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sufficiently long at half-past twelve: which was about
my time for confronting it.

The restlessness of a great city, and the way
in which it tumbles and tosses before it can get
to sleep, formed one of the first entertainments
offered to the contemplation of us houseless
people. It lasted about two hours. We lost
a great deal of companionship when the late
public-houses turned their lamps out, and when
the potmen thrust the last brawling drunkards
into the street; but stray vehicles and stray people
going home were left us, after that. If we were
very lucky, a policeman's rattle sprang and a
fray turned up; but, in general, surprisingly
little of this diversion was provided. Except in
the Haymarket, which is the worst kept part of
London, and about Kent-street in the Borough
and along a portion of the line of the Old Kent-
road, the peace was seldom violently broken. But
it was always the case that London, as if in imitation
of individual citizens belonging to it, had
expiring fits and starts of restlessness. After
all seemed quiet, if one cab rattled by, half a
dozen would surely follow; and Houselessness
even observed that intoxicated people appeared
to be magnetically attracted towards each other,
so that we knew when we saw one drunken object
staggering against the shutters of a shop,
that another drunken object would probably
stagger up before five minutes were out, to
fraternise or fight with it. When we made a
divergence from the regular species of drunkard,
the thin-armed puff-faced leaden-lipped gin-
drinker, and encountered a rarer specimen of a
more decent appearance, fifty to one but that
specimen was dressed in soiled mourning. As
the street experience in the night, so the street
experience in the day; the common folk who
come unexpectedly into a little property, come
unexpectedly into a deal of liquor.

At length these flickering sparks would die
away, worn outthe last veritable sparks of
waking life trailed from some late pieman or hot
potato manand London would sink to rest. And
then the yearning of the houseless mind would
be for any sign of company, any lighted place,
any movement, anything suggestive of any one
being upnay, even so much as awake, for the
houseless eye looked out for lights in windows.

Walking the streets under the pattering rain,
Houselessness would walk and walk and walk,
seeing nothing but the interminable tangle of
streets, save at a corner, here and there, two
policemen in conversation, or the sergeant or
inspector looking after his men. Now and then
in the nightbut rarelyHouselessness would
become aware of a furtive head peering out of
a doorway a few yards before him, and, coming
up with the head, would find a man standing
bolt upright to keep within the doorway's
shadow, and evidently intent upon no particular
service to society. Under a kind of fascination,
and in a ghostly silence suitable to the time,
Houselessness and this gentleman would eye
one another from head to foot, and so, without
exchange of speech, part, mutually suspicious.
Drip, drip, drip, from ledge and coping, splash
from pipes and water-spouts, and by-and-by the
houseless shadow would fall upon the stones that
pave the way to Waterloo-bridge; it being in the
houseless mind to have a halfpennyworth of
excuse for saying " Good night" to the toll-
keeper, and catching a glimpse of his fire. A
good fire and a good great-coat and a good
woollen neck-shawl, were comfortable things to
see in conjunction with the toll-keeper; also
his brisk wakefulness was excellent company
when he rattled the change of halfpence down
upon that metal table of his, like a man who
defied the night, with all its sorrowful thoughts,
and didn't care for the coming of dawn. There
was need of encouragement on the threshold
of the bridge, for the bridge was dreary. The
chopped up murdered man, had not been lowered
with a rope over the parapet when those nights
were; he was alive, and slept then quietly
enough most likely, and undisturbed by any
dream of where he was to come. But the river
had an awful look, the buildings on the banks
were muffled in black shrouds, and the reflected
lights seemed to originate deep in the water, as
if the spectres of suicides were holding them
to show where they went down. The wild
moon and clouds were as restless as an evil
conscience in a tumbled bed, and the very
shadow of the immensity of London seemed to
lie oppressively upon the river.

Between the bridge and the two great
theatres, there was but the distance of a few
hundred paces, so the theatres came next.
Grim and black within, at night, those great dry
Wells, and lonesome to imagine, with the rows
of faces faded out, the lights extinguished, and
the seats all empty. One would think that
nothing in them knew itself at such a time but
Yorick's skull. In one of my night walks, as
the church steeples were shaking the March
wind and rain with the strokes of Four, I
passed the outer boundary of one of these great
deserts, and entered it. With a dim lantern in
my hand, I groped my well-known way to the
stage and looked over the orchestrawhich was
like a great grave dug for a time of pestilence
into the void beyond. A dismal cavern of an
immense aspect, with the chandelier gone dead
like everything else, and nothing visible through
mist and fog and space, but tiers of winding-
sheets. The ground at my feet where, when
last there, I had seen the peasantry of Naples
dancing among the vines, reckless of the burning
mountain which threatened to overwhelm
them, was now in possession of a strong serpent
of engine-hose, watchfully lying in wait for the
serpent Fire, and ready to fly at it if it showed
its forked tongue. A ghost of a watchman
carrying a faint corpse-candle, haunted the
distant upper gallery and flitted away. Retiring
within the proscenium, and holding my light
above my head towards the rolled-up curtain
green no more, but black as ebonymy sight
lost itself in a gloomy vault, showing faint
indications in it of a shipwreck of canvas and
cordage. Methought I felt much as a diver
might, at the bottom of the sea.

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