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A Spinner in the Sun by Myrtle Reed

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that it was Summer, that the world was young, but she was old and alone
and would be alone for the rest of her life.

She leaned forward to look at the picture, and Anthony Dexter smiled
back at her, boyish, frank, eager, lovable. A tear dropped on the
pictured face--not the first one, for the photograph was blistered
oddly here and there.

"I've done all I could," said Miss Mehitable to herself, as she wrapped
it up again in its many yellowed folds of muslin. "I thought Minty
would be happier so, but maybe, after all, God knows best."

XXV

Redeemed

Miss Evelina sat alone, in her house, at peace with Anthony Dexter and
with all the world. The surging flood of forgiveness and compassion
which had swept over her as she gazed at his dead face, had broken down
all barriers, abrogated all reserves. She saw that Piper Tom was
right; had she forgiven him, she would have been free long ago.

She shrank no longer from her kind, but yearned, instead, for friendly
companionship. Once she had taken off her veil and started down the
road to Miss Mehitable's, but the habit of the years was strong upon
her, and she turned back, affrighted, when she came within sight of the
house.

Since she left the hospital, no human being had seen her face, save
Anthony Dexter and his son. She had crept, nun-like, into the shelter
of her chiffon, dimly taking note of a world which could not, in turn,
look upon her. She clung to it still, yet perceived that it was a lie.

She studied herself in the mirror, no longer hating the sight of her
own face. She was not now blind to her own beauty, nor did she fail to
see that transfiguring touch of sorrow and peace. These two are
sculptors, one working both from within and without, and the other only
from within.

Why should she not put her veil forever away from her now? Why should
she not meet the world face to face, as frankly as the world met her?
Why should she delay?

She had questioned herself continually, but found no answer. Since she
came back to her old home, she had been mysteriously led. Perhaps she
was to be led further through the deep mazes of life--it was not only
possible, but probable.

"I'll wait," she said to herself, "for a sign."

She had not seen the Piper since the day they met so strangely, with
Anthony Dexter lying dead between them. Quite often, however, she had
heard the flute, usually at sunrise or sunset, afar off in the hills.
Once, at the hour of the turning night, the melody had come to her on
the first grey winds of dawn.

A robin had waked to answer it, for the Piper's fluting was wondrously
like his own voice.

Contrasting her present peace with her days of torment. Miss Evelina
thrilled with gratitude to Piper Tom, who had taken the weeds out of
her garden in more senses than one. His hand had guided her, slowly,
yet surely, to the heights of calm. She saw her life now as a desolate
valley lying between two peaks. One was sunlit, yet opaline with the
mists of morning; the other was scarcely a peak, but merely a high and
grassy plain upon which the afternoon shadows lay long.

Ah, but there were terrors in the dark valley which lay between! Sharp
crags and treeless wastes, tortuous paths and abysmal depths, with
never a rest for the wayfarer who struggled blindly on. She was not
yet so secure upon the height that she could contemplate the valley
unmoved.

Her house was immaculate, now, and was kept so by her own hands. At
first, she had not cared, and the dust and the cobwebs had not mattered
at all. Miss Mehitable, in the beginning, had inspired her to
housewifely effort, and Doctor Ralph's personal neatness had made her
ashamed. She worked in the garden, too, keeping the brick-bordered
paths free from weeds, and faithfully attending to every plant.

Yet life seemed strangely empty, lifted above its all-embracing pain.
The house and garden did not occupy her fully, and she had few books.
These were all old ones, and she knew them by heart, though she had
found some pleasure in reading again the well-thumbed fairy books of
her childhood.

She had read the book which Ralph had brought Araminta, and thought of
asking him to lend her more--if she ever saw him again. She knew that
he was very busy, but she felt that, surely, he would come again before
long.

Araminta danced up the path, singing, and rapped at Miss Evelina's
door. When she came in, it was like a ray of sunlight in a gloomy
place.

"Miss Evelina!" she cried; "Oh, Miss Evelina! I'm going to be married!"

