In all her illness, Miriam's reason was not for a moment clouded it seemed preternaturally awake; but she spoke not, and it was observed that if Mr. Willcoxen, who was overwhelmed with distress by her dreadful illness, approached her bedside and touched her person, she instantly fell into spasms.
While he stood irresolute and in suspense, striving to collect his thoughts, his ear, preternaturally sharpened by fear, caught the faint muffled sound of creeping footsteps he heard the stairs creak. The sound broke the spell. The previous vague apprehension gave way, when the danger became actually at hand. His presence of mind returned at once.
In the days of yore, men eyed the surtout napless at the velvet collar, and preternaturally white at the seams which Bob vouchsafed to wear with looks of dim suspicion, as if some faint reminiscence, similar to that which is said to recall the memory of a former state of existence, suggested to them a notion that the garment had once been their own.
After Midnight I know not how long, for I lost count of the hours by the Abbey chimes, and our light had gone out after midnight I heard by my father's breathing that he was asleep. I was thankful to see it for his sake, and also for another reason. I could not sleep all my faculties were preternaturally alive; my weak body and timid mind became strong and active, able to compass anything.
When the ladies at length rose to leave the dining-room his brain was in a whirl and he had little doubt that his temperature was up to 104. Nevertheless his mind was still active, was indeed preternaturally acute for the moment, and he saw in a flash the impossibility of leaving Madame Sagittarius alone with his grandmother and Lady Julia.
A rumor, too, was going the rounds that a detective, reputed preternaturally sharp, who had accompanied the sheriff to the scene of action, had examined these tracks in the road, and declared that the foot-print was neither that of a negro nor a tramp, but of a white man used to wearing shoes something too tightly fitting.
The tea must have been green, or too long drawn, for she seemed preternaturally wakeful afterwards, though Jude, who had not taken any, began to feel heavy; till her conversation fixed his attention. "You called me a creature of civilization, or something, didn't you?" she said, breaking a silence. "It was very odd you should have done that." "Why?" "Well, because it is provokingly wrong.
With his feet he felt the great timber, fastened in the dike, on which his boy had been sitting. He peered through the dark, with straining eyes grown preternaturally keen. He could see nothing on the wide, swirling surface save two or three dark objects, far out in the marsh. These he recognized at once as his fish-tubs gone afloat. Then he ran up the dike toward the Point.
Lord Beaconsfield, who was of the company, looked preternaturally grave, and, filling his glass, gazed steadily at the flattered editor and said in his deepest tone: "Yes, Sir A.B., I drink to your good health, and I congratulate you on having attained a rank which was deemed sufficient honour for Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren."
The sister regarded her keenly without appearing to do so. "Perhaps you would rather remain quietly for a few days, Miss Heron?" she suggested, sweetly. Ida's eyes they looked preternaturally large, violet orbs in her white face beamed gratefully. "Oh, yes, yes! if I may. Shall I be ill long? how soon will it be before I can go?"