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"What I seem to feel," went on Bastin, "is that I have work to my hand here. Also, the locum tenens at Fulcombe no doubt runs the parish as well as I could. Indeed I consider him a better man for the place than I am. That old Oro is a tough proposition, but I do not despair of him yet, and besides him there is the Glittering Lady, a most open-minded person, whom I have not yet had any real opportunity of approaching in a spiritual sense. Then there are all these natives who cannot learn without a teacher. So on the whole I think I would rather stay where I am until Providence points out some other path."
"I am of the same opinion, if for somewhat different reasons," I said. "I do not suppose that it has often been the fortune of men to come in touch with such things as we have found upon this island. They may be illusions, but at least they are very interesting illusions. One might live ten lifetimes and find nothing else of the sort. Therefore I should like to see the end of the dream."
Bickley reflected a little, then said:
"On the whole I agree with you. Only my brain totters and I am terribly afraid of madness. I cannot believe what I seem to hear and see, and that way madness lies. It is better to die than to go mad."
"You'll do that anyway when your time comes, Bickley, I mean decease, of course," interrupted Bastin. "And who knows, perhaps all this is an opportunity given by Providence to open your eyes, which, I must say, are singularly blind. You think you know everything there is to learn, but the fact is that like the rest of us, you know nothing at all, and good man though you are, obstinately refuse to admit the truth and to seek support elsewhere. For my part I believe that you are afraid of falling in love with that Glittering Lady and of being convinced by her that you are wrong in your most unsatisfactory conclusions."
"I am out-voted anyway," said Bickley, "and for the rest, Bastin, look after yourself and leave me alone. I will add that on the whole I think you are both right, and that it is wisest for us to stop where we are, for after all we can only die once."
"I am not so sure, Bickley. There is a thing called the second death, which is what is troubling that old scoundrel, Oro. Now I will go and look for those books."
So the idea of flight was abandoned, although I admit that even to myself it had attractions. For I felt that I was being wrapped in a net of mysteries from which I saw no escape. Yes, and of more than mysteries; I who had sworn that I would never look upon another woman, was learning to love this sweet and wondrous Yva, and of that what could be the end?
We collected all we had come to seek, and started homewards escorted by Marama and his people, including a number of young women who danced before us in a light array of flowers.
Passing our old house, we came to the grove where the idol Oro had stood and Bastin was so nearly sacrificed. There was another idol there now which he wished to examine, but in the end did not as the natives so obviously objected. Indeed Marama told me that notwithstanding the mysterious death of the sorcerers on the Rock of Offerings, there was still a strong party in the island who would be glad to do us a mischief if any further affront were offered to their hereditary god.
He questioned us also tentatively about the apparition, for such he conceived it to be, which had appeared upon the rock and killed the sorcerers, and I answered him as I thought wisest, telling him that a terrible Power was afoot in the land, which he would do well to obey.
"Yes," he said; "the God of the Mountain of whom the tradition has come down to us from our forefathers. He is awake again; he sees, he hears and we are afraid. Plead with him for us, O Friend-from-the-Sea."
As he spoke we were passing through a little patch of thick bush. Suddenly from out of this bush, I saw a lad appear. He wore a mask upon his face, but from his shape could not have been more than thirteen or fourteen years of age. In his hand was a wooden club. He ran forward, stopped, and with a yell of hate hurled it, I think at Bastin, but it hit me. At any rate I felt a shock and remembered no more.
Dreams. Dreams. Endless dreams! What were they all about? I do not know. It seemed to me that through them continually I saw the stately figure of old Oro contemplating me gravely, as though he were making up his mind about something in which I must play a part. Then there was another figure, that of the gracious but imperial Yva, who from time to time, as I thought, leant over me and whispered in my ear words of rest and comfort. Nor was this all, since her shape had a way of changing suddenly into that of my lost wife who would speak with her voice. Or perhaps my wife would speak with Yva's voice. To my disordered sense it was as though they were one personality, having two shapes, either of which could be assumed at will. It was most strange and yet to me most blessed, since in the living I seemed to have found the dead, and in the dead the living. More, I took journeys, or rather some unknown part of me seemed to do so. One of these I remember, for its majestic character stamped itself upon my mind in such a fashion that all the waters of delirium could not wash it out nor all its winds blow away that memory.
I was travelling through space with Yva a thousand times faster than light can flash. We passed sun after sun. They drew near, they grew into enormous, flaming Glories round which circled world upon world. They became small, dwindled to points of light and disappeared.
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When the World Shook -by- H. Rider Haggard