the gateway. Here Arthur Clennam stopped to look about him