But the hours passed, midnight drew nigh, and there was no change. The night was very still. Not a sound broke the silence, not a rustle from the fire, not a crack from board or beam. Now and again I felt a sort of heave, but whether in the earth or in the air or in the waters under the earth, whether in my own body or in my soul—whether it was anywhere, I could not tell. A dread sense of judgment was upon me. But I was not afraid, for I had ceased to care for aught save the thing that must be done.
Suddenly it was midnight. The muffled woman rose, turned toward the settle, and slowly unwound the long swathes that hid her face : they dropped on the ground, and she stepped over them. The feet of the princess were toward the hearth; Mara went to her head, and turning, stood behind it. Then I saw her face. It was lovely beyond speech—white and sad, heart-and-soul sad, but not unhappy, and I knew it never could be unhappy. Great tears were running down her cheeks : she wiped them away with her robe; her countenance grew very still, and she wept no more. But for the pity in every line of her expression, she would have seemed severe. She laid her hand on the head of the princess— on the hair that grew low on the forehead, and stooping, breathed on the sallow brow. The body shuddered.
'Will you turn away from the wicked things you have been doing so long ? ' said Mara gently.
The princess did not answer. Mara put the question again, in the same soft, inviting tone.
Still there was no sign of hearing. She spoke the words a third time.
Then the seeming corpse opened its mouth and answered, its words appearing to frame themselves of