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Gall and Wormwood

Once again, ORbits offers you the opportunity to test your knowledge of all things literary. This week’s passage comes from a volume of traditional Christmas writings:

A little before twilight one Christmas eve, [he] shouldered his spade, lighted his lantern, and betook himself towards the old churchyard, for he had got a grave to finish by next morning, and feeling very low he thought it might raise his spirits perhaps, if he went on with his work at once. As he wended his way, up the ancient street, he saw the cheerful light of the blazing fires gleam through the old casements, and heard the loud laugh and the cheerful shouts of those who were assembled around them; he marked the bustling preparations for next day’s good cheer, and smelt the numerous savoury odours consequent thereupon, as they steamed up from the kitchen windows in clouds. All this was gall and wormwood to the heart of [the man]; and as groups of children, bounded out of the houses, tripped across the road, and were met, before they could knock at the opposite door, by half a dozen curly-headed little rascals who crowded round them as they flocked up the stairs to spend the evening in their Christmas games, [he] smiled grimly, and clutched the handle of his spade with a firmer grasp, as he thought of measles, scarlet-fever, thrush, hooping-cough, and a good many other sources of consolation beside.

The answer to last week’s challenge was Before the Ice is in the Pools by Emily Dickinson.

That’s it for 2009. Wishing you a very happy holiday season from everyone at ORbits!