Kilmeny of the Orchard
VIII. At The Gate Of Eden
When Eric went to the old Connors orchard the next evening he found Kilmeny waiting
for him on the bench under the white lilac tree, with the violin in her lap. As soon as she
saw him she caught it up and began to play an airy delicate little melody that sounded
like the laughter of daisies.
When it was finished she dropped her bow, and looked up at him with flushed cheeks
and questioning eyes.
"What did that say to you?" she wrote.
"It said something like this," answered Eric, falling into her humour smilingly. "Welcome,
my friend. It is a very beautiful evening. The sky is so blue and the apple blossoms so
sweet. The wind and I have been here alone together and the wind is a good
companion, but still I am glad to see you. It is an evening on which it is good to be alive
and to wander in an orchard that is fine and white. Welcome, my friend."
She clapped her hands, looking like a pleased child.
"You are very quick to understand," she wrote. "That was just what I meant. Of course I
did not think it in just those words, but that was the FEELING of it. I felt that I was so
glad I was alive, and that the apple blossoms and the white lilacs and the trees and I
were all pleased together to see you come. You are quicker than Neil. He is almost
always puzzled to understand my music, and I am puzzled to understand his.
Sometimes it frightens me. It seems as if there were something in it trying to take hold
of me--something I do not like and want to run away from."
Somehow Eric did not like her references to Neil. The idea of that handsome, low-born
boy seeing Kilmeny every day, talking to her, sitting at the same table with her, dwelling
under the same roof, meeting her in the hundred intimacies of daily life, was distasteful
to him. He put the thought away from him, and flung himself down on the long grass at
"Now play for me, please," he said. "I want to lie here and listen to you."
"And look at you," he might have added. He could not tell which was the greater
pleasure. Her beauty, more wonderful than any pictured loveliness he had ever seen,
delighted him. Every tint and curve and outline of her face was flawless. Her music
enthralled him. This child, he told himself as he listened, had genius. But it was being
wholly wasted. He found himself thinking resentfully of the people who were her
guardians, and who were responsible for her strange life. They had done her a great
and irremediable wrong. How dared they doom her to such an existence? If her defect
of utterance had been attended to in time, who knew but that it might have been cured?