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So loveliness reigned and stillness, and togethermade the shape of loveliness itself, a form from whichlife had parted; solitary like a pool at evening, fardistant, seen from a train window, vanishing soquickly that the pool, pale in the evening, is scarcelyrobbed of its solitude, though once seen. Lovelinessand stillness clasped hands in the bedroom, andamong the shrouded jugs and sheeted chairs even theprying of the wind, and the soft nose of the clammysea airs, rubbing, snuffling, iterating, and reiteratingtheir questions—‘Will you fade? Will you perish?'—scarcely disturbed the peace, the indifference,the air of pure integrity, as if the question theyasked scarcely needed that they should answer: weremain.

Nothing it seemed could break that image, cor-rupt that innocence, or disturb the swaying mantleof silence which, week after week, in the emptyroom, wove into itself the falling cries of birds, shipshooting, the drone and hum of the fields, a dog’sbark, a man’s shout, and folded them round thehouse in silence. Once only a board sprang on thelanding; once in the middle of the night with a roar,with a rupture, as after centuries of quiescence a rockrends itself from the mountain and hurtles crashinginto the valley, one fold of the shawl loosened andswung to and fro. Then again peace descended; andthe shadow wavered; light bent to its own image inadoration on the bedroom wall; when Mrs McNab,tearing the veil of silence with hands that had stoodin the wash-tub, grinding it with boots that hadcrunched the shingle, came as directed to open allwindows, and dust the bedrooms.