She sprang up at the recollection, and drew the curtains of the window closer together.
“We will shut out the cold, inquisitive, prying old world,” she said. “It shall not look, shall not listen! It is a hard, cruel world, my Paul. It would say that I must not put my arms around your neck—like this—must not lay my cheek against yours—so—must not let my heart feel the wild throbbing of yours—and why? Because I do not wear your ring, Paul—that’s all!”
She held up her white hand for his inspection, and surveyed it critically.
“See, Paul—there is no glittering, golden fetter to hold me to you with the power of an iron band, and so I must not—let you hold me to you at all”
They both laughed merrily, and then Paul, pulling her down on his knee and holding her face against his own, whispered, “What care we for the old world? It is as sad and mad and bad as we are—if we only knew! And who knows how much worse? It has petty bickerings, damning lies of spite and malice, trickery and thievery and corruption on its conscience. Let the little people of the world prate of their little things! We are free, dearest—and we defy it, don’t we? Our ideals are never lost. And ideals are the life of love. Is love—a love like ours—a murderer of life?”
“Sometimes, Paul—sometimes! I fear it—I do fear it!”
“Never fear, Opal, my beloved! You need not fear anything—anywhere! I will stand between you and the world, dear—between you and hell itself! My God, girl, how I love you! Opal! My Opal! My heart aches with the immensity of it! Come, my love, my queen, my treasure, come! We have not many more hours to—live! And I want you close, close—all mine! Ah, Opal, we are masters of life and death! All earth, all heaven, and—hell itself, cannot take you from me now!”
Oh, if scone moments in life could only be eternal!
And the day—died!
The sun sank beneath the western horizon; the moon cast her silvery sheen over the weary world; the twinkling stars appeared in the jewelled diadem of night; and the silence of evening settled over mountain and lake and swaying tree, while the two who had dared all things for the sake of this one day, looked into each other’s eyes now with a sudden realization of the end.
They had not allowed themselves once to think of the hour of separation.
And now it was upon them! And they were not ready to part.
“How do people say good-by forever, Paul?—people who love as we love? How do they say it, dear? Tell me!”
“But it is not forever, Opal. Don’t you know that you will always be part of my life—my soul-life, which is the only true one—its sanctifying inspiration? You must not forget that—never, never!”
“No, I won’t forget it, my King!” She delighted in giving him his title now. “That satisfaction I will hold to as long as I live!”