He was looking down at the most repulsive old woman he had ever seen. Hers was the abhorrent fatness of a spider; the flesh appeared to have the coloring and consistency of dough. She sat upon the stone pavement, kniting; her eyes, which raised to his u nblinkingly, were black, secretive, and impersonally malevolent; and her jaws stirred without ceasing, in a loose chewing motion, so that the white hairs, rooted in the big mole on her chin, twitched and glitered in the sunlight.

"But one does not pay on entering," she was saying. "One pays as one goes out. It is the rule."

"Eh, I shall never know until God's funeral is preached," the old woman said. "I only know it is forbidden me to stop."

So he went past her, aware that through some nameless grace the girl whom he had twice seen in dreams awaited him there, and that the girl's face was the face of Ettarre. She stood be a stone balustrade, upon which squatted tall stone monsters--weird and haphazard collocations, as touched anatomy, of bird and brute and fiend--and she in common with these hobgolins looked down upon a widespread comely city. The time was a bright and windy morning in spring; and the sky, unclouded was like an inverted cup which did not merely roof Ettarre and the man who had come back to her, but inclosed them in incommunicable isolation. To the left, beyond shimmering tree-tops, so far beneath them that it made Felix Kennaston dizzy to look, the ruffling surface of a r iver gleamed.... It was in much this fashion, he recalled, that Ettarre and Horvendile had stood alone together among the turrets of Storisende.

"But now I wonder where on the face of--or, rather, so far above the face of what especial planet we may happen to be? "Kennastton marveled happily--"or east of the sun or west of the moon? At all events, it hardly matters. Suffice it that we are in l ove's land to-day. What need is there to worry over any one inexplicable detail, where everything is incomprehensible?"

"I was never here before, Horvendile; and I have waited for you so long."

"He lookeed at her; and again his heart moved with glad adoration. It was not merely that Ettarre was so pleasing to the eye, and distinguished by so many delicate clarities of color--so young, so quick of movement, so slender, so shapely, so inexpressib ly virginal--but the heady knowledge that here on dizzying heights he, Felix Kennaston, was somehow playing with superhuman matters, and that no power could induce him to desist from his delicious and perilous frolic, stirred in deep recesses of his being , nameless springs. Nameless they must remain; for it was as though he had discovered himself to possess a sixth sense; and he found that the contrivers of language, being less prodigally gifted, had never been at need to invent any terms wherewith to ex press this sense's gratification. But he knew that he was strong and admirable; that men and men's affairs lay far beneath him; that Ettarre belonged to him; and, most vividly of all, that the exulatance which possessed him was a by-product of an unstabl e dream.

"Yet it is not an city of to-day," he was saing. "Look, how yonder little rascal glitters--he is wearing a helmet of some sort and a gorget. Why, all those pigmies, if you look closely, go in far braver scarlets and purples than we elect to skulk about in nowadays; and nowhere in sight is an office-building or an electric-light advertisement of chewing-gum. No, that hotchpotch of hubbled gables and parapets and towers shaped like lanterns was stolen straight out of some Dore Illuustration for Rabelais or Les Contes Drolatiques. But it does not matter at all, and it will never matter, where we may chance to be, Ettarre. What really and greatly matters, is that when I try to touch you everything vanishes."

The girl was frankly puzzled. "Yes, that seems a part of he sigil's magic...."

Chapter Seventeen