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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第7章 团圆 The Fulfilment
第6节 第五十八章 【
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那天的夜晚尤其阴沉,尤其宁静。半夜过后,苔丝悄悄地向他讲述了他梦游的故事,说他怎样在睡梦里抱着她,冒着两个人随时都会掉进河里淹死的危险,从佛卢姆河的桥上走过,把她放在寺庙废墟中的一个石头棺材里。直到现在苔丝告诉了他,他才知道了这件事。
“第二天你为什么不告诉我呢?”他说。“如果你告诉了我,许多误会和痛苦也许就避免了。”
“过去了的事就不要再想了吧!”她说。“除了我们的此时此刻而外,我什么都不去想。我们不要去想!又有谁知道明天会发生什么事呢?”
不过第二天显然没有悲伤痛苦。早上潮湿多雾,克莱尔昨天已经听人说过,看管房子的人只是在天晴的时候才来开窗户,所以他就把苔丝留在房间里继续睡觉,自己大胆地走出房间,把整座房子查看了一遍,屋内虽然没有食物,但是有火。于是他就利用闹雾的天气,走出屋外,到两三英里以外的一个小地方的店铺里,买了茶点、面包和黄油,还买了一个铁皮水壶和一个酒精灯,这样他们就有了不冒烟的火了。他回来时把苔丝惊醒了;于是他们就一起吃他买回来的东西,当了一顿早饭。
他们都不想到外面去,只是待在屋里;白天过去了,夜晚来临了,接着是另一天,然后又是另一天;在不知不觉中,他们差不多就这样在绝对隐蔽的地方度过了五天,看不见一个人影,也听不到一点人声,没有谁来打扰他们的平静。天气变化是他们唯一的大事,陪伴他们的也只有新林的鸟儿。他们都心照不宣,几乎一次也没有提起过婚后的任何一件事情。他们中间那段悲伤的日子似乎在天地开辟之前的混饨中消失了,现在的和过去的欢乐时光又重新连接起来,仿佛从来就没有中断似的。每当他提出离开他们躲藏的屋子到南桑普顿或者伦敦去,她总是令人奇怪地表示不愿意离开。
“一切都是这样恩爱甜蜜,我们为什么要结束它呢!”她恳求说。“要来的总是躲不掉的。”她从百叶窗的缝隙中看着外面说:“你看,屋外都是痛苦,屋内才是美满啊。”
他也向外面看去。她说得完全对:屋内是爱情、和谐、宽恕,屋外却是冷酷、无情。
“而且——而且,”她把自己的脸贴在他的脸上说;“你现在这样对待我,我担心也许不会长久。我希望永远拥有你现在这份情意。我不愿意失去它。我情愿在你瞧不起我的那一天到来的时候,我已经死了,埋掉了,那样我就永远不会知道你瞧不起我了。”
“我永远也不会瞧不起你的。”
“我也希望如此,可是一想到我这一生的遭遇,我总以为别人早晚都要瞧不起我的。……我真是一个可恶的疯子呀!可是从前,我连一只苍蝇、一条小虫都不敢伤害,看见关在笼子里的小鸟,也常常要悲伤流泪。”
他们在那座屋子里又待了一天。晚上,阴沉的天气晴朗了,因此照看房子的老太太很早就在她的茅屋里醒了。灿烂的朝阳使她精神异常爽快,于是决定立即就去把那座屋子的窗户打开,在这样好的天气里让空气流通。因此在六点钟以前,她就来到那座屋子,把楼下房间的窗户打开了,接着又上楼去开卧室的窗户;她来到克莱尔和苔丝躲藏的那个房间,就用手去转动门上的把手。就在这个时候,她认为自己听见房间里有人呼吸的声音。她脚上穿着便鞋,年纪又大,所以走到房间门口也没有弄出一点儿声音。她听见声音,就急忙退了回去。后来,她想也许是自己听错了,就又转身走到门口,轻轻地转动门上的把手。门锁已经坏了,但是有一件家具被搬过来,从里面把门挡住。老太太无法完全把门打开,只打开了一两英寸。早上太阳的光线穿过百叶窗的缝隙,照射在一对正在酣睡着的人的脸上,苔丝的嘴半张着,就像是在克莱尔的脸旁半开的一朵鲜花。照看房子的老太太看见他们睡在那儿,样子是那样纯真;她看见苔丝挂在椅子上的长袍,看见长袍旁边的丝织长袜和漂亮的小阳伞,还有苔丝没有别的可穿而穿来的其它几件衣服,被它们的华美高雅深深打动了;她最初以为他们是妓女流氓,心里十分生气,现在看来他们好像是上流社会一对私奔的情侣,于是心中的愤怒便化作了一阵怜爱。她把门关上,像来的时候那样轻轻地离开,找她的邻居商量她的奇怪发现去了。
