It was dusky in the dining-room and quite chilly. But all the same Bertha threw off her coat; she could not bear the tight clasp of it another moment, and the cold air fell on her arms.
But in her bosom there was still that bright glowing place--that shower of little sparks coming from it. It was almost unbearable. She hardly dared to breathe for fear of fanning it higher, and yet she breathed deeply, deeply. She hardly dared to look into the cold mirror--but she did look, and it gave her back a woman, radiant, with smiling, trembling lips, with big, dark eyes and an air of listening, waiting for something...divine to happen...that she knew must happen...infallibly.
Mary brought in the fruit on a tray and with it a glass bowl, and a blue dish, very lovely, with a strange sheen on it as though it had been dipped in milk.
"Shall I turn on the light, M'm?"
"No, thank you. I can see quite well."
There were tangerines and apples stained with strawberry pink. Some yellow pears, smooth as silk, some white grapes covered with a silver bloom and a big cluster of purple ones...
When she had finished with them and had made two pyramids of these bright round shapes, she stood away from the table to get the effect--and it really was most curious. For the dark table seemed to melt into the dusky light and the glass dish and the blue bowl to float in the air. This, of course in her present mood, was so incredibly beautiful...She began to laugh...
...And then Miss Fulton, all in silver, with a silver fillet binding her pale blond hair, came in smiling, her head a little on one side.
"Am I late?"
"No, not at all," said Bertha. "Come along." And she took her arm and they moved into the dining room.
What was there in the touch of that cool arm that could fan--fan--start blazing--blazing--the fire of bliss that Bertha did not know what to do with?...
...At that moment Miss Fulton "gave the sign."
"Have you a garden?" said the cool, sleepy voice.
This was so exquisite on her part that all Bertha could do was to obey. She crossed the room, pulled the curtains apart, and opened those long windows.
"There!" she breathed.
And the two women stood side by side looking at the slender, flowering tree. Although it was so still it seemed, like the flame of a candle, to stretch up, to point, to quiver in the bright air, to grow taller and taller as they gazed--almost to touch the rim of the round, silver moon.
How long did they stand there? Both, as it were, caught in that circle of unearthly light, understanding each other perfectly, creatures of another world, and wondering what they were to do in this one with all this blissful treasure that burned in their bosoms and dropped, in silver flowers, from their hair and hands?
For ever--for a moment? And did Miss Fulton murmur: "Yes. Just that. Or did Bertha dream it?..."
--Katherine Mansfield, "Bliss"