The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 5, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 5

The street upon which the Palace Hotel fronted formed the south side of
the Square and ran west to the edge of the town, where it turned to the
south for a quarter of a mile or more, then bent to the west again. Some
distance from this second turn, there stood, fronting close on the road, a
large brick house, the most pretentious mansion in Carlow County. And yet
it was a homelike place, with its red-brick walls embowered in masses of
cool Virginia creeper, and a comfortable veranda crossing the broad front,
while half a hundred stalwart sentinels of elm and beech and poplar stood
guard around it. The front walk was bordered by geraniums and hollyhocks;
and honeysuckle climbed the pillars of the porch. Behind the house there
was a shady little orchard; and, back of the orchard, an old-fashioned,
very fragrant rose-garden, divided by a long grape arbor, extended to the
shallow waters of a wandering creek; and on the bank a rustic seat was
placed, beneath the sycamores.

From the first bend of the road, where it left the town and became (after
some indecision) a country highway--called the pike--rather than a proud
city boulevard, a pathway led through the fields to end at some pasture
bars opposite the brick house.

John Harkless was leaning on the pasture bars. The stars were wan, and the
full moon shone over the fields. Meadows and woodlands lay quiet under the
old, sweet marvel of a June night. In the wide monotony of the flat lands,
there sometimes comes a feeling that the whole earth is stretched out
before one. To-night it seemed to lie so, in the pathos of silent beauty,
all passive and still; yet breathing an antique message, sad, mysterious,
reassuring. But there had come a divine melody adrift on the air. Through
the open windows it floated. Indoors some one struck a peal of silver
chords, like a harp touched by a lover, and a woman's voice was lifted.
John Harkless leaned on the pasture bars and listened with upraised head
and parted lips.

"To thy chamber window roving, love hath led my feet."

The Lord sent manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness. Harkless
had been five years in Plattville, and a woman's voice singing Schubert's
serenade came to him at last as he stood by the pasture bars of Jones's
field and listened and rested his dazzled eyes on the big, white face of
the moon.

How long had it been since he had heard a song, or any discourse of music
other than that furnished by the Plattville Band--not that he had not
taste for a brass band! But music that he loved always gave him an ache of
delight and the twinge of reminiscences of old, gay days gone forever.
To-night his memory leaped to the last day of a June gone seven years; to
a morning when the little estuary waves twinkled in the bright sun about
the boat in which he sat, the trim launch that brought a cheery party
ashore from their schooner to the Casino landing at Winter Harbor, far up
on the Maine coast.

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