Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/82

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

He remembered nothing.

The deep skies and "the stars in their courses" whirled giddily above him; the pine-boughs flickered in phantom shapes before his sight; the sounds of the winds and of the falling torrents smote dully on his ear; he had no sense but of suffocation from the congealed blood upon his chest, and the sharp agony of every breath; he wondered dimly, dreamily, who he was, and where he lay. An intense thirst parched his throat and oppressed his lungs—a thirst he suffered from without knowing what the torture could be—and the plunge and splash of the cascades in the gorge below filled his brain with vague thronging images of cool still lakes, of rushing brooks, of deep brown tarns among his native moorlands, and through them all he stood ever up to the lips in the cold delicious waters, yet ever powerless to stoop and taste one drop! The sweep of a night-bird's wing touched his forehead as it flew low under the drooped pine-branches; at the touch consciousness slowly and confusedly awoke; the night ceased to whirl round him in a chaos of shadow, the planets grew clear and familiar, and looked down on him from the dizzy mists circling above. By sheer instinct he sought to raise his right hand; it was powerless, and as he stretched out his left arm he