She had pulled her deck-chair forward, until she sat in a flood of sunshine, and the bright rays, falling on her mass of rich brown hair, heightened all the little glints of red-gold till they looked like living bits of flame. Oh the vitality of that hair! the intense glow of those eyes in whose depths the flame-like glitter was reflected as the voice, too, caught fire from the fervid lines!
Soon the passion and charm of the poem cast its spell over them both as they followed the fate of the unhappy lovers through the heart-ache of their evanescent dream.
Their eyes met with a quick thrill of understanding.
“It is—Fate, again,” Paul whispered. “Read on, Opal!”
She read and again they looked, and again they understood.
“I cannot read any more of it,” she faltered, a real fear in her voice. “Let us put it away.”
“No, no!” he pleaded. “It’s true—too true. Read on, please, dear!”
“I cannot, Paul. It is too sad!”
“Then let me read it, Opal, and you can listen!”
And he took the book gently from her hand, and read until the sun was smiling its farewell to the laughing waters.
* * * * *
That evening a strong wind was playing havoc with the waves, and the fury of the maddened spray was beating a fierce accompaniment to their hearts.
“How I love the wind,” said Opal. “More than all else in Nature I love it, I think, whatever its mood may be. I never knew why—probably because I, too, am capricious and full of changing moods. If it is tender and caressing, I respond to its appeal; if it is boisterous and wild, I grow reckless and rash in sympathy; and when it is fierce and passionate, I feel my blood rush within me. I am certainly a child of the wind!”
“Let us hope you will never experience a cyclone,” said the Count, drily. “It might be disastrous!”
“True, it might,” said Opal, and she did not smile. “I echo your kind hope, Count de Roannes.”
And the Boy looked, and listened, and loved!
As they left the dinner-table, Opal passed the Boy on her way to her stateroom, and laying her hand upon his arm, looked up into his face appealingly. He wondered how any man could resist her.
“Let’s put the book away, Paul, and never look at it again!”
“Will you be good to me if I do?” he demanded.
She considered a moment. “How?” she asked, finally.
“Come out for just a few moments under the stars, and say good-night.”
“The idea! I can say good-night here and now!” She hesitated.
“Please, Opal! I seldom see you alone—really alone—and this is our last night, you know. To-morrow we shall part—perhaps forever—who knows? Can you be so cruel as to refuse this one request. Please come!”
His eyes were wooing, her heart fluttering in response.