"I'm glad," said Evelina, tenderly, yet with a certain wistfulness.
Once the joy of it had been in her feet, too, and the dread valley of
desolation had opened before her.

"See!" cried Araminta, extending a dimpled hand. "See my ring! It's
my engagement ring," she added, proudly.

Miss Evelina winced a little behind her veil, for the ring was the one
Anthony Dexter had given her soon after their betrothal. Fearing
gossip, she had refused to wear it until after they were married. So
he had taken it, to have it engraved, but, evidently, the engraving had
never been done. Otherwise Ralph would not have given it to
Araminta--she was sure of that.

"It was his mother's ring, Miss Evelina, and now it's mine. His father
loved his mother just as Ralph loves me. It's so funny not to have to
say 'Doctor Ralph.' Oh, I'm so glad I broke my ankle! He's coming,
but I wanted to come first by myself. I made him wait for five minutes
down under the elm because I wanted to tell you first. I told Aunt
Hitty, all alone, and I wasn't a bit afraid. Oh, Miss Evelina, I wish
you had somebody to love you as he loves me!"

"So do I," murmured Evelina, grateful for the chiffon that hid her
tears.

"Wasn't there ever anybody?"

"Yes."

"I knew it--you're so sweet nobody could help loving you. Did he die?"

"Yes."

"It was that way with Mr. Thorpe," mused Araminta, reminiscently.
"They loved each other and were going to be married, but she died. He
said, though, that death didn't make any difference with loving.
There's Ralph, now."

"Little witch," said the boy, fondly, as she met him at the door; "did
you think I could wait a whole five minutes?"

They sat in the parlour for half an hour or more, and during this time
it was not necessary for their hostess to say a single word. They were
quite unaware that they were not properly conducting a three-sided
conversation, and Miss Evelina made no effort to enlighten them. Youth
and laughter and love had not been in her house before for a quarter of
a century.

"Come again," she begged, when they started home. Joy incarnate was a
welcome guest--it did not mock her now.

Half-way down the path, Ralph turned back to the veiled woman who stood
wistfully in the doorway. Araminta was swinging, in childish fashion,
upon the gate. Ralph took Miss Evelina's hand in his.

"I wish I could say all I feel," he began, awkwardly, "but I can't.
With all my heart, I wish I could give some of my happiness to you!"

"I am content--since I have forgiven."

"If you had not, I could never have been happy again, and even now, I
still feel the shame of it. Are you going to wear that--veil--always?"

"No," she whispered, shrinking back into the shelter of it, "but I am
waiting for a sign."

"May it soon come," said Ralph, earnestly.

"I am used to waiting. My life has been made up of waiting. God bless
you," she concluded, impulsively.

"And you," he answered, touching his lips to her hand. He started
away, but she held him back. "Ralph," she said, passionately, "be true
to her, be good to her, and never let her doubt you. Teach her to
trust you, and make yourself worthy of her trust. Never break a
promise made to her, though it cost you everything else you have in the
world. I am old, and I know that, at the end, nothing counts for an
instant beside the love of two. Remember that keeping faith with her
is keeping faith with God!"

"I will," returned Ralph, his voice low and uneven. "It is what my own
mother would have said to me had she been alive to-day. I thank you."

The house was very lonely after they had gone, though the echoes of
love and laughter seemed to have come back to a place where they once
held full sway. The afternoon wore to its longest shadows and the
dense shade of the cypress was thrown upon the garden. Evelina smiled
to herself, for it was only a shadow.

The mignonette breathed fragrance into the dusk. Scent of lavender and
rosemary filled the stillness with balm. Drowsy birds chirped sleepily
in their swaying nests, and the fairy folk of field and meadow set up a
whirr of melodious wings. White, ghostly moths fluttered, cloud-like,
over the quiet garden, and here and there a tiny lamp-bearer starred
the night. A flaming meteor sped across the uncharted dark of the
heavens, where only the love-star shone. The moon had not yet risen.

From within, Evelina recognised the sturdy figure of Piper Tom, and
went out to meet him as he approached. She had drawn down her veil,
but her heart was strangely glad.

