The Piazza

by


"With fairest flowers, Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele--"

When I removed into the country, it was to occupy an old-fashionedfarm-house, which had no piazza--a deficiency the more regretted,because not only did I like piazzas, as somehow combining the cozinessof in-doors with the freedom of out-doors, and it is so pleasant toinspect your thermometer there, but the country round about was such apicture, that in berry time no boy climbs hill or crosses vale withoutcoming upon easels planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painterspainting there. A very paradise of painters. The circle of the stars cutby the circle of the mountains. At least, so looks it from the house;though, once upon the mountains, no circle of them can you see. Had thesite been chosen five rods off, this charmed ring would not have been.

The house is old. Seventy years since, from the heart of the HearthStone Hills, they quarried the Kaaba, or Holy Stone, to which, eachThanksgiving, the social pilgrims used to come. So long ago, that, indigging for the foundation, the workmen used both spade and axe,fighting the Troglodytes of those subterranean parts--sturdy roots of asturdy wood, encamped upon what is now a long land-slide of sleepingmeadow, sloping away off from my poppy-bed. Of that knit wood, but onesurvivor stands--an elm, lonely through steadfastness.

Whoever built the house, he builded better than he knew; or else Orionin the zenith flashed down his Damocles' sword to him some starry night,and said, "Build there." For how, otherwise, could it have entered thebuilder's mind, that, upon the clearing being made, such a purpleprospect would be his?--nothing less than Greylock, with all his hillsabout him, like Charlemagne among his peers.

Now, for a house, so situated in such a country, to have no piazza forthe convenience of those who might desire to feast upon the view, andtake their time and ease about it, seemed as much of an omission as if apicture-gallery should have no bench; for what but picture-galleries arethe marble halls of these same limestone hills?--galleries hung, monthafter month anew, with pictures ever fading into pictures ever fresh.And beauty is like piety--you cannot run and read it; tranquillity andconstancy, with, now-a-days, an easy chair, are needed. For though, ofold, when reverence was in vogue, and indolence was not, the devotees ofNature, doubtless, used to stand and adore--just as, in the cathedralsof those ages, the worshipers of a higher Power did--yet, in these timesof failing faith and feeble knees, we have the piazza and the pew.

During the first year of my residence, the more leisurely to witness thecoronation of Charlemagne (weather permitting, they crown him everysunrise and sunset), I chose me, on the hill-side bank near by, a royallounge of turf--a green velvet lounge, with long, moss-padded back;while at the head, strangely enough, there grew (but, I suppose, forheraldry) three tufts of blue violets in a field-argent of wildstrawberries; and a trellis, with honeysuckle, I set for canopy. Verymajestical lounge, indeed. So much so, that here, as with the recliningmajesty of Denmark in his orchard, a sly ear-ache invaded me. But, ifdamps abound at times in Westminster Abbey, because it is so old, whynot within this monastery of mountains, which is older?

A piazza must be had.

The house was wide--my fortune narrow; so that, to build a panoramicpiazza, one round and round, it could not be--although, indeed,considering the matter by rule and square, the carpenters, in thekindest way, were anxious to gratify my furthest wishes, at I'veforgotten how much a foot.

Upon but one of the four sides would prudence grant me what I wanted.Now, which side?

To the east, that long camp of the Hearth Stone Hills, fading far awaytowards Quito; and every fall, a small white flake of something peeringsuddenly, of a coolish morning, from the topmost cliff--the season'snew-dropped lamb, its earliest fleece; and then the Christmas dawn,draping those dim highlands with red-barred plaids and tartans--goodlysight from your piazza, that. Goodly sight; but, to the north isCharlemagne--can't have the Hearth Stone Hills with Charlemagne.

Well, the south side. Apple-trees are there. Pleasant, of a balmymorning, in the month of May, to sit and see that orchard, white-budded,as for a bridal; and, in October, one green arsenal yard; such piles ofruddy shot. Very fine, I grant; but, to the north is Charlemagne.

The west side, look. An upland pasture, alleying away into a maple woodat top. Sweet, in opening spring, to trace upon the hill-side, otherwisegray and bare--to trace, I say, the oldest paths by their streaks ofearliest green. Sweet, indeed, I can't deny; but, to the north isCharlemagne.

So Charlemagne, he carried it. It was not long after 1848; and, somehow,about that time, all round the world, these kings, they had the castingvote, and voted for themselves.

