Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories.
Political questions were no longer convenient pegs to hang pessimistic epigrams on, but became matters of vital interest because they affected the moral condition of the country in which the baby was to grow up.  Socialistic agitations, which a dispassionate bachelor could afford to regard with philosophic indifference, now presented themselves as diabolical plots to undermine the baby’s happiness, and deprive her of whatever earthly goods Providence might see fit to bestow upon her, and so on, ad infinitum.  From a radical, with revolutionary sympathies, my friend in the course of a year blossomed out into a conservative Philistine with a decided streak of optimism, and all for the sake of the baby.  It was very amusing to listen to his solemn consultations with the nurse every morning before he betook himself to the office, and to watch the lively, almost child-like interest with which, on returning in the evening, he listened to her long-winded report of the baby’s wonderful doings during the day.  On Sundays, when he always spent the whole afternoon at home, I often surprised him in the most undignified attitudes, creeping about on the floor with the little girl riding on his back, or stretched out full length with his head in her lap, while she was gracious enough to interest herself in his hair, and even laughed and cooed with much inarticulate contentment.  At such times, when, perhaps, through the disordered locks, I caught a glimpse of a beaming happy face (for my visits were never of sufficient account to interfere with baby’s pleasures), I would pay my respectful tribute to the baby, acknowledging that she possessed a power, the secret of which I did not know.

But in spite of all this, I did not fail to detect that Storm’s life was not even now without its sorrow.  At our luncheons, I often saw a sad and thoughtful gloom settling upon his features; it was no longer the bitter reviling grief of former years, but a deep and mellow sadness, a regretful dwelling on mental images which were hard to contemplate and harder still to banish.

“Do you know,” he exclaimed once, as he felt that I had divined his thoughts, “her face haunts me night and day!  I feel as if my happiness in possessing the child were a daily robbery from her.  I have continued my search for her up to this hour, but I have found no trace of her.  Perhaps if you will help me, I shall not always be seeking in vain.”

I gave him my hand silently across the table; he shook it heartily, and we parted.

It was about a month after this occurrence that I happened to be sitting on one of the benches near the entrance to Central Park.  That restless spring feeling which always attacks me somewhat prematurely with the early May sunshine, had beguiled me into taking a holiday, and with a book, which had been sent me for review, lying open upon my knees, I was watching the occupants of the baby carriages which were being wheeled up and down on the pavement in front of me. 

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Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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