The Purple Cloud Part 11

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Finally, from a mere crawl at first, I was flying at a shocking velocity, while something, tongue in cheek, seemed to whisper me: 'There must be other trains blocking the lines, at stations, in yards, and everywhere--it is a maniac's ride, a ride of death, and Flying Dutchman's frenzy: remember your dark five-deep brigade of pa.s.sengers, who rock and b.u.mp together, and will suffer in a collision.' But with mulish stubbornness I thought: 'They wished to go to London'; and on I raged, not wildly exhilarated, so far as I can remember, nor lunatic, but feeling the dull glow of a wicked and morose Unreason urge in my bosom, while I stoked all blackened at the fire, or saw the vague ma.s.s of dead horse or cow, running trees and fields, and dark homestead and deep-slumbering farm, flit ghostly athwart the murky air, as the half-blind saw 'men like trees walking.'

Long, however, it did not last: I could not have been twenty miles from Dover when, on a long reach of straight lines, I made out before me a tarpaulined ma.s.s opposite a signal-point: and at once callousness changed to terror within me. But even as I plied the brake, I felt that it was too late: I rushed to the gangway to make a wild leap down an embankment to the right, but was thrown backward by a quick series of rough b.u.mps, caused by eight or ten cattle which lay there across the lines: and when I picked myself up, and leapt, some seconds before the impact, the speed must have considerably slackened, for I received no fracture, but lay in semi-coma in a patch of yellow-flowered whin on level ground, and was even conscious of a fire on the lines forty yards away, and, all the night, of vague thunder sounding from somewhere.

About five, or half-past, in the morning I was sitting up, rubbing my eyes, in a dim light mixed with drizzle. I could see that the train of my last night's debauch was a huddled-up chaos of fallen carriages and disfigured bodies. A five-barred gate on my left opened into a hedge, and swung with creaks: two yards from my feet lay a little s.h.a.ggy pony with swollen wan abdomen, the very picture of death, and also about me a number of dead wet birds.

I picked myself up, pa.s.sed through the gate, and walked up a row of trees to a house at their end. I found it to be a little country-tavern with a barn, forming one house, the barn part much larger than the tavern part. I went into the tavern by a small side-door--behind the bar--into a parlour--up a little stair--into two rooms: but no one was there. I then went round into the barn, which was paved with cobble-stones, and there lay a dead mare and foal, some fowls, with two cows. A ladder-stair led to a closed trap-door in the floor above. I went up, and in the middle of a wilderness of hay saw nine people--labourers, no doubt--five men and four women, huddled together, and with them a tin-pail containing the last of some spirit; so that these had died merry.

I slept three hours among them, and afterwards went back to the tavern, and had some biscuits of which I opened a new tin, with some ham, jam and apples, of which I made a good meal, for my pemmican was gone.

Afterwards I went following the rail-track on foot, for the engines of both the collided trains were smashed. I knew northward from southward by the position of the sun: and after a good many stoppages at houses, and by railway-banks, I came, at about eleven in the night, to a great and populous town.

By the Dane John and the Cathedral, I immediately recognised it as Canterbury, which I knew quite well. And I walked up Castle Street to the High Street, conscious for the first time of that regularly-repeated sound, like a sob or groan, which was proceeding from my throat. As there was no visible moon, and these old streets very dim, I had to pick my way, lest I should desecrate the dead with my foot, and they all should rise with hue and cry to hunt me. However, the bodies here were not numerous, most, as before, being foreigners: and these, scattered about this strict old English burg that mourning dark night, presented such a scene of the baneful wrath of G.o.d, and all abomination of desolation, as broke me quite down at one place, where I stood in travail with jeremiads and sore sobbings and lamentations, crying out upon it all, G.o.d knows.

Only when I stood at the west entrance of the Cathedral I could discern, spreading up the dark nave, to the lantern, to the choir, a phantasmagorical ma.s.s of forms: I went a little inward, and striking three matches, peered nearer: the two transepts, too, seemed crowded--the cloister-doorway was blocked--the southwest porch thronged, so that a great congregation must have flocked hither shortly before their fate overtook them.

Here it was that I became definitely certain that the after-odour of the poison was not simply lingering in the air, but was being more or less given off by the bodies: for the blossomy odour of this church actually overcame that other odour, the whole rather giving the scent of old mouldy linens long embalmed in cedars.

