“Ah, then,” says every man to himself of such hours, as I said to myself in my haunted restaurant—“ah, then came in the sweet o’ the year.”
But lovely and pleasant as were the memories over which I thus sat musing, there was one face immeasurably beyond all others that I had come there hoping and yet fearing to meet again, hers of whom for years that seem past counting all the awe and wonder and loveliness of the world have seemed but the metaphor. Endless years ago she and I had sat at this table where I was now sitting and had risen from it with breaking hearts, never to see each other’s face, hear each other’s voice again. Voluntarily, for another’s sake, we were breaking our hearts, renouncing each other, putting from us all the rapture and religion of our loving, dying then and there that another might live—vain sacrifice! Once and again, long silences apart, a word or two would wing its way across lands and seas and tell us both that we were still under the same sky and were still what nature had made us from the beginning—each other’s. But long since that veil of darkness unpierced of my star has fallen between us, and no longer do I hear the rustle of her gown in the autumn woods, nor do the spring winds carry me the sweetness of her faithful thoughts any more. So I dreamed maybe that, after the manner of phantoms, we might meet again on the spot where we had both died—but alas, though the wraiths of lighter loving came gaily to my call, she of the starlit silence and the tragic eyes came not, though I sat long awaiting her—sat on till the tables began to be deserted, and the interregnum between dinner and after-theatre supper had arrived. No, I began to understand that she could no longer come to me: we must both wait till I could go to her.