老太太走后不到一分钟,苔丝就醒了,接着克莱尔也醒了。他们两个人都觉得出现过打扰他们的事,但是他们又说不清楚是什么事;因此他们心中产生的不安情绪也就越来越强烈了。克莱尔穿好衣服,立即从百叶窗上两三寸宽的窄缝中向外仔细观察。
“我想我们要立即离开了,”他说。“今天是一个晴天。我总觉得房子里有什么人来过。无论如何,那个老太太今天肯定是要来的。”
苔丝只好同意,于是他们收拾好房间,带上属于他们的几件物品,不声不响地离开了那座屋子。在他们走进新林的时候,苔丝回过头去,向那座屋子望了最后一眼。
“啊,幸福的屋子啊——再见吧!”她说。“我只能活上几个礼拜了。我们为什么不待在那儿呢?”
“不要说这种话,苔丝!不久我们就要完全离开这个地方了。我们要按照我们当初的路线走,一直朝北走。谁也不会想到上那儿去缉拿我们的。他们要是缉拿我们,一定是在威塞克斯各个港口寻找。等我们到了北边,我们就可以从一个港口离开。”
苔丝被说服以后,他们就按计划行事,径直朝北走。他们在那座屋子里休息了这样长的时间,现在走路也有了力气;到了中午,他们走到了恰好挡住他们去路的尖塔城梅尔彻斯特的附近。克莱尔决定下午让苔丝在一个树丛里休息,到了晚上在黑夜的掩护下赶路。克莱尔在黄昏时又像往常一样去买了食物,开始在夜晚中往前走。到了八点左右,他们就走过了上威塞克斯和中威塞克斯之间的边界。
苔丝早就习惯在乡野里走路而不管道路如何,因此她走起路来就显得轻松自如。他们必须从阻挡着他们的那座古老城市梅尔彻斯特穿过去,这样他们就可以从城里那座桥上通过挡住他们去路的大河。到了午夜时候,街道上空无一人,他们借着几盏闪烁不定的街灯走着,避开人行道,免得走路的脚步声引起回响。朦胧中出现在他们左边的那座堂皇雄伟的大教堂,现在已经从他们的眼前消失了。他们出了城,沿着收税栅路走,往前走了几英里,就进了他们要穿过的广阔平原。
先前虽然天上乌云密布,但是月亮仍然洒下散光,对他们走路多少有一些帮助。现在月亮已经落下去了,乌云似乎就笼罩在他们的头上,天黑得伸手不见五指。但是他们摸索着往前走,尽量走在草地上,免得脚步发出响声。这是容易做到的,因为在她们周围,既没有树篱,也没有任何形式的围墙。他们四周的一切都是空旷的寂静和黑夜的孤独,还有猛烈的风不停吹着。
他们就这样摸索着又往前走了两三英里,克莱尔突然感觉到,他的面前有一座巨大的建筑物,在草地上顶天而立。他们几乎撞到了它的上面。
“这是一个什么古怪地方呢?”安琪尔说。
“还在嗡嗡响呢,”她说。“你听!”
他听了听。风在那座座巨大的建筑物中间吹着,发出一种嗡嗡的音调,就像是一张巨大的单弦竖琴发出的声音。除了风声,他们听出还有其它的声音。克莱尔把一双手伸着,向前走了一两步,摸到了那座建筑物垂直的表面。它似乎是整块的石头,没有接缝,也没有花边。他继续用手摸去,发现摸到的是一根巨大的方形石柱;他又伸出左手摸去,摸到附近还有一根同样的石柱。在他的头顶上,高高的空中还有一件物体,使黑暗的天空变得更加黑暗了,它好像是把两根石柱按水平方向连接起来的横梁。他们小心翼翼地从两根柱子中间和横梁底下走了进去;他们走路的沙沙声从石头的表面发出回声,但他们似乎仍然还在门外。这座建筑是没有屋顶的。苔丝感到害怕,呼吸急促起来,而安琪尔也感到莫名其妙,就说——
“这里是什么地方呢?”
他们向旁边摸去,又摸到一根和第一根石柱同样高大坚硬的方形石柱,然后又摸到一根,再摸到一根。这儿全是门框和石柱,有的石柱上面还架着石梁。
“这是一座风神庙!”克莱尔说。
下面一根石柱孤零零地矗立着;另外有些石柱都是两根竖着的石柱上面横着一根石柱;还有一些石柱躺在地上,它们的两边形成了一条通道,宽度足可以通过马车;不久他们就弄明白了,原来在这块平原的草地上竖立的石柱,一起形成了一片石林。他们两个人继续往前走,一直走进黑夜中这个由石柱组成的亭台中问。
“原来是史前神庙。”克莱尔说。
“你是说这是一座异教徒的神庙?”
