Sometimes the theatre would stay a week or two after the fair was over, until even the boy grew tired of the naphtha-lamps and the voices of the tragedians, and the cornet wheezing under canvas, and began to long for the time when they would leave the square open for the boys to come and play at prisoners' bars in the dusk.
The Cheap Jack was feasting inside on fried ham rasher among his clocks and mirrors and pewter ware; and though it wanted an hour of dusk, his assistant was already lighting the naphtha-lamps when Hester passed. Steam issued from the Mayows' doorway, which had a board across it to keep the younger Mayows from straggling. A voice from the steam invited her to come in.
'Twas powerful strong stuff that, and made me blink to get it down; but I took it with a good face, not liking to show I didn't know old liquor when it come my way. "So we sat till the tent was very close, and them hissing naphtha-lamps burnt dim with tobacco-smoke.
"'Tis a bleak place, Beacon Hill, and 'twas so soft underfoot that day the water'd got inside my boots, till they fair bubbled if I took a step. The rain was falling steady, and sputtered in the naphtha-lamps that they was beginning to light up outside the booths.
He had passed through the clamorous and blatant crowd of the "high street," where, as one climbed the hill, the shops seemed all aflame, and the black night air glowed with the flaring gas-jets and the naphtha-lamps, hissing and wavering before the February wind.
Mayow, and she sighed until bed-time, building castles in the air. Their supper finished, the two girls left her to her musings and stepped out to see the fun. The naphtha-lamps flared in Hester's face, and for a minute red wheels danced before her eyes, the din of a gong battered on her ears, and vision and hearing were indistinguishably blurred.
A little row of Naphtha-lamps, with its line of Naphtha-light burns clear and holy through the dead Night of the Past: they who are gone are still here; though hidden they are revealed, though dead they yet speak.
At the top of a rise in the road it broke on them, the scene almost simultaneously with its music; and a strange scene it was, and curiously beautiful a slope, and below the slope a grassy meadow set with elms; a blaze of light, here and there in the open spaces; in one space a steam roundabout revolving with mirrors, in another the soft glow of naphtha-lamps through tent cloth; glints of light on the boughs, dark shadows of foliage, a moving crowd, its murmur so silenced by music and the beat of a drum that it seemed to sway to and fro without sound, now pressing forward into the glare, now dissolving into the penumbra.