The Goose Girl (Chapter 2, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 2

The nights in Dreiberg during September are often chill. The heavy mists from the mountain slip down the granite clifts and spread over the city, melting all sharp outlines, enfeebling the gas-lamps, and changing the moon, if there happens to be one, into something less than a moon and something more than a pewter disk. And so it was this night.

Carmichael, in order to finish his cigar on the little balcony fronting his window, found it necessary to put on his light overcoat, though he perfectly knew that he was in no manner forced to smoke on the balcony. But the truth was he wanted a clear vision of the palace and the lighted windows thereof, and of one in particular. He had no more sense than Tom-fool, the abetter of follies. She was as far removed from him as the most alien of the planets; but the magnet shall ever draw the needle, and a woman shall ever draw a man. He knew that it was impossible, that it grew more impossible day by day, and he railed at himself bitterly and satirically.

He sighed and teetered his legs. A sigh moves nothing forward, yet it is as essential as life itself. It is the safety-valve to every emotion; it is the last thing in laughter, the last thing in tears. One sighs in entering the world and in leaving it, perhaps in protest. A child sighs for the moon because it knows no better. Carmichael sighed for the Princess Hildegarde, understanding. It was sigh or curse, and the latter mode of expression wastes more vitality. Oh, yes; they made over him, as the world goes; they dined and wined him and elected him honorary member to their clubs; they patted him on the back and called him captain; but it was all in a negligent toleration that turned every pleasure into rust.

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