“是的。比纪元前还要古老;也比德贝维尔家族还要古老!啊,我们怎么办哪,亲爱的?再往前走我们也许就可以找到一个栖身的地方了。”
但是苔丝这一次倒是真正累了,看见附近有一块长方形石板,石板的一头有石柱把风挡住,于是她就在石板上躺下来。由于白天太阳的照射,这块石板既干燥又暖和,和周围粗糙冰冷的野草相比舒服多了,那时候她的裙子和鞋子已经被野草上的露水弄湿了。
“我再也不想往前走了,安琪尔,”她把手伸给克莱尔说。“我们不能在这儿过一夜吗?”
“恐怕不行。这个地点现在虽然觉得别人看不见,但是在白天,好几英里以外都能够看见的。”
“现在我想起来了,我母亲娘家有一个人是这儿附近的一个牧羊人。在泰波塞斯你曾经说我是一个异教徒,所以我现在算是回了老家啦。”
克莱尔跪在苔丝躺着的身旁,用自己的嘴唇吻着她的嘴唇。
“亲爱的,想睡了吧?我想你正躺在一个祭坛上。”
“我非常喜欢躺在这儿,”她嘟哝着说。“这儿是这样庄严,这样僻静,头上只有一片苍天——我已经享受过巨大的幸福了。我觉得,世界上除了我们两个而外,仿佛没有其他的人了;我希望没有其他的人,不过丽莎·露除外。”
克莱尔心想,她不妨就躺在这儿休息,等到天快亮的时候再走;于是他把自己的外套脱下来盖在她的身上,在她的身旁坐下。
“安琪尔,要是我出了什么事,你能不能看在我的份上照看丽莎·露?”风声在石柱中间响着,他们听了好久,苔丝开口说。
“我会照顾她的。”
“她是那样善良,那样天真,那样纯洁。啊,安琪尔——要是你失去了我,我希望你会娶了她。啊,要是你能够娶她的话!”
“要是我失去了你,我就失去了一切!她是我的姨妹啊。”
“那是没有关系的,亲爱的。在马洛特村一带时常有跟小姨子结婚的;丽莎·露是那样温柔、甜美,而且还越长越漂亮了。啊,当我们大家都变成了鬼魂,我也乐意和她一起拥有你啊!安琪尔,你只要训练她,教导她,你就可以把她也培养得和你自己一样了!……我的优点她都有,我的坏处她一点儿也没有;如果她将来做了你的妻子,我就是死了,我们也是无法分开的了。……唉,我已经说过了。我不想再提了。”
她住了口,克莱尔听了也陷入了深思。从远处东北方向的天上,他看见石柱中间出现了一道水平的亮光。满天的乌云像一个大锅盖,正在整个地向上揭起,把姗姗来迟的黎明从大地的边上放进来,因此矗立在那儿的孤独石柱和两根石柱加一根横梁的牌坊,也露出了黑色的轮廓。
“他们就是在这儿向天神献祭吗?”她问。
“不!”他说。
“那么向谁呢?”
“我认为是向太阳献祭的。那根高高的石头柱子不就是朝着太阳的方向安放的吗,一会儿太阳就从它的后面升起来了。”
“亲爱的,这让我想起一件事来,”她说。“在我们结婚以前,你说你永远不会干涉我的信仰,你还记不记得?其实我一直明白你的思想,像你一样去思考——而不是从我自己的判断去思考,因为你怎样想。我就怎样想。现在告诉我吧,安琪尔,你认为我们死后还能见面吗?我想知道这件事。”
他吻她,免得在这种时候去回答这个问题。
“啊,安琪尔——恐怕你的意思是不能见面了!”她尽力忍着哽咽说。“我多想再和你见面啊——我想得多厉害啊,多厉害啊!怎么,安琪尔,即使像你和我这样相爱,都还不能再见面吗?”
安琪尔也像一个比他自己更伟大的人物①一样,在这样一个关键时候对于这样一个关键问题,不作回答,于是他们两个人又都沉默起来。过了一两分钟,苔丝的呼吸变得更加均匀了,她握着安琪尔的那只手放松了,因为她睡着了。东方的地平线上出现了一道银灰色的光带,大乎原上远处的部分在那道光带的映衬下,变得更加黑暗了,也变得离他更近了。那一片苍茫的整个景色,露出了黎明到来之前的常有的特征,冷漠、含蓄、犹豫。东边的石柱和石柱上方的横梁,迎着太阳矗立着,显得黑沉沉的。在石柱的外面可以看见火焰形状的太阳石,也可以看见在石柱和太阳石之间的牺牲石。晚风很快就停止了,石头上由杯形的石窝形成的小水潭也不再颤抖了。就在这个时候,东边低地的边缘上似乎有什么东西在移动——是一个黑色的小点。那是一个人的头,正在从太阳石后面的洼地向他们走来。克莱尔后悔没有继续往前走,但是现在只好决定坐着不动。那个人影径直向他们待的那一圈石柱走来。
 
