“Farewell,” resumed Zanoni; “thy trial commences. When next we meet, thou wilt be the victim or the victor.”
Glyndon’s eyes followed the receding form of the mysterious stranger. He saw him enter the boat, and he then for the first time noticed that besides the rowers there was a female, who stood up as Zanoni gained the boat. Even at the distance he recognised the once-adored form of Viola. She waved her hand to him, and across the still and shining air came her voice, mournfully and sweetly, in her mother’s tongue, “Farewell, Clarence,—I forgive thee!—farewell, farewell!”
He strove to answer; but the voice touched a chord at his heart, and the words failed him. Viola was then lost forever, gone with this dread stranger; darkness was round her lot! And he himself had decided her fate and his own! The boat bounded on, the soft waves flashed and sparkled beneath the oars, and it was along one sapphire track of moonlight that the frail vessel bore away the lovers. Farther and farther from his gaze sped the boat, till at last the speck, scarcely visible, touched the side of the ship that lay lifeless in the glorious bay. At that instant, as if by magic, up sprang, with a glad murmur, the playful and freshening wind: and Glyndon turned to Mejnour and broke the silence.
“Tell me—if thou canst read the future—tell me that her lot will be fair, and that her choice at least is wise?”
“My pupil!” answered Mejnour, in a voice the calmness of which well accorded with the chilling words, “thy first task must be to withdraw all thought, feeling, sympathy from others. The elementary stage of knowledge is to make self, and self alone, thy study and thy world. Thou hast decided thine own career; thou hast renounced love; thou hast rejected wealth, fame, and the vulgar pomps of power. What, then, are all mankind to thee? To perfect thy faculties, and concentrate thy emotions, is henceforth thy only aim!”
“And will happiness be the end?”
“If happiness exist,” answered Mejnour, “it must be centred in a self to which all passion is unknown. But happiness is the last state of being; and as yet thou art on the threshold of the first.”
As Mejnour spoke, the distant vessel spread its sails to the wind, and moved slowly along the deep. Glyndon sighed, and the pupil and the master retraced their steps towards the city.
BOOK IV. — THE DWELLER OF THE THRESHOLD.
Bey hinter ihm was will!
Ich heb ihn auf.
“Das Verschleierte Bildzu Sais”
(Be behind what there may,—I raise the veil.)
Come vittima io vengo
“Metast.,” At. ii. Sc. 7.
(As a victim I go to the altar.)
It was about a month after the date of Zanoni’s departure and Glyndon’s introduction to Mejnour, when two Englishmen were walking, arm-in-arm, through the Toledo.