Joris Hyde allowed the sweet emotions Cornelia had inspired to have, and to hold, and to occupy his whole being. His heart burned within him; memories of Cornelia closed his eyes, and then filled them with adorable visions of her pure, fresh loveliness; his pulses bounded; his blood ran warm and free as the ethereal ichor of the gods. Sleep was a thousand leagues away; he was so vivid, that the room felt hot; and he flung open the casement and sat in a beatitude of blissful hopes and imaginations.
And after midnight, when dreams fall, the moon came up over Nassau and Cedar Streets and threw poetic glamours over the antique churches, and grassy graveyards, and the pretty houses, covered with vines and budding rosebushes; and this soft shadow of light calmed and charmed him. In it, he could believe all his dreams possible. He leaned forward and watched the silvery disc, struggling in soft, white clouds; parting them, as with hands, when they formed in baffling, airy masses in her way. And the heavenly traveller was not silent; she had a language he understood; for as he watched the sweet, strong miracle, he said softly to himself—
“It is a sign to me! It is a sign! So will I put away every baffling hindrance between Cornelia and myself. Barriers will only be as those vaporous clouds. I shall part them with my strong resolves—I shall—I shall—I—” and he fell asleep with this sense of victory thrilling his whole being. Then the moon rose higher, and soon came in broad white bars through the window and lay on his young, handsome, smiling face, with the same sweet radiance that in the days of the gods glorified the beautiful shepherd, sleeping on the Ephesian plains.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
When Hyde awakened, he was in that borderland between dreams and day which we call dawn. And as the ear is the last sense to go to sleep, and the first sense to throw off its lethargy, the voices of men calling “Milk Ho!” and the shrill childish cries of “Sweep Ho!” were the first intruders into that pleasant condition between sleeping and waking, so hard for any of us to leave without a sigh of regret. These sounds were quickly supplemented by the roll of the heavy carts which purveyed the only water suitable for drinking and culinary purposes; and by the sounds of wood-sawing and wood-chopping before the doors of the adjacent houses—sounds quickly blending themselves with the shuffling feet of the slaves cleaning the doorsteps and sidewalks, and chattering, singing, quarrelling the while with their neighbours, or with other early ministers to the city’s domestic wants.
These noises had never before made any impression on him. “I am more alive than ever I was in my life,” he said; and he laughed gayly, and went to the window. “It is a lovely day; and that is so much in my favour,” he added, “for if it were raining, Cornelia would not leave the house.” Then a big man, with a voice like a bull of Bashan, went down the opposite side of the street, shouting as he went—“Milk Ho!” and Hyde considered him. He had a heavy wooden yoke across his shoulders; and large tin pails, full of milk, hanging from it.