In the Wilderness
Part 2 out of 15
"I know you could. You are on the way already, I think. I noticed in
London that you were never influenced by all the affectations and
absurdities, or worse, that seem to have taken hold of so many people
"There has been a wave of something rather beastly passing over London
certainly. But I almost wonder you knew it."
"Can your eyes see anything that isn't good?"
"Yes. But I don't want ever to look long on what I hate."
"You aren't afraid you might cease from hating it!"
"Oh, no. But I believe in feeding always on wholesome food."
"Modern London doesn't."
"I shall never be modern, I'm afraid," she said, half laughing, and
with a soft touch of apparently genuine deprecation.
"Be eternal, that's better!" he almost whispered. "Listen to that
nightingale. It's singing a song of all the ages. You have a message
like that for me."
They had strolled out after dinner in the warm May night, and had
walked a little way up the steep flank of Lycabettos till they reached
a wooden bench near which were a few small fir trees. Somewhere among
these trees there was hidden a nightingale, which sang with intensity
to Athens spread out below, a small maze of mellow lights and of many
not inharmonious voices. Even in the night, and at a distance, they
felt the smiling intimacy of the little city they loved. Its history
was like a living thing dwelling among the shadows, hallowed and
hallowing, its treasures, like night flowers, breathed out a
mysterious message to them. They received it, and felt that they
understood it. Had the nightingale been singing to any city its song
must have seemed to them beautiful. But it was singing to Athens, and
that fact gave to its voice, in their ears, a magical meaning.
They sat for a while in silence. Nobody passed on the winding path.
Their impulse to solitude was unshared by the dwellers in Athens.
Neither knew exactly what thoughts were passing through the other's
mind, what aspirations were flaming up in the heart of the other. But
they knew that they were close bound in sympathy just then, voyaging
towards a common future. That future lay over the sea in gray England.
Their time in Greece was but an interlude. But in it they were
gathering up impressions, were laying in stores for their journey. The
nightingale's song was part of their provision. It had to sing to just
them for some hidden reason. And to Dion it seemed that the
nightingale knew the reason while they did not, that it comprehended
all the under things of love and of sorrow of which they were
ignorant. When he spoke again he said:
"A bird's song always makes me feel very unlearned. Do you know what I
"Yes. We've got to learn so much."
"Partly?" he said quickly.
"I think there's a great deal that can only be learnt quite alone."
Again, as sometimes before, Dion trod on the verges of mystery, felt
as if something in Rosamund chided him, and was chilled for a moment.
"I dare say you are right," he said. "But I believe I could learn any
lesson more easily with you to help me."
"No, I don't think so."
"Perhaps we shall know which is right, you or I, when we've been much
longer together," he said, with an effort to speak lightly.
"Rosamund, sometimes you make me feel as if you thought I didn't know
you, I mean didn't know you thoroughly."
Again silence fell between them. As Dion listened once more to the
persistent nightingale he felt that there was pain somewhere at the
back of its ecstasy. He looked down at the soft lights of little
Athens, and suddenly knew that much sorrow lay in the shadows of all
the cities of the earth. There was surely a great reserve in the girl
who had given herself to him. That was natural, perhaps. But to-night
he felt that she was aware of this reserve and was consciously
guarding it like a sacred thing. Presently they got up and went slowly
down the hill.
"Suppose you had never married," he said, as they drew near to the
city, "how would you have lived, do you think?"
"Perhaps for my singing, at first," she answered.
"Afterwards? Very quietly, I think."
"You won't tell me."
"I don't know for certain, and what does it matter? I have married. If
I hadn't, perhaps I should have been very selfish and thought myself
"I wonder in what way selfish."
"There are so many ways. I heard a sermon once on a foggy night in
"Ah--that evening I called on you."
"I didn't say so. It made me understand egoism better than I had
understood it before. Perhaps it's the unpardonable sin."
"Then it could never be your sin."
They no longer heard the nightingale. The voices and the houses of
Athens were about them.
As the days slipped by, Dion felt that Rosamund and he grew closer
together. He knew, though he could not perhaps have said how, that he
would be the only man in her intimate life. Even if he died she would
never--he felt sure of this--yield herself to another man. The tie
between them was to her a bond for eternity. Her body would never be
given twice. That he knew. But sometimes he asked himself whether her
whole soul would ever be given even once. The insatiable greed of a
great and exclusive love was alive within him, needing always
something more than it had. At first, after their marriage, he had not
been aware of this greed, had not realized that nothing great is
content to remain just as it is at a given moment. His love had to
progress, and gradually, in Greece, he became conscious of this fact.
His inner certainty, quite unshakable, that Rosamund would never
belong to another man in the physical sense made jealousy of an
ordinary kind impossible to him. The lowness, the hideous vulgarity of
the jealousy which tortures the writhing flesh would never be his. Yet
he wanted more than he had sometimes, stretched out arms to something
which did not come to nestle against him.
There was a great independence in Rosamund, he thought, which set her
apart from other women, Not only could she bear to be alone, she
sometimes wished to be alone. Dion, on the contrary, never wished to
be away from her. It might be necessary for him to leave her. He was
not a young doting fool who could not detach himself even for a moment
from his wife's apron strings. But he knew very well that at all times
he preferred to be with her, close to her, that he relished everything
more when he was in her company than when he was alone. She added to
his power of enjoyment, to his faculty of appreciation, by being
beside him. The Parthenon even was made more sublime to him by her.
That was a mystery. And the mystery of her human power to increase
penetrated everywhere through their life in common, like a percolating
flood that could not be gainsaid. She manifested her influence upon
him subtly through the maidens of the Porch, through the almost neat
perfection of the Theseion, through the detached grandeur of those
columns in the waste place, that golden and carved Olympieion which
acts as an outpost to Athens. It was as if she had the power to put
something of herself into everything that he cared for so that he
might care for it more, whether it were a golden sunset on the sea
over which they drifted in a sailing-boat off the coast of old
Phaleron, or a marble figure in a museum. She dwelt in the stones of a
ruined temple; she set her feet upon the dream of the distant
mountains; she was in the dawn, the twilight, and in all the ways of
the moon, because he loved her and found her in all things when they
He did not know whether she, in a similar mysterious way, found him in
all that she enjoyed. He did not ask her the question. Perhaps,
really, in that truth of apprehension which lives very far down in a
man, he had divined the answer, although he told himself that he did
He found always something new to enjoy and to worship in Rosamund.
They had many tastes in common. At first, of deliberate choice, they
had bounded their honeymoon with the precipices of the Acropolis,
learning the Doric lesson on that height above the world. Then one day
they had made a great sacrifice and gone to pass their hours in the
pine woods of Kephissia. They had returned to the Acropolis quite
athirst. But by degrees the instinct to wander a little farther afield
took greater hold upon them, their love of physical exercise asserted
itself. They began to take long rides on horseback, carrying food in
their saddle-bags. The gently wild charm of Greece laid its spell upon
them. They both loved Athens, but now they began to love, too,
escaping from Athens.
Directly they were out of the city they were in a freedom that
appealed to the gipsy in both. Dion's strong boyishness, which had
never yet been cast off, was met and countered by the best of good
fellowship in Rosamund. Though she could be very serious, and even
what he called "strange," she was never depressed or sad. Her good
spirits were unfailing and infectious. She reveled in a "jaunt" or a
"day out," and her physical strength kept fatigue far from her. She
could ride for many hours without losing her freshness and zest. Every
little episode of the wayside interested and entertained her.
Everything comic made her laugh. She showed an ardor almost like an
intelligent child's in getting to understand all she saw. Scenery,
buildings, animal life, people, every offering of Greece was eagerly
accepted, examined and discussed by her. She was the perfect comrade
for the wilds. Their common joy in the wilds drew her and Dion more
closely together. Never before had Rosamund been quite away from
civilization, from the hitherto easily borne trammels of modern
complicated life. She "found herself" in the adventure. The pure
remoteness of Greece came to her like natal air. She breathed it in
with a sort of rapture. It was as Dion had said. She was not merely
in, she was of, Greece.
They rode one day to Eleusis; on another day to Tatoi, buried in oak-
woods on the slope of Parnes; on another through noisy and mongrel
Piraeus, and over undulating wrinkled ground, burnt up by the sun and
covered with low scrub and bushes of myrtle, to the shore of the gulf
opposite to Salamis; on yet another to Marathon, where they lunched on
the famous mound beneath which the bodies of the Athenians who fell in
the battle were buried. They took no companion with them. Dion carried
a revolver in his hip pocket, but never had reason to show or to use
it. When they dismounted they tethered the horses to a bush or tree,
or sometimes hobbled their forelegs, and turned them loose for a
Such days were pure joy to them both. In them they went back to the
early world. They did not make the hard and self-conscious imaginative
effort of the prig to hurl themselves into an historic past. They just
let the land and its memories take them. As, sitting on the warm
ground among the wild myrtle bushes, they looked across the emerald
green unruffled waters to Salamis, that very long isle with its calm
gray and orange hills and its indented shores, perhaps for a moment
they talked of the Queen of Halicarnassus, and of the deception of
Xerxes watching from his throne on Mount Aegaleos. But the waters were
now so solitary, the peace about them was so profound, that the memory
of battles soon faded away in the sunshine. Terror and death had been
here once. A queen had destroyed her own people in that jeweled sea, a
king had fled from those delicate mountains. But now sea and land were
for lovers. A fly with shining wings journeyed among the leaves of the
myrtles, a beetle crept over the hot sandy ground leaving a minute
pattern behind it; and Rosamund and Dion forgot all about Artemisia,
as they brooded, wide-eyed, over the activities of the dwellers in the
waste. At such moments they realized the magic of life, as they had
never realized it in the turmoil of London. The insect with its wings
that caught the sun, the intent and preoccupied little traveler whose
course could be deflected by a twig, revealed the wonder that is lost
and forgotten in the crowded highways of men.