No sooner was ground broken, than all the neighborhood, neighbor Dives,in particular, broke, too--into a laugh. Piazza to the north! Winterpiazza! Wants, of winter midnights, to watch the Aurora Borealis, Isuppose; hope he's laid in good store of Polar muffs and mittens.

That was in the lion month of March. Not forgotten are the blue noses ofthe carpenters, and how they scouted at the greenness of the cit, whowould build his sole piazza to the north. But March don't last forever;patience, and August comes. And then, in the cool elysium of my northernbower, I, Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, cast down the hill a pityingglance on poor old Dives, tormented in the purgatory of his piazza tothe south.

But, even in December, this northern piazza does not repel--nipping coldand gusty though it be, and the north wind, like any miller, bolting bythe snow, in finest flour--for then, once more, with frosted beard, Ipace the sleety deck, weathering Cape Horn.

In summer, too, Canute-like, sitting here, one is often reminded of thesea. For not only do long ground-swells roll the slanting grain, andlittle wavelets of the grass ripple over upon the low piazza, as theirbeach, and the blown down of dandelions is wafted like the spray, andthe purple of the mountains is just the purple of the billows, and astill August noon broods upon the deep meadows, as a calm upon the Line;but the vastness and the lonesomeness are so oceanic, and the silenceand the sameness, too, that the first peep of a strange house, risingbeyond the trees, is for all the world like spying, on the Barbarycoast, an unknown sail.

And this recalls my inland voyage to fairy-land. A true voyage; but,take it all in all, interesting as if invented.

From the piazza, some uncertain object I had caught, mysteriouslysnugged away, to all appearance, in a sort of purpled breast-pocket,high up in a hopper-like hollow, or sunken angle, among the northwesternmountains--yet, whether, really, it was on a mountain-side, or amountain-top, could not be determined; because, though, viewed fromfavorable points, a blue summit, peering up away behind the rest, will,as it were, talk to you over their heads, and plainly tell you, that,though he (the blue summit) seems among them, he is not of them (Godforbid!), and, indeed, would have you know that he considershimself--as, to say truth, he has good right--by several cubits theirsuperior, nevertheless, certain ranges, here and there double-filed, asin platoons, so shoulder and follow up upon one another, with theirirregular shapes and heights, that, from the piazza, a nigher and lowermountain will, in most states of the atmosphere, effacingly shade itselfaway into a higher and further one; that an object, bleak on theformer's crest, will, for all that, appear nested in the latter's flank.These mountains, somehow, they play at hide-and-seek, and all beforeone's eyes.

But, be that as it may, the spot in question was, at all events, sosituated as to be only visible, and then but vaguely, under certainwitching conditions of light and shadow.

Indeed, for a year or more, I knew not there was such a spot, and might,perhaps, have never known, had it not been for a wizard afternoon inautumn--late in autumn--a mad poet's afternoon; when the turned maplewoods in the broad basin below me, having lost their first vermiliontint, dully smoked, like smouldering towns, when flames expire upontheir prey; and rumor had it, that this smokiness in the general air wasnot all Indian summer--which was not used to be so sick a thing, howevermild--but, in great part, was blown from far-off forests, for weeks onfire, in Vermont; so that no wonder the sky was ominous as Hecate'scauldron--and two sportsmen, crossing a red stubble buck-wheat field,seemed guilty Macbeth and foreboding Banquo; and the hermit-sun, huttedin an Adullum cave, well towards the south, according to his season, didlittle else but, by indirect reflection of narrow rays shot down aSimplon pass among the clouds, just steadily paint one small, round,strawberry mole upon the wan cheek of northwestern hills. Signal as acandle. One spot of radiance, where all else was shade.

Fairies there, thought I; some haunted ring where fairies dance.

Time passed; and the following May, after a gentle shower upon themountains--a little shower islanded in misty seas of sunshine; such adistant shower--and sometimes two, and three, and four of them, allvisible together in different parts--as I love to watch from thepiazza, instead of thunder storms, as I used to, which wrap oldGreylock, like a Sinai, till one thinks swart Moses must be climbingamong scathed hemlocks there; after, I say, that, gentle shower, I saw arainbow, resting its further end just where, in autumn, I had marked themole. Fairies there, thought I; remembering that rainbows bring out theblooms, and that, if one can but get to the rainbow's end, his fortuneis made in a bag of gold. Yon rainbow's end, would I were there, thoughtI. And none the less I wished it, for now first noticing what seemedsome sort of glen, or grotto, in the mountain side; at least, whateverit was, viewed through the rainbow's medium, it glowed like the Potosimine. But a work-a-day neighbor said, no doubt it was but some oldbarn--an abandoned one, its broadside beaten in, the acclivity itsbackground. But I, though I had never been there, I knew better.

