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place. There were shops on either side, full apparently of all sorts of costly wares. There was a continual current of passengers up and down on both sides of the way, and in the middle of the street carriages of every description, humble and splendid. The noise was great and ceaseless, the traffic continual. Some of the shops were most brilliantly lighted, attracting one's eyes in the sombre light outside, which, however, had just enough of day in it to make these spots of illumination look sickly; most of the places thus distinguished were apparently bright with the electric or some other scientific light; and delicate machines of every description, brought to the greatest perfection, were in some windows, as were also many fine productions of art, but mingled with the gaudiest and coarsest in a way which struck me with astonishment. I was also much surprised by the fact that the traffic, which was never stilled for a moment, seemed to have no sort of regulation. Some carriages dashed along, upsetting the smaller vehicles in their way, without the least restraint or order, either, as it seemed, from their own good sense, or from the lays and customs of the place. When an accident happened, there was a great shouting, and sometimes a furious encounter-but nobody seemed to interfere. This was the first impression made upon me. The passengers on the pavement were equally regardless. I was myself pushed out of the way, first to one side, then to another, hustled when I paused for a moment, trodden upon and driven about. I retreated soon to the doorway of a shop, from whence with a little more safety I could see what was going on. The noise made my head ring. It seemed to me that I could not hear

myself think. If this were to go on for ever, I said to myself, I should soon go mad.

"Oh no," said some one behind me, "not at all; you will get used to it; you will be glad of it. One does not want to hear one's thoughts; most of them are not worth hearing."

I turned round and saw it was the master of the shop, who had come to the door on seeing me. He had the usual smile of a man who hoped to sell his wares; but to my horror and astonishment, by some process which I could not understand, I saw that he was saying to himself, "What a d—d fool! here's another of those cursed wretches, d—him!" all with the same smile. I started back, and answered him as hotly, "What do you mean by calling me a d -d fool?-fool yourself, and all the rest of it. Is this the way you receive strangers here?"

"Yes," he said, with the same smile, "this is the way; and I only describe you as you are, as you will soon see. Will you walk in and look over my shop? Perhaps you will find something to suit you if you are just setting up, as I suppose.

I looked at him closely, but this time I could not see that he was saying anything beyond what was expressed by his lips, and I followed him into the shop, principally because it was quieter than the street, and without any intention of buying-for what should. I buy in a strange place where I had no settled habitation, and which probably I was only passing through?

"I will look at your things," I said, in a way which I believe I had, of perhaps undue pretension. I had never been over-rich, or of very elevated station; but I was believed by my friends (or enemies)

to have an inclination to make seem to move him, for he only myself out something more im- laughed again. "Are you not portant than I was. "I will look afraid," I said, "that I will leave at your things, and possibly I may your shop and never enter it find something that may suit me; more?" but with all the ateliers of Paris and London to draw from, it is scarcely to be expected that in a place like this

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Here I stopped to draw my breath, with a good deal of confusion; for I was unwilling to let him see that I did not know where I was.

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"A place like this," said the shopkeeper, with a little laugh which seemed to me full of mockery, will supply you better, you will find, than any other place. At least you will find it the only place practicable," he added. "I perceive you are a stranger here."

"Well I may allow myself to be so more or less. I have not had time to form much acquaintance with the place: what-do you call the place?-its formal name, I mean," I said, with a great desire to keep up the air of superior information. Except for the first moment, I had not experienced that strange power of looking into the man below the surface which had frightened me. Now there occurred another gleam of insight, which gave me once more a sensation of alarm. I seemed to see a light of hatred and contempt below his smile, and I felt that he was not in the least taken in by the air which I assumed.

"The name of the place," he said, "is not a pretty one. I hear the gentlemen who come to my shop say that it is not to be named to ears polite; and I am sure your ears are very polite." He said this with the most offensive laugh, and I turned upon him and answered him, without mincing matters, with a plainness of speech which startled myself, but did not

"Oh, it helps to pass the time," he said; and without any further comment began to show me very elaborate and fine articles of furniture. I had always been attracted to this sort of thing, and had longed to buy such articles for my house when I had one, but never had it in my power. Now I had no house, nor any means of paying so far as I knew, but I felt quite at my ease about buying, and inquired into the prices with the greatest composure.