Well, away with stealthy trot I ran from the abysmal silence of that place, and in Palace Street near made one of those sudden immoderate rackets that seemed to outrage the universe, and left me so woefully faint, decrepit, and gasping for life (the noise of the train was different, for there I was flying, but here a captive, and which way I ran was capture). Pa.s.sing in Palace Street, I saw a little lampshop, and wanting a lantern, tried to get in, but the door was locked; so, after going a few steps, and kicking against a policeman's truncheon, I returned to break the window-gla.s.s. I knew that it would make a fearful noise, and for some fifteen or twenty minutes stood hesitating: but never could I have dreamed, my good G.o.d, of _such_ a noise, so pa.s.sionate, so dominant, so divulgent, and, O Heaven, so long-lasting: for I seemed to have struck upon the weak spot of some planet, which came suddenly tumbling, with protracted bellowing and _debacle_, about my ears. It was a good hour before I would climb in; but then quickly found what I wanted, and some big oil-cans; and till one or two in the morning, the innovating flicker of my lantern went peering at random into the gloomy nooks of the town.

Under a deep old Gothic arch that spanned a pavered alley, I saw the little window of a little house of rubble, and between the two diamond-paned sashes rags tightly beaten in, the idea evidently being to make the place air-tight against the poison. When I went in I found the door of that room open, though it, too, apparently, had been stuffed at the edges; and on the threshold an old man and woman lay low. I conjectured that, thus protected, they had remained shut in, till either hunger, or the lack of oxygen in the used-up air, drove them forth, whereupon the poison, still active, must have instantly ended them. I found afterwards that this expedient of making air-tight had been widely resorted to; and it might well have proved successful, if both the supply of inclosed air, and of food, had been anywhere commensurate with the durability of the poisonous state.

Weary, weary as I grew, some morbid persistence sustained me, and I would not rest. About four in the morning I was at a station again, industriously bending, poor wretch, at the sooty task of getting another engine ready for travel. This time, when steam was up, I succeeded in uncoupling the carriages from the engine, and by the time morning broke, I was lightly gliding away over the country, whither I did not know, but making for London.

Now I went with more intelligence and caution, and got on very well, travelling seven days, never at night, except it was very clear, never at more than twenty or twenty-five miles, and crawling through tunnels.

I do not know the maze into which the train took me, for very soon after leaving Canterbury it must have gone down some branch-line, and though the names were marked at stations, that hardly helped me, for of their situation relatively to London I was seldom sure. Moreover, again and again was my progress impeded by trains on the metals, when I would have to run back to a shunting-point or a siding, and, in two instances, these being far behind, changed from my own to the impeding engine. On the first day I travelled unhindered till noon, when I stopped in open country that seemed uninhabited for ages, only that half a mile to the left, on a shaded sward, was a large stone house of artistic design, coated with tinted harling, the roof of red Ruabon tiles, and timbered gables. I walked to it after another row with putting out the fire and arranging for a new one, the day being bright and mild, with great ma.s.ses of white cloud in the sky. The house had an outer and an inner hall, three reception rooms, fine oil-paintings, a kind of museum, and a large kitchen. In a bed-room above-stairs I found three women with servants' caps, and a footman, arranged in a strange symmetrical way, head to head, like rays of a star. As I stood looking at them, I could have sworn, my good G.o.d, that I heard someone coming up the stairs. But it was some slight creaking of the breeze in the house, augmented a hundredfold to my inflamed and fevered hearing: for, used for years now to this silence of Eternity, it is as though I hear all sounds through an ear-trumpet. I went down, and after eating, and drinking some clary-water, made of brandy, sugar, cinnamon, and rose water, which I found in plenty, I lay down on a sofa in the inner hall, and slept a quiet sleep until near midnight.

I went out then, still possessed with the foolish greed to reach London, and after getting the engine to rights, went off under a clear black sky thronged with worlds and far-sown sp.a.w.n, some of them, I thought, perhaps like this of mine, whelmed and drowned in oceans of silence, with one only inhabitant to see it, and hear its silence. And all the long night I travelled, stopping twice only, once to get the coal from an engine which had impeded me, and once to drink some water, which I took care, as always, should be running water. When I felt my head nod, and my eyes close about 5 A.M., I threw myself, just outside the arch of a tunnel upon a gra.s.sy bank, pretty thick with stalks and flowers, the workings of early dawn being then in the east: and there, till near eleven, slept.

