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Chapter 10 Wherein Elnora has more financial troubles, and Mrs. Comstoc_gain hears the song of the Limberlost

  • The following night Elnora hurried to Sintons'. She threw open the back doo_nd with anxious eyes searched Margaret's face.
  • "You got it!" panted Elnora. "You got it! I can see by your face that you did.
  • Oh, give it to me!"
  • "Yes, I got it, honey, I got it all right, but don't be so fast. It had bee_ept in such a damp place it needed glueing, it had to have strings, and a ke_as gone. I knew how much you wanted it, so I sent Wesley right to town wit_t. They said they could fix it good as new, but it should be varnished, an_hat it would take several days for the glue to set. You can have i_aturday."
  • "You found it where you thought it was? You know it's his?"
  • "Yes, it was just where I thought, and it's the same violin I've seen him pla_undreds of times. It's all right, only laying so long it needs fixing."
  • "Oh Aunt Margaret! Can I ever wait?"
  • "It does seem a long time, but how could I help it? You couldn't do anythin_ith it as it was. You see, it had been hidden away in a garret, and it neede_leaning and drying to make it fit to play again. You can have it Saturda_ure. But Elnora, you've got to promise me that you will leave it here, or i_own, and not let your mother get a hint of it. I don't know what she'd do."
  • "Uncle Wesley can bring it here until Monday. Then I will take it to school s_hat I can practise at noon. Oh, I don't know how to thank you. And there'_ore than the violin for which to be thankful. You've given me my father. Las_ight I saw him plainly as life."
  • "Elnora you were dreaming!"
  • "I know I was dreaming, but I saw him. I saw him so closely that a tiny whit_car at the corner of his eyebrow showed. I was just reaching out to touch hi_hen he disappeared."
  • "Who told you there was a scar on his forehead?"
  • "No one ever did in all my life. I saw it last night as he went down. And oh, Aunt Margaret! I saw what she did, and I heard his cries! No matter what sh_oes, I don't believe I ever can be angry with her again. Her heart is broken, and she can't help it. Oh, it was terrible, but I am glad I saw it. Now, _ill always understand."
  • "I don't know what to make of that," said Margaret. "I don't believe in suc_tuff at all, but you couldn't make it up, for you didn't know."
  • "I only know that I played the violin last night, as he played it, and while _layed he came through the woods from the direction of Carneys'. It was summe_nd all the flowers were in bloom. He wore gray trousers and a blue shirt, hi_ead was bare, and his face was beautiful. I could almost touch him when h_ank."
  • Margaret stood perplexed. "I don't know what to think of that!" sh_jaculated. "I was next to the last person who saw him before he was drowned.
  • It was late on a June afternoon, and he was dressed as you describe. He wa_areheaded because he had found a quail's nest before the bird began to brood, and he gathered the eggs in his hat and left it in a fence corner to get o_is way home; they found it afterward."
  • "Was he coming from Carneys'?"
  • "He was on that side of the quagmire. Why he ever skirted it so close as t_et caught is a mystery you will have to dream out. I never could understan_t."
  • "Was he doing something he didn't want my mother to know?"
  • "Why?"
  • "Because if he had been, he might have cut close the swamp so he couldn't b_een from the garden. You know, the whole path straight to the pool where h_ank can be seen from our back door. It's firm on our side. The danger is o_he north and east. If he didn't want mother to know, he might have tried t_ass on either of those sides and gone too close. Was he in a hurry?"
  • "Yes, he was," said Margaret. "He had been away longer than he expected, an_e almost ran when he started home."
  • "And he'd left his violin somewhere that you knew, and you went and got it.
  • I'll wager he was going to play, and didn't want mother to find it out!"
  • "It wouldn't make any difference to you if you knew every little thing, s_uit thinking about it, and just be glad you are to have what he loved best o_nything."
  • "That's true. Now I must hurry home. I am dreadfully late."
  • Elnora sprang up and ran down the road, but when she approached the cabin sh_limbed the fence, crossed the open woods pasture diagonally and entered a_he back garden gate. As she often came that way when she had been looking fo_ocoons her mother asked no questions.
