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.
He announced himself as the archangel Gabriel, and commanded the captain to jump overboard.
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." "My lady," says Sir John, "I can't do without him, either." That was his way with her--and that was how I went into his service.
Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his place." On the Tuesday as it might be, Sir John says, "My lady, the bailiff is pensioned liberally; and Gabriel Betteredge has got his place." You hear more than enough of married people living together miserably.
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.
GABRIEL, to thee thy cours by Lot hath giv'n Charge and strict watch that to this happie place No evil thing approach or enter in; This day at highth of Noon came to my Spheare A Spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know More of th' Almighties works, and chiefly Man Gods latest Image: I describ'd his way Bent all on speed, and markt his Aerie Gate; But in the Mount that lies from EDEN North, Where he first lighted, soon discernd his looks Alien from Heav'n, with passions foul obscur'd: Mine eye pursu'd him still, but under shade Lost sight of him; one of the banisht crew I fear, hath ventur'd from the deep, to raise New troubles; him thy care must be to find.