Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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Again the hands had vanished—­through the open window there was nothing to be seen but darkness; and such a rush of longing seized on Miltoun as stole from him all power of movement.  He could hear her playing, now.  The murmurous current of that melody was like the night itself, sighing, throbbing, languorously soft.  It seemed that in this music she was calling him, telling him that she, too, was longing; her heart, too, empty.  It died away; and at the window her white figure appeared.  From that vision he could not, nor did he try to shrink, but moved out into the, lamplight.  And he saw her suddenly stretch out her hands to him, and withdraw them to her breast.  Then all save the madness of his longing deserted Miltoun.  He ran down the little garden, across the hall, up the stairs.

The door was open.  He passed through.  There, in the sitting-room, where the red flowers in the window scented all the air, it was dark, and he could not at first see her, till against the piano he caught the glimmer of her white dress.  She was sitting with hands resting on the pale notes.  And falling on his knees, he buried his face against her.  Then, without looking up, he raised his hands.  Her tears fell on them covering her heart, that throbbed as if the passionate night itself were breathing in there, and all but the night and her love had stolen forth.

CHAPTER XIV

On a spur of the Sussex Downs, inland from Nettle-Cold, there stands a beech-grove.  The traveller who enters it out of the heat and brightness, takes off the shoes of his spirit before its, sanctity; and, reaching the centre, across the clean beech-mat, he sits refreshing his brow with air, and silence.  For the flowers of sunlight on the ground under those branches are pale and rare, no insects hum, the birds are almost mute.  And close to the border trees are the quiet, milk-white sheep, in congregation, escaping from noon heat.  Here, above fields and dwellings, above the ceaseless network of men’s doings, and the vapour of their talk, the traveller feels solemnity.  All seems conveying divinity—­the great white clouds moving their wings above him, the faint longing murmur of the boughs, and in far distance, the sea....  And for a space his restlessness and fear know the peace of God.

So it was with Miltoun when he reached this temple, three days after that passionate night, having walked for hours, alone and full of conflict.  During those three days he had been borne forward on the flood tide; and now, tearing himself out of London, where to think was impossible, he had come to the solitude of the Downs to walk, and face his new position.

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