It was no use; he must get up. So, striking a light, he was presently deep in the composition of a fiery sonnet. It was evidently that which had caused all the phosphorescence. But a sonnet is a mere pill-box; it holds nothing. A mere cockle-shell,—and, oh, the raging sea it could not hold! Besides being confessedly an art-form, duly licenced to lie, it was apt to be misunderstood. It could not say in plain words, “Meet me at the pier to-morrow at three in the afternoon;” it could make no assignation nearer than the Isles of the Blest, “after life’s fitful fever.” Therefore, it seemed well to add a postscript to that effect in prose.
But then, how was she to receive it? There was nothing to be hoped from the post, and Damon’s home in Sidon was three miles from the ferry. Likewise, it was now nearing three in the morning. Just time to catch the half-past three boat, run up to the theatre, a mile away, and meet the return boat. So down, down through the creaking house, carefully, as though he were a Jason picking his way among the coils of the sleeping dragon; and soon he was shooting through the phantom streets, like Mercury on a message through Hades.
At last the river came in sight, growing slate-colour in the earliest dawn. He could see the boat nuzzling up against the pier, and snoring in its sleep. He said to himself that this was Styx and the fare an obolus. As he jumped on board, with hot face and hotter heart, Charon clicked his signal to the engines; the boat slowly snuffled itself half awake, and shoved out into the sleepy water.
As they crossed, the light grew, and the gas-lamps of Tyre beaconed with fading gleam. Overhead began a restlessness in the clouds, as of a giant drowsily shuffling off some of his bedclothes; but as yet he slept, and only the silver bosom of his spouse, the moon, was uncovered.
When they landed, the streets of Tyre were already light, but empty, as though they had got up early to meet some one who had not arrived. Damon sped through them like a sea-gull that has the harbour to itself, and was not long in reaching the theatre. How desolate the play-bills looked that had been so companionable but three or four hours before! And there was her photograph! Surely it was an omen.
“Ah, my angel! See, I am bringing you my heart in a song. ’All my heart in this my singing!’”
He dropped the letter into the box; but, as he turned away, momentarily glancing up the long street, he caught sight of an approaching figure that could hardly be mistaken. Good Heavens! it was Pythias, and he too was carrying a letter.
CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS A GENEALOGY