①一个比他自己更伟大的人物,指耶稣。据《马太福音》说,耶稣在受到审判时,拒不回答,于是被钉上了十字架。

他听见他的后面传来声音,那是有人走路的脚步声。他转过身去,看见躺在地上的柱子后面出现了一个人影;他还看见在他附近的右边有一个,在他左边的横梁下也有一个。曙光完全照在从西边走来的那个人的脸上,克莱尔在曙光里看见他个子高大,走路像军人的步伐。他们所有的人显然是有意包围过来的。苔丝说的话应验了!克莱尔跳起来,往四周看去,想寻找一件武器,寻找一件松动的石头,或者寻找一种逃跑的方法什么的,就在这个时候,那个离他最近的人来到了他的身边。
“这是没有用的,先生,”他说,“在这个平原上我们有十六个人,这儿整个地区都已经行动起来了。”
“让她把觉睡完吧!”在他们围拢来的时候,他小声地向他们恳求说。
直到这个时候,他们才看见她睡觉的地方,因此就没有表示反对,而是站在一旁守着,一动也不动,像周围的柱子一样。他走到她睡觉的那块石头跟前,握住她那只可怜的小手;那时候她的呼吸快速而又细弱,和一个比女人还要弱小的动物的呼吸一样。天越来越亮了,所有的人都在那儿等着,他们的脸和手都仿佛镀上了一层银灰色,而他们身体的其它部分则是黑色的,石头柱子闪耀着灰绿色的光,平原仍然是一片昏暗。不久天大亮了,太阳的光线照射在苔丝没有知觉的身上,透过她的眼睑射进她的眼里,把苔丝唤醒了。
“怎么啦,安琪尔?”她醒过来说。“他们已经来抓我了吧?”
“是的,最亲爱的,”他说。“他们已经来啦。”
“他们是该来啦,”她嘟哝着说。“安琪尔,我一直感到高兴——是的,一直感到高兴!这种幸福是不能长久的,因为它太过份了。我已经享够了这种幸福;现在我不会活着等你来轻视我了!”
她站起来,抖了抖身子,就往前走,而其他的人一个也没有动。
“现在可以走了。”她从容地说。
 

The night was strangely solemn and still. In the small hours she whispered to him the whole story of how he had walked in his sleep with her in his arms across the Froom stream, at the imminent risk of both their lives, and laid her down in the stone coffin at the ruined abbey. He had never known of that till now.

