height of perhaps three thousand feet, with peaks of ten，
Nightmare: A Tale for an Autumn Evening
After a Print by George Cruikshank
It was a gusty night, With the wind booming, and swooping, Looping round corners, Sliding over the cobble-stones, Whipping and veering, And careering over the roofs Like a thousand clattering horses. Mr. Spruggins had been dining in the city, Mr. Spruggins was none too steady in his gait, And the wind played ball with Mr. Spruggins And laughed as it whistled past him. It rolled him along the street, With his little feet pit-a-patting on the flags of the sidewalk, And his muffler and his coat-tails blown straight out behind him. It bumped him against area railings, And chuckled in his ear when he said "Ouch!" Sometimes it lifted him clear off his little patting feet And bore him in triumph over three grey flagstones and a quarter. The moon dodged in and out of clouds, winking. It was all very unpleasant for Mr. Spruggins, And when the wind flung him hard against his own front door It was a relief, Although the breath was quite knocked out of him. The gas-lamp in front of the house flared up, And the keyhole was as big as a barn door; The gas-lamp flickered away to a sputtering blue star, And the keyhole went out with it. Such a stabbing, and jabbing, And sticking, and picking, And poking, and pushing, and prying With that key; And there is no denying that Mr. Spruggins rapped out an oath or two, Rub-a-dub-dubbing them out to a real snare-drum roll. But the door opened at last, And Mr. Spruggins blew through it into his own hall And slammed the door to so hard That the knocker banged five times before it stopped. Mr. Spruggins struck a light and lit a candle, And all the time the moon winked at him through the window. "Why couldn't you find the keyhole, Spruggins?" Taunted the wind. "I can find the keyhole." And the wind, thin as a wire, Darted in and seized the candle flame And knocked it over to one side And pummelled it down -- down -- down --! But Mr. Spruggins held the candle so close that it singed his chin, And ran and stumbled up the stairs in a surprisingly agile manner, For the wind through the keyhole kept saying, "Spruggins! Spruggins!" behind him. The fire in his bedroom burned brightly. The room with its crimson bed and window curtains Was as red and glowing as a carbuncle. It was still and warm. There was no wind here, for the windows were fastened; And no moon, For the curtains were drawn. The candle flame stood up like a pointed pear In a wide brass dish. Mr. Spruggins sighed with content; He was safe at home. The fire glowed -- red and yellow roses In the black basket of the grate -- And the bed with its crimson hangings Seemed a great peony, Wide open and placid. Mr. Spruggins slipped off his top-coat and his muffler. He slipped off his bottle-green coat And his flowered waistcoat. He put on a flannel dressing-gown, And tied a peaked night-cap under his chin. He wound his large gold watch And placed it under his pillow. Then he tiptoed over to the window and pulled back the curtain. There was the moon dodging in and out of the clouds; But behind him was his quiet candle. There was the wind whisking along the street. The window rattled, but it was fastened. Did the wind say, "Spruggins"? All Mr. Spruggins heard was "S-s-s-s-s --" Dying away down the street. He dropped the curtain and got into bed. Martha had been in the last thing with the warming-pan; The bed was warm, And Mr. Spruggins sank into feathers, With the familiar ticking of his watch just under his head. Mr. Spruggins dozed. He had forgotten to put out the candle, But it did not make much difference as the fire was so bright . . . Too bright! The red and yellow roses pricked his eyelids, They scorched him back to consciousness. He tried to shift his position; He could not move. Something weighed him down, He could not breathe. He was gasping, Pinned down and suffocating. He opened his eyes. The curtains of the window were flung back, The fire and the candle were out, And the room was filled with green moonlight. And pressed against the window-pane Was a wide, round face, Winking -- winking -- Solemnly dropping one eyelid after the other. Tick -- tock -- went the watch under his pillow, Wink -- wink -- went the face at the window. It was not the fire roses which had pricked him, It was the winking eyes. Mr. Spruggins tried to bounce up; He could not, because -- His heart flapped up into his mouth And fell back dead. On his chest was a fat pink pig, On the pig a blackamoor With a ten pound weight for a cap. His mustachios kept curling up and down like angry snakes, And his eyes rolled round and round, With the pupils coming into sight, and disappearing, And appearing again on the other side. The holsters at his saddle-bow were two port bottles, And a curved table-knife hung at his belt for a scimitar, While a fork and a keg of spirits were strapped to the saddle behind. He dug his spurs into the pig, Which trampled and snorted, And stamped its cloven feet deeper into Mr. Spruggins. Then the green light on the floor began to undulate. It heaved and hollowed, It rose like a tide, Sea-green, Full of claws and scales And wriggles. The air above his bed began to move; It weighed over him In a mass of draggled feathers. Not one lifted to stir the air. They drooped and dripped With a smell of port wine and brandy, Closing down, slowly, Trickling drops on the bed-quilt. Suddenly the window fell in with a great scatter of glass, And the moon burst into the room, Sizzling -- "S-s-s-s-s -- Spruggins! Spruggins!" It rolled toward him, A green ball of flame, With two eyes in the center, A red eye and a yellow eye, Dropping their lids slowly, One after the other. Mr. Spruggins tried to scream, But the blackamoor Leapt off his pig With a cry, Drew his scimitar, And plunged it into Mr. Spruggins's mouth.
Mr. Spruggins got up in the cold dawn And remade the fire. Then he crept back to bed By the light which seeped in under the window curtains, And lay there, shivering, While the bells of St. George the Martyr chimed the quarter after seven.
The little boy pressed his face against the window-pane and looked out at the bright sunshiny morning. The cobble-stones of the square glistened like mica. In the trees, a breeze danced and pranced, and shook drops of sunlight like falling golden coins into the brown water of the canal. Down stream slowly drifted a long string of galliots piled with crimson cheeses. The little boy thought they looked as if they were roc's eggs, blocks of big ruby eggs. He said, "Oh!" with delight, and pressed against the window with all his might.
The golden cock on the top of the `Stadhuis' gleamed. His beak was open like a pair of scissors and a narrow piece of blue sky was wedged in it. "Cock-a-doodle-do," cried the little boy. "Can't you hear me through the window, Gold Cocky? Cock-a-doodle-do! You should crow when you see the eggs of your cousin, the great roc." But the golden cock stood stock still, with his fine tail blowing in the wind. He could not understand the little boy, for he said "Cocorico" when he said anything. But he was hung in the air to swing, not to sing. His eyes glittered to the bright West wind, and the crimson cheeses drifted away down the canal.
It was very dull there in the big room. Outside in the square, the wind was playing tag with some fallen leaves. A man passed, with a dogcart beside him full of smart, new milkcans. They rattled out a gay tune: "Tiddity-tum-ti-ti. Have some milk for your tea. Cream for your coffee to drink to-night, thick, and smooth, and sweet, and white," and the man's sabots beat an accompaniment: "Plop! trop! milk for your tea. Plop! trop! drink it to-night." It was very pleasant out there, but it was lonely here in the big room. The little boy gulped at a tear.
It was queer how dull all his toys were. They were so still. Nothing was still in the square. If he took his eyes away a moment it had changed. The milkman had disappeared round the corner, there was only an old woman with a basket of green stuff on her head, picking her way over the shiny stones. But the wind pulled the leaves in the basket this way and that, and displayed them to beautiful advantage. The sun patted them condescendingly on their flat surfaces, and they seemed sprinkled with silver. The little boy sighed as he looked at his disordered toys on the floor. They were motionless, and their colours were dull. The dark wainscoting absorbed the sun. There was none left for toys.
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