But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
BY LOUISE RICE
From Ainslee’s Magazine
For many hours the hot July sun had beaten down upon the upland meadows and the pine woods of the lower New Jersey hills. So, when the dew began to fall, there arose from them a heady brew, distilled from blossoming milkweed and fruiting wild raspberry canes and mountain laurel and dried pine needles.
The Princess Dora Parse took this perfume into her lusty young lungs and blew it out again in a long sigh, after which she bent her first finger over her thumb as one must when one returns what all Romanys know to be “the breath of God.” She did this almost unconsciously, for all her faculties were busied in another matter.
The eyes of a gorgio, weakened by an indoor life, would never have been able to distinguish the small object for which the princess looked, for she was perched up on the high seat of the red Romany wardo, and she drove her two strong, shaggy horses with a free and careless hand. But to Dora Parse the blur of vague shadows gliding by each wheel was not vague at all. Suddenly she checked her horses and sprang down.
The patteran for which she was looking was laid beneath a clump of the flowering weed which the Romanys call “stars in the sky.” The gorgios know it as Queen Ann’s lace, and the farmers curse it by the name of the wild carrot. The patteran was like a miniature log cabin without a roof, and across the top one large stick was laid, pointing upward along the mountain road.
Two brown and slender fingers on the big braid which dropped over her shoulder, the princess meditated, a shiver of fear running through her. What, she asked herself, could this mean? Why, for the first time in years, were the wagons to go to the farm of Jan Jacobus? Even if it were only a chance happening, it was a most unfortunate one, for young Jan, the fair-haired, giant son of old Jacobus, with his light blue eyes and his drawling, insolent speech, was the last person in the world that she wanted to see, especially with her man near.
For she had meant no harm. Many and many a time she had smiled into the eyes of men and felt pride in her power over them. Still—and yet—The princess scattered the patteran with her foot, for she knew that all the wagons must be ahead of her, since she had lagged so, and she leaped to her seat with one easy, lithe swing and drove on up the darkening road.