They thus beguile the
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne,
When weening to returne whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path which first was showne,
But wander to and fro in waies unknowne.
—Spenser’s “Faerie Queene,” book i. canto i. st. x.
Yes, Viola, thou art another being than when, by the threshold of thy Italian home, thou didst follow thy dim fancies through the Land of Shadow; or when thou didst vainly seek to give voice to an ideal beauty, on the boards where illusion counterfeits earth and heaven for an hour, till the weary sense, awaking, sees but the tinsel and the scene-shifter. Thy spirit reposes in its own happiness. Its wanderings have found a goal. In a moment there often dwells the sense of eternity; for when profoundly happy, we know that it is impossible to die. Whenever the soul feels itself, it feels everlasting life.
The initiation is deferred,—thy days and nights are left to no other visions than those with which a contented heart enchants a guileless fancy. Glendoveers and Sylphs, pardon me if I question whether those visions are not lovelier than yourselves.
They stand by the beach, and see the sun sinking into the sea. How long now have they dwelt on that island? What matters!—it may be months, or years—what matters! Why should I, or they, keep account of that happy time? As in the dream of a moment ages may seem to pass, so shall we measure transport or woe,—by the length of the dream, or the number of emotions that the dream involves?
The sun sinks slowly down; the air is arid and oppressive; on the sea, the stately vessel lies motionless; on the shore, no leaf trembles on the trees.
Viola drew nearer to Zanoni. A presentiment she could not define made her heart beat more quickly; and, looking into his face, she was struck with its expression: it was anxious, abstracted, perturbed. “This stillness awes me,” she whispered.
Zanoni did not seem to hear her. He muttered to himself, and his eyes gazed round restlessly. She knew not why, but that gaze, which seemed to pierce into space,—that muttered voice in some foreign language—revived dimly her earlier superstitions. She was more fearful since the hour when she knew that she was to be a mother. Strange crisis in the life of woman, and in her love! Something yet unborn begins already to divide her heart with that which had been before its only monarch.