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Adela Cathcart, Volume 2   By: (1824-1905)

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First Page:

ADELA CATHCART

BY GEORGE MACDONALD

CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.

CHAPTER

I. SONG

II. THE CURATE AND HIS WIFE

III. THE SHADOWS

IV. THE EVENING AT THE CURATE'S

V. PERCY AND HIS MOTHER

VI. THE BROKEN SWORDS

VII. MY UNCLE PETER

ADELA CATHCART.

CHAPTER I.

SONG.

I confess I was a little dismayed to find what a solemn turn the club stories had taken. But this dismay lasted for a moment only; for I saw that Adela was deeply interested, again wearing the look that indicates abstracted thought and feeling. I said to myself:

"This is very different mental fare from what you have been used to, Adela."

But she seemed able to mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, for she had the appearance of one who is stilled by the strange newness of her thoughts. I was sure that she was now experiencing a consciousness of existence quite different from anything she had known before. But it had a curious outcome.

For, when the silence began to grow painful, no one daring to ask a question, and Mrs. Cathcart had resumed her knitting, Adela suddenly rose, and going to the piano, struck a few chords, and began to sing. The song was one of Heine's strange, ghost dreams, so unreal in everything but feeling, and therefore, as dreams, so true. Why did she choose such a song after what we had been listening to? I accounted for it by the supposition that, being but poorly provided as far as variety in music went, this was the only thing suggested to her by the tone of the paper, and, therefore, the nearest she could come to it. It served, however, to make a change and a transition; which was, as I thought, very desirable, lest any of the company should be scared from attending the club; and I resolved that I would divert the current, next time, if I could.

This was what Adela sang; and the singing of it was evidently a relief to her:

I dreamt of the daughter of a king, With a cheek white, wet, and chill; Under the limes we sat murmuring, And holding each other so still!

"Oh! not thy father's sceptre of gold, Nor yet his shining throne, Nor his diamond crown that glitters cold 'Tis thyself I want, my own!"

"Oh! that is too good," she answered me; "I lie in the grave all day; And only at night I come to thee, For I cannot keep away."

It was something that she had volunteered a song, whatever it was. But it is a misfortune that, in writing a book, one cannot give the music of a song. Perhaps, by the time that music has its fair part in education, this may be done. But, meantime, we mention the fact of a song, and then give the words, as if that were the song. The music is the song, and the words are no more than the saddle on which the music sits, the singer being the horse, who could do without a saddle well enough. May Adela forgive the comparison! At the same time, a true word song has music of its own, and is quite independent, for its music, both of that which it may beget, and of that with which it may be associated.

As she rose, she glanced towards the doctor, and said:

"Now it is your turn, Mr. Armstrong."

Harry did not wait for a second invitation; for to sing was to him evidently a pleasure too great to be put in jeopardy. He rose at once, and sitting down at the instrument, sang I cannot say as follows , you see; I can only say the following words :

Autumn clouds are flying, flying, O'er the waste of blue; Summer flowers are dying, dying, Late so lovely new. Labouring wains are slowly rolling Home with winter grain; Holy bells are slowly tolling Over buried men.

Goldener lights set noon a sleeping Like an afternoon; Colder airs come stealing, creeping After sun and moon; And the leaves, all tired of blowing Cloudlike o'er the sun, Change to sunset colours, knowing That their day is done... Continue reading book >>


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