Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/272

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on her face was that graver and gentler look which had come there when she sang.

"I have held it so many a time," he answered her, "lying awake at night among the long grass of the Andes, or under the palms of the desert. It was a strange delusion to build shrines to the honour of God while there are still his own—the forests and the mountains. But do not call my country cold; we are not cold; there are bold lives among us; and we can love—too well for our own peace."

His voice had a rich melody in it, and was unsteady over the last words; in his eyes, as they burned in the shadows of the night, she saw a passion as intense as ever glowed under the suns of Asia, the stronger for the rein in which it was still held.

She was silent a moment, then she laughed a little; very softly.

"Do not repudiate coldness; it is the most precious gift the fates give, if it be not the most poetic Remember what your namesake of Erceldoune found when the Elf-Queen granted him his prayer; where he thought he held an angel he saw a loathsome shadow. The legend covers a wise warning."

"Ay!—but even while the horror of the shadow and the treachery were on him he had faith in her;