Is he dreadful to look at?" "Dreadful!"—"Not about the face, though?" "No, no, not so much about the face. Don't anybody know him?" "There's a man says he does."—"Who?" "A servant, they say. But he's struck stupid-like, and the police don't believe him."— "Don't anybody else know who it is?" "Hush——!"
The loud, clear voice of a man in authority silenced the low hum of talking all round me in an instant.
"Where is the gentleman who tried to save him?" said the voice.
"Here, sir—here he is!" Dozens of eager faces pressed about me— dozens of eager arms parted the crowd. The man in authority came up to me with a lantern in his hand.
"This way, sir, if you please," he said quietly.
I was unable to speak to him, I was unable to resist him when he took my arm. I tried to say that I had never seen the dead man in his lifetime—that there was no hope of identifying him by means of a stranger like me. But the words failed on my lips. I was faint, and silent, and helpless.
"Do you know him, sir?"
I was standing inside a circle of men. Three of them opposite to me were holding lanterns low down to the ground. Their eyes, and the eyes of all the rest, were fixed silently and expectantly on my face. I knew what was at my feet—I knew why they were holding the lanterns so low to the ground.
"Can you identify him, sir?"
My eyes dropped slowly. At first I saw nothing under them but a coarse canvas cloth. The dripping of the rain on it was audible in the dreadful silence. I looked up, along the cloth, and there at the end, stark and grim and black, in the yellow light—there was his dead face.
So, for the first and last time, I saw him. So the Visitation of God ruled it that he and I should meet.
The inquest was hurried for certain local reasons which weighed with the coroner and the town authorities. It was held on the afternoon of the next day. I was necessarily one among the witnesses summoned to assist the objects of the investigation.
My first proceeding in the morning was to go to the post-office, and inquire for the letter which I expected from Marian. No change of circumstances, however extraordinary, could affect