  • Elnora lived by the minute until Saturday, when, contrary to his usual custom, Wesley went to town in the forenoon, taking her along to buy some groceries.
  • Wesley drove straight to the music store, and asked for the violin he had lef_o be mended.
  • In its new coat of varnish, with new keys and strings, it seemed much like an_ther violin to Sinton, but to Elnora it was the most beautiful instrumen_ver made, and a priceless treasure. She held it in her arms, touched th_trings softly and then she drew the bow across them in whispering measure.
  • She had no time to think what a remarkably good bow it was for sixteen years'
  • disuse. The tan leather case might have impressed her as being in fin_ondition also, had she been in a state to question anything. She did remembe_o ask for the bill and she was gravely presented with a slip calling for fou_trings, one key, and a coat of varnish, total, one dollar fifty. It seemed t_lnora she never could put the precious instrument in the case and start home.
  • Wesley left her in the music store where the proprietor showed her all h_ould about tuning, and gave her several beginners' sheets of notes an_cales. She carried the violin in her arms as far as the crossroads at th_orner of their land, then reluctantly put it under the carriage seat.
  • As soon as her work was done she ran down to Sintons' and began to play, an_n Monday the violin went to school with her. She made arrangements with th_uperintendent to leave it in his office and scarcely took time for her foo_t noon, she was so eager to practise. Often one of the girls asked her t_tay in town all night for some lecture or entertainment. She could take th_iolin with her, practise, and secure help. Her skill was so great that th_eader of the orchestra offered to give her lessons if she would play to pa_or them, so her progress was rapid in technical work. But from the first da_he instrument became hers, with perfect faith that she could play as he_ather did, she spent half her practice time in imitating the sounds of al_utdoors and improvising the songs her happy heart sang in those days.
  • So the first year went, and the second and third were a repetition; but th_ourth was different, for that was the close of the course, ending wit_raduation and all its attendant ceremonies and expenses. To Elnora thes_ppeared mountain high. She had hoarded every cent, thinking twice before sh_arted with a penny, but teaching natural history in the grades had taken tim_rom her studies in school which must be made up outside. She was _onscientious student, ranking first in most of her classes, and standing hig_n all branches. Her interest in her violin had grown with the years. She wen_o school early and practised half an hour in the little room adjoining th_tage, while the orchestra gathered. She put in a full hour at noon, an_emained another half hour at night. She carried the violin to Sintons' o_aturday and practised all the time she could there, while Margaret watche_he road to see that Mrs. Comstock was not coming. She had become so skilfu_hat it was a delight to hear her play music of any composer, but when sh_layed her own, that was joy inexpressible, for then the wind blew, the wate_ippled, the Limberlost sang her songs of sunshine, shadow, black storm, an_hite night.
  • Since her dream Elnora had regarded her mother with peculiar tenderness. Th_irl realized, in a measure, what had happened. She avoided anything tha_ossibly could stir bitter memories or draw deeper a line on the hard, whit_ace. This cost many sacrifices, much work, and sometimes delayed progress, but the horror of that awful dream remained with Elnora. She worked her wa_heerfully, doing all she could to interest her mother in things that happene_n school, in the city, and by carrying books that were entertaining from th_ublic library.
  • Three years had changed Elnora from the girl of sixteen to the very verge o_omanhood. She had grown tall, round, and her face had the loveliness o_erfect complexion, beautiful eyes and hair and an added touch from withi_hat might have been called comprehension. It was a compound of self-reliance, hard knocks, heart hunger, unceasing work, and generosity. There was no for_f suffering with which the girl could not sympathize, no work she was afrai_o attempt, no subject she had investigated she did not understand. Thes_hings combined to produce a breadth and depth of character altogethe_nusual. She was so absorbed in her classes and her music that she had no_een able to gather many specimens. When she realized this and hunte_ssiduously, she soon found that changing natural conditions had affected suc_ork. Men all around were clearing available land. The trees fell whereve_orn would grow. The swamp was broken by several gravel roads, dotted i_laces around the edge with little frame houses, and the machinery of oi_ells; one especially low place around the region of Freckles's room wa_early all that remained of the original. Wherever the trees fell the moistur_ried, the creeks ceased to flow, the river ran low, and at times the bed wa_ry. With unbroken sweep the winds of the west came, gathering force wit_very mile and howled and raved; threatening to tear the shingles from th_oof, blowing the surface from the soil in clouds of fine dust and rapidl_hanging everything. From coming in with two or three dozen rare moths in _ay, in three years' time Elnora had grown to be delighted with finding two o_hree. Big pursy caterpillars could not be picked from their favourite bushes, when there were no bushes. Dragonflies would not hover over dry places, an_utterflies became scarce in proportion to the flowers, while no land yield_ver three crops of Indian relics.
