That night after twelve o'clock Mary Garth relieved the watch in Mr. Featherstone's room and sat there almost through the small hours. ... There were intervals in which she could sit perfectly still, enjoying the outer stillness and the subdued light. The red fire with its gently audible movement seemed like a solemn existence calmly independent of the petty passions, the imbecile desires, the straining after worthless uncertainties, which were daily moving her contempt. Mary was fond of her own thoughts and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap, for having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact. And she had already come to take life very much as a comedy in which she had a proud, nay a generous resolution not to act the mean or the treacherous part. Mary might have become cynical, if she had not had parents whom she honoured and a well of affectionate gratitude within her which was all the fuller because she had learned to make no unreasonable claims.
from Middlemarch, by George Eliot (Book III)