THE WHITE LEECH
I woke one morning from a profound sleep, with one of my hands very painful. The back of it was much swollen, and in the centre of the swelling was a triangular wound, like the bite of a leech. As the day went on, the swelling subsided, and by the evening the hurt was all but healed. I searched the cave, turning over every stone of any size, but discovered nothing I could imagine capable of injuring me.
Slowly the days passed, and still the body never moved, never opened its eyes. It could not be dead, for assuredly it manifested no sign of decay, and the air about it was quite pure. Moreover, I could imagine that the sharpest angles of the bones had begun to disappear, that the form was everywhere a little rounder, and that the skin had less of the parchment-look: if such change was indeed there, life must be there ! the tide which had ebbed so far toward the infinite, must have begun again to flow ! Oh joy to me, if the rising ripples of life's ocean were indeed burying under lovely shape the bones it had all but forsaken ! Twenty times a day I looked for evidence of progress, and twenty times a day I doubted—sometimes even despaired; but the moment I recalled the mental picture of her as I found her, hope revived.