Armadale HTML version

II.12. The Clouding Of The Sky
Nine days had passed, and the tenth day was nearly at an end, since Miss Gwilt
and her pupil had taken their morning walk in the cottage garden.
The night was overcast. Since sunset, there had been signs in the sky from which
the popular forecast had predicted rain. The reception-rooms at the great house
were all empty and dark. Allan was away, passing the evening with the Milroys;
and Midwinter was waiting his return--not where Midwinter usually waited,
among the books in the library, but in the little back room which Allan's mother
had inhabited in the last days of her residence at Thorpe Ambrose.
Nothing had been taken away, but much had been added to the room, since
Midwinter had first seen it. The books which Mrs. Armadale had left behind her,
the furniture, the old matting on the floor, the old paper on the walls, were all
undisturbed. The statuette of Niobe still stood on its bracket, and the French
window still opened on the garden. But now, to the relics left by the mother, were
added the personal possessions belonging to the son. The wall, bare hitherto, was
decorated with water-color drawings-- Jwith a portrait of Mrs. Armadale
supported on one side by a view of the old house in Somersetshire, and on the
other by a picture of the yacht. Among the books which bore in faded ink Mrs.
Armadale's inscriptions, "From my father," were other books inscribed in the
same handwriting, in brighter ink, "To my son." Hanging to the wall, ranged on
the chimney-piece, scattered over the table, were a host of little objects, some
associated with Allan's past life, others necessary to his daily pleasures and
pursuits, and all plainly testifying that the room which he habitually occupied at
Thorpe Ambrose was the very room which had once recalled to Midwinter the
second vision of the dream. Here, strangely unmoved by the scene around him, so
lately the object of his superstitious distrust, Allan's friend now waited
composedly for Allan's return; and here, more strangely still, he looked on a
change in the household arrangements, due in the first instance entirely to himself.
His own lips had revealed the discovery which he had made on the first morning
in the new house; his own voluntary act had induced the son to establish himself
in the mother's room.
Under what motives had he spoken the words? Under no motives which were not
the natural growth of the new interests and the new hopes that now animated him.
The entire change wrought in his convictions by the memorable event that had
brought him face to face with Miss Gwilt was a change which it was not in his
nature to hide from Allan's knowledge. He had spoken openly, and had spoken as
it was in his character to speak. The merit of conquering his superstition was a
merit which he shrank from claiming, until he had first unsparingly exposed that
superstition in its worst and weakest aspects to view.
It was only after he had unreservedly acknowledged the impulse under which he
had left Allan at the Mere, that he had taken credit to himself for the new point of
view from which he could now look at the Dream. Then, and not till then, he had