My little man went in whistling.
THE THING THEY LOVED
BY MARICE RUTLEDGE
From The Century Magazine
“They had vowed to live only for one another. The theme of their love was sublime enough, but the instruments were fallible. Human beings can rarely sustain a lofty note beyond the measure of a supreme moment.”
When she told her husband that David Cannon had arranged for her a series of recitals in South America, she looked to him for swift response. She was confident that anything touching on her professional life would kindle his eye and warm his voice. It was, in fact, that professional life as she interpreted it with the mind of an artist, the heart of a child, which had first drawn him to her; he had often admitted as much. During one year of rare comradeship he had never failed in his consideration for her work. He would know, she felt sure, that to go on a concert tour with David Cannon, to sing David Cannon’s songs under such conditions, presented good fortune in more than one way. He would rejoice accordingly.
But his “Why, my dear, South America!” came flatly upon her announcement. It lacked the upward ring, and his eye did not kindle, his voice did not warm. He himself felt the fictitious inflection, for he added hastily, with happier effect: “It’s a wonderful chance, dearest, isn’t it?” His voice by then had gained in heartiness, and his smile, always worshipful when turned on her, contained this time something of apology. So close were they, though, in thought, spoken or unspoken, that he had sounded a tiny alarm. Her radiance perceptibly waned. A moment before she had stood, a glowing, vital creature, beside him, eyes and lips singing a duet of delight; now with questioning heart she leaned toward her loved one.
“What is it? Don’t you want me to go? I thought you liked David. Can’t you come, too, Oliver?”
“You know I can’t, dear,” she heard him say with an attempt at lightness. Then he added: “But it’s a great chance for you. You’ll take it, of course. It was only the thought of losing you even for a little while. What selfish brutes we men are!” He had recovered himself, had defined his passing reserve in loverlike terms, and was newly aware of unworthiness. The luxury of tender persuasion, of arguing her into a sense of sweet security, concerned him next. He could not say enough, and said too much.
They were mellow against an intimate background of yellow walls lit by fire and lamps. Myra’s grand piano projected sleek and dark from a corner of warm shadow. The silver tea-set gleamed pale on a slender-legged table; a fragrance of narcissus spread dreamily. Oliver sank on the couch, drawing her down where she could become all feminine. She was that, and most adorably, her bright hair soft about lax brows, her full lips parted, her strong white hands lying in his like brooding birds. He talked on, and she played content for a while; but a moment came when with a sudden maternal gesture she drew his dark, willing head to her shoulder.