Man Within, The by Greene Graham

Man Within, The by Greene Graham

Author:Greene, Graham [Greene, Graham]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Modern Classics, Novel
ISBN: 9781409020370
Publisher: Random House / Vintage Classics
Published: 1929-01-01T03:00:00+00:00

8

A LITTLE AFTER midnight it began to rain, a dull steady dripping rain which never ceased. The sun rose, but not into sight. Grey banked clouds slowly appeared, and that was the one sign of day. Along Lewes High Street there was no sound save the regular drip, drip of water from pipes and gables and sign boards. Water streamed from the hair, the robes and the sword of the fat stone Justice on the Assize Court, as though she had just risen from the leaden waves of a ‘pleasure resort’, like Venus out of the Mediterranean. Unperturbed by cold and damp she stared across the street at the windows of the White Hart with an expressionless gaze. A blind was raised and a young man looked out for a moment at the street. Through another window the fading light of a candle could be seen moving upwards, as an elderly, sharp-featured man mounted the stairs to bed. The flames of the two street lamps ceased to be bright gold breaches in the dark and became finally a faint yellow smear on a grey page. Presently an elderly man shuffled along the pavement and turned them out. By order of Lewes Corporation day had officially begun.

For several hours yet there was no movement of human beings in the street. A thin grey cat trod delicately along the gutter in a kind of dignified despondency, and a dog came trotting from a side turning, tail erect in spite of the rain. The cat leapt up three steps of a house and stood with bristling curved back, spitting defiance, while the dog, crouching close to the ground, barked in short, sharp bursts, more for amusement than for any real enmity. The blind of the White Hart was again raised and the same young man looked out, watching the by-play with an intent interest. He was fully dressed and his eyes were strained as though he had been unable to sleep. The cat, suddenly conscious that she was a show for two male creatures, leapt on a railing and disappeared. Dog and man watched in disappointed boredom the steps on which she had stood.

About an hour later a gang of men appeared with brooms and attempted the impossible task of cleaning the street in preparation for the coming of the judge. Sir Edward Parkin was a man of the utmost fastidiousness and the Mayor had learned at a previous Assizes the unpleasant results of displeasing him. While the men scrubbed and brushed and the falling rain defeated their efforts, the clock of St Anne’s Church struck seven and the High Street sprang automatically to life. A milk cart rattled down the road, blinds clattered up, the smell of cooking foods crossed the street, maids came out of doors and emptied pails of water on the steps. As the day advanced little knots of people collected on the pavement and turning their backs on the Assize Court stared up the street. They were waiting for the judge.



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