On the Fever Ship by Richard Harding Davis
There were four rails around the ship's sides, the three lower ones of
iron and the one on top of wood, and as he looked between them from
the canvas cot he recognized them as the prison-bars which held him
in. Outside his prison lay a stretch of blinding blue water which
ended in a line of breakers and a yellow coast with ragged palms.
Beyond that again rose a range of mountain-peaks, and, stuck upon the
loftiest peak of all, a tiny block-house. It rested on the brow of the
mountain against the naked sky as impudently as a cracker-box set upon
the dome of a great cathedral.
As the transport rode on her anchor-chains, the iron bars around her
sides rose and sank and divided the landscape with parallel lines.
From his cot the officer followed this phenomenon with severe,
painstaking interest. Sometimes the wooden rail swept up to the very
block-house itself, and for a second of time blotted it from sight.
And again it sank to the level of the line of breakers, and wiped them
out of the picture as though they were a line of chalk.
The soldier on the cot promised himself that the next swell of the sea
would send the lowest rail climbing to the very top of the palm-trees
or, even higher, to the base of the mountains; and when it failed to
reach even the palm-trees he felt a distinct sense of ill use, of
having been wronged by some one. There was no other reason for
submitting to this existence save these tricks upon the wearisome,
glaring landscape; and now, whoever it was who was working them did
not seem to be making this effort to entertain him with any
It was most cruel. Indeed, he decided hotly, it was not to be endured;
he would bear it no longer, he would make his escape. But he knew that
this move, which could be conceived in a moment's desperation, could
only be carried to success with great strategy, secrecy, and careful
cunning. So he fell back upon his pillow and closed his eyes, as
though he were asleep, and then opening them again, turned cautiously,
and spied upon his keeper. As usual, his keeper sat at the foot of the
cot turning the pages of a huge paper filled with pictures of the war
printed in daubs of tawdry colors. His keeper was a hard-faced boy
without human pity or consideration, a very devil of obstinacy and
fiendish cruelty. To make it worse, the fiend was a person without a
collar, in a suit of soiled khaki, with a curious red cross bound by a
safety-pin to his left arm. He was intent upon the paper in his hands;
he was holding it between his eyes and his prisoner. His vigilance had
relaxed, and the moment seemed propitious. With a sudden plunge of
arms and legs, the prisoner swept the bed-sheet from him, and sprang
at the wooden rail and grasped the iron stanchion beside it. He had
his knee pressed against the top bar and his bare toes on the iron
rail beneath it. Below him the blue water waited for him. It was cool
and dark and gentle and deep. It would certainly put out the fire in
his bones, he thought; it might even shut out the glare of the sun
which scorched his eyeballs.
But as he balanced for the leap, a swift weakness and nausea swept
over him, a weight seized upon his body and limbs. He could not lift
the lower foot from the iron rail, and he swayed dizzily and trembled.
He trembled. He who had raced his men and beaten them up the hot hill
to the trenches of San Juan. But now he was a baby in the hands of a
giant, who caught him by the wrist and with an iron arm clasped him
around his waist and pulled him down, and shouted, brutally, "Help,
some of youse, quick! he's at it again. I can't hold him."
More giants grasped him by the arms and by the legs. One of them took
the hand that clung to the stanchion in both of his, and pulled back
the fingers one by one, saying, "Easy now, Lieutenant—easy."
The ragged palms and the sea and blockhouse were swallowed up in a
black fog, and his body touched the canvas cot again with a sense of
home-coming and relief and rest. He wondered how he could have cared
to escape from it. He found it so good to be back again that for a
long time he wept quite happily, until the fiery pillow was moist and
The world outside of the iron bars was like a scene in a theatre set
for some great event, but the actors were never ready. He remembered
confusedly a play he had once witnessed before that same scene.
Indeed, he believed he had played some small part in it; but he
remembered it dimly, and all trace of the men who had appeared with
him in it was gone. He had reasoned it out that they were up there
behind the range of mountains, because great heavy wagons and
ambulances and cannon were emptied from the ships at the wharf above
and were drawn away in long lines behind the ragged palms, moving
always toward the passes between the peaks. At times he was disturbed
by the thought that he should be up and after them, that some
tradition of duty made his presence with them imperative. There was
much to be done back of the mountains. Some event of momentous import
was being carried forward there, in which he held a part; but the
doubt soon passed from him, and he was content to lie and watch the
iron bars rising and falling between the block-house and the white
If they had been only humanely kind, his lot would have been bearable,
but they starved him and held him down when he wished to rise; and
they would not put out the fire in the pillow, which they might easily
have done by the simple expedient of throwing it over the ship's side
into the sea. He himself had done this twice, but the keeper had
immediately brought a fresh pillow already heated for the torture and
forced it under his head.
