“And mine, then, are not worthless? Thou wilt accept of mine?”
“Ah, Viola!” exclaimed Zanoni, with a sudden passion, that covered her face with blushes, “thou only, methinks, on all the earth, hast the power to wound or delight me!” He checked himself, and his face became grave and sad. “And this,” he added, in an altered tone, “because, if thou wouldst heed my counsels, methinks I could guide a guileless heart to a happy fate.”
“Thy counsels! I will obey them all. Mould me to what thou wilt. In thine absence, I am as a child that fears every shadow in the dark; in thy presence, my soul expands, and the whole world seems calm with a celestial noonday. Do not deny to me that presence. I am fatherless and ignorant and alone!”
Zanoni averted his face, and, after a moment’s silence, replied calmly,—
“Be it so. Sister, I will visit thee again!”
Gilding pale streams
with heavenly alchemy.
Who so happy as Viola now! A dark load was lifted from her heart: her step seemed to tread on air; she would have sung for very delight as she went gayly home. It is such happiness to the pure to love,—but oh, such more than happiness to believe in the worth of the one beloved. Between them there might be human obstacles,—wealth, rank, man’s little world. But there was no longer that dark gulf which the imagination recoils to dwell on, and which separates forever soul from soul. He did not love her in return. Love her! But did she ask for love? Did she herself love? No; or she would never have been at once so humble and so bold. How merrily the ocean murmured in her ear; how radiant an aspect the commonest passer-by seemed to wear! She gained her home,—she looked upon the tree, glancing, with fantastic branches, in the sun. “Yes, brother mine!” she said, laughing in her joy, “like thee, I have struggled to the light!”
She had never hitherto, like the more instructed Daughters of the North, accustomed herself to that delicious Confessional, the transfusion of thought to writing. Now, suddenly, her heart felt an impulse; a new-born instinct, that bade it commune with itself, bade it disentangle its web of golden fancies,—made her wish to look upon her inmost self as in a glass. Upsprung from the embrace of Love and Soul—the Eros and the Psyche—their beautiful offspring, Genius! She blushed, she sighed, she trembled as she wrote. And from the fresh world that she had built for herself, she was awakened to prepare for the glittering stage. How dull became the music, how dim the scene, so exquisite and so bright of old. Stage, thou art the Fairy Land to the vision of the worldly. Fancy, whose music is not heard by men, whose scenes shift not by mortal hand, as the stage to the present world, art thou to the future and the past!