CHAPTER IX  THE SLEEP OF PARADISE

    The moon rose up that evening and shot her silver arrows at the house under the artu tree. The house was empty. Then the moon came across the sea and across the reef.

    She lit the lagoon to its dark, dim heart. She lit the coral brains and sand spaces, and the fish, casting their shadows on the sand and the coral. The keeper of the lagoon rose to greet her, and the fin of him broke her reflection on the mirror-like surface into a thousand glittering ripples. She saw the white staring ribs of the form on the reef. Then, peeping over the trees, she looked down into the valley, where the great idol of stone had kept its solitary vigil for five thousand years, perhaps, or more.

    At his base, in his shadow, looking as if under his protection, lay two human beings, naked, clasped in each other's arms, and fast asleep. One could scarcely pity his vigil, had it been marked sometimes through the years by such an incident as this. The thing had been conducted just as the birds conduct their love affairs. An affair absolutely natural, absolutely blameless, and without sin.

    It was a marriage according to Nature, without feast or guests, consummated with accidental cynicism under the shadow of a religion a thousand years dead.

    So happy in their ignorance were they, that they only knew that suddenly life had changed, that the skies and the sea were bluer, and that they had become in some magical way one a part of the other. The birds on the tree above were equally as happy in their ignorance, and in their love.


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