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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 16
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 16 Post by :Prd2BHawn Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :2838

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI.

The time moved on quietly enough in the land of delight. I made acquaintance with quite a number of the soft-voiced contented folk. Sometimes it interested me to see the change coming upon one or another, a wonder or a desire that made them sit withdrawn and abstracted, and breaking with a sort of effort out of the dreamful mood. Then they would leave us, sometimes quite suddenly, sometimes with courteous adieus. New-comers, too, kept arriving, to be made pleasantly at home. I found myself seeing more of Cynthia. She was much with Lucius, and they seemed as gay as ever, but I saw that she was sometimes puzzled. She said to me one day as we sat together, "I wish you would tell me what this is all about? I do not want to change it, and I am very happy, but isn't it all rather pointless? I believe you have some secret you are keeping from me." She was sitting close beside me, like a child, resting her head on my arm, and she took my hand in both of hers.

"No," I said, "I am keeping nothing from you, pretty child! I could not explain to you what is in my mind, and it would spoil your pleasure if I could. It is all right, and you will see in good time."

"I hate to be put off like that," she said. "You are not really interested in me; and you do not trust me; you do not care about the things I care about, and if you are so superior, you ought to explain to me why."

"Well," I said, "I will try to explain. Do you ever remember having been very happy in a place, and having been obliged to leave it, always hoping to return; and then when you did return, finding that, though nothing was changed, you were yourself changed, and could not, even if you would, have taken up the old life again?"

"Yes," said Cynthia, musing, "I remember that sort of thing happening once, about a house where I stayed as a child. It seemed so stupid and dull when I went back that I wondered how I could ever have really liked it."

"Well," I said, "it is the same sort of thing here. I am only here for a time, and though I do not know where I am going or when, I think I shall not be here much longer."

At this Cynthia did what she had never done before--she kissed me. Then she said, "Don't speak of such disagreeable things. I could not get on without you. You are so convenient, like a comfortable old arm-chair."

"What a compliment!" I said. "But you see that you don't like my explanation. Why trouble about it? You have plenty of time. Is Lucius like an arm-chair, too?"

"No," she said, "he is exciting, like a new necklace--and Charmides, he is exciting too, in a way, but rather too fine for me, like a ball-dress!"

"Yes," I said, "I noticed that your own taste in dress is different of late. This is a much simpler thing than what you came in."

"Oh, yes," she said, "it doesn't seem worth while to dress up now. I have made my friends, and I suppose I am getting lazy."

We said little more, but she did not seem inclined to leave me, and was more with me for a time. I actually heard her tell Lucius once that she was tired, at which he laughed, not very pleasantly, and went away.

But my own summons came to me so unexpectedly that I had but little time to make my farewell.

I was sitting once in a garden-close watching a curious act proceeding, which I did not quite understand. It looked like a religious ceremony; a man in embroidered robes was being conducted by some boys in white dresses through the long cloister, carrying something carefully wrapped up in his arms, and I heard what sounded like an antique hymn of a fine stiff melody, rapidly sung.

There had been nothing quite like this before, and I suddenly became aware that Amroth was beside me, and that he had a look of anger in his face. "You had better not look at this," he said to me; "it might not be very helpful, as they say."

"Am I to come with you?" I said. "That is well--but I should like to say a word to one or two of my friends here."

"No, not a word!" said Amroth quickly. He looked at me with a curious look, in which he seemed to be measuring my strength and courage. "Yes, that will do!" he added. "Come at once--don't be surprised--it will be different from what you expect."

He took me by the arm, and we hurried from the place; one or two of the people who stood by looked at us in lazy wonder. We walked in silence down a long alley, to a great gate that I had often passed in my strolls. It was a barred iron gate, of a very stately air, with high stone gateposts. I had never been able to find my outward way to this, and there was a view from it of enchanting beauty, blue distant woods and rolling slopes. Amroth came quickly to the gate, seemed to unlock it, and held it open for me to pass. "One word," he said with his most beautiful smile, his eyes flashing and kindling with some secret emotion, "whatever happens, do not be _afraid_! There is nothing whatever to fear, only be prepared and wait." He motioned me through, and I heard him close the gate behind me.

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