Out in the wooded silence a bird began to sing a mournful melody. Of the greatness of night he sang, and dead morns, and dropping stars; of dear forgotten things and loves that might have been, that may not be; of passion and unfulfilled desires, and through the pines the song entered her heart like a response. She listened, not as a girl listening to a bird, but as one artist listens to another with a rapture of appreciation. And the music comforted her. And later, in the midst of great sorrow, she saw intended significance in the occurrence.
“It was an answer,” she said, “to remind me that there will always be that solace. Give me, oh God,” she prayed, “power to make of all my sorrow music for the world!”
The day following her midnight protest she heard from Nora and old Caesar that the guests at Ravenel had gone; heard as well that “old Miss and Marse Frank were goin’ shortly”; heard it with a stirring at her heart of physical pain to which she had grown used.
On the evening of this day, a warm June evening, she expected him to come, and dressed as though there were an engagement between them to spend the evening together. In a thin white gown, low in the neck, with a kerchief of filmy lace knotted in front, sleeves that fell away at the elbow, with faint, pink roses at her breast, her black hair turned high in a curly knot, she stood in the old rose-garden when he came.
He wore a light overcoat over his evening dress, and stood hatless by the boxwood arch looking across at her.
“Katrine,” he said, “little Katrine, I have come back to you.”
His face was illumined as he spoke her name. The peculiar ability to express more than he felt was always his, but at the instant he felt more than he was able to express.
“I am glad,” she answered, not moving toward him nor offering to shake hands. It seemed enough that he was there.
“They have gone at last,” he said; adding, piously: “Thank God!”
“You did not have a good time?” she asked.
“I did not.”
“I am sorry,” she said, baffling him by the serenity of her tone.
“There were two or three occasions which stand out with a peculiarly horrible distinctness. One was the time we had an all-day picnic at Bears’ Den. Porter Brawley suggested it, and I hope he will suffer for it in eternity. It rained.”
“And there was an evening when we had charades, for which nobody had the least gift or training. It was the evening you were to come to us. Why didn’t you, Katrine?”
“I was not well,” she answered. “But I shouldn’t have come if I’d been well, Mr. Ravenel.”
She seemed to him so perfect, such an utterly desirable being, as she sat with roses in her hand and the moonlight shining on her flower-like face.
Neither noted the silence which fell between them, a silence which spoke more than language could have done, for language had become, between them, an unnecessary thing.