AT THE PIANO.
When Faber called on Juliet, the morning after the last interview recorded, and found where she was gone, he did not doubt she had taken refuge with her new friends from his importunity, and was at once confirmed in the idea he had cherished through the whole wakeful night, that the cause of her agitation was nothing else than the conflict between her heart and a false sense of duty, born of prejudice and superstition. She was not willing to send him away, and yet she dared not accept him. Her behavior had certainly revealed any thing but indifference, and therefore must not make him miserable. At the same time if it was her pleasure to avoid him, what chance had he of seeing her alone at the rectory? The thought made him so savage that for a moment he almost imagined his friend had been playing him false.
“I suppose he thinks every thing fair in religion, as well as in love and war!” he said to himself. “It’s a mighty stake, no doubt—a soul like Juliet’s!”
He laughed scornfully. It was but a momentary yielding to the temptation of injustice, however, for his conscience told him at once that the curate was incapable of any thing either overbearing or underhand. He would call on her as his patient, and satisfy himself at once how things were between them. At best they had taken a bad turn.
He judged it better, however, to let a day or two pass. When he did call, he was shown into the drawing-room, where he found Helen at the piano, and Juliet having a singing-lesson from her. Till then he had never heard Juliet’s song voice. A few notes of it dimly reached him as he approached the room, and perhaps prepared him for the impression he was about to receive: when the door opened, like a wind on a more mobile sea, it raised sudden tumult in his soul. Not once in his life had he ever been agitated in such fashion; he knew himself as he had never known himself. It was as if some potent element, undreamed of before, came rushing into the ordered sphere of his world, and shouldered its elements from the rhythm of their going. It was a full contralto, with pathos in the very heart of it, and it seemed to wrap itself round his heart like a serpent of saddest splendor, and press the blood from it up into his eyes. The ladies were too much occupied to hear him announced, or note his entrance, as he stood by the door, absorbed, entranced.
Presently he began to feel annoyed, and proceeded thereupon to take precautions with himself. For Juliet was having a lesson of the severest kind, in which she accepted every lightest hint with the most heedful attention, and conformed thereto with the sweetest obedience; whence it came that Faber, the next moment after fancying he had screwed his temper to stoic pitch, found himself passing from displeasure to indignation, and thence almost to fury, as again and again some exquisite tone, that went thrilling