“Please not so close, Messieurs. She needs air.” Then she moved her head and murmured:
“Where’s—my Prince? My—Prince Ambroise—I have something—” Her head fell back on his shoulder with a rigid jerk. In her clenched fingers he recognized his purse—smudged, torn, the serpent mouth gaping, the eyes empty.... And for the last time Ambroise saw scarlet—saw scarlet double. His two personalities had separated, never to merge again.
REBELS OF THE MOON
“On my honour,
friend,” Zarathustra answered, “what thou
of doth not exist: there is no devil nor hell. Thy soul will be
dead even sooner than thy body: henceforth fear naught.”
The moon, a spiritual gray wafer, fainted in the red wind of a summer morning as the two men leaped a ditch soft with mud. The wall was not high, the escape an easy one. Crouching, their clothes the colour of clay, they trod cautiously the trench, until opposite a wood whose trees blackened the slow dawn. Then, without a word, they ran across the road, and, in a few minutes, were lost in the thick underbrush of the little forest. It was past four o’clock and the dawn began to trill over the rim of night; the east burst into stinging sun rays, while the moving air awoke the birds and sent scurrying around the smooth green park a cloud of golden powdery dust....
Arved and Quell stood in a secret glade and looked at each other solemnly—but only for a moment. Laughter, unrestrained laughter, frightened the squirrels and warned them that they were still in danger.
“Well, we’ve escaped this time,” said the poet.
“Yes; but how long?” was the sardonic rejoinder of the painter.
“See here, Quell, you’re a pessimist. You are never satisfied; which, I take it, is a neat definition of pessimism.”
“I don’t propose to chop logic so early in the morning,” was the surly reply. “I’m cold and nervous. Say, did you lift anything before we got away?” Arved smiled the significant smile of a drinking man.
“Yes, I did. I waited until Doc McKracken left his office, and then I sneaked this.” The severe lines in Quell’s face began to swim together. He reached out his hand, took the flask, and then threw back his head. Arved watched him with patient resignation.
“Hold on there! Leave a dozen drops for a poor maker of rhymes,” he chuckled, and soon was himself gurgling the liquor.
They arose, and after despairing glances at their bespattered garments, trudged on. In an hour, the pair had reached the edge of the forest, and, as the sun sat high and warm, a rest was agreed upon. But this time they did not easily find a hiding-place. Fearing to venture nearer the turnpike, hearing human sounds, they finally retired from the clearing, and behind a moss-etched rock discovered a cool resting-place on the leafy floor.