I look around, and the woman and boy are gone without a trace. I quit the Tower with a blank look on my face, as one bewitched by a phantom fox. On my way out, I pass beneath the Bell Tower once more and catch in the high window a brief glimpse of Guy Fawkes. I can hear his voice. "If only but one hour sooner ... 'tis a pity indeed that these matches served me not." Beginning to doubt my own senses, I hurry out of the Tower. On crossing the Tower Bridge and turning back, this day too, as seems to happen in these northern lands, is suddenly turned to rain. Fine drops, like rice bran blown through the eye of a needle, are falling over the capital, washing out dust and soot, and knitting together heaven and earth. In the midst of this all I look up, and rising like a shadow from the depths is the Tower of London.
Still in a dream, I arrive at my lodgings. I tell my landlord that I went and toured the Tower, and he asks if there weren't five ravens. I'm caught by surprise, and I wonder if he might be that woman's kinfolk. He smiles and explains in an easy manner. "Those aren't just any ravens. They've been kept there for ages. If one goes missing it's replaced, so there are always five." The first half of my fantasy, on the very day of my visit, has thus been crushed. When I tell him of the epigrams, his off-hand response is, "You mean those scribblings? Unfortunate they are, defacing a fine place. At any rate, the work of transgressors. My bet the greater part are a sham." He is fully unmoved. Finally, I tell him of the lovely lady, describing in awe how she knew things we don't know and read with ease arcane writing. His reply is heavy with contempt. "Of course she did. No one visits but hasn't studied the guidebook. There's no reason not to have known what she knew. You say she was stunning? London is full of stunning ladies. You'd best be on your guard." The latter half of my fantasy had now been crushed as well, and the turn of conversation was not in my favor. My landlord was a twentieth century Londoner.
From then on I made no mention to anyone of the Tower of London. Nor did I return to visit again.