An act is only a crystallized thought.
John the Baptist, the strong, fine youth, came up out of the wilderness crying in the streets of Jerusalem, “Repent ye! Repent ye!”
Salome heard the call and from her window looked with half- closed, catlike eyes upon the semi-naked, young fanatic.
She smiled, did this idle creature of luxury, as she lay there amid the cushions on her couch, and gazed through the casement upon the preacher in the street.
Suddenly a thought came to her.
She arose on her elbow–she called her slaves.
They clothed her in a gaudy gown, dressed her hair, and led her forth.
Salome followed the wild, weird, religious enthusiast.
She pushed through the crowd and placed herself near the man, so the smell of her body would reach his nostrils.
His eyes ranged the swelling lines of her body.
Their eyes met.
She half-smiled and gave him that look which had snared the soul of many another.
But he only gazed at her with passionless, judging intensity and repeated his cry, “Repent ye. Repent ye, for the day is at hand!”
Her reply, uttered soft and low, was this: “I would kiss thy lips!”
He moved away and she reached to seize his garment, repeating, “I would kiss thy lips–I would kiss thy lips!”
He turned aside, and forgot her, as he continued his warning cry, and went his way.
The next day she waylaid the youth again; as he came near she suddenly and softly stepped forth and said in that same low, purring voice, “I would kiss thy lips!”
He repulsed her with scorn.
She threw her arms about him and sought to draw his head down near hers.
He pushed her from him with sinewy hands, sprang as from a pestilence, and was lost in the pressing throng.
That night she danced before Herod Antipas, and when the promise was recalled that she should have anything she wished, she named the head of the only man who had ever turned away from her. “The head of John the Baptist on a charger!”
In an hour the wish was gratified.
Two eunuchs stood before Salome with a silver tray bearing its fearsome burden.
The woman smiled–a smile of triumph, as she stepped forth with tinkling feet.
A look of pride came over the painted face.
Her jeweled fingers reached into the blood-matted hair. She lifted the head aloft, and the bracelets on her brown, bare arms fell to her shoulders, making strange music. Her face pressed the face of the dead.
In exultation she exclaimed, “I have kissed thy lips!”