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The White People Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter VI

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"If one had seen or heard one little thing, if one's mortal being could catch one glimpse of light in the dark," Mrs. MacNairn's low voice said out of the shadow near me, "The Fear would be gone forever."

"Perhaps the whole mystery is as simple as this," said her son's voice "as simple as this: that as there are tones of music too fine to be registered by the human ear, so there may be vibrations of light not to be seen by the human eye; form and color as well as sounds; just beyond earthly perception, and yet as real as ourselves, as formed as ourselves, only existing in that other dimension."

There was an intenseness which was almost a note of anguish in Mrs. MacNairn's answer, even though her voice was very low. I involuntarily turned my head to look at her, though of course it was too dark to see her face. I felt somehow as if her hands were wrung together in her lap.

"Oh!" she said, "if one only had some shadow of a proof that the mystery is only that WE cannot see, that WE cannot hear, though they are really quite near us, with us--the ones who seem to have gone away and whom we feel we cannot live without. If once we could be sure! There would be no Fear--there would be none!"

"Dearest"--he often called her "Dearest," and his voice had a wonderful sound in the darkness; it was caress and strength, and it seemed to speak to her of things they knew which I did not--"we have vowed to each other that we WILL believe there is no reason for The Fear. It was a vow between us."

"Yes! Yes!" she cried, breathlessly, "but sometimes, Hector--sometimes--"

"Miss Muircarrie does not feel it--"

"Please say `Ysobel'!" I broke in. "Please do."

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He went on as quietly as if he had not even paused:

"Ysobel told me the first night we met that it seemed as if she could not believe in it."

"It never seems real to me at all," I said. "Perhaps that is because I can never forget what Jean told me about my mother lying still upon her bed, and listening to some one calling her." (I had told them Jean's story a few days before.) "I knew it was my father; Jean knew, too."

"How did you know?" Mrs. MacNairn's voice was almost a whisper.

"I could not tell you that. I never asked myself HOW it was. But I KNEW. We both KNEW. Perhaps"--I hesitated--"it was because in the Highlands people often believe things like that. One hears so many stories all one's life that in the end they don't seem strange. I have always heard them. Those things you know about people who have the second sight. And about the seals who change themselves into men and come on shore and fall in love with girls and marry them. They say they go away now and then, and no one really knows where but it is believed that they go back to their own people and change into seals again, because they must plunge and riot about in the sea. Sometimes they come home, but sometimes they do not.

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The White People
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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