“I awakened about one o’clock this morning,” she said, “and knew that my sleep was gone from me altogether. Yet I did not feel afraid or restless; but lay there content enough, expecting something, but what it would be I did not know. The cocks were crowing as I awakened; and then were silent; and it appeared to me as if all the world were listening. After a while—I should say it was ten minutes or thereabouts—I turned over with my face to the wall; and as I did so, I heard a soft step coming up the stairs. One of the maids, thought I, late abed or early rising, for sickness. When the steps came to my door they ceased; and a hand was laid upon the latch; and at that I made to move; but could not. Yet it was not fear that held me there, though it was like a gentle pricking all over me. Then the latch was lifted, and still I could not move, not even my eyes; and a person came in, and across the floor to my bed. And even then I could not move nor cry out. Presently the person spoke; but I do not know what she said, though it was only a word or two: but the voice came from high up, as almost from the canopy of the bed, and it was the voice of an old woman, speaking in a kind of whisper. I said nothing; for I could not: and then again the steps moved across the floor, and out of the door; and I heard the latch shut again; and then they passed away down the stairs.”
My Cousin Dorothy was pale as death by this time; and her blue eyes were set wide open. I made to take her by the hand; but I did not.
“You were dreaming,” I said; “it was the memory of the tale you have heard.”
She shook her head; but she said nothing.
“You have never had it before?” I asked.
“Never,” she said.
“You must lie in another chamber for a week or two, and forget it.”
“I cannot do that,” she said. “My father would know of it.” And she spoke so courageously that I was reassured.
“Well; you must cry out if it comes again. You can have your maid to sleep with you.”
“I might do that,” she said; and then—
“Cousin Roger; doth God permit these things to provide us against some danger?”
“It may be so,” I said, to quiet her; “but be sure that no harm can come of it.”
At that we heard her father calling her; and she stood up.
“I have told you as a secret, Cousin Roger; there must be no word to my father.”
I pledged myself to that; for I could see what a spirit she had; and we said no more about it then.
As the day passed on, the sky grew heavy—or rather the air; for the sky was still blue overhead; only on the horizon to the south the clouds that are called cumuli began to gather. The air was so hot too that I could scarcely bear to work, for I had set myself to take some plant-cuttings in a little glass-house that was in the garden against the south wall; and by noon the sky was overcast.