Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

"Lorsque la coquette Espérance Nous pousse le coude en passant, Puis a tire-d'aile s'élance,

66

Et se retourne en souriant ;

Où va l'homme! Où son coeur l'appelle!

L'hirondelle suit le zephyr,

Et moins légère est l'hirondelle

Que l'homme qui suit son désir."

[blocks in formation]

YSON

was very sweet. A robin on the tip of a balsam-tree cocked his head to listen; a shy snow-bird peered at her through the meadow grass.

"What are you laughing at?" I asked, uneasily. I spoke sharply-I had not intended to. The porcupine on the porch lifted his head, his rising quills grating on the piazza; a drab-coloured cow, knee deep in the sedge, stared at me in stupid disapproval.

"I beg your pardon, Ysonde," I said, sulkily, for I felt the rebuke of the cow. Then Ysonde

laughed again; the robin chirped in sympathy, and the snow-bird crept to the edge of the tenniscourt.

"Deuce," I said, picking up a ball, "are you ready?"

She stepped back, making me a mocking Her eyes were bluer than the flower

reverence.

ing flax behind her.

I had intended to send her a swift service, and I should have done so had I not noticed her eyes.

"Deuce," I repeated, pausing to recover the composure necessary for good tennis. She made a gesture with her racquet. The service was a miserable failure. I drove the second ball into the net, and then, placing the butt of my racquet on the turf, sat down on the rim.

"Vantage out," said I, gritting my teeth; "what were you laughing at, Ysonde?"

"Vantage out," she repeated; “I am not laughing."

"You were," I said; "you are now."

She went to the boxwood hedge, picked out one ball and sent it back; then she drove the other over the net and retired to her corner swinging her racquet. I did not move.

"You are spoiling your racquet," she said. I was sitting on it. I knew better. "And your temper," she said, sweetly. "Vantage out," I repeated, and raised my tennis-bat for a smashing service. The ball whisted close to the net, and the white dust flew from her

court, but her racquet caught it fair and square and I heard the ring of the strings as the ball shot along my left alley and dropped exactly on the service line. How I got it I don't know, but the next moment a puff of dust rose in her vantage court, there was a rustle of skirts, a twinkle of small tennis shoes, and the ball rocketed, higher, higher, into the misty sunshine.

"Oh," gasped Ysonde, and bit her lip.

The ball began to come down. I had time to laugh before it struck,-to laugh quietly and twirl my short mustache.

"I shall place that ball," said I, "where you will not find it easily"; and I did, deliberately.

For a second Ysonde was disappointed, I could see that, but I imagined there was the slightest tremour of relief in her voice when she said :

[ocr errors]

'Brute force is useless, Bobby; listen to the voice of the Prophetess."

"I hear," I said, "the echo of your voice in the throat of every bird."

"Which is very pretty but unfair," said Ysonde, looking at the snow-birds beside her. "It is unfair," she repeated.

"Yes," said I, "it is unfair; are you ready?" "Let us finish the game this afternoon," she suggested; "look at these snow-birds, Bobby; if I raise my racquet it will frighten them."

"And you imagine," said I," that these snowbirds are going to interrupt the game-this game?"

What a pity to frighten them; see-look how close they come to me? Do you think the little things are tamed by hunger?"

"Some creatures are not tamed by anything," I said.

"Are you hungry?" she asked, innocently. I was glad that I suppressed my anger.

"Ysonde," I said, "you know what this game means to me-to us."

"I know nothing about it," she said, hastily, retreating to her corner; "play-it's deuce you know."

"I know," I replied, and sent a merciless ball shooting across her deuce court.

"Vantage in," I observed, trying not to smile. A swift glance from her wide eyes, a perceptible tremble of the long lashes-that was all; but I knew what I knew, for I have hunted wild creatures.

The porcupine on the piazza rose, sniffed, blinked in the sunlight, and lumbered down the steps, every quill erect.

'Billy! Go back this minute!" said Ysonde. The quills on Billy's back flattened.

"Billy," I repeated, "go and climb a tree." "If you speak to him he will bristle again," said Ysonde, walking over to the porcupine.

"Billy, my child, climb this pretty balsam tree for the gentleman; come-you are interrupting the game, and the gentleman is impatient."

"The gentleman is very impatient, Billy," I said.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »