Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/329

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sky where the dawn was just breaking, all the beauty that life might know seemed suddenly to rise on him in revelation. There is an eastern fable that tells how, when Paradise faded from earth, a single rose was saved and treasured by an angel, who gives to every mortal, sooner or later in his life, one breath of fragrance from the immortal flower—one alone. The legend came to his memory as the sunbeams deepened slanting spear-like across the azure of the skies, and he dashed down into the shock of the waters to still in him this fierce sweetness of longing for all that would never be his own.

One woman alone could bring to him that perfume of paradise; the rose of Eden could only breathe its divine fragrance on him from her lips. And he would have given all the years of his life to have it come to him one hour!

When the day was at noun he went to her, heeding no more the downpour of the scorching vertical rays than the Rhymer had heeded the leaping tongues of flame while he rode, with the golden tresses sweeping his lips, down to the glories of Faërie. Distinct thought, distinct expectance, he had none; he had but one instinct, to see her, to be with her, to lay down at her feet, the knightliest service that ever man gave to woman. He knew