He dreamed at one time that he was lying calmly in his bed, thinking of a moonlight night and the noise of wheels, when the old clerk put his head in at the door, and beckoned him. At this signal he arose immediately--being already dressed in the clothes he actually wore at that time--and accompanied him into a strange city, where the names of the streets were written on the walls in characters quite new to him; which gave him no surprise or uneasiness, for he remembered in his dream to have been there before. Although these streets were very precipitous, insomuch that to get from one to another it was necessary to descend great heights by ladders that were too short, and ropes that moved deep bells, and swung and swayed as they were clung to, the danger gave him little emotion beyond the first thrill of terror; his anxieties being concentrated on his dress which was quite unfitted for some festival that was about to be holden there, and in which he had come to take a part. Already, great crowds began to fill the streets, and in one direction myriads of people came rushing down an interminable perspective, strewing flowers and making way for others on white horses, when a terrible figure started from the throng, and cried out that it was the Last Day for all the world. The cry being spread, there was a wild hurrying on to Judgment; and the press became so great that he and his companion (who was constantly changing, and was never the same man two minutes together, though he never saw one man come or another go), stood aside in a porch, fearfully surveying the multitude; in which there were many faces that he knew, and many that he did not know, but dreamed he did; when all at once a struggling head rose up among the rest--livid and deadly, but the same as he had known it--and denounced him as having appointed that direful day to happen. They closed together. As he strove to free the hand in which he held a club, and strike the blow he had so often thought of, he started to the knowledge of his waking purpose and the rising of the sun.
The sun was welcome to him. There were life and motion, and a world astir, to divide the attention of Day. It was the eye of Night--of wakeful, watchful, silent, and attentive Night, with so much leisure for the observation of his wicked thoughts--that he dreaded most. There is no glare in the night. Even Glory shows to small advantage in the night, upon a crowded battle-field. How then shows Glory's blood-relation, bastard Murder!
Aye! He made no compromise, and held no secret with himself now. Murder. He had come to do it.
'Let me get down here' he said
'Short of the town, eh!' observed the coachman.
'I may get down where I please, I suppose?'
'You got up to please yourself, and may get down to please yourself. It won't break our hearts to lose you, and it wouldn't have broken 'em if we'd never found you. Be a little quicker. That's all.'
The guard had alighted, and was waiting in the road to take his money. In the jealousy and distrust of what he contemplated, he thought this man looked at him with more than common curiosity
'What are you staring at?' said Jonas.
'Not at a handsome man,' returned the guard. 'If you want your fortune told, I'll tell you a bit of it. You won't be drowned. That's a consolation for you.'
Before he could retort or turn away, the coachman put an end to the dialogue by giving him a cut with his whip, and biddig him get out for a surly dog. The guard jumped up to his seat at the same moment, and they drove off, laughing; leaving him to stand in the road and shake his fist at them. He was not displeased though, on second thoughts, to have been taken for an ill-conditioned common country fellow; but rather congratulated himself upon it as a proof that he was well disguised.
Wandering into a copse by the road-side--but not in that place; two or three miles off--he tore out from a fence a thick, hard, knotted stake; and, sitting down beneath a hayrick, spent some time in shaping it, in peeling off the bark, and fashioning its jagged head with his knife.