Death of Miss
He turned his sorrowful eyes upon her, the eyes that
were sad even when he was merry, and although his mind was often
obtuse, yet he clearly perceived how it was with her then, And his
blood caught fire from the flame in his blood, so that he strained
her against his body.
‘You…mine…’ he stammered.
‘Love,’ she said, trembling, ‘this is love.’
And he answered: ‘Love.’
Then their faces grew melancholy for a moment,
because dimly, very dimly in their dawning souls, they were
conscious of a longing for something more vast than this earthly
passion could compass.
Presently, he lifted her like a child and carried
her quickly southward and westward till they came to a place where a
gentle descent led down to a marshy valley. Far away, at the line
where the marshes ended, they discerned the misty line of the sea;
but the sea and the marshes were become as one substance, merging,
blending, folding together; and since they were lovers they also
would become one, even as the sea and the marshes.
And now they had reached the mouth of a cave that
was set in the quiet hillside. There was bright green verdure beside
the cave, and a number of small, pink, thick-stemmed flowers that
when crushed smelt of spices. And within the cave there was bracken
newly gathered and heaped together for a bed; while beyond, from
some rocks, came a low liquid sound as a spring dripped out through
a crevice. Abruptly, he set the girl on her feet, and she knew that
the days of innocence were over. And she thought of the anxious
virgin soil that was rent and sown to bring forth fruit in season,
and she gave a quick little gasp of fear:
‘No…no…’ she gasped. For, divining his need, she was
weak with longing to be possessed; yet the terror of love lay heavy
upon her, ‘No…no…’ she gasp.
But he caught her wrist and she felt great strength
of his rough, gnarled fingers, the great strength of the urge that
leapt in his loins, and again she must give that quick gasp of fear,
while she clung close to him lest he should spare her.
The twilight was engulfed and possessed by darkness,
which in turn was transfigured by the moonrise, which in turn was
fulfilled and consumed by dawn. A mighty eagle soared up from his
eyrie, cleaving the air with his masterful wings, and beneath him
from the rushes that harboured their nests, rose other great birds,
crying loudly. Then the heavy-horned elks appeared on the uplands,
bending their burdened heads to the sod; while beyond in the forests
the fierce wild aurochs stamped as they bellowed their love songs.
But within the dim cave the lord of these creatures
had put by his weapon and his instinct for slaying. And he lay there
defenseless with tenderness, thinking no longer of death but of life
as he murmured the word that had so many meanings. That meant:
‘Little spring of exceedingly pure water.’ That meant: ‘Hut of peace
for a man after battle.’ That meant: ‘Ripe red berry sweet to the
taste.’ That meant: ‘Happy small home of future generations.’
They found Miss Ogilvy the next morning; the fisherman saw her
and climbed to the ledge. She was sitting at the mouth of the cave.
She was dead, with her hands thrust deep into her pockets.