“There is more in one sentence of his than in a a page of the other’s wordy utterances.” Her lips moved in the earnestness of her inward-spoken thoughts. “How annoyed I was to be dragged from his side by Mr. Dexter just as I had begun to feel a little at my ease, and just as my voice had gained something of its true expression. It is strange how his presence disturbs me; and how my eyes fall beneath his gaze! He seems very cold and very distant; and proud I should think. Proud! Ah! has he not cause for pride? I have not looked upon his peer to-night. How that man did persecute me with his attentions! He monopolized me wholly! Perhaps I should be flattered by his attentions—and, perhaps, I was. I know that I was envied. Ah, me! what a pressure there is on my heart! From the moment I first looked into the face of Paul Hendrickson, I have been an enigma to myself. Some great change is wrought in me—some new capacities opened—some deeper yearnings quickened into life. I am still Jessie Loring, though not the Jessie Loring of yesterday. Have I completed a cycle of being? Am I entering upon another and higher sphere of existence? How the questions bewilder me! Clouds and darkness seem gathering around me, and my heart springs upward, half in fear, and half in hope!”
An hour later, and Miss Loring still sat by the closed window, her eyes upon the gleaming river and sombre woods beyond, yet seeing them not. The tall mountain of vapor, which had arisen like a pyramid of white marble, no longer retained its clear, bold outline, but, yielding to aerial currents, had been rent from base to crown, and now its scattered fragments lay in wild confusion along the whole sweep of the western horizon. Down into these shapeless ruins the moon had plunged, and her pure light was struggling to penetrate their rifts, and pour its blessing upon the slumbering earth.
A rush of wind startled the maiden from her deep abstraction, and, as it went moaning away among the eaves and angles of the surrounding tenements, she arose, and putting off her garments, went sighing to bed. Dreams visited her in sleep, and in every dream she was in the presence of Paul Hendrickson. Very pleasant were they, for in the sweet visions that came to her, Paul was by her side, his voice filling her ears and echoing in her heart like tones of delicious music. They walked through fragrant meadows, by the side of glittering streams, and amid groves with singing birds on all the blossomy branches. How tenderly he spoke to her!—how reverently he touched with his manly lips her soft white hand, sending such electric thrills of joy to her heart as waking maidens rarely know! But, suddenly, after a long season of blessed intercourse, a stern voice shocked her ears, and a heavy hand grasped roughly her arm. She turned in fear, and Leon Dexter stood before her, a dark frown upon his countenance. With a cry of terror she awoke.