And I rushed from the piano, and sat down in an easy-chair, and hid my face in my hands.
He came to me, and bent over me.
‘Magda,’ he whispered, ‘show me your face.’ With his hands he delicately persuaded my hands away from my face, and forced me to look on him. ’How dark and splendid you are, Magda!’ he said, still holding my hands. ’How humid and flashing your eyes! And those eyelashes, and that hair—dark, dark! And that bosom, with its rise and fall! And that low, rich voice, that is like dark wine! And that dress—dark, and full of mysterious shadows, like our souls! Magda, we must have known each other in a previous life. There can be no other explanation. And this moment is the fulfilment of that other life, which was not aroused. You were to be mine. You are mine, Magda!’
There is a fatalism in love. I felt it then. I had been called by destiny to give happiness, perhaps for a lifetime, but perhaps only for a brief instant, to this noble and glorious creature, on whom the gods had showered all gifts. Could I shrink back from my fate? And had he not already given me far more than I could ever return? The conventions of society seemed then like sand, foolishly raised to imprison the resistless tide of ocean. Nature, after all, is eternal and unchangeable, and everywhere the same. The great and solemn fact for me was that we were together, and he held me while our burning pulses throbbed in contact. He held me; he clasped me, and, despite my innocence, I knew at once that those hands were as expert to caress as to make music. I was proud and glad that he was not clumsy, that he was a master. And at that point I ceased to have volition....
When I woke up, perplexed at first, but gradually remembering where I was, and what had occurred to me, the realistic and uncompromising light of dawn had commenced its pitiless inquiry, and it fell on the brass knob, which I had noticed a few hours before, from the other room, and on another brass knob a few feet away. My eyes smarted; I had disconcerting sensations at the back of my head; my hair was brittle, and as though charged with a dull electricity; I was conscious of actual pain, and an incubus, crushing but intangible, lay heavily, like a physical weight, on my heart. After the crest of the wave the trough—it must be so; but how profound the instinct which complains! I listened. I could hear his faint, regular breathing. I raised myself carefully on one elbow and looked at him. He was as beautiful in sleep as in consciousness; his lips were slightly parted, his cheek exquisitely flushed, and nothing could disarrange that short, curly hair. He slept with the calmness of the natural innocent man, to whom the assuaging of desires brings only content.