"Shall we sit in the garden?" she asked.

"Aye, in the garden," answered the Piper, "since 't is for the last
time."

His voice was sad, and Evelina yearned to help him, even as he had
helped her. "What is it?" she asked. "Is it anything you can tell me?"

"Only that I'll be trudging on to-morrow. My work here is done. I can
do no more."

"Then let me tell you how grateful I am for all you have done for me.
You made me see things in their true relation and taught me how to
forgive. I was in bondage, and you made me free."

The Piper sprang to his feet. "Spinner in the Sun," he cried, "is it
true? Just as I thought your night was endless, has the light come?
Tell me again," he pleaded, "ah, tell me 't is true!"

"It is true," said Evelina, with solemn joy. "In all my heart there is
nothing but forgiveness. The anger and resentment are gone--all gone."

"Spinner in the Sun!" breathed the Piper, scarcely conscious that he
spoke the words aloud. "My Spinner in the Sun!"

Slowly the moon climbed toward the zenith, and still, because there was
no need, they spoke no word. Dew rose whitely from the clover fields
beyond, veiling them as with white chiffon. It was the Piper, at last,
who broke the silence.

"When I trudge on to-morrow," he said, "'t will be with a glad heart,
even though the little chap is no longer with me. 'T is a fair, brave
world, I'm thinking, since I've set your threads to going right again.
I called you," he added, softly, "and you came."

"Yes," said Evelina, happily, "you called me, and I came."

"Spinner in the Sun," said the Piper, tenderly, "have you guessed my
work?"

"Why, keeping the shop, isn't it?" asked Evelina, wonderingly; "the
needles and thread and pins and buttons and all the little trifles that
women need? A pedler's pack, set up in a house?"

The Piper laughed. "No," he replied, "I'm thinking that is not my
work, nor yet the music that has no tune, which I'm for ever playing on
my flute. Lady, I have travelled far, and seen much, and always there
has been one thing that is strangest of all. In every place that I
have been in yet, there has been a church and a minister, whose
business was to watch over human souls.

"He's told them what was right according to his own thinking, which I'm
far from saying isn't true for him, and never minded anything more. In
spite of blood and tears and agony, he's always held up the one
standard, and, I'm thinking, has always pointed to the hardest way to
reach it. The way has been so hard that many have never reached it at
all, and those who have--I've not seen that they are the happiest or
the kindest, nor that they are loved the most.

"In the same place, too, there is always a doctor, whose business it is
to watch over the body. If you have a broken leg or a broken arm, or a
fever, he can set you right again. Blind eyes can be made to see, and
deaf ears made to hear, but, Lady, who is there to care about a broken
heart?

"I have taken in my pedler's pack the things that women need, because
't is women, mostly, who bear the heartaches of the world, and I come
closer to them so. What you say I have done for you, I have done for
many more. I'm trying to make the world a bit easier for all women
because a woman gave me life. And because I love another woman in
another way," he added, his voice breaking, "I'll be trudging on
to-morrow alone, though 't would be easier, I'm thinking, to linger
here."

Evelina's heart leaped with a throb of the old pain. "Tell me about
her," she said, because it seemed the only thing to say.

"The woman I love," answered the Piper, "is not for me. She'd never be
thinking of stooping to such as I, and I'd not be insulting her by
asking. She's very proud, but she could be tender if she chose, and
she's the bravest soul I ever knew--so brave that she fears neither
death nor life, though life itself has not been kind.

"Her little feet have been set upon the rough pathways, almost since
the beginning, and her hands catch at my heart-strings, they are so
frail. They're fluttering always like frightened birds, and the
fluttering is in her voice, too."

"And her face?"

"Ah, but I've dreamed of her face! I've thought it was noble beyond
all words, with eyes like the first deep violets of Spring, but filled
with compassion for all the world. So brave, so true, so tender it
might be that I'm thinking if I could see it once, with love on it for
me, that I'd never be asking more."

"Why haven't you seen her face?" asked Evelina, idly, to relieve an
awkward pause. "Is she only a dream-woman?"

