THE BROKEN MELODY
“I want to write things in my diary,” said Angela. “Now, lest I forget or they change colour. I want to write here, so that afterward, when I read the page I may see the pictures.”
They were in the palace of the giant redwoods, she and Nick, and several robins and chipmunks. They had been there all day, and soon it would be sunset. Then the moon would come to light them home. They would leave the palace, and the Best Day would end.
They had lunched and dined with a huge fallen log for a table, and squirrels for their honoured guests. Now they had come back (carrying out a plan made in the morning) to sit under the Grizzly Giant, king of the great Sequoias, and there watch the sun setting. The Giant seemed to know all they were doing and saying. Not only that, but what they were thinking, too. He had great deep-set black eyes, which some foolish people might mistake for knot-holes, and with these he looked down gravely, perhaps benevolently, on the dark head and the golden one.
That was his human aspect; but he had others, and it was about one of them that Angela wished to write—just a few words which she might like to read again some day.
In the gray suede receptacle which had temporarily and publicly superseded the gold bag, she carried a small book. It was one of three volumes. Two had been filled since her arrival in America, but this was just begun. There was not much in it yet. It began with El Portal. Where would it stop? Already she was wondering. Maybe she would never write any more after to-day. Or the story might go on for a little, and end when this trip with her “trail guide” ended. Or it might continue, more perfunctorily, just long enough to lay the foundation of her new house, the plans of which were now materializing in an architect’s brain. Her interest in those plans had fallen asleep. Everything outside this vast cathedral of a thousand fluted red columns seemed far away and unreal. The heart of the world was throbbing here, like the music of a muffled organ, with only Nick Hilliard and herself for audience.
“I didn’t know you kept a diary,” said Nick. “Somehow you don’t seem the sort who would.”
“I don’t ‘keep’ one,” Angela explained. “When I was a little girl and went abroad with my mother, I used to write things about the days to please my father at home. I loved him very much. But—he never saw the book. After he died I wrote no more, until—I came to California. Now” (she spoke hastily), “I write about things, not people. I make pictures for myself to look at afterward; for I can’t bear to think that my impressions may grow dim, even when I’m old.”
“I suppose I mustn’t ask to see what you write to-day?” Nick ventured. By and by he meant to ask a thing so much bolder and bigger that he wished to try his feet on the difficult path.