"Now," said the Queen, "call hither Moon-light and Summer-Wind, for they have seen many pleasant things in their long wanderings, and will gladly tell us them." "Most joyfully will we do our best, dear Queen," said the Elves, as they folded their wings beside her. "Now, Summer-Wind," said Moonlight, "till your turn comes, do you sit here and fan me while I tell this tale of
Laudersdale, or, if yet existing, had become like the light and tender play of any lingering summer-wind in the tress upon her brow. Mrs. Laudersdale's ankle having been injured by her fall, and Mrs. McLean having taken a cold, the two invalids now became during a week and a day the auditory for all quips and pranks that Miss Heath and Mr. Raleigh could devise.
When Moonlight ceased, Summer-Wind laid down her rose-leaf fan, and, leaning back in her acorn cup, told this tale of
He had taken champagne pretty freely at dinner; his mind was yet in the commotion left by the summer-wind of their many words that might seem so much; he felt his kiss on her dainty hand, and her pressure of it to his lips; as he read, she seemed still and always in the door-way, entering with the book; its inscription was continually turning up with a shine: such was the mood in which he read the poem.
Then he rose up again and went towards the window and his cedar, which stood dark in the sunshine, slightly fluttered at its extremities by the light summer-wind, but throwing glorious level lines of shadow, which the wind could not disturb, upon the grass.
The two messengers, hardening their souls with all their might against the enchanting impression, moved forward silently among the trees; till, looking through the branches into a little opening which formed a bower, they saw or did they but think they saw? no, they saw indeed the hero and his Armida reclining on the grass. Her dress was careless, her hair loose in the summer-wind.
This was a bewildering, yet very delightful emotion, fluttering about me like a faint summer-wind, and filling my imagination with a thousand half-remembrances, which looked as vivid as sunshine, at a side-glance, but faded quite away whenever I attempted to grasp and define them.
"Thanks, dear Summer-Wind," said the Queen; "we will remember the lessons you have each taught us, and when next we meet in Fern Dale, you shall tell us more. And now, dear Trip, call them from the lake, for the moon is sinking fast, and we must hasten home."
Now and then Fleda opened her eyes to see that her uncle was moody and not like himself, and that her aunt's gentle face was clouded in consequence; and she could not sometimes help the suspicion that he was not making a farmer of himself; but the next summer-wind would blow these thoughts away, or the next look of her flowers would put them out of her head.
The time of discovery came. Isella was found to be a mother; and then the storm burst upon her and drabbled her in the dust as fearlessly as the summer-wind sweeps down and besmirches the lily it has all summer been wooing and flattering.