"Nay, she's not a dream-woman. She lives and breathes as dreams never
do, but she hides her face because she is so beautiful. She veils her
face from me as once she veiled her soul."

Then, at last, Evelina understood. She felt the hot blood mantling her
face, and was thankful, once more, for the shelter of her chiffon.

"Spinner in the Sun," said the Piper, with suppressed tenderness, "were
you thinking I could see you more than once or twice and not be caring?
Were you thinking I could have the inmost soul of me torn because you'd
been hurt, and never be knowing what lay beyond it, for me? Were you
thinking I could be talking to you day after day, without having the
longing to talk with you always? And now that I've done my best for
you, and given you all that rests with me for giving, do you see why
I'll be trudging on to-morrow, alone?

"'T is not for me to be asking it, for God knows I could never be
worthy, but I've thought of Heaven as a place where you and I might
fare together always, with me to heal your wounds, help you over the
rough places, and guide you through the dark. That part of it, I'm to
have, I'm thinking, for God has been very good to me. I'm to know that
wherever you are, you re happy at last, because it's been given me to
lead you into the light. I called you, and you came."

"Yes," said Evelina, her voice lingering upon the words, "you called me
and I came, and was redeemed. Tell me, in your thought of Heaven, have
you ever asked to see my face?"

"Nay," cried the Piper, "do you think I'd be asking for what you hide
from me? I know that 't is because you are so beautiful, and such
beauty is not for my eyes to see."

"Piper Tom," she answered; "dear Piper Tom! I told you once that I had
been terribly burned. I was hurt so badly that when the man I was
pledged to marry, and whose life I had saved, was told that every
feature of mine was destroyed except my sight, he went away, and never
came back any more."

"The brute who hurt Laddie," he said, in a low tone. "I told him then
that a man who would torture a dog would torture a woman, too. I'd not
be minding the scars," he added, "since they're brave scars, and not
the marks of sin or shame. I'm thinking that 't is the brave scars
that have made you so beautiful--so beautiful," he repeated, "that you
hide your face."

Into Evelina's heart came something new and sweet--that perfect,
absolute, unwavering trust which a woman has but once in her life and
of which Anthony Dexter had never given her the faintest hint. All at
once, she knew that she could not let him go; that he must either stay,
or take her, too.

She leaned forward. "Piper Tom," she said, unashamed, "when you go,
will you take me with you? I think we belong together--you and I."

"Belong together?" he repeated, incredulously. "Ah, 't is your
pleasure to mock me. Oh, my Spinner in the Sun, why would you wish to
hurt me so?"

Tears blinded Evelina so that, through her veil, and in the night, she
could not see at all. When the mists cleared, he was gone.

XXVI

The Lifting of the Veil

From afar, at the turn of night, came the pipes o' Pan--the wild,
mysterious strain which had first summoned Evelina from pain to peace.
At the sound, she sat up in bed, her heavy, lustreless white hair
falling about her shoulders. She guessed that Piper Tom was out upon
the highway, with his pedler's pack strapped to his sturdy back. As in
a vision, she saw him marching onward from place to place, to make the
world easier for all women because a woman had given him life, and
because he loved another woman in another way.

Was it always to be so, she wondered; should she for ever thirst while
others drank? While others loved, must she eternally stand aside
heart-hungry? Unyielding Fate confronted her, veiled inscrutably, but
she guessed that the veil concealed a mocking smile.

Out of her Nessus-robe of agony, Evelina had emerged with one truth.
Whatever is may not be right, but it is the outcome of deep and
far-reaching forces with which our finite hands may not meddle. The
problem has but one solution--adjustment. Hedged in by the iron bars
of circumstance as surely as a bird within his cage, it remains for the
individual to choose whether he will beat his wings against the bars
until he dies, or take his place serenely on the perch ordained for
him--and sing.

