When I waked again, it was to find the child conversing with the morning star, which still shone through the window, scarcely so lucent as her eyes, and bidding it go home to its mother, the sun. Another lapse into dreams, and then a more vivid awakening, and she had my ear at last, and won story after story, requiting them with legends of her own youth, "almost a year ago,"--how she was perilously lost, for instance, in the small front yard, with a little playmate, early in the afternoon, and how they came and peeped into the window, and thought all the world had forgotten them. Then the sweet voice, distinct in its articulation as Laura's, went straying off into wilder fancies,--a chaos of autobiography and conjecture, like the letters of a war correspondent. You would have thought her little life had yielded more pangs and fears than might have sufficed for the discovery of the North Pole; but breakfast-time drew near at last, and Janet's honest voice was heard outside the door. I rather envied the good Scotchwoman the pleasant task of polishing the smooth cheeks and combing the dishevelled silk; but when, a little later, the small maiden was riding down stairs in my arms, I envied no one.
At sight of the bread and milk, my cherub was transformed into a hungry human child, chiefly anxious to reach the bottom of her porringer. I was with her a great deal that day. She gave no manner of trouble: it was like having the charge of a floating butterfly, endowed with warm arms to clasp, and a silvery voice to prattle. I sent Janet out to sail, with the other servants, by way of frolic, and Marian's perfect temperament was shown in the way she watched the departing.
"There they go," she said, as she stood and danced at the window. "Now they are out of sight."
"What!" I said, "are you pleased to have your friends go?"
"Yes," she answered; "but I shall be pleased-er to see them come back."
Life to her was no alternation between joy and grief, but only between joy and delight.
Twilight brought us to an improvised concert. Climbing the piano-stool, she went over the notes with her little taper fingers, touching the keys in a light, knowing way, that proved her a musician's child. Then I must play for her, and let the dance begin. This was a wondrous performance on her part, and consisted at first in hopping up and down on one spot, with no change of motion, but in her hands. She resembled a minute and irrepressible Shaker, or a live and beautiful marionnette. Then she placed Janet in the middle of the floor, And performed the dance round her, after the manner of Vivien and Merlin. Then came her supper, which, like its predecessors, was a solid and absorbing meal; then one more fairy story, to magnetize her off, and she danced and sang herself up stairs. And if she first came to me in the morning with a halo round her head, she seemed still to retain it when I at last watched her kneeling in the little bed--perfectly motionless, with her hands placed together, and her long lashes sweeping her cheeks--to repeat two verses of a hymn which Janet had taught her. My nerves quivered a little when I saw that Susan Halliday had also been duly prepared for the night, and had been put in the same attitude, so far as her jointless anatomy permitted. This being ended, the doll and her mistress reposed together, and only an occasional toss of the vigorous limbs, or a stifled baby murmur, would thenceforth prove, through the darkened hours, that the one figure had in it more of life than the other.
On the next morning Kenmure and Laura came back to us, and I walked down to receive them at the boat. I had forgotten how striking was their appearance, as they stood together. His broad, strong, Saxon look, his manly bearing and clear blue eyes, enhanced the fascination of her darker beauty.
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