For some time after I had deciphered the epistle, I stood as if rooted to the floor. I felt stunned—my last hope was gone; presently a feeling arose in my mind—a feeling of self-reproach. Whom had I to blame but myself for the departure of the Armenian? Would he have ever thought of attacking the Persians had I not put the idea into his head? he had told me in his epistle that he was indebted to me for the idea. But for that, he might at the present moment have been in London, increasing his fortune by his usual methods, and I might be commencing under his auspices the translation of the Haik Esop, with the promise, no doubt, of a considerable remuneration for my trouble; or I might be taking a seat opposite the Moldavian clerk, and imbibing the first rudiments of doing business after the Armenian fashion, with the comfortable hope of realising, in a short time, a fortune of three or four hundred thousand pounds; but the Armenian was now gone, and farewell to the fine hopes I had founded upon him the day before. What was I to do? I looked wildly around, till my eyes rested on the Moldavian clerk, who was writing away in his ledger with particular vehemence. Not knowing well what to do or to say, I thought I might as well ask the Moldavian clerk when the Armenian had departed, and when he thought that he would return. It is true it mattered little to me when he departed, seeing that he was gone, and it was evident that he would not be back soon; but I knew not what to do, and in pure helplessness thought I might as well ask; so I went up to the Moldavian clerk, and asked him when the Armenian had departed, and whether he had been gone two days or three. Whereupon the Moldavian clerk, looking up from his ledger, made certain signs, which I could by no means understand. I stood astonished, but, presently recovering myself, inquired when he considered it probable that the master would return, and whether he thought it would be two months or—my tongue faltered—two years; whereupon the Moldavian clerk made more signs than before, and yet more unintelligible; as I persisted, however, he flung down his pen, and, putting his thumb into his mouth, moved it rapidly, causing the nail to sound against the lower jaw; whereupon I saw that he was dumb, and hurried away, for I had always entertained a horror of dumb people, having once heard my another say, when I was a child, that dumb people were half demoniacs, or little better.
Kind of stupor—Peace of God—Divine hand—Farewell, child—The fair—Massive edifice—Battered tars—Lost! lost!—Good-day, gentlemen.
Leaving the house of the Armenian, I strolled about for some time; almost mechanically my feet conducted me to London Bridge, to the booth in which stood the stall of the old apple-woman; the sound of her voice aroused me, as I sat in a kind of stupor on the stone bench beside her; she was inquiring what was the matter with me.