and passed darkly along the outer edge of the mist. It stopped far off, in front of us—waited—and passed on; moving slowly, with the white cloud of mist behind it and above it—slowly, slowly, till it glided by the edge of the boat-house, and we saw it no more.
We were both unnerved by what had passed between us that evening. Some minutes elapsed before Laura would venture into the plantation, and before I could make up my mind to lead her back to the house.
"Was it a man or a woman?" she asked in a whisper, as we moved at last into the dark dampness of the outer air.
"I am not certain."
"Which do you think?"
"It looked like a woman."
"I was afraid it was a man in a long cloak."
"It may be a man. In this dim light it is not possible to be certain."
"Wait, Marian! I'm frightened—I don't see the path. Suppose the figure should follow us?"
"Not at all likely, Laura. There is really nothing to be alarmed about. The shores of the lake are not far from the village, and they are free to any one to walk on by day or night. It is only wonderful we have seen no living creature there before."
We were now in the plantation. It was very dark—so dark, that we found some difficulty in keeping the path. I gave Laura my arm, and we walked as fast as we could on our way back.
Before we were half-way through she stopped, and forced me to stop with her. She was listening.
"Hush," she whispered. "I hear something behind us."
"Dead leaves," I said to cheer her, "or a twig blown off the trees."
"It is summer time, Marian, and there is not a breath of wind. Listen!"
I heard the sound too—a sound like a light footstep following us.
"No matter who it is, or what it is," I said, "let us walk on. In another minute, if there is anything to alarm us, we shall be near enough to the house to be heard."
We went on quickly—so quickly, that Laura was breathless by the time we were nearly through the plantation, and within sight of the lighted windows.
I waited a moment to give her breathing-time. Just as we were about to proceed she stopped me again, and