He saw Dea. She had just raised herself up on the mattress. She had on a long white dress, carefully closed, and showing only the delicate form of her neck. The sleeves covered her arms; the folds, her feet. The branch-like tracery of blue veins, hot and swollen with fever, were visible on her hands. She was shivering and rocking, rather than reeling, to and fro, like a reed. The lantern threw up its glancing light on her beautiful face. Her loosened hair floated over her shoulders. No tears fell on her cheeks. In her eyes there was fire, and darkness. She was pale, with that paleness which is like the transparency of a divine life in an earthly face. Her fragile and exquisite form was, as it were, blended and interfused with the folds of her robe. She wavered like the flicker of a flame, while, at the same time, she was dwindling into shadow. Her eyes, opened wide, were resplendent. She was as one just freed from the sepulchre; a soul standing in the dawn.
Ursus, whose back only was visible to Gwynplaine, raised his arms in terror. "O my child! O heavens! she is delirious. Delirium is what I feared worst of all. She must have no shock, for that might kill her; yet nothing but a shock can prevent her going mad. Dead or mad! what a situation. O God! what can I do? My child, lie down again."
Meanwhile, Dea spoke. Her voice was almost indistinct, as if a cloud already interposed between her and earth.
"Father, you are wrong. I am not in the least delirious. I hear all you say to me, distinctly. You tell me that there is a great crowd of people, that they are waiting, and that I must play to-night. I am quite willing. You see that I have my reason; but I do not know what to do, since I am dead, and Gwynplaine is dead. I am coming all the same. I am ready to play. Here I am; but Gwynplaine is no longer here."
"Come, my child," said Ursus, "do as I bid you. Lie down again."
"He is no longer here, no longer here. Oh! how dark it is!"
"Dark!" muttered Ursus. "This is the first time she has ever uttered that word!"
Gwynplaine, with as little noise as he could help making as he crept, mounted the step of the caravan, entered it, took from the nail the cape and the esclavine, put the esclavine round his neck, and redescended from the van, still concealed by the projection of the cabin, the rigging, and the mast.
Dea continued murmuring. She moved her lips, and by degrees the murmur became a melody. In broken pauses, and with the interrupted cadences of delirium, her voice broke into the mysterious appeal she had so often addressed to Gwynplaine in Chaos Vanquished. She sang, and her voice was low and uncertain as the murmur of the bee,--
"Noche, quita te de allí. El alba canta...."
She stopped. "No, it is not true. I am not dead. What was I saying? Alas! I am alive. I am alive. He is dead. I am below. He is above. He is gone. I remain. I shall hear his voice no more, nor his footstep. God, who had given us a little Paradise on earth, has taken it away. Gwynplaine, it is over. I shall never feel you near me again. Never! And his voice! I shall never hear his voice again. And she sang:--
"Es menester a cielos ir-- Deja, quiero, A tu negro Caparazon."
"We must go to heaven. Take off, I entreat thee, Thy black cloak."
She stretched out her hand, as if she sought something in space on which she might rest.
Gwynplaine, rising by the side of Ursus, who had suddenly become as though petrified, knelt down before her.
"Never," said Dea, "never shall I hear him again."
She began, wandering, to sing again:--
"Deja, quiero, A tu negro Caparazon."
Then she heard a voice--even the beloved voice--answering:--
"O ven! ama! Eres alma, Soy corazon."
"O come and love Thou art the soul, I am the heart."
And at the same instant Dea felt under her hand the head of Gwynplaine. She uttered an indescribable cry.
A light, as of a star, shone over her pale face, and she tottered. Gwynplaine received her in his arms.
"Alive!" cried Ursus.
Dea repeated "Gwynplaine;" and with her head bowed against Gwynplaine's cheek, she whispered faintly,--
"You have come down to me again. I thank you, Gwynplaine."
And seated on his knee, she lifted up her head. Wrapt in his embrace, she turned her sweet face towards him, and fixed on him those eyes so full of light and shadow, as though she could see him.
"It is you," she said.
Gwynplaine covered her sobs with kisses. There are words which are at once words, cries, and sobs, in which all ecstasy and all grief are mingled and burst forth together. They have no meaning, and yet tell all.
