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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 29
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 29 Post by :zsaddique Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :2459

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 29

CHAPTER XXIX.

The time that I spent in the valley home with Cynthia is the most difficult to describe of all my wanderings; because, indeed, there is nothing to describe. We were always together. Sometimes we wandered high up among the woods, and came out on the bleak mountain-heads. Sometimes we sat within and talked; and by a curious provision there were phenomena there that were more like changes of weather, and interchange of day and night, than at any other place in the heavenly country. Sometimes the whole valley would be shrouded with mists, sometimes it would be grey and overcast, sometimes the light was clear and radiant, but through it all there beat a pulse of light and darkness; and I do not know which was the more desirable--the hours when we walked in the forests, with the wind moving softly in the leaves overhead like a falling sea, or those calm and silent nights when we seemed to sleep and dream, or when, if I waked, I could hear Cynthia's breath coming and going evenly as the breath of a tired child. It seemed like the essence of human passion, the end that lovers desire, and discern faintly behind and beyond the accidents of sense and contact, like the sounding of a sweet chord, without satiety or fever of the sense.

I learnt many strange and beautiful secrets of the human heart in those days: what the dreams of womanhood are--how wholly different from the dreams of man, in which there is always a combative element. The soul of Cynthia was like a silent cleft among the hills, which waits, in its own still content, until the horn of the shepherd winds the notes of a chord in the valley below; and then the cleft makes answer and returns an airy echo, blending the notes into a harmony of dulcet utterance. And she too, I doubt not, learnt something from my soul, which was eager and inventive enough, but restless and fugitive of purpose. And then there came a further joy to us. That which is fatherly and motherly in the world below is not a thing that is lost in heaven; and just as the love of man and woman can draw down and imprison a soul in a body of flesh, so in heaven the dear intention of one soul to another brings about a yearning, which grows day by day in intensity, for some further outlet of love and care.

It was one quiet misty morning that, as we sat together in tranquil talk, we heard faltering steps within our garden. We had seen, let me say, very little of the other inhabitants of our valley. We had sometimes seen a pair of figures wandering at a distance, and we had even met neighbours and exchanged a greeting. But the valley had no social life of its own, and no one ever seemed, so far as we knew, to enter any other dwelling, though they met in quiet friendliness. Cynthia went to the door and opened it; then she darted out, and, just when I was about to follow, she returned, leading by the hand a tiny child, who looked at us with an air of perfect contentment and simplicity.

"Where on earth has this enchanting baby sprung from?" said Cynthia, seating the child upon her lap, and beginning to talk to it in a strangely unintelligible language, which the child appeared to understand perfectly.

I laughed. "Out of our two hearts, perhaps," I said. At which Cynthia blushed, and said that I did not understand or care for children. She added that men's only idea about children was to think how much they could teach them.

"Yes," I said, "we will begin lessons to-morrow, and go on to the Latin Grammar very shortly."

At which Cynthia folded the child in her arms, to defend it, and reassured it in a sentence which is far too silly to set down here.

I think that sometimes on earth the arrival of a first child is a very trying time for a wedded pair. The husband is apt to find his wife's love almost withdrawn from him, and to see her nourishing all kinds of jealousies and vague ambitions for her child. Paternity is apt to be a very bewildered and often rather dramatic emotion. But it was not so with us. The child seemed the very thing we had been needing without knowing it. It was a constant source of interest and delight; and in spite of Cynthia's attempts to keep it ignorant and even fatuous, it did develop a very charming intelligence, or rather, as I soon saw, began to perceive what it already knew. It soon overwhelmed us with questions, and used to patter about the garden with me, airing all sorts of delicious and absurd fancies. But, for all that, it did seem to make an end of the first utter closeness of our love. Cynthia after this seldom went far afield, and I ranged the hills and woods alone; but it was all absurdly and continuously happy, though I began to wonder how long it could last, and whether my faculties and energies, such as they were, could continue thus unused. And I had, too, in my mind that other scene which I had beheld, of how the boy was withdrawn from the two old people in the other valley. Was it always thus, I wondered? Was it so, that souls were drawn upwards in ceaseless pilgrimage, loving and passing on, and leaving in the hearts of those who stayed behind a longing unassuaged, which was presently to draw them onwards from the peace which they loved perhaps too well?

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CHAPTER XXVIII.Left to ourselves, Cynthia and I sat awhile in silence, hand in hand, like children, she looking anxiously at me. Our talk had broken down all possible reserve between us; but what was strange to me was that I felt, not like a lover with any need to woo, but as though we two had long since been wedded, and had just come to a knowledge of each other's hearts. At last we rose; and strange and bewildering as it all was, I think I was perhaps happier at this time than at any other time in the land of
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