twilight perfume by thesign


									                       TOLD IN THE TWILIGHT.
                                 A Bicycling Incident.
                            BY   ALFRED      C.   STOKES.

                                             maple leaves; the silent street was dark
                                             and still. Crickets creaked in the grass;
                                             a katydid quarreled with an unseen foe
                                             in the honeysuckle; a tree toad preached
                                             his hopeless theories from a distant branch.
                                             The moonlight glorified the garden.
                                             Polly sat on the porch, an empty chair at
                                             her side.
                                                She rocked herself gently and looked
                                             into the garden. I sat still and looked
                                             at Polly. She is pleasant to look at. I
                                             have sometimes thought that perhaps she
                                             thought — but that is riot interesting.
                                             The honeysuckle rustled in the breeze.
                                             The katydid was silent. Then Polly
                                                “You were going to remark——?”
                                                “Yes, Polly dear, I was going to say
                                             that at last I am in love.”
                                                Her chair stood still. She was looking
     HE latter part of October and early into the garden.

T      November have features much alike.       “It happened in this way, Polly, and
       The cool winds come gently and last evening. A blessed wind from Mani-
     much of the summer’s sweetness yet toba at last came along and put some life
breathes through their invisible ripples. into the bicycle and into me, so that
Nature is still awake, but she is getting toward sunset we started for a spin. I
sleepy.                                      gave the machine its liberty and went
   As I wheeled beneath the maples one wherever it chose to take me. If it
early November evening the moonlight swerved around a corner or turned sud-
trembled through the leaves and fell in denly in mid-road and went the other way
sparkles on the sidewalk, with here and or cut a bee line into the blue distance,
there broad splashes and long bars of sil- it was all the same to me. The sweetness
very radiance that danced and leaped as the of the cool wind, the tenderness of the
branches swayed in the cool breeze. It was sunset were delightful, and for a while
early evening; the suburban street was we wandered on an aimless journey. La-
silent except for the delicious crunching of boring through the sand to a hard path
the gravel under the tire, or for the sharp beneath the lindens and the ashes that
snap of a spring. It was empty except for bordered and shaded it, we glided down a
the moonlight, the bicycle and its rider. I gentle slope with many a bump and shock
leaned the bicycle against Polly’s fence. as we bounced over exposed roots and
Polly was sitting on the porch. The gate water-washed depressions. A gate stood
clicked behind me.                           open across the path. With some trepi-
   The sweet coolness touched us gently. dation we got around it, making sharp
The racemes of Canterbury bells in Polly’s angles and queer curves that no mathe-
garden had lost much of their grace, but matician has ever dreamed of. I thought
the moonbeams cast shadows over their that we were going onward farther into
imperfections. The tall spikes of tube- the country, but my pleasant companion
roses trembled in the breeze, their blos- preferred to pass through the opening.”
soms gleaming like white wax and sub-           “What companion?” asked Polly. “ I
merging us beneath delicious waves of thought you were alone?”
perfume. Lilies rang unheard peals at the       “I had never been here, but I trusted
steps. The moonbeams glinted from the the intelligence of my steed, who was my
168                        OUTING FOR NOVEMBER.

only companion, and in the end, Polly, I       bury bells seemed to laugh; but the
lost my heart.”                                moonlight still lay soft and white over
    She said nothing. The Canterbury           all the garden.
bells swung in the evening air. A spar-            “I took the pencil and the paper and in-
row chirped. The tuberoses seemed faint-       timated that I was ready. ‘I will be as
ing in a perfumed ecstasy. The moon-           slow as I can,’ she said, ‘so that you can
light flooded the garden.                      keep up with me. When I write I must
    “It was a garden that we had run into;     be very slow. Now begin. “‘Dearest—
not like this flowery one of yours, Polly,     You will be glad to know that I am well
but a garden of trees—squares, patches,        and that I have been working a good
clusters, acres of trees. Isolated beauties    deal at the weeds. Some of them came
that shook their weeping branches in           up hard, but now they are up I must con-
what seemed an access of sorrow; clus-         fess that things look better without them.’”
ters of dark-green growths that frowned        ‘I hate to work in the weeds,’ she said to
and sighed; dainty shrubs that lifted their    me, ‘but it is often necessary that I
delicate spray and showed a silvery lin-       should do so.’ “‘You will see, dearest,
 ing.                                          that this is not my writing. A bicyclist
    “The path advanced through hedges          came in the garden and he is writing for
whose bloom had almost fallen, but the         me. He does it very fast. I would
setting sun touched their tips with fire.      rather pull weeds than write. He says
The road led to an old house literally         he would rather write than pull weeds,
buried beneath its load of ivy and of Jap-     Isn’t that queer? I hope you are having
anese creeper.       A hedge of rhododen-      a nice time. This is all to-day. Your
drons encircled it; greenhouses extended       loving daughter.’” There!’ she said, ‘I
along one side; venerable cherry trees         am glad it’s done.’ And after a pause,
shaded it, till it seemed like a picture of    ‘Oh, dear! What makes your mustache
rural England.”                                so scratchy?’”
    “You must have been dreaming,” said            “You don’t mean to tell me——” said
Polly. “It seems more like that than like      Polly.
rural England.”                                    “That she kissed me? Of course. She
    “Oh, no, no! For a girl sat on the door-   was a real nice girl, Polly. I know, be-
step. She was writing.                         cause I kissed her.”
    Polly moved restlessly in her chair.           “The wheel and I glided from under the
Then she said:                                  trees and toward the sunset. The sky
    “I suppose she had eyes as blue as vio-     was aflame. The maples stood darkly
 lets, a fluffy mass of yellow hair in which    green against the gold. The weeping
 threads of gold glinted in the sunlight.”      birches were shivering a little along the
    “She had, she had! Polly, you are a         path. The cut-leaved alder seemed on
 witch, or you must have seen her?”             fire. Near the gate the bicycle suddenly
    “Not I, indeed. I don’t admire that         turned and we went back over the path
 style.”                                        by the hedge. The little maid was still
    “I leaned the bicycle against a great       on the doorstep, looking at her letter.
cherry tree. The girl looked up and                 “‘I have returned,’ I said, ‘because I
smiled. ‘Wouldn’t you like to sit down          am so fond of you. And I should like to
by me and rest?’ she said. ‘I am writ-          ask how old you are, if you are willing to
 ing a letter; perhaps you can help me.         tell me.’
 I have thoughts, but I do not write well.’         “‘I like you pretty well, too,’ she said
    “‘I shall be happy to do anything you       ‘I am seven, going on eight.’”
 may ask,’ I said. ‘But what do you ex-             “Oh!” said Polly.
 pect to pay for the work?’                         The breeze swept across the flower
    “‘Writing is pretty hard, I know. Would     garden. The crickets were still. The
 you want much pay? S’pose—s’pose I             katydid was silent. The tree toad had
 kiss you?’”                                    ceased his complaining. The moonlight
     Polly’s chair stood still. She drew her    lay still and soft over all the earth.
 shawl around her.                                  “Polly,” I said, as I held my hand to-
     “The brazen hussy!” she said.              ward her, “I am sorry to have plagued you
     The crickets screamed in the grass;        so; I suppose you will never forgive me?
  the katydid made a long cry and was           Good-bye.”
  still; the honeysuckle swished against            She put her hand in mine.
  the post; the tuberoses and the Canter-           “It is early yet,” she said.

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