Book the First - Recalled to Life
3. III. The Night Shadows
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
together--as 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 the
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.