She felt her eyes grow humid. Her heart seemed to struggle upward, till it caught in her throat like a huge lump of molten lead and threatened to choke her with its wild, hot pulsations.
“I love you, Opal! I love you! and I want you! God! how I want you!” Paul stammered on, with a catch in his boyish voice it made her heart leap to hear. “I want your eyes, Opal—your hair—your lips—your glorious self! I want you as man never wanted woman before!”
He paused, dazed by his own passion, maddened by her lack of response—blinded by a mist of fire that made his senses swim and his brain reel, and crazed by the throbbing of the pulse that cried out from every vein in his body with the world-old elemental call. Was she going to close the gates of Paradise in his very face and in the very hour of his triumph rob him of the one day—his little day?
It was too much.
More overwhelmed by her lack of response than by any words she could have uttered, Paul hesitated. Then, speech failing him, half-dazed, he stumbled toward the door.
He heard her call as one in dreamland catches the far-off summons of earth’s realities. He turned. She stretched out her arms to him—those round, white arms.
“I understand you, Paul! I do understand.” She threw her arms around his neck and drew his face down to hers. “Yes, I love you, Paul, I love you! Do you hear, I love you! I am yours—utterly—heart, mind, soul, and body! Don’t you know that I am yours?”
She was in his arms now, weeping strange, hot tears of joy, her heart throbbing fiercely against his own.
“Paul—Paul—I am mad, I think!—we are both mad, you and I!”
And as their lips at last met in one long, soul-maddening kiss, and the intoxication of the senses stole over them, she murmured in the fullness of her surrender, “Take me! Crush me! Kiss me! My love—my love!”
The morning dawned. The morning of their one day.
Nature had done her best for them and made it all that a May day should be. There was not one tint, nor tone, nor bit of fragrance lacking. Silver-throated birds flooded the world with songs of love. The very air seemed full of beauty and passion and the glory and joy of life in the dawn of its fullness.
Their arrangements had been hasty, but complete. Paul had stolen away from Lucerne in the middle of the night, to be ready to welcome his darling at the-first break of the morning; and it was at a delightfully early hour that they met at the little hotel on the Buergenstock where his mother’s love-dream had waxed to its idyllic perfection, one-and-twenty years ago. They sat on the balcony and ate their simple breakfast, looking down to where the reflection of the snow-crowned mountains trembled in the limpid lake.
Opal had never before looked so lovely, he thought. She was gowned in the simplest fashion in purest white, as a bride should be, her glorious hair arranged in a loose, girlish knot, while her lustrous eyes were cast down, shyly, and her cheeks were flushed—flushed with the revelations and memories of the night just passed—flushed with the promise of the day just dawning—flushed with love, with slumbering, smouldering passion—with wifehood!