"I will go and see if I can find her."
"Va bene, Signore. And I will go to speak with the Signora."
He took off his hat and went into the house. Artois stood for a moment looking after him and pulling at his beard. There was something very forcible in Gaspare's personality. Artois felt it the more because of his knowledge of Gaspare's power of prolonged, perhaps of eternal silence. The Sicilian was both blunt and subtle, therefore not always easily read. To-night he puzzled Artois because he impressed him strongly, yet vaguely. He seemed to be quietly concealing something that was not small. What it was Artois could not divine. Only he felt positive that there was something. In Gaspare's eyes that evening he had seen an expression such as had been in them long ago in Sicily, when Artois rode up after Maurice's death to see Hermione, and Gaspare turned from him and looked over the wall of the ravine: an expression of dogged and impenetrable reserve, that was like a door closing upon unseen, just not seen, vistas.
"Che Diavolo!" muttered Artois.
Then he went up to look for Vere.
A little wind met him on the crest of the cliff, the definite caress of the night, which had now fallen ever so softly. The troop of the stars was posted in the immeasurable deeps of the firmament. There was, there would be, no moon, yet it was not black darkness, but rather a dimly purple twilight which lifted into its breast the wayward songs of the sea. And the songs and the stars seemed twin children of the wedded wave and night. Divinely soft was the wind, divinely dreamy the hour, and bearing something of youth as a galley from the East bears odors. Over the spirit of Artois a magical essence seemed scattered. And the youngness that lives forever, however deeply buried, in the man who is an artist, stirred, lifted itself up, stood erect to salute the night. As he came towards Vere he forgot. The poppy draught was at his lips. The extreme consciousness, which was both his strength and his curse, sank down for a moment and profoundly slept.
"Vere!" he said. "Vere, do I disturb you?"
The girl turned softly on the bench and looked at him.