“Oscar!” he called. “Oscar, my lad, let us go out!”
When he stealthily went downstairs, and opened the door and passed into the street, behold! the new day was shining abroad—and how cold, and still, and silent it was after the hot glare and whirl of that bewildering night! No living thing was visible. A fresh, sweet air stirred the leaves of the trees and bushes in St. James’s Square. There was a pale lemon-yellow glow in the sky, and the long, empty thoroughfare of Pall Mall seemed coldly white.
Was this a somnambulist, then, who wandered idly along through the silent streets, apparently seeing nothing of the closed doors and the shuttered windows on either hand? A Policeman, standing at the corner of Waterloo Place, stared at the apparition—at the twin apparition, for this tall young gentleman with the light top-coat thrown over his evening dress was accompanied by a beautiful collie that kept close to his heels. There was a solitary four-wheeled cab at the foot of the Haymarket; but the man had got inside and was doubtless asleep. The embankment?—with the young trees stirring in the still morning air; and the broad bosom of the river catching the gathering glow of the skys. He leaned on the gray stone parapet, and looked out on the placid waters of the stream.
Placid, indeed, they were as they went flowing quietly by; and the young day promised to be bright enough; and why should there be aught but peace and goodwill upon earth toward all men and women? Surely there was no call for any unrest, or fear, or foreboding? The still and shining morning was but emblematic of his life—if only he knew, and were content. And indeed he looked contented enough, as he wandered on, breathing the cool freshness of the air, and with a warmer light from the east now touching from time to time his sun-tanned face. He went up to Covent Garden—for mere curiosity’s sake. He walked along Piccadilly, and thought the elms in the Green Park looked more beautiful than ever. When he returned to his rooms he was of opinion that it was scarcely worth while to go to bed; and so he changed his clothes, and called for breakfast as soon as some one was up. In a short time—after his newspaper had been read—he would have to go down to Charing Cross.
What of this morning walk? Perhaps it was unimportant enough. Only, in after-times, he once or twice thought of it; and very clearly indeed he could see himself standing there in the early light, looking out on the shining waters of the river. They say that when you see yourself too vividly—when you imagine that you yourself are standing before yourself—that is one of the signs of madness.
A SUMMER DAY ON THE THAMES.