“How beautiful it is, Paulo!” said she.
He, however, saw nothing but her face, illuminated by the evening glow.
“How beautiful art thou!” he whispered low, pressing her head to his bosom.
Then both were silent, looking, lost in sweetest dreams, upon the surrounding landscape, which, as if in a silence of adoration, seemed to listen for the parting salutation of the god of day. A nightingale suddenly came and perched upon the myrtle-bush under which Natalie and her friend were reposing. Soon she began to sing, now in complaining, now in exulting tones, now tenderly soft, now in joyful trumpet-blasts; and the night-wind that now arose rustled in organ-tones among the cypress and olive trees.
Natalie clung closer to her friend’s side.
“I would now gladly die,” said she.
“Already die!” whispered he. “Die before you have lived, Natalie?”
Then they were again silent, the wind rustled in the trees, the fountains murmured, the birds sang, and in golden light lay the moon over this paradise of two happy beings.
But what is that which is rustling in the pines close to the wall—what is that looking out with flashing eyes and a poisonous glance? Is it the serpent already come to expel these happy beings from their paradise?
They see nothing, they hear nothing, they are both dreaming, so sure do they feel of their happiness.
But there is a continued rustling. It is unnatural! It resembles not the rustling of the evening wind! It is not the rustling of a bird, balancing itself upon the branch of the tree! What, then, is it?
An opening is made in the foliage, and it is the arm of a man that makes it. Upon the wall is to be seen the form of a man, and near him slowly rises a second form. Cautiously he glances around, and then makes a scornful grimace, while his eyes shine like those of a hyena. He has discovered the two sitting together in happy security, and enjoying the tranquil beauty of the evening in silent beatitude. He has seen them, and points toward them with his finger, while, at the same time, he lightly touches the arm of the other man, who has boldly swung himself up on the wall. The glance of the latter follows the direction in which the other points; he also now sees the reposing pair, and over his features also flits an unnatural smile. He suddenly fumbles in his bosom, and when his hand is withdrawn a small dagger glistens in it. With a bold leap, the man is already on the point of springing from the wall into the garden. The other holds him back, and makes a threatening counter-movement. He, it seems, is the commander, and uses his power with an indignant negative shake of the head; his commanding glance seems to say: “Be silent, and observe!”