the faint peal of bells comes to your ear in the very teeth of the wind!--and look, even as you listen, lights are creeping up the lane, and soon, shadows of human forms loom behind the lights, and you see the carol singers, with William Ostler from the Rose and Crown at their head, coming along, lanthorns in hand, to sing at the farm door.
William Ostler staggers as he comes, and tumbles sprawling into the snow; whereat there is loud laughter and scuffling of heavy hobnailed feet. Young men in heavy woollen coats, and girls in red cloaks with warm hoods, and little boys and girls following behind, come trooping along the lane. Now they meet the bitter blast upon the upland, and the lanthorns are blown out, but with the light from the farm windows to guide them, they come stamping along, and, facing the hall door, range themselves in a row. Then William with a tipsy hiccough, gives out the word, and the voices ring out loud and clear.
Scarcely has the carol begun, when all sounds cease within th