“And I could not now tell thee so! Ah, Viola, never be weary of assuring me that thou art happy!”
“Happy while thou art so. Yet at times, Zanoni, thou art so sad!”
“Because human life is so short; because we must part at last; because yon moon shines on when the nightingale sings to it no more! A little while, and thine eyes will grow dim, and thy beauty haggard, and these locks that I toy with now will be grey and loveless.”
“And thou, cruel one!” said Viola, touchingly, “I shall never see the signs of age in thee! But shall we not grow old together, and our eyes be accustomed to a change which the heart shall not share!”
Zanoni sighed. He turned away, and seemed to commune with himself.
Glyndon’s attention grew yet more earnest.
“But were it so,” muttered Zanoni; and then looking steadfastly at Viola, he said, with a half-smile, “Hast thou no curiosity to learn more of the lover thou once couldst believe the agent of the Evil One?”
“None; all that one wishes to know of the beloved one, I know—that thou lovest me!”
“I have told thee that my life is apart from others. Wouldst thou not seek to share it?”
“I share it now!”
“But were it possible to be thus young and fair forever, till the world blazes round us as one funeral pyre!”
“We shall be so, when we leave the world!”
Zanoni was mute for some moments, and at length he said,—
“Canst thou recall those brilliant and aerial dreams which once visited thee, when thou didst fancy that thou wert preordained to some fate aloof and afar from the common children of the earth?”
“Zanoni, the fate is found.”
“And hast thou no terror of the future?”
“The future! I forget it! Time past and present and to come reposes in thy smile. Ah, Zanoni, play not with the foolish credulities of my youth! I have been better and humbler since thy presence has dispelled the mist of the air. The future!—well, when I have cause to dread it, I will look up to heaven, and remember who guides our fate!”
As she lifted her eyes above, a dark cloud swept suddenly over the scene. It wrapped the orange-trees, the azure ocean, the dense sands; but still the last images that it veiled from the charmed eyes of Glyndon were the forms of Viola and Zanoni. The face of the one rapt, serene, and radiant; the face of the other, dark, thoughtful, and locked in more than its usual rigidness of melancholy beauty and profound repose.
“Rouse thyself,” said Mejnour; “thy ordeal has commenced! There are pretenders to the solemn science who could have shown thee the absent, and prated to thee, in their charlatanic jargon, of the secret electricities and the magnetic fluid of whose true properties they know but the germs and elements. I will lend thee the books of those glorious dupes, and thou wilt find, in the dark ages,