WHEN Mr. St. John went, it was beginning to snow; the whirling storm continued all night.
The next day a keen wind brought fresh and blinding falls; by twilight the valley was drifted up and almost impassable.
I had closed my shutter, laid a mat to the door to prevent the snow from blowing in under it,
trimmed my fire, and after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled fury of the tempest,
I lit a candle, took down "Marmion," and beginning --
"Day set on Norham's castled steep,
And Tweed's fair river broad and deep,
And Cheviot's mountains lone;
The massive towers, the donjon keep,
The flanking walls that round them sweep,
In yellow lustre shone" --
I soon forgot storm in music.
I heard a noise: the wind, I thought, shook the door.
No; it was St. John Rivers, who, lifting the latch, came in out of the frozen hurricane -- the howling darkness -- and stood before me:
the cloak that covered his tall figure all white as a glacier.
I was almost in consternation, so little had I expected any guest from the blocked-up vale that night.
"Any ill news?" I demanded. "Has anything happened?"
"No. How very easily alarmed you are?"
he answered, removing his cloak and hanging it up against the door,
towards which he again coolly pushed the mat which his entrance had deranged.
He stamped the snow from his boots.