The Eternal Maiden by T. Everett Harré


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This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
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Title: The Eternal Maiden






Release Date: June 20, 2005 [eBook #16093]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ETERNAL MAIDEN***


E-text prepared by Al Haines



THE ETERNAL MAIDEN

A Novel

by



Published by
Mitchell Kennerley
New York

Press of J. J. Little & Ives Company
East Twenty-fourth Street
New York

1913







TO

EDGAR WILSON RIDDELL

JANUARY 31, 1892--JULY 2, 1912


IN MEMORY OF

A LIFE'S SUPREME FRIENDSHIP




THE ETERNAL MAIDEN

PRELUDE

_Long ages ago, darkness brooded over the frozen world and held in its
thrall the unreleased waters of the glacial seas. There was no animal
life upon the land, and in the depth of the waters no living thing
stirred. Kokoyah, the water god, breathed not; Tornahhuchsuah, the
earth spirit, who rules above the spirits of the wind and air, was
veiled in slumber. Men had risen like willows from the frozen earth;
but, although they lived, they were as the dead. They spake not,
neither did they hunt, nor eat, nor did they die. Then the Great
Spirit, whose name is not known, placed upon earth a man, in his arms
the strength to kill, in his heart the primal urge of love. And in
that flowerless arctic Eden, out of its bounteous compassion, the Great
Spirit placed also a maiden, her face beautiful with the young
virginity of the world, in her bosom implanted a yearning, not unmixed
with fear, for love. Gazing upon her, the youth's heart stirred, with
desire, the maiden's with virginal terror. The maiden fled, the youth
followed. Over the desolate icy mountains the fleet feet of the youth
sped with the swiftness of the wind gods, over the silent white seas
the maiden with the elusiveness of the air spirits. In the heart of
the youth throbbed the passion of love, indomitable, eternal, which the
blasting breath of time should never kill. In the maiden's bosom
quaked a reasonless shame, an unconquerable terror. Surrounded by her
whirling cloud of hair, the maiden sprang, untiring, across the wild
white world. His strength failing, the youth pantingly followed.
Thousands of years passed; the breathless pursuit continued; the
maiden's nebulous hair became shot with streaks of golden fire, from
her eyes beams of light streamed across the expanses over which she
exultantly, fearfully bounded; the tremulous faltering youth's face
paled until it shone silvery in the darkness, and the beads of
perspiration on his forehead glowed with a strange lustre. Reaching,
in their mad race, the very edge of the earth, the maiden leaped,
fiery, into space, and her hair becoming suddenly molten, she became
the sun--the eternal maiden Sukh-eh-nukh, the beautiful, the
all-desired. Utterly exhausted, his wan arms yearningly outstretched,
the youth swooned after her into the heavens, and was transformed into
the moon--the ever-desiring, ever-sorrowing moon. In the smile of
Sukh-eh-nukh the seas melted. Walrus and narwhals, seals and whales
came into being on the bosom of Kokoyah; on the earth the snows
disappeared, and the brow of Tornahhuchsuah was crowned with green
grasses and starry flowers. Men hunted game, women laughed for joy;
they beat drums, they danced, they sang. By the eternal, unrequited
passion of the lovers in the skies, happiness and plenty came upon the
earth. But, with Light, came also Death. Jealous of men's happiness,
Perdlugssuaq, the Great Evil, brought sickness; he struck men on the
hunt, on the seas, in the mountains. He was ever feared. He made the
Great Dark terrible. But when the night became bright with the
love-lorn glamour of the moon, Perdlugssuaq was for the time forgotten;
in their hearts men felt a vague, tender, and ineffable stirring--the
lure of a passion stronger and stranger even than death. They gazed
upon the moon with instinctive, undefined pity. So, as the years
passed, and ages melted and remade the snows, the long day was golden
with the Beauty that is ever desired, the Ideal never attained; the
night was softly silver with the melancholy and eternal hope of the
deathless love that eternally desires, eternally pursues, and is
eternally denied._

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