On waking, I noticed that the country now seemed more like Surrey than Kent: there was that regular swell and sinking of the land; but, in fact, though it must have been either, it looked like neither, for already all had an aspect of return to a state of wild nature, and I could see that for a year at the least no hand had tended the soil. Near before me was a stretch of lucerne of such extraordinary growth, that I was led during that day and the succeeding one to examine the condition of vegetation with some minuteness, and nearly everywhere I detected a certain hypertrophie tendency in stamens, calycles, pericarps, and pistils, in every sort of bulbiferous growth that I looked at, in the rushes, above all, the fronds, mosses, lichens, and all cryptogamia, and in the trefoils, clover especially, and some creepers. Many crop-fields, it was clear, had been prepared, but not sown; some had not been reaped: and in both cases I was struck with their appearance of rankness, as I was also when in Norway, and was all the more surprised that this should be the case at a time when a poison, whose action is the arrest of oxidation, had traversed the earth; I could only conclude that its presence in large volumes in the lower strata of the atmosphere had been more or less temporary, and that the tendency to exuberance which I observed was due to some principle by which Nature acts with freer energy and larger scope in the absence of man.

Two yards from the rails I saw, when I got up, a little rill beside a rotten piece of fence, barely oozing itself onward under ma.s.ses of foul and stagnant fungoids: and here there was a sudden splash, and life: and I caught sight of the hind legs of a diving young frog. I went and lay on my belly, poring over the clear dulcet little water, and presently saw two tiny bleaks, or ablets, go gliding low among the swaying moss-hair of the bottom-rocks, and thought how gladly would I be one of them, with my home so thatched and shady, and my life drowned in their wide-eyed reverie. At any rate, these little creatures are alive, the batrachians also, and, as I found the next day, pupae and chrysales of one sort or another, for, to my deep emotion, I saw a little white b.u.t.terfly staggering in the air over the flower-garden of a rustic station named Butley.

It was while I was lying there, poring upon that streamlet, that a thought came into my head: for I said to myself: 'If now I be here alone, alone, alone... alone, alone... one on the earth... and my girth have a spread of 25,000 miles... what will happen to my mind? Into what kind of creature shall I writhe and change? I may live two years so!

What will have happened then? I may live five years--ten! What will have happened after the five? the ten? I may live twenty, thirty, forty...'

Already, already, there are things that peep and sprout within me...!

I wanted food and fresh running water, and walked from the engine half a mile through fields of lucerne whose luxuriance quite hid the foot-paths, and reached my shoulder. After turning the brow of a hill, I came to a park, pa.s.sing through which I saw some dead deer and three persons, and emerged upon a terraced lawn, at the end of which stood an Early English house of pale brick with copings, plinths, stringcourses of limestone, and spandrels of carved marble; and some distance from the porch a long table, or series of tables, in the open air, still spread with cloths that were like shrouds after a month of burial; and the table had old foods on it, and some lamps; and all around it, and all on the lawn, were dead peasants. I seemed to know the house, probably from some print which I may have seen, but I could not make out the escutcheon, though I saw from its simplicity that it must be very ancient. Right across the facade spread still some of the letters in evergreens of the motto: 'Many happy returns of the day,' so that someone must have come of age, or something, for inside all was gala, and it was clear that these people had defied a fate which they, of course, foreknew. I went nearly throughout the whole s.p.a.cious place of thick-carpeted halls, marbles, and famous oils, antlers and arras, and gilt saloons, and placid large bed-chambers: and it took me an hour.

There were here not less than a hundred and eighty people. In the first of a vista of three large reception-rooms lay what could only have been a number of quadrille parties, for to the _coup d'oeil_ they presented a two-and-two appearance, made very repulsive by their jewels and evening-dress. I had to steel my heart to go through this house, for I did not know if these people were looking at me as soon as my back was turned. Once I was on the very point of flying, for I was going up the great central stairway, and there came a pelt of dead leaves against a window-pane in a corridor just above on the first floor, which thrilled me to the inmost soul. But I thought that if I once fled, they would all be at me from behind, and I should be gibbering mad long, long before I reached the outer hall, and so stood my ground, even defiantly advancing. In a small dark bedroom in the north wing on the second floor--that is to say, at the top of the house--I saw a tall young lady and a groom, or wood-man, to judge by his clothes, horribly riveted in an embrace on a settee, she with a light coronet on her head in low-necked dress, and their lipless teeth still fiercely pressed together. I collected in a bag a few delicacies from the under-regions of this house, Lyons sausages, salami, mortadel, apples, roes, raisins, artichokes, biscuits, a few wines, a ham, bottled fruit, pickles, coffee, and so on, with a gold plate, tin-opener, cork-screw, fork, &c., and dragged them all the long way back to the engine before I could eat.

