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vent its expressions of displeasure and
disappointment, the performance soon concluded, and
all went their several roads homeward; and when
I looked out upon the empty Platz, over which
the dusky shadows of the old houses were now
stealing to mingle together, and instead of the
scene of bustle and excitement saw a few lingering
townsfolk moody and purposeless, I asked
myself if the whole incidents were not a vision
mind-drawn and invented. There was not one
single clue by which I could trace it to reality.

More than once in my life had my dreamy
temperament played me such pranks, and, strangely
too, even when I had assured myself of the
deception, there would yet linger in my mind
thoughts and impressions strong enough to
influence my actions, just as we often see that our
disbelief in a scandalous story is not sufficient to
disabuse us of a certain power it wields over us.

Oh what a long and dreary night was that,
harassed with doubts and worn out with
speculations. My mind had been much weakened by
my fever, and whenever I followed a train of
thought too long, confusion was sure to ensue.
The terror of this chaotic condition, where all
people, and lands, and ideas, and incidents,
jostle against each other in mad turmoil, can
only be estimated by one who has felt it. Like
the awful rush of sensations of him who is
sliding down some steep descent towards a
tremendous precipice, one feels the gradual
approach of that dreamy condition where reason
is lost and the mind a mere waif upon the waters.

"Here's your breakfast," said the gaoler, as
he stopped the course of my reverie. " And the
brigadier hopes you'll be speedy with it, for
you must reach Maltz by nightfall."

"Tell me," said I, eagerly, " was there a circus
company here yesterday evening? Did they
exhibit on the Platz there?"

"You are a deep one, you are!" muttered he,
sulkily to himself, and left the cell.

CHAPTER XLIII.

I BORE up admirably on my journey. I felt
I was doing a very heroic thing. By my
personation of Harpar, I was securing that poor
fellow's escape, and giving him ample time to
get over the Austrian frontier, and many a mile
away from the beaks of the Double Eagle. I
had read of such things in history, and I
resolved I would not derogate from the proudest
records of such self-devotion. Had I but
remembered how long my illness had lasted, I
might have easily seen that Harpar could by
this time have arrived at Calcutta; but,
unfortunately for me, I had no gauge of time
whatever, and completely forgot the long interval of
my fever.

On reaching Innspruck, I was sent on to an
old ch√Ęteau some ten miles away, called the
Ambras Schloss, and being consigned to the
charge of a retired artillery officer there, they
seemed to have totally forgotten all about me.
I lived with my old gaoler just as if I were his
friend: we worked together in the garden,
pruned and raked and hoed and weeded; we
smoked and fished, and mended our nets on wet
days, and read, living exactly as might any two
people in a remote out-of-the-world spot.

There is a sort of armoury at the Ambras,
chiefly of old Tyrolese weapons of an early
periodmaces and halberds, double-handed swords
and such-likeand one of our pastimes was
arranging and settling and cataloguing them,
for which, in the ancient records of the Schloss,
there was ample material. This was an
occupation that amused me vastly, and I took to
it with great zeal, and with such success that
old Hirsch, the gaoler, at last consigned the
whole to my charge, along with the task of
exhibiting the collection to strangersa source
from which the honest veteran derived the better
part of his means of life.

At first, I scarcely liked my function as showman,
but like all my other experiences in life,
habit sufficed to reconcile me, and I took to the
occupation as though I had been born to it. If
now and then some rude or vulgar traveller
would ruffle my temper by some illiterate
remark or stupid question, I was well repaid by
intercourse with a different stamp. They were
to me such peeps at the world as a monk might
have from the windows of his cloister, tempting
perhaps, but always blended with the sense of
the security that encompassed him and defended
him from the cares of existence.

Perhaps the consciousness that I could assert
my innocence and procure my freedom at any
moment, for the first few months reconciled me
to this strange life; but certainly after a while I
ceased to care for any other existence, and
never troubled my head either about past or
future. I had, in fact, arrived at the great
monastic elevation, in which a man, ceasing to
be human, reaches the dignity of a vegetable.

I had begun, as I have said, by an act of
heroism, in accepting all the penalties of another,
and, long after I ceased to revert to this sacrifice,
the impulse it had once given still
continued to move me. If Hirsch never alluded
to my imputed crime to me, I was equally
reserved towards him.

               MR. CHARLES DICKENS
   Will read on THURSDAY EVENING, March 14th, 1861 ,
              at St. James's Hall, Piccadilly, his
   CHRISTMAS CAROL AND THE BOOTS AT
                  THE HOLLY TREE INN.
The Reading will commence at Eight, and conclude
                          about Ten o'clock.
Tickets to be had at Messrs. CHAPMAN and HALL'S,
193, Piccadilly; and of Mr. AUSTIN, Ticket Office,
St. James's Hall, Piccadilly.

     A DAY'S RIDE: A LIFE'S ROMANCE,
                          WILL BE
                     CONCLUDED
With the present volume, in No. 100 of ALL THE YEAR
             ROUND, for the 23rd of March, 1861.