“’The blessed damozel leaned
From the gold bar of Heaven;
Her eyes were deeper than the depth
Of waters stilled at even;
She had three lilies in her hand
And the stars in her hair were seven.’”
Francesca’s eyes filled and the stars swam before her, for she remembered the three white lilies the Colonel had put into the still hands of his boy’s mother, just before the casket was closed. “I wonder,” she breathed, “if—they—know.”
“I wonder, too,” he said.
The strains of the violin floated out upon the scented night, vibrant with love and longing, with passion and pain. Something had come into the music that was never there before, but only Rose knew it.
“Richard,” said Francesca, suddenly, “if you should go first, and it should be as we hope and pray it may be—if people know each other there, and can speak and be understood, will you tell him that I am keeping the faith; that I have only been waiting since we parted?”
“Yes. And if it should be the other way, will you tell her that I, too, am waiting and keeping the faith, and that I have done well with our boy?”
“I will,” she promised.
The last chord of violin and piano died into silence. Colonel Kent bent down and lifted Madame’s hand to his lips, then they went in together.
AN ENCHANTED HOUR
The days dragged on so wearily that, to Rose, the hours seemed unending. Allison came to the house frequently, but seldom spoke of his music; for more than a week, he did not ask her to play at all. On the rare occasions when he brought his violin with him, the old harmony seemed entirely gone. The pianist’s fingers often stumbled over the keys even though Allison played with new authority and that magical power that goes by the name of “inspiration,” for want of a better word.
Once she made a mistake, changing a full chord into a dissonance so harsh and nerve-racking that Allison shuddered, then frowned. When they had finished, he turned to her, saying, kindly: “You’re tired, Rose. I’ve been a selfish brute and let you work too hard.”
Quick denial was on her lips, but she stopped in time and followed his lead gracefully. “Yes, and my head aches, too. If all of you will excuse me, I’ll go up and rest for a little while.”
Evening after evening, she made the same excuse, longing for her own room, with a locked and bolted door between her and the outer world. Lonely and miserable though she was, she had at least the sense of shelter. Pride, too, sustained her, for, looking back to the night they met, months ago, she could remember no word nor act, or even a look of hers that had been out of keeping.
Over and over again she insisted to herself, stubbornly: “I will have nothing that is not true,—nothing that is not true.” In the midnight silences, when she lay wide awake, though all the rest of the world slept, the words chimed in with her heart-beats: “Nothing that is not true—nothing—that is—not true.”