“She’s very lovely,” Myra agreed.
“Why didn’t you sing?” he suddenly asked.
“I didn’t need to.” The little smile was back, fastened to her lips. A certain unfamiliar embarrassment fell between them. She made no effort to dissipate it.
“Well, you should have. Heavens! it’s late! Two o’clock. I’m off to bed.” He kissed her lightly on the forehead.
“I’ll be along in a moment,” she said.
She heard him humming in the next room, heard him moving about, heard the bump of his shoes on the floor. She lay, her eyes closed. Presently she got up, went to the piano and let her fingers wander over the keys. Then she began to sing softly. Her fine critical faculties were awake. She listened while she sang—listened as if some one else would rise or fall on her verdict. There was a curious lack of vibrancy in her notes. They did not come from the heart.
Suddenly she stopped. Oliver was calling “Myra.”
She thrilled with a swift hope that brought her to her feet, flushed and tremulous.
“Aren’t you coming to bed soon? It’s too late for music,” drifted faintly querulous down the hall.
The light went out of her face.
“I’m coming.” A leaden weariness was over her. Slowly she closed the piano.
He was already asleep when she tiptoed into the room. She stood a moment staring down at him.
“The worst of it is that I shall sleep, too,” she thought.
From The Pictorial Review
The wind rose in a sharp gust, rattling the insecure windows and sighing forlornly about the corners of the house. The door unlatched itself, swung inward hesitatingly, and hung wavering for a moment on its sagging hinges. A formless cloud of gray fog blew into the warm, steamy room. But whatever ghostly visitant had paused upon the threshold, he had evidently decided not to enter, for the catch snapped shut with a quick, passionate vigour. The echo of the slamming door rang eerily through the house.
Mart Brenner’s wife laid down the ladle with which she had been stirring the contents of a pot that was simmering on the big, black stove, and, dragging her crippled foot behind her, she hobbled heavily to the door.
As she opened it a new horde of fog-wraiths blew in. The world was a gray, wet blanket. Not a light from the village below pierced the mist, and the lonely army of tall cedars on the black hill back of the house was hidden completely.
“Who’s there?” Mrs. Brenner hailed. But her voice fell flat and muffled. Far off on the beach she could dimly hear the long wail of a fog-horn.
The faint throb of hope stilled in her breast. She had not really expected to find any one at the door unless perhaps it should be a stranger who had missed his way at the cross-roads. There had been one earlier in the afternoon when the fog first came. But her husband had been at home then and his surly manner quickly cut short the stranger’s attempts at friendliness. This ugly way of Mart’s had isolated them from all village intercourse early in their life on Cedar Hill.