His pleasures were very simple, and so few that he could not
understand why they robbed him of them so jealously. One was to watch
a green cluster of bananas that hung above him from the awning,
twirling on a string. He could count as many of them as five before
the bunch turned and swung lazily back again, when he could count as
high as twelve; sometimes when the ship rolled heavily he could count
to twenty. It was a most fascinating game, and contented him for many
hours. But when they found this out they sent for the cook to come and
cut them down, and the cook carried them away to his galley.
Then, one day, a man came out from the shore, swimming through the
blue water with great splashes. He was a most charming man, who
spluttered and dove and twisted and lay on his back and kicked his
legs in an excess of content and delight. It was a real pleasure to
watch him; not for days had anything so amusing appeared on the other
side of the prison-bars. But as soon as the keeper saw that the man in
the water was amusing his prisoner, he leaned over the ship's side and
shouted, "Sa-ay, you, don't you know there's skarks in there?"
And the swimming man said, "The h-ll there is!" and raced back to the
shore like a porpoise with great lashing of the water, and ran up the
beach half-way to the palms before he was satisfied to stop. Then the
prisoner wept again. It was so disappointing. Life was robbed of
everything now. He remembered that in a previous existence soldiers
who cried were laughed at and mocked. But that was so far away and it
was such an absurd superstition that he had no patience with it. For
what could be more comforting to a man when he is treated cruelly than
to cry. It was so obvious an exercise, and when one is so feeble that
one cannot vault a four-railed barrier it is something to feel that at
least one is strong enough to cry.
He escaped occasionally, traversing space with marvellous rapidity and
to great distances, but never to any successful purpose; and his
flight inevitably ended in ignominious recapture and a sudden
awakening in bed. At these moments the familiar and hated palms, the
peaks, and the block-house were more hideous in their reality than the
most terrifying of his nightmares.
These excursions afield were always predatory; he went forth always to
seek food. With all the beautiful world from which to elect and
choose, he sought out only those places where eating was studied and
elevated to an art. These visits were much more vivid in their detail
than any he had ever before made to these same resorts. They
invariably began in a carriage, which carried him swiftly over smooth
asphalt. One route brought him across a great and beautiful square,
radiating with rows and rows of flickering lights; two fountains
splashed in the centre of the square, and six women of stone guarded
its approaches. One of the women was hung with wreaths of mourning.
Ahead of him the late twilight darkened behind a great arch, which
seemed to rise on the horizon of the world, a great window into the
heavens beyond. At either side strings of white and colored globes
hung among the trees, and the sound of music came joyfully from
theatres in the open air. He knew the restaurant under the trees to
which he was now hastening, and the fountain beside it, and the very
sparrows balancing on the fountain's edge; he knew every waiter at
each of the tables, he felt again the gravel crunching under his feet,
he saw the maître d'hôtel coming forward smiling to receive his
command, and the waiter in the green apron bowing at his elbow,
deferential and important, presenting the list of wines. But his
adventure never passed that point, for he was captured again and once
more bound to his cot with a close burning sheet.
Or else, he drove more sedately through the London streets in the late
evening twilight, leaning expectantly across the doors of the hansom
and pulling carefully at his white gloves. Other hansoms flashed past
him, the occupant of each with his mind fixed on one idea—dinner. He
was one of a million of people who were about to dine, or who had
dined, or who were deep in dining. He was so famished, so weak for
food of any quality, that the galloping horse in the hansom seemed to
crawl. The lights of the Embankment passed like the lamps of a
railroad station as seen from the window of an express; and while his
mind was still torn between the choice of a thin or thick soup or an
immediate attack upon cold beef, he was at the door, and the
chasseur touched his cap, and the little chasseur put
the wicker guard over the hansom's wheel. As he jumped out he said,
"Give him half-a-crown," and the driver called after him, "Thank you,
It was a beautiful world, this world outside of the iron bars. Every
one in it contributed to his pleasure and to his comfort. In this
world he was not starved nor man-handled. He thought of this joyfully
as he leaped up the stairs, where young men with grave faces and with
their hands held negligently behind their backs bowed to him in polite
surprise at his speed. But they had not been starved on condensed
milk. He threw his coat and hat at one of them, and came down the hall
fearfully and quite weak with dread lest it should not be real. His
voice was shaking when he asked Ellis if he had reserved a table. The
place was all so real, it must be true this time. The way Ellis turned
and ran his finger down the list showed it was real, because Ellis
always did that, even when he knew there would not be an empty table
for an hour. The room was crowded with beautiful women; under the
light of the red shades they looked kind and approachable, and there
was food on every table, and iced drinks in silver buckets. It was
with the joy of great relief that he heard Ellis say to his underling,
"Numéro cinq, sur la terrace, un couvert." It was real at last.
Outside, the Thames lay a great gray shadow. The lights of the
Embankment flashed and twinkled across it, the tower of the House of
Commons rose against the sky, and here, inside, the waiter was
hurrying toward him carrying a smoking plate of rich soup with a
pungent, intoxicating odor.
And then the ragged palms, the glaring sun, the immovable peaks, and
the white surf stood again before him. The iron rails swept up and
sank again, the fever sucked at his bones, and the pillow scorched his
One morning for a brief moment he came back to real life again and lay
quite still, seeing everything about him with clear eyes and for the
first time, as though he had but just that instant been lifted over
the ship's side. His keeper, glancing up, found the prisoner's eyes
considering him curiously, and recognized the change. The instinct of
discipline brought him to his feet with his fingers at his sides.
"Is the Lieutenant feeling better?"
The Lieutenant surveyed him gravely.
"You are one of our hospital stewards."
"Why ar'n't you with the regiment?"
"I was wounded, too, sir. I got it same time you did, Lieutenant."
"Am I wounded? Of course, I remember. Is this a hospital ship?"
The steward shrugged his shoulders. "She's one of the transports. They
have turned her over to the fever cases."
The Lieutenant opened his lips to ask another question; but his own
body answered that one, and for a moment he lay silent.
"Do they know up North that I—that I'm all right?"
"Oh, yes, the papers had it in—there was pictures of the Lieutenant
in some of them."
"Then I've been ill some time?"
"Oh, about eight days."
The soldier moved uneasily, and the nurse in him became uppermost.
"I guess the Lieutenant hadn't better talk any more," he said. It was
his voice now which held authority.
The Lieutenant looked out at the palms and the silent gloomy mountains
and the empty coast-line, where the same wave was rising and falling
with weary persistence.
"Eight days," he said. His eyes shut quickly, as though with a sudden
touch of pain. He turned his head and sought for the figure at the
foot of the cot. Already the figure had grown faint and was receding
"Has any one written or cabled?" the Lieutenant spoke, hurriedly. He
was fearful lest the figure should disappear altogether before he
could obtain his answer. "Has any one come?"
"Why, they couldn't get here, Lieutenant, not yet."
The voice came very faintly. "You go to sleep now, and I'll run and
fetch some letters and telegrams. When you wake up, maybe I'll have a
lot for you."
But the Lieutenant caught the nurse by the wrist, and crushed his hand
in his own thin fingers. They were hot, and left the steward's skin
wet with perspiration. The Lieutenant laughed gayly.
"You see, Doctor," he said, briskly, "that you can't kill me. I can't
die. I've got to live, you understand. Because, sir, she said she
would come. She said if I was wounded, or if I was ill, she would come
to me. She didn't care what people thought. She would come anyway and
nurse me—well, she will come.
"So, Doctor—old man—" He plucked at the steward's sleeve, and
stroked his hand eagerly, "old man—" he began again, beseechingly,
"you'll not let me die until she comes, will you? What? No, I know I
won't die. Nothing made by man can kill me. No, not until she comes.
Then, after that—eight days, she'll be here soon, any moment? What?
You think so, too? Don't you? Surely, yes, any moment. Yes, I'll go to
sleep now, and when you see her rowing out from shore you wake me.
You'll know her; you can't make a mistake. She is like—no, there is
no one like her—but you can't make a mistake."
