The Trespasser (Chapter 9, page 1 of 2)


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Chapter 9

The day waxed hot. A few little silver tortoises of cloud had crawled
across the desert of sky, and hidden themselves. The chalk roads were
white, quivering with heat. Helena and Siegmund walked eastward
bareheaded under the sunshine. They felt like two insects in the niche
of a hot hearth as they toiled along the deep road. A few poppies here
and there among the wild rye floated scarlet in sunshine like
blood-drops on green water. Helena recalled Francis Thompson's poems,
which Siegmund had never read. She repeated what she knew, and laughed,
thinking what an ineffectual pale shadow of a person Thompson must have
been. She looked at Siegmund, walking in large easiness beside her.

'Artists are supremely unfortunate persons,' she announced.

'Think of Wagner,' said Siegmund, lifting his face to the hot bright
heaven, and drinking the heat with his blinded face. All states seemed
meagre, save his own. He recalled people who had loved, and he pitied
them--dimly, drowsily, without pain.

They came to a place where they might gain access to the shore by a path
down a landslip. As they descended through the rockery, yellow with
ragwort, they felt themselves dip into the inert, hot air of the bay.
The living atmosphere of the uplands was left overhead. Among the rocks
of the sand, white as if smelted, the heat glowed and quivered. Helena
sat down and took off her shoes. She walked on the hot, glistening sand
till her feet were delightfully, almost intoxicatingly scorched. Then
she ran into the water to cool them. Siegmund and she paddled in the
light water, pensively watching the haste of the ripples, like crystal
beetles, running over the white outline of their feet; looking out on
the sea that rose so near to them, dwarfing them by its far reach.

For a short time they flitted silently in the water's edge. Then there
settled down on them a twilight of sleep, the little hush that closes
the doors and draws the blinds of the house after a festival. They
wandered out across the beach above high-water mark, where they sat down
together on the sand, leaning back against a flat brown stone, Siegmund
with the sunshine on his forehead, Helena drooping close to him, in his
shadow. Then the hours ride by unnoticed, making no sound as they go.
The sea creeps nearer, nearer, like a snake which watches two birds
asleep. It may not disturb them, but sinks back, ceasing to look at them
with its bright eyes.

Meanwhile the flowers of their passion were softly shed, as poppies fall
at noon, and the seed of beauty ripened rapidly within them. Dreams came
like a wind through, their souls, drifting off with the seed-dust of
beautiful experience which they had ripened, to fertilize the souls of
others withal. In them the sea and the sky and ships had mingled and
bred new blossoms of the torrid heat of their love. And the seed of such
blossoms was shaken as they slept, into the hand of God, who held it in
His palm preciously; then scattered it again, to produce new splendid
blooms of beauty.

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