It was when they were at Marathon that Rosamund told Dion she loved
Greece partly because of its emptiness. The country was not only
rather bare of vegetation, despite its groves of glorious old olives,
its woods of oaks round Tatoi, its delicious curly forests of yellow-
green pines, which looked, Rosamund declared, as if they had just had
their dainty heads perfectly dressed by an accomplished coiffeur, it
was also almost strangely bare of men.
"Where are the Greeks?" Rosamund had often asked during their first
few rides, as they cantered on and on, scarcely ever meeting a human
"In the towns to be sure!" Dion had answered.
"And where are the towns?"
"Ah! That's more than I can tell you!" he had said, laughing.
To one hitherto accustomed to England, the emptiness of the country,
even quite near to Athens, was at first surprising. Soon it became
"This is a country I can thoroughly trust," Rosamund declared at
Dion had just finished hobbling the two horses, and now lifted himself
up. His brown face was flushed from bending. His thin riding-clothes
were white with dust, which he beat off with hands that looked almost
as if they wore gloves, so deeply were they dyed by the sun. As the
cloud dispersed he emerged carrying their lunch in a straw pannier.
"Why trust--specially?" he said. "Ah," he threw himself down by her
side with a sigh of happiness, "this is good! The historic mound, and
we think of it merely as a resting-place, vandals that we are. But--
"I mean that Greece never keeps any unpleasant surprises up her
sleeve, surprises such as other countries have of noisy, intruding
people. It's terrible how accustomed I'm getting to having everything
all to myself, and how I simply love it."
He began slowly unpacking the pannier, and laying its contents out on
"You're a puzzle, Rosamund," he said.
"You have a greater faculty for making yourself delightful to all
sorts of people than I have found in any other person, woman or man.
And yet you are developing a perfect passion for solitude."
"Do you want people here?"
"Then you agree with me."
"But you have an absolute lust for an empty world."
She stretched out her right arm--she was leaning on the other with her
cheek in her hand--and pointed to the crescent-shaped plain which lay
beyond them, bounded by a sea which was a wonder of sparkling and
intense blue, and guarded by a curving line of low hills. There were
some clouds in the sky, but the winds were at rest, and the clouds
were just white things dreaming. In the plain there were no trees.
Here and there some vague crops hinted at the languid labors of men.
No human beings were visible, but in the distance, not very far from
the sea edge, a few oxen were feeding. Their dark slow-moving bodies
intersected the blue. There were no ships or boats upon the stretch of
sea which Rosamund and Dion gazed at. Behind them the bare hills
showed no sign of life. The solitude was profound but not startling.
It seemed in place, necessary and beautiful. In the emptiness there
was something touching, something reticently satisfying. It was a land
and seascape delicately purged.
"Greece and solitude," said Rosamund. "I shall always connect them
together. I shall always love each for the other's sake."
In the silence which followed the words the far-off lowing of oxen
came to them over the flats. Rosamund shut her eyes, Dion half shut
his, and the empty world was a shining dream.
When they had lunched, Rosamund said:
"I am going to climb up into that house. The owner will never come,
Near them upon the mound was a dwelling of Arcady, in which surely a
shepherd sometimes lay and piped to the sun and the sea god. It was
lifted upon a tripod of poles, and was deftly made of brushwood, with
roof, floor and two walls all complete. A ladder of wood, from which
the bark had been stripped, led up to it.
"You want to sleep?" Dion asked.
She looked at him.
He helped her up to her feet. Quickly she mounted the ladder and
stepped into the room.
"Good-by!" she said, looking down at him and smiling.
"Good-by!" he answered, looking up.
She made a pretense of shutting a door and withdrawing into privacy.
He lit his pipe, hesitated a moment, then went to lie down under her
room. Now he no longer saw her, but he heard her movements overhead.
The dry brushwood crackled as she lay down, as she settled herself.
She was lying surely at full length. He guessed that she had stretched
out her arms and put her two hands under her head. She sighed. Below
he echoed her sigh with a long breath of contentment. Then they both
lay very still.
He remembered his schoolbooks. He remembered beginning Greek. He had
never been very good at Greek. His mother, if she had been a man and
had gone to Oxford or Cambridge, would have made a far better classic
than he. She had helped him sometimes during the holidays when he was
quite small. He remembered exactly how she had looked when he had been
conjugating--half-loving and half-satirical. He had made a good many
mistakes. Later he had read Greek history with his mother, he had read
about the battle of Marathon.
"Marathon"--it was written in his school history, "became a magic word
at Athens . . . the one hundred and ninety-two Athenians who had
perished in the battle were buried on the field, and over their
remains a tumulus or mound was erected, which may still be seen about
half a mile from the sea." As a small boy he had read that with a
certain inevitable detachment. And now here he lay, a man, on that
very tumulus, and the brushwood creaked above his head with the
movement of the woman he loved.
How wonderful was the weaving of the Fates!
And if some day he should sit in the place of his mother, and should
hear a small boy, his small boy, conjugating. By Jove! He would have
to rub up his classics! Not for ten years old; he wasn't so bad as
that; but for twenty, when the small boy would be going up to Oxford,
and would, perhaps, be turning out alarmingly learned.
Rosamund the mother of a young man!
But Dion shied away from that. He could imagine her as the mother of a
child, beautiful mother of a child almost as beautiful; but he could
not conceive of her as the "mater" of a person with a mustache.
Their youth, their youth--must it go?
Again she moved slightly above him. The twigs crackled, making an
almost irritable music of dryness. Again the lowing of cattle came
over that old battlefield from the edge of the sea. And just then, at
that very moment, Dion knew that his great love could not stand still,
that, like all great things, it must progress. And the cry, that
intense human cry, "Whither?" echoed in the deep places of his soul.
Whither were he and his great love going? To what end were they
journeying? For a moment sadness invaded him, the sadness of one who
thinks and is very ignorant. Why cannot a man think deeply without
thinking of an end? "All things come to an end!" That cruel saying
went through his mind like footsteps echoing on iron, and a sense of
fear encompassed him. There is something terrible in a great love, set
in the little life of a man like a vast light in a tiny attic.
Did Rosamund ever have such thoughts? Dion longed to ask her. Was she
sleeping perhaps now? She was lying very still. If they ever had a
child its coming would mark a great step onwards along the road, the
closing of a very beautiful chapter in their book of life. It would be
over, their loneliness in love, man and woman in solitude. Even the
sexual tie would be changed. All the world would be changed.
He lay flat on the ground, stretched out, his elbows firmly planted,
his chin in his palms, his face set towards the plain and the sea.
What he looked at seemed gently to chide him. There were such a
brightness and simplicity and such a delicious freedom from all
complication in this Grecian landscape edged by the wide frankness of
the sea that he felt reassured. Edging the mound there were wild aloes
and the wild oleander. A river intersected the plain which in many
places was tawny yellow. Along the river bank grew tall reeds, sedges
and rushes. Beyond the plain, and beyond the blue waters, rose the
Island of Euboea, and ranges of mountains, those mountains of Greece
which are so characteristic in their unpretentious bareness, which
neither overwhelm nor entice, but which are unfailingly delicate,
unfailing beautiful, quietly, almost gently, noble. In the distance,
when he turned his head, Dion could see the little Albanian village of
Marathon, a huddle of tiny houses far off under the hills. He looked
at it for a moment, then again looked out over the plain, rejoicing in
its emptiness. Along the sea edge the cattle were straying, but their
movements were almost imperceptible. Still they were living things and
drew Dion's eyes. The life in them sent out its message to the life in
him, and he earnestly watched them grazing. Their vague and ruminating
movements really emphasized the profound peace which lay around
Rosamund and him. To watch them thus was a savoring of peace. For
every contented animal is a bearer of peaceful tidings. In the Garden
of Eden with the Two there were happy animals. And Dion recalled the
great battle which had dyed red this serene wilderness, a battle which
was great because it had been gently sung, lifted up by the music of
poets, set on high by the lips of orators. He looked over the land and
thought: "Here Miltiades won the name which has resounded through
history. To that shore, where I see the cattle, the Persians were
driven." And it seemed to him that the battle of Marathon had been
fought in order that Rosamund and he, in the nineteenth century, might
be drawn to this place to meet the shining afternoon. Yes, it was
fought for that, and to make this place the more wonderful for them.
