“So you came after all? Here is Mr. Haviland, gladder even than I to see you!”
I saw Grace, in a moment, the duties of hostess being temporarily undertaken by Annie, walking down a path with soldierly Lockhart Mackenzie, who had come over from the “quarters” in his uniform.
Alexandra and I found ourselves wandering into the wood and climbing the hillside at the loftiest point of the Island, where, on the summit, the trees permitted us a wide view of the St. Lawrence, its islands and ships and the open country; while the afternoon sunlight fell brokenly upon the faint colors of her face and her golden hair.
“Do you admire distant landscapes?” I asked constrainedly.
“They remind me of high aims and the broad views of great minds,” returned she, looking outward.
“You favor aiming high,” I said, “I always thought so of you.”
She turned her glance for a moment to me, and asked seriously: “How can people aim low? Do you know the lines of Goethe:”
“Thou must either strive and
Or thou must sink and die.”
Daughter of the immortals!
“I wonder what you will say of my aims,” I stammered.
“May you tell them? I should like very much to hear.” And as she seemed to bend from a queen into a womanly companion, I noticed my gift, the brooch of Roman mosaic, on her breast.
While she listened, for I told her fully the story of my quest for the highest things, its strange solution, and my present purposes, I was surprised to discover that her intelligence was master of the whole without effort. “O, I have often talked philosophy with Mr. Quinet,” she explained. Her spiritual eyes glistened with profound beautiful depths as she looked down into the forest-shades before us. A color had suffused itself over her face so lovely that the glorified creature beside me seemed to surpass my intensest ideal.
“It is the Voice of the Universe,” she said, and her cheeks flushed, “I once heard the Spirit of All, called, ’Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth,’ and I added ‘Heart of Man.’ Obey it, obey your best thoughts.” She looked at me with such a glance of sacred sympathy, that—O joy, the first words filling life with fragrance have been spoken!
* * * * *
It was short, our sweet bridal and few days of united life, and of bliss at the old chateau d’Esneval. Gravely ill,—worse,—recovering,—then DEAD. O God, was it possible?
Yes; I saw her lying amid garlands of evergreens and white robes, in a low-lighted chamber of the chateau, still and transfigured into a changed, unearthly beauty, the alas! so thin lips lightly parted in a smile, the abundant golden hair I used to admire brushed neatly away from her forehead, the darkened eyelids that told of long exhaustion peacefully closed as if on visions of heaven—as if she saw God, being pure in heart. Supernaturally lovely as her soul