“I reckon I will,” said Sally chuckling; and then shuffled off about her own duties.
THE GARMENTS OF ANOTHER
Left alone, Josephine St. Auban at last attempted to pull herself together. With the instinct of a newly caged animal, she made a little tour of the room. First she noted the depth of the windows, their height above the ground. No escape there, that was sure—unless one, cat-like, could climb down this light ladder up which the ivy ran between the cornice and the ground. No, it was a prison.
In the room itself were good yet simple furnishings. The wall paper was of a small and ancient figuring. In places it hung torn. The furniture was old mahogany, apparently made in an earlier generation. An engraving or so hung askew upon the wall, a broken bust stood on a bracket. The tall tester bed, decorated with a patchwork silken covering, showed signs of comfort, but was neither modern nor over neat. The room was not furnished in poverty, but its spirit, its atmosphere, its feeling, lacked something, a woman could have told what.
She pushed back the heavy dresser, but the wall was without opening behind it. She looked for the key to the door, and was glad to find the lock in order. For the first time now she laid off her bonnet, unfastened her wrap. With a hand which trembled she made some sort of attempt at toilet, staring into the mirror at a face scarcely recognized as her own. The corners of its mouth were drooping plaintively. A faint blue lay beneath the eyes.
She faced the fact that she must pass the night alone. If it is at night that the shadows fall upon the soul, then most of all does woman, weak and timorous animal, long for some safe and accustomed refuge place, for a home; and most of all does she shrink from unfamiliar surroundings. Yet she slept, wearied to exhaustion. The night was cool, the air fresh from the mountains coming in through the opened window, and bringing with it calm.
Dawn came. A chirping cedar bird, busy in the near-by shrubbery, wakened her with a care-free note. She started up and gazed out with that sudden wonder and terror which at times seize upon us when we awake in strange environment. Youth and vitality resumed sway. She was alive, then. The night had passed, then. She was as she had been, herself, her own, still. The surge of young blood came back in her veins. The morning was there, the hills were there, the world was there. Hope began once more with the throb of her perfect pulse. She stretched a round white arm and looked down it to her hand. She held up her fingers against the light, and the blood in them, the soul in them, showed pink and clean between. Slowly she pushed down the patchwork silk. There lay her splendid limbs and body. Yes, it was she, it was herself, her own. Yes, she would live, she would succeed, she would win! All of which, of course, meant to her but one thing—escape.