So as he watched her, she turned paler and ever paler, like the east at the break of dawn. And she put her two hands together, and pressed them tight against her heart, and then against her brow. And all at once, she came quickly to him, and said in a low voice: It is time. And she took his head in her hands, and kissed him, with lips that were cold as ice, and yet hot as fire, first on the eyes, and then on the mouth, and last of all upon the brow. And then she took his hand, and held it for a little while, with a clutch that almost hurt him, gazing at him with thirsty eyes. And suddenly, she threw away his hand, and pushed him away roughly, saying: Go. But Aja caught her in his arms, and kissed her yet again, as it were against her will. And he said: O fearful heart, be not afraid. Very soon, I will return. And he went away quickly, but at the door he turned, and saw her standing still, watching him with dry bright eyes, and lips that were shut tight. And at that very moment, the old King took him by the arm, and said: Come now, and I will show thee the way by which all thy predecessors went before thee.
Then Aja said: O King, I am unarmed. Give me a weapon to carry with me. So the King took him into the armoury, and he chose for himself a sword almost as long as he was tall. But he threw away the scabbard, saying: This would only be in the way: and now, I am prepared. And then the King led him away, and up a winding stair.
And when they were at the top, he stopped. And he said: O son-in-law that might have been, now fare thee well. And even I feel it harder to part with thee than with any of thy predecessors. Thou wouldst have made an altogether appropriate husband for my daughter, and O! that thou couldst have seen her dance, before thus disappearing: but now it is too late, for I doubt whether Tumburu himself could make her dance to-night, so troubled did she seem to be at bidding thee good bye. Go out, now, through yonder door: and thou wilt be more fortunate than all the others, if thou canst manage to return through it.
Then he went back into the palace. But Aja passed through the door, and found himself on the city wall.
A Total Eclipse.
Then kith and kin and home forget,
To sail beyond the setting-sun, with me,
Where dead love’s dreamy recollections call
Across the sea.
And he stood on the edge of the city wall, with his naked sword in his hand. And he looked on this side and on that, and saw the turrets of the city jutting out along the wall, like the huge black heads of elephants of war advancing in a line. And behind him lay the city, covered over with a pall of black that was edged and touched with silver points and fringes; and before him the desert stretched away, smeared as it were with ashes, under the light of the moon. And brave as he was, his heart beat,