Chapter 21

           Cameabeautifulfallday,warmandlanguid,palpitantwiththehushofthechangingseason,aCaliforniaIndiansummerday,withhazysunandwanderingwispsofbreezethatdidnotstirtheslumberoftheair. Filmypurplemists,thatwerenotvaporsbutfabricswovenofcolor,hidintherecessesofthehills. SanFranciscolaylikeablurofsmokeuponherheights. Theinterveningbaywasadullsheenofmoltenmetal,whereonsailingcraftlaymotionlessordriftedwiththelazytide. FarTamalpais,barelyseeninthesilverhaze,bulkedhugelybytheGoldenGate,thelatterapalegoldpathwayunderthewesteringsun. Beyond,thePacific,dimandvast,wasraisingonitssky-linetumbledcloud-massesthatsweptlandward,givingwarningofthefirstblusteringbreathofwinter. 

           Theerasureofsummerwasathand. Yetsummerlingered,fadingandfaintingamongherhills,deepeningthepurpleofhervalleys,spinningashroudofhazefromwaningpowersandsatedraptures,dyingwiththecalmcontentofhavinglivedandlivedwell. Andamongthehills,ontheirfavoriteknoll,MartinandRuthsatsidebyside,theirheadsbentoverthesamepages,hereadingaloudfromthelove-sonnetsofthewomanwhohadlovedBrowningasitisgiventofewmentobeloved. 

           Butthereadinglanguished. Thespellofpassingbeautyallaboutthemwastoostrong. Thegoldenyearwasdyingasithadlived,abeautifulandunrepentantvoluptuary,andreminiscentraptureandcontentfreightedheavilytheair. 

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