During that first night when we slept apart, the wolves came very close to our meat heaps and set up their usual roaring chorus. The terror of this she could not endure, and so she came creeping with her half robe to my side where I lay. That was necessary. Later that night when she awoke under the shelter of her half hide, she found me sitting awake, near the opening. But she would not have me put over her my portion of the robe. She made of our party two individuals, and that I must understand. I must understand now that society was beginning again, and law, and custom. My playfellow was gone. I liked scarce so well this new creature, with the face of a Sphinx, the form of a woman, the eyes of something hurt, that wept—that wept, because of these results of my own awkwardness and misfortunes.
I say that I was growing stronger. At night, in front of her poor shelter, I sat and thought, and looked out at the stars. The stars said to me that life and desire were one, that the world must go on, that all the future of the world rested with us two. But at this I rebelled. “Ah, prurient stars!” I cried, “and evil of mind! What matters it that you suffer or that I suffer? Let the world end, yes, let the world end before this strange new companion, gained in want, and poverty, and suffering, and now lost by reason of comforts and health, shall shed one tear of suffering!”
But sometimes, worn out by watching, I, too, must lie down. Again, in her sleep, I felt her arm rest upon my neck. Now, God give me what He listeth, but may not this thing come to me again.
For now, day by day, night by night, against all my will and wish, against all my mind and resolution, I knew that I was loving this new being with all my heart and all my soul, forsaking all others, and that this would be until death should us part. I knew that neither here nor elsewhere in the world was anything which could make me whole of this—no principles of duty or honor, no wish nor inclination nor resolve!
I had eaten. I loved. I saw what life is.
I saw the great deceit of Nature. I saw her plan, her wish, her merciless, pitiless desire; and seeing this, I smiled slowly in the dark at the mockery of what we call civilization, its fuss and flurry, its pretense, its misery. Indeed, we are small, but life is not small. We are small, but love is very large and strong, born as it is of the great necessity that man shall not forget the world, that woman shall not rob the race.
For myself, I accepted my station in this plan, saying nothing beyond my own soul. None the less, I said there to my own soul, that this must be now, till death should come to part us twain.
Soon now we would be able to travel; but whither, and for what purpose? I began to shrink from the thought of change. This wild world was enough for me. So long as we might eat and sleep thus, and so long as I might not lose sight of her, it seemed to me I could not anywhere gain in happiness and content. Elsewhere I must lose both.