"I know you by name and you are mine," he tried to say, but the words never left his lips. It was the love surging up in his tortured heart that alone held him to sanity and prevented--as it seemed to him in that appalling moment--the dissolution of his very being and hers.
For Philip Skale had somewhere _uttered falsely_.
A darting zigzag crack, as of lightning, ran over the giant fabric of vibrations that covered the altering world as with a flood ... and sounds that no man may hear and not die leaped awfully into being. The suddenness and immensity of the catastrophe blinded these two listening children-souls. Awe and terror usurped all other feelings ... but one.
Their love, being born of the spirit, held supreme, insulating them, so to speak, from all invading disasters.
Philip Skale had made a mistake in the p.r.o.nunciation of the Name.
The results were dreadful and immediate, and from all the surface of the wakening world rose anguished voices. Spinrobin started up, lifting Miriam into his arms. He spun dizzily for a moment between boulders and trees, giving out a great wailing cry, unearthly enough had there been any to hear it. Then he began to run wildly through the thick darkness.
In his ear--for her head lay close--he heard her dear voice, between the sobs of collapse, calling his inner name most sweetly; and the sound summoned to the front all in him that was best and manly.
"My sweet Master, my sweet Master!"
But he did not run far. About him on every side the night lifted as though it were suddenly day. He saw the summits of the bleak mountains agleam with the reflection of some great light that rushed upon them from the valley. All the desolate landscape, hesitating like some hovering ocean between the old pattern and the new, seemed to hang suspended amid the desolation of the winter skies. Everything roared. It seemed the ground shook. The very bones of the woods went shuddering together; the hills toppled; and overhead, in some incredible depths of s.p.a.ce, boomed sounds as though the heavens split off into fragments and hurled the constellations about the vault to swell these shattering thunders of a collapsing world.
The Letters of that terrible and august Name were pa.s.sing over the face of the universe--distorted because misp.r.o.nounced--creative sounds, disheveled and monstrous, because incompletely and incorrectly uttered.
"Put me down," he heard Miriam cry where she lay smothered in his arms, "and we can face everything together, and be safe. Our love is bigger than it all and will protect us...."
"Because it is complete," he cried incoherently in reply, seizing the truth of her thought, and setting her upon the ground; "it includes even this. It is a part of ... the Name ... correctly uttered ... for it is true and pure."
He heard her calling his inner name, and he began forthwith to call her own as they stood there clinging to one another, mingling arms and hair and lips in such a tumult of pa.s.sion that it seemed as though all this outer convulsion of the world was a small matter compared to the commotion in their own hearts, revolutionized by the influx of a divine love that sought to melt them into a single being.
And as they looked down into the valley at their feet, too bewildered to resist these mighty forces that stole the breath from their throats and the strength from their muscles, they saw with a clearness as of day that the House of Awe in which their love had wakened and matured was pa.s.sing away and being utterly consumed.
In a flame of white fire, tongued and sheeted, streaked with gulfs of black, and most terribly roaring, it rose with a prodigious crackling of walls and roof towards the sky. Volumes of colored smoke, like hills moving, went with it; and with it, too, went the forms--the substance of their forms, at least, of their "sounds" released--of Philip Skale, Mrs.
Mawle, and all the paraphernalia of gongs, drapery, wires, sheeted walls, sand-patterns, and the preparations of a quarter of a century of labor and audacious research. For nothing could possibly survive in such a furnace. The heat of it struck their faces where they stood even here high upon the hills, and the currents of rising wind blew the girl's tresses across his eyes and moved his own feathery hair upon his head.
The notes of those leaping flames were like thunder.
"Watch now!" cried Miriam, though he divined the meaning from the gesture of her free hand rather than actually heard the words.
And, leaning their trembling bodies against a great boulder behind them, they then saw in the midst of the conflagration, or hovering dimly above it rather, the vast outlines of the captured sounds--the Letters--escaping back again into the womb of eternal silence from which they had been with such appalling courage evoked. In forms of dazzling blackness they pa.s.sed upwards in their chariots of flame, yet at the same time pa.s.sed _inwards_ in some amazing kind of spiral motion upon their own axes, vanishing away with incredible swiftness and beauty deep down into themselves ... and were gone.
Realizing in some long-forgotten fashion of childhood the fearful majesty of the wrath of Jehovah, yet secretly undismayed because each felt so gloriously lost in their wonderful love, the bodies of Miriam and Spinrobin dropped instinctively upon their knees, and, still tightly clasped in one another's arms, bowed their foreheads to the ground, touching the earth and leaves.
But how long they rested thus upon the heart of the old earth, or whether they slept, or whether, possibly, the inevitable reaction to all the overstrain of the past hours led them through a period of unconsciousness, neither of them quite knew. Nor was it possible for them to have known, perhaps, that the lonely valley sheltering the House of Awe, running tongue-like into these desolate hills, had the unenviable reputation of trembling a little in sympathy with any considerable shock of earthquake that came to move that portion of the round globe from her sleep. Of this they knew as little, no doubt, as they did of the ill-defined line of demarcation between experiences that are objective, capable of being weighed and measured, and those that are subjective, taking place--though with convincing authority--only in the sphere of the mind....
All they do know, and Spinrobin tells it with an expression of supreme happiness upon his shining round face, is that at length they stirred as they lay, opened their eyes, turned and looked at one another, then stood up. On Miriam's hair and lashes lay the message of the dew, and in her clear eyes all the soft beauty of the stars that had watched over them.
But the stars themselves had gone. Over the hills ran the colored feet of the dawn, swift and rosy, touching the spread of heathery miles with the tints of approaching sunrise. The tops of the leafless trees stirred gently with a whisper of wind that stole up from the distant sea. The birds were singing. Over the surface of the old earth flew the magical thrill of life. It caught these two children-lovers, sweeping them into each other's arms as with wings.
Out of all the amazing tempest of their recent experiences emerged this ever-growing splendor of their deep and simple love. The kindly earth they had chosen beckoned them down into the valley; the awful heaven they had rejected smiled upon them approvingly, as the old sun topped the hills and peeped upon them with his glorious eye.
"Come, Miriam," breathed Spinrobin softly into her little ear; "we'll go down into another valley ... and live happily together forever and ever...."
"Yes," she murmured, blushing with the rosiness of that exquisite winter's dawn; "... you and I ... and ... and ..."
But Spinrobin kissed the unborn name from her lips. "Hush!" he whispered, "hush!"
For the little "word" between these two was not yet made flesh. But the dawn-wind caught up that "hush" and carried it to the trees and undergrowth about them, and then ran thousand-footed before them to whisper it to the valley where they were going.
And Miriam, knowing the worship and protection in his delicate caress, looked up into his face and smiled--and the smile in her grey eyes was that ancient mother-smile which is coeval with life. For the word of creation flamed in these two hearts, waiting only to be uttered.
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