A few days after, a cheery sunrise kindled a golden sparkle in the samespot as before. The sparkle was of that vividness, it seemed as if itcould only come from glass. The building, then--if building, after all,it was--could, at least, not be a barn, much less an abandoned one;stale hay ten years musting in it. No; if aught built by mortal, it mustbe a cottage; perhaps long vacant and dismantled, but this very springmagically fitted up and glazed.

Again, one noon, in the same direction, I marked, over dimmed tops ofterraced foliage, a broader gleam, as of a silver buckler, held sunwardsover some croucher's head; which gleam, experience in like cases taught,must come from a roof newly shingled. This, to me, made pretty sure therecent occupancy of that far cot in fairy land.

Day after day, now, full of interest in my discovery, what time I couldspare from reading the Midsummer's Night Dream, and all about Titania,wishfully I gazed off towards the hills; but in vain. Either troops ofshadows, an imperial guard, with slow pace and solemn, defiled along thesteeps; or, routed by pursuing light, fled broadcast from east towest--old wars of Lucifer and Michael; or the mountains, though unvexedby these mirrored sham fights in the sky, had an atmosphere otherwiseunfavorable for fairy views. I was sorry; the more so, because I had tokeep my chamber for some time after--which chamber did not face thosehills.

At length, when pretty well again, and sitting out, in the Septembermorning, upon the piazza, and thinking to myself, when, just after alittle flock of sheep, the farmer's banded children passed, a-nutting,and said, "How sweet a day"--it was, after all, but what their fatherscall a weather-breeder--and, indeed, was become go sensitive through myillness, as that I could not bear to look upon a Chinese creeper of myadoption, and which, to my delight, climbing a post of the piazza, hadburst out in starry bloom, but now, if you removed the leaves a little,showed millions of strange, cankerous worms, which, feeding upon thoseblossoms, so shared their blessed hue, as to make it unblessedevermore--worms, whose germs had doubtless lurked in the very bulbwhich, so hopefully, I had planted: in this ingrate peevishness of myweary convalescence, was I sitting there; when, suddenly looking off, Isaw the golden mountain-window, dazzling like a deep-sea dolphin.Fairies there, thought I, once more; the queen of fairies at herfairy-window; at any rate, some glad mountain-girl; it will do me good,it will cure this weariness, to look on her. No more; I'll launch myyawl--ho, cheerly, heart! and push away for fairy-land--for rainbow'send, in fairy-land.

How to get to fairy-land, by what road, I did not know; nor could anyone inform me; not even one Edmund Spenser, who had been there--so hewrote me--further than that to reach fairy-land, it must be voyaged to,and with faith. I took the fairy-mountain's bearings, and the first fineday, when strength permitted, got into my yawl--high-pommeled, leatherone--cast off the fast, and away I sailed, free voyager as an autumnleaf. Early dawn; and, sallying westward, I sowed the morning before me.

Some miles brought me nigh the hills; but out of present sight of them.I was not lost; for road-side golden-rods, as guide-posts, pointed, Idoubted not, the way to the golden window. Following them, I came to alone and languid region, where the grass-grown ways were traveled but bydrowsy cattle, that, less waked than stirred by day, seemed to walk insleep. Browse, they did not--the enchanted never eat. At least, so saysDon Quixote, that sagest sage that ever lived.

On I went, and gained at last the fairy mountain's base, but saw yet nofairy ring. A pasture rose before me. Letting down five moulderingbars--so moistly green, they seemed fished up from some sunken wreck--awigged old Aries, long-visaged, and with crumpled horn, came snuffingup; and then, retreating, decorously led on along a milky-way ofwhite-weed, past dim-clustering Pleiades and Hyades, of smallforget-me-nots; and would have led me further still his astral path, butfor golden flights of yellow-birds--pilots, surely, to the goldenwindow, to one side flying before me, from bush to bush, towards deepwoods--which woods themselves were luring--and, somehow, lured, too, bytheir fence, banning a dark road, which, however dark, led up. I pushedthrough; when Aries, renouncing me now for some lost soul, wheeled, andwent his wiser way.. Forbidding and forbidden ground--to him.

