The Black Cross Part 42

You are trembling, little one; and when I put you down on your feet you can scarcely stand. You are sorry to leave me? It is like tearing one's heart from one's body while one still lives! Will you tear it, beloved? Come--and look through the hole in the curtain."

He put his arm about her, drawing her forward, looking down at her curls. "You are weak, Kaya; your form sways like the stem of a flower.

Lean against me. Let me lead you. It is because your heart is so loyal and true; to kill it will be killing yourself! Don't sob, Kaya!

Look through the curtain! Hark at the stamping! Look--dear beloved--lean on my shoulder and look!"

"Ah, Velasco, it is like a great mob; the Kapellmeister is there before the curtain. He tries to speak, but they will not listen! They are calling: 'Brunnhilde--Brunnhilde!' Is that for me?"

"For you."

"Why should I look, Velasco--why should I listen? My heart is breaking. I cannot bear it--Velasco!"

"Lean on my shoulder; look again, Kaya, put your eyes to the hole. Do you see a loggia above to the left, full of people standing, and in front some one tall and in uniform?"

"No, Velasco--I see nothing!"

"It is the tears in your eyes, Kaya! Brush them away and look once again. Don't you see him--in uniform, tall with a beaked nose, a grey mustache and his eyes crossed?"

"His eyes crossed--Velasco! Are you mad? He is dead! I tell you, Velasco, he is--dead! The Grand-Duke Stepan!--I killed him!"

"He is not dead."

"The Grand-Duke Ste--"

"He is not dead. He lives and he stands there before you--clapping and shouting your name."

She gazed up at him with trembling lips: "There is no curse, Velasco--he lives? There is--no curse--no stain on my hands? Am I mad? No curse of the Cross--the Black Cross?"

"Kaya--my beloved!"

She fell back slowly against his breast and his arms closed around her.

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