The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 9, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 9

There was a lace of faint mists along the creek and beyond, when John and
Helen reached their bench (of course they went back there), and broken
roundelays were croaking from a bayou up the stream, where rakish frogs
held carnival in resentment of the lonesomeness. The air was still and
close. Hundreds of fire-flies coquetted with the darkness amongst the
trees across the water, glinting from unexpected spots, shading their
little lanterns for a second to glow again from other shadows. The sky was
a wonderful olive green; a lazy cloud drifted in it and lapped itself
athwart the moon.

"The dead painters design the skies for us each day and night, I think,"
Helen said, as she dropped a little scarf from her shoulders and leaned
back on the bench. "It must be the only way to keep them happy and busy
'up there.' They let them take turns, and those not on duty, probably
float around and criticise."

"They've given a good man his turn to-night," said John; "some quiet
colorist, a poetic, friendly soul, no Turner--though I think I've seen a
Turner sunset or two in Plattville."

"It was a sculptor's sunset this evening. Did you see it?--great massy
clouds piled heap on heap, almost with violence. I'm sure it was
Michelangelo. The judge didn't think it meant Michelangelo; he thought it
meant rain."

"Michelangelo gets a chance rather often, doesn't he, considering the
number of art people there must be over there? I believe I've seen a good
many sunsets of his, and a few dawns, too; the dawns not for a long time--
I used to see them more frequently toward the close of senior year, when
we sat up all night talking, knowing we'd lose one another soon, and
trying to hold on as long as we could."

She turned to him with a little frown. "Why have you never let Tom
Meredith know you were living so near him, less than a hundred miles, when
he has always liked and admired you above all the rest of mankind? I know
that he has tried time and again to hear of you, but the other men wrote
that they knew nothing--that it was thought you had gone abroad. I had
heard of you, and so must he have seen your name in the Rouen papers--
about the 'White-Caps,' and in politics--but he would never dream of
connecting the Plattville Mr. Harkless with his Mr. Harkless, though I
did, just a little, and rather vaguely. I knew, of course, when you came
into the lecture. But why haven't you written to my cousin?"

"Rouen seems a long way from here," he answered quietly. "I've only been
there once--half a day on business. Except that, I've never been further
away than Amo or Gainesville, for a convention or to make a speech, since
I came here."

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