Produced by Sigal Alon, Matthew Wheaton, Fox in the Stars
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
Produced by Sigal Alon, Matthew Wheaton, Fox in the Stars
THE STARS IN THE POOL
A Prose Poem for Lovers
Edna Kingsley Wallace
Author of “Feelings and Things,”
“Wonderings and other Things”
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
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By E. P. DUTTON & CO.
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The Stars in the Pool
MIDMOST The Castle of a forest of weaving lights and shadows, of dreaming winds, and fragrance wandering, there stood a great white castle, fair, and gleaming in the sun. Massive it was, yet high as well, so that it caught all colours of the dawn and sunset, like unto some peak of snow, remote from men.
Within the castle dwelt the good King Telwyn, lord of all that forest realm, wherein at Good King Telwynwhiles were clearings, with orchards and vineyards, and fields of all manner of grain good for man and beast. And with the King was Ellaline, the Queen, beloved and beautiful, and mother of Roseheart, whom Telwyn her father, old and wise, knew for the tenderest thought of God in woman form.
Fair as the dawn was Roseheart, and about her a freshness like that of babes. There was in her hair the ruddiness of tried gold, spun into a web to catch the sun. Like the sky in the East at twilight were her eyes, and the dark brows thereof as a flight of bird’s wings. The mouth of her was crimson, and The Beauty of Roseheartfresh, and young, and curved so tenderly withal, that none looking upon her might fail to love her with the love that leaps into the heart for all young things of fair seeming and promise.
Now upon a day came overseas to Telwyn’s realm one like a young god invincible, Flame, son of Lokus, lord of a far island, wherein were fiery mountains having their roots in the sea. It was a land of wondrous beauty, but they that dwelt therein, rich though they were, for that the land was exceeding fertile, yielding in fullest measure the fruits of the earth, yet dwelt ever in danger betwixt The Isle of Lokusthe mountains and the sea. For there had been times when living fire had rolled down the mountains, and the earth had been shaken mightily, and the sea, in a huge wall of emerald, had fallen upon the land and overwhelmed it. And Lokus, giving thought to these things, had deep desire that the son of his heart should escape these dangers, and live out his years in peace and happiness. And for that the youth was ever of the mind to fashion of the clay of the earth whatsoever things he saw, and might in nowise be withheld from the cunning of his hands, it came into the mind of Lokus that it were poor kindness to the child of Lokus Remembereth his Youthhis love to constrain him to courts and statecraft. For Lokus remembered his own youth, and the struggle thereof, when that his father had denied him the life of his own gift, which, darkling long, now sought in the son of his body and spirit its life to the glory of God.
Wherefore Lokus had called his son to him, and had bidden him to go straitly to the friend of his own youth, the wise King Telwyn, who would teach him somewhat of life and living in the great world. But more than for the ways and wit of men did Flame have thought for all things beautiful The Gifts of Flamein form. Right well he loved to liven clay to semblance of young maids and children, mothers, and old men wise with living. Ever into their faces he put somewhat no other man might see in them. At whiles, shapes of beauty like to nought that he had seen swam before his vision, but swiftly they faded, and he rubbed his eyes, and looked as he were silly. Wherefore men called him Dreamer. Yet with all this had he little thought for what the Lord God had meant in the making of the world, being well content in this his youth that by the instinct of his fingers, and no thought withal, he could please the good folk with Flame and the Salt Seahappy likeness of themselves. Tall and straight was Flame, with hair like fire seen through smoke, and with skin like ripe olives in the light of the going sun. Firm his mouth, and his brow both high and wide. In his eyes were all the changing lights and colours of the sea. And it was as if the salt sea were in his blood, so that when he flamed in the wont of youth and joy, it seemed like driftwood burning, leaping, flowering, in all the colours known of men.
And Flame, son of Lokus, looking upon the Princess Roseheart, drew one great breath, and loved her with the The Birth of Lovelove of a man’s heart. And Roseheart, when she looked into the eyes of Flame, and his heart therein, knew him for her lord, and loved him wholly.
