To Be Read at Dusk by Charles Dickens
TO BE READ AT DUSK
One, two, three, four, five. There were five of them.
Five couriers, sitting on a bench outside the convent on the summit
of the Great St. Bernard in Switzerland, looking at the remote
heights, stained by the setting sun as if a mighty quantity of red
wine had been broached upon the mountain top, and had not yet had
time to sink into the snow.
This is not my simile. It was made for the occasion by the
stoutest courier, who was a German. None of the others took any
more notice of it than they took of me, sitting on another bench on
the other side of the convent door, smoking my cigar, like them,
and - also like them - looking at the reddened snow, and at the
lonely shed hard by, where the bodies of belated travellers, dug
out of it, slowly wither away, knowing no corruption in that cold
The wine upon the mountain top soaked in as we looked; the mountain
became white; the sky, a very dark blue; the wind rose; and the air
turned piercing cold. The five couriers buttoned their rough
coats. There being no safer man to imitate in all such proceedings
than a courier, I buttoned mine.