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About this period, Miriam seems to have been goaded by a weary
restlessness that drove her abroad on any errand or none. She went one
morning to visit Kenyon in his studio, whither he had invited her to
see a new statue, on which he had staked many hopes, and which was now
almost completed in the clay. Next to Hilda, the person for whom
Miriam felt most affection and confidence was Kenyon; and in all the
difficulties that beset her life, it was her impulse to draw near Hilda
for feminine sympathy, and the sculptor for brotherly counsel.
Yet it was to little purpose that she approached the edge of the
voiceless gulf between herself and them. Standing on the utmost verge of
that dark chasm, she might stretch out her hand, and never clasp a hand
of theirs; she might strive to call out, "Help, friends! help!" but, as
with dreamers when they shout, her voice would perish inaudibly in
the remoteness that seemed such a little way. This perception of an
infinite, shivering solitude, amid which we cannot come close enough to
human beings to be warmed by them, and where they turn to cold, chilly
shapes of mist, is one of the most forlorn results of any accident,
misfortune, crime, or peculiarity of character, that puts an individual
ajar with the world. Very often, as in Miriam's case, there is an
insatiable instinct that demands friendship, love, and intimate
communion, but is forced to pine in empty forms; a hunger of the heart,
which finds only shadows to feed upon.