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  The White People Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter VII

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"The feeling you call The Fear has never come to me," I said to her. "And if it had I think it would have melted away because of a dream I once had. I don't really believe it was a dream, but I call it one. I think I really went somewhere and came back. I often wonder why I came back. It was only a short dream, so simple that there is scarcely anything to tell, and perhaps it will not convey anything to you. But it has been part of my life--that time when I was Out on the Hillside. That is what I call The Dream to myself, `Out on the Hillside,' as if it were a kind of unearthly poem. But it wasn't. It was more real than anything I have ever felt. It was real--real! I wish that I could tell it so that you would know how real it was."

I felt almost piteous in my longing to make her know. I knew she was afraid of something, and if I could make her know how REAL that one brief dream had been she would not be afraid any more. And I loved her, I loved her so much!

"I was asleep one night at Muircarrie," I went on, "and suddenly, without any preparatory dreaming, I was standing out on a hillside in moonlight softer and more exquisite than I had ever seen or known before. Perhaps I was still in my nightgown--I don't know. My feet were bare on the grass, and I wore something light and white which did not seem to touch me. If it touched me I did not feel it. My bare feet did not feel the grass; they only knew it was beneath them.

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"It was a low hill I stood on, and I was only on the side of it. And in spite of the thrilling beauty of the moon, all but the part I stood on melted into soft, beautiful shadow, all below me and above me. But I did not turn to look at or ask myself about anything. You see the difficulty is that there are no earthly words to tell it! All my being was ecstasy--pure, light ecstasy! Oh, what poor words-- But I know no others. If I said that I was happy--HAPPY! --it would be nothing. I WAS happiness itself, I WAS pure rapture! I did not look at the beauty of the night, the sky, the marvelous melting shadow. I was PART of it all, one with it. Nothing held me nothing! The beauty of the night, the light, the air WERE what I was, and I was only thrilling ecstasy and wonder at the rapture of it."

I stopped and covered my face with my hands, and tears wet my fingers.

"Oh, I cannot make it real! I was only there such a short, short time. Even if you had been with me I could not have found words for it, even then. It was such a short time. I only stood and lifted my face and felt the joy of it, the pure marvel of joy. I only heard myself murmuring over and over again: `Oh, how beautiful! how beautiful! Oh, how BEAUTIFUL!'

"And then a marvel of new joy swept through me. I said, very softly and very slowly, as if my voice were trailing away into silence: `Oh--h! I--can--lie--down--here--on--the grass--and--sleep . . . all--through--the night--under--this--moonlight. . . . I can sleep --sleep--'

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The White People
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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