THE LADY OF THE PERGOLA
Laugh, thy girlish laughter;
Then, the moment after,
Weep thy girlish, tears!
April, that mine ears
Like a lover greetest,
If I tell thee, sweetest,
All my hopes and fears,
Laugh thy golden laughter,
But, the moment after,
Weep thy golden tears!
A few photographs of foreign scenes tacked on the walls; a Roman blanket hung as a tapestry over the mantel; a portfolio and traveler’s writing materials distributed about a table produced for the purpose, and additions to the meager book-shelf—a line of Baedekers, a pocket atlas, a comprehensive American railway guide, several volumes of German and French poetry—and the place was not so bad. Armitage slept for an hour after a simple luncheon had been prepared by Oscar, studied his letters and cablegrams—made, in fact, some notes in regard to them—and wrote replies. Then, at four o’clock, he told Oscar to saddle the horses.
“It is spring, and in April a man’s blood will not be quiet. We shall go forth and taste the air.”
He had studied the map of Lamar County with care, and led the way out of his own preserve by the road over which they had entered in the morning. Oscar and his horses were a credit to the training of the American army, and would have passed inspection anywhere. Armitage watched his adjutant with approval. The man served without question, and, quicker of wit than of speech, his buff-gauntleted hand went to his hat-brim whenever Armitage addressed him.
They sought again the spot whence Armitage had first looked down upon Storm Valley, and he opened his pocket map, the better to clarify his ideas of the region.
“We shall go down into the valley, Oscar,” he said; and thereafter it was he that led.
They struck presently into an old road that had been an early highway across the mountains. Above and below the forest hung gloomily, and passing clouds darkened the slopes and occasionally spilled rain. Armitage drew on his cloak and Oscar enveloped himself in a slicker as they rode through a sharp shower. At a lower level they came into fair weather again, and, crossing a bridge, rode down into Storm Valley. The road at once bore marks of care; and they passed a number of traps that spoke unmistakably of cities, and riders whose mounts knew well the bridle-paths of Central Park. The hotel loomed massively before them, and beyond were handsome estates and ambitious mansions scattered through the valley and on the lower slopes.
Armitage paused in a clump of trees and dismounted.
“You will stay here until I come back. And remember that we don’t know any one; and at our time of life, Oscar, one should be wary of making new acquaintances.”