“And the stately ships go on,
To the haven under the hill,
But oh, for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!”
made the Judge wipe his eyes, and Mrs. Batcheller say hurriedly, “She should not have done it. She should not.”
And behind the dropped curtain Judy was saying to Dr. Grennell, “I want to go back to the sea. I hate the country. I want to go back to the wind and waves. I can’t stand it here.”
But the doctor put his hand on her shoulder and looked down into her troubled face with grave eyes.
“Not now,” he said, quietly, “not while your grandfather needs you, Judy.”
Judy drew a long breath, then she put out her hand as if to make him a promise.
“No, not while grandfather needs me,” she said, “not while he needs me, Doctor.”
The children of the town of Fairfax never forgot that afternoon at Judge Jameson’s. For years they had peeped through the hedge at the fascinating Cupid of the Fountain, but never had one of them put foot in the old garden, with its mysterious nooks and formal paths, which lay in the shadow of the Great House.
But to-day with its gipsy band playing wild music, with its gaily decorated tables, its awe-inspiring Perkins,—who with his satellites offered food fit for the gods,—with its riot of spring color, it was beyond their wildest dreams.
Before they went home they all assembled again in the great dining-room from which the chairs had been taken, and on the polished floor every one, old and young, danced the Virginia Reel, the Judge leading with Miss Mary, and Mrs. Batcheller bringing up at the end of the line with Jimmie Jones.
“It was a success, wasn’t it,” said Launcelot, when the children had trooped away, and Anne and Mrs. Batcheller and the smiling Miss Mary had been driven home in the Judge’s carriage.
“Yes,” said Judy, abstractedly, watching the musicians, who were having their refreshments under the lilac bushes.
“What handsome faces they have,” she said, “so dark and wild. And their lives are so free—grandfather says they just roam around from place to place, living in the woods and picking up a little money here and there. He says their camp is just outside, and when he was driving yesterday, he saw one of them playing and asked them if they wouldn’t come here to-day.”
When the gipsies had finished they rose and went down the path towards the gate. They were talking and laughing with a vivacious play of feature and a recklessness of gesture that proclaimed them the unconscious children of nature.
“How I wish I could go with them,” said Judy, impulsively, as the young leader of the band took off his hat and waved them a debonair “good-bye.” “How I wish I could go!”