`Why didn't you tell me next day?' he said. `It might have prevented much misunderstanding and woe.'

`Don't think of what's past!' said she. `I am not going to think outside of now. Why should we! Who knows what to-morrow has in store?'

But it apparently had no sorrow. The morning was wet and foggy, and Clare, rightly informed that the caretaker only opened the windows on fine days, ventured to creep out of their chamber, and explore the house, leaving Tess asleep. There was no food on the premises, but there was water, and he took advantage of the fog to emerge from the mansion, and fetch tea, bread, and butter from a shop in a little place two miles beyond, as also a small tin kettle and spirit-lamp, that they might get fire without smoke. His re-entry awoke her; and they breakfasted on what he had brought.

They were indisposed to stir abroad, and the day passed, and the night following, and the next, and next; till, almost without their being aware, five days had slipped by in absolute seclusion, not a sight or sound of a human being disturbing their peacefulness, such as it was. The changes of the weather were their only events, the birds of the New Forest their only company. By tacit consent they hardly once spoke of any incident of the past subsequent to their wedding-day. The gloomy intervening time seemed to sink into chaos, over which the present and prior times closed as if it never had been. Whenever he suggested that they should leave their shelter, and go forwards towards Southampton or London, she showed a strange unwillingness to move.

`Why should we put an end to all that's sweet and lovely!' she deprecated. `What must come will come.' And, looking through the shutter-chink: `All is trouble outside there; inside here content.'

He peeped out also. It was quite true; within was affection, union, error forgiven: outside was the inexorable.

`And - and,' she said, pressing her cheek against his; `I fear that what you think of me now may not last. I do not wish to outlive your present feeling for me. I would rather not. I would rather be dead and buried when the time comes for you to despise me, so that it may never be known to me that you despised me.'

`I cannot ever despise you.'

`I also hope that. But considering what my life has been I cannot see why any man should, sooner or later, be able to help despising me... .How wickedly mad I was! Yet formerly I never could bear to hurt a fly or a worm, and the sight of a bird in a cage used often to make me cry.'

They remained yet another day. In the night the dull sky cleared, and the result was that the old caretaker at the cottage awoke early. The brilliant sunrise made her unusually brisk; she decided to open the contiguous mansion immediately, and to air it thoroughly on such a day. Thus it occurred that, having arrived and opened the lower rooms before six o'clock, she ascended to the bedchambers, and was about to turn the handle of the one wherein they lay. At that moment she fancied she could hear the breathing of persons within. Her slippers and her antiquity had rendered her progress a noiseless one so far, and she made for instant retreat; then, deeming that her hearing might have deceived her, she turned around, to the door and softly tried the handle. The lock was out of order, but a piece of furniture had been moved forward on the inside, which prevented her opening the door more than an inch or two. A stream of morning light through the shutter-chink fell upon the faces of the pair, wrapped in profound slumber, Tess's lips being parted like a half-opened flower near his cheek. The caretaker was so struck with their innocent appearance, and with the elegance of Tess's gown hanging across a chair, her silk stockings beside it, the pretty parasol, and the other habits in which she bad arrived because she had none else, that her first indignation at the effrontery of tramps and vagabonds gave way to a momentary sentimentality over this genteel elopement, as it seemed. She closed the door, and withdrew as softly as she had come, to go and consult with her neighbours on the odd discovery.

Not more than a minute had elapsed after her withdrawal when Tess woke, and then Clare. Both had a sense that something had disturbed them, though they could not say what; and the uneasy feeling which it engendered grew stronger. As soon as he was dressed he narrowly scanned the lawn through the two or three inches of shutter-chink.

`I think we will leave at once,' said he. `It is a fine day. And I cannot help fancying somebody is about the house. At any rate, the woman will be sure to come to-day.'

She passively assented, and putting the room in order they took up the few articles that belongef to them, and departed noiselessly. When they had got into the Forest she turned to take a last look at the house.

