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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 104 pages of information about The Happy Venture.

CHAPTER XII

“ROSES IN THE MOONLIGHT”

The Maestro’s house wore always a mantle of gentle aloofness, like something forgotten among its over-grown garden paths.  To Kirk, it was a place under a spell; to the others, who could see its grave, vine-covered, outer walls and its dim interior crowded with strange and wonderful things, it seemed a lodging place for memories, among which the Maestro moved as if he himself were living a remembered dream.

On this rich September afternoon, they found him standing on the upper terrace, waiting for them.  He took Kirk’s hand, offered his arm gallantly to Felicia, and they all entered the high-studded hall, where the firelight, reaching rosy shafts from the library, played catch-as-catch-can with the shadows.

Supper, a little later, was served in the dining-room—­the first meal that the Sturgises had eaten there.  Tall candles burned in taller silver candlesticks; their light flowed gently across the gleaming cloth, touched the Maestro’s white hair, and lost itself timidly in the dim area outside the table.  Kirk was enthroned in a big carved chair at the foot of the table, very grave and happy, with a candle at either side.

“A fit shrine for devotion,” murmured the Maestro, looking across at him, and then, turning, busied himself vigorously with the carving.

It was a quite wonderful supper—­banquet would have been a more fitting name for it, the Sturgises thought.  For such food was not seen on the little table at Applegate Farm.  And there was raspberry wine, in which to drink Kirk’s health, and the Maestro stood up and made a beautiful speech.  There was also a cake, with nine candles flaring bravely,—­no one had ever before thought to give Kirk a birthday cake with candles that he could not see, and he was deeply impressed.

And after it was all over, they gathered content about the library fire, and the Maestro went to the piano.

“Kirk,” he said quietly, “I have no very exciting present for you.  But once, long ago, I made a song for a child on his birthday.  He was just as old as you.  He has no longer any need of it—­so I give it, my dear, to you.  It is the greatest gift I have to give.”

In the silence that followed, there crept into the firelit room the star-clear notes of a little prelude.  Then the Maestro sang softly: 

“Roses in the moonlight,
  To-night all thine,
Pale in the shade, and bright
  In the star-shine;
Roses and lilies white,
  Dear child of mine!

My heart I give to thee,
  This day all thine;
At thy feet let it be—­
  It is the sign
Of all thou art to me,
  Dear child—­”

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