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The Two Destinies

33. A Vision Of The Night
RETURNING to the cottage parlor, I took a chair by the window and opened my pocket-
book at a blank page. I had certain directions to give to my representatives, which might
spare them some trouble and uncertainty in the event of my death. Disguising my last
instructions under the commonplace heading of "Memoranda on my return to London," I
began to write.
I had filled one page of the pocket-book, and had just turned to the next, when I became
conscious of a difficulty in fixing my attention on the subject that was before it. I was at
once reminded of the similar difficulty which I felt in Shetland, when I had tried vainly to
arrange the composition of the letter to my mother which Miss Dunross was to write. By
way of completing the parallel, my thoughts wandered now, as they had wandered then,
to my latest remembrance of Mrs. Van Brandt. In a minute or two I began to feel once
more the strange physical sensations which I had first experienced in the garden at Mr.
Dunross's house. The same mysterious trembling shuddered through me from head to
foot. I looked about me again, with no distinct consciousness of what the objects were on
which my eyes rested. My nerves trembled, on that lovely summer night, as if there had
been an electric disturbance in the atmosphere and a storm coming. I laid my pocket-
book and pencil on the table, and rose to go out again under the trees. Even the trifling
effort to cross the room was an effort made in vain. I stood rooted to the spot, with my
face turned toward the moonlight streaming in at the open door.
An interval passed, and as I still looked out through the door, I became aware of
something moving far down among the trees that fringed the shore of the lake. The first
impression produced on me was of two gray shadows winding their way slowly toward
me between the trunks of the trees. By fine degrees the shadows assumed a more and
more marked outline, until they presented themselves in the likeness of two robed
figures, one taller than the other. While they glided nearer and nearer, their gray obscurity
of hue melted away. They brightened softly with an inner light of their own as they
slowly approached the open space before the door. For the third time I stood in the
ghostly presence of Mrs. Van Brandt; and with her, holding her hand, I beheld a second
apparition never before revealed to me, the apparition of her child.
Hand-in-hand, shining in their unearthly brightness through the bright moonlight itself,
the two stood before me. The mother's face looked at me once more with the sorrowful
and pleading eyes which I remembered so well. But the face of the child was innocently
radiant with an angelic smile. I waited in unutterable expectation for the word that was to
be spoken, for the movement that was to come. The movement came first. The child
released its hold on the mother's hand, and floating slowly upward, remained poised in
midair--a softly glowing presence shining out of the dark background of the trees. The
mother glided into the room, and stopped at the table on which I had laid my pocket-book
and pencil when I could no longer write. As before, she took the pencil and wrote on the
blank page. As before, she beckoned to me to step nearer to her. I approached her
outstretched hand, and felt once more the mysterious rapture of her touch on my bosom,
 
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