In an old abbey town, down in this part of the country, a long, long while ago--so long, that the story must be a true one, because our great-grandfathers implicitly believed it--there officiated as sexton and grave-digger in the churchyard, one Gabriel Grub.
A little before twilight, one Christmas Eve, Gabriel 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.
In this happy frame of mind, Gabriel strode along, returning a short, sullen growl to the good-humoured greetings of such of his neighbours as now and then passed him, until he turned into the dark lane which led to the churchyard.
The unflinching earnestness with which he declared these things; --the dark, daring play of his sleepless, excited imagination, and all the preternatural terrors of real delirium, united to invest this Gabriel in the minds of the majority of the ignorant crew, with an atmosphere of sacredness.
Meantime, the hoisted sperm whale's head jogged about very violently, and Gabriel was seen eyeing it with rather more apprehensiveness than his archangel nature seemed to warrant.
And you know how superstitious Gabriel
is," continued Jammes.
I am not what you take me for, Gabriel Varden,' replied the other.
No masquerading tricks,' said the locksmith, 'and tales at the club to-morrow, how Gabriel Varden was frightened by a surly voice and a dark night.
Sir John," she says, "I can't do without Gabriel Betteredge.
Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his place.
Betwixt these rockie Pillars GABRIEL sat Chief of th' Angelic Guards, awaiting night; About him exercis'd Heroic Games Th' unarmed Youth of Heav'n, but nigh at hand Celestial Armourie, Shields, Helmes, and Speares Hung high with Diamond flaming, and with Gold.
Now had night measur'd with her shaddowie Cone Half way up Hill this vast Sublunar Vault, And from thir Ivorie Port the Cherubim Forth issuing at th' accustomd hour stood armd To thir night watches in warlike Parade, When GABRIEL to his next in power thus spake.