It was their Garden of Eden consecrated by History.
What a very small animal that was which had strayed away from its kind
over the tawny ground where surely there was nothing to feed upon! The
little dark body of it looked oddly detached as it moved along. And
now another animal was following it quickly. The arrival of the second
darkness, running, made Dion know that the first was human, the
guardian of the beasts, no doubt.
So Eden was invaded already! He smiled as he thought of the serpent.
The human being came on slowly, always moving in the direction of the
mound, and always accompanied by its attendant animal--a dog, of
course. Soon Dion knew that both were making for the mound. It
occurred to him that Rosamund was in the private room of him who was
approaching, was possibly sound asleep there.
"Rosamund!" he almost whispered.
There was no answer.
"Rosamund!" he murmured, looking upward to his roof, which was her
"Hush!" came down to him through the brushwood. "I'm willing it to
come to us."
"What--the guardian of the cattle?"
"Guardian of the ----! It's a child!"
"How do you know?"
"I do know. Now you're not to frighten it."
"Of course not!"
He lay very still, his chin in his palms, watching the on-comers. How
had she known? And then, seeing suddenly through her eyes, he knew
that of course it was a child, that it could not be anything else. All
its movements now proclaimed to him its childishness, and he watched
it with a sort of fascination.
For he had never seen Rosamund with a child. That would be for him a
new experience with something, perhaps, prophetic in it.
Child and animal approached steadily, keeping an undeviating course,
and presently Dion saw a very small, but sturdy, Greek boy of perhaps
ten years old, wearing a collarless shirt, open at a deep brown
throat, leggings of some thin material, boots, and a funny little
patched brown coat and pointed hood made all in one, and hanging down
with a fulness almost of skirts about the small determined legs. The
accompanying dog was a very sympathetic, blunt-nosed, round-headed,
curly-coated type, whose whiteness, which positively invited the
stroking hand, was broken by two great black blotches set all askew on
the back, and by a black patch which ringed the left eye and
completely smothered the cocked-up left ear. The child carried a
stick, which nearly reached to his shoulder, and which ended in a long
and narrow crook. The happy dog, like its master, had no collar.
When these two reached the foot of the tumulus they stood still and
stared upwards. The dog uttered a short gruff bark, looked at the boy,
wagged a fat tail, barked again, abruptly depressed the fore part of
its body till its chin was against the ground between its paws, then
jumped into the air with a sudden demeanor of ludicrously young, and
rather uncouth, waggishness, which made Dion laugh.
The small boy replied with a smile almost as sturdy as his legs, which
he now permitted to convey him with decisive firmness through the wild
aloes and oleanders to the summit of the tumulus. He stood before
Dion, holding his crooked staff tightly in his right hand, but his
large dark eyes were directed upwards. Evidently his attention was not
to be given to Dion. His dog, on the contrary, after a stare and two
muffled attempts at a menacing bark, came to make friends with Dion in
a way devoid of all dignity, full of curves, wrigglings, tail waggings
and grins which exposed rows of smiling teeth.
"Dion!" came Rosamund's voice from above.
"Do show him the way up. He wants to come up."
Dion got up, took the little Greek's hand firmly, led him to the foot
of the ladder, and pointed to Rosamund who leaned from her brushwood
chamber and held out inviting hands, smiling, and looking at the child
with shining eyes. He understood that he was very much wanted, gravely
placed his staff on the ground, laid hold of the ladder, and slowly
clambered up, with the skirts of his coat sticking out behind him. His
dog set up a loud barking, scrambled at the ladder, and made desperate
efforts to follow him.
"Help him up, Dion!" came the commanding voice from above.
Dion seized the curly coat of the dog--picked up handfuls of dog.
There was a struggle. The dog made fierce motions as if swimming, and
whined in a thin and desperate soprano. Its body heaved upwards, its
forepaws clutched the edge of the brushwood floor, and it arrived.
"Bravo!" cried Rosamund, as she proceeded to settle down with her
guests. "But why don't I know Greek?"
"It doesn't matter," Dion murmured, standing with his hands on the
ladder. "You know their language."
Rosamund was sitting now, half-curled up, with her back against the
brushwood wall. Her light sun-helmet lay on the floor. In her ruffled
hair were caught two or three thin brown leaves, their brittle edges
curled inwards. The little boy, slightly smiling, yet essentially
serious, as are children tested by a great new experience, squatted
close to her and facing her, with one leg under him, the other leg
stretched out confidentially, as much as to say, "Here it is!" The dog
lay close by panting, smiling, showing as much tongue and teeth as was
caninely possible in the ardor of feeling tremendously uplifted,
important, one of the very few.
And Rosamund proceeded to entertain her guests.
What did she do? Sometimes, long afterwards in England, Dion,
recalling that day--a very memorable day in his life--asked himself
the question. And he could never remember very much. But he knew that
Rosamund showed him new aspects of tenderness and fun. What do women
who love and understand little boys do to put them at their ease, to
break down their small shynesses? Rosamund did absurd things with deep
earnestness and complete concentration. She invented games, played
with twigs and straws which she drew from the walls of her chamber.
She changed the dog's appearance by rearrangements of his ears, to
which he submitted with a slobbering ecstasy, gazing at her with
yellow eyes which looked flattened in his head. Turned quite back,
their pink insides exposed to view, the ears changed him into a brand-
new dog, at which his master stared with an amazement which soon was
merged in gratification. With a pocket-handkerchief she performed
marvels of impersonation which the boy watched with an almost severe
intentness, even putting out his tongue slowly, and developing a
slight squint, when the magician rose to the top of her powers. She
conjured with a silver coin, and of course let the child play with her
watch. She had realized at a glance that those things which would be
considered as baby nonsense by an English boy of ten, to this small
dweller on the plain of Marathon were full of the magic of the
unknown. And at last:
"Throw me up an orange, Dion!" she cried. "I know there are two or
three left in the pannier."
Dion bent down eagerly, rummaged and found an orange.
"Here!" he said. "Catch!"
He threw it up. She caught it with elaboration to astonish the boy.
"What are you going to do?" asked Dion.
"Throw me up your pocket-knife and you'll see."
Again he threw and she caught, while the boy's mouth gaped.
"Now then!" cried Rosamund.
She set to work, and almost directly had introduced her astounded
guest of the Greek kingdom to the famous "Crossing the Channel"
So great was the effect of this upon little Miltiades,--so they both
always called the boy when talking of him in after times,--that he
began to perspire, and drops of saliva fell from the corners of his
small and pouting mouth in imitation of the dreadfully human orange by
which he was confronted. Thereupon Rosamund threw off all ceremony and
frankly played the mother. She drew the boy, smiling, sideways to her,
wiped his mouth with her handkerchief, gently blew his small nose and
gave him a warm kiss.
"There!" she said.
And upon this the child made a remark.
Neither of them ever knew what it meant. It was long, and sounded like
an explanation. Having spoken, Miltiades suddenly looked shy. He
wriggled towards the top of the ladder. Dion thought that Rosamund
would try to stop him from leaving her, but she did not. On the
contrary, she drew up her legs and made way for him, carefully. The
child deftly descended, picked up his staff and turned. The dog,
barking joyously, had leaped after him, and now gamboled around him.
For a moment the child hesitated, and in that moment Dion popped the
remains of their lunch into his coat pockets; then slowly he walked to
the side of the tumulus by which he had come up. There he stood for
two or three minutes staring once more up at Rosamund. She waved a
friendly hand to him, boyishly, Dion thought. He smiled cautiously,
then confidentially, suddenly turned and bolted down the slope
uttering little cries--and so away once more to the far-off cattle on
the old battlefield, followed by his curly dog.
When Dion had watched him into the distance, beyond which lay the
shining glory of the sea, and looked up to Rosamund again, she was
pulling the little dry leaves from her undulating hair.
"I'm all brushwood," she said, "and I love it."
"So do I."
"I ought to have been born a shepherdess. Why do you look at me like
"Perhaps because I'm seeing a new girl who's got even more woman in
her than I knew till to-day."
"Most women are like that, Dion, when they get the chance."
"To think you knew all those tricks and never told me!"
"Help me down."
He stretched out his arms to her. When she was on the ground he still
held her for a moment.
"You darling!" he whispered. "Never shall I forget this day at
Marathon, the shining, the child, and you--you!"
They did not talk much on the long ride homeward. The heat was great,
but they were not afraid of it, for the shining fires of this land on
the edge of the east cherished and did not burn them. The white dust
lay deep on the road, and flew in light clouds from under the feet of
their horses as they rode slowly upwards, leaving the blue of their
pastoral behind them, and coming into the yellow of the pine woods.
Later, as they drew nearer to Athens, the ancient groves of the
olives, touched with a gentle solemnity, would give them greeting; the
fig trees and mulberry trees would be about them, and the long
vineyards watched over by the aristocratic cypress lifting its dark
spire to the sun. But now the kingdom of the pine trees joyously held
them. They were in the happy woods in which even to breathe was sheer
happiness. Now and then they pulled up and looked back to the
crescent-shaped plain which held a child instead of armies. They
traced the course of the river marked out by the reeds and sedges.
