“The more we see of Flora, the more we like her.”
Nor this: “Heard a great, but awful, sermon on the duty of resisting Northern oppression.”
But this: “Connie thinks he ‘inclines’ to me. Ho! all he’s ever said has been for his far-away friend. I wish he would incline, or else go ten times as far away! Only not to the war—God forbid! Ah, me, how I long for his inclining! And while I long he laughs, and the more he laughs the more I long, for I never, never so doted on any one’s laugh. Oh, shame! to love before—”
What sound was that below? No mocking-bird note, no south wind in the foliage, but the kiss of fingers on strings! Warily it stole in at the window, while softly as an acacia the diary closed its leaves. The bent head stirred not, but a thrill answered through the hearer’s frame as a second cadence ventured up and in and a voice followed it in song. Tremblingly the book slid into the drawer, inner and outer lock clicked whisperingly, and gliding to a door she harkened for any step of the household, while she drank the strains, her bosom heaving with equal alarm and rapture.
If any song is good which serves a lover’s ends we need claim no more for the one that rose to Anna on the odors of the garden and drove her about the room, darting, clinging, fluttering, returning, like her own terrified bird above her in its cage.
When Sylvia sighs
And veils the worshipped wonder
Of her blue eyes
Their sacred curtains under,
Naught can so nigh please me as my tender anguish.
Only grief can ease me while those lashes languish.
Woe best beguiles;
Mirth, wait thou other whiles;
Thou shalt borrow all my sorrow
When Sylvia smiles.
But what a strange effect! Could this be that Anna. Callender who “would no more ever again seem small, than the ocean?” Is this that maiden of the “belated, gradual smile” whom the singer himself so lately named “a profound pause?” Your eyes, fair girl, could hardly be more dilated if they saw riot, fire, or shipwreck. Nor now could your brow show more exaltation responsive to angels singing in the sun; nor now your frame show more affright though soldiers were breaking in your door. Anna, Anna! your fingers are clenched in your palms, and in your heart one frenzy implores the singer to forbear, while another bids him sing on though the heavens fall. Anna Callender! do you not know this? You have dropped into a chair, you grip the corners of your desk. Now you are up again, trembling and putting out your lights. And now you seek to relight them, but cannot remember the place or direction of anything, and when you have found out what you were looking for, do not know how much time has flown, except that the song is still in its first stanza. Are you aware that your groping hand has seized and rumpled into its palm a long strand of slender ribbon lately unwound from your throat?