“There will be plenty of time to go,” he said, in a matter-of-fact tone.
And at last they came out to their little seat on the flying stage, and sat there for a long time in silence. The little seat was in shadow, but the zenith was pale blue with the effulgence of the stage overhead, and all the city spread below them, squares and circles and patches of brilliance caught in a mesh-work of light. The little stars seemed very faint and small: near as they had been to the old-world watcher, they had become now infinitely remote. Yet one could see them in the darkened patches amidst the glare, and especially in the northward sky, the ancient constellations gliding steadfast and patient about the pole.
Long our two people sat in silence, and at last Elizabeth sighed.
“If I understood,” she said, “if I could understand. When one is down there the city seems everything—the noise, the hurry, the voices—you must live, you must scramble. Here—it is nothing; a thing that passes. One can think in peace.”
“Yes,” said Denton. “How flimsy it all is! From here more than half of it is swallowed by the night… . It will pass.”
“We shall pass first,” said Elizabeth.
“I know,” said Denton. “If life were not a moment, the whole of history would seem like the happening of a day… . Yes—we shall pass. And the city will pass, and all the things that are to come. Man and the Overman and wonders unspeakable. And yet … ”
He paused, and then began afresh. “I know what you feel. At least I fancy… . Down there one thinks of one’s work, one’s little vexations and pleasures, one’s eating and drinking and ease and pain. One lives, and one must die. Down there and everyday—our sorrow seemed the end of life… .
“Up here it is different. For instance, down there it would seem impossible almost to go on living if one were horribly disfigured, horribly crippled, disgraced. Up here—under these stars—none of those things would matter. They don’t matter… . They are a part of something. One seems just to touch that something—under the stars… .”
He stopped. The vague, impalpable things in his mind, cloudy emotions half shaped towards ideas, vanished before the rough grasp of words. “It is hard to express,” he said lamely.
They sat through a long stillness.
“It is well to come here,” he said at last. “We stop—our minds are very finite. After all we are just poor animals rising out of the brute, each with a mind, the poor beginning of a mind. We are so stupid. So much hurts. And yet …
“I know, I know—and some day we shall see.
“All this frightful stress, all this discord will resolve to harmony, and we shall know it. Nothing is but it makes for that. Nothing. All the failures—every little thing makes for that harmony. Everything is necessary to it, we shall find. We shall find. Nothing, not even the most dreadful thing, could be left out. Not even the most trivial. Every tap of your hammer on the brass, every moment of work, my idleness even … Dear one! every movement of our poor little one … All these things go on for ever. And the faint impalpable things. We, sitting here together.—Everything …
“The passion that joined us, and what has come since. It is not passion now. More than anything else it is sorrow. Dear … ”