  • All the time the expense of books, clothing and incidentals had continued.
  • Elnora added to her bank account whenever she could, and drew out when she wa_ompelled, but she omitted the important feature of calling for a balance. So, one early spring morning in the last quarter of the fourth year, she almos_ainted when she learned that her funds were gone. Commencement with its extr_xpense was coming, she had no money, and very few cocoons to open in June, which would be too late. She had one collection for the Bird Woman complete t_ pair of Imperialis moths, and that was her only asset. On the day she adde_hese big Yellow Emperors she had been promised a check for three hundre_ollars, but she would not get it until these specimens were secured. Sh_emembered that she never had found an Emperor before June.
  • Moreover, that sum was for her first year in college. Then she would be o_ge, and she meant to sell enough of her share of her father's land to finish.
  • She knew her mother would oppose her bitterly in that, for Mrs. Comstock ha_lung to every acre and tree that belonged to her husband. Her land was almos_omplete forest where her neighbours owned cleared farms, dotted with well_hat every hour sucked oil from beneath her holdings, but she was too absorbe_n the grief she nursed to know or care. The Brushwood road and the redredgin_f the big Limberlost ditch had been more than she could pay from her income, and she had trembled before the wicket as she asked the banker if she ha_unds to pay it, and wondered why he laughed when he assured her she had. Fo_rs. Comstock had spent no time on compounding interest, and never added th_ums she had been depositing through nearly twenty years. Now she thought he_unds were almost gone, and every day she worried over expenses. She could se_o reason in going through the forms of graduation when pupils had all i_heir heads that was required to graduate. Elnora knew she had to have he_iploma in order to enter the college she wanted to attend, but she did no_are utter the word, until high school was finished, for, instead of softenin_s she hoped her mother had begun to do, she seemed to remain very much th_ame.
  • When the girl reached the swamp she sat on a log and thought over the expens_he was compelled to meet. Every member of her particular set was having _arge photograph taken to exchange with the others. Elnora loved these girl_nd boys, and to say she could not have their pictures to keep was more tha_he could endure. Each one would give to all the others a handsome graduatio_resent. She knew they would prepare gifts for her whether she could make _resent in return or not. Then it was the custom for each graduating class t_ive a great entertainment and use the funds to present the school with _tatue for the entrance hall. Elnora had been cast for and was practising _art in that performance. She was expected to furnish her dress and persona_ecessities. She had been told that she must have a green gauze dress, an_here was it to come from?
  • Every girl of the class would have three beautiful new frocks fo_ommencement: one for the baccalaureate sermon, another, which could be plain, for graduation exercises, and a handsome one for the banquet and ball. Elnor_aced the past three years and wondered how she could have spent so much mone_nd not kept account of it. She did not realize where it had gone. She did no_now what she could do now. She thought over the photographs, and at las_ettled that question to her satisfaction. She studied longer over the gifts, ten handsome ones there must be, and at last decided she could arrange fo_hem. The green dress came first. The lights would be dim in the scene, an_he setting deep woods. She could manage that. She simply could not have thre_resses. She would have to get a very simple one for the sermon and do th_est she could for graduation. Whatever she got for that must be made with _uimpe that could be taken out to make it a little more festive for the ball.
  • But where could she get even two pretty dresses?
  • The only hope she could see was to break into the collection of the man fro_ndia, sell some moths, and try to replace them in June. But in her soul sh_new that never would do. No June ever brought just the things she hoped i_ould. If she spent the college money she knew she could not replace it. I_he did not, the only way was to secure a room in the grades and teach a year.
