When he reached the passage outside, he thought he saw the glimmer of a light, perhaps in the picture-gallery beyond. Towards this he groped his way. — He could never account for the fact, that he left the candles burning in the room behind him and went forward into the darkness, except by supposing that his wits had gone astray, in consequence of the shock the apparition had occasioned them. — When he reached the gallery, there was no light there; but somewhere in the distance he saw, or fancied, a faint shimmer.
The impulse to go towards it was too strong to be disputed with. He advanced with outstretched arms, groping. After a few steps, he had lost all idea of where he was, or how he ought to proceed in order to reach any known quarter. The light had vanished. He stood. — Was that a stealthy step he heard beside him in the dark? He had no time to speculate, for the next moment he fell senseless.
Darkness is fled: look, infant morn hath drawn
Bright silver curtains ’bout the couch of night;
And now Aurora’s horse trots azure rings,
Breathing fair light about the firmament.
Stand; what’s that?
John Marston. — Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.
When he came to himself, it was with a slow flowing of the tide of consciousness. His head ached. Had he fallen down stairs? — or had he struck his head against some projection, and so stunned himself? The last he remembered was — standing quite still in the dark, and hearing something. Had he been knocked down? He could not tell. — Where was he? Could the ghost have been all a dream? and this headache be nature’s revenge upon last night’s wine? — For he lay on the couch in the haunted chamber, and on his bosom lay the book over which he had dropped asleep.
Mingled with all this doubt, there was another. For he remembered that, when consciousness first returned, he felt as if he had seen Euphra’s face bending down close over his. — Could it be possible? Had Euphra herself come to see how he had fared? — The room lay in the grey light of the dawn, but Euphra was nowhere visible. Could she have vanished ashamed through the secret door? Or had she been only a phantasy, a projection outwards of the form that dwelt in his brain; a phenomenon often occurring when the last of sleeping and the first of waking are indistinguishably blended in a vague consciousness?
But if it was so, then the ghost? — what of it? Had not his brain, by the events of the preceding evening, been similarly prepared with regard to it? Was it not more likely, after all, that she too was the offspring of his own imagination — the power that makes images — especially when considered, that she exactly corresponded to the description given by the Bohemian? — But had he not observed many points at which the Count had not even hinted? — Still, it was as natural to expect that an excited imagination should supply the details of a wholly imaginary spectacle, as that, given the idea of Euphra’s presence, it should present the detail of her countenance; for the creation of that which is not, belongs as much to the realm of the imagination, as the reproduction of that which is.