“Oh God, Gerty! I thought you loved me—and you believed that!"
This long and terrible night: will it never end? Or will not life itself go out, and let the sufferer have rest? The slow and sleepless hours toil through the darkness; and there is a ticking of a clock in the hushed room; and this agony of pain still throbbing and throbbing in the breaking heart. And then, as the pale dawn shows gray in the windows, the anguish of despair follows him even into the wan realms of sleep, and there are wild visions rising before the sick brain. Strange visions they are; the confused and seething phantasmagoria of a shattered life; himself regarding himself as another figure, and beginning to pity this poor wretch who is not permitted to die. “Poor wretch—poor wretch!” he says to himself. “Did they use to call you Macleod; and what is it that has brought you to this?”
* * * * *
See now! He lays his head down on the warm heather, on this beautiful summer day, and the seas are all blue around him; and the sun is shining on the white sands of Iona. Far below, the men are singing “Fhir a bhata,” and the sea birds are softly calling. But suddenly there is a horror in his brain, and the day grows black, for an adder has stung him!—it is Righinn—the Princess—the Queen of Snakes. Oh why does she laugh, and look at him so with that clear, cruel look? He would rather not go into this still house where the lidless-eyed creatures are lying in their awful sleep. Why does she laugh? Is it a matter for laughing that a man should be stung by an adder, and all his life grow black around him? For it is then that they put him in a grave; and she—she stands with her foot on it! There is moonlight around; and the jackdaws are wheeling overhead; our voices sound hollow in these dark ruins. But you can hear this, sweetheart: shall I whisper it to you? “You are standing on the grave of Macleod.”
* * * * *
Lo! the grave opens! Why, Hamish, it was no grave at all, but only the long winter; and now we are all looking at a strange thing away in the south, for who ever saw all the beautiful flags before that are fluttering there in the summer wind? Oh, sweetheart!—your hand—give me your small, warm, white hand! See! we will go up the steep path by the rocks; and here is the small white house; and have you never seen so great a telescope before? And is it all a haze of heat over the sea; or can you make out the quivering phantom of the lighthouse—the small gray thing out at the edge of the world? Look! they are signalling now; they know you are here; come out, quick! to the great white boards; and we will send them over a message—and you will see that they will send back a thousand welcomes to the young bride. Our ways are poor; we have no