  • Her work there had been so appreciated that Elnora felt with th_ecommendation she knew she could get from the superintendent and teachers sh_ould secure a position. She was sure she could pass the examinations easily.
  • She had once gone on Saturday, taken them and secured a license for a yea_efore she left the Brushwood school.
  • She wanted to start to college when the other girls were going. If she coul_ake the first year alone, she could manage the remainder. But make that firs_ear herself, she must. Instead of selling any of her collection, she mus_unt as she never before had hunted and find a Yellow Emperor. She had to hav_t, that was all. Also, she had to have those dresses. She thought of Wesle_nd dismissed it. She thought of the Bird Woman, and knew she could not tel_er. She thought of every way in which she ever had hoped to earn money an_ealized that with the play, committee meetings, practising, and fina_xaminations she scarcely had time to live, much less to do more than the wor_equired for her pictures and gifts. Again Elnora was in trouble, and thi_ime it seemed the worst of all.
  • It was dark when she arose and went home.
  • "Mother," she said, "I have a piece of news that is decidedly not cheerful."
  • "Then keep it to yourself!" said Mrs. Comstock. "I think I have enough to bea_ithout a great girl like you piling trouble on me."
  • "My money is all gone!" said Elnora.
  • "Well, did you think it would last forever? It's been a marvel to me that it'_eld out as well as it has, the way you've dressed and gone."
  • "I don't think I've spent any that I was not compelled to," said Elnora. "I'v_ressed on just as little as I possibly could to keep going. I am heartsick. _hought I had over fifty dollars to put me through Commencement, but they tel_e it is all gone."
  • "Fifty dollars! To put you through Commencement! What on earth are yo_roposing to do?"
  • "The same as the rest of them, in the very cheapest way possible."
  • "And what might that be?"
  • Elnora omitted the photographs, the gifts and the play. She told only of th_ermon, graduation exercises, and the ball.
  • "Well, I wouldn't trouble myself over that," sniffed Mrs. Comstock. "If yo_ant to go to a sermon, put on the dress you always use for meeting. If yo_eed white for the exercises wear the new dress you got last spring. As fo_he ball, the best thing for you to do is to stay a mile away from such folly.
  • In my opinion you'd best bring home your books, and quit right now. You can'_e fixed like the rest of them, don't be so foolish as to run into it. Jus_tay here and let these last few days go. You can't learn enough more to be o_ny account."
  • "But, mother," gasped Elnora. "You don't understand!"
  • "Oh, yes, I do!" said Mrs. Comstock. "I understand perfectly. So long as th_oney lasted, you held up your head, and went sailing without even explainin_ow you got it from the stuff you gathered. Goodness knows I couldn't see. Bu_ow it's gone, you come whining to me. What have I got? Have you forgot tha_he ditch and the road completely strapped me? I haven't any money. There'_othing for you to do but get out of it."
  • "I can't!" said Elnora desperately. "I've gone on too long. It would make _reak in everything. They wouldn't let me have my diploma!"
  • "What's the difference? You've got the stuff in your head. I wouldn't give _ap for a scrap of paper. That don't mean anything!"
  • "But I've worked four years for it, and I can't enter—I ought to have it t_elp me get a school, when I want to teach. If I don't have my grades to show, people will think I quit because I couldn't pass my examinations. I must hav_y diploma!"
  • "Then get it!" said Mrs. Comstock.
  • "The only way is to graduate with the others."
  • "Well, graduate if you are bound to!"
  • "But I can't, unless I have things enough like the class, that I don't look a_ did that first day."
  • "Well, please remember I didn't get you into this, and I can't get you out.
  • You are set on having your own way. Go on, and have it, and see how you lik_t!"
  • Elnora went upstairs and did not come down again that night, which her mothe_alled pouting.
  • "I've thought all night," said the girl at breakfast, "and I can't see any wa_ut to borrow the money of Uncle Wesley and pay it back from some that th_ird Woman will owe me, when I get one more specimen. But that means that _an't go to—that I will have to teach this winter, if I can get a city grad_r a country school."
  • "Just you dare go dinging after Wesley Sinton for money," cried Mrs. Comstock.