My brain was in such a way, that it was several days before the perfectly obvious means of finding my way to London, since I wished to go there, at all occurred to me; and the engine went wandering the intricate railway-system of the south country, I having twice to water her with a coal-bucket from a pool, for the injector was giving no water from the tank under the coals, and I did not know where to find any near tank-sheds. On the fifth evening, instead of into London, I ran into Guildford.

That night, from eleven till the next day, there was a great storm over England: let me note it down. And ten days later, on the 17th of the month came another; and on the 23rd another; and I should be put to it to count the great number since. And they do not resemble English storms, but rather Arctic ones, in a certain very suggestive something of personalness, and a carousing malice, and a Tartarus gloom, which I cannot quite describe. That night at Guildford, after wandering about, and becoming very weary, I threw myself upon a cus.h.i.+oned pew in an old Norman church with two east apses, called St. Mary's, using a Bible-cus.h.i.+on for pillow, and placing some distance away a little tin lamp turned low, whose ray served me for _veilleuse_ through the night.

Happily I had taken care to close up everything, or, I feel sure, the roof must have gone. Only one dead, an old lady in a chapel on the north side of the chancel, whom I rather mistrusted, was there with me: and there I lay listening: for, after all, I could not sleep a wink, while outside vogued the immense tempest. And I communed with myself, thinking: 'I, poor man, lost in this conflux of infinitudes and vortex of the world, what can become of me, my G.o.d? For dark, ah dark, is the waste void into which from solid ground I am now plunged a million fathoms deep, the sport of all the whirlwinds: and it were better for me to have died with the dead, and never to have seen the wrath and turbulence of the Ineffable, nor to have heard the thrilling bleakness of the winds of Eternity, when they pine, and long, and whimper, and when they vociferate and blaspheme, and when they expostulate and intrigue and implore, and when they despair and die, which ear of man should never hear. For they mean to eat me up, I know, these t.i.tanic darknesses: and soon like a whiff I shall pa.s.s away, and leave the world to them.' So till next morning I lay mumping, with s.h.i.+vers and cowerings: for the shocks of the storm pervaded the locked church to my very heart; and there were thunders that night, my G.o.d, like callings and laughs and banterings, exchanged between distant hill-tops in h.e.l.l.

'Well, the next morning I went down the steep High Street, and found a young nun at the bottom whom I had left the previous evening with a number of girls in uniform opposite the Guildhall--half-way up the street. She must have been spun down, arm over arm, for the wind was westerly, and whereas I had left her completely dressed to her wimple and beads, she was now nearly stripped, and her little flock scattered.

And branches of trees, and wrecked houses, and reeling clouds of dead leaves were everywhere that wild morning.

This town of Guildford appeared to be the junction of an extraordinary number of railway-lines, and before again setting out in the afternoon, when the wind had lulled, having got an A B C guide, and a railway-map, I decided upon my line, and upon a new engine, feeling pretty sure now of making London, only thirty miles away. I then set out, and about five o'clock was at Surbiton, near my aim; I kept on, expecting every few minutes to see the great city, till darkness fell, and still, at considerable risk, I went, as I thought, forward: but no London was there. I had, in fact, been on a loop-line, and at Surbiton gone wrong again; for the next evening I found myself at Wokingham, farther away than ever.

I slept on a rug in the pa.s.sage of an inn called The Rose, for there was a wild, Russian-looking man, with projecting top-teeth, on a bed in the house, whose appearance I did not like, and it was late, and I too tired to walk further; and the next morning pretty early I set out again, and at 10 A.M. was at Reading.

The notion of navigating the land by precisely the same means as the sea, simple and natural as it was, had not at all occurred to me: but at the first accidental sight of a compa.s.s in a little shop-window near the river at Reading, my difficulties as to getting to any desired place in the world vanished once and for all: for a good chart or map, the compa.s.s, a pair of compa.s.ses, and, in the case of longer distances, a quadrant, s.e.xtant or theodolite, with a piece of paper and pencil, were all that were necessary to turn an engine into a land-s.h.i.+p, one choosing the lines that ran nearest the direction of one's course, whenever they did not run precisely.

