Frenchman's Creek

All whispers and echoes from a past that is gone teem into the sleeper's brain, and he is with them, and part of them.

And all this, she thought, is only momentary, is only a fragment in time that will never come again, for yesterday already belongs to the past and is ours no longer, and tomorrow is an unknown thing that may be hostile. This is our day, our moment, the sun belongs to us, and the wind, and the sea, and the men for'ard there singing on the deck. This day is forever a day to be held and cherished, because in it we shall have lived, and loved, and nothing else matters but that in this world of our own making to which we have escaped.

And oh, heaven - the crowded playhouse, the stench of perfume upon heated bodies, the silly laughter and the clatter, the party in the Royal box - the King himself present - the impatient crowd in the cheap seats stamping and shouting for the play to begin while they threw orange peel on to the stage.

And perhaps one day, in after years, someone would wander there and listen to the silence, as she had done, and catch the whisper of the dreams that she had dreamt there, in midsummer, under the hot sun and the white sky.

And this then, that I am feeling now, is the hell that comes with love, the hell and the damnation and the agony beyond all enduring, because after the beauty and the loveliness comes the sorrow and the pain.

... and through it all and afterwards they would be together, making their own world where nothing mattered but the things they could give to one another, the loveliness, the silence, and the peace.

...are you happy?"

"I am content."

"What is the difference?"

"Between happiness and contentment? Ah, there you have me. It is not easy to put into words. Contentment is a state of mind and body when the two work in harmony, and there is no friction. The mind is at peace, and the body also. The two are sufficient to themselves. Happiness is elusive--coming perhaps once in a life-time--and approaching ecstasy."

"Not a continuous thing, like contentment?"

"No, not a continuous thing. But there are, after all, degrees of happiness.

Contentment is a state of mind and body when the two work in harmony, and there is no friction. The mind is at peace, and the body also. The two are sufficient to themselves. Happiness is elusive -- coming perhaps once in a life-time -- and approaching ectasy.

For love, as she knew it now, was something without shame and without reserve, the possession of two people who had no barrier between them, and no pride; whatever happened to him would happen to her too, all feeling, all movement, all sensation of body and of mind.

From the very first, I knew that it would be so...I smiled to myself, and said, "That -- and none other.

How pleasant,' Dona said, peeling her fruit; 'the rest of us can only run away from time to time, and however much we pretend to be free, we know it is only for a little while - our hands and our feet are tied.

...I will shed no more tears, like a spoilt child. For whatever happens we have had what we have had. No one can take that from us. And I have been alive, who was never alive before.

I wonder ... when it was that the world first went amiss, and men forgot how to live and to love and to be happy.

People who travel are always fugitives.

reader is back in the

She knew that this was happiness, this was living as she had always wished to live.

...she thought with pity of all the men and women who were not light-hearted when they loved, who were cold, who were reluctant, who were shy, who imagined that passion and tenderness were two things separate from one another, and not the one, gloriously intermingled, so that to be fierce was also to be gentle, so that silence was a speaking without words.

...somewhere there is a Dona of tomorrow, a Dona of the future, of ten years away, to whom all of this will be a thing to cherish, a thing to remember. Much will be forgotten then, perhaps, the sound of the tide on the mud flats, the dark sky, the dark water, the shiver of the trees behinds us and the shadows they cast before them, and the smell of the young bracken and the moss. Even the things we said will be forgotten, the touch of hands, the warmth, the loveliness, but never the peace that we have given to each other, never the stillness and the silence.

There was silence between them for moment, and she wondered if all women, when in love, were torn between two impulses, a longing to throw modesty and reserve to the winds and confess everything, and an equal determination to conceal the love forever, to be cool, aloof, utterly detached, to die rather than admit a thing so personal, so intimate.

…you guessed that somewhere, in heaven knew what country and what guise, there was someone who was part of your body and your brain, and that without him you were lost, a straw blown by the wind.

You understand now... how simple life becomes when things like mirrors are forgotten.