THE CEMETERY 41
of man or woman I could not tell, for the light seemed to avoid the face as we passed.
I soon perceived that we were walking along an aisle of couches, on almost every one of which, with its head to the passage, lay something asleep or dead, covered with a sheet white as snow. My soul grew silent with dread. Through aisle after aisle we went, among couches innumerable. I could see only a few of them at once, but they were on all sides, vanishing, as it seemed, in the infinite.—Was it here lay my choice of a bed ? Must I go to sleep among the unwaking, with no one to rouse me? "Was this the sexton's library ? were these his books ? Truly it was no half* way house, this chamber of the dead !
' One of the cellars I am placed to watch !' remarket! Mr. Raven—in a low voice, as if fearing to disturb hia silent guests. ' Much wine is set here to ripen !—But it is dark for a stranger ! ' he added.
' The moon is rising; she will soon be here/ said his wife, and her clear voice, low and sweet, sounded of ancient sorrow long bidden adieu.
Even as she spoke the moon looked in at an opening in the wall, and a thousand gleams of white responded to her shine. But not yet could I descry beginning or end of the couches. They stretched away and away, as if for all the disparted world to sleep upon. For along the far receding narrow ways, every couch stood by itself, and on each slept a lonely sleeper. I thought at first their sleep was death, but I soon saw it was something deeper still—a something I did not know.
The moon rose higher, and shone through other openings, but I could never see enough of the place at once to know its shape or character; now it would resemble