"I should be a liar if I said I am not pleased. Tell me about the work, Vere--now we are in the dark."
And then he heard the revelation of the child, there under the weary rock, as he had heard the revelation of the mother. How different it was! Yet in it, too, there was the beating of the pulse of life. But there was no regret, no looking back into the past, no sombre exhibition of force seeking--as a thing groping, desperately in a gulf --an object on which to exercise itself. Instead there was aspiration, there was expectation, there was the wonder of bright eyes lifted to the sun. And there was a reverence that for a moment recalled to Artois the reverence of the dead man from whose loins this child had sprung. But Vere's was the reverence of understanding, not of a dim amazement--more beautiful than Maurice's. When he had been with Hermione under the brooding rock Artois had been impregnated with the passionate despair of humanity, and had seen for a moment the world with out-stretched hands, seeking, surely, for the nonexistent, striving to hold fast the mirage. Now he was impregnated with humanity's passionate hope. He saw life light-footed in a sweet chase for things ideal. And all the blackness of the rock and of the silent sea was irradiated with the light that streamed from a growing soul.
A voice--an inquiring, searching voice, surely, rose quivering from some distance on the sea, startling Vere and Artois. It was untrained but unshy, and the singer forced it with resolute hardihood that was indifferent to the future. Artois had never heard the Marchesino sing before, but he knew at once that it was he. Some one at the island must surely have told the determined youth that Vere was voyaging, and he was now in quest of her, sending her an amorous summons couched in the dialect of Naples.
But she did not continue. The quivering voice began another verse. Artois had said nothing, but, as he sat listening to this fervid protestation, a message illuminated as it were by the vibrato, he began to hate the terrible frankness of the Italian nature which, till now, he had thought he loved. The beauty of reticence appealed to him in a new way. There was savagery in a bellowed passion. The voice was travelling. They heard it moving onward towards Nisida. Artois wondered if Vere knew who was the singer. She did not leave him long in doubt.
"Now's our chance, Monsieur Emile!" she said, suddenly, leaning towards him. "Row to the island for your life, or the Marchesino will catch us!"
Without a word he bent to the oars.
"How absurd the Marchesino is!"
Vere spoke aloud, released from fear.