“It is the sound of guns,” said I, listening too, while half a dozen similar concussions followed. “Heavy artillery, too, and from the southward.”
“Nay; but what light is yonder, to the north?”
She pointed into the night behind me, and I turned to see a faint glow spreading along the northern horizon, and mounting, and reddening as it mounted, until the black hills between us and Cape Corso stood up against it in sharp outline.
“O wife,” said I, “since you must be weary, sleep for a while, and I will keep watch: but wake soon, for yonder is something worth your seeing.”
“Whose work is it, think you?”
“The work,” said I, “of a man who would set the whole world on fire, and only for love.”
THE FLAME AND THE ALTAR.
“And when he saw
the statly towre
Shining baith clere and bricht,
Whilk stood abune the jawing wave,
Built on a rock of height,
“’Says, Row the
boat, my mariners,
And bring me to the land,
For yonder I see my love’s castle
Close by the saut sea strand.”
two equal armies Fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls—which to advance our state
Were gone out—hung ’twixt her and me:
“And whilst our
souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.”
DONNE, The Ecstasie.
She rose from the stone, but swayed a little, finding her feet. The dim light, as she turned her face to it, showed me that she was weary almost to fainting. She had come to a pass where the more haste would certainly make the worse speed.
“It is not spirit you lack, but sleep,” said I; and she confessed that it was so. An hour’s rest would recover her, she said, and obediently lay down where I found a couch for her on a bank of sweet-smelling heath above the road. I too wanted rest, and settled myself down with my back against a citron tree, some twenty paces distant.
Chaucer says somewhere (and it is true), that women take less sleep and take it more lightly than men. It seemed to me that I had scarcely closed my eyes before I opened them again at a touch on my shoulder. The night was yet dark around us, save for the glow to the northward, and at first I would hardly believe when the Princess told me that I had been sleeping near upon three hours. Then it occurred to me that for a long while the sky overhead had been shaking and repeating the boom of cannon.
“There is firing to the south of us,” she said; “and heavier firing than where the light is. It comes from Nonza or thereabouts.”