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Paul Prescott's Charge eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about Paul Prescott's Charge.

Gradually the feeling of fatigue—­for he had been walking the streets all day—­became so powerful that his struggles to keep awake became harder and harder.  In vain he sat erect, resolved not to yield.  The moment afterwards his head inclined to one side; the lights began to swim before his eyes; the voice of the preacher subsided into a low and undistinguishable hum.  Paul’s head sank upon the cushion, his bundle, which had been his constant companion during the day, fell softly to the floor, and he fell into a deep sleep.

Meanwhile the sermon came to a close, and another hymn was sung, but even the music was insufficient to wake our hero now.  So the benediction was pronounced, and the people opened the doors of their pews and left the church.

Last of all the sexton walked up and down the aisles, closing such of the pew doors as were open.  Then he shut off the gas, and after looking around to see that nothing was forgotten, went out, apparently satisfied, and locked the outer door behind him.

Paul, meanwhile, wholly unconscious of his situation, slept on as tranquilly as if there were nothing unusual in the circumstances in which he was placed.  Through the stained windows the softened light fell upon his tranquil countenance, on which a smile played, as if his dreams were pleasant.  What would Aunt Lucy have thought if she could have seen her young friend at this moment?

XV.

A turn of fortune.

Notwithstanding his singular bedchamber, Paul had a refreshing night’s sleep from which he did not awake till the sun had fairly risen, and its rays colored by the medium through which they were reflected, streamed in at the windows and rested in many fantastic lines on the richly carved pulpit and luxurious pews.

Paul sprang to his feet and looked around him in bewilderment.

“Where am I?” he exclaimed in astonishment.

In the momentary confusion of ideas which is apt to follow a sudden awakening, he could not remember where he was, or how he chanced to be there.  But in a moment memory came to his aid, and he recalled the events of the preceding day, and saw that he must have been locked up in the church.

“How am I going to get out?” Paul asked himself in dismay.

This was the important question just now.  He remembered that the village meeting-house which he had been accustomed to attend was rarely opened except on Sundays.  What if this should be the case here?  It was Thursday morning, and three days must elapse before his release.  This would never do.  He must seek some earlier mode of deliverance.

He went first to the windows, but found them so secured that it was impossible for him to get them open.  He tried the doors, but found, as he had anticipated, that they were fast.  His last resource failing, he was at liberty to follow the dictates of his curiosity.

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