The Midnight Queen (Chapter 10, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 10

The night was intensely dark when Sir Norman got into it once more; and
to any one else would have been intensely dismal, but to Sir Norman all
was bright as the fair hills of Beulah. When all is bright within, we
see no darkness without; and just at that moment our young knight had
got into one of those green and golden glimpses of sunshine that here
and there checker life's rather dark pathway, and with Leoline beside
him would have thought the dreary whores of the Dead Sea itself a very
paradise.

It was now near midnight, and there was an unusual concourse of people
in the sheets, waiting for St. Paul's to give the signal to light the
fires. He looked around for Ormiston; but Ormiston was nowhere to be
seen--horse and rider had disappeared. His own horse stood tethered
where he had left him. Anxious as he was to ride back to the ruin, and
see the play played out, he could not resist the temptation of lingering
a brief period in the city, to behold the grand spectacle of the myriad
fires. Many persons were hurrying toward St. Paul's to witness it from
the dome; and consigning his horse to the care of the sentinel on guard
at the house opposite, he joined them, and was soon striding along, at
a tremendous pace, toward the great cathedral. Ere he reached it, its
long-tongued clock tolled twelve, and all the other churches, one after
another, took up the sound, and the witching hour of midnight rang and
rerang from end to end of London town. As if by magic, a thousand forked
tongues of fire shot up at once into the blind, black night, turning
almost in an instant the darkened face of the heavens to an inflamed,
glowing red. Great fires were blazing around the cathedral when they
reached it, but no one stopped to notice them, but only hurried on the
faster to gain their point of observation.

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