`Ah, happy house - good-bye!' she said. `My life can only be a question of a few weeks. Why should we not have stayed there?'

`Don't say it, Tess! We shall soon get out of this district altogether. We'll continue our course as we've begun it, and keep straight north. Nobody will think of looking for us there. We shall be looked for at the Wessex ports if we are sought at all. When we are in the north we will get to a port and away.'

Having thus persuaded her the plan was pursued, and they kept a bee line northward. Their long repose at the manor-house lent them walking power now; and towards mid-day they found that they were approaching the steepled city of Melchester, which lay directly in their way. He decided to rest her in a clump of trees during the afternoon, and push onward under cover of darkness. At dusk Clare purchased food as usual, and their night march began, the boundary between Upper and Mid-Wessex being crossed about eight o'clock.

To walk across country without much regard to roads was not new to Tess, and she showed her old agility in the performance. The intercepting city, ancient Melchester, they were obliged to pass through in order to take advantage of the town bridge for crossing a large river that obstructed them. It was about midnight when they went along the deserted streets, lighted fitfully by the few lamps, keeping off the pavement that it might not echo their footsteps. The graceful pile of cathedral architecture rose dimly on their left hand, but it was lost upon them now. Once out of the town they followed the turnpike-road, which after a few miles plunged across an open plain.

Though the sky was dense with cloud a diffused light from some fragment of a moon had hitherto helped them a little. But the moon had now sunk, the clouds seemed to settle almost on their heads, and the night grew as dark as a cave. However, they found their way along, keeping as much on the turf as possible that their tread might not resound, which it was easy to do, there being no hedge or fence of any kind. All around was open loneliness and black solitude, over which a stiff breeze blew.

They had proceeded thus gropingly two or three miles further when on a sudden Clare became conscious of some vast erection close in his front, rising sheer from the grass. They had almost struck themselves against it.

`What monstrous place is this?' said Angel.

`It hums,' said she. `Hearken!'

He listened. The wind, playing upon the edifice, produced a booming tune, like the note of some gigantic one-stringed harp. No other sound came from it, and lifting his hand and advancing a step or two, Clare felt the vertical surface of the structure. It seemed to be of solid stone, without joint or moulding. Carrying his fingers onward he found that what he had come in contact with was a colossal rectangular pillar; by stretching out his left hand he could feel a similar one adjoining. At an indefinite height overhead something made the black sky blacker, which had the semblance of a vast architrave uniting the pillars horizontally. They carefully entered beneath and between; the surfaces echoed their soft rustle; but they seemed to be still out of doors. The place was roofless. Tess drew her breath fearfully, and Angel, perplexed, said--

`What can it be?'

Feeling sideways they encountered another tower-like pillar, square and uncompromising as the first; beyond it another and another. The place was all doors and pillars, some connected above by continuous architraves.

`A very Temple of the Winds,' he said.

The next pillar was isolated; others composed a trilithon; others were prostrate, their flanks forming a causeway wide enough for a carriage; and it was soon obvious that they made up a forest of monoliths grouped upon the grassy expanse of the plain. The couple advanced further into this pavilion of the night till they stood in its midst.

`It is Stonehenge!' said Clare.

`The heathen temple, you mean?'

`Yes. Older than the centuries; older than the d'Urbervilles! Well, what shall we do, darling? We may find shelter further on.' But Tess, really tired by this time, flung herself upon an oblong slab that lay close at hand, and was sheltered from the wind by a pillar. Owing to the action of the sun during the preceding day the stone was warm and dry, in comforting contrast to the rough and chill grass around, which had damped her skirts and shoes.

`I don't want to go any further, Angel,' she said stretching out her hand for his. `Can't we bide here?'

`I fear not. This spot is visible for miles by day, although it does not seem so now.'

`One of my mother's people was a shepherd hereabouts, now I think of it. And you used to say at Talbothays that I was a heathen. So now I am at home.'

He knelt down beside her outstretched form, and put his lips upon hers.

`Sleepy are you, dear? I think you are lying on an altar.'

