The smoke curled up and spread itself over the face of the mirror confronting me. I followed it lazily with my eyes. Then suddenly I bent forward, staring up. Something very curious was happening to the glass.
WHAT I SAW IN THE MIRROR.
The smoke that had dimmed the mirror’s face for a moment was rolling off its surface and upwards to the ceiling. But some of it still lingered in filmy, slowly revolving eddies. The glass itself, too, was stirring beneath this film and running across its breadth in horizontal waves which broke themselves silently, one after another, against the dark frame, while the circles of smoke kept widening, as the ripples widen when a stone is tossed into still water.
I rubbed my eyes. The motion on the mirror’s surface was quickening perceptibly, while the glass itself was steadily becoming more opaque, the film deepening to a milky colour and lying over the surface in heavy folds. I was about to start up and touch the glass with my hand, when beneath this milky colour and from the heart of the whirling film, there began to gleam an underlying brilliance after the fashion of the light in an opal, but with this difference, that the light here was blue— a steel blue so vivid that the pain of it forced me to shut my eyes. When I opened them again, this light had increased in intensity. The disturbance in the glass began to abate; the eddies revolved more slowly; the smoke-wreaths faded: and as they died wholly out, the blue light went out on a sudden and the mirror looked down upon me as before.
That is to say, I thought so for a moment. But the next, I found that though its face reflected the room in which I sat, there was one omission.
I was that omission. My arm-chair was there, but no one sat in it.
I was surprised; but, as well as I can recollect, not in the least frightened. I continued, at any rate, to gaze steadily into the glass, and now took note of two particulars that had escaped me. The table I saw was laid for two. Forks, knives and glasses gleamed at either end, and a couple of decanters caught the sparkle of the candles in the centre. This was my first observation. The second was that the colours of the hearth-rug had gained in freshness, and that a dark spot just beyond it—a spot which in my first exploration I had half-amusedly taken for a blood-stain—was not reflected in the glass.
As I leant back and gazed, with my hands in my lap, I remember there was some difficulty in determining whether the tune by which I was still haunted ran in my head or was tinkling from within the old spinet by the window. But after a while the music, whencesoever it came, faded away and ceased. A dead silence held everything for about thirty seconds.
And then, still looking in the mirror, I saw the door behind me open slowly.