“None to me; but to Glyndon?”
“Danger from me! Ah, perhaps you are right.”
“Go on, my dear Mervale,” said Glyndon; “I will join you before you reach the hotel.”
Mervale nodded, whistled, and pushed his horse into a kind of amble.
“Now your answer,—quick?”
“I have decided. The love of Viola has vanished from my heart. The pursuit is over.”
“You have decided?”
“I have; and now my reward.”
“Thy reward! Well; ere this hour to-morrow it shall await thee.”
Zanoni gave the rein to his horse; it sprang forward with a bound: the sparks flew from its hoofs, and horse and rider disappeared amidst the shadows of the street whence they had emerged.
Mervale was surprised to see his friend by his side, a minute after they had parted.
“What has passed between you and Zanoni?”
“Mervale, do not ask me to-night! I am in a dream.”
“I do not wonder at it, for even I am in a sleep. Let us push on.”
In the retirement of his chamber, Glyndon sought to recollect his thoughts. He sat down on the foot of his bed, and pressed his hands tightly to his throbbing temples. The events of the last few hours; the apparition of the gigantic and shadowy Companion of the Mystic, amidst the fires and clouds of Vesuvius; the strange encounter with Zanoni himself, on a spot in which he could never, by ordinary reasoning, have calculated on finding Glyndon, filled his mind with emotions, in which terror and awe the least prevailed. A fire, the train of which had been long laid, was lighted at his heart,—the asbestos-fire that, once lit, is never to be quenched. All his early aspirations—his young ambition, his longings for the laurel—were merged in one passionate yearning to surpass the bounds of the common knowledge of man, and reach that solemn spot, between two worlds, on which the mysterious stranger appeared to have fixed his home.
Far from recalling with renewed affright the remembrance of the apparition that had so appalled him, the recollection only served to kindle and concentrate his curiosity into a burning focus. He had said aright,—love had vanished from his heart; there was no longer a serene space amidst its disordered elements for human affection to move and breathe. The enthusiast was rapt from this earth; and he would have surrendered all that mortal beauty ever promised, that mortal hope ever whispered, for one hour with Zanoni beyond the portals of the visible world.
He rose, oppressed and fevered with the new thoughts that raged within him, and threw open his casement for air. The ocean lay suffused in the starry light, and the stillness of the heavens never more eloquently preached the morality of repose to the madness of earthly passions. But such was Glyndon’s mood that their very hush only served to deepen the wild desires that preyed upon his soul; and the solemn stars, that are mysteries in themselves, seemed, by a kindred sympathy, to agitate the wings of the spirit no longer contented with its cage. As he gazed, a star shot from its brethren, and vanished from the depth of space!