That day strange figures began to mount the sides of the ship, and to
occupy its every turn and angle of space. Some of them fell on their
knees and slapped the bare decks with their hands, and laughed and
cried out, "Thank God, I'll see God's country again!" Some of them
were regulars, bound in bandages; some were volunteers, dirty and
hollow-eyed, with long beards on boy's faces. Some came on crutches;
others with their arms around the shoulders of their comrades, staring
ahead of them with a fixed smile, their lips drawn back and their
teeth protruding. At every second step they stumbled, and the face of
each was swept by swift ripples of pain.
They lay on cots so close together that the nurses could not walk
between them. They lay on the wet decks, in the scuppers, and along
the transoms and hatches. They were like shipwrecked mariners clinging
to a raft, and they asked nothing more than that the ship's bow be
turned toward home. Once satisfied as to that, they relaxed into a
state of self-pity and miserable oblivion to their environment, from
which hunger nor nausea nor aching bones could shake them.
The hospital steward touched the Lieutenant lightly on the shoulder.
"We are going North, sir," he said. "The transport's ordered North to
New York, with these volunteers and the sick and wounded. Do you hear
The Lieutenant opened his eyes. "Has she come?" he asked.
"Gee!" exclaimed the hospital steward. He glanced impatiently at the
blue mountains and the yellow coast, from which the transport was
drawing rapidly away.
"Well, I can't see her coming just now," he said. "But she will," he
"You let me know at once when she comes."
"Why, cert'nly, of course," said the steward.
Three trained nurses came over the side just before the transport
started North. One was a large, motherly looking woman, with a German
accent. She had been a trained nurse, first in Berlin, and later in
the London Hospital in Whitechapel, and at Bellevue. The nurse was
dressed in white, and wore a little silver medal at her throat; and
she was strong enough to lift a volunteer out of his cot and hold him
easily in her arms, while one of the convalescents pulled his cot out
of the rain. Some of the men called her "nurse"; others, who wore
scapulars around their necks, called her "Sister"; and the officers of
the medical staff addressed her as Miss Bergen.
Miss Bergen halted beside the cot of the Lieutenant and asked, "Is
this the fever case you spoke about, Doctor—the one you want moved to
the officers' ward?" She slipped her hand up under his sleeve and felt
"His pulse is very high," she said to the steward. "When did you take
his temperature?" She drew a little morocco case from her pocket and
from that took a clinical thermometer, which she shook up and down,
eying the patient meanwhile with a calm, impersonal scrutiny. The
Lieutenant raised his head and stared up at the white figure beside
his cot. His eyes opened and then shut quickly, with a startled look,
in which doubt struggled with wonderful happiness. His hand stole out
fearfully and warily until it touched her apron, and then, finding it
was real, he clutched it desperately, and twisting his face and body
toward her, pulled her down, clasping her hands in both of his, and
pressing them close to his face and eyes and lips. He put them from
him for an instant, and looked at her through his tears.
"Sweetheart," he whispered, "sweetheart, I knew you'd come."
As the nurse knelt on the deck beside him, her thermometer slipped
from her fingers and broke, and she gave an exclamation of annoyance.
The young Doctor picked up the pieces and tossed them overboard.
Neither of them spoke, but they smiled appreciatively. The Lieutenant
was looking at the nurse with the wonder and hope and hunger of soul
in his eyes with which a dying man looks at the cross the priest holds
up before him. What he saw where the German nurse was kneeling was a
tall, fair girl with great bands and masses of hair, with a head
rising like a lily from a firm, white throat, set on broad shoulders
above a straight back and sloping breast—a tall, beautiful creature,
half-girl, half-woman, who looked back at him shyly, but steadily.
"Listen," he said.
The voice of the sick man was so sure and so sane that the young
Doctor started, and moved nearer to the head of the cot. "Listen,
dearest," the Lieutenant whispered. "I wanted to tell you before I
came South. But I did not dare; and then I was afraid something might
happen to me, and I could never tell you, and you would never know. So
I wrote it to you in the will I made at Baiquiri, the night before the
landing. If you hadn't come now, you would have learned it in that
way. You would have read there that there never was any one but you;
the rest were all dream people, foolish, silly—mad. There is no one
else in the world but you; you have been the only thing in life that
has counted. I thought I might do something down here that would make
you care. But I got shot going up a hill, and after that I wasn't able
to do anything. It was very hot, and the hills were on fire; and they
took me prisoner, and kept me tied down here, burning on these coals.
