The Trespasser (Chapter 2, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 2

With his black violin-case he hurried down the street, then halted to
pity the flowers massed pallid under the gaslight of the market-hall.
For himself, the sea and the sunlight opened great spaces tomorrow. The
moon was full above the river. He looked at it as a man in abstraction
watches some clear thing; then he came to a standstill. It was useless
to hurry to his train. The traffic swung past the lamplight shone warm
on all the golden faces; but Siegmund had already left the city. His
face was silver and shadows to the moon; the river, in its soft grey,
shaking golden sequins among the folds of its shadows, fell open like a
garment before him, to reveal the white moon-glitter brilliant as living
flesh. Mechanically, overcast with the reality of the moonlight, he took
his seat in the train, and watched the moving of things. He was in a
kind of trance, his consciousness seeming suspended. The train slid out
amongst lights and dark places. Siegmund watched the endless movement,
fascinated.

This was one of the crises of his life. For years he had suppressed his
soul, in a kind of mechanical despair doing his duty and enduring the
rest. Then his soul had been softly enticed from its bondage. Now he was
going to break free altogether, to have at least a few days purely for
his own joy. This, to a man of his integrity, meant a breaking of bonds,
a severing of blood-ties, a sort of new birth. In the excitement of this
last night his life passed out of his control, and he sat at the
carriage-window, motionless, watching things move.

He felt busy within him a strong activity which he could not help.
Slowly the body of his past, the womb which had nourished him in one
fashion for so many years, was casting him forth. He was trembling in
all his being, though he knew not with what. All he could do now was to
watch the lights go by, and to let the translation of himself continue.

When at last the train ran out into the full, luminous night, and
Siegmund saw the meadows deep in moonlight, he quivered with a low
anticipation. The elms, great grey shadows, seemed to loiter in their
cloaks across the pale fields. He had not seen them so before. The world
was changing.

The train stopped, and with a little effort he rose to go home. The
night air was cool and sweet. He drank it thirstily. In the road again
he lifted his face to the moon. It seemed to help him; in its brilliance
amid the blonde heavens it seemed to transcend fretfulness. It would
front the waves with silver as they slid to the shore, and Helena,
looking along the coast, waiting, would lift her white hands with sudden
joy. He laughed, and the moon hurried laughing alongside, through the
black masses of the trees.

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