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had passed, and then, gazing up into the sky, saw, or thought he
saw, the same black cloud that had seemed to follow him home,
and which now appeared to hover directly above the house.

‘I know its meaning now,’ he muttered, ‘and the restless nights,
the dreams, and why I have quailed of late. All pointed to this. Oh!
if men by selling their own souls could ride rampant for a term, for
how short a term would I barter mine tonight!’

The sound of a deep bell came along the wind. One.
‘Lie on!’ cried the usurer, ‘with your iron tongue! Ring merrily
for births that make expectants writhe, and marriages that are
made in hell, and toll ruefully for the dead whose shoes are worn
already! Call men to prayers who are godly because not found out,
and ring chimes for the coming in of every year that brings this
cursed world nearer to its end. No bell or book for me! Throw me
on a dunghill, and let me rot there, to infect the air!’

With a wild look around, in which frenzy, hatred, and despair
were horribly mingled, he shook his clenched hand at the sky
above him, which was still dark and threatening, and closed the

The rain and hail pattered against the glass; the chimneys
quaked and rocked; the crazy casement rattled with the wind, as
though an impatient hand inside were striving to burst it open.
But no hand was there, and it opened no more.


‘How’s this?’ cried one. ‘The gentleman say they can’t make
anybody hear, and have been trying these two hours.’

‘And yet he came home last night,’ said another; ‘for he spoke to

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