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|Crome Yellow||Aldous Huxley|
|Page 7 of 7||
"Oh!" she said. "What are you doing here?"
"I couldn't sleep," he explained, "so I came along to see if you couldn't. One gets bored by oneself on a tower. Don't you find it so?"
It was light before five. Long, narrow clouds barred the east, their edges bright with orange fire. The sky was pale and watery. With the mournful scream of a soul in pain, a monstrous peacock, flying heavily up from below, alighted on the parapet of the tower. Ivor and Mary started broad awake.
"Catch him!" cried Ivor, jumping up. "We'll have a feather." The frightened peacock ran up and down the parapet in an absurd distress, curtseying and bobbing and clucking; his long tail swung ponderously back and forth as he turned and turned again. Then with a flap and swish he launched himself upon the air and sailed magnificently earthward, with a recovered dignity. But he had left a trophy. Ivor had his feather, a long-lashed eye of purple and green, of blue and gold. He handed it to his companion.
"An angel's feather," he said.
Mary looked at it for a moment, gravely and intently. Her purple pyjamas clothed her with an ampleness that hid the lines of her body; she looked like some large, comfortable, unjointed toy, a sort of Teddy-bear--but a Teddy bear with an angel's head, pink cheeks, and hair like a bell of gold. An angel's face, the feather of an angel's wing...Somehow the whole atmosphere of this sunrise was rather angelic.
"It's extraordinary to think of sexual selection," she said at last, looking up from her contemplation of the miraculous feather.
"Extraordinary!" Ivor echoed. "I select you, you select me. What luck!"
He put his arm round her shoulders and they stood looking eastward. The first sunlight had begun to warm and colour the pale light of the dawn. Mauve pyjamas and white pyjamas; they were a young and charming couple. The rising sun touched their faces. It was all extremely symbolic; but then, if you choose to think so, nothing in this world is not symbolical. Profound and beautiful truth!
"I must be getting back to my tower," said Ivor at last.
"I'm afraid so. The varletry will soon be up and about."
"Ivor..." There was a prolonged and silent farewell.
"And now," said Ivor, "I repeat my tight-rope stunt."
Mary threw her arms round his neck. "You mustn't, Ivor. It's dangerous. Please."
He had to yield at last to her entreaties. "All right," he said, "I'll go down through the house and up at the other end."
He vanished through the trap door into the darkness that still lurked within the shuttered house. A minute later he had reappeared on the farther tower; he waved his hand, and then sank down, out of sight, behind the parapet. From below, in the house, came the thin wasp-like buzzing of an alarum-clock. He had gone back just in time.
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