The prisoner, left to himself, sat down upon his bedstead: and resting his elbows on his knees, and his chin upon his hands, remained in that attitude for hours. It would be hard to say, of what nature his reflections were. They had no distinctness, and, saving for some flashes now and then, no reference to his condition or the train of circumstances by which it had been brought about. The cracks in the pavement of his cell, the chinks in the wall where stone was joined to stone, the bars in the window, the iron ring upon the floor,such things as these, subsiding strangely into one another, and awakening an indescribable kind of interest and amusement, engrossed his whole mind; and although at the bottom of his every thought there was an uneasy sense of guilt, and dread of death, he felt no more than that vague consciousness of it, which a sleeper has of pain. It pursues him through his dreams, gnaws at the heart of all his fancied pleasures, robs the banquet of its taste, music of its sweetness, makes happiness itself unhappy, and yet is no bodily sensation, but a phantom without shape, or form, or visible presence; pervading everything, but having no existence; recognisable everywhere, but nowhere seen, or touched, or met with face to face, until the sleep is past, and waking agony returns.
After a long time the door of his cell opened. He looked up; saw the blind man enter; and relapsed into his former position.
Guided by his breathing, the visitor advanced to where he sat; and stopping beside him, and stretching out his hand to assure himself that he was right, remained, for a good space, silent.
This is bad, Rudge. This is bad, he said at length.
The prisoner shuffled with his feet upon the ground in turning his body from him, but made no other answer.
How were you taken? he asked. And where? You never told me more than half your secret. No matter; I know it now. How was it, and where, eh? he asked again, coming still nearer to him.
At Chigwell, said the other.
At Chigwell! How came you there?
Because I went there to avoid the man I stumbled on, he answered. Because I was chased and driven there, by him and Fate. Because I was urged to go there, by something stronger than my own will. When I found him watching in the house she used to live in, night after night, I knew I never could escape himnever! and when I heard the Bell
He shivered; muttered that it was very cold; paced quickly up and down the narrow cell; and sitting down again, fell into his old posture.
You were saying, said the blind man, after another pause, that when you heard the Bell
Let it be, will you? he retorted in a hurried voice. It hangs there yet.
The blind man turned a wistful and inquisitive face towards him, but he continued to speak, without noticing him.
I went to Chigwell, in search of the mob. I have been so hunted and beset by this man, that I knew my only hope of safety lay in joining them. They had gone on before; I followed them when it left off.
When what left off?
The Bell. They had quitted the place. I hoped that some of them might be still lingering among the ruins, and was searching for them when I heard he drew a long breath, and wiped his forehead with his sleevehis voice.
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