“I cannot, I cannot!” he groaned in agony. “How can you condemn me to such a fate?—tied to this woman whose every influence is degrading to me; parted from you whom I adore—I would rather be dead. It is not fair—not just, if you only knew!”
Then he continued wildly. “Ah, God—and it is all because I forgot the meaning of your dear and sacred, pledge with me that I must always be good and true! If I could suffer alone—my darling, my soul!—then I would go without a word back to hell, if you sent me. But you, too—think, Halcyone! Can you bear your life? You who are so young, separated for evermore from love and me. Oh! my own, my own—”
Here he stopped his mad rush of words—her face was so white and grave—and he let her draw herself from him, and put her hands upon his shoulders, while her eyes, with tender stars of purity melting in their depths, gazed into his.
“John,” she said, “do not try to weaken me. All Nature, who is my friend, and the night-winds and their voices, and that dear God Who never deserts me, tell me that for no present good must we lower ourselves now. Nothing can ever hurt me. Go back and do that which being a gentleman entails upon you to do—and leave the rest to God. This is the winter of our souls, but it will not last forever. The spring is at hand, if you will only trust, and believe with me that first we on our side must be ready to pay the price.”
Then she bent forward and kissed him as an angel might have done, and, without speaking more, rose and prepared to walk towards the stairway which descended to the lower court.
He followed her, and she turned before she began to descend the steps, while she pointed to the beautiful country.
“Look at the vines, all heavy with grapes,” she said, “and the fields shorn of their corn, and the olives shimmering in the sunset; and then, dear lover, you will know that all things have their sequence, and our time of joy will come. Ah! sweetheart, it is not farewell for ever; it is only that we must wait for our spring.”
“Halcyone,” he said, while his proud eyes again filled with tears, “you have the absolute worship of my being. You have taught me, as ever, the truth. Go, my darling, and I will do as you wish, and will try to make myself more worthy of your noble soul. God keep you until we meet again.”
She did not speak; she only looked at him with a divine look of love and faith, and he watched her as she went down, it seemed, out of the very heart of the setting sun and into the shadows beneath, and so disappeared from his adoring eyes in a peaceful purple twilight.
Then he returned to the old stone seat and leaning forward gazed out over the exquisite scene.
A great hush had fallen upon his torn heart. And thus he stayed motionless until the night fell.