* * * * *
Without any provocation she suddenly said to me to-day: “You
interest me. Most men are very commonplace, without verve or poetry.
In you there is a certain depth and capacity for enthusiasm and a
deep seriousness, which delight me. I might learn to love you.”
After a short but severe shower we went out together to the meadow
and the statue of Venus. All about us the earth steamed; mists rose
up toward heaven like clouds of incense; a shattered rainbow still
hovered in the air. The trees were still shedding drops, but sparrows
and finches were already hopping from twig to twig. They are
twittering gaily, as if very much pleased at something. Everything
is filled with a fresh fragrance. We cannot cross the meadow for it
is still wet. In the sunlight it looks like a small pool, and the
goddess of love seems to rise from the undulations of its mirror-like
surface. About her head a swarm of gnats is dancing, which,
illuminated by the sun, seem to hover above her like an aureole.
Wanda is enjoying the lovely scene. As all the benches along the
walk are still wet, she supports herself on my arm to rest a while.
A soft weariness permeates her whole being, her eyes are half closed;
I feel the touch of her breath on my cheek.
How I managed to get up courage enough I really don’t know, but I
took hold of her hand, asking,
“Could you love me?”
“Why not,” she replied, letting her calm, clear look rest upon me,
but not for long.
A moment later I am kneeling before her, pressing my burning face
against the fragrant muslin of her gown.
“But Severin–this isn’t right,” she cried.
But I take hold of her little foot, and press my lips upon it.
“You are getting worse and worse!” she cried. She tore herself free,
and fled rapidly toward the house, the while her adorable slipper
remained in my hand.
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