Many sounds rose from far down beneath the tower, but at first Domini did not hear them. She was only aware of an immense, living silence, a silence flowing beneath, around and above her in dumb, invisible waves. Circles of rest and peace, cool and serene, widened as circles in a pool towards the unseen limits of the satisfied world, limits lost in the hidden regions beyond the misty, purple magic where sky and desert met. And she felt as if her brain, ceaselessly at work from its birth, her heart, unresting hitherto in a commotion of desires, her soul, an eternal flutter of anxious, passionate wings, folded themselves together gently like the petals of roses when a summer night comes into a garden.
She was not conscious that she breathed while she stood there. She thought her bosom ceased to rise and fall. The very blood dreamed in her veins as the light of evening dreamed in the blue.
She knew the Great Pause that seems to divide some human lives in two, as the Great Gulf divided him who lay in Abraham’s bosom from him who was shrouded in the veil of fire.
BOOK II. THE VOICE OF PRAYER
The music of things from below stole up through the ethereal spaces to Domini without piercing her dream. But suddenly she started with a sense of pain so acute that it shook her body and set the pulses in her temples beating. She lifted her arms swiftly from the parapet and turned her head. She had heard a little grating noise which seemed to be near to her, enclosed with her on this height in the narrow space of the tower. Slight as it was, and short—already she no longer heard it—it had in an instant driven her out of Heaven, as if it had been an angel with a flaming sword. She felt sure that there must be something alive with her at the tower summit, something which by a sudden movement had caused the little noise she had heard. What was it? When she turned her head she could only see the outer wall of the staircase, a section of the narrow white space which surrounded it, an angle of the parapet and blue air.
She listened, holding her breath and closing her two hands on the parapet, which was warm from the sun. Now, caught back to reality, she could hear faintly the sounds from below in Beni-Mora. But they did not concern her, and she wished to shut them out from her ears. What did concern her was to know what was with her up in the sky. Had a bird alighted on the parapet and startled her by scratching at the plaster with its beak? Could a mouse have shuffled in the wall? Or was there a human being up there hidden from her by the masonry?