Balder came hastily towards her, waving her back. He was superstitiously anxious that she should return unshadowed to the clear outer sunshine, instead of joining him in this tomb of dead bones and darkness. Darkness might indeed befriend his own imperfections; but should Gnulemah be dimmed to soothe his vanity?
Such emblematic fancies are common to lovers, whose ideal passion tends always to symbolism. But to those who have never loved, it will be enough to say that the young man felt an instinctive desire to spare Gnulemah the ugly spectacle in the clock, and was perhaps not unwilling to escape from it himself!
She awaited him, in the bright doorway, like an angel come to lead him to a better world. “Do not leave me any more!” she said, putting her hand in his. “You did not do the thing you thought. Let us be together, and dream no more such sadness!”
“Is her innocence strong enough to protect her against that sinful deluge of confession I poured out upon her?” thought Helwyse, glancing at her face. “Has it fallen from her harmless, like water from a bird’s breast? And am I after all no murderer?”
Doubt nor accusation was in her eyes, but soft feminine faith. Her eyes,—rather than have lost the deep intelligence of their dark light, Balder would have consented to blotting from heaven its host of stars! Through them shone on him,—not justice, but the divine injustice of woman’s love. That wondrous bond, more subtile than light, and more enduring than adamant, had leagued her to him. Consecrated by the blessing of her trust, he must not dare distrust himself. If the past were blindly wrong, she was the God-given clew to guide him right.
An unspeakable tenderness melted them both,—him for what he received, her for what she gave. The rich bud of their love bloomed at once in full, fragrant stateliness. Their hearts, left unprotected by their out-opened arms, demanded shelter, and found it in nestling on each other. Heaven touched earth in the tremulous, fiery calm of their meeting lips,—magnets whose currents flowed from the mysterious poles of humanity.
At such moments—the happiest life counts but few—angels draw near, but veil their happy eyes. Spirits of evil grind their teeth and frown; and, for one awful instant, perceive their own deformity!
Before yet that dear embrace had lasted an eternity, the man felt the woman shiver in his arms. The celestial heights and spaces dwindled, the angelic music fainted. Heaven rolled back and left them alone on earth. Manetho stood on the threshold between the sphinxes, wearing such a smile as God has never doomed us to see on a child’s face!