Page:Pierre.djvu/209

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INTERMEDIATE BETWEEN INTERVIEWS 195

additional particulars bringing it down to the present moment ; and, also, possibly filling out the latter portion of what she had already revealed to him. Nor here, could he persuade himself, that she would have much to say. Isabel had not been so digressive and withholding as he had thought. What more, indeed, could she now have to impart, except by what strange means she had at last come to find her brother out ; and the dreary recital of how she had pecuniarily wrestled with her destitute condition ; how she had come to leave one place of toiling refuge for another, till now he found her in humble servitude at farmer Ulver's ? Is it possible then, thought Pierre, that there lives a human creature in this common world of everydays, whose whole history may be told in little less than two-score words, and yet embody in that smallness a fathomless fountain of ever-welling mystery ? Is it possible, after all, that spite of bricks and shaven faces, this world we live in is brimmed with wonders, and I and all mankind, beneath our garbs of commonplaceness, conceal enigmas that the stars themselves, and perhaps the highest seraphim cannot resolve ?

The intuitively certain, however literally unproven fact of Isabel's sisterhood to him, was a link that he now felt binding him to a before unimagined and endless chain of wondering. His very blood seemed to flow through all his arteries with unwonted subtleness, when he thought that the same tide flowed through the mystic veins of Isabel. All his occasional pangs of dubiousness as to the grand governing thing of all—the reality of the physical relationship only recoiled back upon him with added tribute of both certainty and insolubleness.

She is my sister—my own father's daughter. Well ; why do I believe it ? The other day I had not so much as heard the remotest rumour of her existence ; and what has since occurred to change me ? What so new and incon--