My ostensible errand on this occasion was to get measured for a pair of
shoes; so I discharged that business first, and when it was done, I
stepped across the clean and quiet little street from the shoemaker's to
the post-office: it was kept by an old dame, who wore horn spectacles on
her nose, and black mittens on her hands.
"Are there any letters for J.E.?" I asked.
She peered at me over her spectacles, and then she opened a drawer and
fumbled among its contents for a long time, so long that my hopes began
to falter. At last, having held a document before her glasses for nearly
five minutes, she presented it across the counter, accompanying the act
by another inquisitive and mistrustful glance--it was for J.E.
"Is there only one?" I demanded.
"There are no more," said she; and I put it in my pocket and turned my
face homeward: I could not open it then; rules obliged me to be back by
eight, and it was already half-past seven.