I can't live much longer, but now that I have told you I can have
peace. They tried to kill me before you came; but they didn't know I
loved you, they didn't know that men who love you can't die. They
tried to starve my love for you, to burn it out of me; they tried to
reach it with their knives. But my love for you is my soul, and they
can't kill a man's soul. Dear heart, I have lived because you lived.
Now that you know—now that you understand—what does it matter?"
Miss Bergen shook her head with great vigor. "Nonsense," she said,
cheerfully. "You are not going to die. As soon as we move you out of
this rain, and some food cook—"
"Good God!" cried the young Doctor, savagely. "Do you want to kill
When she spoke, the patient had thrown his arms heavily across his
face, and had fallen back, lying rigid on the pillow.
The Doctor led the way across the prostrate bodies, apologizing as he
went. "I am sorry I spoke so quickly," he said, "but he thought you
were real. I mean he thought you were some one he really knew—"
"He was just delirious," said the German nurse, calmly.
The Doctor mixed himself a Scotch and soda and drank it with a single
"Ugh!" he said to the ward-room. "I feel as though I'd been opening
another man's letters."
The transport drove through the empty seas with heavy, clumsy
upheavals, rolling like a buoy. Having been originally intended for
the freight-carrying trade, she had no sympathy with hearts that beat
for a sight of their native land, or for lives that counted their
remaining minutes by the throbbing of her engines. Occasionally,
without apparent reason, she was thrown violently from her course; but
it was invariably the case that when her stern went to starboard,
something splashed in the water on her port side and drifted past her,
until, when it had cleared the blades of her propeller, a voice cried
out, and she was swung back on her home-bound track again.
The Lieutenant missed the familiar palms and the tiny block-house; and
seeing nothing beyond the iron rails but great wastes of gray water,
he decided he was on board a prison-ship, or that he had been strapped
to a raft and cast adrift. People came for hours at a time and stood
at the foot of his cot, and talked with him and he to them—people he
had loved and people he had long forgotten, some of whom he had
thought were dead. One of them he could have sworn he had seen buried
in a deep trench, and covered with branches of palmetto. He had heard
the bugler, with tears choking him, sound "taps"; and with his own
hand he had placed the dead man's campaign hat on the mound of fresh
earth above the grave. Yet here he was still alive, and he came with
other men of his troop to speak to him; but when he reached out to
them they were gone—the real and the unreal, the dead and the
living—and even She disappeared whenever he tried to take her hand,
and sometimes the hospital steward drove her away.
"Did that young lady say when she was coming back again?" he asked the
"The young lady! What young lady?" asked the steward, wearily.
"The one who has been sitting there," he answered. He pointed with his
gaunt hand at the man in the next cot.
"Oh, that young lady. Yes, she's coming back. She's just gone below to
fetch you some hardtack."
The young volunteer in the next cot whined grievously.
"That crazy man gives me the creeps," he groaned. "He's always waking
me up, and looking at me as though he was going to eat me."
"Shut your head," said the steward. "He's a better crazy man than
you'll ever be with the little sense you've got. And he has two Mauser
holes in him. Crazy, eh? It's a damned good thing for you that there
was about four thousand of us regulars just as crazy as him, or you'd
never seen the top of the hill."
One morning there was a great commotion on deck, and all the
convalescents balanced themselves on the rail, shivering in their
pajamas, and pointed one way. The transport was moving swiftly and
smoothly through water as flat as a lake, and making a great noise
with her steam-whistle. The noise was echoed by many more
steam-whistles; and the ghosts of out-bound ships and tugs and
excursion steamers ran past her out of the mist and disappeared,
saluting joyously. All of the excursion steamers had a heavy list to
the side nearest the transport, and the ghosts on them crowded to that
rail and waved handkerchiefs and cheered. The fog lifted suddenly, and
between the iron rails the Lieutenant saw high green hills on either
side of a great harbor. Houses and trees and thousands of masts swept
past like a panorama; and beyond was a mirage of three cities, with
curling smoke-wreaths and sky-reaching buildings, and a great swinging
bridge, and a giant statue of a woman waving a welcome home.