They saw the tiny dark specks, which were cattle grazing, with the
wonder of blue beyond them. In these moments, half-unconsciously, they
were telling memory to lay in its provision for the future. Perhaps
they would never come back; never again would Rosamund rest in her
brushwood chamber, never again would Dion hear the dry music above
him, and feel the growth of his love, the urgency of its progress just
as he had felt them that day. They might be intensely happy, but
exactly the same happiness would probably not be theirs again through
all the years that were coming. The little boy and his dog had
doubtless gone out of their lives for ever. Their good-by to Marathon
might well be final. They looked back again and again, till the blue
of the sea was lost to them. Then they rode on, faster. The horses
knew they were going homeward, and showed a new liveliness, sharing
the friskiness of the little graceful trees about them. Now and then
the riders saw some dusty peasants--brown and sun-dried men wearing
the fustanella, and shoes with turned-up toes ornamented with big
black tassels; women with dingy handkerchiefs tied over their heads;
children who looked almost like the spawn of the sun in their healthy,
bright-eyed brownness. And these people had cheerful faces. Their
rustic lot seemed enviable. Who would not shed his sorrows under these
pine trees, in the country where the solitudes radiated happiness, and
even bareness was like music? Here was none of the heavy and exotic
passion, none of the lustrous and almost morbid romance of the true
and distant East, drowsy with voluptuous memories. That setting was
not for Rosamund. Here were a lightness, a purity and sweetness of
Arcadia, and people who looked both intelligent and simple.
At a turn of the road they met some Vlachs--rascally wanderers, lean
as greyhounds, chicken-stealers and robbers in the night, yet with a
sort of consecration of careless cheerfulness upon them. They called
out. In their cries there was the sound of a lively malice. Their
brown feet stirred up the dust and set it dancing in the sunshine, a
symbol surely of their wayward, unfettered spirits. A little way off,
on a slope among the trees, their dark tents could be partially seen.
"Lucky beggars!" murmured Dion, as he threw them a few small coins,
while Rosamund smiled at them and waved her hand in answer to their
greetings. "I believe it's the ideal life to dwell in the tents."
"It seems so to-day."
"Won't it to-morrow? Won't it when we are in London?"
"Perhaps more than ever then."
Was she gently evading an answer? They had reached the brow of the
hill and put their horses to a canter. The white dust settled over
them. They were like millers on horseback as they left the pine woods
behind them. But the touch of the dust was as the touch of nature upon
their faces and hands. They would not have been free of it as they
rode towards Athens, and came to the region of the vineyards, of the
olive groves and the cypresses. Now and then they passed ramshackle
cafes made of boards roughly nailed together anyhow, with a straggle
of vine sprawling over them, and the earth for a flooring. Tables were
set out before them, or in their shadows; a few bottles were visible
within; on benches or stools were grouped Greeks, old and young,
busily talking, no doubt about politics. Carts occasionally passed by
the riders, sending out dust to mingle with theirs. Turkeys gobbled at
them, dogs barked in front of one-storied houses. They saw peasants
sitting sideways on pattering donkeys, and now and then a man on
horseback. By thin runlets of water were women, chattering as they
washed the clothes of their households. Then again, the horses came
into the bright and solitary places where the cheerful loneliness of
Greece held sway.
And so, at last they cantered into the outskirts of Athens when the
evening was falling. Another day had slipped from them. But both felt
it was a day which they had known very well, had realized with an
"It's been a day of days!" Dion said that evening.
And Rosamund nodded assent.
A child had been in that day, and, with a child's irresistible might,
had altered everything for them. Now Dion knew how Rosamund would be
with a child of her own, and Rosamund knew that Dion loved her more
deeply because he had seen her with a child. A little messenger had
come to them over the sun-dried plain of Marathon bearing a gift of
The next day they spent quietly. In the morning they visited the
National Museum, and in the late afternoon they returned to the
In the Museum Rosamund was fascinated by the tombs. She, who always
seemed so remote from sorrow, who, to Dion, was the personification of
vitality and joyousness, was deeply moved by the record of death, by
the wonderfully restrained, and yet wonderfully frank, suggestion of
the grief of those who, centuries ago, had mingled their dust with the
dust of the relations, the lovers, the friends, whom they had mourned
"What a lesson this is for me!" she murmured at last, after standing
for a long while wrapped in silence and contemplation.
"Why for you, specially?" he asked.
She looked up at him. There were tears in her eyes. He believed she
was hesitating, undecided whether to let him into a new chamber of her
being, or whether to close a half-opened door against him.
"It's very difficult to submit, I think, for some of us," she
answered, after a pause, slowly. "Those old Greeks must have known how
to do it."
"To submit to sorrow?"
"Yes, to a great sorrow. Such a thing is like an attack in the dark.
If I am attacked I want to strike back and hurt."
"But whom could you reasonably hurt on account of a death that came in
the course of nature? That's what you mean, isn't it?"
After a slight hesitation she said:
"Do you mean that you don't think we can hurt God?"
"I wonder," Dion answered.
"I don't. I know we can."
She looked again at the tomb before which they were standing. It
showed a woman seated and stretching out her right arm, which a woman
friend was touching. In the background was another, contemplative,
woman and a man wearing a chaplet of leaves, his hand lifted to his
face. For epitaph there was one word cut in marble.
"It means farewell, doesn't it?" asked Rosamund.
"Perhaps you'll smile, but I think these tombs are the most beautiful
things I have seen in Greece. It's a miracle--their lack of violence.
What a noble thing grief could be. That little simple word. It's great
to be able to give up the dearest thing with that one little word. But
I couldn't--I couldn't."
"How do you know?"
"I know, because I didn't."
She said nothing more on the subject that morning, but when they were
on the Acropolis waiting, as so often before, for the approach of the
evening, she returned to it. Evidently it was haunting her that day.
"I believe giving up nobly is a much finer thing than attaining
nobly," she said. "And yet attaining wins all the applause, and giving
up, if it gets anything, only gets that ugly thing--pity."
"But is pity an ugly thing?" said Dion.
He had a little stone in his hand, and, as he spoke, he threw it
gently towards the precipice, taking care not to send it over the
"I think I would rather have anything on earth from people than their
"Suppose I were to pity you because I loved you?"
He picked up another stone and held it in his hand.
"I should hate it."
He had lifted his hand for the throw, but he kept hold of the stone.
"What, pity that came straight out of love?"
"Any sort of pity."
"You must be very proud--much prouder than I am then. If I were
unhappy I should wish to have pity from you."
"Perhaps you have never been really unhappy."
Dion laid the stone down. He thought hard for a moment.
"Without any hope at all of a change back to happiness--no, actually I
"Ah, then you've never had to brace up and see if you could find a
strong voice to utter your 'farewell'!"
She spoke with firmness, a firmness that rang like true metal struck
with a hammer and giving back sincerity.
"That sounds tremendously Doric," he said.
His lips were smiling, but there was an almost surprised expression in
"Dion, do you know you're intuitive to-day?"
"Ah, your training--your training!"
"Didn't you say we should have to be Doric ourselves if----?"
"Come, Rosamund, it's time for the Parthenon."
Once more they went over the uneven ground to stand before its solemn
"Shall we have learnt before we go?" said Dion.
"It's strange, but I think the tombs teach me more. They're more
within my reach. This is so tremendous that it's remote. Perhaps a
man, or--or a boy----"
She looked at him.
He drew her down. She clasped her hands, that looked to him so capable
and so pure, round her knees.
"A boy? Go on, Rose."
"He might learn his lesson here, with a man to help him. The
Parthenon's tremendously masculine. Perhaps women have to learn from
the gentleness of those dear tombs."
Never before had she seemed to him so soft, so utterly soft of nature.
"You've been thinking a great deal to-day of our boy, haven't you?" he
"Suppose we did have a boy and lost him?"
Her voice sounded suddenly almost hostile.
"Such a thing has happened to parents. It might happen to us."
"I don't believe it would happen to me," Rosamund said, with a sort of
curious, almost cold decision.
"But why not?"
"What made you think of such a thing?"
"I don't know. Perhaps it was because of what you said this morning
about grief, and then about bracing up and finding a firm voice to
utter one's 'farewell.'"
"You don't understand what a woman would feel who lost her child."
"Are you sure that you do?"
"Partly. Quite enough to---- Don't let us speak about it any more."
"No. There's nothing more futile than imagining horrors that are never
coming upon us."
"I never do it," she said, with resolute cheerfulness. "But we shall
very soon have to say one 'farewell.'"
"To the Parthenon?"
"Say it to-night!"
She turned round to face him.
"For a little while."
A sudden happy idea had come to him. A shadow had fallen over her for
a moment. He wanted to drive it away, to set her again in the full
sunshine for which she was born, and in which, if he could have his
will, she should always dwell.
"You wanted to take me away somewhere."
