There is something in these little ever-recurring actions, however—these things which we do so often as to do them unconsciously—which predisposes to thought and reflection. Cornelia, having untied the knot, had not got farther than the fourth hole from the top, her eyes meanwhile wandering slowly around the picturesque but rather disorderly little room, before she became dreamily interested in watching the shadow of a neck-scarf she had hung upon the support of the looking-glass, projected upon the wall by the flickering light of the candle. As she looked, her fingers began to labor upon the boot-lace, and her eyes grew gradually larger and darker. Occasionally there were little quiverings of the upper and under lids, barely perceptible movements of the tip of the nose and the nostrils, and twitching at the mouth-corners. By-and-by the twitchings resolved themselves into a smile, very faint and far away at first, but broadening and brightening every moment; now, the dimples were visible at half a glance, and now, upon the still air of the chamber, there rippled forth—
Cornelia put her hand to her mouth, and gave a quick, furtive glance over her shoulder, as if in fear lest some one might have overheard her. She recollected with some relief that the door was locked at any rate, and the curtains down. But, for all that, as she realized what she had been thinking about, and how very far her papa or Sophie would be from laughing if they were told about it, she felt her cheeks tingle, and could not be busy enough with that boot-lace!
There! that was off; now for the other. What a queer man he was, though! Could all that have been put on in the garden—pretending he didn’t know! (This was such a tiresome old knot!) If she only hadn’t been such a goose and laughed—what must he think? What could have been the reason he rushed off in such a hurry? Probably was afraid she’d tell papa, and then he couldn’t be his pupil. Suppose she should tell! that would be mean, though. Perhaps he didn’t intend it, after all. He seemed nice in some ways, though he was so queer. Very likely it was only a sort of spasm—an electric, magnetic thing—she had heard of something of the sort. Yes, and she had felt funny herself that evening—a numb, quivery, prickly kind of sensation: it may have been the thunder-storm! It was strange, though; she never remembered to have felt it before. She wondered whether Mr. Bressant ever had. Perhaps deaf people were more subject to it. What a pity he should be deaf! It made it so awfully embarrassing to talk to him sometimes. It must be dreadful for them to be in love with anybody. Imagine having to talk in that way to a deaf person! or being—
This time it was the candle which took upon itself the task of warning and censorship. It flickered, flared, gasped, and went out. It was a very pathetic, and, it is to be hoped, effective way of remonstrance. But the last thing seen of Cornelia, she was sitting on the sofa, leaning carelessly forward, one hand holding her curved, little, booted foot, the knot still untied, her eyes fixed dreamily on nothing, the half-smile flickering on her lips, and the womanly contours of her figure doubtfully lighted and darkly shaded by the uncertain candle-light.