Helwyse watched it long, till finally its monotony wearied him. It was doing admirable work, but it never swerved from its course at the call of sentiment or emotion. Its travesty of life was repulsive. Machinery is the most admirable invention of man, but is modelled after no heavenly prototype, and will have no part in the millennium. It seems to annul space and time, yet gives us no taste of eternity. Man lives quicker by it, but not more. With another kind of weapon must the true victory over matter be achieved!
Most benign and beautiful was the morning. The “Empire State” emerged from the fog and left it, a rosy cloud, astern. The chasing waves sparkled and danced for joy. The sun was up, fresh and unstained as yesterday. Night, that had changed so much, had left the sun undimmed. With the same power and brightness as for innumerable past centuries, his glorious glance colored the gray sky blue. Helwyse—he was at the stern taffrail again—looked at the marvellous sphere with unwinking eyes, until it blurred and swam before him, and danced in colored rings. It warmed his face, but penetrated no deeper. Looking away, black suns moved everywhere before his eyes, and the earth looked dim and shabby, as though blighted by a curse.
Helwyse had not slept, partly from disinclination to the solitude of his berth, partly because the thought of awakening dismayed him. Nevertheless, he could scarcely believe in what had happened, now. He stood upon the very spot; here was the semicircle of railing, the camp-stools, the white cabin-wall against which he had leaned. But the blackness of night had so utterly past away that it seemed as though the deed done in it must in some manner have vanished likewise. What is fact at one time looks unreal at another. It must be associated with all times and moods before it can be fully comprehended and accepted.
Glancing down at the deck, Helwyse saw there the cigar he had been smoking the night before, flattened out by the tread of a foot, and lying close beside it a sparkling ring. He picked it up; it was a diamond of purest water, curiously caught between the mouths of two little serpents, whose golden and black bodies, twisted round each other, formed the hoop. Realizing, after a moment, from whose finger it must have fallen, he had an impulse to fling it far into the sea; but his second thought was not to part from it. The idea of its former owner must indeed always be hateful to his murderer; but the bond between their souls was closer and more indissoluble than that between man and wife; and of so unnatural a union this ring was a fair emblem. Unnatural though the union were, to Helwyse it seemed at the time better than total solitude.