Within his cage, the bird may do as he likes. He may sleep or eat or
bathe, or whet his beak uselessly against the cuttlebone thrust between
the bars. He may hop about endlessly and chirp salutations to other
birds, likewise caged, or he may try his eager wings in a flight which
is little better than no flight at all. His cage may be a large one,
yet, if he explores far enough, he will most surely bruise his body
against the bars of circumstance. With beak and claws and constant
toil he may, perhaps, force an opening in the bars wide enough to get
through, slowly, and with great discomfort. He has gained, however,
only a larger cage.

If he is a wise bird, he settles down and tries to become satisfied
with his surroundings; even to gather pleasure from the gilt wires and
the cuttlebone thrust picturesquely between them. When the sea gull
wings his majestic way past his habitation, free as the wind itself,
the wise bird will close his eyes, and affect not to see. So, also,
will the gull, for there is no loneliness comparable with unlimited
freedom.

Upon the heights, the great ones stand--alone. To the dweller in the
valley, those distant peaks are clad in more than mortal splendour.
Time and distance veil the jagged cliffs and hide the precipices. Day
comes first to the peaks and lingers there longest; while it is night
in the valley, there is still afterglow upon the hills.

Perhaps, some dweller in the valley longs for the height, and sets
forth, heeding not the eager hands that, selfishly, as it seems, would
keep him within their loving reach. Having once turned his face
upward, he does not falter, even for the space of a backward look. He
finds that the way is steep, that there is no place to rest, and that
the comfort and shelter of the valley are unknown. The sun burns him,
and the cold freezes his very blood, for there are only extremes on the
way to the peak. Glittering wastes of ice dazzle him and snow blinds
him, with terror and not with beauty as from below. The opaline mists
are gone, and he sees with dreadful clearness the path which lies
immediately ahead.

Beyond, there is emptiness, vast as the desert. At the timber line, he
pauses, and, for the first time, looks back. Ah, how fair the valley
lies below him! The silvery ribbon of the river winds through a
pageantry of green and gold. Upon the banks are woodland nooks,
fragrant with growing things and filled with a tender quiet broken only
by the murmer of the stream. The turf is soft and cool to the
wayfarer's tired feet, and there is crystal water in abundance to
quench his thirst.

But, from the peak, no traveller returns, for the way is hopelessly cut
off. Above the timber line there is only a waste of rock, worn by vast
centuries in which every day is an ordinary lifetime, into small,
jagged stones that cut the feet. The crags are thunder-swept and blown
by cataclysmic storms of which the dwellers in the valley have never
dreamed. In the unspeakable loneliness, the pilgrim abides for ever
with his mocking wreath of laurel, cheered only by a rumbling,
reverberant "All Hail!" which comes, at age-long intervals, from some
peak before whose infinite distance his finite sight fails.

At intervals throughout the day, Miss Evelina heard the Piper's flute,
always from the hills. Each time it brought her comfort, for she knew
that, as yet, he had not gone. Once she fancied that he had gone long
ago, and some woodland deity, magically transported from ancient
Greece, had taken his place. Late in the afternoon, she heard it once,
but so far and faintly that she guessed it was for the last time.

In her garden there were flowers, blooming luxuriantly. From their
swaying censers, fragrant incense filled the air. The weeds had been
taken out and no trace was left. From the garden of her heart the
weeds were gone, too, but there were no flowers. Rue and asphodel had
been replaced by lavender and rosemary; the deadly black poppy had been
uprooted, and where it had grown there were spikenard and balm. Yet,
as the Piper had said, she asked for roses, and it is not every garden
in which roses will bloom.

At dusk she went out into her transformed garden. Where once the
thorns had held her back, the paths were straight and smooth. Dense
undergrowth and clinging vines no longer made her steps difficult.
Piper Tom had made her garden right, and opened before her, clearly,
the way of her soul.

In spite of the beauty there was desolation, because the cheery
presence had gone to return no more. Her loneliness was so acute that
it was almost pain, and yet the pain was bearable, because he had
taught her how to endure and to look beyond.

Fairy-like, the white moths fluttered through the garden, and the
crickets piped cheerily. Miss Evelina stopped her ears that she might
not hear their piping, rude reminder, as it was, of music that should
come no more, but, even so, she could not shut out remembrance.