"They are just the sort of thing I want. I will take these, I think; but you must set them aside for me, for I do not at the present moment exactly know

"You mean you have got no rooms to put them in," said the master of the shop. "You must get a house directly, that's all. If you're only up to it, it is easy enough. Look about until you find something you like, and then take possession."

"Take possession "I was SO much surprised that I stared at him with mingled indignation and surprise" of what belongs to another man?" I said.

I was not conscious of anything ridiculous in my look. I was indignant, which is not a state of mind in which there is any absurdity; but the shopkeeper suddenly burst into a storm of laughter. He laughed till he seemed almost to fall into convulsions, with a harsh mirth which reminded me of the old image of the crackling of thorns, and had neither amusement nor warmth in it; and presently this was echoed all around, and looking up, I saw grinning faces full of derision, bent upon

me from every side, from the stairs which led to the upper part of the house and from the depths of the shop behind-faces with pens behind their ears, faces in workmen's caps, all distended from ear to ear, with a sneer and a mock and a rage of laughter which nearly sent me mad. I hurled I don't know what imprecations at them as I rushed out, stopping my ears in a paroxysm of fury and mortification. My mind was so distracted by this occurrence that I rushed without knowing it upon some one who was passing, and threw him down with the violence of my exit; upon which I was set on by a party of half-a-dozen ruffians, apparently his companions, who would, I thought, kill but who only flung me, wounded, bleeding, and feeling as if every bone in my body had been broken, down on the pavement when they went away, laughing



I picked myself up from the edge of the causeway, aching and sore from head to foot, scarcely able to move, yet conscious that if I did not get myself out of the way one or other of the vehicles which were dashing along would run over me. It would be impossible to describe the miserable sensations, both of body and mind, with which I dragged myself across the crowded pavement, not without curses and even kicks from the passers-by; and, avoiding the shop from which I still heard those shrieks of devilish laughter, gathered myself up in the shelter of a little projection of a wall, where I was for the moment safe. The pain which I felt was as nothing to the sense of humiliation, the mortification, the rage with which I was possessed. There is nothing in existence more dreadful than rage which is

impotent, which cannot punish or avenge, which has to restrain itself and put up with insults showered upon it. I had never known before what that helpless, hideous exasperation was; and I was humiliated beyond description; brought down-I, whose inclination it was to make more of myself than was justifiable-to the aspect of a miserable ruffian beaten in a brawl, soiled, covered with mud and dust, my clothes torn, my face bruised and disfigured: all this within half an hour or thereabout of my arrival in a strange place where nobody knew me or could do me justice! I kept looking out feverishly for some one with an air of authority to whom I could appeal. Sooner or later somebody must go by, who, seeing me in such a plight, must inquire how it came about, must help me and vindicate me. I sat there for I cannot tell how long, expecting every moment that, were it but a policeman, somebody would notice and help me. But no one came. Crowds seemed to sweep by without a pause — all hurrying, restless: some with anxious faces, as if any delay would be mortal; some in noisy groups intercepting the passage of the others. Sometimes one would pause to point me out to his comrades, with a shout of derision at my miserable plight; or if by a change of posture I got outside the protection of my wall, would kick me back with a coarse injunction to keep out of the way. No one was sorry for me-not a look of compassion, not a word of inquiry was wasted upon me; no representative of authority appeared. I saw a dozen quarrels while I lay there, cries of the weak, and triumphant shouts of the strong; but that was all.

I was drawn after a while from the fierce and burning sense of my

querulous than can be counted. Suffering "This is not the word-it's torture-it's agony. But who cares? Take your leg out of my way."

own grievances by a voice quite close to me. is my corner," it said. "I've sat here for years, and I have a right to it. And here you come, you big ruffian, because you know I haven't got the strength to push you away."

"Who are you?" I said, turning round horror-stricken; for close beside me was a miserable man, apparently in the last stage of disease. He was pale as death, yet eaten up with sores. His body was agitated by a nervous trembling. He seemed to shuffle along on hands and feet, as though the ordinary mode of locomotion was impossible to him, and yet was in possession of all his limbs. Pain was written in his face. I drew away to leave him room, with mingled pity and horror that this poor wretch should be the partner of the only shelter I could find within so short a time of my arrival. I who It was horrible, shameful, humiliating; and yet the suffering in his wretched face was so evident that I could not but feel a pang of pity too. "I have nowhere to go," I said. "I am a stranger. I have been badly used, and nobody seems to


"No," he said; "nobody cares -don't you look for that. Why should they? Why, you look as if you were sorry for me! What a joke!" he murmured to himself "what a joke! Sorry for some one else! What a fool the fellow

must be!"

