Thelma (Chapter 1, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 1

"Dream by dream shot through her eyes, and each Outshone the last that lighted."
SWINBURNE.

Midnight,--without darkness, without stars! Midnight--and the unwearied sun stood, yet visible in the heavens, like a victorious king throned on a dais of royal purple bordered with gold. The sky above him,--his canopy,--gleamed with a cold yet lustrous blue, while across it slowly flitted a few wandering clouds of palest amber, deepening, as they sailed along, to a tawny orange. A broad stream of light falling, as it were, from the centre of the magnificent orb, shot lengthwise across the Altenfjord, turning its waters to a mass of quivering and shifting color that alternated from bronze to copper,--from copper to silver and azure. The surrounding hills glowed with a warm, deep violet tint, flecked here and there with touches of bright red, as though fairies were lighting tiny bonfires on their summits. Away in the distance a huge mass of rock stood out to view, its rugged lines transfigured into ethereal loveliness by a misty veil of tender rose pink,--a hue curiously suggestive of some other and smaller sun that might have just set. Absolute silence prevailed. Not even the cry of a sea-mew or kittiwake broke the almost deathlike stillness,--no breath of wind stirred a ripple on the glassy water. The whole scene might well have been the fantastic dream of some imaginative painter, whose ambition soared beyond the limits of human skill. Yet it was only one of those million wonderful effects of sky and sea which are common in Norway, especially on the Altenfjord, where, though beyond the Arctic circle, the climate in summer is that of another Italy, and the landscape a living poem fairer than the visions of Endymion.

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