The garden was perfectly still, the sea seemed to slumber, and, if a wave lapped the shore, it was with a low, almost inaudible murmur.
A butterfly hovered like a dream over her roses, and a lizard glided noiselessly, like a sudden thought, into a chink between the stones at her feet. Not a breath of air stirred, not a leaf or a twig fell from the trees.
Yonder, as if slumbering under a blue veil, lay the Calabrian coast, while nearer and more distant, but always noiselessly, ships and boats, with gently swelling sails, glided over the water. Even the cicadas seemed to sleep, and everything around was as still, as horribly still, as if the breath of the world, blooming and sparkling about her, was ready to fail.
Xanthe sat spellbound beside the sleeper, while her heart beat so rapidly and strongly that she fancied it was the only sound audible in this terrible silence.
The sunbeams poured fiercely on her head, her cheeks glowed, a painful anxiety overpowered her, and certainly not to rouse Phaon, but merely to hear some noise, she coughed twice, not without effort. When she did so the third time, the sleeper stirred, removed from his face the end of the cloak that had covered his head, slowly raised himself a little, and, without changing his recumbent posture, said simply and quietly, in an extremely musical voice:
“Is that you; Xanthe?”
The words were low, but sounded very joyous.
The girl merely cast a swift glance at the speaker, and then seemed as busily occupied with her roses as if she were sitting entirely alone.
“Well?” he asked again, fixing his large dark eyes upon her with an expression of surprise, and waiting for some greeting.
As she remained persistently silent, he exclaimed, still in the same attitude:
“I wish you a joyful morning, Xanthe.” The young girl, without answering this greeting, gazed upward to the sky and sun as long as she could endure the light, but her lips quivered, and she flung the rose she held in her hand among its fellows in her lap.
Phaon had followed the direction of her look, and again broke the silence, saying with a smile, no less quietly than before:
“Yes, indeed, the sun tells me I’ve been sleeping here a long time; it is almost noon.”
The youth’s composure aroused a storm of indignation in Xanthe’s breast. Her excitable blood fairly seethed, and she was obliged to put the utmost constraint upon herself not to throw her roses in his face.
But she succeeded in curbing her wrath, and displaying intense eagerness, as she shaded her eyes with her hand and gazed toward some ships that appeared in view.
“I don’t know what is the matter with you,” said Phaon, smoothing with his right hand the black hair that covered half his forehead. “Do you expect the ship from Messina and my father already?”
“And my cousin Leonax” replied the girl, quickly, putting a strong emphasis upon the last name.