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Chapter 59

The Plots begin to fail, and Doubts and Dangers to
disturb the Plotter.

Ralph sat alone, in the solitary room where he was
accustomed to take his meals, and to sit of nights when no
profitable occupation called him abroad. Before him was
an untasted breakfast, and near to where his fingers beat
restlessly upon the table, lay his watch. It was long past the time at
which, for many years, he had put it in his pocket and gone with
measured steps downstairs to the business of the day, but he took
as little heed of its monotonous warning, as of the meat and drink
before him, and remained with his head resting on one hand, and
his eyes fixed moodily on the ground.

This departure from his regular and constant habit, in one so
regular and unvarying in all that appertained to the daily pursuit
of riches, would almost of itself have told that the usurer was not
well. That he laboured under some mental or bodily indisposition,
and that it was one of no slight kind so to affect a man like him,
was sufficiently shown by his haggard face, jaded air, and hollow
languid eyes: which he raised at last with a start and a hasty
glance around him, as one who suddenly awakes from sleep, and
cannot immediately recognise the place in which he finds himself.

‘What is this,’ he said, ‘that hangs over me, and I cannot shake
off? I have never pampered myself, and should not be ill. I have
never moped, and pined, and yielded to fancies; but what can a
man do without rest?’

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