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The House Of Death
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A wild blast fell roaring on the roof, and died away in a moan. She stood ghastly with terror.
"It is he!" said her voiceless lips: I read their motion.
"Who, princess!" I whispered.
"The great Shadow," she murmured.
"Here he cannot enter," said Adam. "Here he can hurt no one. Over him also is power given me."
"Are the children in the house?" asked Lilith, and at the word the heart of Eve began to love her.
"He never dared touch a child," she said. "Nor have you either ever hurt a child. Your own daughter you have but sent into the loveliest sleep, for she was already a long time dead when you slew her. And now Death shall be the atonemaker; you shall sleep together."
"Wife," said Adam, "let us first put the children to bed, that she may see them safe!"
He came back to fetch them. As soon as he was gone, the princess knelt to Eve, clasped her knees, and said,
"Beautiful Eve, persuade your husband to kill me: to you he will listen! Indeed I would but cannot open my hand."
"You cannot die without opening it. To kill you would not serve you," answered Eve. "But indeed he cannot! no one can kill you but the Shadow; and whom he kills never knows she is dead, but lives to do his will, and thinks she is doing her own."
"Show me then to my grave; I am so weary I can live no longer. I must go to the Shadow--yet I would not!"
She did not, could not understand!
She struggled to rise, but fell at the feet of Eve. The Mother lifted, and carried her inward.
I followed Adam and Mara and the children into the chamber of death. We passed Eve with Lilith in her arms, and went farther in.
"You shall not go to the Shadow," I heard Eve say, as we passed them. "Even now is his head under my heel!"
The dim light in Adam's hand glimmered on the sleeping faces, and as he went on, the darkness closed over them. The very air seemed dead: was it because none of the sleepers breathed it? Profoundest sleep filled the wide place. It was as if not one had waked since last I was there, for the forms I had then noted lay there still. My father was just as I had left him, save that he seemed yet nearer to a perfect peace. The woman beside him looked younger.
The darkness, the cold, the silence, the still air, the faces of the lovely dead, made the hearts of the children beat softly, but their little tongues would talk--with low, hushed voices.
"What a curious place to sleep in!" said one, "I would rather be in my nest!" "It is SO cold!" said another.
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