Alvan was at his writing-table doing stout gladiator’s work on paper in a chamber of one of the gaunt hotels of the heights, which are Death’s Heads there in Winter and have the tongues in Summer, when a Swiss lad entered with a round grin to tell him that a lady on horseback below had asked for him—Dr. Alvan. Who could the lady be? He thought of too many. The thought of Clotilde was dismissed in its dimness. Issuing and beholding her, his face became illuminated as by a stroke of sunlight.
‘Clotilde! by all the holiest!’
She smiled demurely, and they greeted.
She admired the look of rich pleasure shining through surprise in him. Her heart thanked him for appearing so handsome before her friends.
‘I was writing,’ said he. ’Guess to whom?—I had just finished my political stuff, and fell on a letter to the professor and another for an immediate introduction to your father.’
’The truth, as you shall see. So, you have come, you have found me! This time if I let you slip, may I be stamped slack-fingered!’
‘"Two wishes make a will,” you say.’
He answered her with one of his bursts of brightness.
Her having sought him he read for the frank surrender which he was ready to match with a loyal devotion to his captive. Her coming cleared everything.
Clotilde introduced him to her friends, and he was enrolled a member of the party. His appearance was that of a man to whom the sphinx has whispered. They ascended to the topmost of the mountain stages, to another caravanserai of tourists, whence the singular people emerge in morning darkness night-capped and blanketed, and behold the great orb of day at his birth—he them.
Walking slowly beside Clotilde on the mountain way, Alvan said: ’Two wishes! Mine was in your breast. You wedded yours to it. At last!—and we are one. Not a word more of time lost. My wish is almost a will in itself—was it not?—and has been wooing yours all this while!—till the sleeper awakened, the well-spring leapt up from the earth; and our two wishes united dare the world to divide them. What can? My wish was your destiny, yours is mine. We are one.’ He poetized on his passion, and dramatized it: ’Stood you at the altar, I would pluck you from the man holding your hand! There is no escape for you. Nay, into the vaults, were you to grow pale and need my vital warmth—down to the vaults! Speak—or no: look! That will do. You hold a Titan in your eyes, like metal in the furnace, to turn him to any shape you please, liquid or solid. You make him a god: he is the river Alvan or the rock Alvan: but fixed or flowing, he is lord of you. That is the universal penalty: you must, if you have this creative soul, be the slave of your creature: if you raise him to heaven, you must be his! Ay, look! I know the eyes! They can melt granite, they can freeze fire. Pierce me, sweet eyes! And now flutter, for there is that in me to make them.’