My seat, to which Bessie and the bitter Miss Abbot had left me riveted,
was a low ottoman near the marble chimney-piece; the bed rose before me;
to my right hand there was the high, dark wardrobe, with subdued, broken
reflections varying the gloss of its panels; to my left were the muffled
windows; a great looking-glass between them repeated the vacant majesty
of the bed and room. I was not quite sure whether they had locked the
door; and when I dared move, I got up and went to see. Alas! yes: no
jail was ever more secure. Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed.
All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality:
and the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and
arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all
else was still, had the effect of a real spirit: I thought it like one of
the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie's evening stories
represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing
before the eyes of belated travellers. I returned to my stool.
Superstition was with me at that moment; but it was not yet her hour for
complete victory: my blood was still warm; the mood of the revolted slave
was still bracing me with its bitter vigour; I had to stem a rapid rush
of retrospective thought before I quailed to the dismal present.