Esther HTML version

Chapter VII
The instant Esther felt herself really loved, she met her fate as women will when the
shock is once over. Hazard had wanted her to love him, had pursued and caught her.
Now when she turned to him and answered his call, she seemed to take possession of
him and lift him up. By the time he left her house this Saturday evening, he felt that he
had found a soul stronger and warmer than his own, and was already a little afraid of it.
Every man who has at last succeeded, after long effort, in calling up the divinity which
lies hidden in a woman's heart, is startled to find that he must obey the God he
Esther herself was more astonished than Hazard at the force of this feeling which swept
her away. She suddenly found herself passionately attached to a man, whom, down to
the last moment, she had thought she could never marry, and now could no more
imagine life without him than she could conceive of loving any one else. For the moment
she thought that his profession was nothing to her; she could believe whatever he
believed and do whatever he did; and if her love, backed by her will, were not strong
enough to make his life her own, she cared little what became of her, and could look
with indifference on life itself. So far as she was concerned she thought herself ready to
worship Woden or Thor, if he did.
The next morning she could not let him preach without being near him, and she made
Catherine go with her to St. John's. They took their seats, not in her own pew but in a
corner, where no one should notice them under their veils. The experiment was full of
peril, though Esther did not know it. This new excitement, coming so swiftly after a
fortnight of exhaustion, threw her back into a state of extreme nervousness. Of course
the scene of Saturday evening was followed by a sleepless night, and when Sunday
morning came, her very restlessness made her hope that she should find repose and
calm within the walls of the church. She went believing that she needed nothing so
much as the quieting influence of the service, and she was not disappointed, for her
sweetest associations were here, and as she glanced timidly up to the scaffolding
where her romance had been acted, she felt at home and happy, in spite of the crowd of
people who swarmed about her and separated her from the things she loved. In the
background stood the solemn and awful associations of the last few weeks, the
mysteries and terrors of death, drawing her from thought of earthly things to visions of
another world. Full of these deep feelings, saturated with the elixir of love, Esther
succumbed to the first notes of the church music. Tears of peaceful delight stood in her
eyes. She glanced up towards her Cecilia on the distant wall, wondering at its
childishness. How deep a meaning she could give it now, and how religious a feeling!
She was not conscious of rustling silks or waving feathers; she hardly saw the swarm of
fashionable people about her; it seemed to her that her old life had vanished as though
she were dead; her soul might have taken shelter in the body of some gray linnet for all
that she thought or cared about the vanities of human society. She wanted only to be