Sophie, having carried her point regarding her wedding-dress, had nothing better to do after Cornelia had left her than to give herself up to reverie. She had a private purpose to sit up until her sister’s return, that she might hear all about Bressant, and why he had stayed away so long and sent no word. That he had returned, expecting to meet her at the ball, she entertained not the slightest doubt; nor was there at this time any suspicion or misgiving in her mind about his fidelity and love.
Mankind’s ignorance of the future is, beyond dispute, a blessing; yet we could wish, for Sophie, that so much presentiment of what was to come might be hers as to lead her to concentrate all possible happy thoughts into the few hours that remained wherein she might yet be happy. She had full scope and freedom to think what she would—no less than if a hundred years of earthly bliss had awaited her. Her life had been full of all manner of spiritual beauties and perfumes—a divine poem, though written upon clay. Let only the harmony of sweet music float about her now, and the shadow of what was to come be not cast over her.
She sat in her deep, soft easy-chair, with its high back, and square, roomy seat. An open-grate stove furnished light to the room, for Sophie had blown out her candle. As the flame rose or sank, the various objects round about stood visible, or vanished duskily away. Endymion, over the mantel-piece, still slept as peacefully as ever, and the smile, though forever upon his lips, seemed always to have but that moment alighted there. How tenderly the lustrous touch of the moon brightened on his white shoulder!
The golden letters of the Lord’s Prayer gleamed ever and anon from the shadow above the bed, and sent the shining beauty of a sentence across to Sophie’s eyes; and the face of the cherub, with his chin upon his hand, was turned upward in immortal adoration. Sophie’s glance rested thoughtfully upon one and then the other. They were incorporated into her life. Would they have power to protect her from evil and suffering? Well, the words of the Prayer settle that question most wisely.
How silent the house was and how light it was out-doors! Sophie rose from her chair by the fire and walked slowly to the window. A board creaked beneath her quiet foot and a red coal fell with a gentle thud into the ash-receiver. Then, as Sophie leaned against the window, she heard the little ormolu clock, in the room below, faintly tinkle out the half-hour after eleven. Before long—in an hour, perhaps—Cornelia would be back, rosy with the cold, fresh, laughing, and full of news. Dear Neelie! How Sophie wished that she might find a love as deep and a happiness as perfect as had come to her. It hardly seemed fair that she should monopolize so much of the world’s joy. True, God knows best; but Sophie, with her forehead against