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Chapter   1

   -   Segment  2

The Chimes
A
Goblin
Level 1
context
Level 2
context
Level 3
context
Goblin1
Story of Some Bells that
Rang an Old Year Out
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Level 2
interpretation
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Rang an Old Year Out1
and a New Year In
Charles Dickens

And a
breezy , goose-skinned , blue-nosed , red-eyed , stony-toed , tooth-chattering
Level 1
form
Level 2
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breezy, goose-skinned, blue-nosed, red-eyed, stony-toed, tooth-chattering1
place it was, to wait in, in the winter-time, as Toby Veck well knew.   The wind came tearing round the corner especially the east wind as if it had sallied forth, express, from the confines of the earth, to have a blow at Toby.   And oftentimes it seemed to come upon him sooner than it had expected, for bouncing round the corner, and passing Toby, it would suddenly wheel round again, as if it cried Why, here he is!   Incontinently his little white apron would be caught up over his head like a naughty boy’s garments, and his feeble little cane would be seen to wrestle and struggle unavailingly in his hand, and his legs would undergo tremendous agitation, and Toby himself all aslant, and facing now in this direction, now in that, would be so banged and buffeted, and touzled, and worried, and hustled, and lifted off his feet, as to render it a state of things but one degree removed from a positive miracle, that he wasn’t carried up bodily into the air as a colony of frogs or snails or other very portable creatures sometimes are, and rained down again, to the great astonishment of the natives, on some strange corner of the world where ticket-porters are unknown.
But, windy weather, in spite of its using him so roughly, was, after all, a sort of holiday for Toby.   That’s the fact.   He didn’t seem to wait so long for a sixpence in the wind, as at other times; the having to fight with that boisterous element took off his attention, and quite freshened him up, when he was getting hungry and low-spirited.   A hard frost too, or a fall of snow, was an Event; and it seemed to do him good, somehow or other it would have been hard to say in what respect though, Toby!   So wind and frost and snow, and perhaps a good stiff storm of hail, were Toby Veck’s red-letter days.
Wet weather was the worst; the cold, damp, clammy wet, that wrapped him up like a moist great-coat the only kind of great-coat Toby owned, or could have added to his comfort by dispensing with.   Wet days, when the rain came slowly, thickly, obstinately down; when the street’s throat, like his own, was choked with mist; when smoking umbrellas passed and re-passed, spinning round and round like so many
teetotums
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Level 2
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teetotums1
, as they knocked against each other on the crowded footway, throwing off a little whirlpool of uncomfortable sprinklings; when gutters brawled and waterspouts were full and noisy; when the wet from the projecting stones and ledges of the church fell drip, drip, drip, on Toby, making the wisp of straw on which he stood mere mud in no time; those were the days that tried him.   Then, indeed, you might see Toby looking anxiously out from his shelter in an angle of the church wall such a meagre shelter that in summer time it never cast a shadow thicker than a good-sized walking stick upon the sunny pavement with a disconsolate and lengthened face. But coming out, a minute afterwards, to warm himself by exercise, and trotting up and down some dozen times, he would brighten even then, and go back more brightly to his niche.
They called him Trotty from his pace, which meant speed if it didn’t make it.   He could have walked faster perhaps; most likely; but rob him of his trot, and Toby would have taken to his bed and died.   It bespattered him with mud in dirty weather; it cost him a world of trouble; he could have walked with infinitely greater ease; but that was one reason for his clinging to it so tenaciously.   A weak, small, spare old man, he was a very
Hercules
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Level 2
context
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Hercules1
, this Toby, in his good intentions.   He loved to earn his money.   He delighted to believe Toby was very poor, and couldn’t well afford to part with a delight that he was
worth his salt
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language
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worth his salt1
.   With a shilling or an eighteenpenny message or small parcel in hand, his courage always high, rose higher.   As he trotted on, he would call out to fast Postmen ahead of him, to get out of the way; devoutly believing that in the natural course of things he must inevitably overtake and run them down; and he had perfect faith not often tested in his being able to carry anything that man could lift.
Thus, even when he came out of his nook to warm himself on a wet day, Toby trotted.   Making, with his leaky shoes, a crooked line of slushy footprints in the mire; and blowing on his chilly hands and rubbing them against each other, poorly defended from the searching cold by threadbare
mufflers
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mufflers 1
of grey
worsted
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worsted1
, with a private apartment only for the thumb, and a common room or tap for the rest of the fingers; Toby, with his knees bent and his cane beneath his arm, still trotted.   Falling out into the road to look up at the belfry when the Chimes resounded, Toby trotted still.
He made this last excursion several times a day, for they were company to him; and when he heard their voices, he had an interest in glancing at their lodging-place, and thinking how they were moved, and what hammers beat upon them.   Perhaps he was the more curious about these Bells, because there were points of resemblance between themselves and him. They hung there, in all weathers, with the wind and rain driving in upon them; facing only the outsides of all those houses; never getting any nearer to the blazing fires that gleamed and shone upon the windows, or came puffing out of the chimney tops; and incapable of participation in any of the good things that were constantly being handed through the street doors and the area railings, to prodigious cooks.   Faces came and went at many windows: sometimes pretty faces, youthful faces, pleasant faces: sometimes the reverse: but Toby knew no more (though he often speculated on these trifles, standing idle in the streets) whence they came, or where they went, or whether, when the lips moved, one kind word was said of him in all the year, than did the Chimes themselves.