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I Out of the little chapel I burst Into the fresh night-air again. Five minutes full, I waited first In the doorway, to escape the rain That drove in gusts down the common's centre At the edge of which the chapel stands, Before I plucked up heart to enter. Heaven knows how many sorts of hands Reached past me, groping for the latch Of the inner door that hung on catch More obstinate the more they fumbled, Till, giving way at last with a scold Of the crazy hinge, in squeezed or tumbled One sheep more to the rest in fold, And left me irresolute, standing sentry In the sheepfold's lath-and-plaster entry, Six feet long by three feet wide, Partitioned off from the vast inside-- I blocked up half of it at least. No remedy; the rain kept driving. They eyed me much as some wild beast, That congregation, still arriving, Some of them by the main road, white A long way past me into the night, Skirting the common, then diverging; Not a few suddenly emerging From the common's self thro' the paling-gaps --They house in the gravel-pits perhaps, Where the road stops short with its safeguard border Of lamps, as tired of such disorder;-- But the most turned in yet more abruptly From a certain squalid knot of alleys, Where the town's bad blood once slept corruptly, Which now the little chapel rallies And leads into day again,--its priestliness Lending itself to hide their beastliness So cleverly (thanks in part to the mason), And putting so cheery a whitewashed face on Those neophytes too much in lack of it, That, where you cross the common as I did, And meet the party thus presided, "Mount Zion" with Love-lane at the back of it, They front you as little disconcerted As, bound for the hills, her fate averted, And her wicked people made to mind him, Lot might have marched with Gomorrah behind him.

"Christmas Eve" by Robert Browning