The flight of this swarm of various beauty recalled the conversation of last night; and breaking off unobserved a long fine tendril of the leveloo, I said lightly—
“Flower-birds are not so well-trained as esvee, bambina.”
Never forgetting a word of mine, and never failing to catch with quick intelligence the sense of the most epigrammatic or delicate metaphor, Eveena started and looked up, as if stung by a serious reproach. Fancying that overpowering fatigue had so shaken her nerves, I would not allow her to speak. But I did not understand how much she had been distressed, till in her own chamber, cloak and veil thrown aside, she stood beside my seat, her sleeveless arms folded behind her, drooping like a lily beaten down by a thunderstorm. Then she murmured sadly—
“I did not think of offending. But you are quite right; disobedience should never pass.”
“Certainly not,” I replied, with a smile she did not see. Taking both the little hands in my left, I laid the tendril on her soft white shoulders, but so gently that in her real distress she did not feel the touch. “You see I can keep my word; but never let me tire you again. My flower-bird cannot take wing if she anger me in earnest.”
“Are you not angered now?” she asked, glancing up in utter surprise.
My eyes, or the sight of the leveloo, answered her; and a sweet bright smile broke through her look of frightened, penitent submission, as she snatched the tendril and snapped it in my hand.
“Cruel!” she said, with a pretty assumption of ill-usage, “to visit a first fault with the whip.”
“You are hard to please, bambina! I knew no better. Seriously, until I can measure your strength more truly, never again let me feel that in inviting your company I have turned my pleasure into your pain.”
“No, indeed,” she urged, once more in earnest. “Girls so seldom pass the gate, and men never walk where a carriage will go, or I should not have been so stupid. But if I had blistered my feet, and the leveloo had been a nut-vine, the fruit was worth the scratches.”
“What do you know, my child, either of blisters or stripes?”