after a peculiarly evil patch, they paused to recruit their strength. corpang's breathing was difficult, sullenbode was quiet, listless, and depressed.
maskull gazed at them doubtfully. "does this continue?" he inquired.
"no. i think," replied the woman, "we can't be far from the mornstab pass. after that we shall begin to climb again, and then the road will improve perhaps."
"can you have been here before?"
"once i have been to the pass, but it was not so bad then."
"you are tired out, sullenbode."
"what of it?" she replied, smiling faintly. "when one has a terrible lover, one must pay the price."
"we cannot get there tonight, so let us stop at the first shelter we come too."
"i leave it to you."
he paced up and down, while the others sat. "do you regret anything?" he demanded suddenly.
"no, maskull, nothing. i regret nothing."
"your feelings are unchanged?"
"love can't go back--it can only go on."
"yes, eternally on. it is so."
"no, i don't mean that. there is a climax, but when the climax has been reached, love if it still wants to ascend must turn to sacrifice."
"that's a dreadful creed," he said in a low voice, turning pale beneath his coating of mud.
"perhaps my nature is discordant....i am tired. i don't know what i feel."
another mile saw us, if possible, more despondent. the water in our clothes had had time to penetrate: the roan had sprained his shoulder, and drew us along in a series of convulsive jerks. and then through the rain-spattered window of the blanket, i saw a light. it was a small light, rather yellow, and it lasted perhaps thirty seconds. hotchkiss missed it, and was inclined to doubt me. but in a couple of minutes the roan hobbled to the side of the road and stopped, and i made out a break in the pines and an arched gate.
odinsday clxiii bis