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Sir John Constantine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 389 pages of information about Sir John Constantine.

CHAPTER XXX.

THE SUMMIT AND THE STARS.

“Aucassins, biax amis doux
En quel terre en irons nous? 
—­Douce amie, que sai jou? 
Moi ne caut u nous aillons,
En forest u en destor,
Mais que je soie aveuc vous!”

                                        Aucassin and Nicolete.

“E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.”
Dante.

I awoke to a hum of voices . . . but when my eyes opened, the speakers were gone, and I lay staring at an open window beyond which the sky shone, blue and deep as a well.  On a chair beside the window sat the Princess, her hands in her lap. . . .  While I stared at her, two strange fancies played together in my mind like couples crossing in a dance; the first, that she sat there waiting for something to happen, and had been waiting for a very long, an endless, while; the other that her body had grown transparent.  The sunlight seemed to float through it as through a curtain.

I dare say that I lay incapable of movement; but this did not distress me at all, for I felt no desire to stir—­only a contentment, deep as the sky outside, to rest there and let my eyes rest on her.  Yet either I must have spoken or (yes, the miracle was no less likely!) she heard my thoughts; for she lifted her head and, rising, came towards me.  As she drew close, her form appeared to expand, shutting out the light . . . and I drifted back into darkness.

By-and-by the light glimmered again.  I seemed to be rising to it, this time, like a drowned man out of deep water; drowned, not drowning, for I felt no struggle, but rather stood apart from my body and watched it ascending, the arms held downwards, rigid, the palms touching its thighs—­until at the surface, on the top of a wave, my will rejoined it and forced it to look.  Then I knew that I had been mistaken.  The sky was there, deep as a well; and, as before, it shone through an opening; and the opening had a rounded top like the arch of a window; yet it was not a window.  As before, my love sat between me and the light, and the light shone through her.  My bed rocked a little under me, and for a while I fancied myself on board the Gauntlet, laid in my bunk and listening to the rolling of her loose ballast—­until my ear distinguished and recognized the sound for that of wheels, a low rumble through which a horse’s footfall plodded, beating time.

I was scarcely satisfied of this before the sound grew indistinct again and became a murmur of voices.  The arch that framed the sunlight widened; the sky drew nearer, breaking into vivid separate tinctures—­orange, blood-red, sapphire-blue; and at the same time the Princess receded and diminished in stature. . . .  The frame was a window again, and she a figure on a coloured pane, shining there in a company of saints and angels.  But her voice remained beside me, speaking with another voice in a great emptiness.

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