Unconsciously the poor girl had yielded to the old habit of self-expression in music. Her heart had been heavy, and now was sad indeed. Earthly hope had been growing dim, but the words of faith she had heard had not been without sustaining influence. With the deep longing of her woman’s nature for love—divine love, if earthly love must be denied—her voice in its pathos was unconsciously an appeal, full of entreaty. She half forgot her surroundings; they were nothing in her present mood. The little audience of strangers gave a sense of solitude.
The quaint old tune was rich in plaintive harmony. It had survived the winnowing process of time, and had endeared itself to the popular heart because expressive of the heart’s unrest and desire for something unpossessed. Along this old, well-worn musical channel Madge poured the full tide of her feeling, which had both the solemnity and the pathos inseparable from all deep and sacred emotion. Graydon was now sure that he must dismiss one of his impressions of Madge, and finally. No one could sing like that and be trivial at heart. “I don’t understand her,” he muttered, gloomily, “but I appreciate one thing. She has withheld from me her confidence, she does not wish to keep her old place in my affection, and has deposed herself from it. She appears to be under the influence of a brood of sentimental aspirations. I shall remain my old self, nor shall I gratify her by admiring wonder. The one thing that would make life a burden to me is an intense, aesthetical, rapturously devotional woman, with her mental eye fixed on a vague ideal. In such society I should feel much like a man compelled to walk on stilts all the time. The idea of going back to the hotel, smoking a cigar, and talking of the ordinary affairs of life, after such music as that!”
“It was very kind of you to come over for me,” said Madge, as she came out. “Thank you, doctor; no, there is no need of your going back with me. Good-night.”
“Thanks to you, Miss Alden, thanks, thanks. The sermon was good, but that last hymn rounded up Sunday for me. I was going up to the house, but I’ll go home and keep that music in my ears. If they had known, they wouldn’t have spared you from the hotel music to-night.”
“Please say nothing about it—that is all I ask,” she said, as she took Graydon’s arm.
“Yes, Madge,” he began, quietly, “you sung well. You had the rudiments of a fine voice years ago. In gaining strength you have also won the power to sing.”
“Yes,” she said, simply.
“Do you sing much?”
“I do not wish to sing at all in the hotel. I did not study music in order to be conspicuous.”
“Have you studied it very carefully?”
“Please leave out the word ‘very.’ I studied it as a young girl studies, not scientifically. I had a good master, and he did his best for me. Poor Herr Brachmann! he was sorry to have me come away. Perhaps in time I can make progress that will satisfy him better. I could see that he was often dissatisfied.”