The Place of Honeymoons (Chapter 1, page 1 of 10)


 
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Chapter 1

Courtlandt sat perfectly straight; his ample shoulders did not touch the
back of his chair; and his arms were folded tightly across his chest. The
characteristic of his attitude was tenseness. The nostrils were well
defined, as in one who sets the upper jaw hard upon the nether. His brown
eyes--their gaze directed toward the stage whence came the voice of the
prima donna--epitomized the tension, expressed the whole as in a word.

Just now the voice was pathetically subdued, yet reached every part of the
auditorium, kindling the ear with its singularly mellowing sweetness. To
Courtlandt it resembled, as no other sound, the note of a muffled Burmese
gong, struck in the dim incensed cavern of a temple. A Burmese gong:
briefly and magically the stage, the audience, the amazing gleam and
scintillation of the Opera, faded. He heard only the voice and saw only
the purple shadows in the temple at Rangoon, the oriental sunset splashing
the golden dome, the wavering lights of the dripping candles, the dead
flowers, the kneeling devoteés, the yellow-robed priests, the tatters of
gold-leaf, fresh and old, upon the rows of placid grinning Buddhas. The
vision was of short duration. The sigh, which had been so long repressed,
escaped; his shoulders sank a little, and the angle of his chin became
less resolute; but only for a moment. Tension gave place to an ironical
grimness. The brows relaxed, but the lips became firmer. He listened, with
this new expression unchanging, to the high note that soared above all
others. The French horns blared and the timpani crashed. The curtain sank
slowly. The audience rustled, stood up, sought its wraps, and pressed
toward the exits and the grand staircase. It was all over.

 
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