“Oh, I see, your hand—palmistry,” said Henry, with a touch of gentle impatience.
“Henry, dear, I said you would laugh at me. I won’t tell you now, if you’re going to take it in that spirit.”
Henry promptly locked up his reason for the moment, with apologies, and professed himself open to conviction.
“Well, mother sometimes helps this poor old woman, and, one day, when she happened to call, Alice and Edith and I were in the kitchen helping mother. ‘God bless you, lady,’ she said,—you know how they talk,—’you’ve got a kind heart; and how are all the young ladies? It’s time, I’m thinking, they had their fortunes told.’ ‘Oh, yes,’ we all said, ’tell us our fortunes, mother,’—we always called her mother. ‘I’ll tell you yours, my dear,’ she said, taking hold of my hand. ’Your fortunes are too young yet, ladies,’ she said to Alice and Edith; ’come to me in a year’s time and, maybe, I’ll tell you all about him.’”
“You dear!” said Henry, by way of interruption.
“Then,” continued Angel, “she took me aside, and looked at my hand; and she told me first what had happened to me, and then what was to come. What she told me of the past”—as if dear Angel, whose life was as yet all future, could as yet have had any past to speak of!—“was so true, that I couldn’t help half believing in what she said of the future. Now you’re laughing again!”
“No, indeed, I’m not,” said Henry, perfectly solemn.
“She told me that just before I was twenty, I would meet a young man with dark hair and blue eyes, very unexpectedly,—I shall be twenty in six weeks,—and that he would be my fate. But the strangest is yet to come. ‘Would you like to see his face?’ she said. She made me a little frightened; but, of course, I said, ‘Yes,’ and then she brought out of her pocket a sort of glass egg, and told me to look in it, and tell her what I saw. So I looked, but for a long time I could see nothing; but suddenly there seemed to be something moving in the centre of the glass, like clouds breaking when the sun is coming out; and presently I could see a lamp burning on a table; and then round the lamp shelves of books began to grow out of the mist; then I saw a picture hanging in a recess, a bowed head with a strange sort of head-dress on it, a dark thin face, very sad-looking—”
“Why, that must have been my Dante!” said Henry, astonished in spite of himself.
The exclamation was a “score” for Angel; and she continued, with greater confidence, “And then I seemed to see some one sitting there; but, though I tried and tried, I couldn’t catch sight of his face. I told the old woman what I saw. ‘Wait a minute,’ she said, ‘then try again.’ So I waited, and presently tried again. This time I hadn’t so long to wait before I saw a room again; but it was quite different, a big desk ran along in front of a window, and there were two tall office-stools. ’Why, it’s father’s office,’ I said.