Celia was looking away. When he took her hand she did not withdraw it, but turned and nodded in musing general assent to what he had said. “Yes, we have both been unstrung, as you call it, today,” she said, decidedly out of pitch. “Let each forgive the other, and say no more about it.”
She took his arm, and they retraced their steps along the path, again in silence. The labored noise of the orchestra, as it were, returned to meet them. They halted at an intersecting footpath.
“I go back to my slavery—my double bondage,” said Theron, letting his voice sink to a sigh. “But even if I am put on the rack for it, I shall have had one day of glory.”
“I think you may kiss me, in memory of that one day—or of a few minutes in that day,” said Celia.
Their lips brushed each other in a swift, almost perfunctory caress.
Theron went his way at a hurried pace, the sobered tones of her “good-bye” beating upon his brain with every measure of the droning waltz-music.
The memory of the kiss abode with Theron. Like Aaron’s rod, it swallowed up one by one all competing thoughts and recollections, and made his brain its slave.
Even as he strode back through the woods to the camp-meeting, it was the kiss that kept his feet in motion, and guided their automatic course. All along the watches of the restless night, it was the kiss that bore him sweet company, and wandered with him from one broken dream of bliss to another. Next day, it was the kiss that made of life for him a sort of sunlit wonderland. He preached his sermon in the morning, and took his appointed part in the other services of afternoon and evening, apparently to everybody’s satisfaction: to him it was all a vision.
When the beautiful full moon rose, this Sunday evening, and glorified the clearing and the forest with its mellow harvest radiance, he could have groaned with the burden of his joy. He went out alone into the light, and bared his head to it, and stood motionless for a long time. In all his life, he had never been impelled as powerfully toward earnest and soulful thanksgiving. The impulse to kneel, there in the pure, tender moonlight, and lift up offerings of praise to God, kept uppermost in his mind. Some formless resignation restrained him from the act itself, but the spirit of it hallowed his mood. He gazed up at the broad luminous face of the satellite. “You are our God,” he murmured. “Hers and mine! You are the most beautiful of heavenly creatures, as she is of the angels on earth. I am speechless with reverence for you both.”