“Why?” I answered. “The lady Quilla and I study this wondrous scene.”
“Yes, Lord, though to those who are not god-born it would be difficult in this darkness. Suffer, now that I show you the path.”
As it chanced during the remaining days of that journey, Quilla and I were not again alone together (that is to say, except once for a few minutes), for we were never out of eyeshot of someone in our company. Thus Kari clung to me very closely, indeed, and when I asked him why, told me bluntly that it was for my safety’s sake. A god to remain a god, he said, should live alone in a temple. When he began to mix with others of the earth and to do those things they did, to eat and to drink, to laugh and to frown; even to slip in the mud or to stumble over the stones in the common path, those others would come to think that there was small difference between god and man. Especially would they think so if he were observed to love the company of women or to melt beneath their soft glances.
Now I grew sore at the sting of these arrows which of late he had loved to shoot at me, and without pretending to misunderstand him, said outright:
“The truth is, Kari, that you are jealous of the lady Quilla as once you were jealous of another.”
He considered the matter in his grave fashion, and answered:
“Yes, Master, that is the truth, or part of it. You saved my life, and sheltered me when I was alone in a strange land, and for this and for yourself I came to love you very greatly, and love, if it be true, is always jealous and always hates a rival.”
“There are different sorts of loves,” I said; “that of a man for man is one, that of man for woman is another.”
“Yes, Master, and that of woman for man is a third; moreover, there is this about it—it is the acid which turns all other loves sour. Where are a man’s friends when a woman has him by the heart?—although perchance they love him better than ever will the woman who at bottom loves herself best of all. Still, let that be, for so Nature works, and who can fight against Nature? What Quilla takes, Kari loses, and Kari must be content to lose.”
“Have you done?” I asked angrily, who wearied of his homilies.
“No, Master. The matter of jealousy is small and private; so is the matter of love. But, Master, you have not told me outright whether you love the lady Quilla, and, what is more important, whether she loves you.”
“Then I will tell you now. I do and she does.”
“You love the lady Quilla and she says that she loves you, which may or may not be true, or if true to-day may be false to-morrow. For your sake I hope that it is not true.”
“Why?” I said in a rage.