No one could be happier or more fortunate, He thought. He was an honored soldier; she was his woman, bearing, she had told him last night, their first child.
How beautiful, She thought, and said, as they reached the mountaintop and beheld the bright green foliage in the valley far below them, greens so rich and brilliant against the deep black of ancient lava.
They walked across Kilauea, ageless volcano, clearing the way for Keoua, their chosen leader, the rightful king of Hawaii. Five score soldiers and their families marched before Keoua on the way to battle against Kamehameha, Keoua's constant rival; and He was the one chosen to act as guardian for the king. With their great force, they would prevail.
Suddenly, the earth stuttered. Shuddered. Like deer the soldiers' wives stopped, listening. The rumbling had hardly begun, rising, crescendoing, when the volcano began to explode.
Then they all, an army and its loved ones, turned to leave the stricken mountain. Quietly, without panic, they moved until someone looked back and saw the smoking, seething, devouring rivers of lava, crimson, bloodlike, billowing toward them.
Screams of fear became agony and stopped short as liquid fire consumed the screamers.
He and She turned each to the other. Their eyes rich with love, they embraced and kissed. He touched the place of the child.
Then, clasping hands tightly, sweetly, with the lava only yards away, they leaped as one from the cliff into the beautiful and timeless universe.