“Let your tongue sleep, Eveena. So [with a kiss] I blot your first miscalculation, Eunane. Earth [the Evening Star of Mars] light your dreams.”
It was with visible reluctance that Eveena followed me into the chamber we had last left; and she expostulated as earnestly as her obedience would permit against the fiat that assigned it to her.
“Choose what room you please, then,” I said; “but understand that, so far as my will and my trust can make you, you are the mistress here.”
“Well, then,” she answered, “give me the little octagon beside your own:”—the smallest and simplest, but to my taste the prettiest, room in the house. “I should like to be near you still, if I may; but, believe me, I shall not be frozen (hurt) because you think another hand better able to steer the carriage, if mine may sometimes rest in yours.”
Leading her into the room she had chosen, and having installed her among the cushions that were to form her couch, I silenced decisively her renewed protest.
“Let me answer you on this point, once and for ever, Eveena. To me this seems matter of right, not of favour or fitness. But favour and fitness here go with right. I could no more endure to place another before or beside you than I could break the special bond between us, and deny the hope of which the Serpent” (laying my hand on her shoulder-clasp, which, by mere accident, was shaped into a faint resemblance to the mystic coil) “is the emblem; the hope that alone can make such love as ours endurable, or even possible, to creatures that must die. She who knelt with me before the Emerald Throne, who took with me the vows so awfully sanctioned, shall hold the first place in my home as in my heart till the Serpent’s promise be fulfilled.”
Both were silent for some time, for never could we refer to that Vision—whether an objective fact, or an impression communicated from one spirit to the other by the occult force of intense sympathy—save by such allusion; and the remembrance never failed to affect us both with a feeling too deep for words. Eveena spoke again—
“I am sorry you have so bound yourself; perhaps only because you knew me first. And it shames me to receive fresh proof of your kindness to-night.”
“And why, my own?”
“Do not make me feel,” she said, “that—though the measured sentences you have taught me to call scolding seemed the sharpest of all penances—there is a heavier yet in the silence which withholds forgiveness.”
“What have I yet to forgive, Madonna?”
But Eveena could read my feelings in spite of my words, and knew that the pain she had given was too recent to allow me to misconceive her penitence.
“I ought to say, my interference. It was your right to rule as you chose, and my meddling was a far worse offence than Eunane’s malice. But it was not that you felt too deeply to reprove.”
“True! Eunane hurt me a little; but I expected no such misjudgment from you. By the touch that proved your alarm I know that I gave no cause for it.”