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A Prisoner in Fairyland

Chapter 27
Asia.
... I feel, I see
Those eyes which burn through smiles that fade in tears,
Like stars half quenched in mists of silver dew.
Prometheus Unbound, SHELLEY.
It was only ten o'clock, really, and the curfew was ringing from every village on
the mountain-side. The sound of the bells, half musical, half ominous, was borne
by the bise across the vineyards, for the easterly wind that brings fine weather
was blowing over lake and forest, and seemed to drive before it thin sheets of
moonlight that turned the whole world soft. The village lay cosily dreaming
beneath the sky. Once the curfew died away there was only the rustling of the
plane trees in the old courtyard. The great Citadelle loomed above the smaller
houses, half in shadow half in silver, nodding heavily to the spire of the Church,
and well within sight of the sentinelle poplar that guarded the village from the
forest and the mountains. Far away, these mountains now lowered their
enormous shoulders to let night flow down upon the sleeping world. The
Scaffolding that brought it had long since sailed over France towards the sea....
Mother, still panting from the ritual of fastening the younger children into bed, had
gone a moment down the passage to say good- night to Mlle. Lemaire, and when
she returned, the three of them-- herself, her husband, and Cousin Henry--
dropped into chairs beside the window and watched the silvery world in silence
for a time. None felt inclined to speak. There was drama somehow in that interval
of silence--that drama which lurks everywhere and always behind life's
commonest, most ordinary moments. Actions reveal it--sometimes--but it mostly
lies concealed, and especially in deep silences like this, when the ticking of a
cuckoo clock upon the wall may be the sole hint of its presence.
It was not the good-byes that made all three realise it so near, though good-byes
are always solemn and momentous things; it was something that stirred and rose
upon them from a far deeper strata of emotion than that caused by apparent
separation. For no pain lay in it, but a power much more difficult to express in the
sounds and syllables of speech--Joy. A great joy, creative and of big significance,
had known accomplishment. Each felt it, knew it, realised it. The moonlit night
was aware of it. The entire universe knew it, too. The drama lay in that. There
had been creation--of more light.... The world was richer than it had been. Some
one had caught Beauty in a net, and to catch Beauty is to transform and recreate
all common things. It is revelation.
Through the mind of each of these three flowed the stream of casual thinking--
images, reflections, and the shadowy scaffoldings of many new emotions--
sweeping along between the banks of speech and silence. And this stream,
though in flood, did not overflow into words for a long time. With eyes turned
inwards, each watched the current pass. Clear and deep, it quietly reflected--
stars. Each watched the same stream, the same calm depths, the same delicate
 
 
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