The Midnight Queen (Chapter 7, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 7

Shocks of joy, they tell me, seldom kill. Of my own knowledge I cannot
say, for I have had precious little experience of such shocks in my
lifetime, Heaven knows; but in the present instance, I can safely aver,
they had no such dismal effect on Ormiston. Nothing earthly could have
given that young gentleman a greater shock of joy than the knowledge he
was to behold the long hidden face of his idol. That that face was ugly,
he did not for an instant believe, or, at least, it never world be ugly
to him. With a form so perfect--a form a sylph might have envied--a
voice sweeter than the Singing Fountain of Arabia, hands and feet the
most perfectly beautiful the sun ever shone on, it was simply a moral
and physical impossibility, then, they could be joined to a repulsive
face. There was a remote possibility that it was a little less exquisite
than those ravishing items, and that her morbid fancy made her imagine
it homely, compared with them, but he knew he never would share in that
opinion. It was the reasoning of lover, rather, the logic; for when
love glides smiling in at the door, reason stalks gravely, not to say
sulkily, out of the window, and, standing afar off, eyes disdainfully
the didos and antics of her late tenement. There was very little reason,
therefore, in Ormiston's head and heart, but a great deal of something
sweeter, joy--joy that thrilled and vibrated through every nerve within
him. Leaning against the portal, in an absurd delirium of delight--for
it takes but a trifle to jerk those lovers from the slimiest depths of
the Slough of Despond to the topmost peak of the mountain of ecstasy--he
uncovered his head that the night-air might cool its feverish
throbbings. But the night-air was as hot as his heart; and, almost
suffocated by the sultry closeness, he was about to start for a plunge
in the river, when the sound of coming footsteps and voices arrested
him. He had met with so many odd ad ventures to-night that he stopped
now to see who was coming; for on every hand all was silent and
forsaken.

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