A winter wood road, matted all along with winter-green. By the side ofpebbly waters--waters the cheerier for their solitude; beneath swayingfir-boughs, petted by no season, but still green in all, on Ijourneyed--my horse and I; on, by an old saw-mill, bound down and hushedwith vines, that his grating voice no more was heard; on, by a deepflume clove through snowy marble, vernal-tinted, where freshet eddieshad, on each side, spun out empty chapels in the living rock; on, whereJacks-in-the-pulpit, like their Baptist namesake, preached but to thewilderness; on, where a huge, cross-grain block, fern-bedded, showedwhere, in forgotten times, man after man had tried to split it, but losthis wedges for his pains--which wedges yet rusted in their holes; on,where, ages past, in step-like ledges of a cascade, skull-hollow potshad been churned out by ceaseless whirling of a flintstone--everwearing, but itself unworn; on, by wild rapids pouring into a secretpool, but soothed by circling there awhile, issued forth serenely; on,to less broken ground, and by a little ring, where, truly, fairies musthave danced, or else some wheel-tire been heated--for all was bare;still on, and up, and out into a hanging orchard, where maidenly lookeddown upon me a crescent moon, from morning.

My horse hitched low his head. Red apples rolled before him; Eve'sapples; seek-no-furthers. He tasted one, I another; it tasted of theground. Fairy land not yet, thought I, flinging my bridle to a humpedold tree, that crooked out an arm to catch it. For the way now lay wherepath was none, and none might go but by himself, and only go by daring.Through blackberry brakes that tried to pluck me back, though I butstrained towards fruitless growths of mountain-laurel; up slipperysteeps to barren heights, where stood none to welcome. Fairy land notyet, thought I, though the morning is here before me.

Foot-sore enough and weary, I gained not then my journey's end, but cameere long to a craggy pass, dipping towards growing regions still beyond.A zigzag road, half overgrown with blueberry bushes, here turned amongthe cliffs. A rent was in their ragged sides; through it a little trackbranched off, which, upwards threading that short defile, came breezilyout above, to where the mountain-top, part sheltered northward, by ataller brother, sloped gently off a space, ere darkly plunging; andhere, among fantastic rocks, reposing in a herd, the foot-track wound,half beaten, up to a little, low-storied, grayish cottage, capped,nun-like, with a peaked roof.

On one slope, the roof was deeply weather-stained, and, nigh the turfyeaves-trough, all velvet-napped; no doubt the snail-monks founded mossypriories there. The other slope was newly shingled. On the north side,doorless and windowless, the clap-boards, innocent of paint, were yetgreen as the north side of lichened pines or copperless hulls ofJapanese junks, becalmed. The whole base, like those of the neighboringrocks, was rimmed about with shaded streaks of richest sod; for, withhearth-stones in fairy land, the natural rock, though housed, preservesto the last, just as in open fields, its fertilizing charm; only, bynecessity, working now at a remove, to the sward without. So, at least,says Oberon, grave authority in fairy lore. Though setting Oberon aside,certain it is, that, even in the common world, the soil, close up tofarm-houses, as close up to pasture rocks, is, even though untended,ever richer than it is a few rods off--such gentle, nurturing heat isradiated there.

But with this cottage, the shaded streaks were richest in its front andabout its entrance, where the ground-sill, and especially the doorsillhad, through long eld, quietly settled down.

No fence was seen, no inclosure. Near by--ferns, ferns, ferns;further--woods, woods, woods; beyond--mountains, mountains, mountains;then--sky, sky, sky. Turned out in aerial commons, pasture for themountain moon. Nature, and but nature, house and, all; even a lowcross-pile of silver birch, piled openly, to season; up among whosesilvery sticks, as through the fencing of some sequestered grave, sprangvagrant raspberry bushes--willful assertors of their right of way.

The foot-track, so dainty narrow, just like a sheep-track, led throughlong ferns that lodged. Fairy land at last, thought I; Una and her lambdwell here. Truly, a small abode--mere palanquin, set down on thesummit, in a pass between two worlds, participant of neither.

A sultry hour, and I wore a light hat, of yellow sinnet, with white ducktrowsers--both relics of my tropic sea-going. Clogged in the mufflingferns, I softly stumbled, staining the knees a sea-green.

