+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

up inside, keep the flint and steel sparks well off
the straw, and get a light with tolerable safety
and ease (if he were lucky) in five minutes.

"Tom!" softly over the coach-roof.

"Hallo, Joe."

"Did you hear the message?"

"I did, Joe."

"What did you make of it, Tom?"

"Nothing at all, Joe."

"That's a coincidence, too," the guard mused,
"for I made the same of it myself."

Jerry, left alone in the mist and darkness,
dismounted meanwhile, not only to ease his spent
horse, but to wipe the mud from his face, and
shake the wet out of his hat-brim, which might
be capable of holding about half a gallon.
After standing with the bridle over his heavily-
splashed arm, until the wheels of the mail were
no longer within hearing and the night was quite
still again, he turned to walk down the hill.

"After that there gallop from Temple-bar, old
lady, I won't trust your fore-legs till I get you
on the level," said this hoarse messenger,
glancing at his mare. "'Recalled to life.'
That's a Blazing strange message. Much of that
wouldn't do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry!
You'd be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to
life was to come into fashion, Jerry!"


A WONDERFUL fact to reflect upon, that every
human creature is constituted to be that profound
secret and mystery to every other. A solemn
consideration, when I enter a great city by
night, that every one of those darkly clustered
houses encloses its own secret; that every room
in every one of them encloses its own secret; that
every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands
of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings,
a secret to the heart nearest it! Something
of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable
to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this
dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to
read it all. No more can I look into the depths
of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary
lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses
of buried treasure and other things submerged.
It was appointed that the book should shut with
a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read
but a page. It was appointed that the water
should be locked in an eternal frost, when the
light was playing on its surface, and I stood in
ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my
neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my
soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation
and perpetuation of the secret that was always in
that individuality, and which I shall carry in
mine to my life's end. In any of the burial-
places of this city through which I pass, is there
a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy
inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to
me, or than I am to them?

As to this, his natural and not to be alienated
inheritance, the messenger on horseback had
exactly the same possessions as the King, the first
Minister of State, or the richest merchant in
London. So with the three passengers shut up in
the narrow compass of one lumbering old mail
coach; they were mysteries to one another, as
complete as if each had been in his own coach
and six, or his own coach and sixty, with the
breadth of a county between him and the next.

The messenger rode back at an easy trot,
stopping pretty often at ale-houses by the way
to drink, but evincing a tendency to keep his
own counsel, and to keep his hat cocked over
his eyes. He had eyes that assorted very well
with that decoration, being of a surface black,
with no depth in the colour or form, and much
too near togetheras if they were afraid of
being found out in something, singly, if they
kept too far apart. They had a sinister expression,
under an old cocked-hat like a three-
cornered spittoon, and over a great muffler for
the chin and throat, which descended nearly to
he wearer's knees. When he stopped for
drink, he moved this muffler with his left hand
only, while he poured his liquor in with his right;
as soon as that was done, he muffled again.

"No, Jerry, no!" said the messenger, harping
on one theme as he rode. "It wouldn't do for
you, Jerry. Jerry, you honest tradesman, it
wouldn't suit your line of business!
Recalled——! Bust me if I don't think he'd been
a drinking!"

His message perplexed his mind to that
degree that he was fain, several times, to take off
his hat to scratch his head. Except on the
crown, which was raggedly bald, he had stiff,
black hair, standing jaggedly all over it, and
growing down-hill almost to his broad, blunt
nose. It was so like smith's work, so much
more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than
a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-
frog might have declined him, as the most
dangerous man in the world to go over.

While he trotted back with the message he
was to deliver to the night watchman in his box
at the door of Tellson's Bank, by Temple-bar,
who was to deliver it to greater authorities
within, the shadows of the night took such
shapes to him as arose out of the message, and
took such shapes to the mare as arose out of
her private topics of uneasiness. They seemed
to be numerous, for she shied at every shadow
on the road.

What time, the mail-coach lumbered, jolted,
rattled, and bumped upon its tedious way, with
its three fellow inscrutables inside. To whom,
likewise, the shadows of the night revealed
themselves, in the forms their dozing eyes and
wandering thoughts suggested.

Tellson's Bank had a run upon it in the mail.
As the bank passengerwith an arm drawn
through the leathern strap, which did what lay
in it to keep him from pounding against the
next passenger, and driving him into his corner,
whenever the coach got a special joltnodded
in his place with half-shut eyes, the little coach-
windows, and the coach-lamp dimly gleaming
through them, and the bulky bundle of opposite
passenger, became the bank, and did a great
stroke of business. The rattle of the harness
was the chink of money, and more drafts were