Thus provided, I ran out from Reading about seven in the evening, while there was still some light, having spent there some nine hours. This was the town where I first observed that shocking crush of humanity, which I afterwards met in every large town west of London. Here, I should say, the English were quite equal in number to the foreigners: and there were enough of both, G.o.d knows: for London must have poured many here. There were houses, in every room of which, and on the stairs, the dead actually overlay each other, and in the streets before them were points where only on flesh, or under carriages, was it possible to walk. I went into the great County Gaol, from which, as I had read, the prisoners had been released two weeks before-hand, and there I found the same pressed condition, cells occupied by ten or twelve, the galleries continuously rough-paved with faces, heads, and old-clothes-shops of robes; and in the parade-ground, against one wall, a ma.s.s of human stuff, like tough grey clay mixed with rags and trickling black gore, where a crush as of hydraulic power must have acted. At a corner between a gate and a wall near the biscuit-factory of this town I saw a boy, whom I believe to have been blind, standing jammed, at his wrist a chain-ring, and, at the end of the chain, a dog; from his hap-hazard posture I conjectured that he, and chain, and dog had been lifted from the street, and placed so, by the storm of the 7th of the month; and what made it very curious was that his right arm pointed a little outward just over the dog, so that, at the moment when I first sighted him, he seemed a drunken fellow setting his dog at me. In fact, all the dead I found much mauled and stripped and huddled: and the earth seemed to be making an abortive effort to sweep her streets.

Well, some little distance from Reading I saw a big flower-seed farm, looking dead in some plots, and in others quite rank: and here again, fluttering quite near the engine, two little winged aurelians in the quiet evening air. I went on, pa.s.sing a great number of crowded trains on the down-line, two of them in collision, and very broken up, and one exploded engine; even the fields and cuttings on either hand of the line had a rather populous look, as if people, when trains and vehicles failed, had set to trudging westward in caravans and streams. When I came to a long tunnel near Slough, I saw round the foot of the arch an extraordinary quant.i.ty of wooden _debris_, and as I went very slowly through, was alarmed by the continuous b.u.mping of the train, which, I knew, was pa.s.sing over bodies; at the other end were more _debris_; and I easily guessed that a company of desperate people had made the tunnel air-tight at the two arches, and provisioned themselves, with the hope to live there till the day of destiny was pa.s.sed; whereupon their barricades must have been crashed through by some up-train and themselves crushed, or else, other crowds, mad to share their cave of refuge, had stormed the boardings. This latter, as I afterwards found, was a very usual event.

I should very soon have got to London now, but, as my bad luck would have it, I met a long up-train on the metals, with not one creature in any part of it. There was nothing to do but to trans.h.i.+p, with all my things, to its engine, which I found in good condition with plenty of coal and water, and to set it going, a hateful labour: I being already jet-black from hair to toes. However, by half-past ten I found myself stopped by another train only a quarter of a mile from Paddington, and walked the rest of the way among trains in which the standing dead still stood, propped by their neighbours, and over metals where bodies were as ordinary and cheap as waves on the sea, or twigs in a forest. I believe that wild crowds had given chase on foot to moving trains, or fore-run them in the frenzied hope of inducing them to stop.

I came to the great shed of gla.s.s and girders which is the station, the night being perfectly soundless, moonless, starless, and the hour about eleven.

I found later that all the electric generating-stations, or all that I visited, were intact; that is to say, must have been shut down before the arrival of the doom; also that the gas-works had almost certainly been abandoned some time previously: so that this city of dreadful night, in which, at the moment when Silence choked it, not less than forty to sixty millions swarmed and droned, must have more resembled Tartarus and the foul shades of h.e.l.l than aught to which my fancy can liken it.

For, coming nearer the platforms, I saw that trains, in order to move at all, must have moved through a slough of bodies pushed from behind, and forming a packed h.o.m.ogeneous ma.s.s on the metals: and I knew that they _had_ moved. Nor could _I_ now move, unless I decided to wade: for flesh was everywhere, on the roofs of trains, cramming the interval between them, on the platforms, splas.h.i.+ng the pillars like spray, piled on trucks and lorries, a carnal quagmire; and outside, it filled the s.p.a.ce between a great host of vehicles, carpeting all that region of London.

