ANN VERONICA

ANN VERONICA
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第93章

Then she looked up the sweep of pine-trees to the towering sunlit cliffs and the high heaven above and then back to his face. She drew in a deep breath of the sweet mountain air. Her eyes were soft and grave, and there was the faintest of smiles upon her resolute lips.

Part 3

Later they loitered along a winding path above the inn, and made love to one another. Their journey had made them indolent, the afternoon was warm, and it seemed impossible to breathe a sweeter air. The flowers and turf, a wild strawberry, a rare butterfly, and suchlike little intimate things had become more interesting than mountains. Their flitting hands were always touching. Deep silences came between them. . . .

"I had thought to go on to Kandersteg," said Capes, "but this is a pleasant place. There is not a soul in the inn but ourselves.

Let us stay the night here. Then we can loiter and gossip to our heart's content.""Agreed," said Ann Veronica.

"After all, it's our honeymoon."

"All we shall get," said Ann Veronica.

"This place is very beautiful."

"Any place would be beautiful," said Ann Veronica, in a low voice.

For a time they walked in silence.

"I wonder," she began, presently, "why I love you --and love you so much? . . . I know now what it is to be an abandoned female.

I AM an abandoned female. I'm not ashamed--of the things I'm doing. I want to put myself into your hands. You know--I wish Icould roll my little body up small and squeeze it into your hand and grip your fingers upon it. Tight. I want you to hold me and have me SO. . . . Everything. Everything. It's a pure joy of giving--giving to YOU. I have never spoken of these things to any human being. Just dreamed--and ran away even from my dreams. It is as if my lips had been sealed about them. And now I break the seals--for you. Only I wish--I wish to-day I was a thousand times, ten thousand times more beautiful."Capes lifted her hand and kissed it.

"You are a thousand times more beautiful," he said, "than anything else could be. . . . You are you. You are all the beauty in the world. Beauty doesn't mean, never has meant, anything--anything at all but you. It heralded you, promised you.

. . ."

Part 4

They lay side by side in a shallow nest of turf and mosses among bowlders and stunted bushes on a high rock, and watched the day sky deepen to evening between the vast precipices overhead and looked over the tree-tops down the widening gorge. A distant suggestion of chalets and a glimpse of the road set them talking for a time of the world they had left behind.

Capes spoke casually of their plans for work. "It's a flabby, loose-willed world we have to face. It won't even know whether to be scandalized at us or forgiving. It will hold aloof, a little undecided whether to pelt or not--""That depends whether we carry ourselves as though we expected pelting," said Ann Veronica.

"We won't."

"No fear!"

"Then, as we succeed, it will begin to sidle back to us. It will do its best to overlook things--""If we let it, poor dear."

"That's if we succeed. If we fail," said Capes, "then--""We aren't going to fail," said Ann Veronica.

Life seemed a very brave and glorious enterprise to Ann Veronica that day. She was quivering with the sense of Capes at her side and glowing with heroic love; it seemed to her that if they put their hands jointly against the Alps and pushed they would be able to push them aside. She lay and nibbled at a sprig of dwarf rhododendron.

"FAIL!" she said.

Part 5

Presently it occurred to Ann Veronica to ask about the journey he had planned. He had his sections of the Siegfried map folded in his pocket, and he squatted up with his legs crossed like an Indian idol while she lay prone beside him and followed every movement of his indicatory finger.

"Here," he said, "is this Blau See, and here we rest until to-morrow. I think we rest here until to-morrow?"There was a brief silence.

"It is a very pleasant place," said Ann Veronica, biting a rhododendron stalk through, and with that faint shadow of a smile returning to her lips. . . .

"And then?" said Ann Veronica.

"Then we go on to this place, the Oeschinensee. It's a lake among precipices, and there is a little inn where we can stay, and sit and eat our dinner at a pleasant table that looks upon the lake. For some days we shall be very idle there among the trees and rocks. There are boats on the lake and shady depths and wildernesses of pine-wood. After a day or so, perhaps, we will go on one or two little excursions and see how good your head is--a mild scramble or so; and then up to a hut on a pass just here, and out upon the Blumlis-alp glacier that spreads out so and so."She roused herself from some dream at the word. "Glaciers?" she said.

"Under the Wilde Frau--which was named after you."He bent and kissed her hair and paused, and then forced his attention back to the map. "One day," he resumed, "we will start off early and come down into Kandersteg and up these zigzags and here and here, and so past this Daubensee to a tiny inn--it won't be busy yet, though; we may get it all to ourselves--on the brim of the steepest zigzag you can imagine, thousands of feet of zigzag; and you will sit and eat lunch with me and look out across the Rhone Valley and over blue distances beyond blue distances to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa and a long regiment of sunny, snowy mountains. And when we see them we shall at once want to go to them--that's the way with beautiful things--and down we shall go, like flies down a wall, to Leukerbad, and so to Leuk Station, here, and then by train up the Rhone Valley and this little side valley to Stalden; and there, in the cool of the afternoon, we shall start off up a gorge, torrents and cliffs below us and above us, to sleep in a half-way inn, and go on next day to Saas Fee, Saas of the Magic, Saas of the Pagan People.

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