I could not command her, and seemed powerless to persuade her; but I had not done yet, and proceeded to use every argument I could find to bring her round to my view; and when I finished she put her arms around my neck and drew herself up once more. "O Abel, how happy I shall be!" she said, taking no notice of all I had said. "Think of me alone, days and days, in the wood, waiting for you, working all the time; saying: 'Come quickly, Abel; come slow, Abel. O Abel, how long you are! Oh, do not come until my work is finished!' And when it is finished and you arrive you shall find me, but not at once. First you will seek for me in the house, then in the wood, calling: 'Rima! Rima!' And she will be there, listening, hid in the trees, wishing to be in your arms, wishing for your lips — oh, so glad, yet fearing to show herself. Do you know why? He told you — did he not? — that when he first saw her she was standing before him all in white — a dress that was like snow on the mountain-tops when the sun is setting and gives it rose and purple colour. I shall be like that, hidden among the trees, saying: 'Am I different — not like Rima? Will he know me — will he love me just the same?' Oh, do I not know that you will be glad, and love me, and call me beautiful? Listen! Listen!" she suddenly exclaimed, lifting her face.
Among the bushes not far from the cave's mouth a small bird had broken out in song, a clear, tender melody soon taken up by other birds further away.
"It will soon be morning," she said, and then clasped her arms about me once more and held me in a long, passionate embrace; then slipping away from my arms and with one swift glance at the sleeping old man, passed out of the cave.
For a few moments I remained sitting, not yet realizing that she had left me, so suddenly and swiftly had she passed from my arms and my sight; then, recovering my faculties, I started up and rushed out in hopes of overtaking her.
It was not yet dawn, but there was still some light from the full moon, now somewhere behind the mountains. Running to the verge of the bushgrown plateau, I explored the rocky slope beneath without seeing her form, and then called: "Rima! Rima!"
A soft, warbling sound, uttered by no bird, came up from the shadowy bushes far below; and in that direction I ran on; then pausing, called again. The sweet sound was repeated once more, but much lower down now, and so faintly that I scarcely heard it. And when I went on further and called again and again, there was no reply, and I knew that she had indeed gone on that long journey alone.