Leah mordecai sat alone in her bed chamber. A bright fire glowed within the grate, and the gas-light overhead added its mellow brightness to the apartment. Arrayed in a comfortable crimson silk wrapper, the girl sat before the fire, with her slippered foot upon the fender, and gazed steadily and thoughtfully into the fantastic coals. Without, the world was cold and bright, for a pale, tremulous moon filled the world with its beauty. The wind came in across the sea, and mingling with the murmur of the waters, produced a weird and ghost-like sound, as it swept through half-deserted streets, penetrating rudely the abodes of poverty, and whistling around the mansions of the rich. This sound Leah heard faintly, as it sought ingress at her windows, and down the half-closed chimney. She shuddered; yet it was not an unusual or a frightful sound, and not half so saddening as the sound that floated up the stairs: the sound of low, sweet singing-Mark Abrams singing with flute-like voice to her sister Sarah, who was soon, very soon, expected to become his wife. Leah had heard that voice before, had listened to its melody, attuned to other words, and as she recalled the vanished time, she trembled, shuddered, with an indefinable terror.
As the sound of the music ceased, she arose and walked to the window. With both hands pressed closely beside her face, so as to exclude every gleam of light from within, she looked steadily out of the window. All without was bright, and cold, and beautiful. White fleecy clouds drifted about the heavens, like so many phantom barks upon the deep blue sea.
“It’s cold without and cold within,” she muttered, and then, as if startled by some sudden resolve, she turned from the window back to a small escritoire, saying:
“Yes, I’ll delay no longer. I must answer Lizzie’s letter and tell her all. My duties for the coming week will be pressing, allowing me no opportunity for writing, equal to that of the present.”
Then she wrote: “Queen city, January 20, 185-.
“My own cherished friend: To-night from my casement I looked out upon the cold, bright world, wrapped in moonlight, and as I gazed at the far-off misty horizon, the distance called to mind my far-off friend at Melrose—recalled to mind, too, the fact that your last welcome letter has for an unwonted length of time remained unanswered. Your letter that came on the new year, came as the flowers of spring, always fresh and beautiful. It has been neglected from the inevitable press of circumstances by which I have been surrounded, which neglect, I feel assured, you will appreciate and forgive, when I have detailed the following facts.
“My sister Sarah is to be married in a week. This approaching event has been the cause of my restricted time, pressing out of sight, and even out of memory, all letter-writing.
“Yes, dear Lizzie, the long-expected nuptials are actually about to be celebrated, and all our household, except myself, are in a fever of excitement and delight.