THE TOBOGGAN SLIDE.
“What is there in this blossom-hour
An omen in with every simple word?”
—ISABELLA VALANCEY CRAWFORD.
During the next few days I could do nothing of interest to me but make prudent enquiries about Alexandra Grant. I remember an answer of Little Steele’s “Ah—That is a beautiful girl!”
“You were beautiful, Alexandra!”
I caught glimpses of her on the street and in her carriage; memory marks the spots by a glow of light; they are my holy places. I saw her open her purse for a blind man begging on a church step. I watched her turn and speak politely to a ragged newsgirl. One day, when Quinet and I, coming down from College and seeing a little boy fall on the path, threw away our books and set him on his feet, it was her face of approval that beamed out of a carriage window on the opposite side of the street.
I was introduced to her at the Mackenzie’s, at a toboggan party given for Lockhart, the son, my friend.
Shall I ever forget our slide on the toboggan hill and my emotions in that simple question, “Will you slide with me?”
I was already far into a grande passion,—foolish and desperate.
She assented, stepped over to my toboggan kindly, sat down and placed her feet under its curled front. The crown of the hill about us was illumined by a circle of Chinese lanterns, and the moon, rising in the East, reflected a dim light on the fields of snow. I lifted the toboggan, gave the little run and leaped on at the end of the cushion, with my foot out behind to steer. Immediately we shot down the first descent, and as I straightened the course of the quick-flying leaf of maple wood, I felt it correspond as if intelligently. The second descent spurred our rate to an electric speed. As I bent forward, the snow flying against my face, the sound of sliding growing louder and shriller, and my foot demanding a sterner pressure to steer, a surge of exhilarating emotions suddenly rushed over me, and a thought cried “This is Alexandra! Alexandra whom you love.”
“Alexandra!” my heart returned, “I am so near you!” Her two thick golden plaits of hair fell just before my eyes. She was sitting calm and straight. The toboggan shot on like a flash, and the drift beat fiercely in my eyes. But why should I heed? Away! Away! Leave everything behind us and speed thou out with me, love, into some region where I can reveal to thee alone this earnest soul which thou has awakened into such devotion!
Yet lo, our race slackening, the moment was even then over, and having carried us straight as an arrow, the toboggan undulated gracefully like a serpent over a little rising in the path and came to a stand. She rose. The light of the rising moon just enabled me to still catch the threaded yellow of her hair and the translucent complexion.