“I’ll go up alone,” Domini said. “I shall stay some time and I would rather not keep you.”
She put some money into the Arab’s hand. He looked pleased, yet doubtful too for a moment. Then he seemed to banish his hesitation and, with a deprecating smile, said something which she could not understand. She nodded intelligently to get rid of him. Already, from the roof, she caught sight of a great visionary panorama glowing with colour and magic. She was impatient to climb still higher into the sky, to look down on the world as an eagle does. So she turned away decisively and mounted the dark, winding stair till she reached a door. She pushed it open with some difficulty, and came out into the air at a dizzy height, shutting the door forcibly behind her with an energetic movement of her strong arms.
The top of the tower was small and square, and guarded by a white parapet breast high. In the centre of it rose the outer walls and the ceiling of the top of the staircase, which prevented a person standing on one side of the tower from seeing anybody who was standing at the opposite side. There was just sufficient space between parapet and staircase wall for two people to pass with difficulty and manoeuvring.
But Domini was not concerned with such trivial details, as she would have thought them had she thought of them. Directly she had shut the little door and felt herself alone—alone as an eagle in the sky—she took the step forward that brought her to the parapet, leaned her arms on it, looked out and was lost in a passion of contemplation.
At first she did not discern any of the multitudinous minutiae in the great evening vision beneath and around her. She only felt conscious of depth, height, space, colour, mystery, calm. She did not measure. She did not differentiate. She simply stood there, leaning lightly on the snowy plaster work, and experienced something that she had never experienced before, that she had never imagined. It was scarcely vivid; for in everything that is vivid there seems to be something small, the point to which wonders converge, the intense spark to which many fires have given themselves as food, the drop which contains the murmuring force of innumerable rivers. It was more than vivid. It was reliantly dim, as is that pulse of life which is heard through and above the crash of generations and centuries falling downwards into the abyss; that persistent, enduring heart-beat, indifferent in its mystical regularity, that ignores and triumphs, and never grows louder nor diminishes, inexorably calm, inexorably steady, undefeated—more—utterly unaffected by unnumbered millions of tragedies and deaths.