With a flash of her old resentment, she recalled how everything upon
which she had ever depended had been taken away from her, almost
immediately. No sooner had she learned the sweetness of clinging than
she had been forced to stand alone. One by one the supports had been
removed, until she stood alone, desolate and wretched, indeed, but
alone. Of such things as these self-reliance is made.

Suddenly, the still air seemed to stir. A sound that was neither
breath nor music, so softly was it blown, echoed in from the hills.
Then came another and another--merest hints of melody, till at last she
started up, trembling. Surely these distant flutings were the pipes o'
Pan!

She set herself to listen, her tiny hands working convulsively. Nearer
and nearer the music came, singing of wind and stream and mountain--the
"music that had no tune." No sooner had it become clear than it ceased
altogether.

But, an hour or so afterward, when the moon had risen, there was a
familiar step upon the road outside. Veiled, Evelina went to the gate
and met Piper Tom, whose red feather was aloft in his hat again and
whose flute was slung over his shoulder by its accustomed cord. His
pedler's pack was not to be seen.

"I thought you had gone," she said.

"I had," he answered, "but 't is not written, I'm thinking, that a man
may not change his mind as well as a woman. My heart would not let my
feet go away from you until I knew for sure whether or not you were
mocking me last night."

"Mocking you? No! Surely you know I would never do that?"

"No, I did not know. The ways of women are strange, I'm thinking, past
all finding out. In truth, 't would be stranger if you were not
mocking me than it ever could be if you were. Tell me," he pleaded,
"ah, tell me what you were meaning, in words so plain that I can
understand!"

"Come," said Evelina; "come to where we were sitting last night and I
will tell you." He followed her back to the maple beside the broken
wall, where the two chairs still faced each other. He leaned forward,
resting his elbows on his knees, and looked at her so keenly that she
felt, in spite of the darkness and her veil, that he must see her face.

"Piper Tom," she said, "when you came to me, I was the most miserable
woman on earth. I had been most cruelly betrayed, and sorrow seized
upon me when I was not strong enough to stand it. It preyed upon me
until it became an obsession--it possessed me absolutely, and from it
there was no escape but death."

"I know," answered the Piper. "I found the bottle that had held the
dreamless sleep. I'm thinking you had thrown it away."

"Yes, I had thrown it away, but only because I was too proud to die at
his door--do you understand?"

"Yes, I'm thinking I understand, but go on. You've not told me whether
or no you mocked me. What did you mean?"

"I meant," said Evelina, steadfastly, "that if you cared for the woman
you had led out of the shadow of the cypress, and for all that was in
her heart to give you, she was yours. Not only out of gratitude, but
because you have put trust into a heart that has known no trust since
its betrayal, and because, where trust is, there may some day
come--more."

Her voice sank almost to a whisper, but Piper Tom heard it. He took
her hand in his own, and she felt him tremble--she was the strong one,
now.

"Spinner in the Sun," he began, huskily, "were you meaning that you'd
go with me when I took the highway again, and help me make the world
easier for everybody with a hurt heart?"

"Yes," she answered. "You called me and I came--for always."

"Were you meaning that you'd face the storms and the cold with me, and
take no heed of the rain--that you'd live on the coarse fare I could
pick up from day to day, and never mind it?"

"Yes, I meant all that."

"Were you meaning, perhaps, that you'd make a home for me? Ah, Spinner
in the Sun, it takes a woman to make a home!"

"Yes, I'd make a home, or go gypsying with you, just as you chose."

The Piper laughed, with inexpressible tenderness. "You know, I'm
thinking, that 't would be a home, and not gypsying--that I'd not let
you face anything I could shield you from."

Evelina laughed, too--a low, sweet laugh. "Yes, I know," she said.

The Piper turned away, struggling with temptation. At length he came
back to her. "'T is wrong of me, I'm thinking, but I take you as a man
takes Heaven, and we'll do the work together. 'T is as though I had
risen from the dead and the gates of pearl were open, with all the
angels of God beckoning me in."

