Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/The ghost in the Green Park

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In the east there is a white, wan glimmer, as of a spectre haunting the dying moments of night: then the twilight of early morning is in the London streets. The air is fresh, exhilarating, unadulterated, for as yet even that very early riser the smoke is not astir. The highways are deserted, and for any visible signs of existence the pulse of the great city would seem to have ceased to beat. Solitary policemen, it is true, pursue the nocturnal pastimes of the force in the way of pulling at door-handles and testing shutter-fastenings; and coffee-stalls, warmed by red stoves, gleam mistily here and there, like town glow-worms, at the corners of open streets—but these, seen through the gauze of dawn, are, after all, more phantoms than actualities, and impart no more semblance of vitality to the sleeping metropolis than ghosts to a grave-yard.

A feeling of solitude begotten by the stillness—so unnatural compared with the roar of later hours—impresses forcibly the mind of the early wanderer. Independence so apparently absolute is not without its element of alarm. In the suspension of all social conventions in sleep, men who are compelled to be awake and about, go back to quite a primitive order of being, and learn the advantages of fraternisation as completely as in the Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/320 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/321 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/322 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/323 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/324 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/325 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/326 Page:Once a Week June to Dec 1863.pdf/327