This black shadow recalled with a horrid thrill the outline and fashion of the figure in the Spanish dress. There were the cap and mantle, the rapier, the long thin limbs and sinister angularity. It was so thrown obliquely that the hands reached to the window-sill, and the feet stretched and stretched, longer and longer as she looked, toward the ground, and disappeared in the general darkness; and the rest, with a sudden flicker, shot downwards, as shadows will on the sudden movement of a light, and was lost in one gigantic leap down the castle wall.
“I do not know whether I dream or wake when I hear and see these sights; but I will ask my father to sit up with me, and we two surely cannot be mistaken. May the holy saints keep and guard us!” And in her terror she buried her head under the bed-clothes, and whispered her prayers for an hour.
“I have been with Father Denis,” said De Lacy, next day, “and he will come to-morrow; and, thank Heaven! you may both make your confession and hear mass, and my mind will be at rest; and you’ll find poor Una happier and more like herself.”
But ’tween cup and lip there’s many a slip. The priest was not destined to hear poor Una’s shrift. When she bid her sister goodnight she looked on her with her large, cold, wild eyes, till something of her old human affections seemed to gather there, and they slowly filled with tears, which dropped one after the other on her homely dress as she gazed in her sister’s face.
Alice, delighted, sprang up, and clasped her arms about her neck. “My own darling treasure,’tis all over; you love your poor Alice again, and will be happier than ever.”
But while she held her in her embrace Una’s eyes were turned towards the window, and her lips apart, and Alice felt instinctively that her thoughts were already far away.
“Hark!—listen!—hush!” and Una, with her delighted gaze fixed, as if she saw far away beyond the castle wall, the trees, the glen, and the night’s dark curtain, held her hand raised near her ear, and waved her head slightly in time, as it seemed, to music that reached not Alice’s ear, and smiled her strange pleased smile, and then the smile slowly faded away, leaving that sly suspicious light behind it which somehow scared her sister with an uncertain sense of danger; and she sang in tones so sweet and low that it seemed but a reverie of a song, recalling, as Alice fancied, the strain to which she had just listened in that strange ecstasy, the plaintive and beautiful Irish ballad, “Shule, shule, shule, aroon,” the midnight summons of the outlawed Irish soldier to his darling to follow him.
Alice had slept little the night before. She was now overpowered with fatigue; and leaving her candle burning by her bedside, she fell into a deep sleep. From this she awoke suddenly, and completely, as will sometimes happen without any apparent cause, and she saw Una come into the room. She had a little purse of embroidery—her own work—in her hand; and she stole lightly to the bedside, with her peculiar oblique smile, and evidently thinking that her sister was asleep.