  • "You won't do any such a thing!"
  • "I can't see any other way. I've got to have the money!"
  • "Quit, I tell you!"
  • "I can't quit!—I've gone too far!"
  • "Well then, let me get your clothes, and you can pay me back."
  • "But you said you had no money!"
  • "Maybe I can borrow some at the bank. Then you can return it when the Bir_oman pays you."
  • "All right," said Elnora. "I don't need expensive things. Just some kind of _retty cheap white dress for the sermon, and a white one a little better tha_ had last summer, for Commencement and the ball. I can use the white glove_nd shoes I got myself for last year, and you can get my dress made at th_ame place you did that one. They have my measurements, and do perfect work.
  • Don't get expensive things. It will be warm so I can go bareheaded."
  • Then she started to school, but was so tired and discouraged she scarcel_ould walk. Four years' plans going in one day! For she felt that if she di_ot start to college that fall she never would. Instead of feeling relieved a_er mother's offer, she was almost too ill to go on. For the thousandth tim_he groaned: "Oh, why didn't I keep account of my money?"
  • After that the days passed so swiftly she scarcely had time to think, bu_everal trips her mother made to town, and the assurance that everything wa_ll right, satisfied Elnora. She worked very hard to pass good fina_xaminations and perfect herself for the play. For two days she had remaine_n town with the Bird Woman in order to spend more time practising and at he_ork.
  • Often Margaret had asked about her dresses for graduation, and Elnora ha_eplied that they were with a woman in the city who had made her a white dres_or last year's Commencement when she was a junior usher, and they would b_ll right. So Margaret, Wesley, and Billy concerned themselves over what the_ould give her for a present. Margaret suggested a beautiful dress. Wesle_aid that would look to every one as if she needed dresses. The thing was t_et a handsome gift like all the others would have. Billy wanted to presen_er a five-dollar gold piece to buy music for her violin. He was positiv_lnora would like that best of anything.
  • It was toward the close of the term when they drove to town one evening to tr_o settle this important question. They knew Mrs. Comstock had been alon_everal days, so they asked her to accompany them. She had been more lonel_han she would admit, filled with unusual unrest besides, and so she was gla_o go. But before they had driven a mile Billy had told that they were goin_o buy Elnora a graduation present, and Mrs. Comstock devoutly wished that sh_ad remained at home. She was prepared when Billy asked: "Aunt Kate, what ar_ou going to give Elnora when she graduates?"
  • "Plenty to eat, a good bed to sleep in, and do all the work while sh_rollops," answered Mrs. Comstock dryly.
  • Billy reflected. "I guess all of them have that," he said. "I mean a presen_ou buy at the store, like Christmas?"
  • "It is only rich folks who buy presents at stores," replied Mrs. Comstock. "_an't afford it."
  • "Well, we ain't rich," he said, "but we are going to buy Elnora something a_ine as the rest of them have if we sell a corner of the farm. Uncle Wesle_aid so."
  • "A fool and his land are soon parted," said Mrs. Comstock tersely. Wesley an_illy laughed, but Margaret did not enjoy the remark.
  • While they were searching the stores for something on which all of them coul_ecide, and Margaret was holding Billy to keep him from saying anything befor_rs. Comstock about the music on which he was determined, Mr. Brownlee me_esley and stopped to shake hands.
  • "I see your boy came out finely," he said.
  • "I don't allow any boy anywhere to be finer than Billy," said Wesley.
  • "I guess you don't allow any girl to surpass Elnora," said Mr. Brownlee. "Sh_omes home with Ellen often, and my wife and I love her. Ellen says she i_reat in her part to-night. Best thing in the whole play! Of course, you ar_n to see it! If you haven't reserved seats, you'd better start pretty soon, for the high school auditorium only seats a thousand. It's always jammed a_hese home-talent plays. All of us want to see how our children perform."
  • "Why yes, of course," said the bewildered Wesley. Then he hurried to Margaret.
  • "Say," he said, "there is going to be a play at the high school to-night; an_lnora is in it. Why hasn't she told us?"
  • "I don't know," said Margaret, "but I'm going."
  • "So am I," said Billy.
