A while afterward, she suddenly started in her chair, her head raised, as if listening. The fire burnt as warmly as ever, but Sophie was trembling incontrollably, and her heart was beating most unmercifully. She walked quickly and blindly, with outstretched hands, to the window. This time the ominous board forbore to creak. Its omen was fulfilled.
Without hesitating, she threw up the window, and, unmindful of the tingling inrush of cold air, she leaned out, and looked down through the arched window of the porch. The bare vines that struggled across it afforded no interception to the view of the two figures standing within. Sophie gazed at them as a bird does at a snake; she could not take her eyes away; she could not move nor utter a sound. It was like the oppression and paralysis of a fearful dream. Was she dreaming?
It was a terribly vivid dream, at any rate. She seemed to see one of the figures—a woman—clasp the man’s hand passionately in hers and speak. The voice was known to her; it was as familiar as her own; but the words it uttered made her sure she was asleep. Thank God! it wasn’t real. She would wake up in a moment, and shudder to think how ugly a dream it had been. Oh, if she could only awaken before this conversation went any further! It was breaking her heart: it was killing her. She had heard of people who died in their sleep—was it from such dreams as this?
She seemed to have heard two voices—voices that she loved and knew as well as her own heart—talking a horrible, unholy jargon about some purpose—some plan—something that it was a sin even to listen to or imagine; but, as in a dream, she had no choice but to listen. She tried to shake off the delusion—to see, to prove that what she saw and heard was false. But still it lasted, and lasted. Still those wicked sentences kept creeping into her ears and deadening her heart. O God! would it never cease—would there never be an end?