The Mysteries of Udolpho HTML version

Chapter I.10
Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer's cloud,
< Without our special wonder?
On the next morning, Emily ordered a fire to be lighted in the stove of the chamber,
where St. Aubert used to sleep; and, as soon as she had breakfasted, went thither to burn
the papers. Having fastened the door to prevent interruption, she opened the closet where
they were concealed, as she entered which, she felt an emotion of unusual awe, and stood
for some moments surveying it, trembling, and almost afraid to remove the board. There
was a great chair in one corner of the closet, and, opposite to it, stood the table, at which
she had seen her father sit, on the evening that preceded his departure, looking over, with
so much emotion, what she believed to be these very papers.
The solitary life, which Emily had led of late, and the melancholy subjects, on which she
had suffered her thoughts to dwell, had rendered her at times sensible to the 'thick-
coming fancies' of a mind greatly enervated. It was lamentable, that her excellent
understanding should have yielded, even for a moment, to the reveries of superstition, or
rather to those starts of imagination, which deceive the senses into what can be called
nothing less than momentary madness. Instances of this temporary failure of mind had
more than once occurred since her return home; particularly when, wandering through
this lonely mansion in the evening twilight, she had been alarmed by appearances, which
would have been unseen in her more cheerful days. To this infirm state of her nerves may
be attributed what she imagined, when, her eyes glancing a second time on the arm-chair,
which stood in an obscure part of the closet, the countenance of her dead father appeared
there. Emily stood fixed for a moment to the floor, after which she left the closet. Her
spirits, however, soon returned; she reproached herself with the weakness of thus
suffering interruption in an act of serious importance, and again opened the door. By the
directions which St. Aubert had given her, she readily found the board he had described
in an opposite corner of the closet, near the window; she distinguished also the line he
had mentioned, and, pressing it as he had bade her, it slid down, and disclosed the bundle
of papers, together with some scattered ones, and the purse of louis. With a trembling
hand she removed them, replaced the board, paused a moment, and was rising from the
floor, when, on looking up, there appeared to her alarmed fancy the same countenance in
the chair. The illusion, another instance of the unhappy effect which solitude and grief
had gradually produced upon her mind, subdued her spirits; she rushed forward into the
chamber, and sunk almost senseless into a chair. Returning reason soon overcame the
dreadful, but pitiable attack of imagination, and she turned to the papers, though still with
so little recollection, that her eyes involuntarily settled on the writing of some loose
sheets, which lay open; and she was unconscious, that she was transgressing her father's
strict injunction, till a sentence of dreadful import awakened her attention and her