“You look," I said, "as if you were suffering horribly; and you say you have come here for years."

"Suffering! I should think I was," said the sick man; "but what is that to you? Yes, I've been here for years-oh, years! that means nothing,-for longer

I drew myself out of his way from a sort of habit, though against my will, and asked, from habit too, "Are you never any better than now?"

He looked at me more closely, and an air of astonishment came over his face. "What d'ye want here," he said, "pitying a man! That's something new here. No; I'm not always so bad, if you want to know. I get better, and then I go and do what makes me bad again, and that's how it will go on; and I choose it to be so, and you needn't bring any of your dd pity here."

"I may ask, at least, why aren't you looked after? Why don't you get into some hospital?" I said.


"Hospital!" cried the sick man, and then he too burst out into that furious laugh, the most awful sound I ever had heard. Some of the passers-by stopped to hear what the joke was, and surrounded me with once more a circle of mockers. Hospitals! perhaps you would like a whole Red Cross Society, with ambulances and all arranged?" cried one." Or the Misericordia!" shouted another. Isprang up to my feet, crying, "Why not?" with an impulse of rage which gave me strength. Was I never to meet with anything but this fiendish laughter? "There's some authority, I suppose," I cried in my fury. "It is not the rabble that is the only master here, I hope." But nobody took the least trouble to hear what I had to say for myself. The last speaker struck me on the mouth, and called me an accursed fool for talking of what I did not understand; and finally they all swept on and passed away.

I had been, as I thought, severely injured when I dragged myself into that corner to save myself from the crowd; but I sprang up now as if nothing had happened to me. My wounds had disappeared, my bruises were gone. I was, as I had been when I dropped, giddy and amazed, upon the same pavement, how long-an hour?-before? It might have been an hour, it might have been a year, I cannot tell. The light was the same as ever, the thunderous atmosphere unchanged. Day, if it was day, had made no progress; night, if it was evening, had come no nearer: all was the same.

As I went on again presently, with a vexed and angry spirit, regarding on every side around me the endless surging of the crowd, and feeling a loneliness, a sense of total abandonment and solitude, which I cannot describe, there came up to me a man of remarkable appearance. That he was a person of importance, of great knowledge and information, could not be doubted. He was very pale, and of a worn but commanding aspect. The lines of his face were deeply drawn, his eyes were sunk under high arched brows, from which they looked out as from caves, full of a fiery impatient light. His thin lips were never quite without a smile; but it was not a smile in which any pleasure was. He walked slowly, not hurrying, like most of the passengers. He had a reflective look, as if pondering many things. He came up to me suddenly, without introduction or preliminary, and took me by the arm. "What object had you in talking of these antiquated institutions?" he said.

to wish me harm,-just as in the earth above it was the natural thing, professed at least, to wish well-to say, Good morning, good day, by habit and without thought. In this strange country the stranger was received with a curse, and it woke an answer not unlike the hasty "Curse you, then, also!" which seemed to come without any will of mine through my mind. this provoked only a smile from my new friend. He took no notice. He was disposed to examine me-to find some amusement perhaps-how could I tell?-in what I might say.

"What antiquated things?"


"Are you still so slow of understanding? What were they? hospitals: the pretences of a world that can still deceive itself. Did you expect to find them here?"

"I expected to find-how should I know?" I said, bewildered"some shelter for a poor wretch where he could be cared for-not to be left there to die in the street. Expected! Expected! I never thought. I took it for granted—"

"To die in the street!" he cried, with a smile, and a shrug of his shoulders. "You'll learn better by-and-by. And if he did die in the street, what then? is that to you?"


"To me!" I turned and looked at him amazed; but he had somehow shut his soul, so that I could see nothing but the deep eyes in their caves, and the smile upon the close-shut mouth. "No more to me than to any one. I only spoke for humanity's sake, as-a fellowcreature."

My new acquaintance gave way to a silent laugh within himself, which was not so offensive as the loud laugh of the crowd, but yet was more exasperating than words can say. "You think that matBut it does not hurt you

And I saw in his mind the gleam of the thought, which seemed to be the first with all, that I was a fool, and that it was the natural thing ters ?

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