  • "Me too!" said Wesley, "unless you think for some reason she doesn't want us.
  • Looks like she would have told us if she had. I'm going to ask her mother."
  • "Yes, that's what's she's been staying in town for," said Mrs. Comstock. "It'_ome sort of a swindle to raise money for her class to buy some silly thing t_tick up in the school house hall to remember them by. I don't know whethe_t's now or next week, but there's something of the kind to be done."
  • "Well, it's to-night," said Wesley, "and we are going. It's my treat, an_e've got to hurry or we won't get in. There are reserved seats, and we hav_one, so it's the gallery for us, but I don't care so I get to take one goo_eep at Elnora."
  • "S'pose she plays?" whispered Margaret in his ear.
  • "Aw, tush! She couldn't!" said Wesley.
  • "Well, she's been doing it three years in the orchestra, and working like _lave at it."
  • "Oh, well that's different. She's in the play to-night. Brownlee told me so.
  • Come on, quick! We'll drive and hitch closest place we can find to th_uilding."
  • Margaret went in the excitement of the moment, but she was troubled.
  • When they reached the building Wesley tied the team to a railing and Bill_prang out to help Margaret. Mrs. Comstock sat still.
  • "Come on, Kate," said Wesley, reaching his hand.
  • "I'm not going anywhere," said Mrs. Comstock, settling comfortably bac_gainst the cushions.
  • All of them begged and pleaded, but it was no use. Not an inch would Mrs.
  • Comstock budge. The night was warm and the carriage comfortable, the horse_ere securely hitched. She did not care to see what idiotic thing a pack o_chool children were doing, she would wait until the Sintons returned. Wesle_old her it might be two hours, and she said she did not care if it were four, so they left her.
  • "Did you ever see such——?"
  • "Cookies!" cried Billy.
  • "Such blamed stubbornness in all your life?" demanded Wesley. "Won't come t_ee as fine a girl as Elnora in a stage performance. Why, I wouldn't miss i_or fifty dollars!
  • "I think it's a blessing she didn't," said Margaret placidly. "I begge_nusually hard so she wouldn't. I'm scared of my life for fear Elnora wil_lay."
  • They found seats near the door where they could see fairly well. Billy stoo_t the back of the hall and had a good view. By and by, a great volume o_ound welled from the orchestra, but Elnora was not playing.
  • "Told you so!" said Sinton. "Got a notion to go out and see if Kate won't com_ow. She can take my seat, and I'll stand with Billy."
  • "You sit still!" said Margaret emphatically. "This is not over yet."
  • So Wesley remained in his seat. The play opened and progressed very much a_ll high school plays have gone for the past fifty years. But Elnora did no_ppear in any of the scenes.
  • Out in the warm summer night a sour, grim woman nursed an aching heart an_ried to justify herself. The effort irritated her intensely. She felt tha_he could not afford the things that were being done. The old fear of losin_he land that she and Robert Comstock had purchased and started clearing wa_trong upon her. She was thinking of him, how she needed him, when th_rchestra music poured from the open windows near her. Mrs. Comstock endure_t as long as she could, and then slipped from the carriage and fled down th_treet.
  • She did not know how far she went or how long she stayed, but everything wa_till, save an occasional raised voice when she wandered back. She stoo_ooking at the building. Slowly she entered the wide gates and followed up th_alk. Elnora had been coming here for almost four years. When Mrs. Comstoc_eached the door she looked inside. The wide hall was lighted wit_lectricity, and the statuary and the decorations of the walls did not see_ike pieces of foolishness. The marble appeared pure, white, and the bi_ictures most interesting. She walked the length of the hall and slowly rea_he titles of the statues and the names of the pupils who had donated them.
  • She speculated on where the piece Elnora's class would buy could be placed t_dvantage.
  • Then she wondered if they were having a large enough audience to buy marble.
  • She liked it better than the bronze, but it looked as if it cost more. Ho_hite the broad stairway was! Elnora had been climbing those stairs for year_nd never told her they were marble. Of course, she thought they were wood.
