LILITH A Fantasy Novel By George MacDonald - online book

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and every one that bore such brand of pain seemed to plead, ' Pardon me: I died only yesterday!' or, ' Pardon me : I died but a century ago !' That some had been dead for ages I knew, not merely by their unutterable repose, but by something for which I have neither word nor symbol.
We came at last to three empty couches, im­mediately beyond which lay the form of a beautiful woman, a little past the prime of life. One of her arms was outside the sheet, and her hand lay with the palm upward, in its centre a dark spot. Next to her was the stalwart figure of a man of middle age. His arm too was outside the sheet, the strong hand almost closed, as if clenched on the grip of a sword. I thought he must be a king who had died fighting for the truth.
' Will you hold the candle nearer, wife ? ' whispered the sexton, bending down to examine the woman's hand.
' It heals well,' he murmured to himself: the nail found in her nothing to hurt! '
At last I ventured to speak.
' Are they not dead ? ' I asked softly.
'I cannot answer you,' he replied in a subdued voice. ' I almost forget what they mean by dead in the old world. If I said a person was dead, my wife would understand one thing, and you would imagine another.—This is but one of my treasure vaults,' he went on, ' and all my guests are not laid in vaults : out there on the moor they lie thick as the leaves of a forest after the first blast of your winter—thick, let me say rather, as if the great white rose of heaven had shed its petals over it. All night the moon reads their faces, and smiles.'
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