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Chapter 42 (continued)
'But half an hour ago.'
'Bringing no news of Barnaby, or his mother?' said the locksmith dubiously. 'Ah! you needn't shake your head, sir. It was a wild-goose chase. I feared that, from the first. You exhausted all reasonable means of discovery when they went away. To begin again after so long a time has passed is hopeless, sir--quite hopeless.'
'Why, where are they?' he returned impatiently. 'Where can they be? Above ground?'
'God knows,' rejoined the locksmith, 'many that I knew above it five years ago, have their beds under the grass now. And the world is a wide place. It's a hopeless attempt, sir, believe me. We must leave the discovery of this mystery, like all others, to time, and accident, and Heaven's pleasure.'
'Varden, my good fellow,' said Mr Haredale, 'I have a deeper meaning in my present anxiety to find them out, than you can fathom. It is not a mere whim; it is not the casual revival of my old wishes and desires; but an earnest, solemn purpose. My thoughts and dreams all tend to it, and fix it in my mind. I have no rest by day or night; I have no peace or quiet; I am haunted.'
His voice was so altered from its usual tones, and his manner bespoke so much emotion, that Gabriel, in his wonder, could only sit and look towards him in the darkness, and fancy the expression of his face.
'Do not ask me,' continued Mr Haredale, 'to explain myself. If I were to do so, you would think me the victim of some hideous fancy. It is enough that this is so, and that I cannot--no, I can not--lie quietly in my bed, without doing what will seem to you incomprehensible.'
'Since when, sir,' said the locksmith after a pause, 'has this uneasy feeling been upon you?'
Mr Haredale hesitated for some moments, and then replied: 'Since the night of the storm. In short, since the last nineteenth of March.'
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