“Of course it is, dear,” answered Henry.
And then the moon began to rise through the trees, pouring enchantment over the sleeping woods, and the meadows half-submerged in lakes of mist.
Angel drew close to Henry, and watched it with big eyes.
“What a wonderful world it is! How beautiful and how sad!” she said, half to herself.
“Yes; there is nothing in the world so sad as beauty,” answered Henry.
“If only to-night could last forever! If only we could die now, sitting just like this, with the moon rising yonder.”
“But we shall have many nights like this together,” said Henry.
“No; we shall never have this night again. We may have other wonderful nights, but they will be different. This will never come again.”
Henry instinctively realised that here was a mystical side to Angel’s nature which, however it might charm him, was not to be indiscriminately encouraged, and he tried to rally her out of her sadness, but her feeling was too much his own for him to persist; and as the moonlight moved in its ascension from one beautiful change to another, now woven by branches and leaves into weird tapestries of light and darkness, now hanging like some golden fruit from the boughs, and now uplifted like a lamp in some window of space, they sat together, alike held by the ancient spell; and, presently, Henry so far lost himself in it as to quote some lines entirely in Angel’s mood:
“She dwells with
Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sov’ran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.”
“What wonderful lines!” said Angel; “who wrote them? Are they your own?”
“Ah, Angel, what would I give if they were! No, they are by John Keats. You must let me give you his poems.”
Presently, the moonlight began to lose its lustre. It grew pale, and, as it were, anxious; dark billows of clouds threatened to swallow up its silver coracle, and presently the world grew suddenly black with its submergence, the woods and meadows disappeared, and Henry and Angel began playfully to strike matches to see each other’s faces. Thus they suddenly flared up to each other out of the darkness, like Rembrandts seen by lightning, and then they were lost again, and were only voices fumbling for each other in the dark.
Yet, even so, lips and arms found each other without much difficulty, and when they began to think of the last train, and fear they would miss it, but waited for just one last good-night kiss under their sacred tree, the world suddenly lit up again, for the moon had triumphed over its enemies, and come out just in time to give them its blessing.