`I like very much to be here,' she murmured. `It is so solemn and lonely - after my great happiness - with nothing but the sky above my face. It seems as if there were no folk in the world but we two; and I wish there were not - except 'Liza-Lu.'

Clare thought she might as well rest here till it should get a little lighter, and he flung his overcoat upon her, and sat down by her side.

`Angel, if anything happens to me, will you watch over 'Liza-Lu for my sake?' she asked, when they had listened a long time to the wind among the pillars.

`I will.'

`She is so good and simple and pure. O, Angel - I wish you would marry her if you lose me, as you will do shortly. O, if you would!'

`If I lose you I lose all! And she is my sister-in-law.'

`That's nothing, dearest. People marry sister-laws continually about Marlott; and 'Liza-Lu is so gentle and sweet, and she is growing so beautiful. O I could share you with her willingly when we are spirits! If you would train her and teach her, Angel, and bring her up for your own self!... She has all the best of me without the bad of me; and if she were to become yours it would almost seem as if death had not divided us... .Well, I have said it. I won't mention it again.'

She ceased, and he fell into thought. In the far north-east sky he could see between the pillars a level streak of light. The uniform concavity of black cloud was lifting bodily like the lid of a pot, letting in at the earth's edge the coming day, against which the towering monoliths and trilithons began to be blackly defined.

`Did they sacrifice to God here?' asked she.

`No,' said he.

`Who to?'

`I believe to the sun. That lofty stone set away by itself is in the direction of the sun, which will presently rise behind it.'

`This reminds me, dear,' she said. `You remember you never would interfere with any belief of mine before we were married? But I knew your mind all the same, and I thought as you thought - not from any reasons of my own, but because you thought so. Tell me now, Angel, do you think we shall meet again after we are dead? I want to know.'

He kissed her to avoid a reply at such a time.

`O, Angel - I fear that means no!' said she, with a suppressed sob. `And I wanted so to see you again - so much, so much! What not even you and I, Angel, who love each other so well?' Like a greater than himself, to the critical question at the critical time he did not answer; and they were again silent. In a minute or two her breathing became more regular, her clasp of his hand relaxed, and she fell asleep. The band of silver paleness along the east horizon made even the distant parts of the Great Plain appear dark and near; and the whole enormous landscape bore that impress of reserve, taciturnity, and hesitation which is usual just before day. The eastward pillars and their architraves stood up blackly against the light, and the great flame-shaped Sun-stone beyond them; and the Stone of Sacrifice midway. Presently the night wind died out, and the quivering little pools in the cup-like hollows of the stones lay still. At the same time something seemed to move on the verge of the dip eastward - a mere dot. It was the head of a man approaching them from the hollow beyond the Sun-stone. Clare wished they had gone onward, but in the circumstances decided to remain quiet. The figure came straight towards the circle of pillars in which they were.

He heard something behind him, the brush of feet. Turning, he saw over the prostrate columns another figure; then before he was aware, another was at hand on the right, under a trilithon, and another on the left. The dawn shone full on the front of the man westward, and Clare could discern from this that he was tall, and walked as if trained. They all closed in with evident purpose. Her story then was true! Springing to his feet, he looked around for a weapon, loose stone, means of escape, anything. By this time the nearest man was upon him.

`It is no use, sir,' he said. `There are sixteen of us on the Plain, and the whole country is reared.'

`Let her finish her sleep!' he implored in a whisper of the men as they gathered round.

When they saw where she lay, which they had not done till then, they showed no objection, and stood watching her, as still as the pillars around. He went to the stone and bent over her, holding one poor little hand; her breathing now was quick and small, like that of a lesser creature than a woman. All waited in the growing light, their faces and hands as if they were silvered, the remainder of their figures dark, the stones glistening green-gray, the Plain still a mass of shade. Soon the light was strong, and a ray shone upon her unconscious form, peering under her eyelids and waking her.

`What is it, Angel?' she said, starting up. `Have they come for me?'

`Yes, dearest,' he said. `They have come.'

`It is as it should be,' she murmured. `Angel, I am almost glad - yes, glad! This happiness could not have lasted. It was too much. I have had enough; and now I shall not live for you to despise me!' She stood up, shook herself, and went forward, neither of the men having moved.

`I am ready,' she said quietly.