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ALTHOUGH the Editor of the following narrative feels himself fully justified in sending it to the press, he deems it his duty to state, for the satisfaction of the curious reader, the manner in which it came into his possession.
It so happened that at the close of the last autumn, two friends had occasion to leave London, at the same time, to transact some business in the south of Kent; the one at Dover, the other at a town called Marshend, situated about twelve miles from it.
Avoiding the more frequented and speedier travelling Dover road, they chose that which passes through the heart of the county, conceiving that what they lost in speed, would be more than compensated for by the more beautiful and picturesque scenery, through which they should pass. After a delightful ride, they dismounted from the coach at Marshend, about five o'clock in the afternoon. The one whose business called him to the town, purposing to remain a few days, the other to proceed on to Dover early the next morning.
As neither of the party was much attached to the comforts of a country inn, they had provided themselves with an introductory letter to an elderly lady, who kept a lodging-house at Marshend, for the accommodation of travellers; and who, from a scrupulous care for the respectability of her house, admitted few that presented themselves, unless they were recommended by her friends. As our travellers appeared before her thus happily provided, they were permitted to enter without hesitation, and soon found to their satisfaction, that the comforts and respectability of her house had not been over-rated.
After having done full honor to the eatables set before them, they sallied out for a ramble, bending their steps towards the sea-shore, which was thence distant something less than half a mile. When the day closed in, they returned to their lodgings, and purposing to be up very early on the following morning, retired to rest.
As early as half-past five, ere the sun had risen, the coach was ready to start; the two friends were there; the one in his place, the other shaking him by the hand, and making an appointment to meet him in Dover two or three days hence.
The "all right" of the guard put an abrupt finish to their conversation, and caused the one who remained in the street to look somewhat amazed after the coach, as it whirled from him, feeling at the same time a strange sensation of loneliness steal over him.
What's to be done ? thought he, turning and walking gently from the office; it is too early for business, and I am in no humour for study. To kill time, if for no better purpose, I'll e’en stroll up the hill to the church, which last night, when viewed in the distance, seemed to invite a more friendly acquaintance.
Up the hill, therefore, the traveller went, and after having sufficiently satisfied himself with gazing on the time-worn structure from the road, entered the burial-ground by its side. He found it a very pleasant and peaceful spot, so much so indeed, that it almost seemed to tempt him to its cold bosom, as to an asylum of happy tranquillity. The church, and in the homely language of the country, the churchyard, is situated on the side of a hill, beneath which the town is built, in one continuous line, from east to west, stretching out to a distance of something less than a mile at its base, and thereby protected from the north wind.
At that early hour the town, with its present generation, was peaceful and quiet, as that which had passed away, and now lay mingling together beneath the traveller's feet, save that here and there might be seen an individual, with his implements of husbandry thrown carelessly over his shoulder, pacing his way to some distant scene of labour. At the distance of about half a mile to the south, lay the English channel, upon the margin of which were seen several towers and batteries; thereby rendering the descent of an enemy upon that part of the coast almost an impossibility. No such attempt at that time being expected, peace and silence reigned within and without the warlike structures; while upon the water, and within reach of their deadly guns, the fishermen in their boats were gliding about in all directions. Some just