Dartmouth opened his eyes and looked about him. The storm had died, the waves were at rest, and he was alone. He let his head fall back against the frame of the window, and his eyes closed once more. What a dream!--so vivid!--so realistic! Was it not his actual life? Could he take up the threads of another? He felt ten years older; and, retreating down the dim, remote corridors of his brain, were trooping memories of a long, regretted, troubled, eventful past. In a moment they had vanished like ghosts and left no trace; he could recall none of them. He opened his eyes again and looked down the gallery, and gradually his perceptions grasped its familiar lines, and he was himself once more. He rose to his feet and put his hand to his head. That woman whom he had taken for the ghost of one dead and gone had been Weir, of course. She had arisen in her sleep and attired herself like the grandmother whose living portrait she was; she had piled up her hair and caught her white gown up under her bosom; and, in the shadows and mystery of night, small wonder that she had looked as if the canvas in the gallery below had yielded her up! But what had her words meant?--her words, and that dream?--but no--they were not what he wanted. There had been something else--what was it? He felt as if a mist had newly arisen to cloud his faculties. There had been something else which had made him not quite himself as he had stood there with his arms about the woman who had been Weir, and yet not Weir. Above the pain and joy and passion which had shaken him, there had been an unmistakable perception of--an attribute--a quality--of another sort--of a power, of which he, Harold Dartmouth, had never been conscious--of--of--ah, yes! of the power to pour out at the feet of that woman, in richest verse, the love she had awakened, and make them both immortal. What were the words? They had been written legibly in his brain; he remembered now. He had seen and read them--yes, at last, at last! "Her face! her form!" No! no! not that again. Oh, why would they not come? They had been there, the words; the sense must be there, the inspiration, the battling for voice and victory. They were ready to pour through his speech in a flood of song, but that iron hand forced them back--down, down, setting blood and brain on fire. Ah! what was that? Far off, at the end of some long gallery, there was a sweet, dying strain of music, and there were words--gathering in volume; they were rolling on; they were coming; they were thundering through his brain in a mighty chorus! There! he had grasped them--No! that iron hand had grasped them--and was hurling them back. In another moment it would have forced them down into their cell and turned the key! He must catch and hold one of them! Yes, he had it! Oh! victory!--"Her eyes, her hair."
Dartmouth thrust out his hands as if fighting with a physical enemy, and he looked as if he had been through the agonies of death. The conflict in his brain had suddenly ceased, but his physical strength was exhausted. He turned and walked uncertainly to his room; then he collected his scattered wits sufficiently to drop some laudanum and take it, that he might ward off, if possible, the attack of physical and spiritual prostration which had been the result of a former experience of a similar kind. Then, dressed as he was, he flung himself on the bed and slept.
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