And all here that odour of blossoms, which nowhere yet, save on one vile s.h.i.+p, had failed, was now wholly overcome by another: and the thought was in my head, my G.o.d, that if the soul of man had sent up to Heaven the odour which his body gave to me, then it was not so strange that things were as they were.

I got out from the station, with ears, G.o.d knows, that still awaited the accustomed noising of this accursed town, habituated as I now was to all the dumb and absent void of Soundlessness; and I was overwhelmed in a new awe, and lost in a wilder woesomeness, when, instead of lights and business, I saw the long street which I knew brood darker than Babylons long desolate, and in place of its ancient noising, heard, my G.o.d, a shocking silence, rising higher than I had ever heard it, and blending with the silence of the inane, eternal stars in heaven.

I could not get into any vehicle for some time, for all thereabouts was practically a mere block; but near the Park, which I attained by stooping among wheels, and selecting my foul steps, I overhauled a Daimler car, found in it two cylinders of petrol, lit the ignition-lamp, removed with averted abhorrence three bodies, mounted, and broke that populous stillness. And through streets nowhere empty of bodies I went urging eastward my jolting, and spattered, and humming way.

That I should have persisted, with so much pains, to come to this unbounded catacomb, seems now singular to me: for by that time I could not have been sufficiently daft to expect to find another being like myself on the earth, though I cherished, I remember, the irrational hope of yet somewhere finding dog, or cat, or horse, to be with me, and would anon think bitterly of Reinhardt, my Arctic dog, which my own hand had shot. But, in reality, a morbid curiosity must have been within me all the time to read the real truth of what had happened, so far as it was known, or guessed, and to gloat upon all that drama, and cup of trembling, and pouring out of the vials of the wrath of G.o.d, which must have preceded the actual advent of the end of Time. This inquisitiveness had, at every town which I reached, made the search for newspapers uppermost in my mind; but, by bad luck, I had found only four, all of them ante-dated to the one which I had read at Dover, though their dates gave me some idea of the period when printing must have ceased, viz.

soon after the 17th July--about three months subsequent to my arrival at the Pole--for none I found later than this date; and these contained nothing scientific, but only orisons and despairings. On arriving, therefore, at London, I made straight for the office of the _Times_, only stopping at a chemist's in Oxford Street for a bottle of antiseptic to hold near my nose, though, having once left the neighbourhood of Paddington, I had hardly much need of this.

I made my way to the square where the paper was printed, to find that, even there, the ground was closely strewn with calpac and pugaree, black abayeh and fringed praying-shawl, hob-nail and sandal, figured lungi and striped silk, all very muddled and mauled. Through the dark square to the twice-dark building I pa.s.sed, and found open the door of an advertis.e.m.e.nt-office; but on striking a match, saw that it had been lighted by electricity, and had therefore to retrace my stumbling steps, till I came to a shop of lamps in a near alley, walking meantime with timid cares that I might hurt no one--for in this enclosed neighbourhood I began to feel strange tremors, and kept striking matches, which, so still was the black air, hardly flickered.

When I returned to the building with a little lighted lamp, I at once saw a file on a table, and since there were a number of dead there, and I wished to be alone, I took the heavy ma.s.s of paper between my left arm and side, and the lamp in my right hand; pa.s.sed then behind a counter; and then, to the right, up a stair which led me into a very great building and complexity of wooden steps and corridors, where I went peering, the lamp visibly trembling in my hand, for here also were the dead. Finally, I entered a good-sized carpeted room with a baize-covered table in the middle, and large smooth chairs, and on the table many ma.n.u.scripts impregnated with purple dust, and around were books in shelves. This room had been locked upon a single man, a tall man in a frock-coat, with a pointed grey beard, who at the last moment had decided to fly from it, for he lay at the threshold, apparently fallen dead the moment he opened the door. Him, by drawing his feet aside, I removed, locked the door upon myself, sat at the table before the dusty file, and, with the little lamp near, began to search.

I searched and read till far into the morning. But G.o.d knows, He alone....

I had not properly filled the little reservoir with oil, and at about three in the fore-day, it began to burn sullenly lower, letting sparks, and turning the gla.s.s grey: and in my deepest chilly heart was the question: 'Suppose the lamp goes out before the daylight....'

The Purple Cloud Part 11

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The Purple Cloud Part 11 summary

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