* * * * *
The brief fit of struggling sleep is over; he rises and goes to the window; and now, if he is impatient for the new day, behold! the new day is here. Oh, see how the wan light of the morning meets the wan face! It is the face of a man who has been close to Death; it is the face of a man who is desperate. And if, after the terrible battle of the night, with its uncontrollable yearning and its unbearable pain, the fierce and bitter resolve is taken?—if there remains but this one last despairing venture for all that made life worth having? How wildly the drowning man clutches at this or that, so only that he may breathe for yet a moment more? He knows not what miracle may save him; he knows not where there is any land; but only to live—only to breath for another moment—that is his cry. And then, mayhap, amidst the wild whirl of waves, if he were suddenly to catch sight of the shore; and think that he was getting near to that; and see awaiting him there a white Princess, with a smile on her lips and a red rose in her outstretched hand. Would he not make one last convulsive effort before the black waters dragged him down?
THE WHITE-WINGED DOVE.
The mere thought of this action, swift, immediate, impetuous, seemed to give relief to the burning brain. He went outside, and walked down to the shore; all the world was asleep; but the day had broken fair and pleasant, and the sea was calm and blue. Was not that a good omen? After all, then, there was still the wild, glad hope that Fionaghal might come and live in her Northern home: the summer days had not gone forever; they might still find a red rose for her bosom at Castle Dare.
And then he tried to deceive himself. Was not this a mere lover’s stratagem. Was not all fair in love as in war? Surely she would forgive him, for the sake of the great love he bore her, and the happiness he would try to bring her all the rest of her life? And no sailor, he would take care, would lay his rough hand on her gentle arm. That was the folly of Hamish. There was no chance, in these days, for a band of Northern pirates to rush into a church and carry off a screaming bride.