“I have stayed only to see you again,” came panting from his lips. “I could not go till I had seen you again!”
And before the winged syllables had ceased, their eyes met; nor their eyes alone, for upon both was the constraint of passion that leaps like flame to its desire—mouth to mouth and heart to heart for one instant that concentrated all the joy of being.
What hand, centuries ago crumbled into indistinguishable dust, painted that parable of the youth making his award to Love? What eyes gazed upon it, when this was a home of man and woman warm with life, listening all day long to the music of uttered thoughts? Dark-buried whilst so many ages of history went by, thrown open for the sunshine to rest upon its pallid antiquity, again had this chamber won a place in human hearts, witnessed the birth of joy and hope, blended itself with the destiny of mortals. He who pictured Paris dreamt not of these passionate lips and their unborn language, knew not that he wrought for a world hidden so far in time. Though his white-limbed goddess fade ghostlike, the symbol is as valid as ever. Did not her wan beauty smile youthful again in the eyes of these her latest worshippers?
And they went forth among the painted pillars, once more shunning each other’s look. It was some minutes before Cecily knew that her fingers still crushed the spray of maidenhair; then she touched it gently, and secreted it within her glove. It must be dead when she reached home, but that mattered nothing; would it not remain the sign of something deathless?
She believed so. In her vision the dead city had a new and wonderful life; it lay glorious in the light of heaven, its strait ways fit for the treading of divinities, its barren temples reconsecrate with song and sacrifice. She believed there was that within her soul which should survive all change and hazard—survive, it might be, even this warm flesh that it was hard not to think immortal.
She sought Miriam’s side, took her hand, held it playfully as they walked on together.
“Why do you look at me so sadly, Miriam?”
“I did not mean to.”
“Yet you do. Let me see you smile once to-day.”
But Miriam’s smile was sadder than her grave look.
It was true enough that Clifford Marsh would have relished an invitation to accompany that party of four to Pompeii. For one thing, he was beginning to have a difficulty in passing his days; if the present state of things prolonged itself, his position might soon resemble that of Mr. Musselwhite. But chiefly would he have welcomed the prospect of spending some hours in the society of Miss Doran, and under circumstances which would enable him to shine. Clifford had begun to nurse a daring ambition. Allowing his vanity to caress him into the half-belief that he was really making a noble stand against the harshness