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Chapter II.1
IN that part of the city of York which is situated on the western bank of the Ouse
there is a narrow street, called Skeldergate, running nearly north and south,
parallel with the course of the river. The postern by which Skeldergate was
formerly approached no longer exists; and the few old houses left in the street
are disguised in melancholy modern costume of whitewash and cement. Shops
of the smaller and poorer order, intermixed here and there with dingy
warehouses and joyless private residences of red brick, compose the present a
spect of Skeldergate. On the river-side the houses are separated at intervals by
lanes running down to the water, and disclosing lonely little plots of open ground,
with the masts of sailing-barges rising beyond. At its southward extremity the
street ceases on a sudden, and the broad flow of the Ouse, the trees, the
meadows, the public-walk on one bank and the towing-path on the other, open to
Here, where the street ends, and on the side of it furthest from the river, a narrow
little lane leads up to the paved footway surmounting the ancient Walls of York.
The one small row of buildings, which is all that the lane possesses, is composed
of cheap lodging-houses, with an opposite view, at the distance of a few feet, of a
portion of the massive city wall. This place is called Rosemary Lane. Very little
light enters it; very few people live in it; the floating population of Skeldergate
passes it by; and visitors to the Walk on the Walls, who use it as the way up or
the way down, get out of the dreary little passage as fast as they can.
The door of one of the houses in this lost corner of York opened softly on the
evening of the twenty-third of September, eighteen hundred and forty-six; and a
solitary individual of the male sex sauntered into Skeldergate from the seclusion
of Rosemary Lane.
Turning northward, this person directed his steps toward the bridge over the
Ouse and the busy center of the city. He bore the external appearance of