GONE!óBUT HOW? 149
tended her! Had all my labour, all my despairing hope gone to redeem only ingratitude ? ' No,' I an≠swered myself ; ' beauty must have a heart! However profoundly hidden, it must be there! The deeper buried, the stronger and truer will it wake at last in its beautiful grave ! To rouse that heart were a better gift to her than the happiest life ! It would be to give her a nobler, a higher life !
She was ascending a gentle slope before me, walking straight and steady as one that knew whither, when I became aware that she was increasing the distance between us. I summoned my strength, and it came in full tide. My veins filled with fresh life ! My body seemed to become ethereal, and, following like an easy wind, I rapidly overtook her.
Not once had she looked behind. Swiftly she moved, like a Greek goddess to rescue, but without haste. I was within three yards of her, when she turned sharply, yet with grace unbroken, and stood. Fatigue or heat she showed none. Her paleness was not pallor, but a pure whiteness; her breathing was slow and deep. Her eyes seemed to fill the heavens, and give light to the world. It was nearly noon, but the sense was upon me as of a great night in which an invisible dew makes the stars look large.
' Why do you follow me ?' she asked, quietly but rather sternly, as if she had never before seen me.
' I have lived so long,' I answered, ' on the mere hope of your eyes, that I must want to see them again !'
' You will not be spared !' she said coldly. I com≠mand you to stop where you stand.'
' Not until I see you in a place of safety will I leave you,' I replied.