the Dream to a supernatural origin stood self-refuted by the disclosure of a
stranger in the Shadow's place. Once started from this point--once encouraged to
let his love for Allan influence him undividedly again, his mind hurried along the
whole resulting chain of thought at lightning speed. If the Dream was proved to
be no longer a warning from the other world, it followed inevitably that accident
and not fate had led the way to the night on the Wreck, and that all the events
which had happened since Allan and he had parted from Mr. Brock were events in
themselves harmless, which his superstition had distorted from their proper shape.
In less than a moment his mobile imagination had taken him back to the morning
at Castletown when he had revealed to the rector the secret of his name; when he
had declared to the rector, with his father's letter before his eyes, the better faith
that was in him. Now once more he felt his heart holding firmly by the bond of
brotherhood between Allan and himself; now once more he could say with the
eager sincerity of the old time, "If the thought of leaving him breaks my heart, the
thought of leaving him is wrong!" As that nobler conviction possessed itself again
of his mind--quieting the tumult, clearing the confusion within him--the house at
Thorpe Ambrose, with Allan on the steps, waiting, looking for him, opened on his
eyes through the trees. A sense of illimitable relief lifted his eager spirit high
above the cares, and doubts, and fears that had oppressed it so long, and showed
him once more the better and brighter future of his early dreams. His eyes filled
with tears, and he pressed the rector's letter, in his wild, passionate way, to his
lips, as he looked at Allan through the vista of the trees. "But for this morsel of
paper," he thought, "my life might have been one long sorrow to me, and my
father's crime might have parted us forever!"
Such was the result of the stratagem which had shown the housemaid's face to Mr.
Brock as the face of Miss Gwilt. And so--by shaking Midwinter's trust in his own
superstition, in the one case in which that superstition pointed to the truth--did
Mother Oldershaw's cunning triumph over difficulties and dangers which had
never been contemplated by Mother Oldershaw herself.