’It really seems, Maud, as if he had a supernatural sense, and heard things through the air over fifty miles of heath and hill. You remember how, just as he was probably writing that very postscript yesterday, I was urging you to come and stay with me, and planning to move Dr. Bryerly in our favour. And so I will, Maud, and to me you shall come—my guest, mind—I should be so delighted; and really if Silas is under a cloud, it has been his own doing, and I don’t see that it is your business to fight his battle. He can’t live very long. The suspicion, whatever it is dies with him, and what could poor dear Austin prove by his will but what everybody knew quite well before—his own strong belief in Silas’s innocence? What an awful storm! The room trembles. Don’t you like the sound? What they used to call ‘wolving’ in the old organ at Dorminster!’
THE STORY OF UNCLE SILAS
And so it was like the yelling of phantom hounds and hunters, and the thunder of their coursers in the air—a furious, grand and supernatural music, which in my fancy made a suitable accompaniment to the discussion of that enigmatical person—martyr—angel—demon—Uncle Silas—with whom my fate was now so strangely linked, and whom I had begun to fear.
‘The storm blows from that point,’ I said, indicating it with my hand and eye, although the window shutters and curtains were closed. ’I saw all the trees bend that way this evening. That way stands the great lonely wood, where my darling father and mother lie. Oh, how dreadful on nights like this, to think of them—a vault!—damp, and dark, and solitary—under the storm.’
Cousin Monica looked wistfully in the same direction, and with a short sigh she said—
’We think too much of the poor remains, and too little of the spirit which lives for ever. I am sure they are happy.’ And she sighed again. ’I wish I dare hope as confidently for myself. Yes, Maud, it is sad. We are such materialists, we can’t help feeling so. We forget how well it is for us that our present bodies are not to last always. They are constructed for a time and place of trouble—plainly mere temporary machines that wear out, constantly exhibiting failure and decay, and with such tremendous capacity for pain. The body lies alone, and so it ought, for it is plainly its good Creator’s will; it is only the tabernacle, not the person, who is clothed upon after death, Saint Paul says, “with a house which is from heaven.” So Maud, darling, although the thought will trouble us again and again, there is nothing in it; and the poor mortal body is only the cold ruin of a habitation which they have forsaken before we do. So this great wind, you say, is blowing toward us from the wood there. If so, Maud, it is blowing from Bartram-Haugh, too, over the trees and chimneys of that old place, and the mysterious old man, who is quite right in thinking I don’t like him; and I can fancy him an old enchanter in his castle, waving his familiar spirits on the wind to fetch and carry tidings of our occupations here.’