"Yes. You must see a little more of Greece before we go home. Say your
She did not know what was in his mind, but she obeyed him, and,
looking up at the great marble columns, glowing with honey-color and
gold in the afternoon light, she murmured:
On the following day they left Athens and set out on the journey to
"Why are you bringing me to Olympia?"
That question, unuttered by her lips, was often in Rosamund's eyes as
they drew near to the green wilds of Elis. Of course they had always
meant to visit Olympia before they sailed away to England, but she
knew very well that Dion had some special purpose in his mind, and
that it was closely connected with his great love of her. She had
understood that on the Acropolis, and her "farewell" had been an act
of submission to his will not wholly unselfish. Her curiosity was
What was the secret of Olympia?
They had gone by train to Patras, slept there, and thence rode on
horseback to Pyrgos through the vast vineyards of the Peloponnesus--
vineyards that stretched down to the sea and were dotted with sentinel
cypresses. The heat was much greater than it had been in Athens.
Enormous aloes hedged gardens from which came scents that seemed warm.
The sandy soil, turned up by the horses' feet, was hot to the touch.
The air quivered, and was shot with a music of insects faint but
Pyrgos was suffocating and noisy, but Rosamund was amused by democracy
at close quarters, showing its naked love of liberty. Her strong
humanity rose to the occasion, and she gave herself with a smiling
willingness to the streets, in which men, women, children and animals,
with lungs of leather, sent forth their ultimate music. Nevertheless,
she was glad when she and Dion set out again, and followed the banks
of the Alpheus, leaving the cries of the city behind them. It seemed
to her that they were traveling to some hidden treasure, secluded in
the folds of a green valley where the feet of men seldom, if ever,
came. Dion's eyes told her that they were drawing nearer and nearer to
the secret he knew of, and was going to reveal to her. She often
caught him looking at her with an almost boyish expression of loving
anticipation; and more than once he laughed happily when he saw her
question, but he would not give her an answer.
Peasants worked in the vineyards, shoulder-high in the plants, brown
and sweating in the glare. Swarthy children, with intelligent eyes,
often with delicate noses, and those pouting lips which are
characteristic of many Greek statues, ran to stare at them, and
sometimes followed them a little way, but without asking for alms.
Then the solitudes took them, and they wound on and on, with their
guide as their only companion.
He was a gentle, even languid-looking youth, called Nicholas
Agathoulos, who was a native of Patras, but who had lived a good deal
in Athens, who spoke a few words of English and French, and who
professed a deep passion for Lord Byron. Nicholas rode on a mule,
leading, or not leading as the case might be--for he was a charmingly
careless person--a second mule on which was fastened Rosamund's and
Dion's scanty luggage. Rosamund, like a born vagabond, was content to
travel in this glorious climate with scarcely any impedimenta. When
Nicholas was looked at he smiled peacefully under his quiet and
unpretending black mustache. When he was not looked at he seemed to
sleep with open eyes. He never sang or whistled, had no music at all
in him; but he could quote stanzas from "Don Juan" in Greek, and, when
he did that, he woke up, sparks of fire glowed in his eyes, and his
employers realized that he shared to the full the patriotism of his
Did he know the secret of Olympia which Dion was concealing so
carefully, and enjoying so much, as the little train of pilgrims wound
onwards among fruit trees and shrubs of arbutus, penetrating farther
and ever farther into a region sweet and remote? Of course he must
"I shall ask Nicholas," Rosamund said once to Dion, perversely.
"You know perfectly well what."
His face was a map of innocence as he touched his thin horse with the
whip and rode forward a little faster.
"What is there to see at Olympia, Nicholas?" she said, speaking rather
loudly in order that Dion might hear.
Nicholas woke up, and hastily, in a melodious voice, quoted some
scraps of guide-book. Rosamund did not find what she wanted among
them. She knew already about the ruins, about the Nike of Paeonius and
the Hermes of Praxiteles. So she left the young Greek to his waking
dream, and possessed her soul in a patience that was not difficult.
She liked to dwell in anticipation. And she felt that any secret this
land was about to reveal to her would be, must be, beautiful. She
"We aren't far off now," said Dion presently, as they rode up the
valley--a valley secluded from the world, pastoral and remote, shaded
by Judas trees.
"How peaceful and lovely it is."
"And full of the echoes of the Pagan feet which once trod here."
"I don't hear them," said Rosamund, "and I am listening."
"Perhaps you could never hear Pagan echoes. And yet you love Greece."
"Yes. But I have nothing Pagan in me. I know that."
"It doesn't matter," he said. "You are the ideal woman to be in Greece
with. If I don't come back to Greece with you, I shall never come
They rode on. Her horse was following his along the windings of the
river. Presently she said:
"Where are we going to sleep? Surely there isn't a possible inn in
this remoteness?--or have they build one for travelers who come here
in winter and spring?"
"Our inn will be a little above Olympia."
The green valley seemed closing about them, as if anxious to take them
to itself, to keep them in its closest intimacy, with a gentle
jealousy. Rosamund had a sensation, almost voluptuous, of yielding to
the pastoral greenness, to the warm stillness, to the hush of the
"Elis! Elis!" she whispered to herself. "I am riding up into Elis,
where once the processions passed to the games, where Nero built
himself a mansion. And there's a secret here for me."
Then suddenly there came into her mind the words in the "Paradiso"
which she had been dreaming over in London on the foggy day when Dion
had asked her to marry him.
The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence from warm love and living
hope which conquereth the Divine will.
It was strange that the words should come to her just then. She could
not think why they came. But, repeating them to herself, she felt how
very far off she was from Paganism. Yet she had within her warm love
surely and living hope. Could such things, as they were within her,
ever do violence to the Kingdom of Heaven? She looked between her
horse's perpetually moving ears at the hollow athletic back of her
young husband. If she had not married she would have given rein to
deep impulses within her which now would never be indulged. They would
not have led her to Greece. If she had been governed by them she would
never have been drawn on by the secret of Olympia. How strange it was
that, within the compass of one human being, should be contained two
widely differing characters. Well, she had chosen, and henceforth she
must live according to the choice she had made. But how would she have
been in the other life of which she had dreamed so often, and so
deeply, in her hours of solitude? She would never know that. She had
chosen the warm love and the living hope, but the Kingdom of Heaven
should never suffer violence from anything she had chosen. There are
doubtless many ways of consecrating a life, of rendering service.
They came into a scattered and dingy hamlet. Hills rose about it, but
the narrowing valley still wound on.
"We are close to the ruins," said Dion.
"Already! Where are we going to sleep?"
He pointed to a steep hill that was set sheer above the valley.
"Go on with the mules, Nicholas."
Nicholas rode on, smiling.
"What's that building on the hump?"
"I wonder why they put the inn so far away."
"It isn't really very far, not many minutes from here. But the way's
pretty steep. Now then, Rosamund!"
They set their horses to the task. Nicholas and the mules were out of
sight. A bend of the little track had hidden them.
"Why, there's a village up here!" said Rosamund, as they came to a
small collection of houses with yards and rough gardens and scattered
"Yes--Drouva. Our inn is just beyond it, but quite separated from it."
"I'm glad of that. They don't bother very much about cleanliness here,
I should think."
He was smiling at her now. His lips were twitching under his mustache,
and his eyes seemed trying not to tell something to her.
"Surely the secret isn't up here?"
He shook his head, still smiling, almost laughing.
They were now beyond the village, and emerged on a plateau of rough
short grass which seemed to dominate the world.
"This is the top of the hill of Drouva," said Dion, with a ring of
joy, and almost of pride, in his voice. "And there's our inn, the Inn
Rosamund pulled up her horse. She did not say a word. She just looked,
while her horse lowered his head and sniffed the air in through his
twitching nostrils. Then he sent forth a quivering neigh, his welcome
to the Inn of Drouva. The view was immense, but Rosamund was not
looking at it. A small dark object not far off in the foreground of
this great picture held her eyes. For the moment she saw little or
She saw a dark, peaked tent pitched in the middle of the plateau.
Smoke from a fire curled up behind it. Two or three figures moved near
it. Beyond, Nicholas was unloading the mules.
She dropped the cord by which she had been guiding her horse and
slipped down to the ground. Her legs were rather stiff from riding.
She held on to the saddle for a moment.
"A camp?" she said at last.
Dion was beside her.
"An awfully rough one."
She said the words almost solemnly.
"Dion, you are a brick!" she added, after a pause. "I've never stayed
in camp before. A real brick! But you always are."
"Aren't you coming into the camp?"
She put her hand on his arm and kept him back.
"No--wait! What did you mean by shaking your head when I asked you if
the secret was up here?"
"This isn't the real secret. It wasn't because of this that I asked
you suddenly on the Acropolis to say 'farewell' to the Parthenon."
"There's another secret?"
"There's another reason, the real reason, why I hurried you to
Olympia. But I'm going to let you find it out for yourself. I shan't
tell you anything."
"But how shall I know when----?"
"You will know."
"Don't you think we might stay on our hill-top till to-morrow?"
"Yes, all right. It's glorious here; I won't be impatient. But how
could you manage to get the tent here before we came?"
