Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/133

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"AN IGNIS FATUUS GLEAM OF LOVE."

now; and as the sun sunk down below the waves, and the sadden southern night fell shrouding the Sicilian boat in its shadows, the phosphor light left in its track and the odour of its violet freight dying off from the sea and the air, he could have believed he had but been dreaming afresh.

Was he mad? Erceldoune almost asked himself the question as he leaned over the vessel's side looking down into the purple shadows of the water. High-born, by the beauty of her face, and by the luxury with which that little skill was decked, how should she have been in the wild solitudes of the Moldavian forest? Compassionate to his peril and extremity, would she have cared nothing to know whether death or life had been at last his portion?—and could an act of such noble and pitying humanity have needed the veil of mystery and denial in which it had been shrouded by the serfs' repudiation of all knowledge that any save themselves had found him?

Yet, the face of which he had dreamed, he had seen now in the evening light of the Mediterranean-the mere phantom of a delirium could not have become vivid and living thus. A heavy oath was stifled in his teeth, as he stood with his eyes strained to pierce the cloudy offing. Why had he not been