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IT WAS the Dover road that lay, on a Friday night late in
November, before the first of the persons with whom this history
has business. The Dover road lay, as to him, beyond the Dover
mail, as it lumbered up Shooter’s Hill. He walked up hill in the
mire by the side of the mail, as the rest of the passengers did; not
because they had the least relish for walking exercise, under the
circumstances, but because the hill, and the harness, and the mud,
and the mail, were all so heavy, that the horses had three times
already come to a stop, besides once drawing the coach across the
road, with the mutinous intent of taking it back to Blackheath.
Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in
combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose
otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute
animals are endued with Reason; and the team had capitulated and
returned to their duty.

With drooping heads and tremulous tails, they mashed their way
through the thick mud, floundering and stumbling between
whiles, as if they were falling to pieces at the larger joints. As often
as the driver rested them and brought them to a stand, with a wary
“Wo-ho! so-ho-then!” the near leader violently shook his head and
everything upon it-like an unusually emphatic horse, denying that
the coach could be got up the hill. Whenever the leader made this
rattle, the passenger started, as a nervous passenger might, and
was disturbed in mind.

There was a steaming mist in all the hollows, and it had roamed in
its forlornness up the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and
finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it made its slow
way through the air in ripples that visibly followed and
overspread one another, as the waves of an unwholesome sea
might do. It was dense enough to shut out everything from the
light of the coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few
yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses steamed into it,
as if they had made it all.

Two other passengers, besides the one, were plodding up the hill
by the side of the mail. All three were wrapped to the cheekbones
and over the cars, and wore jack-boots. Not one of the three could
have said, from anything he saw, what either of the other two was
like; and each was hidden under almost as many wrappers from
the eyes of the mind, as from the eyes of the body, of his two
companions. In those days, travellers were very shy of being
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