“Ah, yes!” she said softly, “you gave it me; do you think I have lost it in two nights? But the esve cannot be loved as she loves her master. I could half understand the prodigal heart that would buy a girl’s life with yours, and all that is bound up in yours. No other man would have done it—in our world,” she added, answering my gesture of dissent; “but they say that the terrible kargynda will stand by his dying mate till he is shot down. You bought my heart, my love, all I am, when you bought my life, and never asked the cost.” She continued almost in a whisper, her rose-suffused cheeks and moist eyes hidden from my sight as the lips murmured their loving words into my ear,—“Though the nestling never looked from under the wing, do you think she knows not what to expect when she is bought from the nest? She dares not struggle in the hand that snatches her; much more did she deserve to be rated and rapped for fluttering in that which saved her life. Bought twice over, caged by right as by might—was her thought midnight to your eyes, when she wondered at the look that watched her so quietly, the hand that would not try to touch lest it should scare her, the patience that soothed and coaxed her to perch on the outstretched finger, like a flower-bird tamed at last? Do you think that name, given her by lips which softened even their words of fondness for her ear, did not go to her heart straight as the esve flies home, or that it could ever be forgotten? There is a chant young girls are fond of, which tells more than I can say.”
Her tones fell so low that I should have lost them, had her lips not actually touched my ear while she chanted the strange words in the sweetest notes of her sweet voice:—
“Never yet hath single sun
Seen a flower-bird tamed and won;
Sun and stars shall quit the sky
Ere a bird so tamed shall fly.
“Never human lips have kissed
Flower-bird tamed ’twixt mist and mist;
Bird so tamed from tamer’s heart
Night of death shall hardly part.”
CHAPTER XII — ON THE RIVER.
The next morning saw our journey commenced. Eveena’s wardrobe, with my own and my books, portfolios, models, and specimens of Terrestrial art and mechanism, were packed in light metallic cases adapted to the larger form of carriage whereof I have made mention. I was fortunate in escaping the actual parting scene between Eveena and her family, and my own leave-taking was hurried. Esmo and his son accompanied us, leading the way in one carriage, while Eveena and myself occupied that which we had used on our memorable trip to the Astronaut. Half an hour brought us to the road beside the river, and a few minutes more to the point at which a boat awaited us. The road being some eight or ten feet above the level of the water, a light ladder not three feet long was ready to assist our descent to the deck. The difference