“I see thee not, I clasp thee not;
Yet feel I thou art nigh.”
To the Summer Wind.—Sir Noel Paton
Yes—he heard it again, and this time it sounded almost like voices speaking. He turned to the side whence it came, and to his surprise, in the all but darkness, there glimmered for an instant or two a sudden light. It was scarcely indeed to be called light; it was more like the reflection of faint colour on the dark background.
“It is like a black rainbow,” said Gratian to himself. “I wonder if there are some sorts of rainbows that come in the night. I wonder——” but suddenly a waft of soft though fresh air on his cheek made him start. All around him, but an instant before, had been so still that he could not understand it, and his surprise was not lessened when a voice sounded close to his ear. “What about your books, Gratian? How are you going to find them?”
The boy turned to look who was speaking. His first thought was that one of his companions, knowing of the trick Tony had played him, had run after him with the books. But the figure beside him was not that of one of his companions—was it that of any one at all? Gratian rubbed his eyes; the faint light that remained,—the last rays of reflected sunset—were more bewildering than decided night; was it fancy that he had heard a voice speaking? was it fancy that he had seen a waving, fluttering form No, there it was again; softly moving garments, with something of a green radiance on them, a sweet, fair face, like a face in a dream, seen but for an instant and then hidden again by a wave of mist that seemed to come between it and him, a gentle yet cheery voice repeating again—
“What of the books, Gratian? How are you going to find them?”
“I don’t know,” said the boy. “Who are you? How do you know about them, and can you help me to find them?”
But the sound of his own voice, rough and sharp, and yet thick it somehow seemed, in comparison with the soft clearness of the tones he had just heard, fell on his ears strangely. It seemed to awake him.
“Am I dreaming?” he said to himself. “There is no one there. How silly of me to speak to nobody! I might as well be speaking to the wind!”
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