Then Kennaston went for a meditative walk in the abating glare of that day's portentous sunset, wherein the tree-trunks westward showed like the black bars of a grate. It was in just such a twilight that Horvendile had left Storisende....

And presently he came to a field which had been mowed that week. The piled hay stood in rounded heaps, suggestive to Kennaston of shaggy giant heads bursting through the soil, as in the old myth of Cadmus and the dragon's teeth; beyond were glittering co rnfields, whose tremulous green was shot with brown and sickly yellow now, and which displayed a host of tassels like ruined plumes. Autumn was at hand. And as Kennaston approached, a lark--as though shot vehemently from the ground--rose singing. Stra ight into the air it rose, and was lost in the sun's abating brilliance; but still you could hear its singing; and then, as suddenly, the bird dropped earthward.

Kennaston snapped his fingers. "Aha, my old acquaintance!" he said, "but now I envy you no longer!" Then he walked onward, thinking....


"What did I think of?" he said, long afterward--"oh, of nothing with any real clarity. You see--I touched mystery everywhere....

"But I thought of Kathleen's first kiss, and of the first time I came to her alone after we were married, and of our baby that was born dead.... I was happier than I have ever been in any dream.... I saw that the ties of our ordinary life here in the fl esh have their own mystic strength and sanctity. I comprehend why in our highest sacrament we prefigure with holy awe, not things of the mind and spirit, but flesh and blood.... A man and his wife, barring stark severance, grow with time to be one perso n, you see; and it is not so much the sort of person as the indivisibilty that matters, with them....

"And I thought of how in evoking that poor shadow of Ettarre which figures in my book, I had consciously written of my dear wife as I remember her when we were young together. My vocabulary and my ink went to the making of the book's Ettarre: but with t hem went Kathleen's youth and purity and tenderness and serenity and loving-kindness toward all created things save the women I had flirted with--so that she contributed more than I....

"And I saw that the good-smelling earth about my pudgy pasty body, and my familiar home--as I turned back my pudgy pasty face toward Alcluid, bathed now in the sun's gold--were lovely kindly places. Outside were kings and wars and thunderous zealots, and groaning, rattling thunderous printing-presses, too, that were turning off a book called The Tinctured Veil, whereinto had been distilled and bottled up the very best that was in Felix Kennaston; but here was just 'a citadel of peace in the heart of the trouble.' And--well, I was satisfied. People do not think much when they are satisfied."

But he did not walk long; for it was growing chilly, as steadily dusk deepened, in this twilight so like that in which Horvendile had left Storisende forever.

Chapter Thirty-Eight