His auditors never thought of reasoning with or contradicting the Enthusiast. They listened in silence, only when he paused, making some inquiry or suggestion, in order to induce him to develop his notions still further; and so in conversation of this kind passed the evening.
Upon the departure of Bernard, Holden was pressed to pass the night at his host’s, and accepted the invitation. The events of the day had proved to be too much for even his iron frame, and he was not unwilling to be relieved of the long walk to his hut. Before retiring, he listened reverently to a chapter from the Bible, read by Armstrong, and joined with him and Faith, in their customary devotions.
No man who sinks to sleep at night
Knows what his dreams shall be;
No man can know what wonder-sight
His inner eye shall see.
THOMAS L. HARRIS.
When Holden was left alone in his chamber, he sank into a seat and covered his face with both hands. He remained in this position for some time, and when he removed them, it was very pale, and exhibited traces of strong emotion. He cast his eyes slowly around the room, examining every part, not even the furniture escaping minute observation. But of all the objects a portrait that hung over the fire-place attracted the most attention. It was that of a man, past the prime of life, and who in youth must have possessed considerable beauty. The features were regular and well-formed, the forehead high and broad, and the hair long and abundant, waving in curls over the shoulders. What was the age designed to be portrayed, it was difficult to determine with any degree of exactness, for there was a contradiction between the parts which appeared scarcely reconcilable with one another. Looking at the furrows that seamed the face, its pallor, and the wrinkles of the brow, one would have said that the original must have been a man between sixty and seventy, while the hair, dark and glossy, indicated much less age. Yet, the perfection of the drawing, the flesh-like tints that melted into each other, and the air of reality that stamped the whole, proclaimed the portrait the work of a master, and it was impossible to avoid the conviction that it was an authentic likeness.
Holden placed the candle on the mantelpiece in such a manner as best to throw light upon the picture, and stood at a little distance to contemplate it. As he gazed, he began to fancy he discovered traits which had at first escaped his observation. An expression of pain and anxious sadness overspread the face, and gleams of light, like the glare of insanity, shot from the eyes. So strong was the impression, and so deeply was he affected, that as if incapable of enduring the sight, he shut his eyes, and turning away, paced several times backwards and forwards, without looking up. After a few turns, he stopped