Caesara- (pages 25-26)
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She rushed into the garden, reached the shore. The island was not to be seen, but the fire went on burning like coals on the face of the sea. She seemed to hear a voice, only just as if her ears were tingling. Fear and despair seized her heart.

«Ah,» she thought «who knows what happened! I must swim, no matter what the weather is like, I must see him.»

She stripped and plunged into the sea to reach the burning spot. She kept on swimming, swam apace, but it seemed she was not advancing, at least the ember spot was keeping the same distance.

The billows drove her about like a mere leaf, hurling her from one swarming foam to another. She swam with all her might. The sky was pitch black, a flash of lightning shot through the clouds at times. She swam, already close to the place when she saw that the fire was drifting on the waters.

She yelled. She then saw it was a fire in a boat, in the middle of the sea. The moment she yelled the fire went out. Then she lost all hope. She floated on the water to see, in a flash of lightning, the direction of the island. Island and shore were far away and she herself a prey to the boundless sea. A fearful flash of lightning crossed the vast sea. Then she saw some ten paces away, a black boat and in it, upright, with a stern, harsh, implacable look on his face, stood Castelmare. Then she understood. In a flash she realized her desperate state and lost consciousness, never to recover it.

Meanwhile, Hyeronimo had accidentally caught sight of the floating fire and, like a flash of lightning, what might happen crossed his mind. He lit a stable fire on the shore, jumped in a boat and followed the fugitive flame, never forgetting his sword. He rowed desperately hard and having caught up with boat where embers were still live. He saw Castelmare. He brought his own boat near, took aim; there was a flash of lightning and he heard the thump of a heavy body in the enemy’s boat.

He lit a torch and paddled gently; he suddenly saw something singularly white floating on the water. A couple of arms seemed to rise from the deep and fall back. He paddled near. It was Caesara. He pulled her out of the water, wrapped her in his mantle, began to rub her hands and her eyelids, but there was no sign of life.

'Caesara,' he whispered 'Caesara, my love.' Her mouth was half open, purple lips sucked in, teeth shining, eyelids open and eyes like frost on glass. He carried her quickly to the shore, into the cave, lit a fire, wrapped her up, rubbed her body, but to no avail. She was dead, as dead can be.

He could not believe it. Dead, she was dead, she no longer belonged to him; her eyes, her mouth, her tiny hands no longer his as long as he lived; never to hang about his neck, never to charm his ear with smothered whispers. He could not believe it, as no one does on the death of a beloved creature.

«God Almighty, she cannot be dead, can she?» he thought and the blood rushed to his heart.

'Caesara,' he said quietly, 'you’re surely pretending, you’re joking, you’re not dead, how could you die?' No answer.

His eyes grew suddenly angry. His teeth were chattering as if with fever, he was afraid, afraid of his own self, of the walls; he stretched his arm towards the corpse; he seemed to hear the hum of many voices, a hand seemed to press his chest; he breathed, but his breathing was like hot air burning his lungs, he rose to his full height, straightened his shoulders in fear, his hair stood on end, his nostrils dilated; visions of fire burnt into his mind, he saw lightning, ever more lightning flashes, as if his brain were scorched through and through; he broke into wild laughter and fell to the ground.

The following day he was lying upon a soft bed, in a house with all windows framed in ivy and flowers; the sunrays filtered through, cutting a shaft in the scented darkness; a world of diamond specks was dancing in the light of this ray. Caesara was sitting on a stool in the corner and laughed.

'Good Lord, what a fearful dream I had,' he said.

She was laughing, but said no word. It seemed to be his cell in the abbey, yet much more beautiful, and sweetened by the presence of his beloved. He rose, knell by his love, put one arm around her neck, the other around her waist; she went on laughing, but it was as if she was dumbfounded.

'Oh, I know your voice, my pretty!' he said smiling, 'why keep silent, child. Oh! You flower of my life, you angel!'

His voice was choking with excitement; he was weeping tears of love. Her head kept dropping on his chest; she seemed to have fallen asleep in his arms.

«So lovely she is,» he thought, trembling. Only now did he notice that she was naked. He ran to his bed, laid her upon it. She seemed to sink into the pillows. Pillows with blue sheets. He lay down beside her. Yet, she seemed to slip away into those too soft pillows. He hugged her close, holding her against his body. He closed his eyes and seemed to crush her lips with kisses. Choking while kissing. His senses vanished, he seemed to stop thinking, and he fell asleep, fast asleep.

Upon its soft, blue bed, the sea bore two bodies united in a tight embrace. The wind blew among the branches of an old tree, stirring among its hanging boughs the bones, now bleached by the running stream, of an old bearded man, whose prophecy had now come true.

 

(Translated by Ana Cartianu)

 

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