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The sea was not only perfectly smooth, but placid, as on the previous day: only it seemed far placider, and the sun brighter, and there was a levity in the breezes that frilled the sea in fugitive dark patches, like _frissons_ of tickling; and I thought that the morning was a true marriage-morning, and remembered that it was a Sabbath; and sweet odours our wedding would not lack of peach and almond, though, looking eastward, I could see no faintest sign of any purple cloud, but only rags of chiffon under the sun; and it would be an eternal wedding, for one day in our sight would be as a thousand years, and our thousand years of bliss would be but one day, and in the evening of all that eternity death would come and sweetly lay its finger upon our languid lids, and we should die of weary bliss; and all manner of dancings and singings--fandango and light galliard, corantoes and the solemn gavotte--were a-tune in my heart that happy day; and running by the chart-house to the wheel, I saw under the table a great roll of old flags, and presently they were flying in a long curve of gala from the main; and the sea rumpled in a long tract of tumbling milk behind me; and I hasted homeward, to meet my heart.
No purple cloud could I see as, on and on, for two hours, I tore southward: but at hot noon, on the weather beam I spied through the gla.s.s across the water something else which moved, and it was you who came to me, Oh Leda, my spirit's breath!
I bore down upon her, waving: and soon I saw her stand like an ancient mariner, but in white muslins that fluttered, at her wheel on the bridge--it was one of those little old Havre-Antwerp craft very high in the bows--and she waved a little white thing. And we came nearer, till I could spy her face, her smile, and I shouted her to stop, and in a minute stopped myself, and by happy steering came with slowing headway to a slight crash by her side, and ran down the trellised steps to her, and led her up; and on the deck, without saying a word, I fell to my knees before her, and I bowed my brow to the floor, with obeisance, and I worshipped her there as Heaven.
And we were wedded: for she, too, bowed the knee with me under the jovial blue sky; and under her eyes were the little moist semicircles of dreamy pensive fatigue, so dear and wifish: and G.o.d was there, and saw her kneel: for He loves the girl.
And I got the two ships apart, and they rested there some yards divided all the day, and we were in the main-deck cabin, where I had locked a door, so that no one might come in to be with my love and me.
I said to her:
'We will fly west to one of the Somersetshire coal-mines, or to one of the Cornwall tin-mines, and we will barricade ourselves against the cloud, and provision ourselves for six months--for it is perfectly feasible, and we have plenty of time, and no crowds to break down our barricades--and there in the deep earth we will live sweetly together, till the danger is overpast.'
And she smiled, and drew her hand across my face, and said:
'No, no: don't you tl.u.s.t in my G.o.d? do you think He would leally let me die?'
For she has appropriated the Almighty G.o.d to herself, naming Him '_my_ G.o.d'--the impudence: though she generally knows what she is saying, too.
And she would not fly the cloud.
And I am now writing three weeks later at a little place called Chateau-les-Roses, and no poison-cloud, and no sign of any poison-cloud, has come. And this I do not understand.
It may be that she divined that I was about to destroy myself ... she may be quite capable.... But no, I do not understand, and shall never ask her.
But _this_ I understand: that it is _the White_ who is Master here: that though he wins but by a hair, yet he wins, he wins: and since he wins, dance, dance, my heart.
I look for a race that shall resemble its Mother: nimble-witted, light-minded, pious--like her; all-human, ambidextrous, ambicephalous, two-eyed--like her; and if, like her, they talk the English language with all the r's turned into l's, I shall not care.
They will be vegetable-eaters, I suppose, when all the meat now extant is eaten up: but it is not certain that meat is good for men: and if it is really good, then they will _invent_ a meat: for they will be _her_ sons, and she, to the furthest cycle in which the female human mind is permitted to orbit, is, I swear, all-wise.
There was a preaching man--a Scotchman he was, named Macintosh, or something like that--who said that the last end of Man shall be well, and very well: and she says the same: and the agreement of these two makes a Truth. And to that I now say: Amen, Amen.
For I, Adam Jeffson, second Parent of the world, hereby lay down, ordain, and decree for all time, clearly perceiving it now: That the one Motto and Watch-word essentially proper to each human individual, and to the whole Race of Man, as distinct from other races in heaven or in earth, was always, and remains, even this: 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.'