And again he said to himself: “I have risen naked and branded. But if I am naked enough for this contact, I have not died in vain. Before I was clogged.”

He rose and went out. The night was chill and starry, and of a great wintry splendour. “There are destinies of splendour,” he said to the night, “after all our doom of littleness and meanness and pain.”

So he went up silently to the temple, and waited in darkness against the inner wall, looking out on a grey darkness, stars, and rims of trees. And he said again to himself: “There are destinies of splendour, and there is a greater power.”

So at last he saw the light of her silk lanthorn swinging, coming intermittent between the trees, yet coming swiftly. She was alone, and near, the light softly swishing on her mantle-hem. And he trembled with fear and with joy, saying to himself: “I am almost more afraid of this touch than I was of death. For I am more nakedly exposed to it.”

“I am here, Lady of Isis,” he said softly out of the dark. “Ah!” she cried, in fear also, yet in rapture. For she was given to her dream.

She unlocked the door of the shrine, and he followed after her. Then she latched the door shut again. The air inside was warm and close and perfumed. The man who had died stood by the closed door and watched the woman. She had come first to the goddess. And dim-lit, the goddess-statue stood surging forward, a little fearsome like a great woman-presence urging.

The priestess did not look at him. She took off her saffron mantle and laid it on a low couch. In the dim light she was bare-armed, in her girdled white tunic. But she was still hiding herself away from him. He stood back in shadow and watched her softly fan the brazier and fling on incense. Faint clouds of sweet aroma arose on the air. She turned to the statue in the ritual of approach, softly swaying forward with a slight lurch, like a moored boat, tipping towards the goddess.