"Yes, it is! It is I, Gwynplaine, of whom you are the soul. Do you hear me? I, of whom you are the child, the wife, the star, the breath of life; I, to whom you are eternity. It is I. I am here. I hold you in my arms. I am alive. I am yours. Oh, when I think that in a moment all would have been over--one minute more, but for Homo! I will tell you everything. How near is despair to joy! Dea, we live! Dea, forgive me. Yes--yours for ever. You are right. Touch my forehead. Make sure that it is I. If you only knew--but nothing can separate us now. I rise out of hell, and ascend into heaven. Am I not with you? You said that I descended. Not so; I reascend. Once more with you! For ever! I tell you for ever! Together! We are together! Who would have believed it? We have found each other again. All our troubles are past. Before us now there is nothing but enchantment. We will renew our happy life, and we will shut the door so fast that misfortune shall never enter again. I will tell you all. You will be astonished. The vessel has sailed. No one can prevent that now. We are on our voyage, and at liberty. We are going to Holland. We will marry. I have no fear about gaining a livelihood. What can hinder it? There is nothing to fear. I adore you!"
"Not so quick!" stammered Ursus.
Dea, trembling, and with the rapture of an angelic touch, passed her hand over Gwynplaine's profile. He overheard her say to herself, "It is thus that gods are made."
Then she touched his clothes.
"The esclavine," she said, "the cape. Nothing changed; all as it was before."
Ursus, stupefied, delighted, smiling, drowned in tears, looked at them, and addressed an aside to himself.
"I don't understand it in the least. I am a stupid idiot--I, who saw him carried to the grave! I cry and I laugh. That is all I know. I am as great a fool as if I were in love myself. But that is just what I am. I am in love with them both. Old fool! Too much emotion--too much emotion. It is what I was afraid of. No; it is that I wished for. Gwynplaine, be careful of her. Yes, let them kiss; it is no affair of mine. I am but a spectator. What I feel is droll. I am the parasite of their happiness, and I am nourished by it."
Whilst Ursus was talking to himself, Gwynplaine exclaimed,--
"Dea, you are too beautiful! I don't know where my wits were gone these last few days. Truly, there is but you on earth. I see you again, but as yet I can hardly believe it. In this ship! But tell me, how did it all happen? To what a state have they reduced you! But where is the Green Box? They have robbed you. They have driven you away. It is infamous. Oh, I will avenge you--I will avenge you, Dea! They shall answer for it. I am a peer of England."
Ursus, as if stricken by a planet full in his breast, drew back, and looked at Gwynplaine attentively.
"It is clear that he is not dead; but can he have gone mad?" and he listened to him doubtfully.
"Be easy, Dea; I will carry my complaint to the House of Lords."
Ursus looked at him again, and struck his forehead with the tip of his forefinger. Then making up his mind,--
"It is all one to me," he said. "It will be all right, all the same. Be as mad as you like, my Gwynplaine. It is one of the rights of man. As for me, I am happy. But how came all this about?"
The vessel continued to sail smoothly and fast. The night grew darker and darker. The mists, which came inland from the ocean, were invading the zenith, from which no wind blew them away. Only a few large stars were visible, and they disappeared one after another, so that soon there were none at all, and the whole sky was dark, infinite, and soft. The river broadened until the banks on each side were nothing but two thin brown lines mingling with the gloom. Out of all this shadow rose a profound peace. Gwynplaine, half seated, held Dea in his embrace. They spoke, they cried, they babbled, they murmured in a mad dialogue of joy! How are we to paint thee, O joy!
"My whole happiness!"
"Dea, I am drunk. Let me kiss your feet."
"Is it you, then, for certain?"
"I have so much to say to you now that I do not know where to begin."
"O my wife!"
"Gwynplaine, do not tell me that I am beautiful. It is you who are handsome."
"I have found you again. I hold you to my heart. This is true. You are mine. I do not dream. Is it possible? Yes, it is. I recover possession of life. If you only knew! I have met with all sorts of adventures. Dea!"
"Gwynplaine, I love you!"
And Ursus murmured,--
"Mine is the joy of a grandfather."
Homo, having come from under the van, was going from one to the other discreetly, exacting no attention, licking them left and right--now Ursus's thick shoes, now Gwynplaine's cape, now Dea's dress, now the mattress. This was his way of giving his blessing.
They had passed Chatham and the mouth of the Medway. They were approaching the sea. The shadowy serenity of the atmosphere was such that the passage down the Thames was being made without trouble: no manoeuvre was needful, nor was any sailor called on deck. At the other end of the vessel the skipper, still alone, was steering. There was only this man aft. At the bow the lantern lighted up the happy group of beings who, from the depths of misery, had suddenly been raised to happiness by a meeting so unhoped for.
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