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Painted Windows Elia W. Peattie


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I came to a hollow where there was a wonderful greenness over everything, and I said to myself that I would be bewitched at last. I would dance and whirl and call till, perhaps, some kind of a creature as wild and wicked and wonderful as I, would come out of the woods and join me. So I forgot about the fresh linen frock, and wreathed myself with wild grape-vine; I cared nothing for my fresh braids and wound trillium in my hair; and I ceased to remember my new shoes, and whirled around and around in the leafy mould, singing and shouting.

I grew madder and madder. I seemed not to be myself at all, but some sort of a wood creature; and just when the trees were looking larger than ever they did before, and the sky higher up, a girl came running down from a sort of embankment where a tornado had made a path for itself and had hurled some great chestnuts and oaks in a tumbled mass. The girl came leaping down the steep sides of this place, her arms out-spread, her feet bare, her dress no more than a rag the colour of the tree-trunks. She had on a torn green jacket, which made her seem more than ever like some one who had just stepped out of a hollow tree, and, to my unspeakable happiness, she joined me in my dance.

I shall never forget how beautiful she was, with her wild tangle of dark hair, and her deep blue eyes and ripe lips. Her cheeks were flaming red, and her limbs strong and brown. She did not merely shout and sing; she whistled, and made calls like the birds, and cawed like a crow, and chittered like a squirrel, and around and around the two of us danced, crazy as dervishes with the beauty of the spring and the joy of being free.

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By and by we were so tired we had to stop, and then we sat down panting and looked at each other. At that we laughed, long and foolishly, but, after a time, it occurred to us that we had many questions to ask.

"How did you get here?" I asked the girl.

"I was walking my lone," she said, speaking her words as if there was a rich thick quality to them, "and I heard you screeling."

"Won't you get lost, alone like that?"

"I can't get lost, "she sighed. "I 'd like to, but I can't."

"Where do you live?"

"Beyant the fair-grounds."

"You're not -- not Norah Madigan?"

She leaned back and clasped her hands behind her head. Then she smiled at me teasingly.

"I am that," she said, showing her perfect teeth.

I caught my breath with a sharp gasp. Ought I to turn back to my parents? Had I been so naughty that I had called the naughtiest girl in the whole county out to me?

But I could not bring myself to leave her. She was leaning forward and looking at me now with mocking eyes.

"Are you afraid?" she demanded.

"Afraid of what?" I asked, knowing quite well what she meant.

"Of me?" she retorted.

At that second an agreeable truth overtook me. I leaned forward, too, and put my hand on hers.

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Painted Windows
Elia W. Peattie

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