"We've been two nights on the way, Patras and Pyrgos. That gave plenty
of time to the magician to work the spell. Come along."
This time she did not hold him back. Her eagerness was as great as
his. Certainly it was a very ordinary camp, scarcely, in fact, a camp
at all. The tent was small and of the roughest kind, but there were
two neat little camp-beds within it, with their toes planted on the
short dry grass. In the iron washhand stand were a shining white basin
and a jug filled with clear water. There was a cake of remarkable pink
soap with a strange and piercing scent; there was a "tooth glass";
there was a straw mat.
"What isn't there?" cried Rosamund, who was almost as delighted as a
A grave and very handsome gentleman from Athens, Achilles Stavros by
name, received her congratulations with a classical smile of
"He's even got a genuine Greek nose for the occasion!" Rosamund said
delightedly to Dion, when Achilles retired for a moment to give some
instructions about tea to the cook. "Where did you find him?"
"That's my secret."
"I never realised how delicious a camp was before. My wildest dreams
As they looked at the two small, hard chairs with straw bottoms which
were solemnly set out side by side facing the view, and upon which
Achilles expected them to sink voluptuously for the ritual of tea,
they broke into laughter at Rosamund's exaggerated expressions of
delight. But directly she was able to stop laughing she affirmed with
"I don't care what anybody says, or thinks; I repeat it"--she glanced
from the straw mat to the cake of anemic pink soap--"my wildest dreams
are surpassed. To think"--she spread out her hands--"only to think of
finding a tooth glass here! It's--it's admirable!"
She turned upon him an almost fanatical eye, daring contradiction; and
they both laughed again, long and loud like two children who, suddenly
aware of a keen physical pleasure, prolong it beyond all reasonable
"What are we going to have for tea?" she asked.
"Tea," Dion cried.
"You ridiculous creature!"
From a short distance, Achilles gazed upon the merriment of theses
newly-married English travelers. Nobody had told him they were newly
married; he just knew it, had known it at a glance. As he watched, the
laughter presently died away, and he saw the two walk forward to the
edge of the small plateau, then stand still to gaze at the view.
The prospect from the hill of Drouva above Olympia is very great, and
all Rosamund's inclination to merriment died out of her as she looked
upon it. Even her joy in the camp was forgotten for a moment.
Upon their plateau, sole guests of the bareness, stood two small olive
trees, not distorted by winds. Rosamund leaned against one of them as
she gazed, put her arms round it with a sort of affectionate
carelessness that was half-protective, that seemed to say, "You dear
little tree! How nice of you to be here. But you almost want taking
care of." Then the tree was forgotten, and the Hellenic beauty reigned
over her spirit, as she gazed upon the immense pastoral bounded by
mountains and the sea; a green wilderness threaded by a serpentine
river of silver--a far-flung river which lingered on its way,
journeying hither and thither, making great curves as if it loved the
wilderness and wished to know it well, to know all of it before being
merged irrevocably with the sea.
"Those are the valleys of the Kladeos and the Alpheios."
"And that far-off Isle is the Island of Zante."
"Of Zante," she repeated.
After a long pause she said:
"You know those words somewhere in the Bible--'the wilderness and the
"I've always loved them, just those words. Even when I was quite a
child I liked to say them. And I remember once, when I was staying at
Sherrington, we drove over to the cathedral. Canon Wilton took us into
the stalls. It was a week-day and there were very few people. The
anthem was Wesley's 'The Wilderness.' I had never heard it before, and
when I heard those words--my words--being sung, I had such a queer
thrill. I wanted to cry and I was startled. To most people, I suppose,
the word wilderness suggests something dreary and parched, ugly
"Yes. The scapegoat was driven out into the wilderness."
"I think I'd rather take /my/ sin into the wilderness than anywhere
else. Purification might be found there."
"/Your/ sin!" he said. "As if----" He was silent.
Zante seemed sleeping in the distance of the Ionian Sea, far away as
the dream from which one has waked, touched with a dream's mystic
remoteness. The great plain, stretching to mountains and sea, vast and
green and lonely--but with the loneliness that smiles, desiring
nothing else--seemed uninhabited. Perhaps there were men in it,
laboring among the vineyards or toiling among the crops, women bending
over the earth by which they lived, or washing clothes on the banks of
the river. Rosamund did not look for them and did not see them. In the
green landscape, over which from a distance the mountains kept their
quiet and deeply reserved watch, she detected no movement. Even the
silver of the river seemed immobile, as if its journeyings were now
stilled by an afternoon spell.
"It's as empty as the plain of Marathon, but how much greater!" she
said at last.
"At Marathon there was the child."
"Yes, and here there's not even a child."
"I wonder what one would learn to be if one lived on the hill of
Drouva?" she said.
"It will be much more beautiful at sunset. We are looking due west.
Soon we shall have the moon rising behind us."
"What memories I shall carry away!"
"You were here before alone?"
"Yes. I walked up from the village just before sunset after a long day
among the ruins. I--I didn't know then of your existence. That seems
But she was gazing at the view, and now with an earnestness in which
there seemed to him to be a hint of effort, as if she were, perhaps,
urging imagination to take her away and to make her one with that on
which she looked. It struck him just then that, since they had been
married, she had changed a good deal, or developed. A new dreaminess
had been added to her power and her buoyancy which, at times, made her
very different from the radiant girl he had won.
"The Island of Zante!" she said once more, with a last look at the
sea, as they turned away in answer to the grave summons of Achilles.
"Ah, what those miss who never travel!"
"And yet I remember your saying once that you had very little of the
normal in you, and even something about the cat's instinct."
"Probably I meant the cat's instinct to say nasty things. Every
"No, what you meant--"
He began actually to explain, but her "Puss, Puss, Puss!" stopped him.
Her dream was over and her laugh rang out infectiously as they
returned to the tent.
The tea was fairly bad, but she defended its merits with energy, and
munched biscuits with an excellent appetite. Afterwards she smoked a
cigarette and Dion his pipe, sitting on the ground and leaning against
the tent wall. In vain Achilles drew her attention to the chairs.
Rosamund stretched out her long limbs luxuriously and shook her head.
"I'm not a school-teacher, Achilles," she said.
And Dion had to explain what she meant perhaps--only perhaps, for he
wasn't sure about it himself,--to that classical personage.
"These chairs fight against the whole thing," she said, when Achilles
"I'll hide them," said Dion.
He was up in a moment, caught hold of the chairs, gripping one in each
hand, and marched off with them. When he came back Rosamund was no
longer sitting on the ground by the tent wall. She had slipped away.
He looked round. She must have gone beyond the brow of the hill, for
she was not on the plateau. He hesitated, pulling hard at his pipe. He
knew her curious independence, knew that sometimes she wanted to be
alone. No doubt she had gone to look at the great view from some
hidden place. Well, then, he ought not to try to find her, he ought to
respect her wish to be by herself. But this evening it hurt him. As he
stood there he felt wounded, for he remembered telling her that the
great view would be much more beautiful at sunset when the moon would
be rising behind them. The implication of course had been, "Wait a
little and I'll show you." It was he who had chosen the place for the
camp, he who had prepared the surprise. Perhaps foolishly, he had
thought of the whole thing, even of the plain, the river, the
mountains, the sea and the Island of Zante, as a sort of possession
which he was going gloriously to share with her. And now----! He felt
deprived, almost wronged. The sky was changing. He turned and looked
to the east. Above Olympia, in a clear and tremulous sky, a great
silver moon was rising. It was his hour, and she had hidden herself.
Again, at that moment, Dion felt almost afraid of his love.
His pipe had gone out. He took it from his lips, bent, and knocked out
the tobacco against the heel of his boot. He was horribly
disappointed, but he was not going to search for Rosamund; nor was he
ever going to let her know of his disappointment. Perhaps by
concealing it he would kill it. He thrust his pipe into his pocket,
hesitated, then walked a little way from the camp and sat down on the
side of the hill. What rot it was his always wanting to share
everything now. Till he met Rosamund he had always thought only women
could never be happy unless they shared their pleasures, and
preferably with a man. Love apparently could play the very devil,
bridge the gulf between sexes, make a man who was thoroughly masculine
in all his tastes and habits have "little feelings" which belonged
properly only to women.
Doric! Suddenly the word jumped up in his mind, and a vision of the
Parthenon columns rose before his imagination, sternly glorious,
almost with the strength of a menace. He set his teeth together and
cursed himself for a fool and a backslider.
Rosamund and he were to be Doric. Well, this evening he didn't know
exactly what he was, but he certainly was not Doric.
Just then he heard the sound of a shot. He did not know what direction
it came from, but, fantastically enough, it seemed to be a comment on
his thought, a brusk, decisive exclamation flung at him from out of
the silent evening. "Sentimentalist! Take that, and get out of your
mush of feeling!" As he recognized it--he now forced himself to that
sticking-point--to be a mush, the shot's comment fell in, of course,
with his own view of the matter.
