And the old gentleman, glaring a little, as it seemed to her, from under his eyelids and his grey top hat, had answered: “Colonel Ercott, I think? Here’s the fellow himself—Mark!” And a young man had taken off his hat. She had only noticed at first that his dark hair grew—not long—but very thick; and that his eyes were very deep-set. Then she saw him smile; it made his face all eager, yet left it shy; and she decided that he was nice. Soon after, she had gone with the Ercotts to see his ‘things’; for it was, of course, and especially in those days, quite an event to know a sculptor—rather like having a zebra in your park. The Colonel had been delighted and a little relieved to find that the ‘things’ were nearly all of beasts and birds. “Very interestin’” to one full of curious lore about such, having in his time killed many of them, and finding himself at the end of it with a curious aversion to killing any more—which he never put into words.
Acquaintanceship had ripened fast after that first visit to his studio, and now it was her turn to be relieved that Mark Lennan devoted himself almost entirely to beasts and birds instead of to the human form, so-called divine. Ah! yes—she would have suffered; now that she loved him, she saw that. At all events she could watch his work and help it with sympathy. That could not be wrong. . . .
She fell asleep at last, and dreamed that she was in a boat alone on the river near her country cottage, drifting along among spiky flowers like asphodels, with birds singing and flying round her. She could move neither face nor limbs, but that helpless feeling was not unpleasant, till she became conscious that she was drawing nearer and nearer to what was neither water nor land, light nor darkness, but simply some unutterable feeling. And then she saw, gazing at her out of the rushes on the banks, a great bull head. It moved as she moved—it was on both sides of her, yet all the time only one head. She tried to raise her hands and cover her eyes, but could not—and woke with a sob. . . . It was light.
Nearly six o’clock already! Her dream made her disinclined to trust again to sleep. Sleep was a robber now—of each minute of these few days! She got up, and looked out. The morning was fine, the air warm already, sweet with dew, and heliotrope nailed to the wall outside her window. She had but to open her shutters and walk into the sun. She dressed, took her sunshade, stealthily slipped the shutters back, and stole forth. Shunning the hotel garden, where the eccentricity of her early wandering might betray the condition of her spirit, she passed through into the road toward the Casino. Without perhaps knowing it, she was making for where she had sat with him yesterday afternoon, listening to the band. Hatless, but defended by her sunshade, she excited the admiration of the few connoisseurs as yet abroad, strolling in blue blouses to their labours; and this simple admiration gave her pleasure. For once she was really conscious of the grace in her own limbs, actually felt the gentle vividness of her own face, with its nearly black hair and eyes, and creamy skin—strange sensation, and very comforting!