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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 8
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 The crowd had streamed from the , like black water under the tossing torches, the hollow galleries to the rush of many feet. had gone, borne away by the seditious captains of the Commune and the armed burghers who had guarded the entries. A great silence had fallen upon the crypt. Fulviac and the girl were left by the altar of black marble, their one lamp burning in the of gloom.  
Fulviac had the air of a man whose favourite had flown with fettle, and brought her tumbling out of the clouds. He was warm with the of it, and his eyes sparkled.
"May the smile on us!" he said. "Gilderoy will serve our ends."
The girl's eyes searched him gravely.
"You make holy war," she charged him.
"Ha, my sister, it is well to a strong conviction in the justice of one's cause. Tell men they are heroes, , , and you will make good fighting stuff. Applaud , make great parade of righteousness, hail the as patron, assemble all the saints under your banner. Ha, trust me, that is a way to topple a kingdom. Come, we must stir."
By many passages, strange galleries of death, they passed together from the dark deeps of the catacombs. At one point the roof shone silvered as with dew, and the air stood damp as in a on a winter's eve. The river Tamar flowed above them in its rocky bed, so Fulviac told the girl. Anon they came out by a narrow stair that opened by a briar-grown throat into a of old oaks in the Gilderoy meadows. The stairhead was covered by a species of stone trap that could be covered and by sods. In the thicket a man awaited them with the of three horses over his arm. Fulviac held Yeoland's stirrup, and they rode out, the three of them, from under the trees.
A full moon swam in a purple black sky amid a shower of stars. Gilderoy, with its climbing towers and , stood out white under the moon. The city walls gleamed like in the magic glow. In the meadows the ringlets of the river . Far and distant rose the nebulous midnight of the woods.
Fulviac had bared his head to an inconstant and breeze. They were riding for the west along a track that curled grey and dim through the sombre meadows. The calm, soundless of the world rose now in contrast to the of stone and the passion-throes of the catacombs. Human moil and effort seemed little under the eternal of the stars. So thought the man for the moment, as he rode with his chin sunk upon his breast, watching keenly the girl at his side.
Yeoland was young. All the roses of youth were budding about her soul; idealism, like the essence of crushed violets, heavy over the world. Her soul as yet was no and listless , thrummed into by the bony hand of care. She was built for love, a temple of white marble, lit by lamps of rubeous glory. Colours flashed through the red of the flesh. Yet pain and great had her. The grim destinies of earth seemed on thrusting an innocent pilgrim into the turbulent contradictions of life.
The in the catacombs that night had stirred her strangely beyond belief. The fantastic faces, the , the hot words of gesturing enthusiasm, these were things new to her, therefore the more vivid and convincing. New worlds, new passions, seemed to burst into being under the stars. She was silent as she rode, looking into the night. Her had fallen back; her face shone white and clear; her eyes gleamed in the moonlight. Fulviac, like a chess-player who had evolved some subtle scheme, rode and watched her with a smile deep in his eyes. For the moment he was content to leave her to the magic of her own thoughts.
At certain rare seasons in life, virgin light floods down into the heart, as from some oriel opened in heaven. The world stands under a grander scheme of ; men comprehend where they once . It was thus that Yeoland rose inspired, like a spiritual Venus from a sea of dreams. As molten glass is shaped speedily into fair and device, so the red wax of her heart had taken the impress of the hour. Gilderoy had stirred her like a page of romance.
Fulviac caught the girl's half glance at him; read in measure the meaning of her mood. Her lips were half parted as though she had words upon her tongue, but still hesitated from some of pride. He straightened in the saddle, and waited for her to unbosom to him with a confident reserve.
"Well?" he said at length, since she still lingered in her silence.
"How much one may learn in a day," she answered, drawing her white palfrey nearer to his horse.
Fulviac agreed with her.
"The man on the end of the rope," he said, "learns in two minutes that which has puzzled philosophers since Adam loved Eve."
She turned to him with an eagerness that was almost even in its suppressed .
"How long was it before you came to pity your fellows?"
"Some minutes, not more."
"And the ?"
"Shall satisfy you one day. For the present I will up so unsavoury a in my . Tell me what you have learnt at Gilderoy."
Yeoland looked at the moon. The man saw great sadness upon her face, but also an inspired radiance that made its very beauty the more . He foresaw in an instant that they were coming to deeper matters. Superficialities, the mannerisms of life, were falling away. The girl's heart beat near to his; he felt a sympathy of spirit rise round them like the gold of a Byzantine background.
"Come," he said, with a burst of beneficence, "you are beginning to understand me."
She jerked a swift glance at him, like the look of a half-tamed .
"You are a man, for all your and vapourings."
"I had a heart once. Call me an oak, broken, twisted, , but an oak still."
Yeoland drew quite close to him, so that her skirt almost brushed his horse's flank. Fulviac's shadow fell athwart her. Only her face shone clear in the moonlight.
"I have ceased," she said, "to look upon life as a stretch of blue, a laughing dawn."
"I have learnt that woe is the crown of years."
"Good again."
"That life is full of violence and wrong."
"A . Yes. Life consists in learning ."
"I am only one woman among thousands."
"A revelation."
"You ."
"Not so. Few women learn the truth of your proverb."
"Lastly, my trouble is not the only woe in the world. That it is an error to close up grief in the casket of self."
Fulviac flapped his bridle, and looked far ahead into the cavern of the night. He was silent awhile in thought. When he again, he delivered himself of certain cogitations, characteristic that were wholly logical.
"I am a selfish vagabond," he said; "I appeal to Peter's keys whether all ambition is not selfish. I am an egotist for the good of others. The stronger my ambition, the stronger the hope of the land in generous justice. I live to rule, to rule magnanimously, yet with an iron sceptre. There, you have my ."
"And God?"............
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