And the first came in a golden glow, putting out gold slippered feet from under a dress rich and stiff with cloth of gold and all manner of silk embroidery. And the cushion she bore was tissue of gold and the chased box shone like the vanishing sun herself with rich gold chasing and fretwork.
The second was bright with silver like the light of the moon, and her slippered feet were like slivers of moonlight, and all over the silvery gown shone crescents and luminous rounds of argent light, and she was bathed in a cool but intense brilliance, which most beautifully embellished the polished surface of the silver casket she bore on a cloth of silver, with its threads like needles of pure white light.
And the third was dull behind these two and had a subdued lustre, like that of armour burnished and used, like that of the undersides of high clouds hiding the true light that suffuses their steely grey with a borrowed brilliance. Her dress was alive with slow lights like still water under the stars but in the shadow of great trees, and her slippered feet were softly velvet, and her hair, unlike that of the others, was caught back under a masking veil. And the first two smiled at the Childe as they came out of the stone shadows in their brilliant pools of glimmering light. Only the third cast down her eyes, modestly, and he could see that her lips were pale, and that her eyelids were heavy and smoky dark and threaded with violet veinings and her lashes were like the feathery plumes of moths on her colorless cheeks.
And they spoke to him, it seemed, with one voice, which had in it three tones, a clear clarion, a reedy oboe, a whispering low flute.
‘You may go no further this way,’ said they,’ for this is the edge of things, here, and beyond is another country. But you may choose, if you will, one of us to be your guide, and venture further. Or you may turn back if you will, without dishonour, and trust yourself again to the plain.’
And he answered them courteously that they should speak on, for he had not come so far and so wearily simply in order to turn back. Moreover he was charged by his father with a mission, which he might not reveal in that place. ‘It is known to us already,’ said the three damsels. ‘We have waited long for you.’
‘How am I to know, then,’said the Childe. greatly daring, and in tones of the most humble respect,’that you are not those whiteladies of whom they speak with such fear and honour in the villages I have come through?’
Then they laughed, high, low, clear and whispering, and said they doubted much whether honour was so very apparent when those were spoken of; however there was much superstition and misbelief, as to the whiteladies, among the common people, to which he should perhaps not give too much credence.
‘As for ourselves,’ sad they,’ you must take us as you find us, and judge of us as you see us, what we are, or what we may be to you, as all men must, who have a high courage and a clear vision.’
Then said he, not knowing before he spoke that he had made up his mind to venture, but as if some voice spoke through him,
‘I will assay.’
‘Choose now,’ they said then,’ and choose wisely, for extremes of bliss and misery stand on your choice.’
#2 0f 4:To be continued at the next link below…