Ottilia did not keep me waiting.
THE SCENE IN THE LAKE-PALACE LIBRARY
I was humming the burden of Gothe’s Zigeunerlied, a favourite one with me whenever I had too much to think of, or nothing. A low rush of sound from the hall-doorway swung me on my heel, and I saw her standing with a silver lamp raised in her right hand to the level of her head, as if she expected to meet obscurity. A thin blue Indian scarf mufed her throat and shoulders. Her hair was loosely knotted. The lamp’s full glow illumined and shadowed her. She was like a statue of Twilight.
I went up to her quickly, and closed the door, saying, ‘You have come’; my voice was not much above a breath.
She looked distrustfully down the length of the room; ’You were speaking to some one?’
‘You were speaking.’
‘To myself, then, I suppose.’
I remembered and repeated the gipsy burden.
She smiled faintly and said it was the hour for Anna and Ursel and Kith and Liese to be out.
Her hands were gloved, a small matter to tell of.
We heard the portico-sentinel challenged and relieved.
‘Midnight,’ I said.
She replied: ’You were not definite in your directions about the minutes.’
‘I feared to name midnight.’
’Lest the appointment of midnight—I lose my knowledge of you!—should make you reflect, frighten you. You see, I am inventing a reason; I really cannot tell why, if it was not that I hoped to have just those few minutes more of you. And now they’re gone. I would not have asked you but that I thought you free to act.’
‘And you come freely?’
‘A “therefore” belongs to every grant of freedom.’
‘I understand: your judgement was against it.’
‘Be comforted,’ she said; ’it is your right to bid me come, if you think fit.’
One of the sofa-volumes fell. She caught her breath; and smiled at her foolish alarm.
I told her that it was my intention to start for England in the morning; that this was the only moment I had, and would be the last interview: my rights, if I possessed any, and I was not aware that I did, I threw down.