"Now, when all is done, and I lie so low, I cannot sleep for this, my only care; For though of that dim place I could not know; That where my heart was fain I did not go, Nor saw you musing there!
"Well, well, these things irk a ghost so. Naturally, as soon as possible I made my way back—to be satisfied—to be satisfied that you were still mine." He bent a piercing look upon her.
"I observe by the calendar on your writing-table that some years have elapsed since my——um——since I expired," he added, with a faint blush. It appears that the matter of their dissolution is, in conversation, rather kept in the background by well-bred ghosts.
"Heigho! How time does fly! You'll be joining me soon, my dear."
She drew herself splendidly up, and he was aware of her beauty in the full of its tenacious excellence—of the delicate insolence of Life looking upon Death—of the fact that she had forgotten him.
He rose, and confronted this, his trembling hands thrust into his pockets, then turned away to hide the dismay of his countenance. He was, however, a spook of considerable spirit, and in a jiffy he met the occasion. To her blank, indignant gaze he drew a card from his case, and, taking a pencil from the secretary, wrote, beneath the name:
Quiet to the breast Wheresoe'er it be, That gave an hour's rest To the heart of me. Quiet to the breast Till it lieth dead, And the heart be clay Where I visited. Quiet to the breast, Though forgetting quite The guest it sheltered once; To the heart, good night!
Handing her the card he bowed, and, through force of habit, turned to the door, forgetting that his ghostly pressure would not turn the knob.
As the door did not open, with a sigh of recollection for his spiritual condition, he prepared to disappear, casting one last look at the faithless Lady. She was still looking at the card in her hand, and the tears ran down her face.
"She has remembered," he reflected; "how courteous!" For a moment it seemed he could contain his disappointment, discreetly removing himself now at what he felt was the vanishing-point, with the customary reticence of the dead, but feeling overcame him. In an instant he had her in his arms, and was pouring out his love, his reproaches, the story of his longing, his doubts, his discontent, and his desperate journey back to earth for a sight of her. "And, ah!" cried he, "picture my agony at finding that you had forgotten. And yet I surmised it in the gloom. I divined it by my restlessness and my despair. Perhaps some lines that occurred to me will suggest the thing to you—you recall my old knack for versification?
"Where the grasses weep O'er his darkling bed, And the glow-worms creep, Lies the weary head Of one laid deep, who cannot sleep: The unremembered dead."
He took a chair beside her, and spoke of their old love for each other, of his fealty through all transmutations; incidentally of her beauty, of her cruelty, of the light of her face which had illumined his darksome way to her—and of a lot of other things—and the Lady bowed her head, and wept.
The hours of the night passed thus: the moon waned, and a pallor began to tinge the dusky cheek of the east, but the eloquence of the visitor still flowed on, and the Lady had his misty hands clasped to her reawakened bosom. At last a suspicion of rosiness touched the curtain. He abruptly rose.
"I cannot hold out against the morning," he said; "it is time all good ghosts were in bed."
But she threw herself on her knees before him, clasping his ethereal waist with a despairing embrace.
"Oh, do not leave me," she cried, "or my love will kill me!"
He bent eagerly above her. "Say it again—convince me!"
"I love you," she cried, again and again and again, with such an anguish of sincerity as would convince the most skeptical spook that ever revisited the glimpses of the moon.
"You will forget again," he said.
"I shall never forget!" she cried. "My life will henceforth be one continual remembrance of you, one long act of devotion to your memory, one oblation, one unceasing penitence, one agony of waiting!"
He lifted her face, and saw that it was true.
"Well," said he, gracefully wrapping his cloak about him, "well, now I shall have a little peace."
He kissed her, with a certain jaunty grace, upon her hair, and prepared to dissolve, while he lightly tapped a tattoo upon his leg with the dove-colored gloves he carried.
"Good-by, my dear!" he said; "henceforth I shall sleep o' nights; my heart is quite at rest."
"But mine is breaking," she wailed, madly trying once more to clasp his vanishing form.
He threw her a kiss from his misty finger-tips, and all that remained with her, besides her broken heart, was a faint disturbance of the air.
Page 25—Possible typo, but left it as the original. "...and contented himself, as a rule, with creeping about the passages in list slippers,..."
Page 25—arquebuse—printer typo corrected to arquebus.
Page 231—setting—printer typo corrected to sitting.
Page 255—missing word "have" inserted to: "But now I'll none of you, for you've played with me."
Page 304—Potential typo. "...walkin' round an' round the graveyard lie a six days' race fer the belt at Madison Square."
Page 325—inpatient—typo corrected to impatient. Although inpatient is a valid word, it is incorrectly used in this instance.
Page 345—is—printer typo corrected to in.
Page 408—Possible typo, but left it as in the original. "...then the affection spread to her knees and gradually extended upward."
Several instances of variant spelling of reci-pe and recipe. Left as in the original.
From A Southern Porch
A Book of Whimsy
The author does not preach the lost art of loafing. No! Nothing so direct as preaching. She merely loafs,—consistently, restfully, delightfully, but with an almost fatal hypnotic persuasiveness. She is a sort of stationary Pied Piper, luring the unwary reader to her sun-flecked porch, to watch with her the queer procession of created things go by,—from lovers and ghosts to lizards and toads.
Under the spell, convinced that loafing is better than doing, the reader stays and chuckles over the quiet humor and quaint fancies. He gets away finally,—all delightful experiences must end in this work-a-day world,—still chuckling, but with a renewed sense of life and life's values.
* * * * *
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York London
The Kiltartan Poetry Book
Prose Translations from the Irish
Author of "Irish Folk-History Plays," "Seven Short Plays," "Our Irish Theatre," etc.
Certainly no single individual has done more than Lady Gregory to revive the Irish Literature, and to bring again to light the brave old legends, the old heroic poems. From her childhood, the author has studied this ancient language, and has collected most of her material from close association with the peasants who have inherited these poems and tales.
* * * * *
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York London