Meanwhile, the objects of these ruminations had reached the terrace overlooking Pendle Water, and were pacing slowly backwards and forwards along it.
“One might be very happy in this sequestered spot, Alizon,” observed Richard. “To some persons it might appear dull, but to me, if blessed with you, it would be little short of Paradise.”
“Alas! Richard,” she replied, forcing a smile, “why conjure up visions of happiness which never can be realised? But even with you I do not think I could be happy here. There is something about the house which, when I first beheld it, filled me with unaccountable terror. Never since I was a mere infant have I been within it till to-day, and yet it was quite familiar to me—horribly familiar. I knew the hall in which we stood together, with its huge arched fireplace, and the armorial bearings upon it, and could point out the stone on which were carved my father’s initials ‘R.N.,’ with the date ‘1572.’ I knew the tapestry on the walls, and the painted glass in the long range windows. I knew the old oak staircase, and the gallery beyond it, and the room to which my mother led me. I knew the portraits painted on the panels, and at once recognised my father. I knew the great carved oak bedstead in this room, and the high chimney-piece, and the raised hearthstone, and shuddered as I gazed at it. You will ask me how these things could be familiar to me? I will tell you. I had seen them repeatedly in my dreams. They have haunted me for years, but I only to-day knew they had an actual existence, or were in any way connected with my own history. The sight of that house inspired me with a horror I have not been able to overcome; and I have a presentiment that some ill will befall me within it. I would never willingly dwell there.”
“The warning voice within you, which should never be despised, prompts you to quit it,” cried Richard; “and I also urge you in like manner.”
“In vain,” sighed Alizon. “This terrace is beautiful,” she added, as they resumed their walk, “and I shall often come hither, if I am permitted. At sunset, this river, and the woody heights above it, must be enchanting; and I do not dislike the savage character of the surrounding scenery. It enhances, by contrast, the beauty of this solitude. I only wish the spot commanded a view of Pendle Hill.”
“You are like my cousin Nicholas, who thinks no prospect complete unless that hill forms part of it,” said Richard; “but since I find that you will often come hither at sunset, I shall not despair of seeing and conversing with you again, even if I am forbidden the house by Mistress Nutter. That thicket is an excellent hiding-place, and this stream is easily crossed.”
“We can have no secret interviews, Richard,” replied Alizon; “I shall come hither to think of you, but not to meet you. You must never return to Rough Lee again—that is, not unless some change takes place, which I dare not anticipate—but, hist! I am called. I must go back to the house.”