'For me ! 'exclaimed Pierre, faintly, starting at the strangeness of the encounter ; ' methinks this is an odd time and place to deliver your mail ;—who are you?—Stay!'
But without waiting an answer, the messenger had already turned about, and was re-crossing the road. In the first impulse of the moment, Pierre stepped forward, and would have pursued him ; but smiling at his own causeless curiosity and trepidation, paused again ; and softly turned over the letter in his hand. What 'mysterious correspondent is this, thought he, circularly moving his thumb upon the seal ; no one writes me but from abroad ; and their letters come through the office ; and as for Lucy—pooh !—when she herself is within, she would hardly have her notes delivered at her own gate. Strange ! but I'll in, and read it ;—no, not that ;—I come to read again in her own sweet heart—that dear missive to me from heaven,—and this impertinent letter would preoccupy me. I'll wait till I go home.
He entered the gate, and laid his hand upon the cottage knocker. Its sudden coolness caused a slight, and, at any other time, an unaccountable sympathetic sensation in his hand. To his unwonted mood, the knocker seemed to say ' Enter not ! Begone, and first read thy note.'
Yielding now, half alarmed, and half bantering with himself, to these shadowy interior monitions, he half unconsciously quitted the door ; repassed the gate ; and soon found himself retracing his homeward path.
He equivocated with himself no more ; the gloom of the air had now burst into his heart, and extinguished its light ; then, first in all his life, Pierre felt the irresistible admonitions and intuitions of Fate.
He entered the hall unnoticed, passed up to his chamber, and hurriedly locking the door in the dark, lit his lamp. As the summoned flame illuminated the room, Pierre,