Pausing at the threshold, or rather where threshold once had been, Isaw, through the open door-way, a lonely girl, sewing at a lonelywindow. A pale-cheeked girl, and fly-specked window, with wasps aboutthe mended upper panes. I spoke. She shyly started, like some Tahitigirl, secreted for a sacrifice, first catching sight, through palms, ofCaptain Cook. Recovering, she bade me enter; with her apron brushed offa stool; then silently resumed her own. With thanks I took the stool;but now, for a space, I, too, was mute. This, then, is thefairy-mountain house, and here, the fairy queen sitting at her fairywindow.

I went up to it. Downwards, directed by the tunneled pass, as through aleveled telescope, I caught sight of a, far-off, soft, azure world. Ihardly knew it, though I came from it.

"You must find this view very pleasant," said I, at last.

"Oh, sir," tears starting in her eyes, "the first time I looked out ofthis window, I said 'never, never shall I weary of this.'"

"And what wearies you of it now?"

"I don't know," while a tear fell; "but it is not the view, it isMarianna."

Some months back, her brother, only seventeen, had come hither, a longway from the other side, to cut wood and burn coal, and she, eldersister, had accompanied, him. Long had they been orphans, and now, soleinhabitants of the sole house upon the mountain. No guest came, notraveler passed. The zigzag, perilous road was only used at seasons bythe coal wagons. The brother was absent the entire day, sometimes theentire night. When at evening, fagged out, he did come home, he soonleft his bench, poor fellow, for his bed; just as one, at last, wearilyquits that, too, for still deeper rest. The bench, the bed, the grave.

Silent I stood by the fairy window, while these things were being told.

"Do you know," said she at last, as stealing from her story, "do youknow who lives yonder?--I have never been down into that country--awayoff there, I mean; that house, that marble one," pointing far across thelower landscape; "have you not caught it? there, on the long hill-side:the field before, the woods behind; the white shines out against theirblue; don't you mark it? the only house in sight."

I looked; and after a time, to my surprise, recognized, more by itsposition than its aspect, or Marianna's description, my own abode,glimmering much like this mountain one from the piazza. The mirage hazemade it appear less a farm-house than King Charming's palace.

"I have often wondered who lives there; but it must be some happy one;again this morning was I thinking so."

"Some happy one," returned I, starting; "and why do you think that? Youjudge some rich one lives there?"

"Rich or not, I never thought; but it looks so happy, I can't tell how;and it is so far away. Sometimes I think I do but dream it is there.You should see it in a sunset."

"No doubt the sunset gilds it finely; but not more than the sunrise doesthis house, perhaps."

"This house? The sun is a good sun, but it never gilds this house. Whyshould it? This old house is rotting. That makes it so mossy. In themorning, the sun comes in at this old window, to be sure--boarded up,when first we came; a window I can't keep clean, do what I may--and halfburns, and nearly blinds me at my sewing, besides setting the flies andwasps astir--such flies and wasps as only lone mountain houses know.See, here is the curtain--this apron--I try to shut it out with then. Itfades it, you see. Sun gild this house? not that ever Marianna saw."

"Because when this roof is gilded most, then you stay here within."

"The hottest, weariest hour of day, you mean? Sir, the sun gilds notthis roof. It leaked so, brother newly shingled all one side. Did younot see it? The north side, where the sun strikes most on what the rainhas wetted. The sun is a good sun; but this roof, in first scorches,and then rots. An old house. They went West, and are long dead, theysay, who built it. A mountain house. In winter no fox could den in it.That chimney-place has been blocked up with snow, just like a hollowstump."

"Yours are strange fancies, Marianna."

"They but reflect the things."

"Then I should have said, 'These are strange things,' rather than,'Yours are strange fancies.'"

"As you will;" and took up her sewing.

Something in those quiet words, or in that quiet act, it made me muteagain; while, noting, through the fairy window, a broad shadow stealingon, as cast by some gigantic condor, floating at brooding poise onoutstretched wings, I marked how, by its deeper and inclusive dusk, itwiped away into itself all lesser shades of rock or fern.

"You watch the cloud," said Marianna.

"No, a shadow; a cloud's, no doubt--though that I cannot see. How didyou know it? Your eyes are on your work."

"It dusked my work. There, now the cloud is gone, Tray comes back."

"How?"