In the exaltation that was upon him, he had no thought of profaning her
by a touch. She stood apart from him as something high and holy,
enthroned in a sacred place.

"Beloved," he pleaded, "will you be coming; with me now to the place
where I saw you first? 'T is night now, and then 'twas day, but I'm
thinking the words are wrong. 'T is day now, with the sun and moon and
stars all shining at once and suns that I never saw before. Will you
come?"

"I'll go wherever you lead me," she answered. "While you hold my hand
in yours, I can never be afraid."

They went through the night together, taking the shorter way over the
hills. She stumbled and he took her hand, his own still trembling.
"Close your beautiful eyes," he whispered, "and trust me to lead you."

Though she did not close her eyes, she gave herself wholly to his
guidance, noting how he chose for himself the rougher places to give
her the easier path. He pushed aside the undergrowth before her,
lifted her gently over damp hollows, and led her around the stones.

At last they came to the woods that opened out upon the upper river
road, where she had stood the day she had been splashed with mud from
Anthony Dexter's wheels, and, at the same instant, had heard the
mysterious flutings from afar. They entered near the hill to which her
long wandering had led her, and at the foot of it, the Piper paused.

"You'll have no fear, I'm thinking, since the moon makes the clearing
as bright as day, and I'll not be letting you out of my sight. I have
a fancy to stand upon yonder level place and call you as I called you
once before. Only, this time, the heart of me will dance to my own
music, for I know you'll be coming all the while I play."

He left her and clambered up the hill to the narrow ledge which sloped
back, and was surrounded with pines. He kept in the open spaces, so
that the moonlight was always upon him, and she did not lose sight of
him more than once or twice, and then only for a moment. The hill was
not a high one and the ascent was very gradual. Within a few minutes,
he had gained his place.

Clear and sweet through the moonlit forest rang out the pipes o' Pan,
singing of love and joy. Never before had the Piper's flute given
forth such music as this. The melody was as instinctive as the
mating-call of a thrush, as crystalline as a mountain stream, and as
pure as the snow from whence the stream had come.

Evelina climbed to meet him, her face and heart uplifted. The silvery
notes dropped about her like rain as she ascended, strangely glad and
strangely at peace. When she reached the level place where he was
standing, his face illumined with unspeakable joy. He dropped his
flute and opened his arms.

"My Spinner in the Sun," he whispered, "I called you, and you came."

"Yes," she answered, from his close embrace, "you called me, and I have
come--for always."

At last, he released her and they stood facing each other. The Piper
was stirred to the depths of his soul. "Last night I dreamed," he
said, "and 't was the dream that brought me back. It was a little
place, with a brook close by, and almost too small to be called a
house, but 'twas a home, I'm thinking, because you were there. It was
night, and I had come back from making the world a bit easier for some
poor woman-soul, and you were standing in the door, waiting.

"The veil was gone, and there was love on your face--ah, I've often
dreamed a woman was waiting for me so, but because you hide your beauty
from me, 't is not for me to be asking more. God knows I have enough
given me, now.

"Since the first, I've known you were very beautiful, and very brave.
I knew, too, that you were sad--that you had been through sorrows no
man would dare to face. I've dreamed your eyes were like the first
violets of Spring, your lips deep scarlet like the Winter berries, and
I know the wonder of your hair, for The veil does not hide it all.
I've dreamed your face was cold and pure, as if made from marble, yet
tender, too, and I well know that it's noble past all words of mine,
because it bears brave scars.

"I've told you I would never ask, and I'll keep my word, for I know
well 't is not for the likes of me to see it, but only to dream. Don't
think I'm asking, for I never will, but, Spinner in the Sun, because
you said you would fare with me on the highway and face the cold and
storm, it gives me courage to ask for this.

"If I close my eyes, will you lift your veil, and let me kiss the brave
scars, that were never from sin or shame? The brave scars,
Beloved--ah, if you would let me, only once, kiss the brave scars!"

Evelina laughed--a laugh that was half a sob--and leaning forward, full
into the moonlight, she lifted her veil--for ever.

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