Wherewith, Telwyn the King, her father, seeing these things, pondered the youth, and when he had questioned him straitly, was in nowise loath that the thing should be. For Telwyn was a wise man and discerning, and found Flame a goodly youth, and nought against him for an husband to the Princess, his daughter. Then was their troth plighted, yet were they over young to wed, and Telwyn the King spake plain words to Flame, Their Troth Plighted that it were well he should prove himself in some wise ere he should claim for bride the Princess Roseheart.
NOW The Pool some way from the castle, deep in the forest, was set a Pool, so deep and still that in its depths was imaged all that bent above its brim—the fluttering leaves, and long-stemmed flowers, the flashing flight of birds, and white-winged argosies of cloud. And so shadowed it was, and so deep beyond depth, that he who looked as far as he might could see the stars of heaven mirrored therein.
Daylong The Faces of Love did Flame feed the hunger of his eyes on the beauty of his beloved, as clad in kirtle of forest-green, girt with gold, she knelt at the edge of the Pool, or laughing, chased the butterflies, to woo them to her lips and hair. At whiles deep quiet came upon them as they bent above the Pool, seeing nought of all it held save only the two faces of love that looked therein.
Upon a day at the hour of golden noon, when all the land swam in a haze of beauty, a flickering brightness came and passed, when Earthlove, sprite invisible, touched with his lips these twain, and with a lilt Earthlove Sprite Invisibleof laughter rode away athwart a sunbeam. Thereafter did Flame kiss Roseheart long, upon the mouth, and trembling, gazed into her eyes that were like still pools, wherein was nought save his own image, more beautiful than life. And Flame’s heart swelled within him, lordly-wise, for that he dwelt so in the eyes and the heart of his beloved. And in the eyes of Flame was nought save Roseheart imaged, but swaying as it were on a surging wave wherethrough ran all the changing lights and colours of the sea.
But when it was some while since these things had befallen, The Old Gray Womanthe dusk was come, all suddenly, and there passed strangely over the Pool a shivering, and from it rose a mist that hid it. The heart of Flame was troubled, and lifting his eyes to see what was toward, he saw before him momently a figure of sorrow, Wur, the Old Gray Woman of Shadows, whose eyes were as misty pools at twilight, her hair as cobwebs matted, and her garments as the wings of the dusk. Yet upon her, nathless, was a wistful beauty as of moonlight, wherein were all things wondrous.
“Behold!” said Flame in wonder to the maid Roseheart, but she was in fear of somewhat Of Sorrowthat was as a thing known and not known, and would not look, but turned her face to his breast. And Flame spoke unto the Old Gray Woman of Shadows, saying, “Gray One, I pray thee, what wouldst thou?”
She answered, and her voice was as the winds of autumn, through bare branches: “I am Sorrow, and the Way of Destiny, and the Shadow of Things to be. The flower fadeth, and the flesh falleth away as a garment, but the seed and the soul shall not perish, except the seed fall on barren ground, and the soul feed upon the body alone. Ponder ye these things in your hearts.” And in a breath she was gone, leaving upon them a chill as of the winter death.
The Way of DestinyWherefore was Flame of grievous mind for that he did not understand these things. And Roseheart clung to him weeping, the while he gave her such sweet comfort as he might. Long he looked upon her in wonder, at the spun gold of her hair, the white shining about her brows, her deep, still eyes wherein was nought but his image, her mouth fashioned to joy and love, and her slender body, curving to the grace of womanhood. And once again Earthlove, sprite invisible, touched him, and stung him, and his heart surged Earthlove Once Morewith love of the maid, and his man’s desire grew great within him.
She stirred, and looked into his eyes, and shrank away, for therein was that which affrighted the peace of her soul. Looking, she saw not only her fair face, but her whole white body, drifting in the sea-surge of his eyes, wherein were all the changing lights and colours of the sea.
And the soul of Roseheart was faint with the far music of the sea-surge that was the soul of Flame. Yet being but a young maid, she was in fear also, saying, “Flame! Thou dishonourest Sea-Surge and Fire-Bloomme!” and freed herself, and sped away fleetly.
And upon the youth was shame, but a new strength therewith, so that he refrained him from following her, and cast himself upon the ground and wept, for that he had affrighted the innocence of Roseheart whom his soul loved. And a great cry for succor grew in him, and he prayed full heartily to the Lord God that He would show him His will.