And he heard the words he whisper3ed to her, as if a voice other than his own were saying them. Fragments of a Rilke poem, “around the ancient tower … I have been circling for a thousand years”. The lines of the Navajo Chant. He whispered to her of the visions she brought to him – of blowing sand and magenta winds and brown pelicans riding the backs of dolphins moving north along the coast of Africa.

Sounds, small, unintelligible sounds, came from her mouth as she arched herself toward him. But it was a language he understood completely, and in this woman beneath him, with his belly against hers, Robert Kincaid’s long search came to an end.

And he finally knew the meaning of all the small footprints on the deserted beaches he had ever walked, of all the secret cargoes carried by ships that had never sailed, of all the curtained faces that had watched him pass down winding streets of twilight cities. And, like a great hunter of old who has travelled distant miles and now sees the light of his home campfires, his loneliness dissolved. At last. At last. He had come so far, so far. And he lay upon her, perfectly formed and unalterably complete in his love for her. At last.

He knew why he was on this planet, at this time, to love Francesca. Not to travel, or work, but to love. “I know that now. I have been falling from the rim of a grat, high place, somewhere back in time, for many more years than I have lived in this life. And through all those years, I have been falling toward you.”

Robert James Waller