"The dog, the shaggy dog. At noon, he steals off, of himself, to changehis shape--returns, and lies down awhile, nigh the door. Don't you seehim? His head is turned round at you; though, when you came, he lookedbefore him."

"Your eyes rest but on your work; what do you speak of?"

"By the window, crossing."

"You mean this shaggy shadow--the nigh one? And, yes, now that I markit, it is not unlike a large, black Newfoundland dog. The invadingshadow gone, the invaded one returns. But I do not see what casts it."

"For that, you must go without."

"One of those grassy rocks, no doubt."

"You see his head, his face?"

"The shadow's? You speak as if _you_ saw it, and all the time your eyesare on your work."

"Tray looks at you," still without glancing up; "this is his hour; I seehim."

"Have you then, so long sat at this mountain-window, where but cloudsand, vapors pass, that, to you, shadows are as things, though you speakof them as of phantoms; that, by familiar knowledge, working like asecond sight, you can, without looking for them, tell just where theyare, though, as having mice-like feet, they creep about, and come andgo; that, to you, these lifeless shadows are as living friends, who,though out of sight, are not out of mind, even in their faces--is itso?"

"That way I never thought of it. But the friendliest one, that used tosoothe my weariness so much, coolly quivering on the ferns, it was takenfrom me, never to return, as Tray did just now. The shadow of a birch.The tree was struck by lightning, and brother cut it up. You saw thecross-pile out-doors--the buried root lies under it; but not the shadow.That is flown, and never will come back, nor ever anywhere stir again."

Another cloud here stole along, once more blotting out the dog, andblackening all the mountain; while the stillness was so still, deafnessmight have forgot itself, or else believed that noiseless shadow spoke.

"Birds, Marianna, singing-birds, I hear none; I hear nothing. Boys andbob-o-links, do they never come a-berrying up here?"

"Birds, I seldom hear; boys, never. The berries mostly ripe andfall--few, but me, the wiser."

"But yellow-birds showed me the way--part way, at least."

"And then flew back. I guess they play about the mountain-side, butdon't make the top their home. And no doubt you think that, living solonesome here, knowing nothing, hearing nothing--little, at least, butsound of thunder and the fall of trees--never reading, seldom speaking,yet ever wakeful, this is what gives me my strange thoughts--for so youcall them--this weariness and wakefulness together Brother, who standsand works in open air, would I could rest like him; but mine is mostlybut dull woman's work--sitting, sitting, restless sitting."

"But, do you not go walk at times? These woods are wide."

"And lonesome; lonesome, because so wide. Sometimes, 'tis true, ofafternoons, I go a little way; but soon come back again. Better feellone by hearth, than rock. The shadows hereabouts I know--those in thewoods are strangers."

"But the night?"

"Just like the day. Thinking, thinking--a wheel I cannot stop; pure wantof sleep it is that turns it."

"I have heard that, for this wakeful weariness, to say one's prayers,and then lay one's head upon a fresh hop pillow--"

"Look!"

Through the fairy window, she pointed down the steep to a small gardenpatch near by--mere pot of rifled loam, half rounded in by shelteringrocks--where, side by side, some feet apart, nipped and puny, twohop-vines climbed two poles, and, gaining their tip-ends, would havethen joined over in an upward clasp, but the baffled shoots, gropingawhile in empty air, trailed back whence they sprung.

"You have tried the pillow, then?"

"Yes."

"And prayer?"

"Prayer and pillow."

"Is there no other cure, or charm?"

"Oh, if I could but once get to yonder house, and but look upon whoeverthe happy being is that lives there! A foolish thought: why do I thinkit? Is it that I live so lonesome, and know nothing?"

"I, too, know nothing; and, therefore, cannot answer; but, for yoursake, Marianna, well could wish that I were that happy one of the happyhouse you dream you see; for then you would behold him now, and, as yousay, this weariness might leave you."

--Enough. Launching my yawl no more for fairy-land, I stick to thepiazza. It is my box-royal; and this amphitheatre, my theatre of SanCarlo. Yes, the scenery is magical--the illusion so complete. And MadamMeadow Lark, my prima donna, plays her grand engagement here; and,drinking in her sunrise note, which, Memnon-like, seems struck from thegolden window, how far from me the weary face behind it.

But, every night, when the curtain falls, truth comes in with darkness.No light shows from the mountain. To and fro I walk the piazza deck,haunted by Marianna's face, and many as real a story.


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