Then he cursed the voice, and himself for listening to it, and fell again to vehement prayers and self-reproaches, trying to drown the clamor of his heart with his insistent petitions. If he could only pray as he had been wont to pray, he was saved. There lay a respite from thought and a refuge from passion. Why could he not abandon his whole soul to communion with God, as once he could, shutting out all save the sense of sin and the conviction of forgiveness? He prayed for power to pray. But, like the guilty king, he could not say Amen. He could not bind his wandering thoughts, nor dispel the forward imaginings of his distempered mind. He asked one thing, and in his heart desired another; he prayed, and did not desire an answer to his prayer; for when he tried to bow his heart in supplication, ever in the midst, between him and the throne before which he bent, came the form and the face and the voice he loved, and the temptation and the longing and the doubt. And he was tost and driven about through the livelong night till, in utter weariness, he fell on the floor and slept.
An Early Train and a Morning’s Amusement.
It was still early when he awoke, weary, stiff, and unrefreshed, but with a conviction in his mind that had grown plain and strong in the mysterious way notions sometimes seem to gather force in hours of unconsciousness, and surprise us with their mature vigor when we awake. “I must go!” he kept muttering to himself; “I must go—go and think. I dare do nothing now.” He hastily packed a hand bag, wrote a note for Eugene, asking that the rest of his luggage might be forwarded to an address he would send, went quietly downstairs, and, finding the door just opened, passed out unseen. He had three miles to walk to the station, but his restless feet brought him there quickly, and he had more than an hour to wait for the first train, at half-past eight. He sat down on the platform and waited. His capacity for thought and emotion seemed for the time exhausted. His thoughts wandered from one trivial matter to another, always eluding his effort to fix them. He found himself acutely studying the gang of laborers who were going by train to their day’s work, and wondering how many pipes each of their carefully guarded matches would light, and what each carried in his battered tin drinking-bottle, remembering with a dreary sort of amusement that he had heard this same incurable littleness of thought settled on men condemned to death. Still, it passed the time, and he was surprised out of a sort of reverie by the clanging of the porter’s inharmonious bell.
At the same moment a phaeton was rapidly driven up to the door of the station, and all the porters rushed to meet it.
“Label it all for London,” he heard Eugene’s voice say. “Four boxes, a portmanteau, and a hat-box. No, I’m not going—this lady and gentleman.”