  • Probably the upper hall was even grander than this. She went over to th_ountain, took a drink, climbed to the first landing and looked around her, and then without thought to the second. There she came opposite the wide-ope_oors and the entrance to the auditorium packed with people and a crow_tanding outside. When they noticed a tall woman with white face and hair an_lack dress, one by one they stepped a little aside, so that Mrs. Comstoc_ould see the stage. It was covered with curtains, and no one was doin_nything. Just as she turned to go a sound so faint that every one leane_orward and listened, drifted down the auditorium. It was difficult to tel_ust what it was; after one instant half the audience looked toward th_indows, for it seemed only a breath of wind rustling freshly opened leaves; merely a hint of stirring air.
  • Then the curtains were swept aside swiftly. The stage had been transforme_nto a lovely little corner of creation, where trees and flowers grew and mos_arpeted the earth. A soft wind blew and it was the gray of dawn. Suddenly _obin began to sing, then a song sparrow joined him, and then several oriole_egan talking at once. The light grew stronger, the dew drops trembled, flowe_erfume began to creep out to the audience; the air moved the branches gentl_nd a rooster crowed. Then all the scene was shaken with a babel of bird note_n which you could hear a cardinal whistling, and a blue finch piping. Bac_omewhere among the high branches a dove cooed and then a horse neighe_hrilly. That set a blackbird crying, "T'check," and a whole flock answere_t. The crows began to caw and a lamb bleated. Then the grosbeaks, chats, an_ireos had something to say, and the sun rose higher, the light grew stronge_nd the breeze rustled the treetops loudly; a cow bawled and the whol_arnyard answered. The guineas were clucking, the turkey gobbler strutting, the hens calling, the chickens cheeping, the light streamed down straigh_verhead and the bees began to hum. The air stirred strongly, and away in a_nseen field a reaper clacked and rattled through ripening wheat while th_river whistled. An uneasy mare whickered to her colt, the colt answered, an_he light began to decline. Miles away a rooster crowed for twilight, and dus_as coming down. Then a catbird and a brown thrush sang against a grosbeak an_ hermit thrush. The air was tremulous with heavenly notes, the lights wen_ut in the hall, dusk swept across the stage, a cricket sang and a katydi_nswered, and a wood pewee wrung the heart with its lonesome cry. Then a nigh_awk screamed, a whip-poor-will complained, a belated killdeer swept the sky, and the night wind sang a louder song. A little screech owl tuned up in th_istance, a barn owl replied, and a great horned owl drowned both thei_oices. The moon shone and the scene was warm with mellow light. The bir_oices died and soft exquisite melody began to swell and roll. In the centr_f the stage, piece by piece the grasses, mosses and leaves dropped from a_mbankment, the foliage softly blew away, while plainer and plainer came th_utlines of a lovely girl figure draped in soft clinging green. In her showe_f bright hair a few green leaves and white blossoms clung, and they fell ove_er robe down to her feet. Her white throat and arms were bare, she leane_orward a little and swayed with the melody, her eyes fast on the clouds abov_er, her lips parted, a pink tinge of exercise in her cheeks as she drew he_ow. She played as only a peculiar chain of circumstances puts it in the powe_f a very few to play. All nature had grown still, the violin sobbed, sang, danced and quavered on alone, no voice in particular; the soul of the melod_f all nature combined in one great outpouring.
  • At the doorway, a white-faced woman endured it as long as she could and the_ell senseless. The men nearest carried her down the hall to the fountain, revived her, and then placed her in the carriage to which she directed them.
  • The girl played on and never knew. When she finished, the uproar of applaus_ounded a block down the street, but the half-senseless woman scarcel_ealized what it meant. Then the girl came to the front of the stage, bowed, and lifting the violin she played her conception of an invitation to dance.
  • Every living soul within sound of her notes strained their nerves to sit stil_nd let only their hearts dance with her. When that began the woman ran towar_he country. She never stopped until the carriage overtook her half-way to he_abin. She said she had grown tired of sitting, and walked on ahead. Tha_ight she asked Billy to remain with her and sleep on Elnora's bed. Then sh_itched headlong upon her own, and suffered agony of soul such as she neve_efore had known. The swamp had sent back the soul of her loved dead and pu_t into the body of the daughter she resented, and it was almost more than sh_ould endure and live.