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"Not until I see you in a place of safety will I leave you," I replied.
"Then take the consequences," she said, and resumed her swift-gliding walk.
But as she turned she cast on me a glance, and I stood as if run through with a spear. Her scorn had failed: she would kill me with her beauty!
Despair restored my volition; the spell broke; I ran, and overtook her.
"Have pity upon me!" I cried.
She gave no heed. I followed her like a child whose mother pretends to abandon him. "I will be your slave!" I said, and laid my hand on her arm.
She turned as if a serpent had bit her. I cowered before the blaze of her eyes, but could not avert my own.
"Pity me," I cried again.
She resumed her walking.
The whole day I followed her. The sun climbed the sky, seemed to pause on its summit, went down the other side. Not a moment did she pause, not a moment did I cease to follow. She never turned her head, never relaxed her pace.
The sun went below, and the night came up. I kept close to her: if I lost sight of her for a moment, it would be for ever!
All day long we had been walking over thick soft grass: abruptly she stopped, and threw herself upon it. There was yet light enough to show that she was utterly weary. I stood behind her, and gazed down on her for a moment.
Did I love her? I knew she was not good! Did I hate her? I could not leave her! I knelt beside her.
"Begone! Do not dare touch me," she cried.
Her arms lay on the grass by her sides as if paralyzed.
Suddenly they closed about my neck, rigid as those of the torture-maiden. She drew down my face to hers, and her lips clung to my cheek. A sting of pain shot somewhere through me, and pulsed. I could not stir a hair's breadth. Gradually the pain ceased. A slumberous weariness, a dreamy pleasure stole over me, and then I knew nothing.
All at once I came to myself. The moon was a little way above the horizon, but spread no radiance; she was but a bright thing set in blackness. My cheek smarted; I put my hand to it, and found a wet spot. My neck ached: there again was a wet spot! I sighed heavily, and felt very tired. I turned my eyes listlessly around me--and saw what had become of the light of the moon: it was gathered about the lady! she stood in a shimmering nimbus! I rose and staggered toward her.
"Down!" she cried imperiously, as to a rebellious dog. "Follow me a step if you dare!"
"I will!" I murmured, with an agonised effort.
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