THE BAD BURROW 63
the treasure of the universe were giving itself to me— put out my hand, and had it. But the instant I took it, its light went out; all was dark as pitch; a dead book with boards outspread lay cold and heavy in my hand. I threw it in the air—only to hear it fall among the heather. Burying my face in my hands, I sat in motionless misery.
But the cold grew so bitter that, fearing to be frozen, I got up. The moment I was on my feet, a faint sense of light awoke in me. ' Is it coming to life ? ' I cried, and a great pang of hope shot through me. Alas, no ! it was the edge of a moon peering up keen and sharp over a level horizon! She brought me light—but no guidance ! She would not hover over me, would not wait on my faltering steps ! She could but offer me an ignorant choice !
"With a full face she rose, and I began to see a little about me. "Westward of her, and not far from me, a range of low hills broke the horizon-line : I set out for it.
But what a night I had to pass ere I reached it! The moon seemed to know something, for she stared at me oddly. Her look was indeed icy-cold, but full of interest, or at least curiosity. She was not the same moon I had known on the earth; her face was strange to me, and her light yet stranger. Perhaps it came from an unknown sun! Every time I looked up, I found her staring at me with all her might! At first I was annoyed, as at the rudeness of a fellow creature; but soon I saw or fancied a certain wondering pity in her gaze : why was I out in her night ? Then first I knew what an awful thing it was to be awake in the universe : I was, and could not help it!