Book IV. "Alexander the Great"
Chapter XII

Hamilton folded and sealed the letter, then determined to take it to the post-office himself. The night was hot and his head was throbbing: he had worked, dined, wined, talked, and written, since eight in the morning, with no interval for fresh air or exercise. He was not tired, but very nervous, and after he had disposed of his letter, he set off for a stroll along the river front, and walked for two miles up the quiet road on the east side, listening to the lap of the water, and pausing to watch the superb effect of the moonlight on the bright ripples and on the wooded heights of Long Island. The little village of Brooklyn twinkled here and there for a time, then lay like a sombre shadow in the silences of her forest. As he returned, there was not a light anywhere, except now and again at a masthead, for it was very late. The clock in Trinity steeple struck one as he reentered the town. He moved through the narrow dark and crooked streets with a lagging step, although he had walked briskly for the past hour. There seemed to be no sleep in him, and the idea of his quiet room was an irritation.

"That woman is on my nerves," he thought. "I've written a letter to-night that may bridge this country over another crisis, and I should be sleeping the sleep of the self-sufficient statesman, or at least excogitating upon weighty matters; and for the last hour I've given no thought to anything but an unknown woman, who has electrified my imagination and my passions. Is there, perhaps, more safety in meeting her and laying the ghost? Imagination plays us such damnable tricks. She may have a raucous voice, or too sharp a wit; or she may love another by this. I'll ask Nick to take me there to-morrow."

The drawing-room windows of the dwellings were but a few feet above the ground, and many of them abutted on the pavement. The narrow street was almost dark, in spite of the moonlight, but Hamilton saw that some one sat at a lower window but a few feet ahead of him. It was a woman, for her arm hung over the sill There was nothing to arrest his attention in the circumstance, beyond the vague beauty of the arm and hand, for on these dog nights many sat at their windows until the chill of early morning; but he suddenly remembered that he was in Pearl Street. For a moment he meditated retreat; with no enthusiasm, however. He shrugged his shoulders and walked on, but his breath was short. As he approached he could see that she was watching him, although her face was almost invisible. He paused beneath the window, half in defiance, his eyes striving to pierce the heavy shade of the room. The hand closed abruptly about the lower part of his face. It trembled, but there was as much determination as warmth in the finger tips; and he seemed to have been transported suddenly to a field of violets.