Chapter XXXIX.
 

Recovering herself at last, she perceived the bright image of the moon in the dark water, and Sanine's face bending over her with glittering eyes. She felt that his arms were wound tightly round her, and that one of the oars was chafing her knee.

Then she began to weep gently, persistently, without freeing herself from Sanine's embrace.

Her tears were for that which was irretrievable. Fear and pity for herself, and fondness for him made her weep. Sanine lifted her up and set her on his knee. She meekly submitted like some sorrowful child. As in a dream she could hear him gently comforting her in a tender, grateful voice.

"I shall drown myself." The thought seemed an answer to a third person's stern question, "What have you done, and what will you do now?"

"What shall I do now?" she asked aloud.

"We will see," replied Sanine.

She tried to slip off his knees, but he held her fast, so she remained there, thinking it strange that she could feel for him neither hatred nor disgust.

"It doesn't matter what happens, now," she said to herself, yet a secret physical curiosity prompted her to wonder what this strong man, a stranger, and yet so close a friend, would do with her.

After a while, he took the oars, and she reclined beside him, her eyes half-closed, and trembling every time that his hand in rowing moved close to her bosom. As the boat with a grating sound touched the shore, Sina opened her eyes. She saw fields, and water, and white mist, and the moon like a pale phantom ready to flee at dawn. It was now daybreak and a cool breeze was blowing.

"Shall I go with you?" asked Sanine gently.

"No. I'd rather go alone," she replied.

Sanine lifted her out of the boat. It was a joy to him to do this, for he felt that he loved her, and was grateful to her. As he put her down on the shore after embracing her fondly, she stumbled.

"Oh! you beauty!" exclaimed Sanine, in a voice full of passion and tenderness and pity.

She smiled in unconscious pride. Sanine took hold of her hands, and drew her to him.

"Kiss me!"

"It doesn't matter; nothing matters now," she thought, as she gave him a long, passionate kiss on his lips.

"Good-bye," she murmured, scarcely knowing what she said.

"Don't be angry with me, darling," pleaded Sanine.

As she crossed the dyke, staggering as she went, and tripping over her dress, Sanine watched her with sorrowful eyes. It grieved him to think of all the needless suffering that was in store for her and which, as he foresaw, she had not the strength to set aside.

Slowly her figure moved forward to meet the dawn, and it soon vanished in the white mist.

When he could no longer see her, Sanine leapt into the boat, and by a few powerful strokes lashed the water to foam In mid-stream, as the dense morning mists rose round him, Sanine dropped the oars, stood erect in the boat and uttered a great shout of joy. And the woods and the mists, as if alive, responded to his cry.