He sat still for a moment, thinking of the shot, and probably
expecting it to be repeated. It was not repeated. A great silence
prevailed, the silence of the Hellenic wild held in the hand of
evening. And abruptly, perhaps, from that large and pervasive silence,
Dion caught a coldness of fear. All his perceptions rushed upon him,
an acute crowd. He sprang up, put his hand to his revolver. Rosamund
out alone somewhere in the loneliness of Greece--evening--a shot!
He was over the brow of the hill towards the west in a moment. All
respect for Rosamund's evening whim, all remembrance of his own proper
pride, was gone from him.
"Rosamund!" he called; "Rosamund!"
"Here!" replied her strong voice from somewhere a little way below
And he saw her standing on the hillside and looking downwards. He
thrust his revolver back into his pocket quickly. Already his pride
was pushing its head up again. He stood still, looking down on her.
"It's all right, it is?"
This time she lifted her head and turned her face up to him.
"I heard a shot."
He saw laughter dawning in her face.
"You don't mean to say----?"
She laughed frankly.
"Come down here!"
He joined her.
"What was it?"
"Did you, or didn't you, think I'd been attacked by Greek brigands?"
"Of course not! But I heard a shot, and it just struck me----"
At that moment he was almost ashamed of loving her so much.
"Well, there's the brigand, and I do believe he's going to shoot
again. The ruffian! Yes, he's taking aim! Oh, Dion, let's seek cover."
Still laughing, she shrank against him. He put one arm round her
shoulder bruskly, and his hand closed on her tightly. A little way
below them, relieved with a strange and romantic distinctness against
the evening light, in which now there was a strong suggestion of gold,
was a small figure, straight, active--a figure of the open air and the
wide spaces--with a gun to its right shoulder. A shot rang out.
"He's got it," said Rosamund.
And there was a note of admiring praise in her voice.
"That child's a dead shot," she added. "It's quail he's after, I
believe. Look! He's picking it up."
The small black figure bent quickly down, after running forward a
"He retrieves as well as he shoots. Shall we go to him and see whether
"Another child," said Dion.
He still had his arm round her shoulder.
"Why did you come here?" he asked.
"To look at the evening coming to me over the wilderness. But he made
me forget it for a moment."
Dion was staring at her now.
"I believe a child could make you forget anything," he said.
"Let's go to him."
The gold of the evening was strengthening and deepening. The vast
view, which was the background to the child's little figure, was
losing its robe of green and of blue, green of the land, blue of the
sea, was putting on velvety darkness and gold. The serpentine river
was a long band of gold flung out, as if by a careless enchanter,
towards the golden sea in which Zante was dreaming. Remote and immense
this land had seemed in the full daytime, a tremendous pastoral
deserted by men, sufficient to itself and existing only for its own
beauty. Now it existed for a child. The human element had caused
nature, as it were, to recede, to take the second place. A child,
bending down to pick up a shot quail, then straightening up
victoriously, held the vast panorama in submission, as if he had
quietly given out the order, "Make me significant." And Rosamund, who
had stolen away to meet the evening, was now only intent on knowing
whether the shot bird was a quail or not.
It was a quail, and a fat one.
When they came to the boy they found him a barefooted urchin, with
tattered coarse clothes and densely thick, uncovered black hair
growing down almost to his fiery young eyes, which stared at them
proudly. There was a wild look in those eyes never to be found in the
eyes of a dweller in cities, a wild grace in his figure, and a
complete self-possession in his whole bearing. The quail just shot he
had in his hand. Another was stuffed into the large pocket of his
jacket. He pulled it out and showed it to them, reading at a glance
the admiration in Rosamund's eyes. Dion held out a hand to the boy's
gun, but at this his manner changed, he clutched it tightly, moved a
step or two back, and scowled.
"He's a regular young savage," said Dion.
"I like him as he is. Besides, why should he give his gun to a
stranger? He knows nothing about us."
"You're immense!" said Dion, laughing.
"Let's have the quail for our dinner."
"D'you expect him to give them to us without a stand-up fight and
probably bloodshed? For he's armed, unfortunately!"
"Don't be ridiculous. Look here, Dion, you go off for a minute, and
leave him with me. I think you get on his nerves."
But he went. He left the two figures together, and presently saw them
both from a distance against the vastness of the gold. Bushes and
shrubs, and two or three giant pine trees, between the summit of
Drouva and the plain, showed black, and the figures of woman and child
were almost ebon. Dion watched them. He could not see any features.
The two were now like carved things which could move, and only by
their movements could they tell him anything. The gun over the boy's
shoulder was like a long finger pointing to the west where a redness
was creeping among the gold. The great moon climbed above Drouva.
Bluish-gray smoke came from the camp-fire at a little distance. It
ascended without wavering straight up in the windless evening. Far
down in the hidden valley, behind Dion and below the small village,
shadows were stealing through quiet Elis, shadows were coming to
shroud the secret that was held in the shrine of Olympia. A slight
sound of bells stole up on the stillness from somewhere below,
somewhere not far from those two ebon figures. And this sound,
suggestive of moving animals coming from pasture to protected places
for the night, put a heart in the breast of this pastoral. Thin was
the sound and delicate, fit music for Greece in the fragile evening.
As Dion listened to it, he looked at that black finger below him
pointing to the redness in the west. Then he remembered it was a gun,
and, for an instant, looking at the red, he thought of the color of
At this moment the tall figure, Rosamund, took hold of the gun, and
the two figures moved away slowly down the winding track in the hill,
and were hidden at a turning of the path.
Almost directly a third shot rang out. The young dweller in the
wilderness was allowing Rosamund to give a taste of her skill with the
Rosamund came back to the camp that evening with Dirmikis,--so the boy
of the wilderness was called,--and five quail, three of them to her
gun. She was radiant, and indeed had an air almost of triumph. Her
eyes were sparkling, her cheeks were glowing; she looked like a
beautiful schoolgirl as she walked in over the plateau with the sunset
flushing scarlet behind her, and the big moon coming to meet her.
Dirmikis, at her side, carried the quail upside down in his brown
hands. Rosamund had the gun under her right arm.
"It's a capital gun," she called out to Dion. "I got three. Here,
Dirmikis,"--she turned to the boy,--"show them."
"Does he understand English?"
"No, but he understands me!" she retorted with pride. "Look there!"
Dirmikis held up the birds, smiling a savage smile.
"Aren't they fat? Feel them, Dion! The three fattest ones fell to my
gun, but don't tell /him/."
She sketched a delicious wink, looking about sixteen.
"I really have a good eye," she added, praising herself with gusto.
"It's no use being over-modest, is it? If one has a gift, well one
just has it. Here, Dirmikis!"
She gave his gun carefully to the barefooted child.
"He's a little stunner, and so chivalrous. I never met a boy I liked
more. Do give him a nice present, Dion, and let him feed in the camp
if he likes."
"Well, what next? What am I to give him?"
"Nothing dressy. He isn't a manikin, he's a real Doric boy."
She slapped Dirmikis on the back with a generous hand. He smiled
radiantly, this time without any savagery.
"The sort of boy who'll be of some use in the world."
"I'll give him a tip."
Rosamund seemed about to assent when an idea struck her, as she
afterwards said, "with the force of a bomb."
"I know what he'll like better than anything."
"Your revolver, to be sure!"
"My revolver to be suren't!" exclaimed Dion passionately, inventing a
negative. "I bought it at great cost to defend you with, not for the
endowment of a half-naked varmint from the wilderness under Drouva."
"Be careful, Dion; you're insulting a Doric boy!"
"Here--I'll insult him with a ten-lepta piece."
"Don't be mean. Bribe him thoroughly if you're going to bribe him. We
go shooting together again to-morrow evening."
"Do you indeed?"
"Yes, directly after tea. It's all arranged. Dirmikis suggested it
with the most charming chivalry, and I gave yes for an answer. So we
must keep on good terms with him at whatever cost."
She cocked up her chin and walked exultantly into the tent. A minute
afterwards there rang out to the evening a warm contralto voice
Dirmikis looked at the tent and then at Dion with an air of profound
astonishment. The quail dropped from his hands, and he did not even
snatch at them as he listened to the remarkable sounds which, he could
not doubt, flowed from his Amazon. His brows came down over his fiery
eyes, and he seemed to stand at gaze like an animal, half-fascinated
and half-suspicious. The voice died away and was followed by a sound
of pouring water. Then Dirmikis accepted two ten-lepta pieces and
picked up the quail. Dion introduced him to the cook, and it was
understood that he should be fed in the camp, and that the quail
should form part of the evening meal.
Very good they proved to be, cooked in leaves with the addition of
some fried slices of fat ham. Rosamund exulted again as she ate them,
recognizing the birds she had shot "by the taste."
"This is one! Aren't mine different from Dirmikis's?" she exclaimed.
"So much more succulent!"
"Naturally, you great baby!"
"Life is glorious!" she exclaimed resonantly. "To eat one's own bag on
the top of Drouva under the moon! Oh!"