The Lieutenant surveyed the spectacle with cynical disbelief. He was
far too wise and far too cunning to be bewitched by it. In his heart
he pitied the men about him, who laughed wildly, and shouted, and
climbed recklessly to the rails and ratlines. He had been deceived too
often not to know that it was not real. He knew from cruel experience
that in a few moments the tall buildings would crumble away, the
thousands of columns of white smoke that flashed like snow in the sun,
the busy, shrieking tug-boats, and the great statue would vanish into
the sea, leaving it gray and bare. He closed his eyes and shut the
vision out. It was so beautiful that it tempted him; but he would not
be mocked, and he buried his face in his hands. They were carrying the
farce too far, he thought. It was really too absurd; for now they were
at a wharf which was so real that, had he not known by previous
suffering, he would have been utterly deceived by it. And there were
great crowds of smiling, cheering people, and a waiting guard of honor
in fresh uniforms, and rows of police pushing the people this way and
that; and these men about him were taking it all quite seriously, and
making ready to disembark, carrying their blanket-rolls and rifles
A band was playing joyously, and the man in the next cot, who was
being lifted to a stretcher, said, "There's the Governor and his
staff; that's him in the high hat." It was really very well done. The
Custom-House and the Elevated Railroad and Castle Garden were as like
to life as a photograph, and the crowd was as well handled as a mob in
a play. His heart ached for it so that he could not bear the pain, and
he turned his back on it. It was cruel to keep it up so long. His
keeper lifted him in his arms, and pulled him into a dirty uniform
which had belonged, apparently, to a much larger man—a man who had
been killed probably, for there were dark brown marks of blood on the
tunic and breeches. When he tried to stand on his feet, Castle Garden
and the Battery disappeared in a black cloud of night, just as he knew
they would; but when he opened his eyes from the stretcher, they had
returned again. It was a most remarkably vivid vision. They kept it up
so well. Now the young Doctor and the hospital steward were pretending
to carry him down a gangplank and into an open space; and he saw quite
close to him a long line policemen, and behind them thousands of
faces, some of them women's faces—women who pointed at him and then
shook their heads and cried, and pressed their hands to their cheeks,
still looking at him. He wondered why they cried. He did not know
them, nor did they know him. No one knew him; these people were only
There was a quick parting in the crowd. A man he had once known shoved
two of the policemen to one side, and he heard a girl's voice speaking
his name, like a sob; and She came running out across the open space
and fell on her knees beside the stretcher, and bent down over him,
and he was clasped in two young, firm arms.
"Of course it is not real, of course it is not She," he assured
himself. "Because She would not do such a thing. Before all these
people She would not do it."
But he trembled and his heart throbbed so cruelly that he could not
bear the pain.
She was pretending to cry.
"They wired us you had started for Tampa on the hospital ship," She
was saying, "and Aunt and I went all the way there before we heard you
had been sent North. We have been on the cars a week. That is why I
missed you. Do you understand? It was not my fault. I tried to come.
Indeed, I tried to come."
She turned her head and looked up fearfully at the young Doctor.
"Tell me, why does he look at me like that?" she asked. "He doesn't
know me. Is he very ill? Tell me the truth." She drew in her breath
quickly. "Of course you will tell me the truth."
When she asked the question he felt her arms draw tight about his
shoulders. It was as though she was holding him to herself, and from
some one who had reached out for him. In his trouble he turned to his
old friend and keeper. His voice was hoarse and very low.
"Is this the same young lady who was on the transport—the one you
used to drive away?"
In his embarrassment, the hospital steward blushed under his tan, and
"Of course it's the same young lady," the Doctor answered, briskly.
"And I won't let them drive her away." He turned to her, smiling
gravely. "I think his condition has ceased to be dangerous, madam," he
People who in a former existence had been his friends, and Her
brother, gathered about his stretcher and bore him through the crowd
and lifted him into a carriage filled with cushions, among which he
sank lower and lower. Then She sat beside him, and he heard Her
brother say to the coachman, "Home, and drive slowly and keep on the
The carriage moved forward, and She put her arm about him, and his
head fell on her shoulder, and neither of them spoke. The vision had
lasted so long now that he was torn with the joy that after all it
might be real. But he could not bear the awakening if it were not, so
he raised his head fearfully and looked up into the beautiful eyes
above him. His brows were knit, and he struggled with a great doubt
and an awful joy.
"Dearest," he said, "is it real?"
"Is it real?" she repeated.
Even as a dream, it was so wonderfully beautiful that he was satisfied
if it could only continue so, if but for a little while.
"Do you think," he begged again, trembling, "that it is going to last
She smiled, and, bending her head slowly, kissed him.
"It is going to last—always," she said.