"Ettarre, I know to-day that all my life I have been seeking you. Very long ago when I was a child it was made clear that you awaited me somewhere; and, I recollect now, I used to hunger for your coming with a longing which had not any name. And when I went about the dusty world I still believed you waited somewhere--till I should find you, as I inevitably must, or soon or late. Did I go upon a journey to some unfamiliar place?--it might be that unwittingly I traveled toward your home. I could never p ass a walled garden where green tree-tops showed, without suspecting, even while I shrugged to think how wild was the imagining, that there was only the wall between us. I did not know the color of your eyes, but I knew what I would read there. And for a fevered season I appeared to encounter many woman of earth who resembled you--"
"All women resemble me, Horveendile. Whatever flesh they may wear as a garment, and however time-frayed or dull-hued or stained by horrible misuse that garment may seem to be, the wearer of that garment is no less fair than I, could any man see her quite clearly. Horvendile, were that not true, could our great Author find anywhere a woman's body which wickedness and ugliness controlled unchecked, all the big stars which light the universe, and even the tiny sun that our earth spins about, would be blown out like unneeded candles, for the Author's labor would have been frustrated and misspent."
"Yes; I know now that this is true.... See, Ettarre! Yonder woman is furtively coloring her cheeks with a little wet red rag. She does not wish to seem pale--of is it that she wishes to look her best?--in the moment of death.... Ettare, my love for yo u whom I could not ever find, was not of earth, and I could not transfer it to any of our women. The lively hues, the lovely curvings and the fragrant tender flesh of earth's women were deft to cast spells; but presently I knew this magic was only of the body. It might be I was honoring divinity's effigy in tinted clay. Becides, it is not possible to know with any certainly what is going on in the round glossy little heads of women. 'I hide no secerts from you, because I love you,' say they?--eh, and their love may be anything from a mild preference to a flat lie. And so, I came finally too concede that all women are creatures of like frailties and limitations and reserves as myself, and I was most poignantly lonely when I was luckiest in love. Once only, in my life in the flesh, it seemed to me that a woman whom I had abandoned, held in her hand the sigil visibly. That memory has often troubled me, Ettarre. It may be that this woman could have given me what I sought everywhere in vain. But I did not know this until it was too late, until the chance and the woman's life alike were wasted.... And so, I grew apathetic, senseless and without any spurring aspiration, seeing that all human beings are so securely locked in the prison of their flesh."< p> "When immortals visit earth it is necessary they assume the appearance of some animal. Very long ago, as we have seen, Horvendile, was discovered that secert, which so many myths veil thinly: and have we not learned, too, that the animal's fleshly body is a disguise which it is possible to put aside?"
"That knowledge, so fearfully purchased at the Sabbat, still troubles me, Ettarre. Yes, it is perturbing to be assured I am only a garment which is sometimes worn by that Horvendile who is of the Leshy, and who shifts other puppets than I can imagine. For I am an overweening garment, Ettarre,--or rather, let us say, I fla untingly esteem myself a fine feather in the cap of this eternal Horvendile. So does it sometimes seem to my vainglorious self-conceit that even this demiurgic Horvendile and his Poictesme, and, for that matter, all the living anywhere in this world, are only the notions of a certain fat and flabby dreamer--"
"Nobody can think that, dear Horvendile, so long as he recalls the Sabbat--"
"Indeed, I am not likely to forget the Sabbat.... Monsieur le Prince, I regret the circumstances, but--as you see--my snuff-box is quite empty. Ah, but yes, as you very justly observe, rappee, repose and rationality are equally hard to come by in these mad days.... Is that not droll, Ettarre? This unvenerable old Prince de Gatinais--once Grande Duke of Noumaria, you remember--has in his career been guilty of every iniquity and meanness and cowardice: now, facing instant death, he finds time to think of snuff and phrase-making.... But--to go back a little--I had thought the Sabbat would be so different! One imagined there would be cauldrons, and hags upon prancing broomsticks, and a black Goat, of course--"
"How much more terrible it is--and how beautiful!"
"Yet--even now I may not touch you, Ettarre."
"My friend, all men have striven to do that; and I have evaded each one of them at the last, and innumerable are the ways of my elusion. There is no man but has loved me, no man that has forgotten me, and none but has attempted to express that which he s aw and understood when I was visible."
"Do I not know? There is no beauty in the world save those stray hints of you Ettarre. Canvas and stone and verse speak brokenly of you sometimes; all music yearns toward you, Ettarre, all sunsets whisper of you, and it is because they awaken memories o f you that the eyes of all children so obscurely trouble and delight us. Ettarre, your unattainable beauty tears my heart. There is nothing, nothing in me that does not cry out for love of you. And it is the cream of a vile jest that I am forbidded eve r to win quite to you, ever to touch you, ever to see you even save in my dreams!"
"Already this dream draws toward an end, my poor dear Horvendile."
And he saw that the great doors--which led to death--were unclosing: and beyond them he saw confusedly a mob of red-capped men, of malignant frenzied women, of wide-eyed little children, and the staid officials, chatting pleasantly among themselves, who came to fetch that day's tale of those condemned to the guillotine. But more vividly Kennaston saw Ettarre and how tenderly she smiled, in thin wintry sunlight, as she touched Kennaston upon the breast, so that the dream might end and he might excape the guillotine.