She looked at the moon, then bent over her plate of metal-ware which
was set on the tiny folding-table. In her joy she was exactly like a
"I wonder how many I shall get to-morrow. I got my eye in at the very
start. Really, Dion, you know, I'm a gifted creature. It isn't every
And she ran on, laughing at herself, reveling in her whimsical
pretense of conceit till dinner was over.
"Now a cigarette! Never have I enjoyed any meal so much as this! It's
only out of doors that one gets hold of the real /joie de vivre/."
"You're never without it, thank God," returned Dion, striking a match
So still was the evening that the flame burned steadily even upon that
height facing immensities. Rosamund leaned to it with the cigarette
between her lips. Her face was browned to the sun. She looked rather
like a splendid blonde gipsy, with loose yellow hair and the careless
eyes of those who dwell under smiling heavens. She sent out a puff of
cigarette smoke, directing it with ardor to the moon which now rode
high above them.
"I'd like to catch up nature in my arms to-night," she said. "Come,
Dion, let's go a little way."
She was up, and put her arm through his like a comrade. He squeezed
her arm against his side and, strolling there in the night on the edge
of the hill, she talked at first with almost tumultuous energy, with
an energy as of an Amazon who cared for the things of the soul as much
as for the things of the body. To-night her body and soul seemed on
the same high level of intensity.
At first she talked of the present, of their life in Greece and of
what it had meant to her, what it had done for her; and then, always
with her arm through Dion's, she began to talk of the future.
"We've got to go away from all this, but let us carry it with us; you
know, as one can carry things that one has really gathered up, really
got hold of. It will mean a lot to us afterwards in England, in our
regular humdrum life. Not that life's ever humdrum. We must take
Drouva to England, and Marathon, and the view from the Acropolis, and
the columns of the Parthenon above all those, and the tombs."
"But they're sad."
"We must take them. I'm quite sure the way to make life splendid,
noble, what it is meant to be to each of us, is to press close against
one's heart all that is sent to one, the sorrows as well as the joys.
Everything one tries to keep at arm's length hurts one."
"Sins, Dion? I said what is sent to us."
"Don't you think----?"
"Sins are never sent to us, we always have to go and fetch them. It's
like that poor old chemist going round the corner in the fog with a
jug for what is ruining his life."
"What poor old chemist?" he asked.
"A great friend of mine in London--Mr. Thrush. You shall know him some
day. Oh--but London! Now, Dion, can we, you and I, live perpetually in
London after all this?"
"Well, dearest, I must stick close to business."
"I know that. And we've got the little house. But later on?"
"And your singing, your traveling all over the place with a maid!"
"I wonder if I shall. To-night I don't feel as if I shall."
She stood still abruptly, and was silent for a minute.
"Don't you think," she said, in a different and less exuberant voice,
and with a changed and less physical manner--"don't you think
sometimes, in exceptional hours, one can feel what is to come, what is
laid up for one? I do. This is an exceptional hour. We are on the
heights and it's very wonderful. Well, perhaps to-night we can feel
what is coming. Let's try."
"Let's just be quiet, and give ourselves up to the hill of Drouva, and
Greece, and the night, and--and what surrounds and permeates us and
With a big and noble gesture she indicated the sleeping world far
below them, breathless under the moon; the imperceptible valleys
merged in the great plain through which the river, silver once more,
moved unsleeping between its low-lying banks to the sea; the ranges of
mountains which held themselves apart in the night, a great company,
reserved and almost austere, yet trodden with confidence by the feet
of those fairies who haunt the ancient lands; the sea which drew down
the moon as a lover draws down his mistress; Zante riding the sea like
a shadow in harbor.
And they were silent. Dion had a sensation of consciously giving
himself, almost as a bather, to the sea. Did he feel what was coming
to him and to this girl at his side, who was part of him, and yet who
was alone, whose arm clasped his, yet whose soul dwelt far off in its
own remoteness? Would the years draw them closer and closer together,
knit them together, through greater knowledge, through custom, through
shared joys and beliefs, through common beliefs, through children,
till they were as branches growing out of one stem firmly rooted?
He gave himself and gave himself, or tried to give himself in the
silence. Yet he could not have said truly that any mystical knowledge
came to him. Only one thing he seemed strangely to know, that they
would never have children. The sleeping world and the sea, and, as
Rosamund had said, "what surrounds and permeates us and all this"
seemed to permit him mysteriously to get at that one bit of
foreknowledge. Something seemed to say to him, "You will be the father
of one child." And yet, when he came to think of it, he realized how
probable, how indeed almost certain it was that the silent voice
issued from within himself. Rosamund and he had talked about a child,
a boy, had begun almost to sketch out mental plans for that boy's
upbringing; they had never talked about children. He believed that he
had penetrated to the secret of the voice. He said to himself, "All
that sort of thing comes out of one's self. It doesn't reach one from
the outside." And yet, when he looked out over the world, which seemed
wrapped in ethereal garments, garments woven by spirit on looms no
hand of woman or man might ever touch, he was vaguely conscious that
all within him which was of any real value was there too. Surely he
did not possess. Rather was he possessed of.
He looked at Rosamund at last.
"Have you got anything?"
But she did not answer him. There was a great stillness in her big
eyes. All the vital exuberance of body and spirit mingled together had
vanished from her abruptly. Nothing of the Amazon who had captured the
heart of Dirmikis remained. As Dion looked at her now, he simply could
not see the beautiful schoolgirl of sixteen, the blonde gipsy who had
bent forward, cigarette in mouth, to his match, who had leaned back
and blown rings to the moon above Drouva. Had she ever set the butt of
a gun against her shoulder? Something in this woman's eyes made him
suddenly feel as if he ought to leave her alone. Yet her arm still lay
on his, and she was his.
Against the silver of the moon the twisted trunks of the two small
olive trees showed black and significant. The red of the dying camp-
fire glowed not far from the tent. Dogs were barking in the hamlet of
Drouva. She neither saw details nor heard ugly sounds in the night. He
knew that. And the rest? It seemed to him that something of her, the
spirit of her, perhaps, or some part of it with which his had never
yet had any close contact, was awake and at work in the night. But
though he held her arm in his she was a long way from him. And there
came to him this thought:
"I felt as if I ought to leave her alone. But she has left me alone."
Almost mechanically, and slowly, he straightened his arm, thus letting
hers slip. She did not seem to notice his action. She gazed out
towards Zante over a world that now looked very mystical. In the
daylight it had been a green pastoral. Now there was over it, and even
surely in it, a dim whiteness, a something pure and hushed, like the
sound, remote and curiously final, of a quiet sleeper.
That night, when they went to bed, Rosamund was full of the delight of
a new experience. She insisted that the flap of the tent should not be
kept shut down. She had never slept in a tent before, and was resolved
to look out and see the stars from her pillow.
"And my olive tree," she added.
Obediently, as soon as she was in her camp-bed, Dion lifted the flap.
A candle was still burning, set on a chair between the two beds. As
the moonlight came in, Rosamund lifted herself on one arm, leaned over
and blew it out.
"How horrible moonlight makes candlelight," she said.
Dion, in his pyjamas, was outside fastening back the flap, his bare
feet on the short dry grass.
"I can see the Pleiades!" she added earnestly.
"There!" said Dion.
He looked up at the sky.
"The Pleiades, the Great Bear, Mars."
"Oh!" she drew in her breath. "A shooting star!"
She pressed her lips together and half-shut her eyes. By her
contracted forehead Dion saw that she was wishing almost fiercely. He
believed he read her wish. He had not seen the traveling star, and did
not try to wish with her, lest he should cross the path of the Fates
and throw his shadow on her desire.
He came softly into the tent which was full of the whiteness of the
moon. Sleeping thus with Rosamund in the bosom of nature was very
wonderful to him. It was like a sort of re-marriage. The moon and the
stars looking in made his relation to her quite new and more
"I shall never forget Olympia," he whispered, leaning over her.
He kissed her very gently, not with any passion. He had the feeling
that she would almost resent passion just then.
He got into his bed and lay with his arm crooked, his cheek in his
hand. Part of the Milky Way was visible to him, that dust of little
stars powdering the deep of the sky. If he, too, should see a falling
star to-night, dropping down towards the hidden sea, vanishing below
the line of the hill! Would he echo her wish?
"Are you sleepy, Rosamund?" he asked presently.
"No I don't want to sleep. It would make me miss all the stars."
"And if you're tired to-morrow?"
"I shan't be. I shan't be tired while we are in camp. I should like
never to go to bed in a room again. I should like always to dwell in
He longed for the addition of just two words. They did not come. But
of course they were to be understood. There is no need to state things
known. The fact that she had let him bring her to the wilderness was
enough. The last words he heard Rosamund say that night were these,
almost whispered slowly to herself and to the stars:
"The wilderness--and--the solitary places."
Very early in the morning she awoke while Dion was sleeping. She
slipped softly out of the little camp-bed, wrapped a cloak around her,
and went out to gaze at the dawn.
When they sat at breakfast she said:
"And now are you going to tell me the secret?"
"No. I'm going to let you find it out for yourself."
"But if I can't?"
They set off, about ten, down the hill on foot. The morning was very
still and already very hot. As they descended towards the basin in
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