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Nay, was she alive? She was as motionless as death. Had she been murdered,
thrown from above, and caught in the tree? She lay too regularly and too
composedly for such a supposition. She was asleep, then, and, in all probability,
her waking would be fatal. He shifted his position. Below the pool two beetle-
browed rocks nearly overarched the chasm, leaving just such a space at the
summit as was within the possibility of a leap; the torrent roared below in a fearful
gulf. He paused some time on the brink, measuring the practicability and the
danger, and casting every now and then an anxious glance to his sleeping
beauty. In one of these glances he saw a slight movement of the blue gown, and,
in a moment after, the black hat and feather dropped into the pool. Reflection
was lost for a moment, and, by a sudden impulse, he bounded over the chasm.
He stood above the projecting oak; the unknown beauty lay like the nymph of the
scene; her long black hair, which the fall of her hat had disengaged from its
fastenings, drooping through the boughs: he saw that the first thing to be done,
was to prevent her throwing her feet off the trunk, in the first movements of
waking. He sat down on the rock, and placed his feet on the stem, securing her
ankles between his own: one of her arms was round a branch of the fork, the
other lay loosely on her side. The hand of this arm he endeavoured to reach, by
leaning forward from his seat; he approximated, but could not touch it: after
several tantalising efforts, he gave up the point in despair. He did not attempt to
wake her, because he feared it might have bad consequences, and he resigned
himself to expect the moment of her natural waking, determined not to stir from
his post, if she should sleep till midnight.
In this period of forced inaction, he could contemplate at leisure the features and
form of his charmer. She was not one of the slender beauties of romance; she
was as plump as a partridge; her cheeks were two roses, not absolutely damask,
yet verging thereupon; her lips twin-cherries, of equal size; her nose regular, and
almost Grecian; her forehead high, and delicately fair; her eyebrows
symmetrically arched; her eyelashes, long, black, and silky, fitly corresponding
with the beautiful tresses that hung among the leaves of the oak, like clusters of
wandering grapes. Her eyes were yet to be seen; but how could he doubt that
their opening would be the rising of the sun, when all that surrounded their fringy
portals was radiant as "the forehead of the morning sky?"